Quotes for "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"

Eliezer Yudkowsky

  • Now his parents were getting into one of those arguments again, one where his mother tried to make his father feel guilty, and his father tried to make his mother feel stupid.
  • #include "stddisclaimer.h"
  • Harry didn't blink. It wasn't like anyone was turning into a cat.
  • Harry didn't blink. It wasn't like anyone was
  • (The bystander effect, thought Harry, thinking of Latane and Darley's experiment which had shown that you were more likely to get help if you had an epileptic fit in front of one person than in front of three. Diffusion of responsibility, everyone hoping that someone else would go first.)
  • But then most adult geniuses never amounted to anything either. There were probably a thousand people as intelligent as Einstein for every actual Einstein in history. Because those other geniuses hadn't gotten their hands on the one thing you absolutely needed to achieve greatness. They'd never found an important problem.
  • "Great Scott!" said Harry. (This was an expression he'd learned from the mad scientist Doc Brown in Back to the Future.)
  • Harry opened his eyes and stumbled to a halt, feeling vaguely dirtied by having made a deliberate effort to believe something.
  • Harry knew pi to 3.141592 because accuracy to one part in a million was enough for most practical purposes. Hermione knew one hundred digits of pi because that was how many digits had been printed in the back of her maths textbook.
  • Why are you trying to send me where I do not belong? The Hat's thought was almost a whisper. "I cannot speak of the others to you - but do you think that you are the first potential Dark Lord to pass under my brim? I cannot know the individual cases, but I can know this: Of those who did not intend evil from the very beginning, some of them listened to my warnings, and went to Houses where they would find happiness. And some of them... some of them did not."
  • The girls would be learning to fly separately. Apparently, for some reason, girls didn't want to learn how to fly on broomsticks in the presence of boys.
  • being Sorted to Ravenclaw indicates that you are driven by your desire to know things, which is not at all the same quality as being intelligent."
  • I know that this will probably make you very angry." "Yes, I'm very angry!" said Harry. "Grrr!" Harry's Internal Critic promptly awarded him the All-Time Award for the Worst Acting in the History of Ever.
  • perspicacious
  • Reality, Philip K. Dick had once said, is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
  • Reality, Philip K. Dick had once said, is that which,
  • Asch's Conformity Experiment,
  • and that was when Professor Flitwick threw up his little hands and started shrieking in a high-pitched voice at both of us about how he didn't care what we were cooking up together, but this wasn't ever to happen again for as long as I was in Ravenclaw House or he would have me thrown out and I could go to Gryffindor which was where all this Dumbledoring belonged -"
  • And Father had finished by saying that plays like this were always unrealistic, because if the playwright had known what someone actually as smart as Light would actually do, the playwright would have tried to take over the world himself instead of just writing plays about it.
  • There were only two known causes of purposeful complexity. Natural selection, which produced things like butterflies. And intelligent engineering, which produced things like cars.
  • "I tricked Draco into believing that I'd tricked him into participating in a ritual that sacrificed his belief in blood purism. And that meant he couldn't be a Death Eater when he grew up. He'd lost everything, Headmaster."
  • "I mean, if you've been dealing with idiots and want someone sane to talk to..."
  • It was good to know that not everyone who got Sorted into Gryffindor grew up to be Professor McGonagall.
  • Harry was finding himself very disturbed by how reproducible human thoughts were when you reset people back to the same initial conditions and exposed them to the same stimuli. It was dispelling illusions that a good reductionist wasn't supposed to have in the first place.
  • Harry's brain tried to calculate the ramifications and implications of this and ran out of swap space.
  • (Professor Quirrell had remarked over their lunch that Harry really needed to conceal his state of mind better than putting on a blank face when someone discussed a dangerous topic, and had explained about one-level deceptions, two-level deceptions, and so on. So either Severus was in fact modeling Harry as a one-level player, which made Severus himself two-level, and Harry's three-level move had been successful; or Severus was a four-level player and wanted Harry to think the deception had been successful. Harry, smiling, had asked Professor Quirrell what level he played at, and Professor Quirrell, also smiling, had responded, One level higher than you.)
  • Never give anyone wise advice unless you know exactly what you're both talking about. Got it.
  • You couldn't leave your home planet while it still contained a place like Azkaban. You had to stay and fight.
  • Harry had earnestly advised Hermione that the young boys serving under her were probably nervous about her being a girl with a reputation for being nice, and that she should pick something scary that would reassure them of her toughness and make them proud to be part of her army, like the Blood Commandos or something. Hermione had named her army the Sunshine Regiment. Their insignia was a smiley face.
  • General Potter
  • "How about Newtonmas?" Harry said brightly. "Isaac Newton actually was born on December 25th, unlike some other historical figures I could name."
  • Like the old saying goes: A friend isn't someone you use once and then throw away, a friend is someone you use over and over again.
  • I do not suggest trying any plots that complicated. They have a tendency to fail." "Um, I said that to the Headmaster, actually," Blaise said, "and he said that was why it was important to have more than one plot going at a time."
  • Or perhaps he was simply mad. You see, Mr. Potter, everyone knows that Dumbledore's madness is a mask, that he is sane pretending to be insane. They pride themselves on that clever insight, and knowing the secret explanation, they stop looking. It does not occur to them that it is also possible to have a mask behind the mask, to be insane pretending to be sane pretending to be insane.
  • "Harry," Draco said, his voice strained, "What did you talk about with Father?" "I don't know, actually," said Harry, "so it's very important that I not just make stuff up -"
  • Point two: The hypothesis was that the Defense Professor was planning to do something evil, and in that subjunctive case, Harry ought to be helping the Headmaster prevent it.
  • The Dementor would be in a cage of solid titanium bars, not Transfigured but true-forged; in time a Dementor's presence would corrode that metal to dust, but not in a single day.
  • negentropy
  • Slowly the old wizard's face relaxed out of its anger, though the worry was still there. "You would use no ritual requiring human sacrifice." "I don't know what you take me for, Headmaster," Harry said coldly, his own anger rising, "but let's not forget that I'm the one who wants people to live! The one who wants to save everyone! You're the one who thinks death is awesome and everyone ought to die!"
  • "Lord Malfoy is Albus Dumbledore's opponent," said Professor Quirrell. "At least for this present time. All Britain is their chessboard, all wizards their pieces.
  • Most Charms that could only be learned by older students were like that because they required more strength of magic than any young student could muster. But the Patronus Charm wasn't like that, it wasn't difficult because it needed too much magic, it was difficult because it took more than mere magic.
  • The prior probabilities said that it had been Professor Trelawney, Hogwarts's resident seer. Seers were rare, so if you counted up most of the seconds Professor McGonagall had spent in the presence of a seer over the course of her lifetime, most of those seer-seconds would be Trelawney-seconds.
  • "I have a dream," said Harry's voice, "that one day sentient beings will be judged by the patterns of their minds, and not their color or their shape or the stuff they're made of, or who their parents were.
  • conveyance?"
  • That was what it meant to be used by a friend, that they would want the use to make you stronger instead of weaker.
  • (Neither of them had spoken the other's name. You simply didn't use your names at any point during an illegal mission, even invisibly hovering over an anonymous patch of water in the North Sea. You simply didn't. It would be stupid.)
  • Harry didn't quite know how to describe in words the sense of kinship he felt with Professor Quirrell, except to say that the Defense Professor was the only clear-thinking person Harry had met in the wizarding world. Sooner or later everyone else started playing Quidditch, or not putting protective shells on their time machines, or thinking that Death was their friend. It didn't matter how good their intentions were. Sooner or later, and usually sooner, they demonstrated that something deep inside their brain was confused. Everyone except Professor Quirrell. It was a bond that went beyond anything of debts owed, or even anything of personal liking, that the two of them were alone in the wizarding world.
  • All the other wizards of this country are no different within than he who sought to rule over them, You-Know-Who; they only lack his power and his... frankness."
  • doing some of the hundred little pieces of necessary paperwork that kept Hogwarts from grinding to a halt; she could lose herself in it easily, and it prevented her from thinking about other things. Albus had once remarked, sounding rather wry, that Hogwarts seemed to run even more smoothly when there was an outside crisis for her to avoid thinking about...
  • "But Severus, if I had received reports from you and Minerva of Harry's safety, I would not, in the first place, have gone backward in time to -" "Headmaster, I think we must draw diagrams for this." "I agree, Severus."
  • And there is no one else in the world who would accidentally overestimate my wit, and leave me a message I cannot understand at all."
  • the bright expression on the face of a young boy who wavered between taking the ludicrous seriously and taking the serious ludicrously.
  • She'd been Head of House Gryffindor for long enough, she'd watched enough friends die, to know that there were some people you couldn't save from becoming heroes.
  • If you were given a glass half-empty and half-full, then that was the way reality was, that was the truth and it was so; but you still had a choice of how to feel about it, whether you would despair over the empty half or rejoice in the water that was there.
  • It was strange, this feeling of not quite knowing who you were, which side you were on, of having not already made up your mind about something as major as that, there was an unfamiliar sensation of freedom in it...
  • They did not excel above Harry within his own sphere of power; such genius as they possessed was not like his genius, and his genius was not like theirs; he might look upon them as peers, but not look up to them as his superiors.
  • And if he did wear the Ring again, it would be better to die with it on his finger, to end his life while he was still himself; for Frodo knew that he could not withstand the effects of wearing the Ring a second time, not afterward when the limitless clarity was lost to him...
  • NEO (in a small voice): Could I please have a real physics textbook? MORPHEUS: There is no such thing, Neo. The universe doesn't run on math. Chapter
  • "Why does any kind of cynicism appeal to people? Because it seems like a mark of maturity, of sophistication, like you've seen everything and know better. Or because putting something down feels like pushing yourself up.
  • "But remember thiss, boy, other eventss proceed without you. Hessitation iss alwayss eassy, rarely usseful."
  • They all ignored the talking noises coming from Zabini's mouth.
  • hight
  • "You know," said Hermione Granger, "I understand that it's not really your fault, but I'm getting tired of hearing people talk about the Boy-Who-Lived like you're - like you're some kind of god or something." "Same here, I must say," said Harry Potter. "It's sad how people keep underestimating me."
  • It didn't seem like a hard question. "A Gryffindor would say that people don't become who they should be, because they're afraid."
  • People become who they are meant to be, Miss Granger, by doing what is right."
  • Had she really thought she needed permission from someone, or that heroes sat around waiting for someone else to give them quests? It was very simple actually, you just went where the evil was, that was all it ever took to be a hero.
  • And I suspect you will not be among them, Miss Davis; for although you are ambitious, you have no ambition."
  • He tossed Hermione the button, and she caught it without thinking. "My donation to your cause, Miss Granger. I understand that they are worth two Sickles."
  • Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, the vanquisher of the Dark Lord Grindelwald and protector of Britain, the rediscoverer of the fabled Twelve Uses of Dragon's Blood, the most powerful wizard alive; and he was looking at her, Hermione Jean Granger, General of the recently expanded Sunshine Regiment, who was getting the best grades in the first year of Hogwarts classes, and who had declared herself a heroine. Even her name was shorter than his.
  • Lavender had argued that if one first-year girl could take down three older bullies, then eight first-year girls ought to be able to outfight twenty-four older bullies because of Multiplication.
  • "I mean, um... Hannah... trying to become a hero so that a boy will like you isn't very feminist." "It's pronounced feminine actually," said Padma. "And why're you calling Hannah unfeminine?" said Susan. "There's nothing unfeminine about wanting to impress a boy." "Besides," said Parvati, sounding puzzled, "isn't the whole point that we're trying to be heroes even though that isn't feminine?"
  • Harry's eyes had that look they had when he was very rapidly calculating something,
  • "Please, Miss Davis, sit down." He gestured to his own desk chair, even as he sat down on his bed.
  • If I can predict what I'm going to think later, I might as well go ahead and think it now.
  • "What if you're wrong, Harry?" Harry paused for a moment, and then shrugged a little sadly, and said, "What if I'm right?"
  • "Yes, I do have to," Susan said unhappily. "I'm a Hufflepuff, we have to be loyal."
  • Citing experimental results about keeping a gratitude journal as a strategy for improving life happiness didn't seem like it would be taken well.
  • "See, Daphne, what General Potter wants in a girl isn't a pretty face or a pretty dress. He wants a girl willing to channel his dread powers, that's what he wants.
  • "Professor Snaaaaaape!" wailed Pansy Parkinson in tears. "Tracey ate my sooouuul!"
  • "Oh," said the third-year girl, "I was thinking of that really romantic one where there's this very nice, sweet boy who makes a Floo call, only he mispronounces his destination and stumbles out into this room full of Dark Wizards who are performing a forbidden ritual that should've stayed forever lost to time, and they're sacrificing seven victims in order to unseal this ancient horror
  • Following the school rules isn't an excuse, someone else being in charge isn't an excuse, even trying your best isn't an excuse. There just aren't any excuses, you've got to get the job done no matter what."
  • Even if it's sad, I think that's part of the environment that creates what Dumbledore calls a hero - people who don't have anyone else to shove final responsibility onto, and that's why they form the mental habit of tracking everything themselves."
  • "Obstacles mean you get creative, Headmaster. It doesn't mean you abandon the children you're supposed to protect. Let the Light win, and if trouble comes of it -" The boy shrugged. "Let Light win again."
  • "the point is, saying violence is evil isn't an answer. It doesn't say when to fight and when not to fight. It's a hard question and Gandhi refused to deal with it, and that's why I lost some of my respect for him."
  • "Don't you see, if evil people are willing to risk violence to get what they want, and good people always back down because violence is too terrible to risk, it's - it's not a good society to live in, Headmaster!
  • "And that's why I can destroy Dementors and you can't," said the boy. "Because I believe that the darkness can be broken."
  • if the Goyles had not served the Malfoys so long as the Crabbes, yet they had served no less well.
  • "YOU HEARD HIM!" bellowed Dean. "GET THEIR GLASSES!" Blaise Zabini's reply to this wasn't anything articulate. That battle went on a lot longer.
  • And the truth was, Draco hadn't been practicing much outside of class, probably not nearly as much as Hermione Granger of Ravenclaw. Draco hadn't thought he needed any more practice to stay ahead...
  • If you think fast enough you can sometimes do the impossible quickly... ...sometimes. Only sometimes. Not always. Not reliably.
  • If you think hard enough you can do the impossible. (It had always been an article of faith with Harry. There'd been a time when he'd acknowledged the laws of physics as ultimate limitations, and now he suspected there were no true limits at all.)
  • Interdict
  • probity
  • admonition,
  • They know (because that too is part of the standard legend) that a powerful wizard must learn to distinguish the truth among a hundred plausible lies. But it has not occurred to them that they might do the same.
  • Is it because you know Dumbledore won't fight back? That no matter what you say to him, however unfair, he'll never use his own power against you, he'll never treat you the way you treat him? Is this the way you treat people when you know they won't hit back? James Potter's bullying genes, manifesting at last? Harry closed
  • "You were foolish," the Defense Professor said quietly, "to expect any lasting gratitude from those you tried to protect, once you named yourself a heroine.
  • I do not mind being the villain of your imagination if it makes matters clearer.
  • If Haukelid had been a comic-book superhero, he'd have somehow gotten all the civilians off the ferry, he would've attacked the German soldiers directly... ...rather than let a single innocent person die... ...but Knut Haukelid hadn't been a superhero. And neither had been Albus Dumbledore.
  • Penrose process for extracting energy from black holes,
  • And by analogy, if not quite by theorem, if you could guess what the descendants of humanity would think of something, you ought to go ahead and take that as your own best guess.
  • It was a rare brain that could feel strongly about anything, if it wasn't close in space, close in time, near at hand, within easy reach...
  • Minerva firmly believed that you only ought to worry about Time if you were a clock.
  • Still, it's beneath my dignity as a human being to be scared of anything that isn't smarter than I am; and from what I've heard, on that particular dimension the Dark Lord wasn't very scary."
  • hied
  • Raymond Smullyan
  • phylactery.
  • But Lord Voldemort wasn't a randomly selected wizard, he was one particular wizard in the population who'd come to everyone's attention.
  • Of course, the point of a subjective Bayesian calculation wasn't that, after you made up a bunch of numbers, multiplying them out would give you an exactly right answer. The real point was that the process of making up numbers would force you to tally all the relevant facts and weigh all the relative probabilities.
  • Harry's head slumped a bit. "Do you hate me now?" "No!" she said. "No, you shouldn't think that, Harry! Just - just - just everything!" She realized that her wand was still pointed at Harry, and she lowered it. She was trying very hard not to burst out into tears. "Everything!" she repeated, and couldn't find any better to say than that, although she was certain that Harry wanted to tell her to be specific.
  • "The idea of 'too good to be true' isn't causal reasoning, the universe doesn't check if the output of the equations is 'too good' or 'too bad' before allowing it.
  • "You do impossible things all the time, I bet you've done something impossible in the last week and you didn't bother telling anyone." (There was a slight pause, which, if Miss Granger had known, was exactly the length of pause you'd make if you'd fought Mad-Eye Moody and won exactly eight days earlier.) "Not in the last seven days, no," Harry said.
  • "That is not okay! You can't do science with two people at once!"
  • "You were being careful." She would have hissed it, if it had contained any Ss.
  • and, I mean, considering how many people end up horribly unhappy in traditional marriages, it seems like it might be the sort of thing that needs some clever reworking
  • On the other hand, one competent hedge fundie could probably own the whole wizarding world within a week. Harry filed away this notion in case he ever ran out of money, or had a week free.
  • Possibility two: He’d be taking over the world. Eventually. Perhaps not right away. That sort of thing did sometimes take longer than two months.
  • But when you’re doing something new and can’t do that, you just have to be really, really, really pessimistic. Like, so pessimistic that reality actually comes out better than you expected around as often and as much as it comes out worse. It’s actually really hard to be so pessimistic that you stand a decent chance of undershooting real life.
  • “So now I’ve got to find some way to kill an immortal Dark Wizard,” Harry said, and sighed in frustration. “I really wish you had told me that before I started shopping.”
  • “How?” “Magic.” “That’s hardly an answer!” snapped Professor McGonagall, and then stopped, blinking.
  • “If you can’t criticise, you can’t optimise.
  • “If you try to be nice, you just end up spending the most time with the pushiest ones. Decide who you want to spend time with and make everyone else leave.
  • “You’ve had lessons on how to manipulate people?” “Of course,” Draco said proudly. “I’m a Malfoy. Father bought me tutors.” “Wow,” Harry said. Reading Robert Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice probably didn’t stack up very high compared to that (though it was still one heck of a book). “Your dad is almost as awesome as my dad.”
  • “One of my tutors once said that people form close friendships by knowing private things about each other, and the reason most people don’t make close friends is because they’re too embarrassed to share anything really important about themselves.”
  • A pause to reflect could go a long way in defusing the power of a lot of compliance techniques, once you learned to recognise them for what they were.
  • “No. I’m sorry. I just don’t believe it. That violates my much-abused suspension of disbelief on so many levels I don’t even have the language to describe it.
  • He was feeling a deep-seated desire to run away screaming at the top of his lungs until he dropped from lack of oxygen, and the only thing stopping him was that he had once read that outright panic was the sign of a truly important scientific problem.
  • I wonder how difficult it would be to just make a list of all the top blood purists and kill them. They’d tried exactly that during the French Revolution, more or less - make a list of all the enemies of Progress and remove everything above the neck - and it hadn’t worked out well from what Harry recalled. Maybe he needed to dust off some of those history books his father had bought him, and see if what had gone wrong with the French Revolution was something easy to fix.
  • Science doesn’t work by waving wands and chanting spells, it works by knowing how the universe works on such a deep level that you know exactly what to do in order to make the universe do what you want.
  • “Well well well well well well. I should like to make you a proposition, Miss Granger.” “A proposition?” Hermione said suspiciously. Girls weren’t supposed to listen to those.
  • “Is your life always this peculiar?” she said at last. Harry Potter’s face gleamed with pride. “I make it that peculiar.
  • Hermione’s mind was now so jumbled that she didn’t even think she could properly read “History: A Hogwarts”.
  • Harry knew pi to 3.141592 because accuracy to one part in a million was enough for most practical purposes. Hermione knew one hundred digits of pi because that was how many digits had been printed in the back of her maths textbook.
  • He would absolutely, positively, no matter how long it took and even if it killed him, fulfill their expectations. And then go on to exceed those expectations, so that people wondered, looking back, that they had once asked so little of him.
  • You are well aware that Conscientiousness is just about as important as raw intelligence in determining life outcomes,
  • “You think that you are potentially the greatest who has yet lived, the strongest servant of the Light, that no other is likely to take up your wand if you lay it down.” Well… yeah, frankly. I don’t usually come out and say it like that, but yeah. No point in softening it, you can read my mind anyway. “To the extent you really believe that… you must equally believe that you could be the most terrible Dark Lord the world has ever known.”
  • “This day is a great fork in your destiny. Don’t be so sure that there will be other choices beyond this one. There is no road-sign set, to mark the place of your last chance to turn back. If you refuse one chance will you not refuse others? It may be that your fate is already sealed, even by doing this one thing.”
  • Minerva McGonagall clenched the podium in a white-knuckled grip, knowing that Harry Potter’s contagious chaos had somehow infected the Sorting Hat itself and the Hat was about to, to demand that a whole new House of Doom be created just to accomodate Harry Potter or something, and Dumbledore would make her do it…)
  • You couldn’t change history. But you could get it right to start with. Do something differently the first time around.
  • But he could, there was no rule saying he couldn’t, he could just pretend he’d never heard that little whisper. Let the universe go on in exactly the same way it would have if that one critical moment had never occurred. Twenty years later, that was what he would desperately wish had happened twenty years ago, and twenty years before twenty years later happened to be right now. Altering the distant past was easy, you just had to think of it at the right time.
  • “First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. That is why it is called the Forbidden Forest. If it were permitted it would be called the Permitted Forest.” Straightforward. Note to self: Forbidden Forest is forbidden.
  • Not everyone who teaches here has been the best, but the best have all taught at Hogwarts.
  • Harry nodded slowly. “Recognition code 927, I am a potato” was indeed the message he had worked out in advance - some years earlier, while watching TV - that only he would know. If he had to identify a duplicate of himself as being really him, or something. Just in case. Be Prepared.
  • After getting lost another two times, Harry felt that he was beginning to understand the basic rule for navigating the ever-changing maze that was Hogwarts, namely, ask a painting for directions. If this reflected some sort of incredibly deep life lesson he couldn’t figure out what it was.
  • “Ahahahaa. And what happens when someone ignores that advice?” Professor McGonagall pursed her lips. “I understand that it can be quite disconcerting.” “And it doesn’t, say, create a paradox that destroys the universe.” She smiled tolerantly. “Mr. Potter, I think I’d remember hearing if that had ever happened.”
  • Harry found himself considering, for the first time in his life, that the answer to his question might be literally inconceivable.
  • Professor Quirrell looked amused. “You’re thinking that I’ve come up with a wrong answer, aren’t you, Mr. Potter? You will learn to expect better of me.”
  • Harry took Paper-2 in his trembling hand, and unfolded it. Paper-2 said in slightly shaky handwriting: DO NOT MESS WITH TIME Harry wrote down “DO NOT MESS WITH TIME” on Paper-1 in slightly shaky handwriting, folded it neatly, and resolved not to do any more truly brilliant experiments on Time until he was at least fifteen years old. To the best of Harry’s knowledge, that had been the scariest experimental result in the entire history of science.
  • “Why?” Dumbledore repeated. “Ah, Harry, if I went around all day asking why I do things, I’d never have time to get a single thing done! I’m quite a busy person, you know.”
  • “So… why do I have to carry this rock exactly?” “I can’t think of a reason, actually,” said Dumbledore. “…you can’t.” Dumbledore nodded. “But just because I can’t think of a reason doesn’t mean there is no reason.”
  • “Yes, I’m very angry!” said Harry. “Grrr!” Harry’s Internal Critic promptly awarded him the All-Time Award for the Worst Acting in the History of Ever.
  • He was actually feeling a bit disappointed in his non-angry self for collapsing like that and wanting only to get out of trouble. Professor Severus Snape was everyone’s problem. Normal-Harry had forgotten that and wished for a way to protect himself. And let all the other victims go hang? The question wasn’t how to protect himself, the question was how to destroy this Potions professor.
  • “Unacceptable,” Harry said flatly. His gaze was now cold and dark. “I will not tolerate bullying or abuse. I had considered many possible ways of dealing with this problem, but I will make it simple. Either this man goes, or I do.”
  • “What am I to do, Fawkes?” whispered Harry. “I couldn’t have protected them if I hadn’t been angry.”
  • ‘Speak the truth, even if your voice trembles’.
  • “The point is not to avoid getting angry,” Professor Quirrell said, his face looking grave. “Anger is natural. You need to learn how to lose even when you are angry. Or at least pretend to lose so that you can plan your vengeance.
  • But first, losing must be thinkable. Will you remember how you lost?”
  • Understand that the Dark Lord did not win that day. His goal was to learn martial arts, and yet he left without a single lesson.
  • “Mr. Potter,” said Professor Quirrell, now with a much more usual-looking dry smile, “I know you are accustomed to everyone around you being a fool, but please do not mistake me for one of them.
  • “What is your ambition?” “Oh,” said Harry. “Um..” He organized his thoughts. “To understand everything important there is to know about the universe, apply that knowledge to become omnipotent, and use that power to rewrite reality because I have some objections to the way it works now.”
  • It had never occurred to him that nuclear physicists should have formed a conspiracy of silence to keep the secret of nuclear weapons from anyone not smart enough to be a nuclear physicist.
  • “Sometimes,” Professor Quirrell said in a voice so quiet it almost wasn’t there, “when this flawed world seems unusually hateful, I wonder whether there might be some other place, far away, where I should have been.
  • …now she was winning, Harry Potter was flinching every time she got another House point, and it was so much fun, her parents had warned her against drugs and she suspected this was more fun than that.
  • “I offer you power,” said the shadowy figure, “and I will tell you of that power and its price. The power comes from knowing the shape of reality and so gaining control over it. What you understand, you can command, and that is power enough to walk upon the Moon.
  • When a more powerful wizard told you that you weren’t ready to know, you didn’t pry any further if you wanted to live.
  • The key to strategy is not to choose a path to J. K. Rowling, but to choose so that all paths lead to a J. K. Rowling.
  • Padma Patil (whose parents came from a non-English-speaking culture and thus had raised her with an actual work ethic), Anthony Goldstein (out of a certain tiny ethnic group that won 25% of the Nobel Prizes),
  • He was taking the worthwhile classes seriously, not just turning in his homework every day, but using his free time to learn more than was required, to read other books beyond the given textbooks, looking to master the subject and not just memorize a few test answers, to excel.
  • “Walking on the moon is power! Being a great wizard is power! There are kinds of power that don’t require me to spend the rest of my life pandering to morons!”
  • In that moment Draco had realized that there was something deeply wrong with Harry Potter’s brain, and anyone who tried Legilimency on it would probably never come back out again.
  • Father had warned Draco against people like this, people who could ruin you and still be so likable that it was hard to hate them properly.
  • Flitwick threw up his little hands and started shrieking in a high-pitched voice at both of us about how he didn’t care what we were cooking up together, but this wasn’t ever to happen again for as long as I was in Ravenclaw House or he would have me thrown out and I could go to Gryffindor which was where all this Dumbledoring belonged -”
  • Father had further explained that since only a fool would attempt a plot that was as complicated as possible, the real limit was two.
  • That was when Father had told Draco about the Rule of Three, which was that any plot which required more than three different things to happen would never work in real life.
  • There were only two known causes of purposeful complexity. Natural selection, which produced things like butterflies. And intelligent engineering, which produced things like cars.
  • Fred and George decided that Fred would speak.
  • And he didn’t want to hear back from them about any so-called failures to think of anything for at least a week. Some people spent decades trying to think of things.
  • The Weasley twins did sometimes disagree even when they had all the same information, but every time they did it seemed unnatural, like at least one of them must be doing something wrong.
  • Harry kept his expression blank, and realized one second too late that it might as well have been a signed confession. Professor Quirrell didn’t care what your expression looked like, he cared which states of mind made it likely.
  • Harry could breathe without Dumbledore’s permission, but only so long as the Headmaster did not specifically prohibit it.
  • Muggles had around the same legal standing as children or kittens: they were cute, so if you tortured them in public you could get arrested, but they weren’t people.
  • “Mr. Potter, one of the requisites for becoming a powerful wizard is an excellent memory. The key to a puzzle is often something you read twenty years ago in an old scroll, or a peculiar ring you saw on the finger of a man you met only once.
  • Of course Harry hadn’t said what the solution was. The solution, obviously, was to hurry up and become God.
  • “There might be some incredibly clever solution that makes it possible to save everyone and let them all live happily ever after, and if only I was smart enough I would have thought of it by now -”
  • So either Severus was in fact modeling Harry as a one-level player, which made Severus himself two-level, and Harry’s three-level move had been successful; or Severus was a four-level player and wanted Harry to think the deception had been successful. Harry, smiling, had asked Professor Quirrell what level he played at, and Professor Quirrell, also smiling, had responded, One level higher than you.)
  • The good guys forgive.”
  • “You almost died today, Potter. In the future, never share your wisdom with anyone unless you know exactly what you are both talking about.”
  • Harry couldn’t breathe. Lose. Now.
  • the stars are so very, very far away…
  • You couldn’t leave your home planet while it still contained a place like Azkaban. You had to stay and fight.
  • And the part of him that didn’t enjoy losing replied, in a very cold voice, Fine, you can shut up and watch.
  • It had to be a conceptual limitation, not a real one. Had to be.
  • All the sensations of that bright world were really happening in that quiet cave of bone you called your skull, the place where you lived and never, ever left.
  • Draco was confused. Therefore, something he believed was fiction. Granger should not have been able to do all that. Therefore, she probably hadn’t.
  • Like the old saying goes: A friend isn’t someone you use once and then throw away, a friend is someone you use over and over again.
  • Draco had always taken for granted that ambitious wizards put themselves in power because they wanted to rule, and people let themselves be ruled because they were scared little Hufflepuffs.
  • But suppose the copy had been of someone completely selfish - (Pansy Parkinson had been the example they’d used)
  • “And everyone with secret orders, make sure you carry them out to the letter,” said Draco. Around half his soldiers openly nodded, and Draco marked them for death after he rose to power.
  • “Parvati was a spy?” gasped Hannah. “Parvati was totally a spy,” said Daphne. “She shopped at the spy shoe store and wore spy lipstick, and someday she’s going to marry a nice spy husband and have a lot of little spies.”
  • “In your future career, Mr. Zabini, I do not suggest trying any plots that complicated. They have a tendency to fail.” “Um, I said that to the Headmaster, actually,” Blaise said, “and he said that was why it was important to have more than one plot going at a time.”
  • The Verres household was just as he’d left it, only with more books, which was also just how he’d left it.
  • Gringotts had readily exchanged Galleons for paper money, but they didn’t seem to have any simple way to turn larger quantities of gold into tax-free, unsuspicious Muggle money in a numbered Swiss bank account. This had rather spiked Harry’s plan to turn most of the money he’d self-stolen into a sensible mix of 60% international index funds and 40% Berkshire Hathaway.
  • Harry was still a little shocked at the idea of pointing to a section of reality and calling it unscientific. Dad seemed to think that the conflict between his intuitions and the universe meant that the universe had a problem.
  • “I’m Michael, and this is Petunia and our son Harry. The food’s in the magical trunk,” and Dad made a vague gesture behind him - not quite in the direction of the trunk, as it happened.
  • “I think you will change your mind in time, after every trust you place has failed you, and you have become
  • “Excuse me,” Harry said. His voice sounded a little alarmed, and he didn’t even know whether that was too revealing, or just what his normal reaction would be if he didn’t know anything. He’d spent too much time around Slytherins, he was forgetting how to keep secrets from ordinary people. Four Knuts hit the counter. “One copy of the Quibbler, please.”
  • “Professor Quirrell believes very strongly in live-fire tests under realistic combat conditions. Wanting to bring in an actual Dementor is completely in character for him.” Now the Headmaster was giving Harry a strange look. “In character?” said the old wizard.
  • “You underestimate yourself.” That was the first time anyone had ever said that to Harry.
  • “Life is not a finite list of things that you check off before you’re allowed to die,” Harry said firmly. “It’s life, you just go on living it. If I’m not doing those things it’ll be because I’ve found something better.”
  • “You perceive,” said a voice like ice from the other end of the table, “that Dumbledore does not truly believe as he speaks. It is not that he has compromised his principles. It is that he never had them from the beginning. Are you becoming cynical yet, Mr. Potter?”
  • It might be a bluff. It probably wasn’t.
  • Harry had heard of humility, but he’d never seen the real thing before - only the satisfied modesty of people who thought it was part of their style and wanted you to notice.
  • “Our worst memories can only grow worse as we grow older.”
  • …Harry couldn’t see under the cloak. Or that wasn’t right, it was that his mind was refusing to see what was under the cloak… No, his mind was trying to see the wrong thing under the cloak, Harry could feel it, his eyes trying to force a mistake. But Harry had done his best to train himself to notice that tiny feeling of confusion, to automatically flinch away from making stuff up; and every time his mind tried to start inventing a lie about what was under the cloak, that reflex was fast enough to shut it down.
  • Harry’s request met with a certain amount of opposition of the you’re completely insane variety, though it was only Auror Butnaru who actually said that out loud.
  • That too was part of what it meant to be alive, if you were one of the tiny handful of sentient beings born into the beginning of all things, before intelligent life had come fully into its power. That the much vaster future depended on what you did here, now, in the earliest days of dawn, when there was still so much darkness to be fought, and temporary nuisances like Dementors.
  • “No,” Professor Quirrell said, sounding rather severe. “You don’t tell us why, Mr. Potter, you simply tell us that we are not to know. If you wish to devise a hint, you do so carefully, at leisure, not in the midst of conversation.”
  • The prior probabilities said that it had been Professor Trelawney, Hogwarts’s resident seer. Seers were rare, so if you counted up most of the seconds Professor McGonagall had spent in the presence of a seer over the course of her lifetime, most of those seer-seconds would be Trelawney-seconds.
  • Father had told Draco that to fathom a strange plot, one technique was to look at what ended up happening, assume it was the intended result, and ask who benefited.
  • “I know, skin color instead of anything important like blood purity, isn’t it ridiculous? But then something in the world changed, and now you can’t find any great scientists who still think skin color should matter, only loser people like the ones I described to you.
  • “I have a dream,” said Harry’s voice, “that one day sentient beings will be judged by the patterns of their minds, and not their color or their shape or the stuff they’re made of, or who their parents were.
  • “Will I,” whispered Draco, “be able to cast a Patronus like that, someday?” “If you always keep seeking the truth,” Harry said, “and if you don’t refuse the warm thoughts when you find them, then I’m sure you will. I think a person could get anywhere if they just kept going long enough, even to the stars.”
  • Harry gave a mental sigh, and thought, Just so long as you’re okay with us being eaten by giant monsters that didn’t do enough research into whether we were sentient. I’m okay with that, said Slytherin. Is everyone else okay with that? (Internal mental nods.) Great, can we go back to deep-fried Diracawl slices now?
  • “Ron is the world’s most gigantic prat,” Harry said. “They won’t be printing that in the newspaper anytime soon, because it’s not news.
  • This was one of Draco Malfoy’s lessons which Harry had thought was actually pretty smart: people who tried to defend themselves got questioned over every little point and could never satisfy their interrogators; but if you made it clear from the start that you were a celebrity and above social conventions, people’s minds wouldn’t bother tracking most violations.
  • No, thought Harry. But to maintain plausible deniability, you needed a general policy of sometimes evading questions even when you had nothing to hide… “With respect, Professor Quirrell, if I had made such progress, it is not quite obvious to me that I should tell you about it.”
  • “It seems very probable to me,” said Professor Quirrell, “that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named began his climb to power with secrets obtained from Slytherin’s Monster. That Salazar’s lost knowledge is the source of You-Know-Who’s extraordinarily powerful wizardry.
  • Become Animaguss. All ssensible people do, if can. Thuss, very rare.”
  • “Never mind,” hissed Harry. ”Sstupid question, forgot you were ssmart.” “Foolissh thing to forget,”
  • “You did not choose sides when you went to Ravenclaw, girl. You choose your side by the way you live your life, what you do to other people and what you do to yourself. Will you illuminate others’ lives, or darken them? That is the choice between Light and Dark, not any word the Sorting Hat cries out.
  • Harry didn’t quite know how to describe in words the sense of kinship he felt with Professor Quirrell, except to say that the Defense Professor was the only clear-thinking person Harry had met in the wizarding world.
  • if the Defense Professor wanted to make some use of Harry Potter, it was a use that required a strengthened Harry Potter, not a weakened one. That was what it meant to be used by a friend, that they would want the use to make you stronger instead of weaker.
  • Death might be the last enemy, but it wasn’t a sentient enemy. When humanity had wiped out smallpox, smallpox hadn’t fought back.
  • So far as Harry’s brain knew from watching early morning cartoons, when you grew up you were supposed to gain amazing powers and save the universe, that was what Harry’s brain had seen adults doing and adopted as its role model for the maturation process, and Harry very much wanted to start growing up.
  • (Neither of them had spoken the other’s name. You simply didn’t use your names at any point during an illegal mission, even invisibly hovering over an anonymous patch of water in the North Sea. You simply didn’t. It would be stupid.)
  • Harry kicked the broomstick into high gear
  • Harry didn’t particularly want to think about how Professor Quirrell had gotten that password. His brain, which thought about it anyway, suggested that it had probably involved a Death Eater, a quiet isolated place, and some lead-pipe Legilimency.
  • If you did commit the perfect crime, nobody would ever find out - so how could anyone possibly know that there weren’t perfect crimes?
  • There was no way that Auror Li would have agreed to serve duty here, triple pay or no triple pay, if he hadn’t had a family to support. (His real name was Xiaoguang, and everyone called him Mike
  • But Bahry had shown them all the pictures, and you had to let a man do what he could for his poor sick wife, especially when he only had seven months left before his retirement.
  • His thoughts were slow, confused, disarrayed. His opponent had been insanely powerful, that hadn’t been a duel, it had been like his first year as a trainee Auror trying to fight Madam Tarma. The Death-Eaters hadn’t been a tenth that good, Mad-Eye Moody wasn’t that good… and who, what, how in the name of Merlin’s balls had anyone blocked a Killing Curse?
  • The ordinary Harry was not able to take that sort of thing in stride. But there wasn’t any option except to keep moving forward anyway. You couldn’t get any more pointless than giving up before you’d actually lost.
  • Harry would probably have to bamboozle the healer into doing something - which was going to take one hell of a bamboozling,
  • Director Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and said to be the only witch in the DMLE who could take Mad-Eye Moody in a fair fight (not that either of those two were the sort to fight fairly).
  • It was starting to get crowded in the duty room, almost too crowded to breathe, though there was still space around Amelia herself; if needing to breathe meant that you had to crowd Director Bones, it was better not to breathe.
  • “We’re fighting the old Wizarding War today, everyone. Just because You-Know-Who is dead doesn’t mean the Death Eaters have forgotten his tricks.
  • You know, said the problem-solving part of his brain, there’s a limit to how many constraints you can add to a problem before it really is impossible, you know that?
  • Harry’s brain suggested that an obvious way to stop the Dementors from seeing Bellatrix was to make her stop existing, i.e., kill her. Harry congratulated his brain on thinking outside the box and told it to continue searching.
  • Harry considered this, preventing himself from flinching away. It felt uncomfortable, but… But… But uncomfortable thoughts weren’t always true,
  • (“He can get away with it,” Isabel whispered back to her, “he’s Dumbledore, not even Fate takes him seriously anymore.”)
  • “Albus,” said Amelia as the old wizard turned to depart, “even you can be ambushed.” “Nonsense, my dear,” the old wizard said cheerfully as he strode off yet again, waving as though in admonition his fifteen-inch wand of unidentifiable dark-grey wood, “I’m invincible.”
  • It wasn’t a decision that Harry had made in any conscious way. He just couldn’t do it. Losing was for House points, not people.
  • it is a sad fact that we only ever think about a tiny fraction of all the phenomena we encounter…
  • that was when Harry actually thought all that stuff about Newtonian mechanics and Aristotelian physics and broomsticks and rocketry and the importance of curiosity and how he was never going to do anything this Gryffindor ever again
  • I’m voting that this is a performance, said the Inner Critic. She wouldn’t just blurt all that out in response to one question unless she was looking for an opportunity. Noted, but I’m putting a low weight of confidence on that, said Ravenclaw. It’s very hard not to let your suspicions control your perceptions when you’re trying to weigh evidence that subtle.
  • I wonder if a real healer would seem more fake than an actor told to play one? mused Ravenclaw.
  • I admit, Mr. Potter, that I see little hope for democracy as an effective form of government, but I admire the poetry of how it makes its victims complicit in their own destruction.”
  • “Learn all that I have to teach you, Mr. Potter, and you will rule this country in time. Then you may tear down the prison that democracy made, if you find that Azkaban still offends your sensibilities. Like it or not, Mr. Potter, you have seen this day that your own will conflicts with the will of this country’s populace, and that you do not bow your head and submit to their decision when that occurs. So to them, whether or not they know it, and whether or not you acknowledge it, you are their next Dark Lord.”
  • you will find ambiguity a great ally on your road to power. Give a sign of Slytherin on one day, and contradict it with a sign of Gryffindor the next; and the Slytherins will be enabled to believe what they wish, while the Gryffindors argue themselves into supporting you as well. So long as there is uncertainty, people can believe whatever seems to be to their own advantage. And so long as you appear strong, so long as you appear to be winning, their instincts will tell them that their advantage lies with you. Walk always in the shadow, and light and darkness both will follow.”
  • She was sitting in the Headmaster’s office with a quickly Transfigured desk of her own, doing some of the hundred little pieces of necessary paperwork that kept Hogwarts from grinding to a halt; she could lose herself in it easily, and it prevented her from thinking about other things. Albus had once remarked, sounding rather wry, that Hogwarts seemed to run even more smoothly when there was an outside crisis for her to avoid thinking about…
  • I do believe that man would kill me for a Sickle and give back five Knuts change.
  • “For the Dark Lord to do what we cannot imagine requires only that he has a better imagination.”
  • And there is no one else in the world who would accidentally overestimate my wit, and leave me a message I cannot understand at all.”
  • “Tell me something. What does a government have to do, what do the voters have to do with their democracy, what do the people of a country have to do, before I ought to decide that I’m not on their side any more?”
  • Aftermath, Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis: “You doing anything interesting today?” said Tracey. “Nope,” said Daphne.
  • People thought themselves good and moral, but when push came to shove, some switch flipped in their brain, and it was suddenly a lot harder to heroically defy Authority than they thought.
  • Harry looked at the sunset, on the second day of the rest of his life, and knew that he had switched sides.
  • Do you think you can be trusted with power? said Gryffindor. Isn’t there some sort of rule that people who want power shouldn’t have it? Maybe we should make Hermione the ruler instead.
  • So is Professor Quirrell right, then? asked Slytherin. Leaving out whether he’s good or evil, is he right?
  • Is that how other people will start thinking of me, if I get too Slytherin? If I pull off too many plots, will I never be able to smile at anyone again, without them wondering what I really mean by it?
  • Identity does not mean, to such as us, what it means to other people. Anyone we can imagine, we can be; and the true difference about you, Mr. Potter, is that you have an unusually good imagination. A playwright must contain his characters, he must be larger than them in order to enact them within his mind. To an actor or spy or politician, the limit of his own diameter is the limit of who he can pretend to be, the limit of which face he may wear as a mask. But for such as you and I, anyone we can imagine, we can be, in reality and not pretense.
  • Every force for Good that exists in this universe, there’s someone else who benefits from people discounting it, or fencing it into a narrow box where it can’t get to them.”
  • Whatever had happened to Harry Potter on the day of the phoenix, it had changed him; there was something new in him now. Not cold, but hard.
  • It was an intimation of mortality, and the Defense Professor was not supposed to be mortal.
  • Madam Pomfrey had told Harry that he was absolutely forbidden to pester her patient. Harry had said, “I understand”, which technically did not say anything about obedience.
  • there is a proverb: If you do not wish a thing heard, do not say it.
  • remember thiss, boy, other eventss proceed without you. Hessitation iss alwayss eassy, rarely usseful.”
  • I’m getting tired of hearing people talk about the Boy-Who-Lived like you’re - like you’re some kind of god or something.” “Same here, I must say,” said Harry Potter. “It’s sad how people keep underestimating me.”
  • “Of course there are ways you could have won, Miss Granger. There always are, in every lost battle. The world around us redunds with opportunities, explodes with opportunities, which nearly all folk ignore because it would require them to violate a habit of thought;
  • So if she ever got close to winning against Harry when it really mattered, he could just go into his dark side and crush her, was that it? …of course it was. She couldn’t even look Harry in the eyes when he was being scary, how had she ever thought she could beat him for real?
  • And Hermione had felt worried, but then the thought had come to her that Harry Potter wouldn’t have been scared of the Headmaster. Harry Potter would have just barged ahead doing whatever he was trying to do. Maybe (the thought had come to her) it was worth trying to be like that, not being scared, just doing whatever, and seeing what happened to her, it couldn’t really be worse.
  • I am not Harry’s friend, alas, but only his mysterious old wizard.”
  • “A Gryffindor would say that people don’t become who they should be, because they’re afraid.”
  • people do not grow up because of time, people grow up when they are placed in grownup situations.
  • Had she really thought she needed permission from someone, or that heroes sat around waiting for someone else to give them quests? It was very simple actually, you just went where the evil was, that was all it ever took to be a hero.
  • I think the people we call ‘heroes’ are rare because they’ve got to make everything up as they go along, and most people aren’t comfortable with that.
  • Hermione was very very aware that even if she was doing it with signed permission, she was still Defying Authority.
  • “Then again, only a very few folk ever do anything interesting with their lives. What does it matter to you if they are mostly witches or mostly wizards, so long as you are not among them?
  • I suspect you will not be among them, Miss Davis; for although you are ambitious, you have no ambition.”
  • Many have stood their ground and faced the darkness when it comes for them. Fewer come for the darkness and force it to face them. It is a hard life, sometimes lonely, often short. I have told none to refuse that calling, but neither would I wish to increase their number.”
  • But still… But still… what? Hermione didn’t even know but still what. But still.
  • Lavender had argued that if one first-year girl could take down three older bullies, then eight first-year girls ought to be able to outfight twenty-four older bullies because of Multiplication.
  • a brief rise of marble stairs that should’ve put them on the third-and-a-halfth floor if it’d been anywhere but Hogwarts,
  • finally Padma closed off further discussion by observing wearily that she didn’t see much point to going on arguing, since S.P.H.E.W. wasn’t about anything to do with feminism in the first place, it was just about more girls becoming heroes.
  • trying to become a hero so that a boy will like you isn’t very feminist.” “It’s pronounced feminine actually,” said Padma. “And why’re you calling Hannah unfeminine?” said Susan. “There’s nothing unfeminine about wanting to impress a boy.”
  • She’d been collecting Ambitions ever since Professor Quirrell told her off, and so far she’d decided that she wanted to own her own Nimbus 2000 broomstick, become super famous, marry Harry Potter, eat Chocolate Frogs for breakfast every day, and defeat at least three Dark Lords just to show Professor Quirrell who was ordinary.
  • “Please, Miss Davis, sit down.” He gestured to his own desk chair, even as he sat down on his bed.
  • But Father had once told her that the trouble with passing up opportunities was that it was habit-forming. If you told yourself you were waiting for a better opportunity next time, why, next time you’d probably tell yourself the same thing. Father had said that most people spent their whole lives waiting for an opportunity that was good enough, and then they died. Father had said that while seizing opportunities would mean that all sorts of things went wrong, it wasn’t nearly as bad as being a hopeless lump. Father had said that after she got into the habit of seizing opportunities, then it was time to start being picky about them.
  • If I can predict what I’m going to think later, I might as well go ahead and think it now.
  • “What if you’re wrong, Harry?” Harry paused for a moment, and then shrugged a little sadly, and said, “What if I’m right?”
  • The important thing is believing about yourself that you’re someone who can break your boundaries. Trying and getting hurt can’t possibly be worse for you than being… stuck.”
  • Hermione knew she was being faced with a Moral Dilemma, just like all those wizards and witches she’d read about in stories. Only in stories people always got a right choice and a wrong choice, not two wrong ones, which seemed a bit unfair.
  • Susan ignored the argument. She was trying to think up some sort of clever strategy for being less doomed.
  • I mean the chance is so small that you couldn’t find it with three Magnifying Charms and a Point-Me spell and - and - and an ancient map and a centaur prophet!
  • He’d heard about plausible deniability, but hadn’t realized how much it mattered until he found that Malfoys didn’t have any.
  • (Well, Harry seemed to think Draco Malfoy was a good guy. But then the trouble was that Harry also tended to trust people like Professor Quirrell.)
  • “When you are more experienced, Mr. Potter, you will see such consequences in advance of your plotting. As it stands, you are being ill-served by your willful ignorance of all human nature you deem unpleasant.”
  • “it turns out that Susan Bones is the Heir of Hufflepuff and she’s opened up the long-lost entrance to Helga Hufflepuff’s Chamber of Hard Work and Practice.”
  • But with magic it’s going to be a lot easier to get things done than if I had to do stuff using only the Muggle capability set. If you think about it logically, that’s why I’m going to Hogwarts instead of just ignoring all this and studying for a career in nanotechnology.”
  • “See, Daphne, what General Potter wants in a girl isn’t a pretty face or a pretty dress. He wants a girl willing to channel his dread powers, that’s what he wants.
  • Above all, you need to hide your evilness better - not too well, but better. Nice well-groomed boys get girls, and Dark Wizards also get girls, but nice well-groomed boys suspected of being secretly Dark get more girls than you can imagine -”
  • “You could call it heroic responsibility, maybe,” Harry Potter said. “Not like the usual sort. It means that whatever happens, no matter what, it’s always your fault. Even if you tell Professor McGonagall, she’s not responsible for what happens, you are. Following the school rules isn’t an excuse, someone else being in charge isn’t an excuse, even trying your best isn’t an excuse. There just aren’t any excuses, you’ve got to get the job done no matter what.”
  • Professor McGonagall doesn’t have the authority to do something scary enough to protect you - and she wouldn’t have overstepped her authority, because she’s not really responsible.”
  • Professor Quirrell really is someone who gets things done no matter what, and he’s the only other person I know who notices stuff like the Snitch ruining Quidditch. But him I can’t trust to be good.
  • Professor McGonagall will do whatever it takes to get the job done if I’m there to nag her about it, she doesn’t break rules on her own without heroic supervision.
  • I had loving parents, but I never felt like I could trust their decisions, they weren’t sane enough. I always knew that if I didn’t think things through myself, I might get hurt.
  • No rescuer hath the rescuer, Godric Gryffindor had written. No Lord hath the champion, no mother and no father, only nothingness above.
  • “Obstacles mean you get creative, Headmaster.
  • “Really, my good Professor, you should not meddle in the affairs of idiots unless you are ready to defend yourself upon the instant from all their violence.”
  • “I know you have been… investigating… the third-floor corridor -” “You know nothing of the sort.” The man’s back straightened against the wood. “Do not bluff against me, Severus Snape; I find it annoying, and you are in no position to annoy me.
  • “You don’t want me as your enemy, Quirrell,” Severus Snape said, his voice very soft. “I don’t?” said Professor Quirrell. “How would you know?”
  • Draco still couldn’t begin to understand except that apparently it didn’t even take magic to make things do Arithmancy.
  • “But the thing that people forget sometimes, is that even though appearances can be misleading, they’re usually not.”
  • Mr. and Mrs. Davis had now slumped slightly against each other, more from sheer muscle exhaustion than from any decrease of tension.
  • The common consensus had been that, with odds that bad, it was practically impossible for them to lose. After all, General Chaos was bound to come up with something really spectacular, facing odds like that. There was something almost nightmarish about how everyone seemed to now expect Harry to pull miracles out of his hat, on demand, any time one was needed. It meant that if you couldn’t do the impossible, you were disappointing your friends and failing to live up to your potential…
  • Magic’s attitude toward laws like Conservation of Energy was somewhere between a giant extended middle finger, and a shrug of total indifference.
  • The fundamental principle of Potions-Making had no name and no standard phrasing, since then you might be tempted to write it down. And someone who wasn’t wise enough to figure out the principle themselves might read it. And they would start having all sorts of bright ideas for inventing new Potions. And then they would be turned into catgirls.
  • Energy was conserved, could be neither created nor destroyed; entropy always increased. But wizards didn’t think that way: from their perspective, if you’d put some amount of work into making a Knut, it stood to reason that you could get exactly the same work back out.
  • It’s easy to forget what’s really true, Draco, once you start trying to win at politics.
  • the truth was, Draco hadn’t been practicing much outside of class, probably not nearly as much as Hermione Granger of Ravenclaw. Draco hadn’t thought he needed any more practice to stay ahead…
  • It wasn’t cheating, but it was Science, which was almost as good.
  • I suppose that is one way Professor Quirrell could have done it.” “Professor Quirrell?” said Harry. “What motive does he have to -” The Potions Master said dryly, “The Defense Professor is always a suspect, Mr. Potter. You will notice a trend, given time.”
  • But Voldemort was more Slytherin than Salazar, grasping at every opportunity.
  • succeeded in drawing forth a set of papers describing places and times where bullies would be found, all of the papers signed only with an elaborate ‘S’. A brief burst of fire later, the papers were gone, and the Potions Master left to report the failure of his mission.
  • If you think fast enough you can sometimes do the impossible quickly… …sometimes. Only sometimes. Not always. Not reliably.
  • If you think hard enough you can do the impossible. (It had always been an article of faith with Harry. There’d been a time when he’d acknowledged the laws of physics as ultimate limitations, and now he suspected there were no true limits at all.)
  • They know (because that too is part of the standard legend) that a powerful wizard must learn to distinguish the truth among a hundred plausible lies. But it has not occurred to them that they might do the same.
  • they are not consciously aware that they are using story-reasoning on real life.
  • You were monstrously unfair to Dumbledore, said the voice Harry had been calling Slytherin, only now it also seemed to be the Voice of Economic Sensibility and maybe also Conscience.
  • Is it because you know Dumbledore won’t fight back? That no matter what you say to him, however unfair, he’ll never use his own power against you, he’ll never treat you the way you treat him? Is this the way you treat people when you know they won’t hit back? James Potter’s bullying genes, manifesting at last?
  • “When you have been exhausted for many hours, when pain and death is not a passing fear but a certainty, then it is harder to be a hero.
  • “I fear the boy has spent too much time among the Muggles. Always they reach for safety; always they imagine that safety can be reached.
  • Idealism aside, Hogwarts students don’t actually know enough cognitive science to take responsibility for how their own minds work. It’s not their fault they’re crazy.”
  • “Better,” said Professor Quirrell. “Miss Granger, you are still a student in my Defense class. As such, if you consider me a threat, I do not expect you to just look at me sadly and ask if I am there to kill you. Minus two Quirrell points.”
  • But their power, too, was threatened; and so I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward.”
  • That there wasn’t really any such thing as heroes, outside of stories. There was just horrible danger, and being arrested by Aurors and put in cells next to Dementors, pain and fear and -
  • A quiet place to think, if you had an awful lot to think about. A place where few other students ever came - there were easier niches of privacy, if privacy was all you wanted.
  • Looking up at the stars, you could try to imagine what the distant descendants of humanity would think of your dilemma - in a hundred million years, when the stars would have spun through great galactic movements into entirely new positions, every constellation scattered.
  • But I -” Dumbledore’s voice broke, then. “I am nothing but a foolish young boy who has become a foolish old man, and I have no wisdom.”
  • Minerva firmly believed that you only ought to worry about Time if you were a clock.
  • It did occur to Minerva to wonder (now that she’d spent a few months around Mr. Potter) how anyone could possibly know that; but she also knew better than to ask Albus, in case Albus tried to tell her.
  • The frustrating thing about this conversation was that Harry couldn’t say his actual reasons for disagreeing, which violated several basic principles of cooperative discourse.
  • “I, for one, think it perfectly clear that Granger is Potter’s moirail, and that Potter was auspisticing between Malfoy and Granger.” The witch who’d spoken nodded with the self-satisfaction of someone who has just precisely nailed down a complicated issue.
  • The concept of ‘evidence’ had something of a different meaning, when you were dealing with someone who had declared themselves to play the game at ‘one level higher than you’.
  • as the saying goes, Professor, one must distinguish possibility from probability.”
  • “With no offense meant to Miss Granger,” the Defense Professor said with another frown, “her life or death does not seem that important.
  • “What do you want me to do about it, Mad-Eye?” Professor McGonagall was demanding. “I can’t -” “You can,” the scarred man said, glaring at her fiercely. “Just fire the bloody Defense Professor.” “You say that every year,” said Professor McGonagall. “Yes, and I’m always right!”
  • You know, I don’t think we’ve ever read a story about two equally destined heroes competing to see who’s cliched enough to take down the villain -
  • Professor McGonagall looked like someone had hit her in the face with a cast-iron frying-pan, a few minutes earlier, and now she’d been told that somebody was about to do it again, and not to flinch.
  • In a moral dilemma where you lost something either way, making the choice would feel bad either way, so you could temporarily save yourself a little mental pain by refusing to decide. At the cost of not being able to plan anything in advance, and at the cost of incurring a huge bias toward inaction or waiting until too late…
  • “Look… part of the trick of doing the impossible is being selective about which impossibilities you challenge, and only trying when you have a special advantage.
  • I don’t see how people could be friends without that.”
  • “There’s a copy of me inside your head?”
  • Hermione considered trying this before her Common Sense warned that it might be a dangerous sort of thing to pretend.
  • “That’s not - that’s not a rule people follow like the rules for algebra! If you can’t see it, if you can’t feel it here,” her hand slapped down over the center of her chest, not quite where her heart was located, but that didn’t matter because it was all really in the brain anyway, “then you just don’t have it!”
  • She shoved herself up from the table and took a step back, the better to look down on her betrayer, and her voice was very nearly screeching as she yelled, “That is not okay! You can’t do science with two people at once!”
  • “You were being careful.” She would have hissed it, if it had contained any Ss.
  • “Well…” she said in a rather high-pitched voice, “it’s… oh, I don’t know, Harry! Is it just a metaphor? When a boy spends a hundred thousand Galleons to save a girl from certain doom, she’s entitled to wonder, don’t you think? It’s like being bought flowers, only, you see, rather more so -”
  • “Is it really that awful to think about?” she said with a catch in her voice. “I mean - I’m not saying I’m in love with you, but -” “Oh, you’re not? Thank goodness.”
  • I’m sure that anyone taking the outside view of the whole situation and offering betting odds on who I finally married would assign a higher probability to you than anyone else I can think of -” Her intelligence, which had barely been starting to pull itself together, promptly exploded into sparks and flame.
  • Tano swallowed, laid a hand on Harry Potter’s shoulder, and recited, his voice cracking only slightly, “Witches! Go figure, huh?” “Remove your hand before I cast it into the outer darkness.”
  • Harry continued to eat in moderate silence, as various Weasleys discussed some bizarre mind-affecting substance called Chudley Cannons.
  • what the hell had Harry been thinking, letting Hermione and Neville be kept inside Hogwarts just because of them being given a few stupid trinkets, that wasn’t going to stop anyone who wanted to kill them.
  • Somewhere in the back of his mind, Professor Quirrell was just laughing at him. Expecting some normal person to act without perfect strategic clarity, without a clear focus of responsibility on them personally, when they had a good excuse to do nothing…
  • Something snapped inside Harry and he started to stride directly toward the doors to the Great Hall, pushing aside anyone who didn’t get out of his way as though they were doughy statues. (He didn’t run, because running was an invitation for somebody to stop you.)
  • Time seemed to fracture, like everything was moving very quickly and slowly at the same time.
  • Without any time for words, thoughts came in flashes of concepts:
  • Harry opened his mouth to scream out all his fury, and then closed it again. There wasn’t any point in screaming, it wouldn’t accomplish anything. The unbearable pressure rising inside him couldn’t be let out that way.
  • “I don’t want to hear about it. If it was me lying there, you’d pull some kind of amazing rabbit out of your hat and save me, right, because the hero isn’t allowed to die before the story’s over. Well, she’s the hero too, so whatever you were saving for that extra-special occasion, just go ahead and use it now. I promise I’ll pay you back.”
  • No. I do not accept this.
  • “HE IS HERE. THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY STARS IN HEAVEN. HE IS HERE. HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD.”
  • So she had to pull herself together, and clean up her face; there would be time later for private grief, when her surviving children no longer needed her.
  • “Harry,” she said, hardly even thinking as she said it, “there’s nothing you could have done -” Something flickered in Harry’s expression. His eyes seemed to focus on her for the first time. “Nothing I could have done?” Harry’s voice rose on the last word. “Nothing I could have DONE? I’ve lost track of how many different ways I could’ve saved her!
  • “Harry - Harry, you have to believe that this isn’t your fault!” “Of course it’s my fault. There’s no one else here who could be responsible for anything.”
  • it’s like stepping off a cliff and blaming gravity. Gravity isn’t going to change next time. There’s no point in trying to allocate responsibility to people who aren’t going to alter their actions. Once you look at it from that perspective, you realize that allocating blame never helps anything unless you blame yourself, because you’re the only one whose actions you can change by putting blame there.
  • People like you aren’t responsible for anything, people like me are, and when we fail there’s no one else to blame.”
  • But if I were dumb enough to allocate responsibility to someone who isn’t me, that’s what I’d say.”
  • Not that I should’ve tried asking for help from normal people, of course, and I will change and be less stupid next time.
  • “I’d forgotten there was someone else in Hogwarts who could be responsible for things. So why didn’t you think of it, Professor? Because I don’t believe that you were stupid.”
  • I have no great fondness for the universe, but I do live there.”
  • “Rule Eight,” said the Defense Professor. “Any technique which is good enough to defeat me once is good enough to learn myself.”
  • “Your creativity has become a great deal more practical, Mr. Potter, since I have known you.”
  • And now… I think that I must visit the Hogwarts library.” “The library?” “Yes,” Professor Quirrell said. An uncharacteristic tension had come into his voice. “I intend to strengthen the security upon the Restricted Section with certain precautions of my own devising. The current wards are a joke. And Mr. Potter must be kept out of the Restricted Section at all costs.”
  • It really seemed like magic ought to be, in some sense, almost arbitrarily powerful, and it certainly would be convenient if Harry could just bypass whatever conceptual limitation prevented people from inventing spells like ‘Just Fix Everything Forever’, but somehow nothing was ever that easy where magic was concerned.
  • “I only figured out today… every time I call on it… it uses up my childhood. I killed the thing that got Hermione. And it wasn’t my dark side that did it, it was me.
  • “I didn’t like Hermione in that way,” the boy whispered. “Why does everyone keep thinking it has to be about that? It’s disrespectful to her, to think someone could only like her in that way.”
  • It’s not fair to the innocent bystanders to play at being Batman if you can’t actually protect everyone under that code. And I’ve just proven that I can’t.”
  • “I continue to insist that I am not your lord,” Harry said. “Yes, my lord.”
  • Next time, Slytherin said icily, I suggest that we spend more time worrying about what is efficient and effective, and less time worrying about what seems sort of Dark-Lordish.
  • having Lesath Lestrange for a minion seemed sort of Dark-Lordish? Hufflepuff said in a small mental voice. I mean… that decision was probably mostly me… Harry’s Slytherin side didn’t answer that in words, just radiated contempt and flashed an image of Hermione’s corpse.
  • It is possible that you have already done everything you can. Yet I find this a very rare event indeed, and more often said than done. I suspect rather that you have only done what you customarily do. I cannot truly comprehend what drives others to break their bounds, since I never had them. People remain surprisingly passive when faced with the prospect of death. Fear of public ridicule or losing one’s livelihood is more likely to drive men to extremes and the breaking of their customary habits.
  • I’ll go ahead and register the experimental prediction, said Slytherin, that we’ll always observe exactly what would be predicted on the hypothesis that people cannot be saved, cannot be taught, and will never help us with anything important. Also, we need some way of keeping track of all the times I’m right.
  • Normalcy bias, like that plane crash in Tener-something where a few people ran out and escaped but most people just sat in their seats not moving while their plane was literally on fire. Look at how long you took to really start moving.
  • “The Defense Professor has told me to restrain my counsel, and I thought the same thing myself when given time to think. I have always taken too long to learn the virtues of silence.
  • You promised me that you wouldn’t let magic take you away from me. I didn’t raise you to be a boy who would break a promise to his Mum. You must come back safely, because you promised. Love, Mum.
  • His hands were shaking, his whole body was shaking, and it seemed to be taking a very great deal of effort not to cry; which he knew wordlessly that he must not do. He hadn’t cried through all of the day. And he wouldn’t cry. Crying was the same as admitting defeat. And this wasn’t over. So he wouldn’t cry.
  • It took two sides to make a debate, and one of the sides, this night, was not much interested in debating.
  • For Albus Dumbledore, as for her, the rule in extremis was to decide what was the right thing to do, and do it no matter the cost to yourself. Even if it meant breaking your bounds, or changing your role, or letting go of your picture of yourself. That was the last resort of Gryffindor.
  • And the reason you did not believe this, is that I have never shown it to you. I did not believe in you. I did not believe in the virtues of Gryffindor itself. I tried to stamp out your defiance, instead of training your courage to wisdom. Whatever the Sorting Hat saw in me that led it to place me in Gryffindor, I have betrayed it.
  • Harry hadn’t thought to imagine it before, the way Neville must be feeling now, but the instant he’d thought, he knew, “because Neville tried to do something, even if it wasn’t the right thing, doing what’s right is the second lesson, you can start practicing that after you learn to do anything at all -”
  • So she knelt down, and hugged him. It might go wrong, but it might also go right, and she would not let that uncertainty stop her; it was time she began to learn a Gryffindor’s courage, so that she could teach it in turn.
  • “Does the Dark Lord really use plots with that many levels of meta -” “Yes,” said Dumbledore and Severus.
  • “Only a man exceedingly proud and vain,” Dumbledore said quietly, as he turned back to the Floo roaring up again with green flames, “would believe that his heir should be like himself, rather than like who he wished that he could be.”
  • Harry was already pretty sure it wouldn’t be that easy. But then the question was, why not? What pattern had his brain learned? Could the reason be predicted in advance?
  • The most likely prospect for disaster is a powerful wizard who, for whatever reason, cannot bring himself to halt as warning signs appear. Though he may speak much and loudly of caution, he will not be able to bring himself actually to halt.
  • Friends don’t let friends stay dead.”
  • “Tell me this,” said the soft voice. “Why does that girl matter to you so much?” “Because she is my friend.” “In the English language as it is customarily used, Mr. Potter, the word ‘friend’ is not associated with a desperate effort to raise the dead.
  • The Defense Professor’s voice was also rising. “The Transfiguration Professor is reading from a script, Mr. Potter! That script calls for her to mourn and grieve, that all may know how much she cared. Ordinary people react poorly if you suggest that they go off-script. As you already knew!”
  • “I do not understand it, but I know the lengths you will go to because of it. You will challenge death itself, for her. Nothing will sway you from that.” “I care enough to make an actual effort,” Harry said quietly. “Yes, that is correct.”
  • Harry nodded silently. He’d been pretty sure of the answer to that question before he’d asked. He’d already read that script. But he’d asked anyway, just in case Mr. Lupin had spent a week obsessing about it, because Harry could have been wrong.
  • The Headmaster of Hogwarts, who acted as Harry Potter’s legal guardian in the eyes of magical Britain, had overruled his ward’s assent. The Debts Committee of the Wizengamot had overruled the Headmaster of Hogwarts. The Chief Warlock had overruled the Debts Committee. The Wizengamot had overruled the Chief Warlock.
  • If someone hands you a quill, break the quill and then break your own fingers. Do I need to explain further, son?” “Not particularly,” Harry said. “We also have lawyers in Muggle Britain, and they’d think your lawyers are cute.”
  • “You used me,” said Draco Malfoy. “I only used you in ways that made you stronger. That’s what it means to be used by a friend.” “Even I know that’s not what friendship is!”
  • Harry had by now caught the general rhythm of Professor Quirrell’s cynicism and was able to generate it independently.
  • You’re still human and your life still has intrinsic value, but you no longer have the deontological protection of an innocent. Any good person is licensed to kill you now, if they think it’ll save net lives in the long run; and I will conclude as much of you, if you begin to get in my way.
  • Harry had no intention of saying it out loud, of course, but now that he’d failed decisively to prevent any deaths during his quest, he had no further intention of being restrained by the law or even the code of Batman.
  • Mad-Eye Moody had been staring at the bronze door of the Gringotts meeting room for what seemed like hours, insofar as a man could stare at any one thing when his gaze always saw in all directions.
  • as Father had said, while any Malfoy should certainly know much of the secret lore, the more… costly rituals were better left to useful fools like Amycus Carrow.
  • “So yeh’re saying,” Hagrid said, “that most Dark Wizards are Slytherins… but…” “But most Slytherins are not Dark Wizards,” Draco said. He had a weary feeling they’d be at this a while, but like fighting a hydra, the important thing was to not give up.
  • The dark silhouette of Tracey put her hand to her cheek, as though to conceal a blush that wasn’t visible anyway. “I mean, not for me -” “No, really,” Draco said. “Don’t mention it. At all.” He would have threatened to take out the mirror and order Captain Brodski not to rescue her, but he was afraid she would consider that flirting.
  • It made the duel Professor Quirrell had fought against the Auror in Azkaban look like a mockery, a child’s game - though Professor Quirrell had claimed, then, that if he’d fought for real the Auror would have been dead in seconds; and Harry knew now that this was also true. Just how high did the power ladder go?
  • “Done,” Professor Quirrell said. “I must depart this place now, Mr. Potter. Come with me, and remain here.” Professor Quirrell strode away, and Harry followed and remained behind.
  • Harry’s brain still felt broken. “He was trying to kill me.” “Oh, for Merlin’s sake - yes, he was trying to kill you. Get used to it. Only boring people never have that experience.”
  • If it was right to eat a cow to feed yourself for a day, then it had to be right to drink a unicorn’s blood in order to stave off death for weeks. You couldn’t have it both ways.
  • “Why have you done this?” If the Defense Professor really didn’t understand that, he was slower on the uptake than anyone Harry had ever met. “I kept thinking there was nothing I could do,” Harry said. “I got tired of thinking it.”
  • What is deadlier than hate… and flows without limit?” A second level to the Avada Kedavra spell, just like with the Patronus Charm… “I don’t really care,” Harry answered.
  • It was far longer than Harry’s Transfigurations had lasted at the start of the school year. Second-year spells came to him easily now, without strain; which wasn’t surprising, since he would be twelve in less than two months. Harry could even have cast a Memory Charm, if it had been good for someone to forget every memory involving their left arm. He was climbing the power ladder, slowly, from very far down.