I’ve been thinking about degrees of magicalness in the Harry Potter world. It came about while I was fleshing out chapter ten of A Study in Magic: Application. So beware if you’re the type who hates spoilers.
From Great to Average to … Lockhart
Lockhart’s magic ability perplexes me. He excelled at memory Charms, but mediocre to bad at everything else. How? How?
Let’s suppose memory Charms are N.E.W.T. level magic. Hermione doesn’t even try to learn it until after book six, so the evidence seems to point to this direction. Based on this, one may think Lockhart had N.E.W.T. level Charms education. Neville Longbottom got an “Exceeds Expectations” for his Charms O.W.L.. Can we further assume Lockhart was at least as good as Neville in his fifth year?
Not necessarily. Neville improved leaps and bounds in his fifth year. He had the drive to excel, the correct equipment (wand), and a teacher who pushed him the right way. The thrust of the HP series implies Neville would’ve made a fine Chosen One if Voldemort hunted him instead of Harry. So: not a fair comparison.
Here comes my speculation on the matter: a magical handicap.
Magic Like Limbs and Senses
Not everyone is born with all limbs, fingers, and toes, and all senses in working order. Some are born blind. Others are born deaf. Some cannot walk. What if there is the analogical-equivalent for magic ability?
Examples: Wizards who can only do charms and only a selected few at that. Battle mages who have magic-enhanced physiology and weak prescience, but can’t do any spells like their wizard/witch peers. Witches who can’t use wands, but can do magic just fine.
I created Moran and Julia because there wasn’t a suitable candidate in the original HP universe. I still don’t have an existing cast to explore all the permutations. At least I haven’t found them yet. More Original Characters may follow (I have a handful cooked up, but plot-relevancy remains to be seen).
But I digress. If I am to postulate a limitation, I have to consider a cause. Why do a small percentage of wizards and witches have limits? In the Harry Potter world, wizards and witches are born, not made. A gene-based limitation then? Or perhaps potions or curses induce defects in a person’s magic ability? Oh, what if there was a thalidomide equivalent potion that caused witches to give birth to functional squibs?? (Have magic genes, but defective ability to use it?) What if to be a full-fledged wizard, you need more than one gene? Something like:
|SPL||can harness internal magic (i.e. spells)|
|PTN||can harness external magic (i.e. potions)|
|SPC||can harness magic in special ways (Metamorphomagi and Seers fall here)|
Hey, since I’m speculating, why just limit to magic genes? What if there are other superpower genes? What Happens When Magic Genes Combine With Other Superpower Genes?
Magic Superpower Gene Combinations
Comics tend to follow the 1 + 1 = 2 rule when it comes to inheriting abilities, but it’s not a hard rule. Some gene combinations may cancel each other out. Others may require two copies to make a child have the ability. Say, CFX gives you telepathy, but you need to get them from both parents. But if you combine CFX with MAGIC, you have a natural advantage when it comes learning Legilimancy and/or Occlumency…
The possibilities are immense and probably merits its own post. Also, this sort of “What If” is very much my jam and may result in another story. Dangerous.
Final Thoughts That Are Worrying
How does the Wizarding World test if a person can successfully perform a memory charm? Do they kidnap a Muggle? Or do they use an animal as a guinea pig? If the latter, it will have to be an animal of high levels of intelligence. I hope there’s a better alternative because both cases are making me queasy …