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The Order Grows
The headmaster gave Harry a blank look.
What do you mean, Harry?
Harry was a little surprised that he knew something that the headmaster didn't. He smiled back and began to explain his idea.
The Hollerith System is the perfect solution to the problem. You said it yourself; there is little you can do to test loyalties short of dragging everyone to your office and dosing them up on veritaserum. Even getting Fawkes to test everyone would take a long time. It's alright for Order members, as they join a few at a time, but to do the whole school would be a little over the top. I can't think of any other efficient magical way of testing, so I think we will have to fall back on an old Muggle concept. It's old enough that even the Muggle borns won't question it. In fact, very few people will have heard of it.
That's all well and good, Harry, but what exactly is it? And why do you think it will work?
Herman Hollerith was an American mathematician. Most of his work was done in the mid to late nineteenth century, and was centred on an idea he had for making a census more efficient. He worked with cards, which had holes punched in them to represent different information. It made it easier to count answers to questions in a census, and was very accurate. I'm not sure of the whole technical side of it, but basically it was a quick method of compiling survey information.
But what does this have to do with anything?
Just bear with me, there is a point to this. Anyway, before the Second World War in the early 1930s, a census was carried out in Nazi Germany, and the answers were counted using a modified version of the Hollerith Electric Tabulating System. You see, some of the questions on the census were seemingly unimportant, but by using Hollerith's machine, the Nazis were able to determine which people were Jewish and which weren't, simply by the combination of responses they gave. The answers were punched on the cards, and by having a map of response variations, it was possible to work out everyone's ethnic origin with a very small error margin. This was later put to use during the Holocaust.
I think I see where you're going with this, the headmaster murmured.
What I'm getting at is that we could use the same principle. The Nazis found out who the Jews were simply by asking a series of seemingly innocent and random questions. We can do the same thing. We could come up with a form of test, probably written and multiple choice, that when tabulated will clearly show the loyalties of the students. If we do it in a sufficiently subtle way, no-one will ever know the true purpose of it. Then we'll take aside those who are suitable to join the Order and test them with Fawkes to make sure, and we keep an eye on any potential Death Eaters.
And you're sure this will work?
Positive. We just say that the tests are part of an international survey of school children, or something to that effect, put everyone in the Great Hall under exam conditions, and no-one will ever know the difference.
Dumbledore sat back and thought about it carefully. What Harry was suggesting did seem to make sense, and if it was a Muggle technique, then even if the parents asked what it was about they would say it was simply a poll. People from wizarding families couldn't possibly see the ulterior motive behind it. Smiling, he grinned at a beaming Harry.
Well, my boy, I think you have solved our problem.
It took two weeks for Harry's plan to come into fruition. Two days after the battle he was allowed out of the hospital wing, at which time he immediately called a full Order meeting. He needed more than just the Order council in on this, as it would take as many people as possible to devise the questions to be asked on the test. They had to be subtle enough to prevent suspicion, but also specific enough to give them an accurate picture of the students' loyalties. As soon as everyone had turned up, Harry had taken the floor and explained what his idea was. Many of the witches and wizards from old wizarding families scoffed at the idea of a Muggle invention being the answer, but most of the Muggleborns approved. Some of the older ones had even heard of it, and its success in the various instances it had been widely used. Yanika especially tried to win people over. She had been one of the people subjected to the census performed by the Nazis, and as a result had been classed as a gypsy and sent to one of the labour camps. She could see where Harry was coming from with this, and thought that while the machine itself, and the use of cards, may not be necessary, the basic principle was sound.
Eventually, after much squabbling, it was put to the vote. It was a marginal win in Harry's favour, but it was enough. Within two hours he had the Order members split into various groups based on their philosophical strengths. Some were devising the layout of the test, others were coming up with different ideas on how to count the results. Several groups of the more cunning people were devising the questions to be asked, and those, such as Dumbledore, who were experts in human nature were checking the questions decided upon. Some people were even devising methods to ensure the students gave honest answers. After all, it wouldn't do for the test subjects to give improper answers, as that would ruin the whole purpose of the test. Gaerwyn and Lolide had even turned up as well, much to Harry's delight. He even convinced them to stay for a few days after the test was compiled. It was James' birthday on the 2nd, and he hoped they would stay and surprise him.
Eventually, after two long weeks, all of the arrangements were made. Everyone had been working flat out to get it finished as soon as possible, and most of the Order members were exhausted. The questions had been harder to formulate than they had originally expected, as some of the suggestions would have given away the true purpose of the test. On the last day of work, while some of the researchers were making last minute checks and other members were copying the finished papers, Harry sidled up to where Dumbledore was sitting and dropped into the seat to his right.
So, do you think it'll work? he asked the older man.
I believe it will, Harry, I believe it will.
I know a lot of people are skeptical about it, but I'm sure it will at least give us a good idea about the students. I mean, it doesn't have to be a hundred percent accurate, as we will be testing potential members with Fawkes anyway. It just has to narrow down the number of candidates. And for all the wizarding world criticises them, the Muggles have some pretty good ideas. In fact, I think it would be beneficial to everyone if they took the time to see what the Muggle world has to offer.
I agree, Harry. After all, it was the Muggles who invented Lemon Drops.
The day after the tests were finished, Dumbledore was due to announce them at breakfast. As Harry and Sev headed down to the Great Hall, they speculated on what the reactions of the students would be.
I reckon Malfoy'll refuse to do it, Harry said.
Yeah, I agree. He'll be all `Malfoys don't do anything that isn't worthwhile'. He's sure to insist he'll tell the Ministry he's not being treated fairly. Or call his father. It's always `wait until my father hears about this', and `my father will never allow it'.
Harry couldn't help the little giggle that escaped at Sev's description. It was just like Lucius Malfoy to go calling for Daddy when things didn't go his way. It was the same with Draco in his time. Any little problem and he'd be writing to Lucius as soon as possible. Harry was just glad that Caligula wouldn't be able to influence the tests at all. Dumbledore was making them compulsory, as he knew that the children of the Death Eaters would be suspicious of anything they didn't know the purpose of. And by the time any letters had reached the parents, the tests would be over and done with.
I wonder what the Marauders will say? Harry mused.
Well, I bet Black pulls a prank during the test. Just to cause trouble. It's the sort of thing he'd do. He'll probably do something to disrupt the OWLs as well. He's selfish like that, thinking only of his own amusement and not having any consideration for other people's education. He's interrupted at least one exam every year since we started. Potter's not much better.
I'm sure it's not that bad, Harry said, a little uncomfortable with the subject.
Trust me, Harry, it is. Potter and Black are the most arrogant gits I've ever had the misfortune to meet. They think they own the place, and I know for a fact that they could get away with murder. I don't know how many times they've done something dangerous, not to themselves but to others, and got away with nothing more than a loss of a few House points and a couple of detentions.
Well, we're not exactly angels, Harry tried to calm Sev by saying.
True, but at least we don't try to hurt people. I mean, sure we sometimes prank people, but it's always harmless fun. The Marauders don't care if people get hurt.
Well, we're at the Great Hall now, so I think we should change the subject. Can't have any of the other students realising we're in on the tests, Harry said, effectively ending the conversation.
The pair seated themselves at the Slytherin table and started to pile food on their plates. They had strategically placed themselves near to Lucius Malfoy, intent on seeing his reaction to Dumbledore's announcement. As they were polishing off their second plate of sausages, Dumbledore stood at the teacher's table and clapped his hands to get everyone's attention. Once the Hall was silent, he cleared his throat and made the announcement.
Everyone, I have some rather interesting news. You may all be pleased to know that lessons today have been cancelled.
Dumbledore didn't get the chance to continue as cheers rang out loudly around the Great Hall. Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Slytherins alike were celebrating the lack of studying for a whole day. At the Ravenclaw table, though, loud complaints were to be heard. Ravenclaws enjoyed studying, and the news that they were to miss a whole day's worth of lessons angered them. After the noise died down a bit, the headmaster called everyone to order and continued with what he had been saying; shattering the plans three of the Houses had been making for the day.
Now, although lessons have been cancelled, we will not be letting you have a day off. The lessons have been cancelled for a very good reason. We will be engaging in a school wide activity designed to tell us a little bit about each of you, thus allowing for better teacher-student relations. The tests are multiple choice, and should take about three hours to complete. It is a new scheme suggested to us by someone with close ties to the school, and it will be carried out every year for the foreseeable future. You have one hour to get yourselves ready, and we will all meet here in the Great Hall at ten o'clock. Thank you.
The stunned students all started chattering at once. The Ravenclaws were frantically packing up and heading to the library to study for the unexpected test. Ginny was the only one who didn't go, choosing instead to go and sit with Ron and Remus. She didn't have the heart to tell her Housemates that it wasn't the sort of test they would be able to study for. The Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables both had mixed responses, some people complaining about having to take a test, and some simply curious about what could be on it.
The Slytherin table was another matter. Most of the students had reacted with anger, outraged that they hadn't known about it before the rest of the school. Most of the Slytherins, being purebloods, had family high up in the Ministry of Magic, and prided themselves on knowing everything of any note before people in other Houses. The fact that this was a complete surprise didn't sit well with them. As predicted, Lucius was rather vocal in his objection. Sev and Harry watched in amusement as he ranted to anyone who would listen.
It's not right! Why didn't I know about this? Wait until I tell my father! He'll have Dumbledore out of this school before you can say `Quidditch'! Honestly, he's not fit to run this school.
And who do you suggest runs it, Malfoy? Your father? Harry drawled.
Keep out of this, Anguifer. And as a matter of fact, I think my father would do a much better job running the school than that old crackpot.
Really? I'm sure he'd have fun with it, too. Teaching the Dark Arts and how to be a perfect little Death Eater. He'd turn Hogwarts into a factory for Voldemort followers.
Don't talk about my father like that! He's ten times the wizard you will ever be!
Is that so, Lucius? Then tell me why every time I've ever run into dear old Caligula he's ended up in hospital.
No, I'm serious. Your father's an incompetent fool that clings to that pathetic excuse for a Dark Lord in the hope that he can achieve the kind of power he hasn't already managed to buy.
Lucius stood up suddenly, his wand in his hand. Harry simply blinked, and the thin piece of wood snapped clean in half. He smirked as the bewildered Malfoy stared at his wand in disbelief.
I suggest you get that looked at, Lucius. Oh, and remember. In future, you'd better not cross me.
Gesturing for Sev to follow, Harry strode out of the Great Hall, a triumphant look on his face, leaving an astonished Lucius in his wake.
An hour later, everyone was back in the Great Hall. The House tables had been removed, and in their place were rows and rows of different coloured desks. Each desk corresponded with a House colour. The students gathered at the back of the Hall awaiting further instructions. Soon, the teachers started to guide them to their desks, seating everyone by name, House and year. Once everyone was in place, Harry, as instructed, cast a wandless spell over the whole Hall, ensuring all of the students would answer honestly. It was a mild truth spell, not as potent as something like veritaserum, but just enough to ensure the students would be sensible with their answers. Professor McGonagall then went around handing out quills which would ensure the students wouldn't cheat. They were the same as the ones used in Hogwarts exams. Once this was done, Dumbledore moved to the front of the room.
Everyone, you have three hours. You must answer all of the questions, and your answers must be honest. Good luck, and have fun!
With a clap of his hands, the papers appeared on everyone's desk. The students turned them over and looked at the first question, most frowning in confusion.
`What is your favourite type of bubble bath?' read the first question.
Looking at each other across the rows, they shrugged at each other and started to answer the bizarre questions. When they got to `If you had a pet niffler, what would you do with it?' and `What would you rather play, hopscotch or tag?' they started to giggle to themselves. The teachers repeatedly had to remind people that they were supposed to be under test conditions, and that they had to remain silent.
As anticipated, two hours into the exam, a giant ghost-like dragon burst through the Great Hall and started to circle around the enchanted ceiling. Everyone started to scream, dropping to the floor and crawling beneath their desks. Only a few remained seated, including Harry and all of the Marauders. After the `dragon' had made a second pass of the Great Hall, Harry stood up and waved his hand at it. The apparition immediately dissipated, turning into a cloud of smoke. Looking over to the seated Marauders, the Boy-Who Lived could see the looks of glee on their faces turn into disappointment as they shot Harry annoyed looks. Dumbledore broke the tension by standing and clearing his throat.
If everyone would please take their seats .
The students crawled out from under their desks and sat back in their seats, taking up their quills again.
I would like to grant Misters Potter, Black, Lupin and Pettigrew each a detention with Mr. Filch and twenty points each from Gryffindor. That was a dangerous prank that could have easily started a mass panic. It also interrupted a very important examination. I assure you, I will be speaking to your fathers about this. I would also like to award twenty points to Mr. Anguifer for keeping his head and solving the problem for us.
The rest of the Gryffindors shot the Marauders murderous looks. Losing eighty points in one go so close to the end of the school year had likely put them out of the running for the House cup. They would have to try and make up the extra points on the last quidditch match of the season, the one against Slytherin.
The rest of the test went smoothly, and when he'd finished, Harry looked out across the Great Hall at all of the students, wondering just which ones would be deemed worthy of being the next generation of the Order of the Phoenix.