Occam's Razor, Part 3

Ginny requested a meeting with the Headmistress within an hour, and quicklyattempted to organize her thoughts. She did not succeed.

“Headmistress,” said Ginny, finally, “with all due respect – it’s about Luna.I don’t think she’s actually the one behind it all. It just doesn’t seemright.” McGonagall nodded, though Ginny didn’t quite notice. “I’ve beenreading about what happened to Hermione last year – with Draco, that is, andthe Blood-Cooling Charm – and I’ve been thinking that Luna could easily havebeen framed. It’s not difficult, with magic.”

“I’ve been thinking about that case, too,” said the Headmistress. “And Iagree. Miss Lovegood was certainly under a Confundus Charm that caused her tomake a scene; that has already been confirmed and the Charm has already beenremoved. Memories of guilt remain, and she was immediately quite repentantupon removal of the Confundus Charm, but expert opinion is that the memorieswere likely falsified, and they are being investigated. It is likely that shewill return to school within the week. I am certain that justice will beserved with respect to Miss Lovegood; it wouldn’t do to repeat the mistakethat was made five decades prior at the cost of Rubeus Hagrid’s education –and the case against him was actually much stronger.”

“I’m very glad to hear that,” said Ginny, and McGonagall softly smiled.

“Is there a reason you cared to inform me of your suspicions that somethingwas amiss?” said the Headmistress.

“No, of course not!” said Ginny, and she had been sent into full panic-mode.

“I merely meant that I was unaware that you and Miss Lovegood were such closefriends,” said the Headmistress. “No one else came in to testify on herbehalf.”

“Well, uh, we are,” said Ginny. “She was the first friend I made this year,actually. I wish I spent more time with her.”

“Oh,” said the Headmistress. “Alright.” She smiled, looked down, and made eyecontact with Ginny.

_Wait, what’s going on? _thought Ginny.

The Headmistress’s mouth fell open, and then she buried her head in her hands.

Tossing and turning in a bed below which was a Tim-less box. Nothing everseemed to get better around here. First, students had started gettingpetrified. Then, Ginny had found out it was her doing it, while possessed byher diary friend, who was probably actually Voldemort. Then, Voldemort hadescaped from his cloth pile prison under her bed, God-knows-how, and hadpetrified another student while possessing God-knows-who - maybe her, again.Then, Luna had been framed, and when Ginny tried to set things straight, she’dgotten her mind read by the Headmistress, who proceeded to yell at her for“withholding critical information”. “You’re lucky not to be expelled,” she’dsaid. Then there’d been a bunch of painful diagnostic spells to make sure shewasn’t still possessed, and someone had been sent to do the same to Draco,and the year had just generally been a mess.

Well, now at least Ginny could sleep. Or, rather, she couldn’t. She could liein bed and shut her eyes, but her mind refused to follow. Where was Tim -Voldemort, that is? Was Harry safe at this very second? What about Draco? Whatabout her? According to the stories Ginny’s mother sometimes told her aboutthe war, no one was safe when the Dark Lord was on the prowl, and so Ginnykept her wand by her bedside, though it was doubtful it would be of any use.Who was he possessing? Clearly he needed to possess someone to physically act,and he needed consent for that; otherwise his behavior would have been verydifferent indeed. The only other person Ginny knew had consented to possessionwas Draco, but he had been tested, and the unaccounted-for memories meant anynumber of other people might have interacted with “Tim”. No one could betrusted.

And what would become of Luna? Nurmengard didn’t have Dementors, but it wasstill no place for a young girl. If she returned to Hogwarts soon, then good,but odds were that she would still be under suspicion, at least from herfellow students. There had been whispers about her ever since she witnessedthe Petrification of Marietta Edgecombe, and her eccentric personality hadlong been considered threatening by the sorts that Percy hung around. Come tothink of it, who had benefited from her framing? It had fallen apart soquickly; was having her take the fall the entirety of the plot’s purpose? Ifso, it had been a failure. Already, those in power knew they had been duped,and Luna was projected to return to school soon. Hadn’t Luna given Ginny apaper describing what the diary was and how to destroy it? Ugh, Ginny had beensuch an idiot, and now she knew that Hermione, Luna, and countless futureothers were paying for it.

Where was Harry in all of this? Ginny considered Harry’s intellect farsuperior to her own, even if they occasionally disagreed. He was supposed tobe involved in important secret things. So why hadn’t he fixed the year’sproblem? Ginny supposed that proved what a difficult problem it was. That, orthat he was in on it - which would just make it an even more difficultproblem, and was honestly too awful to think about, on top of producingcomplexity penalties all across the sky. Just a brief consideration of Harry’spossible involvement with the evil plot, and it was as though a very heavymonster was sitting on Ginny’s chest.

But wait, no - there actually was something weighing down on her; the chestmonster was literal. Ginny’s eyes opened to see an enormous, self-propellingsheet baring down on her, crushing the air out of her lungs like a python,smothering her like Desdemona. It was a Lethifold! Ginny heard thoughts beingwhispered from somewhere unknown, telling her that everything was tumblingdown, that she wanted to end it all, that she wanted to become Death. She didher best to ignore these voices, and struggled for her wand.

Expecto Patronum!” Ginny could barely get it out, being so close tosuffocation, but she succeeded. Her wand immediately began to light up like asparkler, and the Lethifold leapt backwards, disentangling itself from Ginnyat shocking speed. It soon became clear that the little particles flying fromGinny’s wand were a strange, tiny sort of fish.

“Go back to sleep, Weasley,” muttered Pansy (the real Pansy, that is), whothen rolled over in her bed, missing the many variable bright-white fish thatwere appearing in mid-air, frightening the Lethifold into a corner. Some ofthem appeared to have legs, and then there was a salamander the size of a dog,which snapped at the slithering sheet. Ginny sat up in bed, and put her legsover the side onto the ground and watched the scene unfold; little whitelizards scurried past her feet at the assassin hoping for a bite.

“OMM, is every Patronus in the world in our dorm tonight?” said Sheila. “Did Imiss some - Lethifold!” Indeed, the glow of a couple of the largest forms -one some sort of sail-backed reptile, the other a sort of streamlined wolfwith dinosaur features - had broken the Lethifold’s natural concealment, andsoon everyone was waking up and shrieking.

Ginny was already trying to process what had happened - had the point been tomake her show her Patronus, or had it been a regular assassination attempt?She easily could have died, which made the latter a simpler, likelier outcome.And, oh, come to think of it, her death would have been magical asphyxiation,and the diary had spoken to Luna about her Divination work. Perhaps thedisbelief had been feigned. Meanwhile, the Lethifold attempted to creep up thewall to escape from the roaring superpredators, to the frustration of acollecting group of mice and other, less familiar small rodents. But monkeysfollowed, climaxing with a vicious chimpanzee that grabbed the Lethifold andscreeched as it dropped to the floor with it, attempting to rip it in two. TheLethifold fell unconscious.

“Um, listen,” said Ginny, to the stunned crowd; she was slipping gloves on. “Ihave something I need to do in a hurry before help arrives. If it wakes up,use your own Patronuses to scare it.” Indeed, several - mostly snakes - werealready out. “Bye!”

Cries of “what the hell was that?” and “you put it to sleep?” were heardbehind Ginny as she ran, but she didn’t care. Nor did she notice that thechimpanzee had been replaced by a human, who beat its enemy first with a club,then with a sword, then with a rifle, and then with a wand, before turninginto a tiny floating point that orbited around the Lethifold, keeping it down.

Ginny was soon standing at Draco Malfoy’s private door. She did the quickestand quietest possible variation of his secret knock, and creaked the dooropen. Perhaps this course of action was incorrect - Draco had, after all, beentested for precisely this - but, if correct, it needed to be done as soon aspossible.

Petrificus Totalus,” Ginny said, in as few milliseconds as she couldmanage, pointed directly at Draco, who was neither awake nor asleep. She knewthis was the spell to use, but she could not fully remember why. It justseemed right. Ginny was soon upon Draco’s temporarily frozen body, and soonshe had found, sure enough, a familiar diary beneath his shirt. She tore itoff of him - saved herself only by gloves - and stashed it away, and thenreversed the curse. Draco promptly began to breathe heavily, and Ginny flashedthe diary at him, and his pupils grew even more dilated.

“We’re going to kill this bloody book,” whispered Ginny.

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