Title: Machination Author: iamshadow. Ship: Gen Word Count: 200 + title and definition Rating: PG Warnings: Dark, oh yes, but completely canon compliant. Summary: In the aftermath of the Triwizard Cup, careful plans are set in motion. A/N: Apparently, today is the day I write grim things. I thought of this while in the shower.
1. The act of plotting. 2. A crafty scheme or cunning design for the accomplishment of a sinister end.
His heart tapped out a rapid, excited beat. After all these years, finally, it was happening, just as he always knew it would.
He hadn’t anticipated the other boy, Diggory, being involved. It was regrettable of course, but perhaps, for the best. Some always benefitted more from object lessons, after all, and what better way to announce to the world that Voldemort had returned, than a sacrificial lamb so pure?
The coming year would be important. Severus would play a vital role. He resolved to speak to him at the earliest opportunity. He himself could not be directly involved, but Severus was a useful tool, one that he had kept on hand in case of such a need.
He looked up from his steepled fingertips at the two teenagers standing in front of him.
“It is vital that you tell him nothing of import. You must obey me in this.”
They looked discouraged, but agreed, as he knew they would. They had no choice.
Love may have designated Harry Potter as his greatest weapon for the fight ahead, but grief and anger would be the fire to temper him into steel. He would not permit sympathetic friends to quench it.
That was a really creepy look at Dumbledore. So creepy I was wondering if it wasn't Voldemort himself in the first few lines. I can just imagine Ron and Hermione here, worrying over Harry and having no choice but to follow orders.
Creepy, yes but so fucking possible. JKR herself said that Dumbledore was Machiavellian.
And who a) leaves a traumatised teen to their own devices in an abusive household with no support after they've witnessed a murder, and b) puts a man who loathes said teen in a position of power over him, in a situation that will inevitably lead to abuse?
You'd have to be pretty fucking cold, that's all I'm saying.
Harry holds this very deep trust in Dumbledore that makes his view of Dumbledore's actions fairly flawed. It's only when you look at the broad view of things that happen in canon - at the things Dumbledore has done, or had others do - that the full spectrum of his character becomes visible.
I think the amount of times Dumbledore says to Harry, earnestly, "I'm going to tell you the truth", and then proceeds to tell him half-truths or almost-lies, is really telling. That and the fact that he went to his grave without ever telling Harry the full truth. The scene at King's Cross seems like an incredible conceit, to me. Rather like a Bond villain, Dumbledore wants Harry to appreciate his suffering, his masterwork, his cleverness in manipulating circumstances throughout his life, before he passes forever into the Halls of the Dead. And Harry drinks it up, as he has been trained to do.
Out of all the characters, I think Aberforth sees him the clearest. He's bitter, true, but he has never been in a position of awe when it comes to his brother, which basically every other character in the series has, even Voldemort. He's always been completely aware of Albus' flaws - self-importance, vanity, covetousness, and his habit of continually telling falsehoods clothed in pretty words.
One good example of how Dumbeldore treats people - compare Harry to Remus, who came to Hogwarts as an eleven-year-old, similarly full of immense gratitude. Look at how Remus, who was generally a good judge of character, remained forever at Dumbledore's beck and call - no matter how unreasonable the call - throughout his short, miserable life, because Dumbledore continued to exploit that sense of gratitude and Remus' good nature. Dumbledore sent this man - who was more or less fatalistic after Sirius' death - on an incredibly difficult assignment which included interacting with Greyback. This is the equivalent of assigning a person to work with someone who raped them as a child, when they're already suicidal. And Dumbledore did it because he wanted someone to take on the futile assignment of attempting to bring the werewolves over to their side, and he had his pet werewolf there, ready-made for the task.
For all Dumbledore's talk of compassion and love, he isn't a very compassionate man. By compassionate I mean acting not talking, doing something to relieve another person's pain. Yes he arranges things for Remus to come to school, he gives Neville ten points, but how much of an effort did all of that cost him? A person who loves, who is compassionate as an active habit of behavior couldn't have used people as he did through out the books.
Now it could be argued that sending Remus to the Werewolves was similar to an officer sending men off to die or kill in war. Remus is an adult; Dumbledore sends him off to suffer and be destroyed as Generals have had to do through out time.
But Harry and the others are children. Sending them off to war is a war crime. Yes in the last book Harry is an adult by wizarding standards but during all those years of allowing him to try his strengths he was a child.
Love and compassion are qualities Dumbledore admires in theory.
Dumbledore did a lot in the name of the greater good, long after he'd renounced any ties with Grindelwald. Just because he was much more subtle, and on the side of 'good' doesn't make him any less manipulative. He was just a lot more subtle about it. He was a tactician, as any leader of men must be, and he knew the meaning of the term 'acceptable losses'.
He claimed to have renounced power in Deathly Hallows, but that was a lie. From his position at Hogwarts, he had more power and influence than he could have ever had as Minister for Magic, because he taught the young. Hitler was another man who knew the value of indoctrination of youth.
Any kind of inhumanity is horrifying to witness. I think this level of detachment in a way is more horrifying to witness, because it's at a level that's much easier to grasp than the extremities of Voldemort's behaviour. Doing Dark magic and murder that splits your soul to gain immortality is a bit hard to really comprehend. Deliberately placing a child in abusive household for sixteen years is something people can recognise the depravity of, because child abuse happens, and millions of people choose to look the other way.
I'm kind of glad so many people are doing a double take with it, really. I wasn't sure how obvious it would be to a reader, or whether it would be too abstract for people to understand. I love reading things that make me look into a character's personality and motivations a little deeper or from a different angle, so I hope that's what I've achieved with this.
Well, this one came to me in the shower, while I was washing my hair! I've found that having a bath when I have writer's block can work wonders, too. No idea why I thought of writing this, though. It was just one of those 'bolt from the blue' bunnies.
Dumbledore is a master manipulator, and someone who is involved in intrigue in many, many levels of wizarding society. For him to think this way does not preclude regret, or grief, or empathy. The sign of a master manipulator such as Dumbledore is the ability to separate emotion from action, and to act despite emotion. To keep his personal feelings and wishes separate from his plan.
Now, Dumbledore the person would have felt great loss over the death of Cedric Diggory, but as a tactician he would have seen its benefits. Dumbledore the person would have regretted the sad and lonely childhood of an orphan boy, but for the sake of the wizarding world, he stayed his hand when he could easily have intervened.
This is a man who recruited James, Peter, Sirius, Remus and Lily straight from Hogwarts to fight in a war. Children he'd taught throughout their formative years, no older than eighteen. He sent them and many others out to face the Death Eaters, and he would have had to at times chosen to send people to their certain death, or abandon them to death. For someone to be able to do that, they must be able to sever conscience and tactics, or have no conscience to begin with, or risk going mad.
And he would have felt a thrill of satisfaction at the confirmation of what he'd always claimed; that Voldemort would return. Pride and self-satisfaction were ever his sins; he says as much to Harry at King's Cross.
Do you remember the scene between Dumbledore and Harry, after the Third Task?
When Harry told of Wormtail piercing his arm with the dagger, however, Sirius let out a vehement exclamation and Dumbledore stood up so quickly that Harry started. Dumbledore walked around the desk and told Harry to stretch out his arm. Harry showed them both the place where his robes were torn and the cut beneath them.
"He said my blood would make him stronger than if he'd used someone else's," Harry told Dumbledore. "He said the protection my - my mother left in me - he'd have it too. And he was right - he could touch me without hurting himself, he touched my face."
For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore's eyes.
There, right there, we see the man who sees not the scared, injured and traumatised boy in front of him, or the other boy, lying dead and cold in the Hospital Wing. This is the man who sees another piece moving into a position that favours him in the greater scheme of things.
I am not at all denying that Dumbledore was dissociative, he had to be. You're absolutely right that there was a line he had in him. It was necessary. I think that you have a very valid point, and he very well could have been thinking that coldly all along.
I guess I see him a bit more sympathetically. I see him as a tremendously conflicted man who knew the endgame when no one else did. I can't imagine that it was an easy thing for a basically good man to know that Harry was going to have to die for Voldemort to die. Maybe I'm wearing rose colored glasses, but at heart, I believe the real Dumbledore lies somewhere between his maneuverings and the man who showed such sparkles of humor and enjoyed Hogwarts and its absurdities.
And the use of that quote is a perfect example of how perspectives color everything. . . because I think that the gleam of triumph was because Voldemort had taken Harry's blood and now Dumbledore knew that there was a good chance that Harry could survive after all, that there was the loophole he had been desperate to find, and that Dumbledore was glad because he loves Harry.
That's one of the best things about literature, we all come at it from different sides.
*keeps rose colored glasses on and wiggles eyebrows*
Oh, I agree. That's basically what I meant, somewhere, in all that rambling...
He does have emotions, he does care about people and things, but he will act with seeming brutality and ruthlessness if he feels it's necessary. It's the burden of any leader to have to do so, and all the more heavy in a time of turmoil.
I see his life as being a very lonely one, full of self-denial. I wrote a drabble back on New Year's Eve called Silver that you might like. It's a lot more sympathetic, but not incompatible with this one. It's the human side, not the tactician, that I explored in that one.
I admire you for tackling him as a main character and doing it well. I think he's one of JKR's most fascinating characters; just endless layers of responsibility and guilt and, as you said, having to do the really hard things because he is the leader. I do not envy Dumbledore's lot in life.
I should go to bed, but I'll just mosey on over to read Silver first. *waves*
JKR wrote a bunch of really flawed, damaged main characters in her books. Dumbledore, Remus, Sirius, Harry, Snape and Tom Riddle all spring to mind very quickly. They're people who have suffered much from early childhood, and been set into behaviour patterns because of that suffering.
All suffered significant trauma before the age of puberty that went on to shape the people they grew into. All, with the exception of Tom, had the same layers of responsibility and guilt that ate them from the inside out while they lived. Tom, who felt responsibility only to himself did not feel guilt, but did feel shame and anger at his heritage. None of their lives were easy, pleasant, or filled with true happiness, with the possible exception of Harry at some point in the future. None of their lots in life are to be envied in the slightest.
This analysis and explanation is as powerful as the drabble. For me, this was the essential question about Dumbledore's nature. It was clear that he'd chosen ends over means, but it was often unclear whether or not he was troubled by that choice.
I think he was most certainly troubled, but not to the extent that he'd let it get in the way of his greater purpose. Aberforth's view of his brother is very telling. Though he has biases of his own, combine what Aberforth has to say with what Albus himself says at King's Cross, and we perhaps get the clearest view of who the man really was.
I sent this comment earlier but it appeared to be lost in the ether. If this is a double post, I apologize.
This was a fascinating and painful read. Dumbledore is so charming, clever and witty a character we don't want to see all the facets to his personality, because he is very likable. As you point out we see him through Harry's eyes who wants him as a father figure.
At first I felt the picture of Dumbledore and the two teenagers was pushing things just a bit too far. But upon reflection I realized it was completely canon. Hermione and Ron leave Harry isolated at the Dursley's for the summer without letters, news, or comfort because they were told not to communicate with him. Why would anyone stop friends from comforting a fourteen year old who'd been victimized and had witnessed a murder, especially one who was living among unsympathetic and abusive people? Your explanation was a clear and logical one.
This line was cold and damning though: "He hadn’t anticipated the other boy, Diggory, being involved. It was regrettable of course, but perhaps, for the best. Some always benefited more from object lessons, after all, and what better way to announce to the world that Voldemort had returned, than a sacrificial lamb so pure?" You can't be much more cold hearted.
I find this picture of Dumbledore believable. I'm a parent and even in the first books, I would wonder about Dumbledore. What kind of responsible adult gives an invisibility cloak to a child? Who would encourage or allow a child to have the life threatening adventures that Harry has? His statement to Snape that they needed Harry to test himself and hone his skills showed that he allowed Harry to have his adventures to train him for his confrontation with Voldemort. That is a very cold and sinister statement when applied to an eleven or twelve year old child.
Thank you. I really wanted to dig deep into the darker side of Dumbledore in this piece, and highlight that though he's seen as being 'good', he has done a large amount of things that could be seen as brutal or cold in the name of 'the greater good'. He has, through necessity, 'switched off' his compassion and his empathy for others around him on occasions as needed, in order to use them best. His 'gleam of triumph' at Harry's darkest hour shows him for what he really is. A master tactician, who through necessity subtly remains aloof from everyone around him, because he must always have that distance so as to be free from emotion to make the next move.