Different Priors

This is a fanfiction of a fanfiction; what have I become? I heavily recommendreading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality before this fic, as thisis a direct sequel to it. J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter, Eliezer Yudkowskyhas thankfully forfeited ownership of the methods of rationality to humanityin general, and I own very little, being broke.

Themes that may trigger traumatic associations in some readers are present inchapters twenty two and twenty four.


muttering to themselves, constantly

a growing grid of points in space

arranged with perfect regularity, and no gaps

ignoring the world around them and each other

now it is complete


Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had seven children and were perfectly content leadinglives they considered perfectly normal, thank you very much. Arthur Weasleyhad a desk job at the Ministry of Magic, where he gave people notice that theyhad illegally modified Muggle artifacts and would have to pay a fine or facethe Wizengamot. His favorite hobby was illegally modifying Muggle artifacts –in the privacy of his own home, of course. He was very familiar with thenetwork of enforcement wards he would have to avoid to avoid being caught, andthis familiarity was his favorite perk of his job. Despite Arthur’sfascination with Muggles, he did not know any, nor had he ever spoken to onefor longer than five minutes. The Weasleys were a well-known pureblood family,and few of Arthur’s friends were Muggleborn - “not that there’s anything wrongwith that,” he would add.

Molly Weasley was a housewife, and as she was the mother of a family of nine,one can see how this would consume all of her time, even if they were rarelyall in the house at once – the summer holiday could really be hellish. Hereldest, Bill, was living at home; he had been fired from a promising Gringottsposition years ago for psychological reasons and would probably not find thewillpower to take his medication alone. Charlie had moved out to study abroad,but she doubted she would ever see any grandchildren from him; Charlie wasqueer like that. But with seven possible heirs, that was not a matter of graveconcern. Percy was entering his sixth year in Hogwarts, and had a promisingfuture in the Ministry. Fred and George (members of the increasingly commondemographic of magical twins) were entering their fourth. Ron was entering hissecond, and Ginny – little Ginevra was entering her first. With the beginningof the new school year, for the first time in many years, it would just beArthur, Molly, and Bill at home. What a day to think about! Arthur and Mollywere arguing, as they often did, about that day. They spoke sharply, and oftenresorted to shouting.

“I’m telling you, I knew him,” said Arthur.

“I did too,” said Molly. “Better, even.”

“He was no great wizard,” said Arthur.

“Perhaps not with magic,” said Molly, “but with people.”

“He tried to join the Order and was practically laughed out of the room!” saidArthur, increasingly exasperated. “Do you realize the implications of thatfact? We were strapped for everything and needed all the help we could get!But he was a joke! Completely incompetent!”

“He came off that way at times,” said Molly, “but he showed sparks ofpotential. I don’t find it surprising that he shaped up eventually, let aloneunimaginable.”

“Sparks of potential, my arse,” said Arthur. “I don’t know who Minerva thinksshe’s dealing with, but he’s not who he says he is. Gilderoy Lockhart isplainly either an impostor or a fraud, and frankly, it concerns me that he’sone of the first decisions the new Headmistress has made. Dumbledore isirreplaceable, but I’d never thought so lowly of-”

“Gilderoy Lockhart is a late bloomer,” said Molly. “That’s all.”

“A late bloomer,” said Arthur. “I’m sorry, I’m not buying it.”

“It is known to happen!” said Molly. “Merlin was particularly unimpressive inhis younger years.”

“Yes, because he was growing feeble and senile,” said Arthur.

“I know Merlin was no ordinary wizard,” said Molly. “But my point-”

“You don’t have a point,” said Arthur, “and I-”

“My point is that you’re probably just jealous and trying to justify toyourself why he suddenly jumped from average midlife blah to Mysterious DarkAttractive Rising Hero and you’re still stuck in average midlife blah,” saidMolly, all in one breath.

“Jealous?” was all Arthur got out, before he realized to his dismay that hiswife did, indeed, have a point.

“If anything, I think the suspicious part about him is his ties to the Muggleworld,” said Molly.

“Oh, here we go on this again,” said Arthur. “How many times have I told you,Molly, Muggles are mostly harmless-”

“Yes, but what business does a pureblood wizard have cavorting with Muggles?”said Molly. “I suspect that he’s actually a half-blood or Muggleborn, visitingrelatives-” Arthur looked at his wife as though she had just grown a secondand third head and declared herself a secret hydra. “-no, Arthur, I haven’tturned into a blood purist. It’s just that on all of his records, he says he’sa pureblood; that’s what he tells people, but I think he might have had somedocuments forged.”

“As many wizards did, to dissuade You-Know-Who from targeting them,” saidArthur.

“Exactly,” said Molly. “I don’t think he’s suspicious at all. And you can sayVoldemort; he’s quite dead now.”

Ten feet above, in the Burrow’s third-floor Potions cellar, Ginny Weasleysighed. This was her favorite hiding spot in the Weasley family’s multi-story,labyrinthine, magically makeshift house, a rarely visited, secluded placewhere she could escape from a family she found dull and exhausting. She waslying on her back, still but restless, burning with irritation towards herparents. Ginny’s mother and father often argued, and she wondered at theirpatience that they had never gotten divorced, but this was simply the dumbestargument she had heard them having in months. They were talking past eachother, failing to consider each other’s points, missing vital evidence, andfailing to fully consider the evidence of which they were aware.

First off, Ginny’s father was right. A failure of a wizard suddenly makingsomething of himself later in life and becoming a household name, a legendaryhero, over the course of mere months, was rather dubious. But, as Ginny’smother failed to point out, there was a massive gap in the timeline; nobodypresent had seen or spoken to Lockhart since the war, and few details of hislife in that decade were public knowledge except that he was often known tolive with Muggles. That made for a potential explanation of Lockhart’s suddenrise, which Ginny’s mother had missed – Muggles had a much more creative,industrious spirit than wizards, as a general matter of culture, and livingamong them for years might have unlocked hidden talents in Gilderoy thatallowed him to make more of himself in the wizarding world. But Ginny stillgave her father a point for this: there was a massive hole in the record,which could be considered “suspicious”, and which her mother seemed to bedesperately trying to ignore.

But second off, and seemingly evading both of Ginny’s parents’ notice, theDefense Professor at Hogwarts was supposed to be incredibly suspicious.Gilderoy Lockhart wasn’t half as suspicious as his predecessor, QuirinusQuirrell, now known to be David Monroe. Monroe’s mysterious identity andincongruous skills had ultimately proven to be part of a plot to save theschool from Voldemort, and that plot had gone off without a hitch. Why didGinny’s parents think this year would be any different? Perhaps they hadn’tbeen tracking the events of Hogwarts’ previous year as closely as Ginny had.

It had all started with Harry, Harry Potter. Ginny had, of course, first heardof Harry Potter many years ago, so many years ago she could not remember theprecise occasion. It was simply part of her learning about the world aroundher, just as she was taught of the existence of gnomes, or France, or themoon. They celebrated Harry Potter Day each year, the day after Halloween,asking each other various questions to ensure his famous infancy was notforgotten. Every year the holiday seemed a little less exciting and new toGinny; on some level she was growing sick of all of her routines. But that hadall changed around last September, when Ginny had had a brief chance encounterwith Harry at King’s Cross, and it truly hit her what she had intellectuallyknown for her whole life: Harry Potter was not the mystical Power-Baby she hadheard about every first of November for years, but a real person with a futureahead of him, and for that matter was only a little older than Ginny. Morethan that, it hit her that Harry was cute.

And so, from home, Ginny followed every scrap of information she could aboutHogwarts, hoping to learn more about Harry. She accomplished her goal, findingnot just accounts of his escapades but of his personality, of what he waslike. He preferred to go by his full name, Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres, anallusion to his Muggle childhood from which he learned his unique ways. He wasclever enough to outsmart He-Who-May-Now-Be-Named, and to nobody’s surprise hewas Sorted into Ravenclaw, torpedoing the Weasley family notion thatGryffindor was the best House. He was altruistic enough to be a Hufflepuff,though too clever, and what ultimately drove him was his deep concern for allhumanity. And he was mysterious enough to do absolutely anything without somuch as snapping his fingers, even winning the heart of a young dissatisfiedWeasley girl who lived many miles away. Every night Ginny dreamed that hewould appear at her windowsill, perhaps in a flying car - he did likeenchanting Muggle devices, much as her own father did - and take her away fromthis hell hole.

After the Incident Where Voldemort Was Destroyed Again Under MysteriousCircumstances That Harry Probably Set Up, summer had commenced, and Harry hadbegun publishing a sort of periodical, the Methods of Rationality, devoted topromoting “critical thinking skills and metacognition” in wizards. Of courseGinny lapped it up. Though she had accepted by this point that a Mugglebornprodigy, Hermione Granger, was probably Harry’s True Love, and her fantasieswere just fantasies, she was delighted to find that the Methods of Rationalityprovided clarity in her life, and her hero worship of Harry continued. Theysimply outlined how to properly think, and how to avoid common pitfalls in theprocess.

They also confirmed her slowly-growing lifelong notion that there wassomething fundamentally wrong with her family, that only she could see. Noneof Ginny’s siblings nor either of her parents ever seemed willing to thinkabout a problem for even a minute. They never cared to find the optimalsolution to anything, only the nearby one. Ginny touched the crucifix pendantresting on her chest and sighed. For all the irritation they provided, theywere still her family, and she still loved them, out of storge if nothingelse.

Someone crashed into the cellar door and began to fumble with the lock, tryingto get in. Oh, what now, thought Ginny. Will this endless string ofinterruptions never cease? Who could this be? Bill? Fred or George?

“Is someone in there? Ginny? Stupid little sister, you know you’re notallowed.” Ron. As her nearest older brother continued to fail MagicalLockpicking 101, Ginny made no noise, holding in even her breath, and wishedfor some force, any force, to take her away from here, away from this world ofnoises and siblings and Weasleys. And some force did.

Ginny found herself immediately outside, looking up at the Burrow from thetall grass that surrounded it. She was far too young to legally Apparate, but,as she had not yet started her formal magical education, she was still subjectto the effects of Accidental Magic, a branch of magic theorized to exist toprotect children in stressful - possibly life-threatening - situations. Withtime, her education at Hogwarts would allow her to harness the same power,and, in fact, more, and carefully and deliberately at that.

“RONALD WEASLEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY POTIONS CELLAR?” Ginny could hearher mother’s voice even from this distance and through magically-reinforcedwalls.

“Ginny was in here, honest!” pleaded Ron. “I was looking for her!”

“IS THAT SO?” screamed Molly Weasley. Ginny turned away from the Burrow andran, as if from a Velociraptor.


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