Occam's Razor, Part 4
On one end of the table, Ginny Weasley. On the other, Draco Malfoy. Betweenthem, Tom Morfin Riddle – who was not permitted to participate in thediscussion. Ginny and Draco were both wearing the sort of fine gloves thatonly Malfoy money could easily buy – though magically reinforced fordurability.
“So, I am not under suspicion from the administration?” said Draco.
“Not as far as I could tell,” said Ginny. “They completely bought that I wasjust concerned that you might also have been attacked. Now, tell me everythingyou’ve figured out. Are your memories of possession intact?”
“Mostly,” said Draco. “There’s one specific memory that I know I lost, buteverything else is intact, as far as I can tell.”
“What’s the one memory you’re missing?” said Ginny. “It might be a lead.”
“I can’t remember how the Dark Lord passed the possession test while he was inmy body,” said Draco. “I can remember that there was a possession test, andlater the Headmistress told me I passed it, but I can’t remember how I passedit. I can remember there was some trick, but not what the trick was. I shouldstart from the beginning, though.”
“Alright,” said Ginny. “How and when did you get possessed?”
“Luna – who was disguised as Pansy Parkinson at the time, remember,” saidDraco.
“Yes,” said Ginny.
“She passed the diary to me, with an enchantment on it to make it invisible,so it’d be harder to notice,” said Draco. “I don’t know if it possessed her atany point; given what I know I don’t see any reason it would have. It musthave just been part of the Confundus. Or maybe Imperius. I don’t know how manymind-control magics she was under.”
“This whole plot is needlessly complex,” said Ginny.
“Yes,” said Draco. “Anyway, since I’d already consented to indefinitepossession months ago, it instantly took full control of my body.”
“That’s a really stupid thing to consent to,” said Ginny.
“True,” said Draco.
“I regret it,” said Ginny.
“And I as well,” said Draco. “So, I quickly gained awareness of some pieces ofhis plot, though some details are fuzzy. He didn’t like it when you locked himback in his box. He didn’t like it at all. But he had a confederate somewherein Hogwarts - I can’t remember who – who he’d arranged a plan with just forthat fringe case. The plan was supposed to go into effect if enough timepassed without any contact between the Dark Lord and his servant.”
“I don’t suppose you know who it is who’s working with him?” said Ginny.
“No,” said Draco. “Come to think of it, it might be related to how he passedthe possession test.”
“Great,” said Ginny. “Absolutely great.”
“Anyway, his plan, in case he wound up locked in his box with no hope ofgetting out, was for his servant to hunt him down, seize him, and kill you,”said Draco. “He eventually wanted you killed either way, but he got especiallyemotional about it after he was locked in his box.”
“Well, he won’t be locked in much longer,” said Ginny, and she smiled. Dracofrowned. “Because he’ll be dead.”
“Oh,” said Draco. “That. I wanted to talk to you about that.”
“Finish what you were saying, first,” said Ginny.
“The Lethifold was his plan to kill you, but he needed Luna and Hermione outof the way first,” said Draco. “He was afraid Luna would figure out what wasgoing to happen on the basis of her Divination, and protect you. Furthermore,he thought she posed a mortal threat to him on the basis of her arcaneknowledge.”
“A particularly well-founded fear of his,” said Ginny. “As I’ll get to.”
“He was fairly certain,” continued Draco, “that Hermione was also a potentialthreat to the plan, because many of her supernatural powers correlate withthose of unicorns – who are uniquely able to detect and destroy Lethifolds. Soshe also had to go. And that explains everything that happened yesterday.”
“Got it,” said Ginny. “Now, to discuss our future course of action – unlessyou have anything else to bring up?”
“I’ve said everything of use I remember,” said Draco. “I spent most of my timemortified about you, because I knew what was supposed to be coming and Icouldn’t move a muscle to stop it. I was shocked when you burst in, but moredeeply, relieved.”
“Glad to hear it,” said Ginny. “Now, about destroying him.”
“Remind me why we can’t just turn it into the school?” said Draco, and Ginnysighed.
“Well, first off, I know that I’m just a twelve-year-old girl, but Voldemortconvinced me to do some pretty weird things,” said Ginny. “Call me crazy, butI don’t entirely trust anyone else, even experienced adults who know who andwhat they’re dealing with, not to fall to the same persuasion.”
“Rhetoric can be very powerful,” said Draco, “but that seems more likecynicism than rationality.”
“Second off,” said Ginny, “you said just now that he has an associate in theschool? Do you think he’s in the school administration?”
“Maybe?” said Draco.
“Then _maybe _it’s not such a good idea to trust the school administrationwith disposing of him,” said Ginny. “Third off, what do we have to lose bykilling him ourselves? The public would have less peace of mind, if theythought he was still out and about. But that’s only because of asymmetry ofinformation. _I _would have more peace of mind if I saw him die myself, andrationally so. I think, given what I’ve said, the same applies to you. True,he has that unknown associate – but the associate works for him, not the otherway around, right?”
“Right,” said Draco.
“Then absent orders from the boss, the associate should be mostly harmless,”said Ginny. “And nothing much bad should come from the public thinkingVoldemort is still out. The attacks will slowly fade into the past; peoplewon’t be sure why they stopped but sooner or later they’ll realize that therearen’t any more coming. It’s certainly better that the public thinks Voldemortis out while he’s not than the other way around. Now, for the how.”
“Alright,” said Draco, playing along. “How?” Ginny revealed a scroll.
“Luna,” said Ginny. “She gave me this scroll and said that it explained whatTim was and how to destroy him.”
“…I need to talk to Luna more too,” said Draco.
“I brushed her off at the time because, well, you know,” explained Ginny, “butnow I’ve thoroughly read it and it sounds legitimate enough. Let’s review thelist of horcrux destruction methods – one, invocation of a demon throughritual sacrifice of a virgin in a pentagram made of Sneakoscopes – immoral,and also it says that the demon is potentially more dangerous than the horcruxyou’re trying to destroy. Two, make the horcrux feel remorse, specifically forthe murder required to create it. Yeah, I’m not going to play therapist forVoldemort; that is literally the worst thing we could do with him at thispoint. Two-A, use Amortentia to force it to experience that same remorse.Ignoring the complications of feeding a potion to an inanimate object - Iguess we’d let it possess one of us, first? Sounds risky – it’s incrediblydifficult to get our hands on Amortentia.”
“True,” said Draco. “Father commented once that with all the regulationsimposed on it, even he would have a hard time coming by any.”
“Woah,” said Ginny, “probably not going to happen. But I guess I’ll put thatone down as a maybe, since it doesn’t come with any kind of inherent risk, ifwe manage to get it set up. Third, Fiendfyre. I don’t know how that works? Canyou make that?”
“Some of Father’s old friends could,” said Draco, “and some of them are evenstill alive, but I suspect they would ask us some very pointed questions aboutwhy we needed any, and I’m not sure how they would respond to an honestanswer.”
“Fourth, Dementor’s Kiss,” said Ginny. “We’re not going to sneak into theDepartment of Mysteries, especially not with Voldemort sneaking in with us.We’re children and that’s ridiculous. Fifth, contact with another hostilehorcrux. Sounds promising, but these aren’t common, are they?”
“I don’t believe so,” said Draco.
“It only has about a fifty percent chance of working anyway,” said Ginny.“Sixth, certain lost sacrificial rituals. Well, there’s that word, ‘lost’.Seventh, basilisk venom.” Ginny and Draco started to laugh, simultaneously.
“Well, according to legend, Slytherin’s Monster is helpful towards allParselmouths who reach it,” said Draco. “I’m sure it could be persuaded tobite a troublesome book.” Ginny started laughing a bit too hard, whichimmediately concerned Draco. “I was joking.” Ginny smiled wider, and Dracofrowned more intensely.
“I’ll put it down to consider,” said Ginny.
“This is the stupidest plot I have ever been involved with,” said Draco.
“Stupidest, or simplest?” said Ginny.
“I can’t believe we’re looking for the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, asthough it were trivial,” said Draco.
“Open,” said Ginny.
“Sspeak the correct wordss,” said the bathroom sink.
“Open pleasse,” said Ginny.
“Sspeak the correct wordss,” said the bathroom sink.
“Sshow me your ssecretss,” said Ginny.
“Sspeak the correct wordss,” said the bathroom sink.
“Correct wordss,” said Ginny.
“Sspeak the correct wordss,” said the bathroom sink.
“Sspeak the correct wordss,” said Ginny, and the bathroom sink blossomedinto an enormous entrance to a tunnel, which occupied the entire girls’lavatory. Puzzles don’t make very good passwords, and vice versa.
“I can’t believe we’re entering the Chamber of Secrets, as though it weretrivial,” said Draco, and Ginny pulled him down with her. The entire environwas much more dungeon-ish than even Harry’s revised Slytherin dorms;everything was damp and dark, illuminated only by sparse torchlight. Soon, ahissing voice rang out from an invisible point suspended in the darkness, andGinny knew there was only one thing it could be: a Sapespeck point.
“It lookss like you’re losst! Thiss iss not the main entrancce to theChamber. But never fear. I’ve located many of the ssecondary entranccess andplacced helpful sspeckss to sset you in the right direction. Follow thesspeckss that say ‘thiss way’ over and over, and occasionally listen up forfurther insstructionss. By doing thiss you will find the Chamber. Clap to makeany of my non-repeating sspecks repeat.”
“Okay, some hissing is going to lead us to the Chamber,” said Ginny. “Justfollow me.” There were quite a few turns to make, particularly in somethingcalled the Maze of the Poles, and sometimes wholly unnecessary danger, whichthe specks helpfully detoured around (why in God’s name had Salazar Slytherinfelt the need to include a passage full of deadly, constantly-hammeringcrushers?). Finally Ginny and Draco arrived at a gondola suspended from achain made of stone snakes; the chain led across the ceiling of a corridorblocked by about ten diagonal spikes that looked rather like teeth of anenormous, vicious creature.
“Thiss gondola iss the intended transsport into the Chamber,“said anotherspeck. ”Get in it.“
“Um, excuse me?” said Ginny. A pause, and then she clapped.
“Thiss gondola iss the intended transsport into the Chamber. Get in it.”
“Um, okay, Draco,” said Ginny. “We need to get in the gondola.”
“Alright,” said Draco. “It’s just as sane as anything else we’ve been doing.”A few seconds after Ginny had gotten in, it began to move; Draco only had oneleg in and had to scramble in upon threat of being torn apart. Soon, thegondola had floated down the corridor (the spears parted just enough to let itin), and then sideways down another, into a cramped room, apparently made ofsquare boxes with circular grates on them. Then, it stopped, and a much louderspeck called out to Ginny:
“_Primary heir! Identify yoursself in human wordss, and confirm in ssnakewordss, using no more or lesss than the preccisse phrasse ‘thiss iss valididentification with which I do not intend any decceit’.” _Ginny carefullyconsidered this and answered as she believed she was intended.
“Ginny Weasley,” said Ginny. “Thiss iss valid identification with which I donot intend any decceit.”
“It iss detected that you have brought a guesst. Can the guesst usse ssnakewordss? Ansswer ‘yess’ or ‘no’ only.”
“No,” said Ginny.
“To the best of your knowledge, are either you or your guesst an aliass,branch, or exxtenssion of any of the following individualss:” Then, from theboxes around the gondola, recordings began to play, of wizards identifyingthemselves in their own voices:
“Madam Mim!” shouted one, with a distinct cackle in her voice.
“Herpo,” said one with a deep, inherently terrifying voice.
“Roko,” said a third in a distinct Spanish accent.
“Tom Morfin Riddle,” said the fourth box, which sounded smooth and unassuming.
“Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres,” said the fifth and final box, in a voiceeveryone obviously knew, and Ginny and Draco shared a meaningful look.
“Ansswer ‘yess’ or ‘no’ only.”
“No,” said Ginny, and the gondola lurched sideways a few more feet until avast room, nearly as large as the Quidditch stadium, came into view. Its wallswere entirely adorned with Latin; not a single spot was overlooked and leftblank, except for the enormous open pipes which went to who-knew-where. At thefar end of the room was what looked like an enormous stone nutcracker modeledoff of Salazar Slytherin; from that same general direction came a boomingvoice, the loudest Parselmouth Ginny had ever heard. She knew immediately,before even comprehending its words, that it was Slytherin’s Monster.
“Hello, young apprenticce,” said the Monster. ”Welcome back to the Chamber.Your arrival iss unexxpected; how have your planss changed?”
“I have been posssesssed every time I was in the Chamber,” said Ginny, ”bya horcruxx. Then my memoriess were removed by magic. Thiss iss the first timeI have come here of my own accord.” Angry nonverbal hissing from theMonster’s direction.
“The ssecurity of the Chamber has been compromissed,” said the Monster.“Thiss iss a dissasster. What hass brought you here? I am famed Monsster,inccidentally. You are lisstening to Bassilissk.”
“I have come to dissposse of horcruxx, and read that Bassilissk is capable ofssuch,” said Ginny.
“That iss technically within my capabilitiess, though the need hass nevercome up before now,” said the Monster. ”I wissh to interrogate it firsst; doyou find thiss accceptable?” Ginny frowned.
“I sspeccifically came to you because I did not desire interrogation,” saidGinny. ”My conccern iss that it could manipulate you during the procccesss.”Then, something that could only be described as a deep snake laugh from theMonster.
“‘Interrogation’ is euphemissm for powerful mind magic built into theChamber,” _said the Monster. “_No true communication iss involved, andtherefore there iss no chance for manipulation. Iss like mind reading. When wecome to a mutual agreement on what preccissely iss to be done, I may come outto carry it out; I am neither permitted to nor capable of manipulating youinto allowing me to do thingss you do not want done. Tosss the horcruxx as faras you can and avert your eyess until I ssay it iss clear.” Ginny thought itover, and couldn’t think of any loopholes – even when she applied the extraskepticism that came from considering how well that line of thought had gonelast time.
“_Yess, you may interrogate him in the manner you desscribed. It iss done,”_said Ginny, and she hurled the book as far as she could. “Draco, look away,the Basilisk is coming.”
“What?” said Draco, horrified, and the two of them turned exactly around intheir gondola; Ginny held Draco in position in case he did something foolishlike assuming it was over before it was. They simply listened as the statuecreaked open, and then there was loud slithering, and the slithering gotlouder and then faded away, and then the statue creaked closed, and then backopen, and then the slithering resumed, and then it stopped suddenly.
“Do not look,” said the Monster. “I am sstill here. The man in the horcruxxis terrible, worse than you or I guesssed. I will kill him now, and thenreturn to hiding.” Something chomped down, and there was an awful burst ofmagic – which everyone seemed to get desensitized to sooner or later – and afinal fading series of slithers and creaking. ”I am gone. It iss ssafe tolook now. Do you dessire to hear the ressultss of my interrogation, forreferencce?”
“Ssure,” said Ginny. She knew that with all of the mind magic going around,she wouldn’t really be able to trust later that the problems were over, thatthe Dark Lord was dead. But in that moment, she didn’t care; she was justrelieved.
“Horcruxx wass of man he called ‘infamouss masster’,” said the Monster. “Hemade it ssound like he wass an unrelated persson through clever usse ofimplication. Truly did ressent main sself, but it wass sstill hiss sself.‘Infamouss masster’ found the Chamber in hiss youth and falssely believed hehad gained all of itss ssecretss. Therefore, he went againsst itss intent byattempting to kill me, to make the Chamber ussselesss to future heirss. Thisswass foolissh; I am guarded againsst ssuch, but project illussion of death.Thiss action got ‘infamouss masster’ blacklissted from the Chamber.”
_ “Later in life,” continued the Monster, ”‘infamouss master’ began toproducce horcruxxess, and one of __them became aware of propheccy indicatingChamber remained intact. Main sself was unaware of this propheccy, buthorcruxx did not tell main sself due to their poor relationsship. Propheccywas sself-referential, referred to ‘prophessied hero’. ‘The prophessied herowill make the most important deccissions in the Chamber.’ Horcruxx deccidedthiss meant that the ssubject of the propheccy was alsso the hero of ssomeother propheccy. Attempted to exxploit thiss upon disscovering your religioussssignificance to regain acccesss to the Chamber through trickery.”_
_ “Wass part of elaborate plan to resstore himsself to life with reputationass hero,” explained the Monster. “After your death, which you thwarted,your guesst wass to be permanently posssesssed, hiss original mind desstroyed,and many who could sstand againsst him desstroyed ass well, and one inparticular – your famouss crussh who valuess knowledge – framed and killedssimultaneoussly. Public would be told guesst had killed crussh posssesssed byinfamouss masster, when in actuality infamouss masster had posssesssed guesstto kill crussh. Eventually, and from my persspective most damningly, Chamberwould be permanently ssealed off by governorss, and invesstigated by largeteamss with intent to desstroy.”_
“How awful,” _said Ginny. “_Are there any loosse endss of hiss plotss wesshould know of?”
“He hass followerss, but he believess they would either sswiftly fall orquietly abandon him in hiss dissappearancce,” said the Monster.“Furthermore, he could not acccesss Chamber without your body, sso inpreparation of your death, three future attackss were prearranged, sso theywould not require further meeting to initiate.”
“Canccel them,” said Ginny.
“I am ssorry, but I cannot,” said the Monster. ”Ass with all other attackssI have made, I have been convincced that they sserve my primary purposse,which iss to undermine the decline of magic both by passsing on knowledge andby acting ass weapon. Do not conccern yoursself; I do not anticcipate that anyof the upcoming three attackss will be sseriouss, given the culture of glasssaround the sschool.”
“I find this disssatissfactory,” said Ginny. “You have already killed atleasst four people I know of.”
“I am again ssorry,” said the Monster. ”It sserved my primary purposse.”
“I don’t care about your primary purposse!” said Ginny.
“Yess, but you care about yourss,” said the Monster. A pause. “Do you wisshfor my normal sservicess? I take it that you do not wish to launch any sort ofviolent attack, but do you wissh for forgotten lore? That iss my mosst tesstedsservice, with perhapss the mosst utility. I undersstand if you would ratherresst.”
“Your anticcipation that I wissh to resst iss correct,” said Ginny. “Ssenduss back, and perhapss I will return for lore on ssome more peaccefuloccasion.”
“Heirs musst attend the Chamber of Ssecretss in intervalss of one hour,”said the Monster. “If you resst, you must resst here until the end of thattime.”
“Oh,” muttered Ginny. “Okay, Draco, I think we’re done here.”
“What did it tell you?” asked Draco.
“I’ll tell you most of it later,” said Ginny. “For now I’m just irritated,because we’re stuck in here for the better part of an hour because theirmachinery’s dumb.”
“Ugh,” said Draco. “How annoying.”
“Guess we’ll just have to sit here,” said Ginny.
“Yes,” said Draco. “We could.” He softly bit his lip and smiled. “We couldspend half an hour in a gondola in the dark in a part of Hogwarts nobody knowshaving absolutely no fun at all. Or…”
“Wait a minute,” said Ginny. “Are you… implying…” Draco nodded, and Ginnyexploded with all of the positive emotions she hadn’t really gotten in thepast few months. This was in fact not one of the purposes Salazar Slytherinhad considered for his Chamber, and he had considered many.
“Luna!” shouted Ginny, suddenly and with only joy, no thought. Twosimultaneous gasps, and everything froze.
“Um,” said Draco.
“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” said Ginny. “I’m – so -” She immediatelyslid Draco’s shoe back on, and retied it.
“No, it’s okay,” said Draco. “I understand completely.” He didn’t even soundupset.
“You don’t even sound upset,” said Ginny.
“To be honest, I’m pretty sure some of my feelings for you are residualimplanted thoughts from the Dark Lord trying to manipulate me, anyway,” saidDraco.
“That’s a rather cruel thing to say,” said Ginny.
“No, I didn’t mean it like-” started Draco.
“We should see other people,” said Ginny and Draco all at once. Long pauseswere apparently the main conversational topic today.
“So, is there anything interesting to talk about?” said Ginny. “To fill up thedead – sound.”
“Um… politics,” said Draco. “I love politics. Sometimes I really think aboutsystems of government, and I think about how much of a mistake humanity madeby abandoning the feudal system.” Draco continued to drone on and on, andGinny began to get it in her head that she had dodged a bullet, though shedidn’t know where her lunatic outburst had originated from. A few minuteslater, the gondola began to move again, and exited the Chamber of Secrets.
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