Chapter 6: Interdiction
In Boise, Idaho, there sits a sky scraper. It's the tallest building in the city, but that is never mentioned in the cities official literature. Every year, it passes fire inspection tests, but no marshal can ever recall going inside. Every year, its city taxes are paid, but no auditor can ever remember processing any receipts. Every day, people walk right by it, and no one can remember seeing a door leading inside. And it was outside this very building, in the bitter cold of a midwestern winter where Ron and Harry stood, looking out towards the rest of the city.
"I never guessed this is where the Headquarters of the Wizarding World was," said Harry.
"That's why they picked it," said Ron, pulling his coat tighter around himself.
Harry panned around the city scape. "You know, I've never been to America."
"Me neither," said Ron, looking around. "God, it's a barren, featureless desert."
"I know," said Harry, "No roundabouts, no fountains, the shops don't even have tea."
"Have you seen their cars?" asked Ron, "It's like they just repainted the leftover tanks from World War II."
They heard a 'Whoosh' behind them and turned around to see Draco standing in a door that had appeared behind them.
"They're asking everyone to convene," he said. "Deliberations are over."
Harry and Ron hurried back inside. Behind them, the door slid shut, looking for the outside world like an unremarkable stretch of wall.
As boring as the exterior was, the wizards had pulled out all the stops when they decorated the inside. The hallway Ron and Harry walked down was floored and walled in black marble, the details and accents plated with gold. The ceiling was enchanted to look like the building was, in fact, hurtling through space.
The three of them made their way down various passages to the main courtroom, where they had spent the past few weeks watching various hearings and testimonies. Dumbledore had brought them all here nearly a month ago as key witnesses in the case of the IWHDB v Britain. While Harry and the others had done their best to rehearse in case they were called, the only one that ended up giving any evidence was Hermione. She ended up testifying for nearly 12 hours over the course of three days. She explained to the International Wizard HectoDodecaBunal about the complete history of metropolitan waste management, how functioning sewer systems had prevented the plague for decades, how it had brought relative sanitation to giant sprawling cities, allowing them to reach otherwise impossible sizes.
She went on to explain that the rejection of the muggle toilet was an extremist view, based solely on hate, that was rejected by the majority of British Wizards and Witches. She concluded by pleading with the ICW to help them end the Vanishing movement once and for all.
Then, because a fair and balanced legal system must here both sides, the Vanishers had their day in court.
Their Barrister, Henry DeVere Stackpoole, argued that the sewer system actually spreads plagues by creating a festering environment. He went on to say that muggle sewers are so famously defective that the large amounts of waste being redistributed into muggle dwellings would get lost in the shuffle, though he did admit that porting it into the Prime Minister's office was going too far.
He concluded by saying that the ICW cannot make legislation to quash the Vanishing movement; asserting that the job of the ICW is to protect Witches and Wizards, not to protect Muggles.
Dumbledore rejoined by calling him a 'Callous Walloper'.
To which Stackpoole responded by calling him an 'Obsolete Dingbat'.
It degraded from there, and court adjourned for that afternoon.
The open hearings had closed yesterday and the IWDHB had sequestered to decide on the verdict. Now, everyone was filing into the courtroom to hear their decision.
As Harry, Ron, and Draco approached the courtroom, the hallways became more and more crowded. They moved with the mass of people and soon found themselves passing through a large stone archway and into the courtroom. The courtroom was shaped like a coliseum, with the lights of the galaxy looking down from the enchanted ceiling. As the three boys filed in, they saw a somber looking witch standing in the middle of the floor. They took their seats as the sound of a gong sounded through the chamber, hushing the sounds of all conversation.
"The International Wizard HectoDodecaBunal is now convened," said the witch on the floor, her voice magically carrying so it sounded like she was sitting next to Harry instead of standing several meters away.
"That's Jean Marcotte," whispered Ron to Harry, "Supreme Mugwump of the ICW."
"We have rendered a decision," she continued, "in the matter of the International Confederation of Wizards v The British Ministry of Magic on the charge of violating the International Statute of Secrecy. I would like to preface our resolution by saying I never imagined that this…specific issue would come before this august body. I had hoped, in vain, that people had the minimum level of common sense and basic deceny to keep such a…movement from reaching this level: the highest level."
"It is the official ruling that The British Ministry of Magic did not violate the International Statute of Secrecy…" there was a mixed response in the courtroom, boos from one side, cheers from the other, until the gong silenced everyone again. "…since they did not advocate or abet the creation of the so-called 'Poo Network', and worked quickly, within the best of their ability to solve the problem."
Something about their intonation made Harry feel as though she didn't think 'the best of their ability' was a high bar to straddle.
"Moreover, we have concluded that it is beyond the powers of the International Confederation of Wizards to illegalize the practice of 'Vanishing'."
There were more boos, more cheers, the distant sound of Hermione wailing, and the gong struck again, bringing silence.
"However, it is within our power to dictate terms and proportional punishments. People may defecate without restriction as long as there has been a vigorous, good-faith effort to remain concealed and eliminate the waste. To insure adherence to this standard, harsh punishments will be levied against anyone who is caught, and the onus is on them to conceal themselves effectively. The discovery of any human waste is to be reported as a crime and the perpetrator will be prosecuted after he or she has been located using the Waddiwasi Charm."
The entire conference cringed in unison, except Harry, who leaned over to whisper at Ron.
"It is now prohibited," Marcotte continued, "to spell, enchant, curse, or transfigure feces in any way other than vanishing it, and redirecting the fecal matter anywhere, including and especially muggle premises, is strictly forbidden. A codified copy of this resolution will be delivered to all territories and enacted immediately. This session of the International Wizarding HectoDodecaBunal is adjourned."
The gong sounded again, and amid the renewed buzz of chatter, everyone got up to leave.
"Ok, everyone," said Hermione, back in FLUSH HQ, back in Hogwarts, back in Britain, addressing her FLUSH Team. "The ruling by the IWHDB wasn't the resounding condemnation against Vanishing we hoped for and the crusade against it isn't starting. However, we had a major win that protects muggles and the Vanishers are getting a lot of bad publicity, what with almost starting a Wizarding World War. Now, we can ride this momentum and force them back to the pit from whence they…!"
"No," they all said.
"What?" she asked, flustered. "Why 'No'? We just had a major victory!"
"Exactly!" said Neville. "We won!"
"We can call it a day," said Luna.
"We can call it a lifetime," said Draco.
"It's not over, though!" said Hermione. "There are still people vanishing!"
"There's always going to be somebody being an idiot," said Ron. "We established a legal protocol to punish them if it gets out of hand; that's all we can do."
"But…" Hermione started.
"And really, Hermione," said Ginny, "none of us like seeing you running yourself down to the bone for this. You look like death warmed up."
Hermione ran a hand through her hair. Her fingers got stuck.
"We can't just…"
"I'm not saying we should give up," said Ron. "Maybe just, attack in a different direction."
"Like what?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Well," came a voice, as one of the bathroom stalls opened to reveal Fred Weasley.
"We have some thoughts on that," came George's voice as he opened his bathroom door stall.
George held up a little potion phial, giving the red liquid inside a shake.
At Malfoy manner, Lucius and his fellow Death Eaters were sitting around a table, enjoying a lavish dinner of fricasseed kittens. They met weekly to discuss the progress of subjugating muggles and share stories about tormenting muggles, all while enjoying the libations provided by the Malfoy family. This week was more sedate following the ruling by the IWHDB, but they were determined to enjoy themselves.
"I say, Lucius," said Rowle. "Is there any chance you can get the Quidditch scores on the wireless?"
Lucius waved his wand and the radio sitting in the corner came to life. After an initial buzz of static, a woman's voice came over the air. Instead of the Quidditch scores, she seemed to be reading an advert.
"After the Anti-Vanishing ruling, wizards all over Britain are concerned about how the ministry would take any advantage to punish people for simply doing their business," said the woman's voice.
There were grunts of agreement around the table.
"Right now, it's more important than ever for all witches and wizards to protect themselves from persecution as best they can," she continued. "Vanishing removes the waste, but what are we to do if something in your diet can't be vanished, if you're tired and can't manage the spell. Do you face charges or put the fecal matter in your pocket?"
McNair, started choking on a kitten. "That can happen?" he asked, startled, after he had dislodged the bone.
"Your droppings can sometimes refuse to be vanished for any number of reasons: something you ate, the weather that day, or security charms that conflict with vanishing spells."
"Cor Blimey!" said Avery.
"Protect yourself from these mishaps by making U-No-Pu part of your diet!" the voice declared. "Our patented potion is a dietary supplement that insures the vanishability of any waste. Whether you're pinching off raisins or birthing a creamy behemoth from your cavernous bowls, U-No-Pu makes sure the evidence is wiped away with the flick of a wand."
At the same time as the weekly gathering in Malfoy Manor, the FLUSH TEAM was at HQ. Hermione stood in a corner, reading off a script and talking into a microphone.
"…U-No-Pu makes sure the evidence is wiped away with the flick of a wand," she read off. She covered the microphone with her hand and whispered sharply to Fred. "This is never going to work!"
Fred waved a stack of papers at her. "We've already got fifty orders! Keep reading!" He then hurried back to where the others were pouring potion into vials and boxing them up. Ginny and Harry were tying the parcels onto the legs of owls.
Her eyebrows raised in surprise. She uncovered her microphone and continued.
"U-No-Pu is the once a day supplement that eases digestion, guarantees vanishability, and leaves behind refreshing scent in your choice of lavender, pineapple, or cabbage."
"I didn't know there were times when you couldn't vanish poop," Ron admitted to George.
"There isn't," George whispered as the added some ingredients to the simmering cauldron. "We just tell them it could happen and they buy the stuff to make sure it doesn't."
Fred walked over. "Got another twenty orders," he said, holding up another stack of papers.
"That's brilliant," said Ron. "Diabolical, but brilliant."
"It's not a complete con," said George. "It does keep their shit from stinking, that part's just good for everyone.
"If you have a young one," Hermione continued reading, "who can't vanish yet, please take advantage of our selection of collapsible chamber pots. These chamber pots shrink to the size of a thimble, expand to accommodate any posterior, and vanish any contents automatically. U-No-Pu: Our business it to make sure your business never happened."
She waited a few seconds and then switched off the microphone.
"Brilliant, Hermione," said Fred, who was now carrying even more order forms. "They're selling like hotcakes."
"If you ever tell anyone that that was my voice…" she said in a warning tone.
"So," said Ron, trying to sound casual, "What are we going to do with the money?"
"Whatever we make beyond covering the cost goes to Muggle Protection Groups," said Hermione, and Ron visibly deflated. "I'm also converting some of it to muggle money and donating it to non-profits that insure clean water and sanitation in developing countries. Organizations like 'Water is Basic' and 'UNICEF'."
Ron grumbled something and kept pouring. Hermione walked over to him and pecked him on the cheek.
"Thank you for volunteering, Ron," she said, and his grumbling ceased.
Harry took two of the owls he had just loaded up and walked over to the window. He opened the pain and, one after the other, they took flight. Harry looked after them, and kept staring long after they had flown away.
"Bee in your bonnet?" asked Ginny, coming to stand next to him.
"Thinking about Voldemort," he answered.
Ginny flinched at the name. "Why?" she asked.
Harry took a deep breath and started. "I always figured I'd beat him, or he'd beat me."
"Yeah," said Ginny.
"But that's how we've been thinking about the Vanishers; either we'd win or they win," said Harry. "Now, neither of us won. It's just this, kind of, strange coexistence. What if that's how it's going to be with Voldemort? And others like him? No one actually wins, and the weirdness and hate just becomes a normal part of the landscape that we have to work around?"
Ginny didn't answer. She didn't know the answer. All she could do was put an arm around Harry and stand there with him until he felt up to going back in with the group.
It was later that week, in a city park in Chicago, where a young girl was hanging on for dear life.
"Stoooooop!" she cried, as the merry-go-round spun faster and faster. She clung to the bars, afraid it would fling her off.
From the top of the monkey bars a gang of wizards were laughing at her plight. One of them lazily traced circles in the air with his wand.
Their revelry was interrupted by a blast, like cannon-fire and they were all sent hurtling through the air. A man ran onto the playground, brandishing a wand.
"Immobulus!" he incanted, and the merry-go-round stopped dead, the young girl hovered in mid-air.
He reached her and scooped her into his arms. Once he walked a safe distance away, he put the girl down. She was able to stand, but still crying.
"They…they were… and I," she choked out between sobs.
"Obliviate!" he incanted, and the girls face became vacant.
"Ok, then," he said, before casting a cheering charm. A smile came to the girls face and she appeared to get her bearings.
"What happened?" she asked.
"You were playing on the merry-go-round," he said. "When you found," he pulled something out of his pocket, "a bunny!"
"Yay!" he cried, and grabbed the stuffed rabbit in a hug.
"Hey!" cried someone behind them. They both looked over to see a woman holding several wands in one hand and a gang of men tied up behind her in a haphazard, painful fashion.
"Are you done with your playdate?" she asked.
The man turned back to the little girl.
"You go home to mom, Ok?" he asked.
"Ok, mister," she said, running off.
He got up and walked over to the woman and her pile of delinquents. One of them looked up at them.
"You aren't Aurors!" he cried.
"No," the woman said, "we were just out for a walk, thought we'd beat your asses."
She waved her wand and ball-gags appeared in all their mouths. They groaned helplessly into the restraints.
"Ok," she said. "We can Apparate them all together."
"Cool," he said. "Um, give me a second?" he asked before walking off.
She watched him walk behind a nearby bush. After a few seconds, he emerged again, buttoning up his pants.
"Do you have any sanitizer?" he asked.
She rolled her eyes and pulled a bottle out of her pocket.
"You carry a stuffed rabbit with you, but no hand sanitizer?" she asked pouring some out on to his outstretched palm.
"I knew you had the sanitizer," he said, rubbing his hands together. "And we ended up using the bunny."
They continued lightly bickering as they made sure the gang was all tied together before they disapparated the lot of them to the local precinct.