It had been a day, and Ginny had not thought of any method she could use toverify Tim’s noble intentions. She’d considered asking Draco, but had decidedit would be thoughtlessly rude to cast aspersions on his gift. However, Ginnyhad also not thought of any method by which Tim could exploit her formalicious ends, if she remained conscientious and attempted to read betweenthe lines of anything he suggested in writing that she do. And so Ginnydecided, tentatively, that it would be safe to reopen the box and the book, aslong as she was careful.
“Tim, I’m afraid that we’re at an impasse.” Ginny had carefully rehearsedthese words, and they flowed naturally out of her quill. “I don’t mean todisparage your character in any way, but I find it difficult to trust you. Myfather told me long ago not to speak to anything whose brain I couldn’t see,and I didn’t understand him at the time, but I do now. I don’t want to cut offcontact from you, but there are several points I want to ascertain as soon aspossible, and I have no idea how I possibly could ascertain them.
That you really are who you say you are.
That you don’t have some plan to manipulate me into something bad ordangerous.
That your intent overall is good rather than evil.
I’m sorry, Tim. But until you figure out some way to prove these things to me,I’ll always be on high alert around you. I wish it didn’t have to be likethis.” There was a pause before Ginny’s words began to vanish, and Tim’shandwriting began to appear.
“Oh, dear, Ginny. I’m very sorry. You’re right to be cautious; I was beingvery hasty with you. If I had been as intelligent in my youth about darkthreats as you are, I wouldn’t be stuck here today. I’m not sure how to earnyour trust. I’ll have to think about this.” Ginny scanned through the text,and didn’t detect any threat, yet.
“Take as much time as you need.” Another short pause, before:
“I have a thought, but I doubt you’ll like it much. But first, let me confirmmy hunch. Bear with me; it’s necessary for my idea. Are you a Parselmouth?”
“Why?” It was Ginny’s second thought on what to write, after the marginally-more-revealing “How did you know?”
“You can’t lie in Parseltongue. Try it, now.”
“The sky iss blue,” said Ginny, after a desperate failed attempt to say”red” instead. She then wrote:
“So are you a Parselmouth? Can the diary we’re writing in hiss in your voice?”
“No.” A long pause before he elaborated: “If I could speak, do you think Iwould just be writing back to you, like this? But you are a Parselmouth. Ihave the capability to possess those who have consented – so long as theytouch me, that is. It would ordinarily be a very evil thing, but mind you,your consent is required. That was a security device Voldemort placed on thisjournal, but it’s morally for the best. If I got your permission, I couldspeak to you, using your own lips, in Parseltongue.” Ginny had to reread thisseveral times after picking the diary up again; her initial reaction torealizing what had been suggested was to throw the diary clear across the roomin disgust.
“No. No, no, no. This is exactly what I was worried about, Tim. If I don’ttrust you enough to feel comfortable talking to you, why would I trust youwith my body? Goodbye, Tim.”
“I’m sorry.” But Ginny never read it; she had already sealed the diary back inits box.
Ginny stopped Colin on Wednesday, on the way down from the Astronomy tower. Ithad been a particularly dull night, as Professor Sinistra had been blindsidedby an unexpected storm on Europa that obscured its sea serpents, so she hadbeen forced to merely describe them.
“Colin!” said Ginny. “I was looking for you.”
“Is this about Friday’s meeting?” said Colin. “Because Harry’s alreadyassigned me five full scrolls; don’t tell me there’s something else.”
“No,” said Ginny. “Actually, it’s much easier than that. I could potentiallydo it tonight, but I could put it off to whenever it’s convenient for you.”
“How much work is it?” said Colin.
“You just need to stand outside a room, and be ready to intervene if somethinggoes wrong,” said Ginny. “It’s so easy, you’ll probably be able to do otherhomework while you’re there. I’m doing some, um, magical experiments, and theycould be really dangerous, but they’ll be safe as long as I have a spotter.”
“You’re not experimenting with Transfiguration, are you?” said Colin, withsuspicion.
“God, no,” said Ginny. “I’m still rubbish at that.”
“Good,” said Colin. “Harry told me I might blow the Earth up that way. I can’teven remember my idea, just that it was really bad.”
“I think only Harry could blow the Earth up with Transfiguration,” said Ginny.“Good thing he’s on our side. When should I meet you on the tenth floor?”
“How about now?” said Colin.
“Oh, um, I need to pop back to the dorms first,” said Ginny. “Sorry.”
“Okay,” said Colin. “I’ll be there when you are.”
“Alright,” said Ginny. “I’m going to be in this classroom for a few minutes,with this book. You shouldn’t hear anything coming from inside the classroomexcept me hissing to myself, and maybe occasionally some muttering, but nospells. When I’m done, I’ll exit the room with the book in this bag. If thereare any discrepancies or I act oddly during the experiment, get the book awayfrom me and send me to Madam Pomfrey. Understood?”
“Understood,” said Colin, and he looked at least mildly worried. Ginny got outof his sight in the abandoned classroom, and began to write again:
“I think I’ve changed my mind. I’ll allow you to possess me, if you’ll promiseto confirm all of my earlier conditions. You can’t use me for a plot, or lieto me or trick me or anything like that. You can only possess me for purposesI directly understand and agree to.” Tim quickly began to write in response:
“I agree to everything you’ve just written, but, of course, will only truly beable to verify it in Parseltongue. To consent to possession, you need to writethe following sentence, word for word: ‘I hereby state that direct physicalcontact with the object I am writing on is consent to indefinite possession.by the spirit currently inhabiting that object, as long as the contactcontinues.’ Then, sign your name.” Ginny made a note to herself to get herhands on a pair of gloves for future dealings with the diary, but wrote:
“I hereby state that direct physical contact with the object I am writing onis consent to indefinite possession, by the spirit currently inhabiting thatobject, as long as the contact continues.” She signed her name, “GinevraWeasley,” in ornate but barely readable cursive, and she immediately felt adraining presence in her body, as though she were half-asleep, but fullyconscious of the half of herself that was awake. Words began to form inexternally unrecognizable hisses on her lips:
“I have deliberately not assssumed full control, sso that you may act asswell, and we may carry on a converssation. You may pull away at any time youchoosse. In thiss way I hope to gain your trusst.” Ginny breathed deep, inand out, acclimating to the sensation before summoning the will to speakherself.
“Firsst, confirm you are the persson you ssaid you were.”
“Ass I ssaid, infamouss masster ussed sstudent from acrossss ssea to createme. I am not ssame persson magically sspeaking, but you of all people know oftechnicalitiess ssuffered thuss.” Ginny managed to twist her smile into afrown.
“You have to qualify too much. I am unconvinssed.”
“It iss besst I can ssay, I am afraid. I am not sstudent from acrossss ssea;I am journal.”
“Who do you sserve? Might you sserve purpossess of infamouss masster?”
“My firsst masster is mysself. I am no Housse Elf. My ssecond masster is you,for you are the prophessied hero, and I wissh you no harm, nor do I now haveany planss to usse you for purpossess you do not conssent to. Infamoussmasster is no masster to me, not now. I desspise him for what he hass done tome and sseek his desstruction if it remainss incomplete. On that topic, haveyou assked to see Phoenixx of girl-child?”
“Yess. Sshe became indignant by my ssuggesstion and left.”
“That iss worrissome.” Ginny took her hands off of the diary for a moment,to get a chance to think alone, and then returned. ”I ssensse you arrangedfor a sspotter to enssure your ssafety and ssecurity. I am not inssulted, onlyimpressssed.”
“_I believe we have confirmed all I wissh to have confirmed for now. It hassnot been pleassant, but I am ssatissfied with the ressults and look forward toa mutually-agreeable partnersship. _Goodbye for now, Tim?” English wordsfinally came out of Ginny, and they were a distinctly different person, evenif they were in the same voice:
“Goodbye, Ginny.” Ginny placed the diary in the bag that sat besides it on thetable, and after separating herself from it, stretched, newly appreciating thefeeling of truly owning one’s own body. She carried the bag outside and metColin.
“Alright, I’m done talking to myself,” said Ginny. “We can go back to theSlytherin Common Room.”
“Oh my God,” said Colin, “you’re a Parselmouth, that explains so much, likewhen you fainted under the hat, all the hissing was probably-”
“Ginny Weasley!” shouted Luna, who was absolutely furious. She quickly madeher way across the Defense room towards Ginny; class was mere seconds fromstarting.
“What is it?” said Ginny. She was really baffled; she hadn’t spoken much toLuna for nearly a week.
“Colin Creevey told me you were doing magic experiments with him,” said Luna.
“That was supposed to be secret,” said Ginny. “But I only had him help becauseit was convenient; I didn’t realize you would have rather-” Luna slappedGinny.
“No, I don’t want to help you with your experiments,” said Luna. “I want youto not do them! Do you have any idea how dangerous experimenting with magicis? You could have been killed! Did you have any idea what you were doing?”
“Luna, I’m sorry, I’ll be more careful,” said Ginny, but Luna cut her off,because she wasn’t done.
“My mother thought she was inventing a new Charm to check for soulworms,” saidLuna. “And she was a Charms master, she’d already created dozens of spells.She misspoke, and it tore her guts out! They flew across the den in a second!She died in my father’s arms while I watched! Harry Potter’s new hospitalwouldn’t have saved her; she’d have been dead before she got there! That’swhat could have happened to you, Ginny! Annihilated from reality,instantaneously! Do you want to die, Ginny?”
“No,” said Ginny, breathing fast, though not as fast as Luna.
“Then don’t meddle with magic you don’t understand,” said Luna. “Don’t evenmeddle with magic you think you understand. Don’t.” Gilderoy Lockhart’s facehad appeared on the screens, and Luna was already returning back to her seat,still bright red.
“Good evening, Hogwarts,” said Professor Lockhart. “Today, we discuss amagical poison. There are many magical poisons, ranging from mildly irritatingto lethal-many-times-over. But the poison I will cover today is the nastiestthat has yet been invented. There is no substance on the planet you would beworse off ingesting. Its historical use was at best a crime against humanity,and at worst a philosophical horror on par with death. It is the inanimatething it is most justifiable to fear. It is one of only three Potions that theMinistry of Magic felt deserved a special committee to prevent its use, and ofthose three, it is the only poison. I am speaking, of course, of Amortentia.”.There were a few confused murmurs throughout the class.
“The world’s strongest love potion, or, less euphemistically, the PerfectSlavery Potion,” said Professor Lockhart. “To refer to it as a strong lovepotion, as people commonly do, is hopelessly incorrect. Love potions are allfairly similar to one another, and their potency is never much greater than aMuggle drug. Amortentia is a different beast altogether. Can anyone name ahistoric use of Amortentia? Yes, Miss Granger?”
“It’s said that the Dark Lord Gargamel used Amortentia in the creation of thefirst House Elves,” said Hermione, who looked rather appalled.
“Someone’s been paying attention in Professor Columbus’s classes,” saidLockhart. “But yes, absolutely. And if you want some idea of what Amortentiawill do to you, observe a House Elf. The effect is very similar - except thata House Elf may change masters. An Amortentia victim may not. They are trappedforever in the service of whoever dosed them.”
“Amortentia is permanent,” said Professor Lockhart. “There is no true cure forit. The standard treatment St. Mungo’s provides to Amortentia victims is anObliviation of all memories of their assailant’s existence. But they willstill not be the same person they were before. They will think slower, theywill be less effective, they will feel something is missing from their life,and if they again become aware of the individual they have become affixed to,they will fall right back into slavery. Amortentia strikes at the soul, not atthe body, and for this reason, some Dark Lords have historically fed theirvictims Amortentia immediately before killing them, so that they would beslaves in the next world.”
“The control offered by Amortentia is total,” said Professor Lockhart, “for itoverrides all of the victim’s wants and desires, forever. An Amortentiavictim’s first thought, at all times, is ‘what does my master want me to do?’.No force of will on their part may free them. All actions they take, no matterhow small, will be taken because they fit into their mental model of whattheir master wants them to do. If an Amortentia victim believes their masterwants them dead, they will simply stop breathing. They may not trickthemselves into believing that their master wants what they want. They willmake an honest, full attempt to determine what is wanted from them, and theywill make an honest, full attempt to provide it.”
` “It is commonly believed that the linguistic root of Amortentia is ‘amor’,or ‘love’,” said Professor Lockhart. “This is one interpretation. But I preferthe theory that the origin is ‘a mort’, or ‘without death’, for it is a poisonthat does not allow you to die, but it kills you nonetheless; it kills you asan independent agent. From the moment the Amortentia passes through your lips,you are doomed, for all eternity or at least for the course of your life, towatch, helpless, trapped inside your own brain, as you become the extension ofanother’s will. Anyone sane, of course, would want to avoid such a fate. Arethere any questions?” There was a pause, and some hands slowly raised. “Yes,Miss Davis?”
“Why don’t Dark Lords use Amortentia more often?” said Tracey. “It seems likeit would be extremely useful to them in general.”
“By and large, Dark Lords do use quite a lot of Amortentia,” said ProfessorLockhart. “That is a prevailing trend throughout history, and despite moderngovernments’ attempts to eradicate Amortentia, I do not expect it to change inthe future. The most notable exception is He-Who-May-Now-Be-Named, Voldemort.He was the most powerful Dark Lord of this century, and, more than that, wasamong the most powerful Dark Lords ever to have walked the planet. He was notever known to make use of Amortentia. Nobody knows why. Those who grew up inthe shadow of his terror might have forgotten that Amortentia is among thenastiest tools of Dark Lords, above the Killing Curse. But the older wizardsremember Grindelwald, and countless other older Dark Lords, and know thethreat that Amortentia represents. Yes, Mr. Creevey?”
“What happens if someone takes two different doses of Amortentia from twodifferent wizards?” asked Colin.
“Someone may only be subjected to Amortentia once,” said Professor Lockhart.“After the first dose they are immune to all subsequent doses.”
“Then could you eliminate the problem of Amortentia by just taking some fromyourself?” said Colin.
“Very clever, Mr. Creevey,” said Professor Lockhart. “But it wouldn’t work.Amortentia passes through the body of its own master with no effect.”
“How about if you took Amortentia from someone you trusted not to try tocontrol you, who’d agreed to your scheme to become immune to Amortentia –preferably someone dying, come to think of it?” said Colin.
“That, on the other hand, may well work,” said Professor Lockhart. “I suspectsome very important wizards – my mind leaps to Alastor Moody – have done sucha thing.”
“Everyone should do that,” said Colin. “Oh, or if you had a couple gettingmarried, they could both take Amortentia for each other, at their wedding, andthen they wouldn’t really be controlling each other, because it would bemutual, in an infinite loop-” Gasps and gags had long ago started to come fromthroughout the class.
“Mr. Creevey,” said Professor Lockhart, “Amortentia is incredibly expensive toproduce, and not because of its thoroughly illegal status, but because to breweven a small sip requires the permanent sacrifice of one wizard’s magic andanother’s wand. It is not easy to find wizards willing to make that sacrifice.On top of that, Amortentia is flatly banned outside of carefully controlledMinistry-approved ventures, and it is not easy to get any proposed use ofAmortentia approved. The wedding ritual you suggest is incredibly unethical,if for less obvious reasons than regular use of Amortentia. Still, it orsomething like it was attempted by a Dark sect in the nineteenth century. Theyvoluntarily ceased it when it was determined that couples mutually takingAmortentia were more likely than average to file for divorce.”
“So that’s why Dark Lords can’t just lace their country’s water supply withAmortentia,” said Colin. “They need to target specific people they intend tobe important followers.”
“There’s another reason,” said Professor Lockhart, and another professorentered the room – Professor Slughorn, who was carrying a specialized cauldronwith no lid – it was simply a solid iron ball, and Ginny could not imagine howit would be used. “I have gotten permission from the Ministry of Magic andHogwarts’ Potions Master to display a sample of Amortentia to the class.”
“Don’t worry,” said Professor Slughorn. “The cauldron’s still empty for themoment.”
“Professor Slughorn,” said Blaise, “how can you-”
“Spimster Wicket,” said Professor Slughorn rapidly and ashamedly, as if thatwere an answer.
“The one saving grace about Amortentia,” said Professor Lockhart, “is thatunlike many magical poisons preferred by spies and assassins, it is impossibleto conceal. It is wholly immiscible, in any substance. Like oil in water, itwill separate out immediately from any other fluid it is combined with. Infact, a skilled wizard will effortlessly be able to detect Amortentia in anopaque vial from yards away, because Amortentia emanates a strong magicalradiation that may be felt regardless of any form of insulation applied toit.”
“That is why I have chosen to show you all Amortentia today,” said ProfessorLockhart. “So that you may recognize in the wild the feeling it produces bymere proximity, so that you may not be tricked into consuming it. Of coursethis does not perfectly protect you – the standard practice of Dark Lords isto feed victims Amortentia by force, not by trickery. But it might help, tosome extent. Professor Slughorn will take the cauldron around the classroom;remember the feeling the Amortentia induces in you. It should not be difficultto remember; the feeling is incredibly distinct.”
“The cauldron is currently empty,” said Professor Slughorn, and the screensall turned to display him. “It will momentarily summon blank Amortentia from ahidden storeroom. ‘Blank Amortentia’ is Amortentia that has not been primedwith a master wizard; it is consequently completely harmless, but induces thesame feeling as primed – that is, functional – Amortentia. None of you are totouch the cauldron, regardless, and at the end of the lesson it will be sentback to its storeroom and then to the Ministry.”
Before the cauldron had even gotten near Ginny, she could feel its presence.It was like the opposite of how she had seen a Dementor described – positivememories automatically coming to the forefront of her mind, including many shecouldn’t even understand, but that just felt good – but it was just asunpleasant, for she got the distinctive feeling that this more primal feelingwas a lure, to trap her will and drown it. Ginny wasn’t nearly stupid enoughfor that. Her destiny was her own to shape; if she came to a set of two opendoors she would take whichever one she very well pleased. Still, the mereexistence of the Amortentia trap unnerved her.
Ginny briefly considered that in permitting Tim to possess her, she had donesomething equivalent to willingly chugging Amortentia. But she reassuredherself that it was counterintuitively the opposite – in so doing, she hadgotten Tim’s word that he shared all of her interests and priorities. She hadeven put in place security measure in case he attempted to hijack her life byforce. She truly believed herself the master of this mysterious relationship.
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