Once they were in the basement, she went straight to the back wall, pulling out her wand and murmuring her name. The wall dissolved, revealing a huge, empty room, like a warehouse. The floor was cushioned in some places, and in the middle of the room was a desk and a bookshelf. Half of the bookshelf consisted of journals; some had various notes and papers sticking out of them, while others looked cleaner, more polished. The rest of the bookshelf held all kinds of books, the biggest one being Secrets of the Darkest Art. Others included information about Legilimency, Occlumency, the Unforgivable Curses, and potion making. The desk was bare except for a flask of dark purple potion, half empty.
He would follow her, looking around and taking account of everything. He would follow his wife through the room, then get her settled into the desk chair. "Alright...so before I ask the obvious questions about the things in this room...why don't we start at the beginning. How long has this been going on?"
She glanced at the Legilimency and Occlumency books. "It began with Legilimency and Occlumency, which I studied beginning in my last year of Hogwarts. As for the Unforgivables, I've been studying them since September 2021."
Her voice was a bit dull, but stronger than before. "It took me a long time, but I actually did teach myself. Occlumency was easier- I could test it in most conversations, but it was difficult to figure out when I'd nailed it. Legilimency was trickier- at the time, Mary offered to help me, and let me practice on her. After that I tested it on various Muggles to make sure I had really nailed it."
"At the time, it simply seemed like a useful skill. I kept it secret because I knew of the possible dangers, and I was headstrong enough to believe I could repair any damage by myself. As it was, there was no lasting damage to repair from that research, though Kinsel definitely wasn't pleased when he found out."
"He didn't find out until I told him two years ago. By then my focus had shifted to the Unforgivable Curses, and how I could mix the Occlumency skills with it to block the Cruciatus Curse in the same way as the Imperius Curse. I was asking for his advice."
"The research was controversial, and I felt I had to keep it outside the Ministry- but I needed a push in the right direction. Kinsel gave me a copy of an excerpt from Salavar Slytherin's journal, detailing an experiment that used Occlumency to protect the mind from the Imperius Curse, and a theory that it could be applied to the Cruciatus Curse." She glanced around. "That's the only thing from this you won't find in here. He ordered me to destroy it when I was finished."
He would frown, trying to figure out where to add that piece. Kinsel had been involved...helped her. What did that mean? "Ok...So at some point your focus shifted to unforgiveable curses. When did that happen, and why? What made that change?"
"The change in focus was an accident. I was looking up something in the "C" section of a spell encyclopedia, and I just keep reading, eventually getting to the Cruciatus Curse. I had been working on Occlumency earlier that day. The theory developed in my mind, which led to more research."
She shrunk back in her chair. "Marlene had told me before that she knew how to block the Imperius Curse, so I asked her to teach me. A huge part of that was observation- which made me realize I wouldn't only have to learn the mechanics of blocking the curse, but the mechanics of performing it. I practiced for months on animals at a Muggle zoo before trying it with Marlene."
She averted her gaze. "Once I learned how to block the Imperius Curse, I shifted to the Cruciatus Curse. I wasn't willing to practice that curse on anyone else, including animals. So I found a way to practice it on myself." She glanced at the potion.
"I created a potion that breaks down one’s self-preservation without inducing self-destruction. It consists of two valerian roots, one powdered unicorn horn, two flying seahorses, three scarab beetles, and four pinches of powdered ginger."
"To protect others. The Cruciatus Curse isn't just about the pain of the moment. It's about the permanent damage that can happen to the mind. Look at all the cases at St. Mungo's, where the mind is completely gone, like the Longbottoms. My goal was to make it so that when it happened, the ones being attacked couldn't feel pain- it wouldn't effect them at all, and they could keep fighting. My plan was to succeed first, then surrender the research to the Ministry, and to the Auror department, to do what they wished with it, and with me." Her voice quieted. "I took every precaution I could think of with this. Once I succeeded in blocking it using the potion, I started doing it without the potion. Never more than five times in one session, and the sessions have been at least 2 days apart as of late... it used to be 3 days, but I tried to speed up the process."
He would help her up, keeping an arm around her waist, touching her as if she were delicate and he was worried she might break. "...and tomorrow I want you to get checked out as St. Mungos. Make sure you're ok. After that we'll figure out...everything else."
He would nod. "That's fine too...but I want someone to check out your mind too and make sure you're not falling apart inside. If you don't mind her doing that, I'm fine with it. If you'd rather her not know another healer would be ok too."
She nodded, then bit her lip. With every word and action, Ferlen was expressing over and over that he loved her. But that didn't mean he couldn't be angry- he was definitely hurt. She studied his face, trying to read his emotion.
She led him out of the room, then pulled out her wand to seal the entrance. She watched as the wall closed- there was no keeping it completely hidden again. She kept her head upright and shoulders squared as she walked steadily up the stairs.