Tool Use

The Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom felt strangely barren to anyonewho had seen it last year, when it had been occupied by one of the greatestwizards ever to teach at Hogwarts. It certainly was physically set upprecisely as the previous instructor had done, with a massive combined-sectionclass (though, this time, it was all first and second year Slytherins andRavenclaws, not all first years from all Houses) and enchanted panelsthroughout the room acting as monitors that would reflect Professor Lockhart’sface when the lesson begun. But, though Professor Lockhart had shown no signsof incompetence yet, he was filling shoes far larger than his own, and thiscould be felt from a mile away.

“You’re not Professor Quirrell!” cried a particularly foolish second yearSlytherin student. Professor Lockhart simply nodded gravely without speaking aword. Three minutes later, there was a quick hum throughout the room as themonitors activated, and the Defense Professor began to speak. Ginny took noteof one addition to the classroom that she remembered from no description ofMonroe’s class: some enormous object covered in shapeless cloth, behind thedesk and Lockhart himself.

“Good evening, Hogwarts,” said Professor Lockhart. “I trust that you have allalready attended your first lesson from the seventh year generals?”

“Yes!” said Ginny, and so did all of her classmates, or at least all of themwho felt like responding. It had been a particularly life-changing lecture,and it had excited her at least for the army-based portions of the Defenseclass. She wished she could have heard it from David Monroe directly, but theseventh years did quite a good enough job.

“Then you have already heard Professor Quirrell’s introductory lecture,” saidProfessor Lockhart. “‘One Killing Curse Will Bring It Down’. Am I correct?”Another general shout of affirmation. “I read his notes on that lecture. Hewas a fantastic man and a fantastic Professor, and that lecture wasfantastically composed. However…” The class nearly gasped. Who was this man,to append a ‘however’ to praise of Professor Quirrell?

“However, for all of its wisdom, the lecture accidentally implied things thatare outright false and dangerous,” said Professor Lockhart. “One Killing Cursewill _not _always bring it down. Who can name a situation where you are inmortal peril and the words Avada Kedavra will not save your life?” Hands shotup. “Yes, Mr. Potter?”

“If you’re facing the Wizengamot,” said Harry. Professor Lockhart laughed,surprised.

“Mr. Potter has cut straight to the point,” said Professor Lockhart.“Absolutely correct, though you’re jumping a bit ahead. I’ve had my run-inswith the law-”

“I know,” said Harry. “Last year I heard-”

“-but I’d prefer not to discuss them in public, Mr. Potter,” said ProfessorLockhart, making Harry feel very stupid. “I would like to clarify that I havenever been indicted for anything and I even have the pleasure to truthfullysay that I never saw Azkaban while it was an operational prison. Anyway, Mr.Potter is absolutely correct; if you are outnumbered and outgunned, theKilling Curse will not be of much help. At best you will take one of yourenemies with you in death, and that is doubtful. Can anyone name anotherdeadly scenario, preferably one related to combat, where the Killing Cursewill not save your life? Yes, Miss Lovegood?”

“If you’re breaking into Gringotts to save the love of your life from MinisterFudge and suddenly he jumps out from behind a rock and sends Fiendfyre atyou,” said Luna.

“A very specific situation,” said Professor Lockhart, “and I must admit that Icannot imagine why the Minister of Magic would do such a thing. But correct.Fiendfyre is a very Dark curse that behaves like a living being but is nottechnically alive and is not responsive to the Killing Curse in the least.However, it dies out shortly after the death of its caster, and therefore theKilling Curse might be useful in such a situation, so perhaps it is not a goodexample. Does anybody else have any ideas? Yes, Miss Granger?”

“If you personally cannot cast it,” said Hermione.

“Absolutely correct,” said Professor Lockhart. “Many of you will never be ableto cast the Killing Curse in your life; that is simply an inherent quality ofyour being. That does not make you a non-player in combat, and it does notmake you unable to kill. A Dark Lady in the nineteenth century, a hundredyears ago, thought the only tactically significant offensive spell was theKilling Curse, and foolishly neglected to put up any shielding Charms. Thedistraught mother of one of her victims hit her with a one-two punch, aTemporary Freezing Charm followed by Repulso, a Charm equivalent to a hardkick in the chest. She was later interviewed and it was determined that shewas not capable of casting the Killing Curse – and yet the Dark Evangel wasjust as dead. She shattered.

“The Boggart is a Dark creature that hides in dark places,” said ProfessorLockhart. “It is rarely known to be deadly, but it is invariably frighteningto those unaware of its nature, and may thus be used as a guardian to keepMuggles and particularly inexperienced wizards away. One Killing Curse willnot bring it down; the form of the Boggart that you perceive is not its trueform, and its true form is an adept dodger. Only the specialized curseRiddikulus will bring down a Boggart.” Somewhere in the room, Harry waslaughing about something.

“Professor Quirrell described the Hungarian Horntail to you,” said ProfessorLockhart, “but failed to mention a critical detail of its anatomy thatundermined his point. As with all dragons, only small parts of the fully-grownHungarian Horntail’s neck are truly alive. Its head and the rest of its bodyare a mechanical construct, assembled over the course of its life by magicalforces. One Killing Curse will not bring it down, not unless you hit it in thecorrect area, which comprises an indescribably tiny percentage of its volume.If you have ever seen a baby dragon, realize that that is your true target,when you try to attack an adult dragon with the Killing Curse.”

“The Cornish pixie,” said Professor Lockhart, sweeping the sheet off of theobject behind him, revealing it to be an enormous birdcage full of thousandsof tiny blue winged humanoids, all rather sleepy, “is a magical creature thatshows some mild degree of intelligence. It is, however, generally found ingroups, and as the size of the group increases, so too does its aggression. Inquantities of a dozen or more, they can easily be deadly. If I released thehive that you see before you from their magical bindings, all of you wouldprobably die; even if I were teaching a class of Aurors there would likely besome casualties. One Killing Curse will not bring it down, if by ‘it’ you meanthe hive as a whole rather than the single unlucky specimen that happens tocross the Curse’s path.” Lockhart set the sheet down on his desk, and as hecontinued to speak, the buzzing of the pixies slowly increased in volume asthe light woke them up, though it never overpowered Lockhart’s own voice. “Andin case you are unaware, the Killing Curse may not be fired rapidly enough topose a threat to that hive by taking them out one by one; no curse thattargets individuals may do so. Only an area-of-effect spell is a viablestrategy here.”

“The Dementor is a Dark creature thought to be extinct outside of captivity,”said Professor Lockhart, “but this is a foolhardy and misleading way to referto it. There is a well-known ritual to produce a Dementor from nothing, andover time, vast numbers may be bred from a single specimen. Any new, risingDark Lord would be likely to have an army of Dementors! A Dementor is theopposite of life, and so one Killing Curse will not bring it down; instead itwill thrive on it, and grow stronger and more inclined to reproduce! It wasonce thought that nothing could kill a fully-grown Dementor, and that it couldonly be repelled with a Patronus Charm. There are now two wizards in the worldwho have devised a means to kill a Dementor, and they are both sitting in thisroom. But I would not count on one of them coming to your aid if you happen tobe set upon by a Dementor. The Kiss of a Dementor is invariably fatal tohumans and animals and, according to some theologians, denies the recipienttheir place in Heaven.” Ginny balked at that. No omnibenevolent God wouldpermit such a thing. The pixies were truly beginning to stir, now; Lockhartquickly turned around and applied a Quieting Charm to their cage.

“The Lethifold is an infant Dementor,” said Professor Lockhart. “It isexceedingly rare, as Dementors mature quickly and remain in the final stage oftheir anti-life indefinitely. It may be killed by a unicorn, which you arealso unlikely to have handy when one is sicced on you, and, though it too maybe repelled by a Patronus, you will not have much time to cast one; aLethifold is undetectable by any science or magic until it has closed in forits kill; you will be at arm’s length when you first notice it. The creator ofa Lethifold may command it as a weapon. The only way to truly insulate yourhome against an assassination attempt involving a Lethifold is to seal itcompletely, so that not even air may enter or exit. That, or have theperimeter patrolled by unicorns twenty four hours a day, seven days a week,who will attempt to inform you of the Lethifold’s presence even if they do notmanage to kill it themselves. But one Killing Curse will not bring it down.”Ginny thought she had heard something about the Peverell Family Hospitalhaving a regular unicorn patrol; she wondered why neither Hogwarts nor theMinistry of Magic had one.

“The Nundu,” said Professor Lockhart, and he was getting so emotional that hewas visibly struggling to maintain his composure, “is a communal organism thatoccasionally forms from forty or more Dementors. One Killing Curse will notbring it down! One Patronus will not send it away! One wizard will notovercome it! The existence of a single Nundu anywhere in the world at anygiven time is a disaster beyond imagination! A Nundu is fully autonomous, andmay not be commanded by anybody, regardless of their relationship to itscreation! It debilitates and kills simply by proximity, and proximity isdefined here in terms of miles! In times immemorial, a single Nundu could wipeout an entire nation and leave no record that it ever existed! The only knownway to defeat a Nundu is through the simultaneously-cast Patronuses of atleast eighty wizards – in a real-world situation, the number of Patronusesrequired is inevitably greater than a hundred – which decompose the Nundu intoDementors, which are comparatively very manageable! We are all very lucky thatthe Nundu has been kept out of the developed magical countries entirely; thecreation of a Nundu in Magical Britain would be a horror on par with thedetonation of an atomic bomb in London! The atomic bomb is a Muggle weaponthat uses no magic at all but destroys an entire large city in a single blast!One Killing Curse will not bring it down, either!” Professor Lockhart took adeep breath, to restore his calm.

“The history of humanity,” said Professor Lockhart, “and not just the historyof wizardkind, but the history of humanity, is the history of tools. Toolcreation and tool use are among the features of our intellect that separatesthe being from the beast. The Killing Curse is a particularly effective toolin combat, because the only counter to it is to dodge, but it would befoolhardy to select a single tool from your kit to use in all situations!”Lockhart paused a bit longer than he had originally intended. “When all youhave is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail, but that does notmean everything is a nail, and the Killing Curse is not always the bestattack! Sometimes the tool to use is Apparition. Sometimes, the tool to use isFrigideiro-Repulso. Sometimes, the tool to use is a Lethifold. Sometimes, asthe Dark Lord Voldemort, He-Who-May-Now-Be-Named, demonstrated last year usingMiss Granger, the tool to use is even a mountain troll, and it is completelyvulnerable to the Killing Curse! Anybody, whether they are a Muggle or awizard or a goblin or something else, should have as diverse of a toolkit aspossible, to cover as many scenarios as possible. As wizards, none of you haveany excuse not to learn a wide variety of distinct spells with distinctapplications. If one seems particularly generically useful, take note of that,but do not allow yourself to write off other, more specialized techniques thatmight someday prove necessary.” The pixies’ cage was beginning to vibrateworryingly.

“One last note,” said Professor Lockhart, apparently, “before we begin ahands-on activity. I bet you thought we wouldn’t have hands-on activities inthis class, because of the system of armies. That is incorrect; though lectureis a worthwhile component of this class, I would not be a worthwhileinstructor if it was the only component with which I provided you. I want tokeep you all on your toes at all times, so: I am not actually here. About aminute ago, I invisibly left the classroom, in the middle of my lecture, andseamlessly replaced myself with an illusory duplicate delivering a prerecordedmessage, which should be ending shortly. On my way out, I sealed the classroomdoors shut. The cage behind me is Charmed to open when this message ends.” Thefalse Lockhart began to flicker, and the entire class panicked. “Do not panic;the pixies have been enchanted to do no significant damage to anybody or theirbelongings. What precisely is meant by the word ‘significant’ is for you todecide. Your objective is to use any and all appropriate tools at yourdisposal to minimize harm to you and yours. In an indefinite period of time, Iwill return and resolve the situation. Good luck!” Lockhart vanished beforeeveryone’s eyes, a tiny door made of golden metal bars swung open, and if itweren’t for the Battle Magic room’s soundproofing, you would have been able tohear the screams clear across the castle.

“Peskipiksi Pesternomi!” were the first words out of Professor Lockhart’smouth when he returned to his class. Immediately, most of the pixies froze inmidair, and began to drift back into their cage. The few that didn’t weredead; they had been smashed or beaten to death by crazed students using theirtextbooks. “A simple anti-pixie spell I invented that I didn’t expect any ofyou to know. No need to memorize it; it is exceedingly unlikely to help you inthe real world. I trust that you’re all alright. Or fainted.” He paused, toallow those in the class who were still conscious to readjust to the pixie-free room.

“So, let’s review what you all did,” continued Professor Lockhart, nowstanding back at his podium. “Yes, I was watching, using a monitoring devicelent to me by the school. So, first, to most of you, who became so flusteredthat you did nothing of meaning, attempting and failing to run and hide orsimply flailing around swatting at pixies futilely, you have failed this firstexercise. Don’t feel too bad, though, because you formed a majority both ofthis class and of humanity, so at least you’re not alone. And to thosestudents who spiraled into complete exhaustion by casting too many spells, Iwill inform you what you did wrong when you wake up; the simple answer is ‘youdid not listen properly to my lecture and apparently forgot that taking outpixies one at a time with magic is not a viable strategy’.”

“To Miss Lovegood,” said Professor Lockhart, “I do not know what the blinkingdevice you summoned was, but judging by your condition, it was not veryeffective.” At this point, Luna vomited on her desk; it was quickly Charmedaway.

“To Mr. Malfoy,” said Professor Lockhart, “your attempt to cast the ConcussiveStunning Curse, Immobulus, would have been the best solution presented in theclass, had it succeeded. If you would like, I can try to coach you tosuccessfully cast it, but I cannot guarantee that you will learn it quickly.It is not generally considered a second year spell.”

“To Mr. Goldstein,” said Professor Lockhart, “if your lives were actually indanger, your attempt to contact Headmistress McGonagall using your Patronuswould have been the correct thing to do. However, your lives were not indanger, and I had already cleared this activity with the Headmistress, so yoursolution was of no use to anyone.”

“To Miss Granger,” said Professor Lockhart, “I’m afraid that you suffered froma rather graver form of Mr. Goldstein’s problem. If you had actually been indanger, your solution of hiding yourself and Mr. Potter under the True Cloakof Invisibility would have been a good one. However, in the true situation youfaced, where you were in no real danger, this was entirely unnecessary, and,actually worse: the entire class and myself are now aware that you possess oneof the most sought-after unique magical artifacts in the world.” There weresome gasps. Ginny was mostly just thinking that it wasn’t at all fair thatHermione got to hide under a cloak with Harry-

Obliviate,” said Professor Lockhart. ”Obliviate Maxima.” The entireclass, Harry and Hermione excluded, blinked simultaneously. “I have taken theliberty of erasing your error, but I hope the lesson is understood.” Ginny wasnot certain what she had just been thinking, except that she had been jealousof Hermione for some reason or another. Well, that was a simple puzzle.

“Yes, Professor,” said Hermione.

“Good,” said Professor Lockhart. “My mastery of that particular spell, by theway, nearly earned me a high-paying job in the Accidental Magic ReversalSquad, but I found the role of the Hogwarts Defense Professor more…appealing.”

“Finally, Miss Weasley,” said Professor Lockhart. “You had the winningstrategy, and a very Slytherin one, too, even if I do not expect it to makeyou many friends. Please explain what you did, Miss Weasley.” Ginny took adeep breath.

“First, I remembered that pixies are enraged by bright lights and the colorred, and are drawn to targets exhibiting these qualities,” said Ginny.

“Professor Quirrell would likely have called that useless trivia, but itproved quite useful to you,” said Professor Lockhart.

“Then, I remembered the spell Luminos, which causes its target to flashred,” said Ginny. “And I cast it on as many of my classmates as possible, todraw the pixies towards them and away from me.”

“Very good,” said Professor Lockhart. “Miss Weasley has taught the class avaluable lesson today. As the saying goes, if you are being pursued by amountain troll, you do not need to outrun it, only your companions. I mightadd that it helps if you trip them. Miss Weasley has demonstrated a vast powerover the others in this room in a disaster situation, and that is the power ofintelligent betrayal. Ten points to Slytherin. I would like to note that shealso had the lucky advantage of possessing the trivia that she did, but thismodels the unpredictability and unfairness of real life. Class is dismissed,though you may stay behind here for some time if you wish to rest and recoverfurther.”

A few minutes later, Professor Lockhart met Ginny on her way out of class.

“Ginevra?” said Professor Lockhart. Ginny nodded. “It’s funny. You lookexactly like a younger version of your mother. Except for your eyes; they’re adifferent color.” Ginny nodded again.

“They’re my father’s,” she said. Professor Lockhart smiled.

The last two to leave class were Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, both of whomhad private matters to discuss with Professor Lockhart.

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