The Underground Lake #13: Here We Go Again For the First Time: The Underground Lake and the Ministry of Magic
Okay. Saturday night I was riding high. After all of your wonderful emails about “Mysteries Unveiled” I was feeling pretty good about myself, and my ever-inflating ego was actually proud (for once) that I started doing this Mugglenet thing. Not one, NOT ONE rude email, or one correcting a mistake came to my mailbox so I thank you all. And because of that, I have NO OLD BUSINESS! SO…YAY!
BUT SUDDENLY IT HIT ME: NOW I HAVE TO TOP IT!!! So I immediately consulted my notebook. My notebook is the notebook I keep next to whatever HP book I happen to be reading at the time. In it, I write down oddities or curiosities or possible editorial topics. Then I had a brainwave: write an editorial about your favorite character: Dumbledore. It was to be titled: DUMBLEDORE: INGENIUS OR INEPT! After I got about halfway through, I checked MuggleNet (as is my daily custom) to see what was crackin’. Then I see that my colleague over at the North Tower has a new editorial. I immediately clicked it to read another riveting article to discover that the latest editorial was about none other than my pal, Dumbledore.
Confused and pissed heartbroken that someone had beaten me to the punch, I had a freak out. I had nothing else lined up in its place. So then I got an idea. This is an opportunity for you faithful readers to have some input. Starting now, when you guys email me: I want you also to include a question you’ve always wanted answered about HP. By no means am I saying I have the right answer, but these questions will be great editorial fodder for weeks to come.THAT’S RIGHT! I am starting the first ever READER’S CHOICE EDITORIAL!! Starting next time, every fifth editorial will be written on a topic chosen from among your questions! I think it’s a good idea. So we’ll see how it works.
In the mean time, I was still left with the gaping problem of what to write about for this week and then it hit me: THE UNDERGROUND LAKE!! I promised you guys that I would one day explain why I called my column the Underground Lake. So DING!!! But then I thought, “WHY STOP THERE?” (I talk to myself a lot in case you hadn’t noticed yet!) I’m gonna do an editorial about lots of my theories concerning the magical world and their implication on future events. Therefore, I submit for your consideration and entertainment: HERE WE GO AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME: THE UNDERGROUND LAKE AND THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC!
That Darn Lake
When I read Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time, an image that always stuck with me was Harry’s first visit to Gringotts. Harry describes seeing an underground lake on his way to his vault (although he was also feverishly searching for a glimpse of a real dragon as well). The lake image stuck with me until I got to Goblet of Fire again. When the students from Durmstrang arrive in their ship, it ascends from beneath the lake at Hogwarts. Then an idea struck me: suppose all the lakes in the magical world are connected?
Is it so farfetched to assume that if wizards and witches can connect fireplaces and have people touch bits of garbage and be instantly transported from one place to another, that they cannot connect their bodies of water together as well? Sounded reasonable enough. But look at the implications. Why would Gringotts need an underground lake with that ability? One would assume storage purposes. Think of it as sort of like the big loading docks at Target or your large department stores. I mean if there really are dragons there, you can’t very well load one into one of those little carts and shove them down that immense track at hundreds of miles an hour. Not to mention, all that money and vast wealth. I like this idea of interconnectedness, this idea that all over the world, there are lakes that can be traveled through. It kinda fit with my creed: THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION! Everything is connected somehow.
Then something else hit me about the interconnectedness. Let’s assume that there are sort of underground waterways. Think of them as highways underwater that connect these lakes together. Therefore, if someone knew the right exit, would it therefore be possible for a person to travel from Hogwarts deep into the heart of Gringotts?
Then I remembered my own Moody-esque creed again: THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION! I have always been under the assumption that we are not done with Gringotts. It’s too mysterious for just that little bit in PS/SS. Then I remembered that our friendly, neighborhood Voldemort broke into Gringotts before Harry’s first year. Gringotts is supposed to be this impregnable place. But Voldemort broke in, and we never find out how. Voldemort broke in on Harry’s birthday so Harry wouldn’t have been at school yet, but there is nothing to say that Quirrell couldn’t have been there. Remember that Hagrid took out the stone the same day Voldemort went to steal it. If Hagrid went on Dumbledore’s orders, it is safe to assume that as early as Harry’s birthday, the teachers were already given the memo to start working on their little protections for the stone so that all Dumbledore had to do was stick the stone in its hiding place.
Therefore, I submit that Quirrell was at school when all the teachers were told that the stone was going to be moved to Hogwarts at some point. Quirrell/Voldemort realized that he would have to get the stone before Dumbledore because if Dumbledore got it first, Voldemort would have a helluva time getting his hands on it (which ultimately he does). I think he knows how to travel through the lakes. It would be a skill that came in handy during Vold War I. Think about it. In the game of magical world domination, the ability to be in many places at once is key. Remember also that there was much fear that the Goblins might side with Voldemort during his second coming, just as I believe (but can’t remember where I read it) they helped him out the first time. Wouldn’t it have been awful nice of the goblins to just tell Voldemort during Vold War I: “here is how you get to Gringotts by lake.”
All this goes back to one of my biggest concerns: the imminent attack on the school. I believe that at some point during this war there will be an attack on the school (where knowledge of the Marauder’s Map will really come in handy). Now, we have been told a MILLION TIMES (say it with me everybody): “YOU CAN’T APPARATE ON SCHOOL GROUNDS!!!” But what if you took the lake? We know that Durmstrang has ties to the Dark Arts? What if, all of a sudden, our good ol’ Hogwarts lake gets to bubbling and a Durmstrang ship pops out and out come… DEATH EATERS!!! Oooh, wouldn’t that just suck?
Unlikely, but plausible. But that rant leads me effortlessly into my next issue…
Those Pesky Portkeys and Fiendish Fireplaces
You cannot apparate on school grounds. But portkeys haven’t stopped anybody yet. Not only can you portkey on and off grounds (forgive me, I am using portkey as a verb-the madness!), but also anybody can just create unauthorized portkeys. We saw Dumbledore do it when he sent Harry back to school after the battle at the Ministry of Magic. And we know that Imposter Moody created an unauthorized portkey to send Harry into one of the most cleverly orchestrated kidnap-traps of the modern era. I am hereby invoking the Dumbledore-Voldemort Rule of Magic, which, simply put, says that: anything one can do, the other can do. Both wizards, by their own admission (or in some cases, omission), have admitted that they both are equally matched in battle and that they both have access to the same magics and CAN do the same things (though Dumbledore may not necessarily ACTUALLY do them). Therefore, it is a safe assumption that if Dumbledore can create an unauthorized portkey, so can Voldemort. These portkeys can take one not only into the grounds but also deep into the offices of the school (Dumbledore’s transported Harry right into to Dumbledore’s office).
This made me wonder why JKR has not given us any portkey rules. We know that powerful wizards can create their own portkeys. We also know that the Hogwarts Headmaster’s office can seal itself so that it only allows those the headmaster sees fit. But what bugs me is that we know that Tom Riddle (a.k.a. Voldemort) has been in the headmaster’s office at one time. If one assumes that portkeys work like Nightcrawlers teleportation (how I always imagined portkeys were like Nightcrawler from X-Men – the ability to think about a place and be instantaneously transported to that place), then why can’t Voldemort portkey himself into Dumbledore’s office (RHETORICAL) or at the very least into the school itself (NOT RHETORICAL)? Come to think of it, since we’re talking about interconnectedness, why can’t he portkey into the Chamber of Secrets? That is his domain, not Dumbledore’s.
Then another thing struck me: FIREPLACES!! Sirius, a (not-so) convicted felon was able to use the Floo Network several times to talk to Harry. And we know that Lupin came into Snape’s office via Floo Powder in the chapter “Snape’s Grudge” in PoA. Again, as a powerful wizard and former student, what do we know that tells us that it is impossible for Voldemort to break into the school via Floo Powder? Suddenly, Hogwarts castle doesn’t seem so impregnable to me. When and how will Voldemort make his run on the castle?
A person could speculate on that one for ages. But all this talk of rules and regulations got me on about our ever-enigmatic, uber-exclusive, extremely expansive MINISTRY OF MAGIC!
Mayhem at the Ministry
When Harry gets on the elevator in the Ministry of Magic, we hear what is on each of the fun floors:
Level 10: Courtrooms (Elevator doesn’t go here)Level 9: THE DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIES
Level 8: The Atrium-THE ENTRANCE
Level 7: Department of Magical Games and Sports (yo, Ludo Bagman!), incorporating the British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters, Official Gobstones Club, and Ludicrous Patents Office.
Level 6: Department of Magical Transport, incorporating the Floo Network Authority (poor Dursley living room), Broom Regulatory Control, Portkey Office (they could be sued for Cedric’s death), and Apparation Test Center (those fools gave Fred and George a license).
Level 5: Department of International Magical Cooperation (R.I.P. Barty Crouch, Sr.), incorporating the International Magical Trading Standards Body, the International Magical Office of Law, and the International Confederation of Wizards, British Seats.
Level 4: Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures (wazzup MacNair!), incorporating Beast, Being, and Spirit Divisions, Goblin Liason Office, and Pest Advisory Bureau.
Level 3: Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes(former stomping ground of Cornelius Fudge), including the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, Obliviator Headquarters (could Gilderoy Lockhart be a former employee), and Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee.
Level 2: Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters, and Wizengamot Administration Services.
Level 1: ????????????????????
Now the first thing we notice is that, with the exception of the enigmatic Level one, we have in one way or another dealt with each of the other areas of concern in the Ministry of Magic. Arthur Weasley, along with all of our Auror pals, work in Level two, which is also the source of all those fun owls Harry receives for “doing magic” outside of school in Books Two and Five. Fudge worked on Level three when the Potters were killed, not to mention Harry’s dealings with Level three in relation to his favorite Aunt Marge. Hagrid has obviously been a frequenter of Level four what with all his Buckbeak issues, not to mention our old DE pal MacNair works there. Barty Crouch, Sr. and Percy Weasley both worked on Level five. We’ve been dealing with level six since Book One: between Harry’s two brooms, the introduction of the Floo Network in Book Two, the portkey debacles of Book Four and Fred and George passing their Apparating test in Book Five. As for level seven, Quidditch World Cup anyone, to say nothing of all the Hogwarts Quidditch we are inundated with. The atrium is the site of the great Voldy/Dumbledore showdown and I don’t even wanna start on the Department of Mysteries (*coughveilandpropheciescough*). As for the courtrooms, pensieve anyone? Harry’s trial, anyone?
It does strike me as interesting that we have yet to discover what is on level one. If I had to guess, I would say that is probably where the Office of the Minister of Magic is, but the truth is we do not know. I also love wizard architecture. You get in the phone booth and it takes you from the street to the eighth floor (which is DOWN by the way). There, you see the fireplaces and the Apparation points. Then the wall of elevators that take you UP underground… okay I’m getting a headache and you’re hopefully getting the point. I have a feeling that this first floor may become important and we will discover what is there (seeing as how it may house the next minister of Magic) and also perhaps discover if there is anything below the courtrooms – like an underground lake perhaps.
As for our favorite Ministry of Magic employees, I read a passage recently that struck me as very odd. I am a firm believer that there is a whole different level going on in “The Unforgivable Curses” chapter of GoF. The reason for this is we are reading about this fun class taught by the coolest DADA professor ever (no offense Lupin, you’re still my dog… or in your case werewolf… Sirius is the dog… nevermind). But what we have to remember is that Moody is NOT teaching this lesson; Barty Crouch, Jr. is. And that puts a totally different spin in the way we interpret things. This is the passage that set me off:
“Your father would know that one. Gave the ministry a lot of trouble at one time, the Imperius Curse.”
– Barty Crouch, Jr. to Ron Weasley (212, GoF)
In my American paperback copy, “would” is italicized. Why would Barty Crouch (and JKR) want to emphasize that there is a relationship between Arthur Weasley and the Imperius Curse? The simple answer is that as a ministry employee working just down the hall from the Aurors, Arthur would have heard all about the Imperius Curse back in the day. Of course, if you couldn’t tell, I’m not a fan of simple explanations. I once read an asinine theory that said that Arthur Weasley is a former Death Eater. I spit on that theory. If Arthur Weasley is a Death Eater, then Dobby will be the first House Elf Minister of Magic! But it does make me wonder a few things: Mr. And Mrs. Weasley were not in the original order. Why? The simple answer is that they didn’t want to get involved. And with good reason: at the time of Voldemort’s fall, Ginny was either in the womb or a newborn, Ron was one, the twins were three, Percy was five, Charlie was eight, and Bill was ten. I would say that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley really need birth control! But I would also say that with all those little ones running around, joining the Order was probably not at the top of their list of things to do (especially with the thought of three year old Fred and George running around).
But this does beg the question, what were they doing the first time and why would B.C. Jr. imply that Mr. Weasley knew a lot about the Imperius Curse? Was he good at it? Was he a victim of it? Why in Book 4 does it say that Mr. Weasley would have been promoted so many times now if it weren’t for his affinity for muggles? So many questions, so little time.
Well, that’s all the ranting time I have for now. Don’t forget, in those wonderful emails you all send me to include questions you’ve always wanted answered in editorial form. As always, Brandon Ford signing off, reminding you that THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION!!!