I still can’t stop thinking about Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. But as I read it again (up to the original version of Chapter 85, though the new 85 and 86 don’t majorly change my thinking on these points), and the more I think about it, the outline of the plot is becoming clear. There’s only one piece that doesn’t fit now. Who is Hat-and-Cloak and what does he/she want?
The last time I posted the open questions were four:
What does Quirrell want?
What really happened on October 31, 1981 in Godric’s Hollow?
Who set up Hermione for the attempted murder of Draco Malfoy?
Who is Hat-and-Cloak and what does he/she want?
I’m more convinced than ever that the answer to #1 is that Quirrell wants a strong magical dictator to take over the government of magical Britain and likely the rest of the wizarding and non-wizarding world as well. He very likely sees Harry Potter-Evans-Verres as that dictator.
I don’t know the answer to #2, but there’s a lot of textual evidence that the standard canon story–Avada Kedavra backfired on Voldemort–is not correct. Random thought: could Dumbledore have booby trapped Harry?
I still don’t have any good ideas on #4. I need to work on that. Best wild guesses: Rowena Ravenclaw or Narcissa Malfoy. But I’m likely way off there.
But on #3 I’m ready to stick my neck out and make a prediction. And I figured this out by following the advice in the book itself. Assume that what happened is what was meant to happen, and ask yourself who benefits. (Anyone remember the exact citation for this?)
So, what happened? Draco leaves Hogwarts; Lucius and Harry irrevocably split; Harry loses his fortune; Harry is revealed to the wizarding world as a major power in his own right; Harry completely loses faith in Dumbledore; and Harry is so angry he’s ready to kill about 2/3 of the Wizengamot. Now even if we assume that this didn’t go completely according to plan–e.g. the plotter might have expected Hermione to be convicted and not go to Azkaban, or not have predicted how Harry would save Hermione–a lot of this was still intentional, especially the split between Harry and Lucius, the split between Harry and Dumbledore, and the split between Harry and the government of magical Britain. Now who benefits from that? There are two possibilities:
Someone who wants to weaken the opposition to themselves by splitting it up.
Someone who wants Harry to take over the government himself.
Personally I think there’s a lot of other evidence in the text that the answer is #2, but either way both of these possibilities point squarely at one person: the Defense Professor. He has motive, means, and opportunity for setting up Hermione. He’s Slytherin enough to have plotted the whole thing. And his own story about what happened the night of the duel couldn’t hold water despite being charmed with an everlasting Aguamenti. Why won’t he say who he thought threatened Draco? Why did he put such strange wards on Draco? In fact, the strongest evidence against him may be that his story makes so little sense. Clearly if he really were smart enough to setup Hermione, he’d come up with a more plausible story than that. Unless that’s what we’re meant to think of course. Remember he plays “one level more than you”.
Of course, there is one other obvious candidate to setup Hermione: Hat-and-Cloak (assuming Hat-and-Cloak is not the Defense Professor). Next up: Who is Hat-and-Cloak?