Occam's Razor, Part 2

“Draco, we need to go out and find out what happened,” said Ginny. “Find everyclue we can.”

“Clues?” said Draco. “Ginny, this isn’t a Necronomicon Grey story. We’re notRavenclaws using our vast command of trivia to solve a mystery that’s actuallyjust a half-baked riddle. We’re children in a war zone who just heard thatsomeone was murdered. Temporarily. Hopefully.”

“Still better to find out what’s going on,” said Ginny, and she turned toleave.

“If you’re going, I’m going with you,” said Draco. “You have to be safe.”Ginny smiled at a job well done and fed her brain’s “exploitation of chivalry”program a biscuit.

“Where was Hermione petrified?” Ginny called out to a prefect.

“Our secondary girls’ bathroom, actually,” said the prefect.

“Ginny,” whispered Draco.

“What,” whispered Ginny.

“That’s where they killed a girl forty years ago,” said Draco.

“Oh,” said Ginny. She considered this. “Write down notes about everything wefind out – actually, write notes about everything we already know, too. Incase our progress is reset by Obliviation. Since that’s clearly on the table.”

“Got it,” said Draco, and he’d already summoned a cloud of floating parchmentscraps more typical of a Ravenclaw in finals week than a paranoid Slytherin.

“I wonder if anything Tim told me in Parseltongue actually matters,” saidGinny. “If Obliviation is on the table, the False Memory Charm probably istoo. Maybe he never actually said any of the things that I’m counting onmemories of him saying. He just made me think that he said them after thefact.”

“You’re going to go cross-eyed like that,” said Draco, scrambling to move hisquill from scrap to scrap, writing sentence-fragment notes he thought he’dunderstand without further context. “Wait, I’m not allowed in - ?” They’dreached the enormous entrance to the girls’ lavatory, which had alreadyflooded with staff and students alike – strange, seeing as few normally usedit except in those outlier times when the the regular restroom was overloaded.

“Neah, they removed the wards on the girls’ bathrooms years ago,” said Ginny.“You aren’t going to get pregnant by going in there. Anymore. Come on.” Shephysically pulled Draco past the threshold, and then they saw Hermione.

In her Petrification, she was made equal to any other human. Her phoenix, itwould later be determined, had entered the stratosphere and gone dormantbesides Dumbledore’s. She showed no signs of supernatural powers; she radiatedno aura of purity. She was not Hermione. She was a structure of inert stonethat looked something like Hermione. She had clearly been knocked over post-petrification; she was lying in an uncomfortable position beneath a stained-glass window. Standing above her was the Headmistress.

“Out, out!” cried the Headmistress. “Unless you have something to discuss withme, out! We are investigating a serious crime; this is not a show for publicentertainment! I am holding Miss Granger’s safety goggles in my hands; theyfunctioned correctly and I assure all of you that she will make a fullrecovery simultaneously with Colin Creevey and Marietta Edgecombe!” Draco andGinny glanced at each other, certain that they wanted to stay, but uncertainwhether they wanted to describe their reasons why to the Headmistress. Pansywaved at Draco and Ginny, for some reason. At that point, Harry appeared, hishands reddened and the tips of his sleeves singed off by some magic.

“Hermione!” said Harry, with a distress that echoed that he’d felt when he’dtruly thought her dead, though this was of course a lesser distress.“Headmistress McGonagall, please let me see the goggles?”

“Of course, Mr. Potter,” said the Headmistress, and Harry walked quickly toher, took the goggles from her outstretched arms, and carefully examined them.They were correctly shaded Patronus-white, and he was satisfied.

“Petrification is even more of a nasty business than I thought,” said Harry.“The Diary is nonresponsive.” Ginny elbowed Draco to make him write somethingdown, and then spoke up loudly and perhaps unwisely.

“Diary?” asked Ginny. Several people, mostly people who were supposed toalready be out of the room, stared at her.

“What are you-” started the Headmistress, but Harry cut her off.

“It’s a unique magical artifact,” said Harry. “Very secret.”

“There’s no chance that it’s been in my possession, is there?” said Ginny.

“No,” said Harry. “I’m the only one who’s ever possessed it; your diary isjust some sickle-store enchanted amusement, Ginny - please leave; we’reinvestigating this and we’d prefer to be free of distractions.” Ginny andDraco started to set off, but then - “Hey! Draco! Stick around, would you? Itcould be useful to have an outside perspective.”

“I’m here on Miss Weasley’s behalf,” said Draco.

“Oh,” said Harry. He considered this. “You can both stay. For a while.Headmistress, it goes without saying that you’ve attempted to use a time-turner already?”

“Yes,” said the Headmistress, “and it was successful, but she’d already beenpetrified six hours ago.”

“Damn,” said Harry. “Does no one ever use this restroom?”

“It’s unlucky,” said Pansy, who had lingered. “A girl died here and the DarkLord was born.”

“Pansy, get out of here,” said Harry; as she left Harry stretched his facewith his hands out of frustration. “Superstitious people can be so draining,Headmistress.”

“There are more draining people out there, Mr. Potter,” said the Headmistress.Harry looked rather offended by the comment but said nothing.

“Headmistress, look!” said Harry. “Hermione was carrying a note.” Harrycarefully excavated a slip of paper from Hermione’s rock-hard grip, andspeedily read it.

“Did she leave us some hint as to the identity of the perpetrator?” said theHeadmistress.

“Of course not,” said Harry. “If she knew, she surely would have come to usimmediately. I mean, there’s a chance, but - I think this note tells us howshe was lured here, though. It’s in her handwriting, but I don’t think shewrote it; I think she was supposed to think she wrote it. Spimster wickets.”

“Ah,” said the Headmistress.

“It told her to come to this bathroom, look at a particular window, and turntime back three hours to see a hint that would lead her to discover theChamber,” said Harry. “I’d assume the Monster was staring right where she wasgoing to be. Then they must have moved the body and made it invisible so shewouldn’t bump into it.”

“That does fit with the evidence, yes,” said the Headmistress.

“The worst part is that I developed a system, and taught it to her,specifically to protect against this,” said Harry. “How it was subverted, Idon’t know. There’s a clear password in the message, but the message wasclearly designed to get her to the exact spot and time to be petrified.”

“Would public knowledge of the system make it insecure?” said theHeadmistress.

“I don’t see how,” said Harry. “It involves coming up with a password everymorning, and then not telling anyone else that password, ever. She’s a perfectOcclumens, too; you know that.” The Headmistress was dumbfounded by this.

Confundus,” said the Headmistress.

“What?” said Harry. “Oh-!” He immediately seemed nauseated.

“This is all so complicated!” shouted Ginny.

“Ginny, you are welcome to leave if this is troubling you,” said Harry.

“No,” said Ginny. “I don’t mean too complicated for me to understand. I mean,too complicated for our collective understanding to be correct. This is a plotwith too many moving parts!”

“Tragedy of Light,” muttered Draco.

“It might appear that way to us,” said Harry. “But there’s clearly someoneplaying on a deeper level than us. They’ve managed to avoid capture thus far,after all.”

“We’re clearly not dealing with someone rational,” said Ginny. “In fact, I’dgo so far as to say that we’re dealing with someone tetched in the head.”

“One to talk,” said Harry.

“Potter,” said Draco, sharply.

“If your plot requires more than three things to go right, you’re absolutelynuts,” said Ginny.

“And if it requires three things, you’re at least a bit nuts,” added Draco.

“I have no idea who benefits from any of this,” said Ginny. “Seeing as thedeclared motive, breaking the Interdict, is impossible, and this plot doesn’tdo anything Interdict-related, there’s no motive! Nuts!”

“Dumbledore would often orchestrate elaborate plots that didn’t seem to haveany rhyme or reason tot hem,” said Harry. “But the truth was that he knewexactly what he was doing, better than any of us, because he had access tomuch more information. We shouldn’t assume insanity in our enemy, especiallywhen they keep winning. Don’t complain about the unworthiness-”

“People still thought Dumbledore was insane,” complained Ginny, “and he showedquite a few signs of it. It was the rational view to hold at the time. Weshould be looking for someone insane.”

“I disagree,” said Harry, and then someone loudly interjected:

“I’m Pansy Parkinson!” said Pansy, who had just strolled back into the roomwith a wide smile. All eyes went to her, and there was an extended pause ofrealization.

Polyfluis Reverso!” shouted three adults at once, and Pansy turned out tobe none other Luna Lovegood.

“How surprising,” said Professor Lockhart, with thick sarcasm.

What? thought Ginny.

Expecto Patronum!” said the Headmistress. “Find Pansy Parkinson and askwhere she is.”

“Um – ignore everything I just said,” said Harry, to Ginny.

“Pansy Parksinson says, ‘mmph mmph mmph mmph’!”, said Minerva’s Patronus.Aurors had already appeared to take Luna away for questioning; she turnedstraight at Ginny, mad with laughter:

“You’re next, love,” said Luna. “I’ll get you from a thousand miles away!You’re next!”

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