Home is Where You Floo

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The following week, Merlin did his best to stay within Florean's line of sight whenever possible, not because the man had asked him too but because Merlin wanted to apologize for worrying him. In any case, he and Silas had several new books to read and neither felt much inclined to stray far from home the further they delved into the nature of Azkaban.

Merlin didn't like the images his mind conjured as he read Kazak Kaminski in Azkaban: The Unabridged Story describe an imposing fortress of black stone permeated with human despair. He could remember the bone-chill of sitting atop stone scattered with straw, the waiting in a damp cell, hungry—to add a Dementor seemed like a cruel joke.

And yet, Damocles Rowle had established the prison, and the following Minister of Magic Perseus Parkinson—an old relative of Pansy, Merlin suspected—continued the project. It wasn't until Eldritch Diggory visited the prison himself that anyone mentioned the inhumanity of it all. He died before he could implement any change, and championing a stellar record, no Ministry tried to shut down the prison again. Instead, they placated public opinion by affording inmates the basic necessities. Which, some had pointed out, did nothing to stop the deaths of despair even among temporary incarcerations.

The book seemed to combine most of the scattered information that he and Silas had discovered during the reading session in Flourish and Blotts. But though he had been promised an unabridged account, Merlin frowned when he reached the final page and realized no one knew exactly how many prisoners had died while in custody or why everyone refused to close the prison now.

Not for the first time, Merlin wondered whether the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was withholding the records and his faith in the system crumbled a little further.

However, his other book, The Azkaban Problem by Josie Keller, clarified the situation. Merlin shivered despite the warm July sun streaming through the upper windows of the flat. Beside him, Silas held a purring Khoshekh in his lap, fingers running absently through her pitch-black fur as he read over Merlin's shoulder.

At the time of its discovery, Azkaban presented an unorthodox solution to the issue of wizarding incarceration. The most violent witches and wizards stop at nothing to accomplish their destructive goals, and even your average warlock can wreak chaos if inspiration strikes. As such, Azkaban served and continues to serve as a deterrent and the remote location is able to effectively detain individuals who pose a threat to magical society. In nearly three hundred years, not a single prisoner has escaped.

But supposing Azkaban was to cave in on its magic or crumble eventually into the sea—or as some humane activists desire, were we to simply shut down the institution entirely—what would happen to the hoard of Dementors that call it home?

As creatures of maleficence, the Dementors subsist off a diet of despair and emotional torment. Their exact origins are unknown though some allege that Azkaban itself birthed the monsters from the prevalent fog the surrounded the island. Initial attempts by ministry officials to combat the creatures were dismal, and to this day there is no known way to kill or destroy them. The only defense shown to work is the Patronus Charm, a very difficult spell that requires the caster to focus on a Happy memory or feeling. However, this only repels the Dementors, leaving many to fear a mass migration if the prison were shut down and their main source of food taken away.

"They need not devour our souls, not if we provide them with a steady turnover of prisoners," remarked Minister of Magic Perseus Parkinson in 1727, when questioned by the press about his decision to double-down on the use of Azkaban as a prison and continuing the work of his predecessor Rowle. "Wizards who threaten the exposure of our world—after all the work we've done to make the muggles forget—deserve the greatest punishment."

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⏰ Last updated: Mar 04, 2020 ⏰

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