A Crack Slash Epilogue
This is a “Six Years Later” epilogue to Harry Potter and the Methods ofRationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky that I wrote a while and back and am just nowgetting around to posting here (it was previously posted on /r/hpmor). Itcontains ending spoilers for that story, and for six other books that have notbeen (and will not be) written. As should be clear from the title, it is notmeant to be taken entirely seriously.
“And I’m betrothed to Hermione Granger, and Bellatrix Black, and LunaLovegood, and oh yes, Draco Malfoy too…”
Harry stood in front of a large whiteboard, thinking at it as hard as hecould. There had been a time, years earlier, when he’d used paper and pencilto work through a hard problem. Later, it had been a magically enchanted quillscribbling across parchment as quickly as he could speak. Now it was thewhiteboard, which displayed his very thoughts, putting up the concepts as theycame to his mind, pulling needed information from the library, and quicklydoing any of the more difficult maths. Harry had tried using a computer - itwas hard not to think of them as muggle computers - but it would be a decadeat the least before they could exceed what Harry had here. The whiteboard wasan extension of his thoughts, a way of adding onto his cognitive power. Whathe’d really wanted was something that could make him smarter, but they hadn’tfound anything like that yet. They did have a diadem that augmented thoughtprocesses, but Hermione had told him that he wasn’t allowed to use it until ithad been thoroughly tested, so that had been that.
One small corner of the whiteboard had a blinking red light, which he put upwhen he needed to be firmly and viscerally reminded of the importance of hiswork. There was a device in the Headmistress’s office that counted the numberof “let’s call them sneezes” (it had taken Harry longer than he’d have likedto admit to catch the meaning) of all of the left-handed witches in France.The blinker worked on a similar principle, but instead of tracking left-handedwitches it tracked every sentient creature on and off the planet, and insteadof “sneezes” it tracked deaths. In the four years since he’d put that bit ofastonishingly simple magic together, he’d noticed it slowing down. The rawnumbers showed that they were preventing one in every ten deaths (with anotherone in three becoming “reversible” deaths for when the state of the art hadadvanced beyond where it was now). It still felt like a drop in the bucket.
A small chime sounded, and the whiteboard folded itself away. Work time wasover, and Harry sighed with mingled relief and frustration. Every day was athirty hour day for Harry - six objective years ended up being seven and ahalf subjective ones. It had been difficult, in the beginning, to feel like hecould spare time for leisure. His solution had been to give fun and workdifferent time slots, so that when the chime sounded he could fold up what hewas doing and not just go looking for the next problem that needed hisattention. He shifted his mind away from the work with only a twinge of latentguilt.
He stood up and stretched out, then began his customary tour of his domain.
Six years had changed Hogwarts, though less than might have been expected. Itwas still soaked in magics that were covered by the Interdict, and theInterdict had proven stubbornly resistant to the combined intellect of theBayesian Cabal. The quidditch pitch now doubled as the interplanetarylaunching platform, and through the unusual but now well-understood geometriesof Hogwarts, it was sometimes possible for it to be one or the other dependingon which way you entered from. A new turret had been raised from the depths ofthe Slytherin dungeons, made of a modified tree which Neville Longbottom hadbred for the purposes of terraforming Mars. The Headmistress had a row withhim and the well-intentioned students who didn’t think that Slytherin shouldbe confined to a literal dungeon, and eventually the tree had gone from beinga temporary crisis to a permanent living space. There were third-years now whojust thought that the Slytherin Lignum Tower was simply The Way Hogwarts Was.And there were quite a few more students in Hogwarts these days, since it hadbecome the single most prestigious place for a wizard or witch to learn theircraft, not to mention that Hogwarts now offered extremely generousscholarships to anyone with the slightest interest in attending. The hallwayswere filled with a confusion of languages, which was redoubled by the smallhomunculi that perched on students’ shoulders and translated whatever wasbeing said. Harry made a mental note to talk to the Weasley twins about theircreations, and hopefully find a way to simply have the creatures speak intotheir owners minds instead. He halfway imagined that they could have done soall along - they had been the campaigners behind “Keep Hogwarts Weird” fortheir entire seventh year. Harry attributed the current personal fashions tothe enduring legacy of their time at Hogwarts.
He found Luna standing on one of the fifth floor balconies. She was a monkeywith small wings and the head of a crow, which was one of her less whimsicalforms. She wore her customary pouch which was slung across one shoulder (whichshe referred to as a “Pouc” for reasons known only to her) and had onsomething resembling a robe (since the Headmistress had often remarked thatbeing an otherkin didn’t absolve a person of the need for wearing pants inpolite society). She’d kept her hair a silvery white, and smiled at him in aslightly unfocused way that he was fairly certain wasn’t accurate to a crow’sanatomy. Duplicating the Philosopher’s Stone had so far proven impossible, buta variant based on the underlying principles had been developed which allowedfor safe human transfiguration of a single bonded subject. It had been fouryears since those had gone into general circulation, and now, at least atHogwarts, a substantial fraction of the population switched around what theylooked like whenever a random whim struck them. The Headmistress wasdispleased by this development, but had put yet to put any seriousrestrictions in place save for the rule against impersonation (and of course,the rule about wearing pants).
“Hello Luna,” said Harry.
“Oh, Harry,” said Luna. Her voice was light and airy, and very uncrowlike.“Did you know that the gilded Snauffle-Quatchers hatch today?”
“No,” said Harry. “I had no idea.” Half of what Luna said was nonsense, butshe was friendly and kind, and Harry had grown to enjoy her company a greatdeal. “Did you know that today would be my graduation day, if we still hadthose?”
“Of course,” said Luna. “I’m a ravenclaw, just for the occasion.” Harryrealized that her head was meant to be a raven’s, not a crows. He saw enoughof these fanciful forms that he didn’t look too hard at them.
“Any new prophecies for the end of the year?” asked Harry.
“None I can tell you,” said Luna with a sigh.
Luna Lovegood had come to his attention in his second year at Hogwarts, afterhe’d made the connection between things written in the Quibbler and the eventsof his first year. Dumbledore had sealed the Hall of Prophecy to him, andwhile Harry could understand what Dumbledore had been thinking, it wasdifficult to find a way around fate without knowing where fate was standing.He had ignored the Quibbler for a long time, thinking that it was simplytabloid nonsense, but the coincidences had stacked up too nicely. Once Lunahad started writing a serialized novel published weekly in the Quibbler titledHarry Potter and the Wayward Scion, he had brought her into the BayesianCabal, more out of necessity than any real belief that he could teach herrationality. Her novelization of the events of his first year had includeddetails that she shouldn’t have had access to. Harry had wanted to prevent thefinal chapter from being published, but Hermione had argued with him about theimportance of a free press, and eventually he’d had to agree. It was a fulland accurate accounting of what had happened in the graveyard, and no one hadpaid it much attention save to say that it was in poor taste and not as goodas the rest of the book.
“Well,” said Harry. “If there’s anything that comes to mind which you thinkwon’t cause some undue effects somewhere down the line, let me know.”
Luna moved forward and slipped her monkey paw into his hand. “Today is animportant day, Harry. Not for the world, but for you.”
“Er, because it would have been graduation? Or some prophecy that you can’ttell me?”
Luna shrugged, and to the extent that a crow could smile, she did. “It’s thecapstone of my latest book.”
Harry leaned forward and kissed her on the beak. “If you’re feeling more humanlater, I’d like to have some company tonight. We can pretend that it was aproper graduation and throw a celebration.”
Luna’s crow head bobbed up and down, and she leaned up to give him a quiteliteral peck on the cheek. “I shall be there with bells on.”
Harry took one last look out the balcony to where a group of students werehaving debate in one of the courtyard, then left Luna behind and continued histour. Things had turned romantic with them only recently, and he’d found thatit had added a dimension to their friendship that was sorely needed. He wasn’tsure that he really understood Luna, or the process by which she got herprophecies, even after reading her novelization of Harry’s second year whereshe played a starring role (Harry Potter and the Prophecy Engine). He onlyknew that it was nothing like Trelawney’s deeply intoned and cryptic messages,and that it was accompanied by a great deal of completely useless andincorrect information, which largely informed who she was as a person. He’dgrown to like her a great deal more once he’d realized that it wasn’t justpointless woo-woo like his mother used to follow.
His next stop was to see Hermione, who was working in labs that were connectedto Hogwarts through a small strip of subspace that looked just like anordinary corridor. He found her at her workbench, floating just above thefloor. As soon as she’d known it was a possibility, she had gotten the sameincantation on her bones that Tom Riddle had, and she could often be seenflying around Hogwarts with her innocence aura trailing behind her. Her auburnhair had straightened as they’d grown up, and her front teeth weren’t socomically large anymore. She was radiantly beautiful. The unicorn aura andstrength of a hundred men only added to that. A small black cat with a metalforelimb sat patiently on the floor next to her.
“Work hours are over,” said Harry. “Did you miss the chime?”
“I must have,” said Hermione with a frown. She set down her tools and steppedaway from the workbench. “I’m trying to solve the Obliviation Problem.”
The small black cat by her feet exploded in fur and fabric, and shortlythereafter Bellatrix Black was standing where the cat had been. The woman thatHarry had pulled from Azkaban six years ago had been deathly pale and soskinny she looked like she was about to snap. Now she wore the body of herseventeen year old self, and the damage that had been done to her was almostentirely reversed. The Wizengamot had called Bellatrix Black unredeemable, butHarry had brought her into his Cabal anyhow, and proved them wrong. Inretrospect, he hadn’t been quite prepared to undertake her rehabilitation inhis third year (Harry Potter and the Faithful Servant) but he had learned alot about himself in the process, and despite the bumps in the road, Bellatrixhad been drained of the darkness that suffused her. The last remaining piecethat tied her to her old life was the metal arm, a final gift that Voldemorthad given her when he’d taken her old one from its socket, but it would havebeen dangerous to remove, and besides that it had a number of definiteadvantages over an arm of flesh and blood. She had also been a beneficiary ofthe experimental metamorphmagus v2.0 program, having lost her old Animagusform in Azkaban, and often took the shape of a black animal with a metal arm.
Hermione Granger could bend steel with her bare hands, clipped her nails withthe Sword of Gryffindor, travelled the solar system via Phoenix, and wasunkillable by anything short of Avada Kedavra, and not even that if she hadeven the slightest preparation. Bellatrix Black had an arm made of starmetalthat could block Fiendfyre, could take the form of any creature known to herin the blink of an eye, practiced Legilimency with her eyes closed, and forreasons that were still not clear, got eight hours to the Time-Turner insteadof the usual six.
Together they fought crime.
The Obliviation Problem had been troubling Hermione for a long time. In short,it was possible for a wizard to do whatever they liked to a muggle withoutregard for things like consent or ethics, and then erase all their memories ofit after the fact. This made it nearly impossible to realize there had been acrime at all. Under the old regime, the response had simply been to shrug andsay that these things happened, with the unspoken agreement being that it waspractically a victimless crime. Hermione had reformed the Department of MemoryModification over the course of three months (Hermione Granger and theAmnesia Codex), but that left every other wizard on the planet to deal with,and the only real stride that had been made towards stopping the problem hadbeen letting everyone know that Hermione Granger took that kind of thingseriously. Eradication of anti-muggle crime seemed impossible short ofpanopticon surveillance or making every wizard take an Unbreakable Vow,neither of which were currently practical.
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out,” said Harry. “You always do. How arethe muggles?”
Hermione shrugged. “I think they’re finally coming to accept that they’re notgoing to figure out the healing. They’re calling it ‘Sudden Recovery Syndrome’now, and for all that it baffles them, no one is close to finding out thetruth. Even if they did, we have buy-in from the major muggle powers. Oh,there was an earthquake near Delhi, but the house elves handled it.” Shehesitated. “Bella and I stopped a sex trafficking ring in northern Europe thismorning, but I sealed most of those memories away. I think it was fairly bad,as those things go. A forest fire in California, a flood in Paraguay, anattempted bombing in Russia that we stopped with Time-Turner. But no wars, nolarge-scale conflicts, and I’m fairly certain that all the muggle leaders arefinally taking us seriously.” She bit her lip. “We’re going to have to breaksecrecy one of these days.”
“One day,” agreed Harry. “Once we know that we can do it safely.”
“Alright,” said Hermione. “It’s just that the casual obliviation of muggleswho have seen too much is making the Obliviation Problem harder, and thatmanpower could be put towards other things, and -”
“I know,” Harry said gently. “But that’s a work discussion, and it’s not worktime right now. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” sighed Hermione.
The Statute of Secrecy had been a point of contention between them for a longtime. Hermione understood his reasons for wanting it in place, and even agreedwith them, but she was considerably less happy about the deceptions that itrequired. The Obliviators now sealed the memories away instead of wiping thementirely, but Hermione was sceptical that those memories would ever berestored.
They had fallen in love faster than either of them had expected. They hadknown that they loved each other, but actually being in love was an entirelydifferent thing. They’d gone about it in a haphazard way, and the rightmethods of negotiating those feelings were only obvious in retrospect. If hisexperiences with Quirrell had taught him that INT was nothing without WIS,being in love with Hermione had taught him that CHA wasn’t as much of a dumpstat as he’d thought it was. Even after they had been in love for a while,after it wasn’t such a surge of emotion to see each other, and when everyoneknew that they were a couple (with all the media attention that had gottenthem), there were still more things to negotiate. That they had finally gottento a place where they could have serious, legitimate arguments with each otherand not have it feel like the End of Everything was the biggest sign that theyhad really and truly navigated those minefields.
And it was because of those experiences that he had been able to negotiate hiscomplicated feelings towards Bellatrix. Her story had been heartbreaking, andhe’d only want to help her become the person she had been meant to be allalong. He wanted her rehabilitated instead of stuck in the prison they’d builtto replace Azkaban. She, on the other hand, recognized him as the lord andmaster she’d dedicated her life to. He’d been fourteen years old, and barelymature enough to deal with it all, but he knew that he had to help her, andthat he was the only one that could do it. It had taken three years tountangle the improper bonds that she imagined having with him, but after thatwas over, she fell in love with him anyway. She loved him for being the sortof person who would show such patience and kindness when there was no clearbenefit for him, for coming into her bedroom and sitting with her when she hadnight terrors, and for standing up for her in front of the Wizengamot. It hadtaken a long time for them to be able to treat each other as equals, but ithad, eventually, happened. And they too had fallen in love, though it was alove of a different flavor.
“Draco has been acting oddly these days past,” said Bellatrix. She had a high,sing-song voice which the years had stripped of its cruelty. She and Luna hadgotten along fabulously, and could often be found together.
“Oddly how?” asked Harry.
“He’s been a girl for three weeks,” said Hermione. “The same girl.”
“Well that’s not too unusual,” Harry replied. “That was the prediction, wasn’tit? Once we had the ability to change our physical appearance at will,everyone made themselves pretty looking, but there was a treadmill effect, andso everyone made themselves even more pretty, until it was kind of ridiculous,and they all started looking the same anyway. The gorillas and rhinos anddemon forms and what have you was the step after that, but I’d always saidthat eventually most people would settle into a standard form that they usedthe vast majority of the time.”
“You said it would happen over the course of a few months,” said Hermione.“And it’s been years. And you know that Draco’s never been much of atrendsetter. It’s not in his blood. Even when he’s a leader, he’s still onethat takes careful temperature of the people he’s leading. And his girl formis just the tip of the iceberg. He’s acting … weird. Even by Hogwartsstandards.”
“Alright,” said Harry. “I’ll go find him and talk to him, if that’s what youthink needs doing.”
Hermione nodded. “Thank you. And I’m going to add in an appointment fortomorrow, for us to talk about the secrecy statute. Draco has had enough votesto get it torn down for two months now. I’m not even saying that we need totell the muggles anything about magic, just let them know that magic exists sowe can stop forcibly removing their memories every time a dragon fliesoverhead.”
“I suppose I’d be a fool not to have a reasoned discussion about it,” saidHarry. He kissed them both goodbye and headed off to Hogsmeade.
The fact that relationships at Hogwarts could now be better described by acyclic graph than a list of pairs was not due to any real push by the BayesianCabal, but instead by Tracey Davis, who had worked out most of the theorybehind it through a study of the mating habits of the witches, werewolves, andvampires that populated her favourite novels. She had thought it was her dutyas a Silver Slytherin to put these theoretical concepts into practice, and hadbegun just as soon as she considered herself “old enough”. Her way ofstructuring relationships had resulted in scandal, shock, disbelief,dismissal, a scrambling to accept the new order, and finally acceptance(Tracey Davis and the Double Witches). Having multiple partners was nowsimply The Way Hogwarts Was, much to the consternation of the Headmistress andmany of the parents. Announcing that you were monogamous was usually met witha long pause, followed by, “… but why?” Harry and Hermione had talked it overfor many months, but it was ultimately Draco that had decided things for them.He and Hermione had been spending a lot of time together working on aframework for keeping the muggle leaders in line, and they’d started todevelop Feelings. A short couple of years later, and Harry was in a committedrelationship with Hermione, Draco, Luna, and Bellatrix.
Draco lived near Hogsmeade, which was ten times larger than it had been whenHarry had first come to Hogwarts. A small portion of the school had a tightlycontrolled hole in the anti-Apparation wards to allow visitors access to thePhilosopher’s Stone, and it was there that Harry headed. The Philosopher’sStone was always a hive of activity, with people rushing in and out tomaximize the returns. If not for a strong Quietus Charm the air would havebeen thick with the sound of Apparation and Disapparation. The current safelimits on permanency were ten people at a time, all joined and linking hands,each transfigured using Partial Transfiguration - a secret that Harry hadentrusted to the team of Aurors that kept the healing engine going night andday. If partial transfiguration could be used to explain to the magicalinterpretation engine that a metal ball wasn’t a single object, then it couldalso be used to cheat and explain that ten people really were a single person.It had taken some testing to get this to work properly, but they’d been ableto multiply the throughput enormously. The entire wizarding world, includingall the non-human sentients that wanted it, had been through the Healing Roomat Hogwarts in the first year. Now it was almost entirely muggles.
Harry watched the procession for a few minutes. They had run into some realpersonnel problems when it came to curing muggles, not least of which was therequirement to actually ask them instead of simply assuming that they wantedto be cured. Ten people every four minutes was all well and good, but thoseten people had to be picked up from their hospitals, spoken to, transfigured,put under the stone, taken back to their hospital, and then memory sealed.Even with the systems they’d put in place, it was difficult to make full useof the stone - and the deaths that they were preventing sometimes seemed likethey were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the world population. There wereother wizards who went to hospitals and handed out more simple magical cures,but wizarding labour was even more of a limiting factor there. There were oneand a half million wizards and witches in the world, which simply wasn’tenough, even if they were all devoted to doing good, which certainly wasn’tthe case. Yet at the same time, that large a number of wizards meant that itwas likely that some monster or idiot would destroy the world. Adding morewizards, if such a thing could be done, would increase the ability to do good,but also increase existential risk.
Harry had to remind himself that the chime had sounded, and work was over forthe day. Trying to do a risk-reward calculation now would defeat the entirepurpose of downtime. He concentrated slightly, and apparated to Draco’s house.
“You’re here!” smiled Draco. She (and there was tremendous debate withinHogwarts about pronoun usage because of people like Draco who consideredthemselves one gender while outwardly wearing the other, and that wasn’t evenconsidering some of the new genders that had been introduced, or the peoplewho were only sometimes genderless) was a tall, slender woman with white hairand a sly grin, most of her features suggestive of Malfoy’s baseline maleform. This wasn’t a terribly uncommon thing to do. When you could be anyoneyou wanted to, trying out the opposite gender was one of the natural things totest out for a day. Draco was female more often than some others, especiallywhen Harry was around.
Harry was pleasantly surprised when Draco wrapped her arms around him and drewhim into a kiss. Of all his lovers, Draco was the one that he got to see theleast, in large part because of the demands of both the Wizengamot and theInternational Confederation of Wizards. Draco lead the largest voting bloc inthe Wizengamot, the so-called Nighttime Menagerie of young witches and wizardswho had grown up under the Philosopher’s Revolution (the first chapter ofDraco Malfoy and the Nighttime Menagerie by Luna Lovegood had, due to amixup, been published slightly before the events that it depicted, and so thename had been coined from nowhere). Amelia Bones was his primary opposition,and it had been no accident that their rivalry had realigned the axis ofpolitical debate within the wizarding world. Amelia Bones headed up theHomeguard, those witches and wizards who were more cautious about progress andall that it implied, though still devoted to good, and still with HarryPotter’s ear. The photos of the Wizengamot run in The Daily Prophet oftenshowed the white-haired, smirking Draco standing in front of his coterie ofanimals, spirits, goblins, beasts, and demons, with the grey-haired AmeliaBones and her aged conservatives frowning deeply at the opposition (thoughthanks to the Stone, their age was somewhere between a political statement andan affectation, rather than saying anything true about them).
“It’s graduation day,” said Harry with a smile when they broke their kiss.
Draco kept her arms around him. “I know,” she replied. “The Silver Slytherinshave a special party planned for just after midnight. We all passed ourN.E.W.T.s ages ago, even Crabbe and Goyle, but … there’s something abouthaving a way to mark the end of an era, you know?”
“I know,” said Harry. “Listen, is there something that you need to tell me?Hermione said you’d been acting strangely, and Luna said that today was animportant one, and I think that I can put two and two together.”
“Ah,” said Draco. She pulled away from him slightly and crossed her arms justbelow her breasts. “Well, the thing is … do you recall what we did three weeksago? You, and me, and Hermione?”
Harry smiled and nodded. “I was actually thinking that we should try thatagain. I know you and Luna aren’t really in the same polyship, but thegeometry might work out better with four, and … well, my other partner is outfor obvious reasons.”
Draco shook her head. “I wasn’t suggesting that we should do it again,” shesaid slowly. “Though that would be lovely, I’m sure. But … you were the onlyone with properly male anatomy, and I hadn’t indulged with a man since then,and I know that we had precautions in place, but we must not have been carefulenough - what I’m trying to say is that I’m pregnant.” She looked at himcarefully.
“Is that all?” asked Harry with a laugh. “Oh, I’ve known that was going tohappen since I was thirteen. It was written in the Quibbler.”
“YOU KNEW AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?!” asked Draco.
“I thought you knew!” cried Harry. “Am I really the only one that takes theQuibbler seriously?”
“But what are we going to do?” asked Draco.
“Well, Tracey Davis has some interesting ideas about how a plural weddingwould work, and there was something else in the Quibbler that I saw so manyyears ago,” Harry got to one knee, and quickly transfigured a ring with theElder Wand. “Draco Malfoy, will you marry me? And keep in mind that you mightcause a prophecy paradox if you say no.”
Maybe it was the hormones, but Draco was crying. “Oh Harry, of course.”