Ordinary Bookclub: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (Chapters 100-113)
Okay. Welcome to the Ordinary Bookclub. We’re reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Our kickoff post is here, we review Chapters 1-5 here, we review chapters 6-15 here, we review chapters 16-25 here, we review chapters 26-35 here, we review chapters 36-46 here, we review chapters 47-64 here, we review chapters 65-77 here, we review chapters 78-87 here, and we review chapters 88-99 here.
This week we resolved to read chapters 100-113. These brief summaries are probably going to miss stuff and put emphasis on the wrong stuff and, probably, miss the point from time to time. When I’m wrong, please call me out in the comments.
One of the things we have decided that we want to start doing is discussing the various puzzles the chapters throw up for us. When a major piece of information is withheld, it’s (usually) because it’s an opportunity for the reader to do some light detective work and figure out what is REALLY going on (for example, when we were asking “who left Harry the notes in chapter 13?” that was something that was revealed in chapter 14…). It can difficult to discuss some of the puzzles in this story without discussing major events happening in future chapters so if you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers (or premature answers to puzzles) to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.
Now that the boilerplate is out of the way, let’s get started.
Chapter 100: The Silvery Slytherins get detention along with a couple of mid-years kids who were, apparently, caught in a PDA. Their detention is, of course, to go into the Forbidden Forest to help Hagrid do Forbidden Forest stuff. Tracey wants to know if they’re going to try to follow a trail of blood to find a unicorn and Draco points out that they got detention at lunch and there’s no way that Hagrid would let a bleeding unicorn not be found for that long… so they must be looking for something else. Probably whatever is eating them. WHICH, it should be pointed out, isn’t a were-something because the moon ain’t full. Hagrid is surprised that Draco isn’t a complete ignoramus. They find the remains of poor Alicorn and Hagrid lets slip that he’s kinda prejudiced against Slytherins. Draco sets him straight with the “even if it may be true that most X are Y, it’s not at all true that all Ys are Xes” formula that us Muggles have heard a thousand times. This moment of connecting and learning is interrupted by Hagrid hearing something and Draco, hiding behind a tree in the Forbidden Forest under the pale (not yet full) moonlight slowly realizes that if he were a character in a play, he’d be yelling at the stage. Draco calls Security (well, one of the Aurors) on his magic mirror and says “if I don’t check in within the next 10 minutes, come get me. I’m in the Forbidden Forest” and there is shortly a blood-curdling scream and they find a dark figure drinking from a unicorn within a dead-magic zone… the magic mirrors don’t work, their wands don’t work… the cavalry shows up! And the thing hisses and knocks out the cavalry! Harry tells Draco to run and Draco wants to apologize for… for something, I guess, then runs indeed. Right into a tree. Blacks out.
Oh, it’s Quirrell. Of course. Harry finds it hard to believe how good Quirrell is at having taken out everybody within seconds and Quirrell says that he’ll tell him what’s going on (and he presumes that there’s a time-turner involved) and future Harry assures present Harry (and us) that Quirrell has a really good explanation for eating the unicorn. A handful of memory charms later, we get the explanation ourselves. Quirrell is dying. Not, like, “really sick”. He’s DYING. And unicorn blood will keep him alive for a while. It won’t heal him… but it will keep him from completely falling apart for a few weeks. And it sinks in: Quirrell won’t be teaching next year. Not because he’s going to get fired the way that everybody assumes he will. But because, by the time the new school year starts, Quirrell will not only be the Former Defense Professor, he’ll be the Late Defense Professor. The downside of the treatment is that the Unicorn has to start out alive and die in the process of the drinking… and that’s why it can’t be industrialized. Well, yet. Harry’s hatred of death goes deep. And Quirrell is going to die before Harry figures out how to prevent death. Harry takes it out on some trees.
Chapter 101: Harry’s anger sated, he meets a Centaur. A Centaur, you must understand, who finds him standing over a dead Unicorn in a grove that he’s just beaten the crap out of in anger. They discuss different ways of knowing things. Centaurs are big fans of astrology and the stars proclaim that Harry is innocent. We then discuss Innocence Theory (and the way that the Centaur looks at it makes me wonder if the words themselves aren’t also a form of, like, Runic Magic or Rhapsodomancy). Harry tries to explain to the Centaur that Astrology can’t really make for decent divination because everybody knows what the future is going to look like, planet-wise. The Centaur explains that a mathematical chart of where the planets will be won’t make for decent astrology. So Harry figures out that what is really going on is that Centaurs are just naturally divinistic and they project it onto the night sky. So, you know, Harry actually knows how to do the stuff that he knows how to do and the Centaurs are just, you know, magical creatures. Maybe capable of speech and such but, you know, they don’t KNOW things. They’re just working really well with false beliefs and getting by. Well, the Centaur explains that a lot of centaurs wouldn’t want to interfere with Harry because killing innocents is Bad News. This Centaur alone is willing to even get THIS close to Harry. Messing with fate and killing innocents? Madness. Anyway, he tries to kill Harry. Luckily, Professor Quirrell shows up and throws some bolts at the Centaur and ends the fight. Harry freaks out because, you know, he’s 12 and Quirrell says that he only used some stunning hexes powerful enough to knock out a magical creature and he taps the Centaur’s head and casts a minor resuscitation spell of some sort and gives some memory charm instructions and the Centaur wanders off. See? That’s what happens when you go against the stars, Centaur. Harry can’t wrap his mind around the whole “I can’t believe that a centaur wanted to kill me!” thing and Quirrell gets off a good one: “Oh, for Merlin’s sake – yes, he was trying to kill you. Get used to it. Only boring people never have that experience.”
Well, now everybody has to debrief with Dumbledore and we all hammered out exactly what in the heck happened and Harry is fine with the misdirection to it being Bellatrix or Snape or even Quirrell using False Memory Charms on everybody and, as far as I can tell, at the end of the day Filch gets sacked, Hargid gets told that he’s not to go into the Forbidden Forest again, and Dumbledore notices that Harry doesn’t care about the people he hurts. Filch had it coming, because he was a jerk. Hagrid had it coming because he was a big ol’ buffoon who has a HUGE blind spot when it comes to magical creatures hurting wizards. Harry explains Scope Insensitivity to Dumbledore and Dumbledore asks if it’s, you know, symmetric the other way and Harry asks what it means when centaurs don’t like you. Dumbledore points out that centaurs don’t like wizards and asks “what did the centaur say?” and Harry didn’t say anything. Dumbledore tells Harry that Centaurs are wrong all the time and if anybody could confuse the stars themselves, it’d be Harry. (I wonder if Trelawnrey ever had a prophecy about that. “HE IS HERE. THE ONE WHO WILL CONFUSE THE STARS.”) Anyway, Dumbledore ends the chapter by telling Harry not to fret about it.
Chapter 102: Quirrell is dying in earnest now. Like, doctors are telling him to retire and he starts yelling that he’s going to die and so he’s going to teach because he’s going to die anyway. That’s the spirit. So Quirrell gets put on bed rest. Like, he only leaves his room to teach and he’s always sitting down and he’s got TAs doing student teaching. “Watching Hermione die had hurt more than this, but that had ended much more quickly.” Harry meditates on how Death is the real enemy and how this is happening to Quirrell now but it’ll happen to other people that he loves and he wants this whole dying thing to end as soon as possible.
Harry did some research. He’s still too young to have sexual thoughts and so he was able to get close enough to a unicorn to slipped one a mickey finn. It’s a variant of being a carnivore. If you’re cool with eating a hamburger, you should be cool with eating a unicorn burger. So Harry brings a transfigured unicorn to Quirrell for him to eat. Quirrell quickly forbids Harry from pulling that crap again but Harry points out that done is done and Quirrell figures out how to best eat the Unicorn burger. Harry makes mention of some of his research, trying to figure out ways to make Quirrell not die and Quirrell quickly does the Animagus thing and turns into a snake so they can talk in Parseltongue. Harry tells Quirrell about Horcruxes and Quirrell argues against Harry pointing out that Horcruxes work like making a backup. Sure, you can kill somebody and redirect the death energy that would make them into a ghost into creating an image of the ghost that would be created if you died… but much like a Word Document that you saved two hours before losing power suddenly, you wouldn’t save anything that happened after the save was done. No continuity of self. Just a backup. On top of that, if you put the backup into another living creature, the memories all get mixed up together and that gets all messy. Quirrell jumps back into human shape and Harry asks to be taught the Horcrux spell. Maybe there’s an ethical way to do it. Move something into a mindless clone. Kill a mindless clone to create the death energy. Something. Quirrell laughs and expresses regret that they never did the teaching from human mind to human mind and he’d been waiting for Harry to ask for all of Quirrell’s knowledge. Harry freaks out and Quirrell tells him “hey, you shouldn’t try to walk my path”. End up sucking on drugged unicorns by the lake. Dark Arts just ain’t good for a feller. Harry asks a question in Parseltongue wanting to know more about how Quirrell is able to cast the killing curse (hey, I’m not going to abandon you, he says… he just wants to know). Quirrell talks about Killing Curse Theory. Hating someone takes a lot out of you. If you hate someone enough to cast a killing curse at them, that drains magic and hate. Cast it twice? Three times? Most people can’t do that. Quirrell learned about someone who could cast it all day long and he researched it and found that bottomless indifference is sustainable and allows killing curses to be cast like a machine gun. Avada Kedavra 2.0. He turns into a snake long enough to say “I did not wissh guard dead, after all. Casst Killing Cursse, but not with hate.” Well, there it is. Quirrell is winding down and asks if Harry has anything left to ask about. Harry wants to know if Quirrell has ANYTHING that might help prolong his life. Quirrell turns into a snake so they can have a private Parseltongue conversation. He tells Harry about the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry argues back with Quirrell about the stone and Quirrell explains that Harry has a lot of bad information and is making a lot of bad assumptions. At the end, he tells him that the Stone might possibly work but, no, Harry is forbidden from going after it. Harry meditates on this and runs to the library to study up some more on this Stone.
Chapter 103: Draco wants to go through Hermione’s most recently checked out library books for clues that might point to… well, anything, having to do with who would have been plotting. This is interrupted by the news that Professor Quirrell has gained enough energy to oversee Final DADA exams. Everybody is freaking out until they get to the tests and read the questions and realize, hey, this is a softball exam. Most of the answers were common sense (“stunning hex”) and everybody passed their tests in with great apprehension. Quirrell, of course, was able to grade all of the tests on the fly and makes the announcements of the grades after the test. (The scene where the TA was taking care of Quirrell as Quirrell gave his announcements reminded me of Stephen Hawking and his countless TAs.) Quirrell announced that everybody passed except for one student. Hermione. Which might be unfair, kinda, but has a robust sense of reality about it. He points out that everybody in the room may receive a test similar to the one Hermione got and they need to be prepared for it. Harry got an EE+, the second highest grade possible, and Harry feels a little irritated by that and asks about it and Quirrell tells him “hey, it’s what I got as a first year.” Which seems fitting, somehow.
Chapter 104: Real close to the end now. Quirrell is 100% on bed rest. Quidditch comes back into the story. Hufflepuff is leading the race for the House Cup by simply doing their homework and not getting detention. Huh. Anyway, this was the last match of the year and Slytherin and Ravenclaw were playing it and remember the three wishes the three generals had? Harry’s was summarily thrown away, but Hermione and Draco both wanted their respective houses to win the cup? Well, given that Quidditch games can last, theoretically, forever, it’s theoretically possible that both teams run up the score and go past Hufflepuff. The game started at Six PM. By the time we get back to the narrative, it’s after 11. The professors have figured out that the final score of the game could be used to game the whole house cup thing and now they’re arguing over whether to get rid of the snitch too. Harry gets a note from a kid who said “you told me not to talk to you” and Harry says “so don’t talk to me” and reads the note and, yep, it’s in his own handwriting. It’s in a code which seems to be a variant of Parseltongue-to-English that would only be immediately meaningful to someone who thought in Parseltongue. So it’s 11:45 and we use the time-turner to go back five hours and follow the hints in the message. Looks like it’s saying “sneak past the aurors and go to that hallway that everybody in Gryffindor has already gone down”. Harry thought about how none of the students had leaked spoilers, which I suppose is pretty impressive, and he knows that the payday is the mirror that shows you awesome stuff when you look in it. Harry sneaks down there and overhears Snape and Quirrell talking about Snape being there guarding the door. Quirrell passes out (again) and Harry turns the corner and Snape questions him, threatens to call 911 (or is it 999 over there?), and casts a bunch of spells dismissing stuff like Polyjuice and Metamorphosis and Harry isn’t polyjuiced or metamorphed. Harry is trying to figure out what’s going on because Snape is there playing his role, Quirrell, I guess, is playing his role, and now, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a bunch of students all coming down… is it a SPHEW revival? Oh, no. Draco figured out what’s really going on. There’s a short debate where the students all discuss whether or not they should tell Snape what they’re REALLY doing after the “it’s a team-building exercise” bluff fails and, here, Teddy Nott will say it better than I can:
“We’ve got to take the chance!” yelled Theodore. “Professor Snape, Mr. Malfoy finally worked out what’s been going on this whole year, and why – Dumbledore is trying to get the Philosopher’s Stone away from Nicholas Flamel! Because Dumbledore doesn’t think anyone ought to have immortality! So Dumbledore tried to convince Flamel that the Dark Lord was coming back and needed the Stone to revive, and asked Flamel to give it to him, but Flamel wouldn’t, and instead Flamel put the Stone in the magic mirror that’s down there, and Dumbledore is finding out right now how to get it, and then he’ll come for it and we’ve got to get to it first! Dumbledore really will be all-powerful if he gets the Philosopher’s Stone!”
Oh, and Draco’s there as well under an invisibility cloak. It comes out that the students aren’t exactly breaking ALL of the rules, Tonks is pretending to be Susan Bones again, and everybody is yelling when Professor Sprout shows up and starts yelling over all of them. Harry realizes that this is TOO crazy and it must be orchestrated and at that point Harry is wondering if Sprout is one of the bad guys like this is an episode of Scooby Doo (“let’s see who is under this mask… It’s Professor Sprout!”) and Quirrell wakes up long enough to mention to Snape that Sprout must have been memory charmed and, yep, Sprout starts attacking Snape and the students like she’s under the Imperius Curse and Harry says “attack Sprout, help Bones, non-lethal” and, looky there, Lesath is there and Sprout takes out pretty much everybody but Tonks and Draco, Draco takes out Tonks, and Harry takes out Draco. Harry goes over to help Quirrell but…
Wait, this is too crazy. There are too many plots and sub-plots and sub-sub-plots and Harry notices that he is confused and he goes through multiple theories and throwing them away as soon as they fail to explain things and… hoo boy.
The only explanation that explains everything in the last year (including Harry’s Dark Side) is that Quirrell is Voldemort and that Harry got the Horcrux injection way back on October 31st, 1981. Harry figured it out. And Harry figured out that Quirrell figured out that Harry figured it out. And Harry figured out that Quirrell figured out that Harry figured out that Lord Voldemort figured it out that Tom Riddle figured it out.
Hoo boy. (Looks like this chapter was originally published on January 28th, 2015. Chapter 104 didn’t come out until February 15, 2015.)
Chapter 105: Huh. Quirrell, erm, Voldemort has a gun. Harry wants to know what Voldy wants and Voldy tells Harry “if I wanted you dead, you’d have been dead years ago.” Voldy keeps calling Harry “Tom” and Harry, when pressed, calls it “our” name. Harry/Tom and Voldemort have a conversation of peers now. Voldy has put in motion a spell that will kill hundreds and he can only defuse it with the Philosopher’s Stone. Harry needs to help him get the Stone to defuse it. If Harry doesn’t, well, bad things will happen. He makes Harry drop his wand, drop his pouch, and drop his time turner. No more equipment. Remember when Quirrell, er, Voldemort was giving a small speech in the luxury box during the battle that all the parents were watching? “The classic Ravenclaw mistake: being proud of having an idea and, therefore, relying on it when you’d have been better off just not having it in the first place if you were going to use it as a crutch rather than as an additional tool in the toolkit.” Well, Harry had so very many clever ideas that relied on the pouch, on the time-turner, and even on the wand. And now he doesn’t have any of them. So… Voldy asks Tom/Harry “have you learned to lose once in a while yet?” and Harry/Tom, of course, has NOT. So Voldy threatens some of the hostages that he’s got littered around his feet. Harry/Tom’s brain is still vaporlocked and he points out that he has no reason to trust any bargain that Voldy offers. Voldy nods and accepts that and drops the truth bomb that YOU CANNOT LIE IN PARSELTONGUE.
Time to go back and reread all of the Parseltongue conversations, I guess.
Harry tests this out and, golly, he can’t lie in Parseltongue. So Voldy makes him an offer in Parseltongue. Help me out, and I will spare these hostages. By the way, I wasn’t bluffing with the “hundreds will die” thing. Harry/Tom needs to know what the Philosopher’s Stone does before he’s willing to commit and Voldy cheerfully tells him that it can help in Human transfiguration. (Time to go back and re-read what McGonagall said about Human transfiguration.) Voldy figured out that Harry stole Hermione’s remains and makes Harry/Tom this offer (in Parseltongue): Help me out with getting the Stone, I’ll resurrect Hermione for you. Harry/Tom knows that Voldy must not be able to get the Stone by himself if he’s willing to bargain so much. So Tom/Harry pushes it just a little bit more… and asks for protection for Hogwarts and answers to questions and, you know, no animosity. Voldy promises to answer questions about the past and stay his hand (however temporarily) against Hogwart’s (in Parseltongue). Tom/Harry accepts in English and Voldy makes Tom/Harry repeat the promise again in Parseltongue… and Harry/Tom makes the best offer he can make in Parseltongue. (His heart won’t be in it, you see.) Voldy is down and tells Tom/Harry that, periodically, he’ll ask if Harry/Tom has betrayed him yet.
So now Voldy has Harry/Tom’s wand, pouch, and invisibility cloak. Voldy casts a mass memory charm on everybody and has Sprout move all of the kids out of the Forbidden Hallway. He has Snape get back up and proceed to continue to guard the door. They open the door and step through.
Chapter 106: There’s a giant three-headed dog in there! What is the best way to deal with a three-headed dog? The killing curse, of course. Dog’s dead. Harry/Tom is still a first-year, deep down, and now he’s checking the room out for clues. Voldy makes him answer, in Parseltongue, as to whether he’s really looking for clues or trying to slow everybody down. Harry answers, in Parseltongue, that he was really looking for clues. Voldy is trying to not be disappointed in Harry/Tom. Harry/Tom notices the dead dog and asks Voldy whether that would put people off so Voldy recreates the minor resuscitation spell used on the Centaur earlier and, oh crap, it’s an Inferius. Which means that the Centaur died and Voldy didn’t use a fake killing curse. And extrapolating from there… Tom/Harry remembers that the two spirits can’t exist in the same world. It’s him or Voldy (even though Voldy thinks that such a notion is Dumbledore’s romantic belief in narrative über alles). And Harry/Tom remembers that he hasn’t called on his Dark Side since the day Hermione died and… well, maybe it’s time to call him back. It’s going to be Voldemort with years of experience vs. Tom/Harry and Tom/Harry better realize that he has powers that Voldemort knows not. Now he just has to figure out what they are.
Chapter 107: Getting to the next part of the Forbidden Room gets Harry/Tom immediately trapped. Harry struggles for a second then goes limp.
“Interesting,” said Professor Quirrell, as he floated down from above, not touching any of the plant’s leaves or tendrils. “I notice that you seem to have no trouble losing to a plant.”
Huh. EY is using “Professor Quirrell” and not “Voldemort”. Anyway, Harry realizes that Voldy is pretending to be Professor Quirrell so he should pretend to be Harry Potter.
Harry/Tom points out that he would have used his broom to get down so if he were doing this without a gun in his back, he wouldn’t have gotten caught in the first place. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, Harry/Tom has it sink in that Voldemort is good at this too. “Fighting a smart enemy was hard.” As if on cue, Voldy asks “Have you betrayed me yet?” Harry/Tom answers, in Parseltongue, that he hadn’t.
They get to the flying key room and Harry/Tom asks “what the heck?” and Voldy, who said he’d answer questions, tells Harry/Tom that his best guess is that since Dumbledore knew that Voldemort would send a kid in through, that Dumbledore would want to prevent students from getting harmed in trying to get to the Stone while, at the same time, making it into something that Voldemort would need a lot of time to do… enough time to set off alarms. Of course, there’ve already been one Unforgivable Curse and the Infernus is probably sitting with its butt right on the line to Unforgivable… but Voldy already said that he’s spent the last few months messing with the wards so who knows? Anyway, Voldemort said that he doesn’t know but his best guess is that the point of them is to slow things down for everybody, even Dark Lords, in such a way that it wouldn’t harm students who go for it. Well, Dark Lords are Dark Lords and Voldemort summons the Dark Phoenix (in theaters June 6th) and it takes out the locked door and goes through and takes out the Wizard’s Chessboard. Don’t need Hermione. Don’t need Ron. Just need a Dark Lord, Harry/Tom, and some willpower. The next room contains a simple boggart. Which, of course, is best dealt with using the Killing Curse. Or Fiendfyre. Whatever. The great thing about Brute Force is that it always works.
Wait. We get to the next room. It seems booby trapped in such a way that Brute Force wouldn’t work. It’s a recipe to create a potion. Maybe Dumbledore and Snape guess that Voldemort wouldn’t have the patience or inclination to follow a long, long, long recipe to create a potion. They talk about this and talk about the potential booby traps (maybe a Dementor?) and Voldy hammers out that Harry/Tom doesn’t sense one of those around and that Tom/Harry has not yet betrayed Voldemort and so they settle in to make a potion that has a long, long, long recipe. Hey, Voldy says. I said I’d answer questions about the past. I’ll answer them while I make this potion. Which gets us ready for…
Chapter 108: The Truth. So Harry knows that what he wants to know is how to get out of what is inevitably going to happen. He doesn’t understand Voldemort and there is a nice formulation here: “I know you might not want the same things I do, but I can’t imagine what you want that makes this the best way to get it.” So the first question he asks is about Halloween 1981. Everything Voldemort knows about the Horcrux was said in Parseltongue. Voldy makes an interesting point: “Whenever I was tempted to despair of you, I reminded myself how I was an idiot at twice your age.” It’s easy to forget that Harry is only 12. I mean, sure, he’s kinda… how old is Voldy? 71, according to the internet, at the end of Deathly Hallows. Lore says that he was born Dec 31 1926. If it’s 1992 in the story, he’s 65. Retire, Voldy! I digress. Voldemort improved the Horcrux spell and overhauled it completely pretty much keeping only the name. Harry/Tom digs for info about the Horcruxes and remembers the conversation he had waaaaay back when he discussed hiding things that he’d never want found. One of the Horcruxes is on that NASA probe. Remember when he did something to the plaque to make it last a long, long time? Well, he killed an employee to do that. In finding out more info, he discovers that Voldy has made more than 107 Horcruxes. Anyway, back to Halloween. Voldemort got sucked in by Trelawney’s prophecy. He would mark the infant Harry Potter as his equal by Horcruxing him. Then they could have some fun by fighting each other once the little Tom Riddle copy grew old enough to fight Voldemort and Riddle2 could rule Magical Britain for a while and they could play games back and forth with each other. This didn’t work as planned, though. It resulted in Voldemort blowing himself up… and immediately jumping to his Horcruxes. Of course, he put his Horcruxes in places where nobody could find them which meant that he was stuck there. Bodiless but immortal, he watched the stars and hoped that somebody would find one of the more crappily hidden Horcruxes and, one day, Quirinus Quirrell stumbled across one and Voldemort immediately took over. Voldemort tells Harry to just ask the question and Harry doesn’t want to but Voldemort insists. “Why didn’t you just kill me?” “It is only by harsh experience that we learn which principles take priority over which other principles; as mere words they all sound equally persuasive.”
Voldemort tells Harry/Tom that if he happens to kill him (er, Harry kills the body of Quirrell) that the new/improved Horcrux will let Voldy show up within hours this next time rather than require an itinerant mendicant to stumble across a particularly pretty rock. And just in case you were wondering if Voldy is bluffing, he confirms that he was telling the truth in Parseltongue.
Next, Harry/Tom asks about the Philosopher’s Stone itself. Voldemort has to wander into narrative for this next part. Long story short, the story everybody knows is a load of bull. The real story involves the Goblet of Fire, Baba Yaga, and a virginal Slytherin named Perenelle. Perenelle got Baba Yaga to unwittingly break a Gobleted Oath, killed her in her sleep, and stole Baba Yaga’s stone. “Nicholas Flamel” is a fiction. It’s been Perenelle the whole time. Perenelle did a good job hiding the stone and took Unbreakable Vows protecting it from Dark Lords like Voldy… so Voldy used the oldest trick in the book: make them think that he figured out how to steal it and, as they go to great efforts to protect it, they’ll reveal where it is. So, yeah, it’s in Hogwart’s now.
Which means that Tom/Harry can’t create another one if he gets out of this alive. He’ll need the Real Deal. Harry/Tom asks “Why did you kill Hermione?” Ah, the important question. Voldy was trying to get Harry/Tom closer to Draco in such a way that Lucius wouldn’t mind. Of course, Tom/Harry REFUSED TO LOSE at the trial necessitating Hermione’s death. (Personally, I think that Voldy was lying about Hermione getting out of Azkaban here. But “I thought she might be your Bellatrix” is a nice line and it is the way that Voldemort would think. But if anything would have gotten Harry/Tom to accept the Phoenix’s offer, it’d have been Hermione in Azkaban so maybe it’s for the best.) Harry/Tom couldn’t believe the complexity of the plot and Voldy gets off a very good line: “There are plots that must succeed, where you keep the core idea as simple as possible and take every precaution. There are also plots where it is acceptable to fail, and with those you can indulge yourself, or test the limits of your ability to handle complications.” Voldemort expresses some mild frustration for Hermione and her ability to withstand all of his tricks to get her to break her “childish” code. Tom/Harry takes this personally. Harry/Tom asks about the wards saying that the DADA Prof killed Hermione and Voldemort explains that he transfigured the troll into a false tooth. Which makes Voldemort ask Harry/Tom “what gave me away outside the door?” and Harry/Tom points out that everything was TOO nuts to not have been planned out beforehand. Voldemort seems a bit petulant that he got found out but, no matter, he reiterates that his intention is to resurrect Hermione. Harry/Tom has questions about what was done to the twins and Voldemort points out that the map the twins had showed both Harry/Tom and Voldy as being “Tom Riddle”. And, yep, there they both are on the map.
Voldy tells Harry/Tom that Snape was telling Hermione about the bullies and Harry/Tom already knew this. This surprises Voldemort and he wants to know if Dumbledore knew this too and demands the answer in Parseltongue. And then they discuss why Dumbledore made Snape the head of Slytherin. It was to destroy the House entirely. Too many Slytherins became Death Eaters. By turning Slytherin into a house that nobody would want to join in the first place and shut it down, they could make sure that all future Slytherins were sorted into one of the other three houses. Which is kinda clever, on Dumbledore’s part. Harry/Tom asks about Bellatrix and Voldy explains his relationship with her (it was kind of a messed up relationship, to be quite honest). Harry/Tom asks “why were we there REALLY?” and Voldemort explains that Bellatrix had something he wanted. And he got it. Harry/Tom asks if there were any other plots in the year and, sure, there were a handful but nothing to get in a twist about.
Harry/Tom asks his last big question: What’s the deal with Lord Voldemort? And Voldy points out that he’s IMMORTAL. This means that the Muggles need to be prevented from starting a nuclear war (and, heck, need to get a grip on this Global Climate Change thing) and so he created Voldemort as a cat’s paw that could lose to “David Monroe” and then David Monroe could be the Dumbledore of a new era. EXCEPT VOLDEMORT KEPT NOT LOSING. And not for lack of trying! The problem is that everybody who opposed him was completely and totally inept! Remember his awesome speech in the dining hall? That’s what he was complaining about! Magical Britain was nowhere NEAR competent enough to stand up against the stupid test run of “Lord Voldemort”. “I tried weakening Voldemort’s attacks, to see if it was possible for him to lose; at once the Ministry committed fewer Aurors to oppose me!” was a line that made me laugh out loud for real.
“And eventually,” Harry said through the heart-sickness, “you realized you were just having more fun as Voldemort.”
Then Voldemort gives the most chilling speech in the whole fanfic: He explains Dominance Theory. You know how Harry was more than happy enough to criticize Dumbledore and even gently mock him from time to time but we NEVER saw that with Quirrell? Well, Voldemort noticed that sort of thing too, one day, when a Ministry Clerk denied a request that was intended to help Magical Britain and he denied it because he could. “You knew that it might be to your cost to mock the strong and vengeful Professor Quirrell, but that there was no cost in disrespecting the weak and harmless Dumbledore.” Tom/Harry asked why Voldy didn’t just Imperius people capable of Imperiusing and thus run everything from behind the scenes and Voldy explains that, hey, say what you will about Dumbledore, but fighting him was INTERESTING. But, no, he’s not going to make that mistake again and it is then that Harry/Tom realizes “holy cow, he’s going to kill me.” He can’t remember the exact phrasing Voldy used… here, let me copy and paste it: “Help me, and you sshall have ansswerss to your quesstions, sso long ass they are about passt eventss, and not my planss for the future. I do not intend to raisse my hand or magic againsst you in future, sso long ass you do not raisse your hand or magic againsst me.”
This means that Harry/Tom’s predicament is EVEN MORE URGENT. So he steps it up. He asks Voldemort if he’ll be punished for pointing out a way that Voldemort could have avoided disaster back on Halloween and that he has a blind spot. Voldemort wants to know what and Harry/Tom asks if the Horcrux was tested before. Voldemort gets minorly upset at this and Harry points out that there was a way for Voldemort to test the Horcruxes without dying. Voldemort has no idea how to do this and Harry points out that if someone else used the spell and died and came back, it’d test the Horcrux without Voldemort having to die. And Voldemort sees… yeah. That WOULD work. Harry points out that this is a serious blind spot and Voldemort says that he’ll start trying to do nice things for people in an effort to more easily think of stuff like “make other people test out the Horcrux first.”
And Harry/Tom, at this point, doesn’t understand why Voldemort is like Voldemort. Harry/Tom asks him why doesn’t he just become Professor Quirrell forever and end the curse on the position and just teach DADA? Voldy expresses a little bit of surprise that Tom/Harry would just let Voldemort go and teach for a while and Harry/Tom points out that, sure, it’s not perfect justice but it’s better than another WAR. Why be like this when it doesn’t even make you happy? And Voldemort says “ah, but killing idiots DOES make me happy!” Voldemort points out that Tom/Harry KNOWS, deep down, that it ain’t about happiness. If it was about happiness, Harry/Tom would have taken the deal to go to Hufflepuff when he was under the Sorting Hat.
And the potion is done. (Man… that was a GREAT chapter.)
Chapter 109: Voldemort gives Harry (let’s go back to just one name for him, shall we?) the invisibility cloak to check out The Mirror of Perfect Reflection after hammering out, in Parseltongue, that Harry ain’t planning on running off or betraying him just yet. Harry does some light testing of the mirror and, determining that it doesn’t spin around to look at people in the room, Voldemort comes in and stands behind it. The mirror makes quick work of Voldemort’s Evil Phoenix and it’s pretty much established that this Mirror is OLD. Like, before Merlin old. Also, the mirror is apparently “Lawful Good”. Which means that Harry has to try to get the Stone from it and Quirrell cannot. The mirror is, of course, a trap. Harry will be able to get the Stone without tripping the trap. Well, maybe. Harry is kind of a Tom Riddle, deep down, and so he can’t really go in front of the mirror too. So they discuss the mirror and how to get the Stone out of it and what the rules must be for getting it back that would be set up in such a way that Harry would be able to get it but Voldemort wouldn’t, never in a million years. So it must have something to do with being afraid of death? They hint at the solution that worked in the original novels (that will NOT work under EY’s set of assumptions) and Harry comes up with a solution that MIGHT work? But also might be a betrayal? And, in Parseltongue, can’t say that it’s not one but can’t say that it is one either.
So Voldemort is going to Confund himself and make himself think that he’s Dumbledore and assume that the trap against Voldemort worked and ask for the Stone. And… well… he talks the mirror into getting the Stone but his imperfect state of Confundity is such that he finds himself stuck in front of the mirror talking to his conception of Dumbledore’s conception of Dumbledore’s dead relatives… and then Dumbledore himself shows up.
Chapter 110: Dumbledore and Voldemort have a conversation between equals. Dumbledore is surprised that Voldemort and Quirrell are the same person (didn’t he have the Twins’ map? oh, nevermind) and Quirrell tells Dumbledore that Voldemort was just a mask. Dumbledore makes a very, very good point: “anyone who can bring himself to act the part of Voldemort is Voldemort.”
It comes out that Voldemort killed Flamel? Wait. I thought that Flamel was Perenelle and not Flamel… did Dumbledore not know this? Wait, I thought that it was also pretty heavily implied that Flamel was still alive… Oh, no matter. Voldemort tells Dumbledore that, way back when, Dumbledore should have let Tom Riddle become an apprentice of Flamel. Dumbledore declines to take responsibility for what Tom Riddle became. Voldemort teases Dumbledore and asks about using James and Lily Potter as pawns and Dumbledore points out that, if raised by loving parents, Voldemort could have become Harry. A good Voldemort to stand up to the evil one. But Dumbledore acknowledges that the Good Voldemort will have nothing to do because the trap will spring shut on the evil one.
Dumbledore says this: “I destroyed your body, your spirit would only wander back, like a dumb animal that cannot understand it is being sent away. So I am sending you outside Time, to a frozen instant from which neither I nor any other can return you. Perhaps Harry Potter will be able to retrieve you someday, if prophecy speaks true.”
So Dumbledore knows that Voldemort can’t be killed. He has to be trapped. And we know that Harry knew that too, but now we know that everybody who opposes Voldemort knows it. The process has started and Tom Riddle is going to be trapped in the mirror. So Voldemort plays his trump card and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s Harry. The other Tom Riddle. Harry gives a real apology:
“It’s my fault,” Harry said in a tiny voice, from whatever part of him had taken over his throat in the final extremity. “I was stupid. I’ve always been stupid. You mustn’t rescue me. Goodbye.”
Dumbledore freaks out, tosses his wand and the line of Merlin aside, and steps into the trap himself to save the Voldemorts.
(Aside: This is where I figured we’d stop reading until we agreed to keep reading.)
Chapter 111: And Voldemort was laughing. Harry couldn’t believe it. Voldemort, having defeated Dumbledore, explains to Harry that, hey, I COULD kill you right now, there not being a Headmaster anymore… but let’s resurrect your girlfriend. Come on. They leave and Voldy hits Snape with a Hyakuju Montauk (which, as far as I can tell, is a Voldemortian improvement upon the Crucio). Voldemort stops the bomb from going off under the Quidditch game (yay, freeing the hostages) and it looks like they’re going to go for a long walk through a hidden corridor. Voldy asks Harry if Harry has any more questions but Harry’s brain has shut down. Harry is mostly feeling shame and guilt and figuring out that maybe the authorities would be the best to deal with this… but Harry watched the Quidditch game and it wasn’t disrupted by weird stuff happening so whatever happens, it’s not LOUD.
“It seemed unclear whether the fate of the world was better or worse if the Dark Lord had Harry as a mind-slave; if the Dark Lord was going to win anyway, it might be better if he won faster.”
And Harry keeps trying to figure out stuff that he knows that Voldemort doesn’t. The problem is that Voldemort knows everything that Harry knows. Maybe if Harry had a Dementor? Harry realized that if he trusted Dumbledore from the very beginning, he might not be in this mess. If you had some bread, and I had some ham, we could have some ham sandwiches. They arrive at The Graveyard and Voldemort explains that he’s going to resurrect himself first and only then resurrect Hermione. Harry doesn’t understand why and Voldemort tells him “you care about the world more when she’s in it”. Which might mean that Voldemort isn’t going to kill Harry? Voldemort starts a chant among the obelisks that is a bad pun in Greek: “Apokatastethi, apokatastethi, apokatastethi to soma mou emoi” translates to “Bring back, bring back, bring back my body to me”. Voldemort uses the Stone on some hidden blood and… welp, Voldemort has his original body back.
If Quirrell’s body somehow limited Voldemort’s abilities, that tells you that Voldemort had some SERIOUS abilities. Well, he’s no longer hobbled. His body is back, baby.
Voldemort tells Harry to put Hermione’s body on the altar and, yep, Harry’s got it on his person. It’s in the toe ring. After bluffing to get his wand back, Harry gets told to just stop using magic to sustain it and… welp, there’s Hermione on the alter, legless. Voldemort does some magic and the dead Hermione’s legs grow back. There’s something wrong with the procedure… The substance is repaired but a dead wizard is the same as a dead muggle. (And Voldemort is saying this in Parseltongue so it’s not a ploy of some sort.) Harry says that he’ll need his wand back to help make it work and, in Parseltongue, says he has no intentions to use it against Voldy (without mentioning that intentions sometimes change) and Harry gets his wand back. Harry casts the Patronus and that was the jumpstart that Hermione needed. She’s alive, I guess, though still unconscious.
Voldemort says something interesting: “was your happy thought the image of her returning to life? Was that all it took? I suspect I will feel quite stupid when I finally comprehend that spell, someday in my eternity.” Voldemort continues the procedure with a handful of new adjustments. He’s putting some essence of Mountain Troll into Hermione. Health, regeneration, all that stuff. Voldy isn’t going to resurrect her just to let her die because she chokes on a chicken bone or something. Oh, and a Unicorn. Voldemort had a spare, you see. With the unicorn essence and the troll essence, Hermione will pretty much only have to fear the Killing Curse or Fiendfyre. Now that Hermione was back, Voldemort asks Harry for the diary of Roger Bacon and, apparently, makes a Horcrux of Hermione to put into the diary of Roger Bacon (did I get that right)?
Except, unfortunately, something went wrong and it looked like Voldemort thinks that he severed his Horcrux. “My great creation -” gasped Voldemort. His voice was high, sounding panicked. “Two different spirits cannot exist in the same world – it is gone, it is severed! A horcrux, I must make a horcrux at once -” and he notices the body of Hermione just as Harry pulls a gun from his pouch, points it at Voldy, and pulls the trigger.
Chapter 112: Of course a gun wouldn’t work. Of COURSE Voldemort’s statement that he needed a Horcrux was a feint in order to make Harry attack him. “Hey, I didn’t use my fist or my wand” and Voldemort points out that his stuff doesn’t have loopholes like that. Harry broke his promise and, now, he’s fair game. So Harry gets all of his stuff taken away (including his clothes) except his wand. “So now you’re gonna kill me?” and Voldemort pointed out that, no, if his business with Harry was concluded that Harry would already be dead.
Maybe it’s, like, a Sith thing. You’ve always gotta expect that the apprentice would try to kill you. It keeps you on your toes.
Voldemort tells Harry that Hermione’s Horcrux is now the diary, so don’t lose it, and if he needs to resurrect her at some point, here’s how to do that. Harry doesn’t understand that AT ALL and says so. Voldemort points out that he heard Trelawney’s prophecy about Harry being the destruction of everything and says “hey, I am doing everything I can to make sure that you won’t want to destroy everything”. Voldemort tells Harry that the next few minutes are going to be crazy and if something goes wrong, Harry will probably have to kill himself to save Hermione… thus thwarting the prophecy. Voldemort tells Harry to point his wand at the ground and to not say a thing or Voldy will kill him. And he says all of that in Parseltongue.
Voldemort summons the Death Eaters and, yep, they’re back. “Train your wand upon the Boy-Who-Lived, and watch him! Do not be distracted, not by anything! Stun him at once if he moves, if he begins to speak!” And it’s now 37 Death Eaters all pointing their wands at Harry.
Chapter 113: Lord Voldemort is back, baby. And he has a lot of opinions of how crappily the Death Eaters have handled the last decade. And they’re going to hear about it. Crucio on the first one, the second one attempts a killing curse and Voldy handles it easily and kills the guy who tried it. A handful of displeased statements later, Voldemort sets up an Unbreakable Vow for Harry to take (thus thwarting the prophecy):
“I vow…” Harry said. His voice shook, but he spoke. “That I shall not… by any act of mine… destroy the world… I shall take no chances… in not destroying the world… if my hand is forced… I may take the course… of lesser destruction over greater destruction… unless it seems to me that this Vow itself… leads to the world’s end… and the friend… in whom I have confided honestly… agrees that this is so. By my own free will… so shall it be.”
Okay. NOW they can kill Harry Potter. Voldemort just has one question for Harry first. Hey, you’ve got power that I know not, you’ve got sixty seconds to tell me about this power and, for each new thing I learn, I won’t kill a loved one of yours. The minute starts… NOW.
Which then becomes this section:
This is your final exam.
You have 60 hours.
Your solution must at least allow Harry to evade immediate death,
despite being naked, holding only his wand, facing 36 Death Eaters
plus the fully resurrected Lord Voldemort.
Here are the rules:
- Harry must succeed via his own efforts. The cavalry is not coming.
Everyone who might want to help Harry thinks he is at a Quidditch game.
Harry may only use capabilities the story has already shown him to have;
he cannot develop wordless wandless Legilimency in the next 60 seconds.
Voldemort is evil and cannot be persuaded to be good;
the Dark Lord’s utility function cannot be changed by talking to him.
If Harry raises his wand or speaks in anything except Parseltongue,
the Death Eaters will fire on him immediately.
If the simplest timeline is otherwise one where Harry dies –
if Harry cannot reach his Time-Turner without Time-Turned help –
then the Time-Turner will not come into play.
It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue.
And that’s our first one-hundred-thirteen chapters. If you spent a few minutes trying to come up with a solution for Harry’s problem, please leave it in comments! (Do we want to use rot13 for this part? How’s this: I’ll rot13 mine.)
For next Sunday, we’re going to read the last nine chapters and finish the book.
So… What do you think?
(Featured image is Foucault’s Pendulum by Sylvar. Used under a creative commons license.)