Memories and Magic
I woke in a cold sweat.
That dream had been decidedly unpleasant. I firmly resolved to stay away from well-warded doors, or at least to never barge past them without invitation. No idea why I'd think that. To be honest, at this point I hardly remembered having a dream at all, let alone what it'd been about. Still, I'd definitely be keeping my distance from scary-looking doors, that's for sure.
Besides the interview with the gesticulating Gaul, the rest of my yesterday had really been quite soporific. I perused more exam paperwork, prepared more curriculum, rehashed my answers from the interview (over and over and over again), and generally marveled in appreciation at my own awe-inspiring self. Nothing new or noteworthy, really.
It looks like Andromeda had been the one to rouse me, as she turned her attention from her rapid-fire medical charms and addressed me directly. "Hm. Looks like you're still recovering nicely, so you should be able to return home by tomorrow sometime. Oh, and I spoke to Healer Moran."
"Oh, right. She's in charge of the mind-magic ward, a few doors down. Since you were curious about Occlumency and all, you remember? She said she'd only heard of one case involving a magically exhausted Occlumens – from South America, I think? – but that it hadn't affected memory at all. Though she did say something about… secondary mindscapes? I don't remember much of it. But she told me to tell you that her door's open if you need a consult."
That was worrisome. "I might just take her up on that. You trust her?"
"Absolutely." At my sharp look she clarified. "We were both prefects– she was a year my senior – and later studied together for our healer certifications. I helped her with potions; she helped me with Occlumency. I trusted her with my most cherished memories; we can trust her with this."
Hmm. "What Ward number?"
"Forty-four, and I hope you drop by. Issues with mind-magic are always worth checking into."
No kidding. I gave myself a minute or two after Andromeda left before I hastened out the door.
In two weeks – less, even! – I would be entering the belly of this Britannic beast, Hogwarts itself. I was treading far too thin a razor's edge, in unraveling the many corruptions of this world, to accept such a margin of error as would result from losing my mind. Those memories were practically the only things keeping me alive.
Of course, that's not to mention the whole 'losing my mind' bit. Gah!
Heather Havendish Ward: Psychical Repair
Healer-in-Charge: Brigid Moran
Trainee Healer: Geoffrey Kegg
The ward looked fairly empty – a distracted-looking young man, about my own age, seemed to meander amidst a labyrinth of empty open-air beds and others curtained off. I moved with purpose towards the end of the Ward, where sat a primly dressed lady in Healer robes, scratching feverishly on paper scattered over her desk.
She looked up. A slender finger reached up to push her glasses back up the ridge of her nose.
"Are you Healer Moran?"
"Indeed. And you – no, don't tell me." She spoke with a distinct but not overpowering Irish accent. "You're the one Dora was – I mean, Healer Tonks was speaking of earlier? Gilderoy something, something with hearts, right?"
Though I'd only lived a few weeks as a celebrity, it was actually something of a relief to not be immediately recognized for once. "Lockhart. Yes, Gilderoy Lockhart, at your service ma'am."
"Indeed. So Mr. Lockhart, what brings you here?"
"Do you have… somewhere we might speak privately?"
"Indeed. This way." She beckoned me follow her to one of the empty beds. "There you are."
"Ah, perhaps somewhere larger than a bed?" I asked wanly. I'd thought she wasn't part of my fan club.
But she only rolled her eyes and reached up, the tip of her wand pressing an indistinct indent in the wall above the bedside table. When her wand pulled back, a piece of fabric came with it, and with a wave the material began to follow an arc around the bed, its path defined by rollers that even now materialized in the ceiling.
I looked to where the fabric originated. The wall seemed to be shedding thin strands that wove themselves into cloth, as though there were an invisible loom a few centimeters from the wall.
Soon the circuit was complete, and we were swaddled in the curtains' claustrophobic embrace.
I began again, "I said, perhaps somewhere larger than a—oh."
The space around me abruptly expanded, as if the world had just done a Hitchcock dolly zoom with myself at the focal point. In a blink, the two of us were no longer standing on opposite sides of an enclosed bed, but in a room as large as my own in the other Ward.
"What, never heard of an Undetectable Extension Charm before?" Healer Moran motioned for me to take the seat opposite her own.
I took it in a daze. "No, just…" I stuttered. Where had the desk come from? For that matter, where was – okay, what? How had the bed come to rest against the far wall when a second ago it had separated the two of us? "I… but… never inside when…"
"Indeed. I can see how that'd be a novelty." Somehow she understood me. "So, Mr. Lockhart, what brings you here? I understand Healer Tonks mentioned magical exhaustion?"
I shook myself. "Yes, that's true… or at least a part. I'd hoped you might have an idea for how my condition might affect my…" I motioned toward my head. "I've lately been practicing Occlumency."
Her brow furrowed. I wasn't sure why I noticed, but the ridges on her forehead really were quite lovely. "Indeed. Can I assume you're at least familiar with what I told Healer Tonks?"
"Yes, but could you perhaps expand on that?"
"Indeed." However aesthetic her furrows, the verbal tick was starting to wear on me. "As you may know, most Occlumentic defenses are magical constructs – they require a small but steady stream of magic to sustain them. So yes, magical exhaustion will set you back, as your defenses regress to a more primitive state. But the salient point is that those defenses form around the mind, outside it. Their condition should not affect your memory in the slightest."
"And if it did?"
"Ah." Her eyebrow arched attractively – what was wrong with me? "I take it you have something to tell me?"
Damn. "…Would you be willing to take an oath first?"
She quizzed me, "What sort of secrets do you traffic?"
"The sort that landed me with magical exhaustion due to the number of oaths I took."
"…Indeed. Grade three?"
It took me a moment. "Grade four – Dora called it grade four magical exhaustion."
"Odds bodkins, that is bad. How 'bout this – you know we take all kinds of oaths to register as Healers – 'Kai ósa tychón' and all. Why don't I just register you as a patient so the confidentiality portion of those oaths come into effect?"
"Huh. Sure, go ahead." That did sound easier.
"Right. So now do you have something to tell me?"
"I… you know the two forms of Occlumency?"
"Of course: the standard barrier methods, and secondary mi – don't tell me."
"You constructed a secondary mindscape?"
"Indeed." Always fun to mirror someone else's verbal tick back at them.
"But you told Dora you'd only just started, and secondary mindscapes–! How?"
"Indulge me." She insisted.
"Really long story?" At her expression I hastily continued. "Right. Suffice it to say, Healer Moran, that I've cultivated my reputation with great care – famous exploits to inspire the hoi polloi, with just enough distinctly fictional content to ensure that I would be underestimated by the insightful few. I grew up during the last war – muggleborn, you understand?"
"Indeed. I suppose that'd make sense."
"So, naturally, when I discovered a form of magic that permitted the reading of minds, I found it necessary for my mind to reflect the version of me that those few would perceive."
She paled. "I see."
"I could not build the typical barriers, because that would indicate to any Legilimens who cared to look that I was in fact more competent than I appeared to be. But fake memories are memories, not magical constructs, so why would my exhaustion be affecting them?"
She looked at me with more than a hint of consternation. "I see – but do you? Mr. Lockhart, you forget that while memories aren't made of magic, the boundary between primary and secondary mindscapes most assuredly is!"
"Yes 'oh'! You tell me that you've tried to present a rather fatuous personality to the rest of the world. But now, with your exhaustion, that false self will begin to affect your real one. Mr. Lockhart, if what you told me was true, then your intelligence is diminishing even as we speak!"
I folded my head into my hands. "I can't believe I'd forgotten."
"What'd you forget?"
"A day or two ago…" I paused. I could hardly tell her I'd misremembered my mother – I'd hardly confessed to butchering my memories that profoundly. "I realized I wasn't acting as my typical self, but with the coma and then the memory issues…."
"This is quite the perfect storm, ain't it?"
"Can you help me? Can you fix it?"
"In a word, Mr. Lockhart, no." My face fell. "Magic may be able to remove or alter memories, but alter mindscapes? What'd be the point in learning Occlumency, if all it took to undo it all was a simple spell? Although…" She paused in thought.
I looked up with newborn hope. "Yes? What?"
"There is a spell – very obscure, I've never had occasion to use it, though it was part of my training. It's designed for triage work, after a traumatic event and such, to give us mind-healers the time we might need to deal with psychical harm."
"And it will fix me?"
"No, but it may well prevent further damage. Its main effect is to freeze the internal magical architecture to which your mindscape is tethered."
I took a moment to consider it. "That… that's clever, actually. I think? You sure it'll work for me?"
She hesitated. "Yes and no. Most wizards can overpower it with little effort – it was designed for trauma victims in a coma, or in shock. You're not, and the fact that you'll be conscious means the spell will wear off, and sooner than later. But it won't be immediate, and that'll give us time. Your magical exhaustion should give us a bit of a buffer, so if all goes well, we'll need to reapply it… maybe… once a day?"
"For a month?"
"Indeed, as long as it takes. We'll know you'll be mostly recovered from the exhaustion when we need to apply it more than that. I say 'we' – obviously I have responsibilities to keep me here, and as you'll be discharged soon, you'll need to find someone you trust to apply the spell for you."
I sighed and demurred. "All right." I already knew who I'd ask. "Any side effects I should know about?"
"Your thoughts will feel a bit sluggish when it's first applied, though that should fade after an hour or two. I'd recommend doing the spell each night before you sleep – that should minimize its effects. We'll want to do it now, to stem any further degradation, and I'll swing by tonight to check your progress."
She was right. My mind felt quite listless as I returned to my room in the ward. Fortunately, lesson plans do not require much of a quick wit, so that was how I spent the remainder of my morning.
I was feeling a bit more like myself by lunchtime, so I broke for lunch and checked my post-box.
Flitwick had already responded to yesterday's query – he'd covered much of what Healer Moran had said, and in fact recommended I visit her for more information. He also mentioned one interesting point – with time and practice, Occlumency would no longer require the steady stream of magic to sustain itself, as any defenses would become entrenched in their developed form, like memory metal.
Thank you for the information. Would you be able to visit me tonight or tomorrow morning? I must request a favor, though it'd be better to explain in person.
I also heard from Tofty. Most of his letter was fluff, but he did at least have an answer:
I haven't heard of the Evans Scholarship, but I know someone who would: my principal in the WEA, Madam Marchbanks, chairman emeritus for the Hogwarts Board of Governors.
If Dumbledore was old, then Griselda Marchbanks was positively antediluvian. As I recalled, she had been the one to proctor Harry's Transfiguration OWL, the one who said that she'd done the same for Dumbledore's NEWTs, and bragged that Albus had "done things with a wand I'd never seen before."
I giggled. Even from a supercentenarian, that sounded pretty bawdy.
I also wondered if Marchbanks had a seat on the Wizengamot – I seemed to remember her being one of the elders who resigned in protest at some point, perhaps over Umbridge? If she weren't too caught up in Dumbledore's mystique, Marchbanks might prove a very useful ally as well. And how could she be caught up in the Headmaster's cult, when she'd probably first met him when Albus was still in nappies?
Before I returned to my lesson plans, I set out some parchment to write a letter to Mrs. Abbott and Finch-Fletchley, asking them how many families were involved or interested in our Hogwarts PTA.
My preparations for the school year have left me with a bit of a mess, so I don't believe I will be available to meet before the school year starts, or even for the first month. Perhaps we can set our first meeting for Hogsmeade, sometime in early to mid-October? Do let me know how things work out, as I remain,
Your humble, etc.,
I had a few other projects on the burner, but without magic, they'd have to wait. I moved back to Tofty's packet and my lesson plans. If there was one silver lining to this whole ordeal, it was having the time and lack of distractions to finish preparing for the actual classes I'd need to teach.
I continued working late into the evening, barely remembering to call Glitzy for my much-delayed dinner. By the time Healer Moran arrived, the world outside my window was pitch black. Of course, the window lied. It had no doubt been charmed some time ago to show the progression of day into night; if the scene outside were real, if it really showed downtown London at night, then I'd imagine it would have been much better lit. No doubt the original charms were applied in a day and age before urban gas lighting, or possibly last week by a wizard who didn't know better.
Healer Moran – 'Brigid!', a faint part of myself chimed in – confirmed that her memory charm had worked as advertised. "Any issues come up?"
I shook my head. "Nothing. Though I wonder..."
"Yes?" She said when I trailed off.
"It's nothing related to…. I was just wondering, about the Longbottoms."
She grimaced. "Oh."
"Yeah. Now, I don't know much about the Cruciatus, but if I had to guess, I'd say it probably stimulates the pain centers of the brain. But if that's the case, then shouldn't it be possible to address it using mind magic of some sort? Even if it's just a memory charm to erase their trauma…. But I'm sorry, I'm sure this is nothing you haven't tried before."
But now I had her attention, "Actually, I'm not sure we tried before. I was still the Trainee Healer when the Longbottoms were brought in, so my predecessor was the one called for that case. I don't recall what he was able to do for them. I just assumed, since they were put in long-term care, that they were beyond our help. But I don't think anyone's really considered using mind-magic to help with Cruciatus trauma, and I can already think of several ways that could work. I'll… I'll have to think about this." Her eyes brightened. "It's too early to say, but you just might have given them a chance of recovery. Thank you."
The next morning I was again woken by an unbearably cheery Andromeda. "Looks like you're just about set. Nothing egregious, everything on pace for your recovery so long as you don't bungle it up!" She shot me a withering look, and I glanced away abashedly. "But yes, we should be able to get you discharged by midday."
"Why the delay? Aren't I ready to return home now?"
She scoffed, "Paperwork, Mr. Lockhart. The world runs on parchment. And that's not to mention the going-away charms we have to set."
"At least we need to set an alarm-spell on you, in case the same symptoms flare up once you leave. They don't last long, maybe a day or two, but sometimes that's the difference between saving a life and losing it. Of course, given your exhaustion the spell might last as long as a week, since your magic won't be actively fighting it. I'll also want to put a triggered portkey on you – no offense, Mr. Lockhart, but if you succumb again to magical exhaustion, getting you here as fast as possible might be the only thing that saves your life."
Given what I knew of the magical world, this all sounded startlingly rational. "Huh. Thank you, though I'm sure I'll be in no danger."
She gave me a flat look. "Mr. Lockhart, I'm pretty sure that's precisely the mindset that landed you here in the first place.
She might have a point, though I shrugged it off a moment later. "Before you go, I did want to ask you how your and your husband's work has been going."
"Ah. Well, we've set aside as much time as we can, but we both have jobs to speak of, you know? So we're still mostly in the planning phase. Though we did meet with Hestia yesterday, as you suggested."
"And how did that go?"
"Oh, she is a marvel, isn't she?" She smiled, rather like a cat that got the canary.
"Oh yes. She was quite a bit of help to us, and I'm sure we just could not possibly do without her."
"That's… good?" My spidey-senses were tingling, though I had no idea why.
"Oh, you have no idea. At any rate, we all agreed that our immediate priority should be getting Sirius out of that damned prison. Hestia told us that the Potter kid is away from his relatives for now, and will be at Hogwarts for the rest of the year – if we can spring his godfather, then he need never return there. I did send out a few feelers – at least to check what training I might need if I'm to be reassigned to Hogwarts, and see if there's anyone in Pediatrics we can bring into our circle."
"Well, sure, part of the problem with the Hogwarts post is that, while we're all certified Healers, each of us has our own specialty. Mine is accidental potion exposure; I'm pretty sure Madame Pomfrey worked mainly in trauma before getting the nod. Having a pediatric Healer in our corner would at least help us cover our bases, for vaccinations, that sort of thing."
"Not to mention spotting child abuse."
"Precisely. For the moment, however, and until I hear back, my main attention is figuring out a treatment plan for long-term dementor exposure."
Oof. "That sounds unpleasant."
"Truly. It's easy to find cases of short-term exposure, but that can be fixed with some chocolate. But long term?"
"Hmm. Have you tried the Spirit Division?"
"Of course, but they're no bloody help. You'd think the ones in charge of overseeing dementors would be best suited for dealing with it, but no, they all hide away in their office hidey-hole on the far side of the island, and only venture closer if they have a Patronus going. They barely get more exposure than the Minister when he comes for his annual tour."
"What about the wardens?"
"The ones who guard the prison?"
"That's what I was saying – the dementors guard the prison. Everyone else stays as far away as they can manage."
"But how are the prisoners brought to the island?"
"Portkey ferry service, run by the DMLE. Still no good."
"All right. How are they fed?"
"Runic transference between the prison and the Spirit Division kitchens. Only things allowed in or out of the cells are marked by special runes, and they only activate at certain times."
"What if someone wants to visit a prisoner?"
"That…" she looked thoughtful. "That's probably our best shot, though it's very rare. I mean, who wants to go there? The only one to do it regularly is the Minister, and he's required by the Charter. Other than that… we could probably count the rest on the fingers of one hand."
"Does St. Mungo's have records for the Minister?"
"Maybe, but it wouldn't help. He always goes under Patronus escort. It's the other visitors who are left to their own devices – the Spirit folks will let them in and out, but they're on their own once they get inside."
"Hmm. You should check if the Spirit division keeps a visitor log. I'm pretty sure I heard something about Mr. Crouch visiting his son, but that was before Junior's death so he wouldn't have returned. Check it out, though. Another possibility would be any prisoners that have been released."
She chuckled, "How big a mess are you willing to make? Sure, no problem, just ask a bunch of perfectly harmless criminals to revisit the worst years of their life, that can't possibly go wrong. And I'm sure there wouldn't be any rumors flying about a Healer of my stature seen ducking into grungy establishments along Knockturn Alley."
"Nothing. I get the picture – bad idea. It's just… have you considered that Sirius might not be the only one?"
"Only one to be tossed in prison despite being innocent, I mean."
At this she looked positively flummoxed. "I… well, no, I suppose I hadn't."
"It's just, if that were the case, then I imagine some of them might be willing to help – strike back at The Man who did them wrong, you know? And even if they weren't, they might still be willing to work with you to figure out a way to make others like them better."
"That's true." She found herself nodding with me.
"It'll certainly take work, but you could probably start by asking Amelia for a list of anyone released, and look it over for those who haven't repeat-offended." I already had a name, but working with Hagrid would bring us far too close to Dumbledore's circle, and make it far too easy for him to notice us. "Hestia might be able to help as well."
Andromeda looked up and smiled that odd smile when I mentioned the name. "Oh I'm sure she will."
"Okay, what's going on? Why are you, you know, acting like that?"
She smirked. "I really shouldn't let on, but… I suppose it couldn't hurt. You know what Hestia told us?"
"Well, we got to chatting a bit, afterwards you know, and she mentioned her meeting with you and how you were so very different, you know, and she asked us all kinds of questions, and Ted mentioned that we'd called Father Dewi for you the other day and Hestia asked if it was that Father Dewi and I asked if she knew him and she said yes and asked if that meant you were Catholic because she'd been raised that way too and what a coincidence it all was."
If I hadn't been watching I'd have sworn she'd cast a spell in the middle of that to let her get it all out in one breath. But just as my mind was catching up to the words she said, my instincts were catching up to her subtext.
Oh heck no. I thought I'd be free of this since Mrs. Tonks was married and obviously not enamored with me, but now this? No, not happening, I will not be made into some pawn for this match-making matron. No!
With a slightly panicked smile, I nodded. "Thank you for your time, but I really must be getting back to…" I blanked.
"...I see." She did not even pretend to conceal her smirk this time. "In that case, I'll be back around noon."
I tried to shove all Andromeda- and Hestia-related thoughts into a corner of my mind while working on other lesson plans, though it was quite a bit harder to do without Occlumency.
Flitwick had sent me a post the night before, after I'd fallen asleep, saying he'd be free to visit this afternoon, so I let him know I'd probably be at home by then and he could just Floo-call beforehand.
Mrs. Tonks returned at the promised time, bearing a rather bulging pack of papers for me to sign and return or sign and take home, all while she stood over me waving her wand and tethering the alarm and portkey charms to my person. It felt like a mild but persistent itch, and I had the unhappy sense that it would stay like that for some time.
I had one last thought before we could finish. "Ah, Dora?"
"Before I go, ah… what can you tell me about the Long-Term Care Ward?"
She looked at me oddly. "I suppose… any particular reason?"
I hesitated. "A few things, I guess."
"This wouldn't have anything to do with you looking for an excuse to change the subject from earlier, does it?" Her smirk returned.
"Somewhat," I grudgingly conceded, "but this one's actually important."
"Oh?" The mood turned serious.
"It just struck me as odd. So, Janus Thickey got his fifteen minutes of fame for faking his death, right? But that was only about twenty years ago. So what was the Ward called before then?"
She shook her head. "I don't think there was a Ward before then. If I remember, it was added to St. Mungo's a bit over ten years ago."
"But in that case…"
"What?" She pressed me.
"If the Ward wasn't around until just recently, why would we need it now? I mean, magic can fix pretty much anything, so what's the point of long-term care in the first place? Either you need it, which means something like it would have been done from the very beginning, or you don't, in which case it's pretty much pointless. …Right?"
She looked taken aback for a moment. "That's… an interesting point." She puzzled it over. "I can tell you the Ward was set up after You-Know-Who's defeat, and most of the folks there were victims of the late war, like the Longbottoms, and you know as well as I do what put them there. You-Know-Who did throw around the Unforgivables quite a bit more than your typical dark wizard, so maybe that's why it was needed?"
I hadn't considered that. "You may be on to something there, but if so, why wouldn't they name it that? Why not call it the 'Unforgivables Recovery Ward', instead of 'Long-Term Care'?"
"Maybe because you can't fix the Unforgivables?"
"You sure about that? I mean, it's not your specialty, and I don't know whose specialty it'd be, but it's practically axiomatic that magic can fix just about anything short of death."
"You're going somewhere with this. You have a point to it."
"I'm not quite sure, but I think there's more to the Janus Thickey Ward than you think. Why's it there, who sponsored it, who runs it, who's in there and why are we so sure they can't be cured?"
"Huh. Well I can answer at least one of those for you."
"I'm surprised you don't know – I thought it'd be common knowledge. As I said, the Ward was set up after the last war to house and care for its victims. As for who funded it, well, that Ward was how my bigotic brother-in-law made his apologies."
Oh hell. "Brother-in-law?"
"Lucius Malfoy? Married to my sister Narcissa? Certainly he's a bigot, but no one blames him for what he did under You-Know-Who's Imperius. He gainsaid the doubters when he funded the hospital's expansion for the new Ward, and every two years he donates whatever's needed to keep it running."
"Do you mean to tell me," by this point I was practically hyperventilating, "that Lucius Malfoy is the man responsible for setting up that Ward? That the Longbottoms are being cared for and in care of Malfoy? You-Know-Who's chief lieutenant?"
"What?" The color had fled Dora's face.
"Merlin, are you blind? Malfoy wasn't Imperius-ed, he was You-Know-Who's Marked man, one of the God-damned Inner Circle. He never even had a trial! He got off by bribing his good friend the Minister, right around the same time he was bribing the Minister to let Sirius Black rot in that hellhole, without a trial either. Merlin, why would you just assume he was a fine upstanding citizen? All his donation did was deliver the Longbottoms and other light-sided war victims into his hands! Do you really think they're trying to cure them in there, or isn't it more likely just another sort of prison, a place to keep anyone who'd oppose him and his agenda out of the way while Malfoy gathers more and more power, power for himself and his damned Dark cause until the day his master returns?"
After another long and horribly awkward conversation, I finally secured from Dora the same oath I'd gotten from Hestia. Honestly. The magical exhaustion was bad enough, but at this point I really needed to just stop talking and meeting with people until I could tame my wayward mindscape.
But that was that. Dora handed off the paperwork and left me to find my own way out of the hospital – I'm pretty sure she was headed straight back home or to her husband's office to share the news.
It took me some time to venture down the stairs and corridors, but at last I found the waiting rooms, rather busier than usual. I noticed they offered copies of The Daily Prophet for two knuts – highway robbery given the usual price was only one knut, but oh well – so I picked one up on my way out.
With a flourish of my wand in the empty alleyway, I only had to wait a few seconds before being blown back by the 'BANG!' of the triple-decker purple bus that'd take me home.
"Take 'er away, Ern!"
I managed to keep myself somewhat steady despite the jostling, and opened my copy of the paper. There it is. My interview with Mauricio was below the fold, but it was still on the front page and took up quite a bit of Page 12 as well.
MY INTERLOCUTION WITH HOGWART'S LATEST LUMINARY
Well, that was a mouthful.
It was with the greatest pleasure that this reporter was invited to speak with the illustrious Mr. Lockhart, champion of the light and Britain's most extraordinary export to Europe and the world since Dumbledore singlehandedly ended the reign of Dark Lord Grindelwald.
This was going to be one of those articles, I just knew it. Still, good press is good press. I kept reading.
As readers of this paper well know, upon returning from his latest adventures in Eastern Europe and the publication of his best-selling autobiography, Mr. Lockhart was offered a position at the most prestigious magical school in the world, Britain's very own Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I no longer wondered why so many Daily Prophet articles had to contort themselves into odd shapes that wrapped around the page. They had to, in order to fit so many words on the page. I kept reading.
At first this reporter feared the interview would not take place, as Mr. Lockhart's time was quite occupied in his preparations for his upcoming scholastic adventures. However, the intensity of these preparations caught up with him in the end, for I met Mr. Lockhart while he was recuperating at St. Mungo's.
Well, at least I'd managed to escape the hospital in time. I'd managed to secure his agreement to not give away which Ward I was at, or the specifics of my condition. Even so, I was pretty sure the hospital was soon to be overrun by my legions of groupies, just as surely as Flourish and Blotts had been.
I kept reading.
After ensuring the great man was well and on his way to a swift recovery, my first question to
"One minute to Meryton!"
...my first question to Mr. Lockhart was
Wait a sec. "Mr. Shunpike… what'd you just say?"
"It's your stop next, Mr. Lockhart. One minute to – er, thirty seconds to Meryton!"
Meryton? You mean, all this time, my quaint country home somewhere in east Hertfordshire was actually located in Meryton – Jane Austen's Meryton? Home of the Lucases, Philipses, Bingleys and bloody Bennets – that Meryton?!
So. Turns out I live around Elizabeth Darcy's old stomping grounds.
A/N: After a year and a day – all right, maybe a bit more than that – I'm back. Thanks for your patience, for those who had it; thanks for your impatience, for those who didn't and whose messages reminded me to get back to my writing. Please read and review – hopefully my muse will be a bit more amenable, and you won't have to wait quite so long until the next update.
Please note that I recently posted a second chapter for the companion piece of this story, titled 1692 and All That: A Memorable History of Magic. It offers both a look at the future of this fic, as well as a fairly complete perspective into the magical past. It was inspired by my 'Map of Magical Europe' that I posted on imgur (see the link at the bottom of my profile).
As always, check out my Discussion Forum (linked at the bottom of my profile page). I cross-posted my responses to selected reviewers to a new thread, as the responses below will be cleared away once the next chapter is published.
Aiyaki (id:2440236): Thank you for such a thoughtful and encouraging review. Words like yours put a big smile on my face, so just... thank you.
Elim-Garak (id:894957) and m4gnesium (id:3538040): You're right, I've packed quite a bit into my character's first few weeks in the Harry Potter-verse. My overall outline for this fic was to divide it into four 'Volumes' – the first of which would be called 'Magical Me' and focus on Lockhart getting settled into the world and what he does before arriving at Hogwarts. There are only another chapter or two before I finish with that and move on to Volume 2, which will cover his time at Hogwarts.
Joe-Lawyer (id:2196883): You make a fair point – Reconciliation is an extremely private activity, so it can be discomfiting to see it in a fic. I don't plan to include it again in the fic; it's purpose was mainly to close out that scene, and reiterate why Father Dewi was there in the first place. As for your review for my April Fool's omake, I actually haven't decided how I'll play the Thickey Ward revelation. On the one hand, it is such a huge betrayal of the public trust, but on the other, Magical Britain already starts from such a point of corruption that it's almost impossible to imagine what could break the population from its apathy. I mean, compare to the USA – even though we know the NSA spied on the American people and lied about it to Congress, we still can't seem to muster the political will to do anything about it. Given how much worse it is in Magical Britain, and how the few people who do oppose it have seemingly been co-opted by Dumbledore's equally corrupt faction, I'm just not sure the reforming spirit will arise without serious provocation. Hence the self-insert.
Conflicted (3/26/14): Good points, though I must disagree. I'll be covering religion (especially vis-a-vis early paganism) to a much greater extent in the companion piece, 1692 and All That, which is much more history-centric. For now, I'll just say that all early 'gods' were basically witches and wizards, whose connection to common (non-magical) folk were almost exclusively political – along the lines of "they give us stuff (sacrifice, etc.), we give them favors." Yet despite that there was a long-standing assumption that humans and gods came from something, whether nature (hence pantheism, or the Greek notion that the gods descended from Gaia and Ouranous, Mother Earth and Father Sky) or from a truly supernatural creator (hence monotheism, or the Jewish notion of YHWH or Plato's 'Demiurge'). That is the source of religion, even in a magical context.
Hx2 (id:1131500): I'll probably cover magical theory in greater depth once Lockhart gets to Hogwarts, though even then the main focus will be on the narrative. You'll probably get the most theory-oriented stuff in my companion piece, the 1692 and All That fic, since that class will almost have to discuss the foundation of each magical discipline as it is developed.
Ari989 (id:4753717): I'm sorry it was so hard for you to read, and especially sorry it took me so long to post a new chapter to wash away the last one's taste.
Desdemona-Sunrise (id:1513448): One thing that's hard to convey, especially given my self-imposed limitation to first-person, is that while my character is scapegoating Dumbledore, I actually have bigger plans for the Headmaster ahead. I'm leery of spoiling too much, but there will be a reason for what Dumbledore does, and I hope it's convincing for my readers.
Magyar (id:1110389): It might help to remember that the Spanish Inquisition did not mainly concern witchcraft; its original function was to maintain Catholic hegemony over Iberia by removing Jewish and Moorish (Muslim) influence. For its part, the Roman Inquisition was mainly focused on rooting out heresy, and had very little to do with witchcraft at all (as far as I can tell, it'd be the witch-hunters who were more at risk of being identified as heretics). In fact, the vast majority of historical witch-hunts occurred well after the Middle Ages, and largely in regions of Protestant control – Germany and central Europe, Britain and colonial America. It may be counter-intuitive, but it's not at all hard for me to reconcile a Catholic presence in a hidden magical world.
Black-Sparrow (id:1831504): Wow, thanks for the review, that's quite a few ideas to parse through and see what can be incorporated, especially when it comes to Lockhart's lesson plans.
RosoMC (id:606020): First, let me just say that I have no plans to go anywhere near Perfect Lionheart's sort of storyline with mind control and harems and what-not. As I mentioned to Desdemona-Sunrise (above), I will readily admit that my character scapegoats Dumbledore, and I personally find Dumbledore quite an abhorrent figure. All the same, Dumbledore's motivations are more complex than merely a Messiah complex, the notion that only he can be trusted with his nation's future. I hope to do justice to him, but I understand why that hasn't come across at this point. As for Snape... yeah, nothing so obscure, I just really hate the guy. He's undoubtedly intelligent, but his behavior to Harry and others is plainly abusive, and his efforts to 'help' Harry don't seem to do all that much good (and besides can be hand-waved as the product of his ongoing life-debt to James). Snape will be a major figure once Lockhart gets to Hogwarts, but his role won't be quite so central as Dumbledore's.
As always, thanks for writing, and please review!