As Harry hurried down the passage to the Headmaster's office, he ruminated on what he had learned from Lupin. As important as the actual lesson had been, the unspoken revelation was even more significant to him. Snape had not been teaching him Occlumency, at least not the same Occlumency that Lupin had been teaching. Harry saw that he had gone to Lupin's lesson reluctantly, basing his feelings of the efficacy of Occlumency on the progress he had achieved under Snape's tutelage. "I learned something and instead of feeling beat up at the end of the session, I actually feel OK." Even though his arm still ached, he thought that even that pain had subsided significantly. As he hurried toward Dumbledore's office, the huge school clock struck its abbreviated median-hour note. He quickly glanced at his watch and saw it was 1:30. Some quick mental calisthenics reminded him that there would be a very narrow window of time in Dumbledore's office while the "other" Harry read the book on creating duplicates. He was on the lookout for Dobby as he approached the stone gargoyle, "No need for that confrontation," thought Harry. He arrived at the stone gargoyle; presented the password and bounded up the stairs to the landing outside Dumbledore's office. Here he paused, he didn't relish using the mirr panel but there was no help for it. As he listened intently, he heard muffled voices through the heavy oak door. At length the voices fell silent and Harry was relatively sure that "he" was inside, immersed in a book. He placed his wand tip against the panel, bent down and looked at the snarling wolf and pushed his hand into the mirr panel. Even though he was ready for the sensation, he cringed as the wolf snapped and lunged. The relief he felt when he heard the lock click and the door swing silently open was palpable. Harry cautiously peered around the door to verify "he" was indeed reading. To his relief he saw that this was the case. "He" was reading the book for what appeared the first time. He knew he had less than ten minutes to get his meal and instructions from Dumbledore. Harry knew there was an appointment with Professor Binns at 2:00 and he was fairly sure he was the "time" version who was going to keep the appointment. He let himself silently into the room. On his way past the desk he picked up the tray of fruit and cheese and started to eat as he approached Dumbledore's portrait. Harry found he was famished; the simple food was an ecstasy of taste. He looked to Dumbledore who smiled but did not interrupt the meal. Before he finished, he took one more swallow of muscle potion shuddered and washed the taste from his mouth with the last of the fruit. The snack had been inhaled in less than two minutes.

As Harry finished, Dumbledore quietly cleared his throat. Gaining Harry's attention, Dumbledore began, "I know that you have been pressed by the pace today and I am afraid it is not quite time to relax yet. You have an appointment at 2:00 to finish "Magic" with Professor Binns. It is not conducive to the situation for you to remain here for much longer. You will be finished with that book very shortly," said Dumbledore inclining his head toward the other Harry.

"It's all right Prof... Albus," Harry corrected himself, "I'm going to read through the book three times. We have a few minutes. Is there anything I need to know before I head off to Professor Binns' classroom?"

"Yes Harry," said Dumbledore. "If you have not thoroughly read Magic, you need to find a quiet, safe place to read it before you are ready for instruction. When you have finished with Professor Binns, please come back to this office around 3:30."

"I'd be happy to do that," said Harry placing his now empty dishes on the floor. "I'll be back at around 3:30." Dumbledore smiled as Harry disappeared under his cloak and left the office.

Harry made his way down the deserted hallway, considering a safe place to settle down and read. Several locations came to mind; Dumbledore's office was right out, the Chamber of Secrets would be safe, but it would take too much time to get there. Harry thought of broom cupboards, secret passageways, even the deserted corners of the castle but none stood out as "safe" places where he would be comfortable abandoning self-awareness while he read.

"The Room of Requirement! It's right here on the seventh floor!" thought Harry as he turned on his heel and altered his course toward a lonely stretch of corridor he knew very well. In scant minutes Harry was looking at a blank wall opposite a tapestry of very disgruntled trolls in tutus. Harry walked past the blank corridor wall three times while concentrating, "I need a place to hide while I'm reading." As he turned at the end of his third circuit, he found a familiar polished door where a blank wall had been. He grasped the doorknob and hurried inside. He hadn't known what to expect, as the Room of Requirement seemed to decide of its own accord what was necessary to meet the petitioner's request. Harry was startled therefore to see that he had entered the huge cluttered room that held the hidden castoffs of the ages. Harry hadn't been here since he had hidden the Half-Blood Prince's potion book. He noticed immediately that the vanishing cabinet Draco Malfoy had used as a portal into Hogwarts for his Death Eater friends, lay in a scattered heap of charred boards some thirty feet from the door. On a whim, Harry took Dumbledore's glasses from his pocket and put them on, pushing them as far up the bridge of his nose as they would go. Through the glasses, the room twinkled with magic signature. The magic was a moldy gray-green in colour. "Is that the telltale colour of magic gone wrong?" wondered Harry. He knew he had a reading task at hand but the room seemed to beckon him forward.

On impulse, Harry decided to retrieve the potion book he had hidden here months ago. "Maybe it can give me some clues about how to defeat Snape," justified a small voice in Harry's head. As soon as he had considered the action, his feet seemed to lead him automatically toward where he had hidden the book.

Harry was so intent on getting the book that he almost missed the motion. Almost, but as Harry would thankfully recount later, not quite. A flicker of motion among all the stationary objects caught Harry's peripheral vision. He raised his wand and turned instinctively toward the motion. He opted to stay under the invisibility cloak on the off- chance that an attacker might not be able to see him. His hope was vain. Harry had just begun to turn toward the motion when a heavy club glanced off his shoulder, just missing his head. Not wasting the time to cry out, he pointed his wand over his shoulder and focused his entire attention on "Expelliarmus."

A wicked looking redcap was blasted off Harry's back and across the room. It landed hard among the shards of a broken ornate vase and moved no more. Harry stood shaking. Wand pointed, he made his way toward the motionless form. "Where did that come from?" Harry wondered aloud. Then he saw the bloodstained ax he had noticed on his earlier foray into the room. Retrieving a chapter from his third year Defense Against the Dark Arts book from his mental library, Harry reviewed redcaps...bloodthirsty goblin-like creatures that inhabit areas of murder and bloodshed, waiting for the unwary to wander near enough to become the next victim. Redcaps rely on curiosity to lure victims to the scene of earlier tragedy. Many redcap murders are ascribed to serial or copy-cat killers, when they are actually additions to previous violent events..."

Harry marveled at his escape. "If I had been turned just a slightly different direction, if I hadn't had my wand in my hand, if I hadn't been wearing Dumbledore's glasses, any one of a number of small things done differently and I could be dead right now. Bludgeoned in a room where I might never have been found." Once again Harry's confidence in Hogwarts was shaken. "That could have been much worse," a voice in his head chided, "it could have waited until I was reading before it attacked!" He gave an involuntary shudder. As he looked at the broken body of the redcap, Harry's attention was drawn to the ax and its surrounding area. Where it appeared that most of the items in the room had been placed there after they had been broken, damaged or discarded; the ax seemed to be different. There was an age darkened stain on the floor and the spatters of what Harry could only surmise was blood were all over the surrounding items. Whatever had been done, had been done right here. The ax hadn't been brought here as an afterthought. It had been left here on purpose. Harry was beginning to get over the trauma and adrenaline of the incident when he noted that the ancient blood stains trailed spottily to the door. "Another mystery for another time," thought Harry.

Harry wasn't at all keen on reading his book here. That desire seemed to have melted away. Setting another plan in mind, Harry hurried to retrieve the Prince's potion book. He found the book rather quickly considering the extra caution he was now exercising. Digging the book out of the cabinet, he thrust it into his bag and quickly hurried from the Room of Requirement. With a wave of relief, he heard the door thump solidly closed behind him.

Harry, still shaking from the experience with the redcap, quickly considered alternate safe sites in the castle. With time running short, and even though he knew it might not be allowed, he decided on the obvious and headed directly for Professor Binns' classroom. In fairly short order, he arrived at the classroom door. He removed the invisibility cloak, and his knock on the door and was answered immediately by Professor Binns', "Enter."

Harry stuffed the invisibility cloak in an inside cloak pocket and entered. Professor Binns was sitting in his customary place when Harry began, "Professor, I realize I am a little early. I was wondering if you would mind if I sat and read a bit before our lesson starts?"

Binns looked at Harry with more attention than Harry had ever seen the ghost exhibit. At length Binns said, "You are Harry Potter. I should have recognized you at our last session. I teach the History of Magic, and as such, I have lesson plans that haven't changed in years. You see, history doesn't change. Once I give a lesson, I know it by heart and can repeat it word-for-word from my notes each and every year. You have changed a bit of that. Oh, it was well enough, when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was broken by the baby Harry Potter. I incorporated the event in my lesson plans and went on with, well not life exactly, but at least with normalcy. Then you came to Hogwarts and made more history. I changed my lessons once again. You, Mr. Potter, are history in the making. Most do not recognize that history is happening all around them because most happenings are frankly of little report. You are different Mr. Potter; you are the focus, the nexus if you will, of the current of history. You bear watching. You may well write the future history of wizardkind in your very actions."

Harry was dumbstruck. Professor Binns never paid the least attention to students. In fact it was a running wheeze that if Binns got a student's name correct during class; that student would join Binns in the afterlife in short order. Harry pulled his thoughts to the present, "Professor, I appreciate your words and I promise you that I'll do my best in whatever the future holds. As to preparing, may I sit and read?"

Binns stared, "Yes, very well. You have a few minutes before we are actually supposed to begin. You may read until then."

Harry thanked Professor Binns and settled himself at a desk in the back corner of the room. He took out the ancient tome "Magic" and prepared his mind for the spell. When he was ready he pointed his wand and concentrated, "Wallacearia Condensata." The room faded and the printed word sharpened. The going seemed slow because of the complexity of the material. Nevertheless, Harry read the book in entirety three times before he ended the spell and looked around the room. He had just over two minutes before the lesson was scheduled to begin. His head was swimming with new ideas and postulations. "This is truly a remarkable book by a good friend." Harry considered his thought. He did count Nicolas Flamel as a friend. The emotion was almost overwhelming. Years of partnership and attendant feelings surged to the forefront of his mind. He controlled the emotion as he felt tears form in his eyes. He recognized the feeling of friendship as one forged during Dumbledore's willy reading. He also realized with a start that as he had read the book, he had heard the words in the voice and inflection of a man he had neither heard nor met. Harry looked to the memories and discovered that he could "see" the uses of Dragon's blood and the creation of the Philosopher's Stone. "Crikey, what else is in my brain that I don't know about?" marveled Harry.

Professor Binns ended Harry's reverie by clearing his throat and saying, "Mr. Potter, it is time to begin our discussions. I must say, as I watched you read, it appears that you are the master of some complex and very advanced magic. The spell you just used is one to use with caution, yet you seem very comfortable with it. Once again I voice the opinion that you exhibit remarkable abilities for a remedial student. At any rate, we will utilize the same format as our prior class with one exception; we will take the individual chapters of "Magic" and you will be able to ask specific questions regarding each chapter. Shall we begin?"

Harry was rather pleased at Binns' complement and was anxious to address questions that had gathered in his mind about what he had just read. "Yes Professor, I am ready to begin."

With that Professor Binns started at chapter one of Magic, "The Basic Construct and Composition of Discernible Matter." Harry had no questions. Likewise with chapter two, "The Production and Transfer of Energy in Four Dimensions." Indeed, Harry thoroughly understood and enjoyed the book until chapter twenty-one, "The Illusion of Invisibility." Here Harry stopped Professor Binns and asked specific questions about invisibility.

Binns dropped his stoic manner and seemed to listen intently to Harry. He then began his explanation. "Yes, Mr. Potter, invisibility is magic at near perfection. Visibility can be affected in several ways: by altering how light travels, how eyes perceive the image or how the brain interprets the received signals. Accordingly, invisibility can be achieved by a variety of methods; first by putting up a false image to mask what lies behind, second by "opening" the empty space in an object so that light travels through it instead of being absorbed or reflected, third by bending light around an object; usually done with an invisibility cloak or the like, fourth causing blindness in the observer; either total or wavelength specific, fifth altering either the observer's optic nerve output or the optic nerve impulse reception and interpretation in the observer's brain, and sixth by altering an object's specular and diffuse reflection beyond the observer's sensory ability."

Harry knew that if he hadn't been extremely interested in this subject he would have been drifting in stupor. As it was, he had to concentrate to follow the thread of the thing. "Professor," he said, thinking back to his ordeal with Greyback, "What would happen if you layered these types of magic? Would you end up with a more convincing, a more impenetrable invisibility?"

Binns paused as if considering a novel idea. "I must say that I don't know. Flamel does not address what you are proposing in his book. I would hazard a guess and say that, at the off, it would appear that layering the magic would indeed produce a more complete invisibility. If a wizard detects a specific magic, it can be reverse incantated and the enchantment removed. Layered magic would make a reverse incantation much more difficult. I know of only one other book that might address the subject. It is the Invisible Book of Invisibility. Unfortunately it is very difficult to find that book in print. Now that I come to think of it, it is very difficult to find that book at all."

Harry and Professor Binns continued to discuss invisibility for the next few minutes. Harry could see that Professor Binns' expertise was limited in the area of invisibility and when he felt the subject was thoroughly canvassed, he said "Professor Binns, about the next chapter?"

Binns looked almost appreciative of the chance to leave invisibility and be getting on. He reverted to his earlier manner and went through several more chapters. Harry stopped him once again when he started the chapter entitled "Dissociate Magic." "This," thought Harry, "just might answer some of the questions I had about the anomalies I noticed while I was ordering my thoughts. How do I phrase this so as not to give away any sensitive information?" He considered a moment and then addressed Professor Binns, "Sir, as I read this chapter I had a few questions regarding dissociate magic. It appears that the magic allows the "holder" of the magic to separate a portion of their attention and attach it to an object. Does it mean that the "holder" would be able to see and hear what is going on in two locations at the same time? If so, how long does the magic last? Over how great a distance is the magic effective? Is the magic effective if there is a protective spell, Imperturbable, for example, between the "holder" and the dissociate object?"

"Excellent questions young man!" said Professor Binns. Let's start with your first question. The short answer is yes. The "holder" can see and hear things happening in more than one place at a time. Indeed a skilled "holder" can gather dissociate information from multiple sources at the same time. The only limit is the individual's ability to control and sort multiple sensory inputs. It can get a bit daunting to handle several visual and aural inputs simultaneously. It is much akin to walking into the Great Hall and trying to keep the gist of all the conversations going on there at once. As to the length of the spell; the efficacy of all spells is directly proportional to the force of mind and ability of the one casting the spell. In other words, the duration and the distance of effect are dependent upon the power of the witch or wizard. Your last question gets a qualified no. As a general rule, dissociate magic cannot delve past shield charms such as an Imperturbable charm. The qualifier is the object bearing the dissociate magic. An inanimate object such as a book or lamp cannot deliver information past a shielding charm. However an animate object, such as an animal, that has its own visual and aural inputs can extend the delivery of information past a shield charm. It is generally not advisable for a "holder" to dissociate a portion of their attention to an animal because animals have a tendency to be distracted and wander. This wandering limits the useable information that can be gathered. Does this answer your questions?"

"Just one more," said Harry. "Can you tell when this magic is in use? Can you tell if something is the subject of dissociate magic?"

"Once again, an excellent question!" said Binns almost animatedly. "All magic leaves traces. Most leave identifiable spectrum frequencies attenuated to the specific magic performed. Some of these traces are in the visible spectrum; a patronus or wand sparks, for example. Some lie beyond the visible spectrum, either above or below visible light. These traces take specialized spells to detect, but in the end all magic can be discerned, much to the chagrin of students who think they have gotten away with bits of surreptitious magic."

Harry flushed inwardly as he considered the illegal magic he had performed at Hogwarts. This revelation meant that a dedicated wizard could have determined what type of magic had been done any time they wanted to. "Thank you Professor. That explanation helped tremendously. What's next in the book?"

Professor Binns once again consulted the text in front of him and began where he had left off. He addressed each chapter and when he got to the penultimate chapter, Harry stopped him again. "Professor this chapter on Reverse Incantations, does it mean that all magic can be followed back to determine its origin or originator?"

"Yes. That is exactly what it means." said Binns. "Given enough time in deciphering the attenuated traces, an experienced witch or wizard can unravel even the most complicated magic spell. The key is time and experience. Few in the magical realm ever take the time necessary to become proficient at this magic because it simply does not have a practical application. There is no career path and I don't think I've ever heard of the subject being pursued as an avocation. Once more we are back to the unwillingness of the average witch or wizard to delve beyond the face value of the magic."

"Is there any further information on the subject should I desire to pursue it?" asked Harry.

"There are half a dozen texts in the school library." said Binns. "The foremost of them was written by Albus Dumbledore. It is entitled Forensic Magic. I believe it was this book that fostered his reputation as an eccentric wizard. Most never made the effort to see the work as worthy of their time. Dumbledore knew so much about the subject I'm afraid he wrote quite over the head of the average individual. Most find it easier to minimize or dismiss what they don't understand, rather than study until they comprehend what has been proffered."

Harry mentally ticked off one more thing he would be doing during the last week of term. He would be paying special attention to the school library. He just needed to give a little thought on how to read the books safely. "Please go on Professor," said Harry.

"Well young man, there is only a single chapter left in the book and it simply summarizes the earlier chapters and encourages the reader to continue to delve into the secrets of magic," said Binns. "Unless I have missed the mark; encouraging you to continue to study will not be a difficult task. I must ask you if there are any additional questions you would like to discuss?"

"None that I can think of right now," said Harry, "but if I have further questions, may I come visit you?"

"Absolutely my boy. In fact, speaking with you has caused me to rethink some of my lesson outlines. I may be able to encourage a bit more desire to learn from the students if I were to alter my teaching format to some degree. We shall see. Thank you for the thought provoking time. I will inform Professor McGonagall that you have completed the coursework with an "O" final grade."

As Harry stood to leave, he noticed that Professor Binns had a smile on his face. The smile changed the usually dour looking ghost's visage almost beyond recognition. Harry returned the smile and said, "One last thing Sir. May I borrow this text until the end of term?"

"Yes you may. At second thought, you have given me so much to consider, the book is yours to keep. I daresay that you will probably use it more fully than ever it would be used sitting here on my shelf." Binns stood and motioned Harry from the classroom.

« Chapter 21 - Front of the Mind   Chapter 23 - Times Three »


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