The Department of Mysteries: Pre-Loaded Wands for Your Wizarding Pleasure
by Bob Sindeldecker
Argus Filch is a sad creature.
To explain how I know him so well, I must explain a bit more about myself. When I left the Navy in 1990, I went to work at an adult bookstore in San Diego. It was a great job: my boss liked me so I could do no wrong, plus I received commissions on all rubber products (hem! hem!) I sold, which could be quite substantial. All told, it was the best 6 months of my life, at least in San Diego.
During that time I saw quite a few customers with the same problem, and all of them tried to cure it with a solution which simply did not and could not work. See, many men are deeply ashamed of the unacceptably miniscule dimensions of a certain part of their anatomy. This part is vital to their physical health, but its size – the bigger the better – is vital to their emotional health. They literally feel they are Less Of A Man if this body part is unacceptably small. Now, unacceptably is hard to define. I doubt many men openly compare theirs to anyone else’s – it’s pretty private – but suffice it to say if you feel yours is too small, you will be miserable about this unless you can make it larger.
The problem: there is, honestly, no way to make it larger.
Trust me on this. I am no doctor, but I can assure you that the pneumatic anatomical pumps I once sold to desperate, self-loathing men simply Did. Not. Work.Period. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to be honest with them. Invariably, some nervous, shame-faced looking guy would bring one up to the counter and ask me, “do these things really work?” and I was required to tell him, “that product is sold as a novelty only.” If I said, “yes, they work,” he could sue the store and me for making false claims. If I said “no, they don’t,” he wouldn’t buy one. I felt awful about it, but at least I never deceived anyone. I never failed to make a sale, either.
So Argus Filch has my unreserved sympathy. Filch is a Squib, and in the Wizarding World this is akin to being a guy who is Dwarf-Sized Where It Counts.
IMAGINE: you are born into a Wizarding family and a larger Wizarding culture, yet you cannot do magic. All of your family and acquaintances are capable of wonderful and amazing things, but you aren’t. Worse, you are the victim of their pranks, their scorn and their hatred. All of the other boys are better than you, able to whoop you, even younger ones, which turns the usual kid pecking order upside down. Girls won’t talk to you except out of pity, which only burns you like acid because you know they are just feeling sorry for you. No Witch will marry you, and probably none will even date you. You are worse than nothing; you are something they wish was nothing.
You have relatives who are accepted at Hogwarts automatically – no way they’d fail to get in – yet you yourself never receive The Letter. You are not and cannot be a part of their World. It’s not that they don’t like you (though they don’t) or that there wasn’t room for you; it’s worse than that. The problem is a fundamental physical deficiency, something they have inside their very bodies that you do not. The problem is that you Simply Do Not Measure Up. You. Are. Defective.
Worse, they rub it in. The adults are cruel to you as a kid, either snapping at you for your failure to keep up (not your fault, as you can’t) or worse, pitying you, making sure everyone knows how pathetic you are. The kids are more openly vicious, playing cruel tricks on you that you cannot defend or retaliate against. It’s like being the scrawniest kid on the playground, the one who gets beaten up on by the rest, whom everyone defines as a loser.
So when I read about Filch’s Kwik-Spell course in Chamber Of Secrets, my heart went out to him. Oh that poor, poor man.
You see, Argus Filch is a hopeless case. He will NEVER do magic, period. Kwik-Spell is a total scam. It cannot work for the simple reason that those who buy it have no magical ability whatsoever. Real Wizards do not need it, and those who “need” it (or think they do) are not real Wizards. And never will be. As with those specialized pneumatic devices, Kwik-Spell makes a promise that cannot be delivered. Though JKR did not mention this, I am sure that somewhere in the Kwik-Spell book it says, “sold as a novelty only.”
So that, as far as it goes, is that.
Then the other night I was re-reading an old financial book from the 1990s, Banking In Silence by W.G. Hill, and I came to the chapter on secured credit cards. The termsecured credit card is oxymoronic: a card does not need to be secured if you have credit, and you don’t have credit if you had to secure the thing to get it.
What they are is a “credit” card on which your “credit” equals the amount you deposit in a special account to secure the card, hence the name. These cards are issued to people who cannot get a real “credit” credit card, i.e. people with bad credit. They are NOT debit cards, because the purchases made do not come out of the account. Instead you pay on the bill every month just like a regular credit card, including the usurious interest. The money you deposited just sits there, ready to cover the bill in case you don’t. You cannot withdraw it; if you do, your “credit” is canceled.
The banks really make out on this. Not only do they suck in another debt-cow yielding infinite milk, they get your money to loan out and you can’t touch it. It’s a win-win-win, at least for the bank. Not bad for the customer either. You have credit, real credit, nevermind that it is secured, and that opens a lot of doors. These are not some off-brand cards that nobody ever heard of either, but genuine Visas and MasterCards. You can get any kind you want – Gold, Platinum, Plutonium, etc. – and there is no ID required because the bank isn’t risking any money, so you can use any name you like – Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, Diddley Q. Blowfahrt – perfect for identity changers. Approval is 100% – you ALWAYS get the card as long as you’ve got the money.
So I was reading all this, thinking of charging Half-Blood Prince to “Harry Potter’s” Plutonium Visa card, when it struck me: if there are pre-loaded credit cards for people devoid of credit, why not pre-loaded wands for people devoid of magic?
It would be absurdly simple. A real Witch or Wizard, one able to do magic, could charm a wand to discharge a spell when the person holding it – ANY person – said the proper incantation. A Squib or Muggle then holds the wand, says the incantation and activates the spell, just as if they were naturally able to do magic.
Think about it. For the first time Squibs would have a chance to Make Things Happen, if only in a limited way. While adults like Filch could not pretend they had been Wizards all along, young Squibs might be able to hide their shameful defect indefinitely. Squibs and those Muggles aware of magic (like relatives of Hogwarts students) would finally have a defense against magical attacks. And I don’t know if magical people ever suffer a loss or weakening of their abilities, but if they do, a wand pre-loaded by a stronger, younger person could save their cookies.
The question is, who could you get to provide such wands? What kind of Witch or Wizard would be willing to supply spells to Squibs, magic to Muggles? What kind of dirty, disloyal deviant would find it acceptable, even amusing to put magic in the hands of those who had never handled it before?
Why, Fred and George Weasley, of course.
They have already proven they can charm certain magical devices to do certain things when wielded by others. I say “magical devices” because we are not really sure their fake wands started out as wands. Probably they started out as whatever they turn into, and the wand stage is just a temporary Transfiguration. But you get the idea.
Think of it. Fred and George could “charge up” a wand just as Muggles do with a secured credit card or a pre-paid phone card: one spell, one use. Saying the incantation discharges the spell, then it’s gone. If you want more spells, you bring it back to get it recharged. Most of the money to be made lies in repeated recharging, not in the initial sale of the wand. Initially wands could come charged with a Sampler Package of the most popular spells included for free – “as a taster” in the British idiom. Smart vendors would make it impossible for anyone else to charge their wands, so you would have to come back to them. They might even give the wand away free, just to get you hooked. I can see it now:
GEORGE: “Don’t say ‘No Charge!’ If it’s got no charge they can’t use it.”
Not only would Weasley’s Wonder Wands be very popular, they could become vital, and soon. With the Second War in full swing, non-Wizards will become targets of opportunity, and they will need some means of magical self-defense. Weasley’s Wonder Wands could supply that most easily. Otherwise each potential victim would have to receive protective charms from a magical benefactor and as potential victims include everyone, that would be impractical.
As for Filch, it would transform his life. No longer would he fall prey to nasty Wizard kids playing their magical pranks on him. Now he could fight back, or even undertake (hem! hem!) pre-emptive strikes. As a purely practical matter, a wand loaded with Scourgefying Charms would make his mopping up a thing of the past. Who knows, once he was no longer a powerless victim in the midst of rapacious predators he might even develop a sense of humor.
Magical Devices And The Law
As far as we know, the only law limiting magical devices is the one forbidding non-humans to use wands. There is no law forbidding Squibs or Muggles to use them, since they cannot do so. Pre-loaded wands change that fact, however. It would be interesting to see who might wish to forbid Squibs and Muggles from using them – no doubt “for their own good” because “they don’t have the proper training or experience” and “they would be a danger to themselves and others.”
TRANSLATION: technological progress threatens the previously assured grip on power held by Magical people over the non-Magical.
But I’ll bet Dumbledore would be all for it.