A Study in Magic: The Application
by Books of Change
Chapter Six: Inconstant Vigilance
Harry screwed his eyes shut and waited for something to happen. When he was convinced there was nothing particularly wrong or different about him, he opened them again. The first thing he saw was Mr. Lestrade putting an unconscious Aunt Harry to a magical stretcher.
“Why d’you do that?” Harry asked.
“Do what?” asked Sherlock.
“Obliviate Aunt Harry,” said Harry.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Sherlock. “Magic is need to know only. Harriet need not know.”
Harry’s immediate thought to this was: says who? He chose not to voice this, however, and instead asked:
“So what are you going to tell her?”
“Nothing,” said Mr. Jason. “As far as your Aunt is concerned, today didn’t happen.”
Harry wondered how Aunt Harry was going to account for the lost hours when she woke up. He devoutly hoped she wouldn’t blame it on drinking. Not for this case. It just didn’t feel right.
“Why did she act like that?” Harry asked. “The last thing … Was it part of the test?”
“Of course not,” scoffed Sherlock. “You were so good Harriet instinctively fell into battlefield mentality. Obvious.”
Harry’s mouth fell open. Mr. Jason turned red, and Mr. Lestrade planted both hands on his face.
“Yes, Harriet might’ve gotten carried away,” said John with a hard tone and a stony face. “It happens in this sort of setting. Speaking of which, Sherlock,” John rounded at Sherlock, who started striding away, “Pick your tombstone. You’re a dead man tonight!”
Sherlock broke into a dead run, John close on his heels.
“I’m too old for sh!te,” Mr. Lestrade complained.
“Says the man who agreed to it,” said Mr. Jason. “By the way, Harry, did you really mean to conjure those flamingos?”
“No,” said Harry. “I wanted to make the smoke go away. I didn’t know the actual spell for it, so I made it up.”
“Did you say ‘Depulso Flamma’ or ‘Depulso Fumus‘?” Mr. Jason asked.
“Uh, I think fumus,” said Harry.
Mr. Jason smiled.
“They’re both wrong. You can’t really banish smoke or fire because it doesn’t have a solid form. Putting them out, now, that’s perfectly possible. I suggest Ventus.” He patted Harry’s shoulder consolingly. “I have to say: you’ve got a good ear for incantations. I hate memorizing them, too. You’d think Flitwick would teach us how spells are put together, rather than make you learn them by rote.”
“Yeah,” said Harry quickly. “So is there some kind of rule?”
Mr. Jason shrugged.
“I don’t know. I don’t remember learning it. You should ask Flitwick or McGonagall. Or that your teacher friend of yours; what’s his name—”
“Remus Lupin,” said Harry.
At that moment, John and Sherlock returned, John dragging Sherlock by the ear.
“So how are we keeping Harry’s magic use from the Ministry of Magic? Did you get a waiver?” John asked.
“The MOM doesn’t give out waivers, not when they’ve got magic parents who can do the enforcing,” Mr. Lestrade replied.
“And we know how well that goes,” said Sherlock, as he twisted himself out of John’s grip. “So how are we hiding it, then? It’s not as if you or Jason were following Harry around.”
“We have Susan,” said Mr. Jason.
“Susan who?” asked Sherlock.
Mr. Jason looked around and started to look increasingly alarmed.
“Did you stun someone during the exercise?” he asked Harry.
“Er, yes?” said Harry.
Without another word, Mr. Jason hurried away towards the direction of the braced wall.
“So who’s Susan?” asked John.
“Susan Lusichi; Muggle-born; a late-bloomer of magic like yours truly,” said Mr. Lestrade, sounding as though he was reciting a police report. “She grew up in Northern Kenya, then moved here as an adult … Kenya doesn’t have the kind of magic education system we have.”
“But I saw African wizards at the world cup,” said Harry.
“And of course Africa is a single monolithic entity,” Sherlock drawled.
“I’m not saying they don’t have anything,” said Mr. Lestrade, sending a withering glare at Sherlock. “Muggle-borns tend to fall through cracks more readily in certain parts of the world. Not because of some pure-blood agenda, necessarily, but some countries just don’t have what it takes to pick them all up.”
“But what is the true significance of Susan?” asked Sherlock. “Some Muggle-borns are false negatives, or are victims of Magic Culture, or the lack thereof. Obvious. Why is this Susan different than you?”
“She’s a professional ultramarathon runner,” said Mr. Lestrade simply.
There was a beat.
“Oh,” said John and Harry.
“Ah,” said Sherlock.
“Are you talking about me?” said an unfamiliar voice.
“Obviously,” Sherlock sneered, without missing a beat.
Harry gazed at Susan Lusichi, who turned out to be a skinny young woman with mocha-coloured skin. He quickly noticed a lot of details about her he couldn’t believe he missed the first time. For one thing, she was wearing a long, bright-red sleeveless shirt and a multitude of beaded necklaces. She also had prettiest legs and shapeliest body Harry had ever seen.
Mr. Lestrade explained how he met Susan at John’s prompting. He’d been invited to speak at a conference for witches and wizards who’d discovered their magic late in life, and there he was introduced to a small group of professional runners, one of which was Susan.
“Why did it take you so long to notice it?” asked Sherlock. “I was given to understand long-distance running significantly increases one’s magic capacity.”
“When you live near the bush, you don’t really notice it,” Susan said. “I would’ve never noticed had not I wanted to go to school and learn about computers. But I did, and so my mother sent me to the city, where her sister lives.”
“Did all electronics and power lines in your vicinity explode on your way there?” asked Sherlock.
Susan nodded, miming with her hands and mouth: “boom, boom, boom, boom …”
“All of the runners I met had a fifty-meter electromagnetic dead zone,” Mr. Lestrade explained. “Susan’s span a good hundred meters, she has so much magic. So there’s no chance in hell the Ministry will be able to detect Harry using magic when she’s around.”
“Does this mean she’s the most powerful witch in the world?” said Harry, genuinely impressed.
“In terms of raw power, probably,” said Mr. Lestrade.
“So what? I can’t control it,” said Susan. Then with a sorrowful voice, she said: “If there is a way to get rid of it, I would.”
“Why?” John asked.
“I can’t call my family,” said Susan. “I can’t tell my people I’m a witch. They would interpret it the wrong way. I still want to learn about computers, but all I can do is run.” She sighed. “It’s very lonely.”
Harry felt his throat tighten so much that it left him speechless. At the same time, he was filled with a strong desire to say or do something that would make Susan thinking better of magic. But what could he possibly say? How could someone who loved Magic and thought it was something wonderful, understand someone who experienced the worst sort of loss because of Magic?
“Time to go home,” Sherlock announced, turning his back on everyone. “I had enough of this.”
Harry, John, and Mr. Lestrade prepared to leave shortly afterward. Mr. Jason offered to Apparate Aunt Harry and Susan to their respective flats and assured Mr. Lestrade and John that he didn’t need help.
Harry felt his legs give out as soon as he got into Mr. Lestrade’s car. He also felt as though he was suffering a bout of flu; he couldn’t stop shivering, and his teeth chattered.
“That happens after a firefight,” said John, as she wrapped Harry in a warm blanket. “It’s normal.”
“There’s nothing normal about this,” Harry groused. Then, without thinking, he asked: “Why didn’t you tell Ms. Lusichi about your blood transfusion, Mr. Lestrade?”
Mr. Lestrade butted his forehead against the stirring wheel. Sherlock sighed heavily.
“Must you ask such stupid questions?” Sherlock groaned.
“Shut up, your kid had a rough day,” said Mr. Lestrade. To Harry, he said: “Say LV learns about how I lost magic. What would he do?”
There was a short, but terrible pause.
“He’d use it on the Muggle-borns and his enemies,” Harry muttered.
“That’s why we keep mum,” said Mr. Lestrade sternly. “Trust me, I feel shitty about it. Susan should have a choice, and we’re not giving it to her.”
“I suppose it wouldn’t help us if she loses her magic since we could potentially transfer some hers to Harry for better use,” Sherlock remarked.
Mr. Lestrade stepped hard on the brakes, making everyone jerk forward.
“Sherlock, I suggest you shut up right now so I can pretend like you didn’t say that!” Mr. Lestrade snarled.
“But it’s a—”
“Shut up … just shut up right now!” Mr. Lestrade snapped.
Sherlock, miraculously, closed his mouth.
Mr. Lestrade resumed driving in heavy silence. Sherlock turned to John and mouthed: Bad?
Off the charts, John mouthed back.
Mr. Lestrade dropped off Harry, John and Sherlock in front of Speedy’s and drove away. Much to Harry’s mortification, John and Sherlock had to half-carry him inside 221B because his legs refused to cooperate. Once inside the living room, Sherlock and John engaged in a staring match. Harry, who knew better than to interrupt when his parents were in a combative mood, kept quiet and futilely willed himself to move.
“So?” said John, at last, breaking the impasse.
“You’re not angry with me,” Sherlock remarked.
“Well, no,” John said matter-of-factly. “An untrained person in Harry’s situation will try to keep vigil, and quickly get tired. So we need to make sure he knows how to react. Preparation is easier than vigilance. I get it.”
Something tense in the room seemed to vanish like a cloud after this statement. Harry certainly felt relieved, though he couldn’t say why.
“…So you get it,” muttered Sherlock. “You get it,” and as he turned away it seemed to Harry that he was more moved by the show of simple faith and understanding than he had ever seen him. A moment later Sherlock was back to his normal self.
“It makes a considerable difference, having someone on whom one can thoroughly rely,” he said. “Take note of that, Harry.”
“Sure,” said Harry. “So how do you want me to prepare?”
“I don’t know, you tell me,” said Sherlock.
“How can you not know?” asked Harry, dismayed and more than a little astonished.
“We’re Muggles,” said Sherlock impatiently. “We don’t get magic. Not in a meaningful way. You do.”
“But…!” Harry protested.
“Think,” said Sherlock, cutting him off.
“Think, what?!” Harry cried.
“Just think!” barked Sherlock. “Haven’t I taught you how?”
Harry knew from Sherlock’s tone that he had been dismissed. So Harry stomped upstairs … or rather, tried to. His upper body leaned forward and his lower body stayed put, which resulted in him face-planting hard on the hearth rug. Harry stayed there for a while, twitching with righteous indignation until John gave him some Pepper-up Potion. Harry felt his strength return to him after he’d gulped down the Peppery liquid, so he picked himself off the floor, stomped noisily to his bedroom, and, almost in spite of himself, paced around inside his room, deep in thought.
How was he supposed to prepare? Harry wondered as he marched up and down the length of his room. Lord Voldemort could strike whenever he wanted, if he was so inclined, whereas Harry had to be on the lookout every day and every hour just in case. Was he supposed to invent a magical detection system, then? How long would it take for him to make one? Could there be an existing solution? Those Dark Detectors he’d seen in Mad-eye Moody’s office, could they be useful? Or maybe there was something in Fred and George’s chest …
Harry went down that thread of thought for several hours. As he reviewed what he knew about Dark Detectors and Fred and George’s inventions, Harry realized all of them had the same flaws: they could be disabled, and at best would only work if he knew every single person LV would use. If LV decided to use an agent he wasn’t aware of, they wouldn’t get detected, and his system would fail. Putting up a system that had the same consequences as him doing nothing when it failed was useless.
…Or was it? The last time they knew where Lord Voldemort would strike, but didn’t know when or how, which was the time they knew the Department of Mysteries had something LV wanted, they purposely created a situation where LV couldn’t resist infiltrating in person. Thus the Intrusion Detectors in the Department of Mysteries merely alerted them when LV did show up. Could he do something like that?
Sirius hollered at Harry to join for dinner at this point. Harry ignored the calls in favour of bringing his latest idea to its logical conclusion:
Harry had to assume if he was going to lure Voldemort anywhere, it would have to be Hogwarts. It was, after all, the most plausible place something powerful may exist. However, LV may be convinced Hogwarts had nothing to offer him right now. Even if Harry did somehow convince LV Hogwarts had something he wanted, what was he to do after he came? He supposed he had Dumbledore, but LV may choose to show up only if Dumbledore was out of the picture (Harry tried very hard not to think what this may mean). One-on-one combat between him and LV was out of the question.
“It’s not as if I could kill him, even if I knew how,” Harry muttered to himself. “He can’t die unless we destroy all of his soul jars.”
Then it hit him.
Voldemort could not be destroyed without destroying all of his Horcruxes. Therefore the Horcruxes were things LV would want to protect at all costs. Dumbledore and Mr. Shin were hunting down the Horcruxes, and the last he heard, the two wizards had destroyed three out of potential six (a diary, a ring, and a cup). Harry could count on Dumbledore to find the rest, and no doubt LV would think the same if only he knew what Dumbledore was up to. What if he, Harry, convinced LV that they had discovered his Horcruxes and were keeping them in Hogwarts? Better yet, what if everyone focused their attention on finding and destroying the Horcruxes, so when they alerted LV, they would be telling the truth? Come what may, Harry would be as ready as he could ever be at that point.
Harry immediately grabbed his phone and dialled Julia Lestrade.
“Julia, I need your help,” he said without a pause.
“Sure, what?” said Julia.
“I need you to learn how your Grandpa finds LV’s soul jars,” Harry said.