Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, II

Down, down, down Ginny fell, sufficiently slowed that it only felt as thoughthere were a light breeze blowing upwards. She held her robes down; besidesher plunged a stream of Amortentia rivaling the mightiest waterfalls inheight. Curiouser and curiouser. Where would you even get that muchAmortentia? The mere premise of a fountain of the stuff, which Lockhart hadput forward in the Department of Mysteries, had been daunting enough. Youcouldn’t produce this much Amortentia by sacrificing the entire magicalpopulation of the Earth. That was certainly Harry’s stock in trade, breakingthe rules. But how? Ginny didn’t even have the slightest idea, but she wassure she’d figure it out later.

It was clear that -

It was clear that…

There were too many things that were un_clear for Ginny to focus on what wasclear. It seemed that Harry had deliberately gotten petrified – and in thelast minute or two, since Ginny had just seen him alive – unless that was anillusion. Why? The note said that Petrification was an advanced form ofLegilimency. Okay? Had Harry force-fed the Basilisk Amortentia? That kind ofmade sense, then; Legilimency would obviously make Amortentia more effectiveby giving the recipient a more accurate image of their master’s desires. Butthen what was Ginny supposed to do? There were multiple Basilisks? How? Why?Ginny had never really thought to do Parseltongue computing with actualsnakes, but she supposed the idea made sense, though it’d be much lesspredictable than _Sapespeck__, although maybe more versatile – but –

Even if Harry intended to dose the entire system of Basilisks, this muchAmortentia was overkill, unless the Chamber of Secrets comprised the entireinterior of the Earth, which at this point Ginny would frankly no longer findsurprising.

Were Fred or George going to be okay?

Where was Lockhart hiding and what evil was he up to now? Was Ginny safe fromhim?

What was the point of Harry’s plan, anyway? What was a Coherent ExtrapolatedVolition, or, for that matter, a Yalizer? What benefit could be received fromtalking to even a thousand Amortentia-ed Basilisks? Weren’t they friendlyalready, on command of Salazar Slytherin? Was the idea reclaiming magicallore? Couldn’t Ginny do that on her own time?

Ginny looked down, did a rough calculation of the distance to the bottomdivided by the rate at which she was falling, considered the the strength ofher Bubble-Head Charm, and decided it would be safe to take a nap, though sherestored the Bubble-Head Charm to give herself a few extra minutes of leeway.

Ginny did not touch down, as she expected, on the damp floor immediatelyoutside the Chamber. Instead she landed gently on a river of Amortentia; thiswoke her up. She made her way to a ledge, and her eyes focused on a humanfigure – Gilderoy Lockhart, the former Defense Professor, who was standing onthe opposite ledge and had his wand trained on her. Ginny suddenly became veryalert, and her wand raised.

Expelliarmus!” said Ginny, and Gilderoy’s wand left him. At this point,Ginny noticed that Lockhart was profusely miserable, to the point of tears,and had a very hard time making eye contact with her. This did not producesympathy, but it did produce confusion, of which there was already plenty.“What are you doing here?”

“Thinking,” said Lockhart. “And waiting for someone to show me a way out.There’s a trail of hissing that led me to the entrance of the Chamber, noproblem, but I lost my way and couldn’t find an exit. Didn’t think to look up.I’ll be turning myself in now.” Lockhart began to float upwards, towards themassive pipe in the ceiling that Ginny had come through, the pipe that wasspewing Amortentia everywhere.

“Wait a minute!” said Ginny. “I’m doing something very important and I havetoo many questions for you.”

“Everything that’s been said about me is true,” said Lockhart. “As well asmany even more awful things that no one even suspects me of. I’ve donehorrific, inhumane things to you, Ginny, as well as so many others.” He lookedgenuinely apologetic, moreso than was humanly possible.

“That wasn’t even a question I asked,” said Ginny, with a look of disgust onher face.

“I need to go to receive what is due for my actions,” said Lockhart. “Ask mewhatever questions you must.”

“You are displaying a completely incongruous sense of morality,” said Ginny,“and you’re not wearing a Bubble-Head Charm, despite the fact that you werejust about to fly upwards into a waterfall of Amortentia. From this I deducethat you have already fallen victim to Amortentia. Is this correct?”

“Yes,” said Lockhart. “When I heard that I had been found out, for my…actions, I immediately fled to the passageways around the Chamber of Secrets,because they are all hidden from the regular search functions of the school.Further, I had been informed that there was a passage that led out of theschool and bypassed the wards. I got lost before I found any such passage, andinstead decided to remain here, at the entrance to the Chamber, as an obviousSchelling Point.”

“A while later, the Basilisk emerged from the Chamber,” continued Lockhart,“and I panicked, and seized upon a bit of trivia I’d learned, that ifconfronted with a Basilisk you may face a wall and cast a timed Body-Bind uponyourself, as that will cause the Basilisk to overlook you. It did overlook me,but within a minute Amortentia began pouring out of the ceiling, and I waspowerless to evade it in my Body-Bound state. Some splashed in my foolishlyopened mouth, and I was immediately swept with a sense of how wrong my entirelife has been. A few minutes after that, I heard the Basilisk return; Isuspect it was the true target of the Amortentia.”

“Probably,” said Ginny. “How did you get into the Chamber? Are you aParselmouth?”

“Lord Voldemort gave me a ring that speaks the correct pass-phrase,” saidLockhart. “He had you make it. I was in league with him all year, and you wereused to access the Chamber.”

“Start from the beginning, please,” said Ginny.

“When I was a student at Hogwarts, I was a screw-up,” said Lockhart.“Brilliant – even now, knowing how terrible I am, I can say that I wasbrilliant – but a screw-up. I thought that I was too brilliant to benefit fromstudy. At first I spent all my time trying to make social connections, butgave up on that when I realized how transparent I was being. I had a theorythat deceptive use of mind magic could be used to attain all the benefits ofother magics that I cared about, and more.”

“We’ve seen how that goes,” said Ginny.

“The war was such a pain for me,” said Lockhart. “I tried to play to bothsides of it, without much success. First I tried to stand with the Order ortheir allies, and I simply wasn’t getting anywhere, so then I tried to join upwith the Death Eaters. I got scared straight. Sort of. I made my pitch tothem, of using mind magic to take over the world. They rejected it outright,laughed at it, said it just showed what an incompetent wizard I was. They weresort of right; I wasn’t and I’m still not very good at much of anything else.So I just sucked it up and became a rank-and-file Death Eater.”

“Things got even worse a couple of days later,” continued Lockhart, “when Iheard Voldemort bragging that he’d destroyed the Chamber of Secrets to preventfuture heirs of Slytherin from learning from it, and I responded, veryrespectfully, I think, that I’d heard a prophecy indicating it was stillactive. He became absolutely enraged with me, insisting that he had cast theKilling Curse and seen the Monster die, and although he didn’t punish me onthe spot for questioning him, I got the impression that I wasn’t much longerfor this world. So I thought about it, and I did the obvious: I snuck away,cast Obliviate Maxima on the whole lot of them, so that they’d never evenknow that I joined them, and Apparated far away. I then packed all of mythings and fled the wizarding world.”

“I spent more than a decade in America,” said Lockhart, “never spending morethan a week in one town, living in my trunk. I finally put my money where mymouth was on my mind magic idea, and it absolutely paid off – according to myvalues at the time, mind you. I actually rather liked exploiting Mugglesrather than wizards – if I wanted to take advantage of Muggle women in a bar,I’d merely have to impress them with magic and Obliviate them when I was done.I could take whatever I wanted – if I wanted to test out a Muggle televisionto see why they liked them so much, I could simply take one, and its formerowners wouldn’t even know they’d had a television. It felt like Heaven at thetime, but looking back now, with my new set of values, I can’t even quantifyhow much suffering I’ve wrought. I ruined lives, tore apart families,plundered the poor and the rich alike.”

“One day, I encountered a situation that made me rethink my life,” saidLockhart, “in a manner of speaking. I was burglarizing a college professor,and he woke up, and I prepared to Obliviate him, and I’d already ascertainedthat he was unarmed, so I commented on how I was going to Obliviate him, andhe started asking questions. Good questions. He knew he was going to beObliviated at the conclusion of our discussion, so obviously he was thesubmissive party, but he received a basic summary of the existence of themagical world, and he asked me if they all did the sort of thing I did. And Isaid no, I was the only one who’d thought to use mind magic as extensively asI did. And he asked then, if wizards were as vulnerable to mind magic asMuggles were. And I thought back to my mass-Obliviation of the Death Eaters,and said ‘pretty much’. So finally he asked why I hadn’t taken over the entireworld, magical and Muggle alike, why I had instead decided to merely pursueEarthly pleasures among Muggles. He asked me if it wasn’t among my ambitions.”

“Of course it was among my ambitions,” said Lockhart. “I’d merely put it onthe back burner. So after Obliviating him, I developed a new resolve – and Ialso investigated some of the other things he’d pointed out, like studyingschools of thought and technologies originating from Muggles. I came back toBritain determined to become a hero, and I’d soon completely forged a varietyof heroic acts by locating freshly committed feats of heroism and using MemoryCharms to claim the credit. I hadn’t thought out my scheme properly, and wassoon being investigated by Mad-Eye Moody himself, who was convinced I wasVoldemort, which is ironic in retrospect.”

“Thankfully, when Moody ascertained that I wasn’t Voldemort, he wasstrangely willing to let me go,” said Lockhart. “Apparently he’d researched,and then foolishly applied, Muggle notions of criminal justice. I thenproceeded to slow down, because it wasn’t in my interest to garner that kindof suspicion. One day, I received fan mail from one Draco Malfoy, asking me tomeet him; I was of course flattered and agreed. But the second we were alone…”Lockhart took a deep breath. “It became abundantly clear that he was not theheir of the fabulous Malfoy fortune, but rather Voldemort, possessing someone,despite his apparent second death at the hands of Hermione Granger.”

“This version of Voldemort was quite un-Obliviated, and knew that I hadbriefly been a Death Eater,” said Lockhart. “He explained bits of hisbackstory to me – you see, it turned out that Voldemort made many copies ofhimself, and bound them to inanimate objects. This particular Voldemort-copywas subjected to various cruel experiments, and held no feelings of kinshipfor his creator. Voldemort kept the copy informed on the state of things, andso he heard of my existence and my plans to use mind magic. He also heard ofthe prophecy I passed on, and its implications for the continuing existence ofthe Chamber. He wasn’t caught in my Obliviate Maxima because I didn’t evenknow that he existed, and he was an inanimate object, on top of that. He heldonto that knowledge, and didn’t inform Voldemort of the deception, untileventually he wound up in different hands, after the main Voldemort’s death.He forcefully requested a partnership with me, and, in fear for my life, Idecided it would be fine to be second-in-command over the entire world.”

“He pushed me into a teaching position in Hogwarts, so I would be close by,”continued Lockhart, “and pointed out that I would finally be able to fulfillall the fantasies I had as a student, of being important and having authorityin the school. I was happy to obey the little instructions he had, toObliviate you of your outings to the Chamber. He needed you to use the Chamberbecause the Chamber’s magic rejected him for attempting to kill the Basilisk;he needed a Parselmouth who could be convinced to enter of their own accord.As soon as he was in, he would fully possess you, and do whatever he desiredin the Chamber.”

“At first he merely smuggled out Interdicted lore,” said Lockhart. “He’d teacheverything the Basilisk taught him to Mr. Malfoy, and would have me Obliviateboth of you of everything - under a Reversible Memory Charm, so he couldretrieve it later, when his possession had grown permanent. His plan neverreached that stage. Would you like me to reverse your Memory Charms? Theepisodic memory should come back first, which should be psychologicallydistressing, but the skills should all come back within days.”

“Sure?” said Ginny, tentatively.

“I need my wand,” said Lockhart. Ginny’s discomfort grew.

“Get it,” said Ginny. Lockhart had to take a swim in Amortentia to retrieve it- not that it mattered, seeing as Amortentia exposure is a binary condition.He surfaced eventually, and carefully put his wand on Ginny’s forehead. Sheshivered.

Bacchup,” said Lockhart, and, with no fanfare, Ginny suddenly became veryaware that she had been tricked dozens of times into coming to the Chamberwith “Tim”, often under the pretense of stopping the killer. Each time thenightmare had ended in Lockhart’s office. “I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re not,” said Ginny. “Your concept of Harry wants you to feelremorse, and is making you play the role of a remorseful person. But somewherein there, trapped inside you, is the real Gilderoy Lockhart, and he’s notsorry one bit, except for getting caught.” It occurred to Ginny thatObliviating Lockhart of his entire episodic memory would be a mercy, under thecircumstances. A mercy he didn’t deserve.

“Correct,” said Lockhart. “Anyway, back to what I was saying; Voldemort’s planslowly grew more violent; the end goal was to permanently possess you,destroying your mind inside his horcrux - eventually he decided to use Dracoinstead of you - and then to kill Harry and blame the attacks on him. TheChamber would be swiftly destroyed by the Ministry, finally accomplishing whathe’d attempted fifty years ago. He had me do awful things in pursuit of thatgoal - I gave Lesath Lestrange, who was already suffering horribly sociallyand emotionally, a False Memory Charm so he’d think Harry had callouslysuggested his suicide. All to obtain a rope to use in a ritual to produce aLethifold, all to kill you in a manner consistent with prophecy. When itdidn’t work owing to your unexpected Patronus, and Draco wasn’t possessed, Ilost contact with Voldemort, and simply felt relieved, for I could resume myplan to dominate the world alone. I doubt I could have done it, though. Justlook what happened to me _before _the Amortentia. I was brought down by my ownprurient interests.”

“You’re sick,” said Ginny, and she spit in the river of Amortentia.

“For all the evil things Voldemort made me do, I was doing equally evil thingsin my free time, for pleasure,” said Lockhart. “I should go and face theconsequences. Why are you down here, anyway?”

“Mission from Harry,” said Ginny. “He’s gotten the Monster under the effectsof Amortentia, and now he wants me to go down and talk to it. I’m havingsecond thoughts, though; I just have a bad feeling-”

“Get in the gondola now,” said Lockhart, whose wand was now pointed straightat Ginny, in an obvious threatening stance. Ugh, letting him keep his wand hadbeen a mistake.

“I’ll scream,” suggested Ginny.

“Little girl, this is the Chamber of Secrets,” said Lockhart. “No one wouldhear you.” Ginny didn’t like the way Lockhart said that one bit. She climbedinto the gondola.

“Stay out,” she said, as the gondola began to move. “Harry sent me alone.”

“Understood,” said Lockhart. “I’ll be waiting here to escort you out in anhour.”

“Thanks for the exposition,” said Ginny, as Lockhart faded from view, and thenshe referred to him using an expletive.

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