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The Underground Lake #16: Level 9

by Brandon

Yes folks, it’s that time of day. B-Fizzle, reporting from an undisclosed location (well, actually it is disclosed in my bio, but I digress), is back with more musings about our friend Harry Potter. I am deep in my reread of Order of the Phoenix. Presently our friend, Harry, is about to have his first detention with Dolores Jane Umbridge, the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher since Snape (excuse me, Professor Snape) had his brief substitute tenure in Book Three. This editorial is going to be slightly random. But before I get into this week’s topic, here is a bit of old business.

I was glad that my Legion of the Lost Day stirred up such controversy among some of you. Magic detectors? Fudge implicated with Death Eaters? Petunia – a closet broomstick? Madness, I tell you! Madness! As you know, old business is where I defend or recant points in my last editorial. So here it goes.

An absolutely fantastic person by the name of Jonne van Lunteren (aka Patronus from The Netherlands) sent me a marvelous email that may be the proof I needed and could not find to support my claim that Petunia was a closet broomstick. The following is an actual JKR quote from Barnes & Noble in March 1999 meaning that the quote predates the American release of Chamber of Secrets and the British release of Prisoner of Azkaban. JKR says: “In my books, magic almost always shows itself in a person before age 11; however, there is a character who does manage in desperate circumstances to do magic quite late in life, but that is very rare in the world I am writing about.” Since Hagrid was a student at Hogwarts at one point, we know that this cannot refer to him because he could obviously do magic prior to the age of eleven. Is this by any means conclusive? No. But it is the strongest, most untainted remark I have heard (from the AUTHOR, no less) that supports my theory about Petunia. I will leave further speculation to all of you.

As for why the magic detectors didn’t pick up the magic of the Order members who rescued Harry, it is elementary. Ask yourself: how many of those people are Ministry employees? That’s all you need to know. Any one of them could have gone to the Improper Use of Magic Office and “done something” to Harry’s detector. Or what’s more, since we know that Dumbledore has ways of “persuading” the Improper Use of Magic Office, he simply could have called in a favor and told a reliable person that Harry was being picked up and magic might need to be used.

My Fudge theory is PURE SPECULATION, folks! I have not much to go on, but what I have is a strong gut instinct that leads me to this conclusion. The same instinct that told me Sirius was gonna die in Book Five. The same instinct that told me the Ministry sent the Dementors after Harry to get him framed. That’s all any of us have to go on – our instinct. Granted, I have received emails from people whose instincts tell them that in Book Seven, it is the Creevy brothers who will save the whole lot of them, but… yeah not even I can justify that one, but you get my point. So as I have always said, take my predictions and wild speculations with a grain of salt. Now, onto new business.

That five-parter took a lot out me editorial-wise. I poured three months of reading into those five parts and came out the other side exhausted. I have been going through my notebook and noticed I had a lot of oddities and curiosities very similar to the kind of emails my astute readers send to me. So I thought I would, just this once, open my notebook to you all and let you know what goes through this insane brain as I read the books. I submit for your entertainment and consideration: LEVEL NINE!

THE TRUTH ABOUT VOLDEMORT

Last night while reading, I had an epiphany about Voldemort. I was reading “The Sorting Hat’s New Song” and suddenly I was struck with a strange notion. According to the Sorting Hat, Salazar Slytherin only wanted pureblood wizards in his house. So then I asked myself: why, then, is Tom Riddle – a half-blood – sorted into Slytherin. Well, the obvious answer is that he is sorted into Slytherin because he is the heir of Slytherin. But then a nagging question hit me: how did Tom Riddle discover he was the heir of Slytherin? And then it hit me: DUH! THE SORTING HAT TOLD HIM!!!

It is so simple, yet I have always glazed over it. Anytime I did my analysis of young Voldemort at Hogwarts, I always glazed over how he discovered he was the heir of Slytherin. His mother died in childbirth, so she couldn’t have told him. He grew up in a Muggle orphanage, so no one there would be in a position to tell him. His father abandoned him, so why would he tell him the truth? I then thought of a letter written by his mother before she gave birth, but why would she do that? I doubt she knew she was going to die in childbirth (’cause that would be really creepy). Then the answer became clear. We know our friend the sorting hat likes to have private conversations with people in their heads as he sorts them. I imagine the same circumstances applied as when he detected the bit of Voldemort in Harry while sorting him – he (the hat) felt the essence (the literal definition, nothing to do with my “life essence” theory) of Salazar Slytherin in the boy and realized the truth: the heir of Slytherin had returned to Hogwarts. He no doubt told the boy of the connection.

On the train ride to school, I imagine that Tom Riddle was probably in a compartment with a bunch of first years gabbing about school. Someone (his Ron counterpart) who was probably raised in the wizarding world probably told him about the houses. We’ll say that this Ron counterpart was a pureblood and really cool and obviously destined to be a Slytherin. These people were his kind of people. He wanted to be a Slytherin, but – OH NO! – he’s a half-blood. He couldn’t be with these people who share his outlook on life for the same reason that Harry, after juxtaposing Malfoy and Ron, knew he would never want to be a Slytherin. The seeds of Slytherin qualities were there, but the hat has higher orders. The hat, when choosing for Slytherin, needs two criteria: PUREBLOOD and RUTHLESS (in both positive and negative connotations of the word). The hat scanned him and ta-da IT’S THE HEIR OF SLYTHERIN!! I think he gets a free pass. The hat sorts him into Slytherin… and that does what, everybody? That’s right: puts the wheels in motion!

VERITASERUM & TIME-TURNERS

I get a lot of emails from people with maddeningly insane theories. Now I realize that some of the stuff I come up with is a little farfetched, but my rule has always been that I must have some evidence from the text itself. If I can’t find some little quote from either JKR or the books, then I abandon the theory. So I thought I would take this segment to discuss the oddities of Veritaserum and Time-Turners. Folks, Harry Potter is not THE TERMINATOR! Voldemort did not go back in time to tell himself about Harry and then go kill him. I don’t know if there was an editorial about this theory that I missed or whatever, but so many people have emailed me saying that they think the Voldemort in Godric’s Hollow was a Voldemort sent back through time and blah blah blah. As I said, this is not The Terminator. Unlike James Cameron, JKR has this pesky necessity to make sense with her concepts of time travel (because though we all loveThe Terminator, the movies are both paradoxically impossible). While no one can say that Voldemort doesn’t own a Time-Turner, it is safe to assume he doesn’t. If he did, he could go back in time and kill either the Evanses or the Potters many generations before Harry AND Dumbledore. For that matter, he could have gone back and killed Dumbledore’s parents many generations before Dumbledore was born. Voldemort is smart enough to have considered this if he had a Time-Turner.

As for Veritaserum, it is my thinking that the magical world probably has rules regarding its use. It forces someone to tell the truth but what exactly is the truth? Remember lie detectors only work when the person being tested doesn’t believe what they are saying. So then, would it be true that if you believed a lie that you could fake out Veritaserum? For example, if Veritaserum were used on Minerva McGonagall during Book Three and we asked her if Peter Pettigrew was dead, she would say yes. That is, of course, not true. Yet McGonagall would not be lying under the Veritaserum if asked that question then. By that “not true” loophole, could people train themselves to either a) build up an immunity to Veritaserum (or Iocane Powder [hehe] as the case may be) or b) teach themselves to believe all lies that they tell themselves? So many people ask why they didn’t just give Sirius Black Veritaserum before chucking him Azkaban? Well, let’s remember that Sirius says that he was sent to Azkaban without a trial (which in itself shows how flawed the magical justice system is). But for the sake of argument, any lawyer could argue that if given Veritaserum, Sirius Black (who is allegedly in league with You-Know-Who and in possession of all kinds of advanced Dark and evil magic) could easily fake out the Veritaserum.

THE MIRROR

As an aspiring writer, the first time I read OotP, I loved the bit about the two-way mirror. So dramatic and so heart-wrenching for poor Harry to learn that in his room all the time was a way to save Sirius from death. Then I read the book again, and suddenly I became frustrated with JKR and with Sirius. Why didn’t Sirius tell him? It’s so silly why Sirius (and JKR) spent an entire paragraph not telling Harry what was in the package. Oh, we get the excuse of not to open it here. However, no one was listening to the two of them. In the same span of time Sirius could have easily said, “Don’t open it here, but it is a two-way mirror and I’ve got the other one. If you need me, say my name and we can talk into it.” So simple. Let us take this scenario through the story. Let us assume that Harry knows about the mirror. Now he can talk to Sirius whenever he wants or needs to. In the dramatic sense, this option causes more tension. Now the trio has to argue about the merits of using the mirror. There are many arguments.

On the one hand, it’s easy access to Order headquarters in case of an emergency. On another, he can talk to Sirius more and also could have used it when he needed to ask Sirius about Snape’s worst memory instead of risking the fireplace in UMBRIDGE’s office (NOT TO MENTION AT THAT POINT, SIRIUS SHOULD HAVE TOLD HARRY TO USE THE MIRROR FROM NOW ON INSTEAD OF RISKING GETTING CAUGHT USING THE FIREPLACE OF A KNOWN ENEMY!). Those are the positives. However, the negatives are far worse. Harry has a terrible habit of losing really important things. By “losing,” I mean irresponsibly misplacing it one way or another, so that includes voluntarily giving it up. Let’s count shall we: the invisibility cloak, the Marauder’s map (twice), Tom Riddle’s diary (though to be fair, Ginny did that), and his wand (twice – in CoS when he just throws it on the ground and memoryTR takes it and once in GoF when BCJr steals it) just to name a few. That mirror is a precious and dangerous tool in the wrong hands. The Inquisitorial Squad could harass Harry and take it. Umbridge, Filch, or Snape could find it. It could get lost or broken or in the wrong hands so easily at a school or in Harry’s care. One of Harry’s roommates could borrow it without asking and lose it (Neville, for instance).

This debate would be between the trio and I think it would have been dramatically interesting for them to debate this and for Harry to consciously decide not to use it for fear of it exposing Sirius or getting himself into even more trouble. It’s one of those things where common sense didn’t prevail.

Earlier I said I was frustrated with JKR about this. That was until she addressed that on her FAQ. Then it got me thinking: suppose there are other mirrors. If they work like walkie-talkies, suppose each set has a certain frequency and that frequency can be eavesdropped on. Then I got another idea: James and Sirius used them. What if they weren’t the only Marauders with mirrors? What if Lupin had one? EVEN BETTER, what if Pettigrew had one and STILL does to this day? This means that if Harry had used the mirror, then conceivably, if Pettigrew had one, he could eavesdrop on Harry or Sirius or both simultaneously. A Death Eater or Voldemort himself could pull a little Polyjuice trick with the aid of Kreacher and use a mirror to trick Harry into thinking Sirius is alive. I also think that Filch’s office could perhaps contain a confiscated mirror of perhaps Lupin or Pettigrew if theirs were taken from them back in the day (if we discount my previous assertion).

JKR said that mirror would figure prominently in the story. Many say that Sirius might try to communicate with it from the beyond. I doubt it. That theory requires the mirror to have been on him when he fell through the veil. If that was the case, then Sirius would have been able to answer Harry when Harry called him on it. Since he didn’t, I think one can safely assume that Sirius’ mirror is somewhere in 12 Grimmauld Place. I think that mirror can be used perhaps in connection with what Peter Pettigrew has been up to. I think that if Harry had another mirror and one presumes that Pettigrew had one too, then conceivably Harry could either contact or spy on Peter or vice-versa.

Well, I think that is all I have time for today. However, I’m slapping a big TBC (to be continued) on this one because that last notion has sparked an idea for one of my next editorials about how I think the final confrontation might go down. So, until my next, remember my last.

THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION!