There was at one point a sort of theory put forward, hidden away in one of the corners of an issue of the Quibbler, written about at length in one of the letters to the editor. Well, theory is a bit generous - it was the assorted ramblings and ravings of a wizard who (falsely) claimed to have taken part in the Battle of Hogwarts, and was utterly convinced he had irrefutable proof the Ministry of Magic had been aiding Voldemort ever since the first War. Not even the Quibbler’s usual readership paid the letter much heed. Well… not at first.
Roughly a decade later, somebody must have found the issue in some dusty old attic. Unlike the readership of the time, they didn’t have the Second Wizarding War fresh in their memory, and as a result, weren’t as resilient to the absurdities espoused within. Many of the postulates of the letter were dispelled not long after re-entering circulation; one, however, has proved surprisingly resilient.
Proof Twelve, as the papers would continue to call it, concerned the issue of Azkaban’s Dementor guards. It postulated, if not as elegantly and with a great many more exclamation marks, that the non-beings’ presence and later swift defection was clearly proof of them being controlled by the use of modified Imperius spells, cast by Death Eater loyalists to secure an army for the Dark Lord’s inevitable return. While ludicrous on its own, the theory was surprisingly strong when confronted with the official position - that nobody actually knew how the Dementors’ loyalty was acquired, or for that matter, who thought it was a good idea in the first place.
The truth would eventually come to light of course, and bring along its own host of problems, but for a few months, the magical community (parts of it, at least) was obsessed with the possibility of a terrible conspiracy. After all, if the old coot was right about that one thing (it wasn’t proven, but it wasn’t disproven either), what about all the other things? Could they all have fallen victim to one great coverup, unthinkable in scale? For a while, it seemed the question, ‘What about the Dementors?’, was on everybody’s lips, and the Ministry’s silence didn’t help matters.
That isn’t to say the Ministry didn’t do anything. In fact, a rather in-depth internal investigation was launched, but its results were never made public, and for good reason. In short, the investigation revealed four facts.
The first was that the “modified Imperius Curse” the original letter repeatedly mentioned, bluntly put, never existed. It was not possible to modify it enough to have the described effect on the immense scale required, let alone remain undetectable while doing so.
Second, under no circumstances was it possible to place a Dementor under an Imperius Curse. Pages and pages of test results and theoretical experiments had been summarized into a convenient sentence - ‘They just don’t work like living things do.’ Some months later, it was anonymously leaked to the public, and slowly the ‘What about the Dementors?’ craze died down.
Of course, that left out the other two findings. Number three was a observation that, in certain fairly specific but reproducible circumstances, it was theoretically possible, with very careful use of a Dementors’ magic-draining ability, to place somebody under an Imperius Curse, issue instructions, then remove it without the subject regaining their free will. It was only a possibility, but it was enough to have the report confined to the shelves of the Department of Mysteries.
There was also a fourth finding, but the investigators thought the better of sharing it: If they were right, and if such an undetectable, Dementor-assisted Imperius was possible, then they had reason to believe that one was cast, repeatedly, somewhere inside the Ministry.
Nobody really drew to connection when, not long afterwards, one by one the investigators put in their resignations and departed for parts unknown in search of answers. What about the Dementors, indeed.
(written and submitted by deckofhalftruths, who has crafted more than one magical nightmare for this blog, and left me stunned and delighted in the process.)