Lesson 7) Dark Potions

I hope you are all actively studying your notes. The N.E.W.T.s are coming upon you quicker than you expect, and if any of you are hoping to earn high marks on them in this course, you will have to be well prepared. As a reminder, you will be expected to know information from all seven years of your education: you could just as easily be asked a theoretical question about the Wand-Lighting Charm as you could be asked a question about the distinction between several Dark artefacts. Therefore, it is critical that you be thinking about everything you have learned. However, we have no time to waste reviewing, there is still much more to cover, such as today’s topic.

Dark Potions: An Overview
Now, potions is not necessarily my area of expertise. While I am a more than acceptable potioneer, it was not my strongest subject in school and remained as such through the auror training. Therefore, I may not have all of the answers, and that is acceptable. It is not possible for everyone to know everything. That said, I will do my best to cover the ground as best as I can and ensure that you are adequately instructed on this category of the Dark Arts, and if you have questions, you should still ask them and I will endeavor to find an answer for you if I do not know the answer personally.

First, we must consider what it means for a potion to be Dark. As I’m sure many of you have guessed, much of this comes down to the intent of the potion. By the loosest of definitions, any potion that is administered with the intent to harm another person could be considered a Dark potion. However, that definition does not quite stand up for long, because that means that an intentional overdose of the Elixir to Induce Euphoria by one person onto another could classify that potion as Dark. Clearly it isn’t, so we must get more specific.

Therefore, we consider the intended effect(s) of the potion. That is, a Dark potion is any potion which has an effect which has the inherent intent to cause harm to oneself or another individual. By this definition, we can exclude potions such as the Elixir to Induce Euphoria and the Draught of Peace from the category of Dark potions. Neither of these potions has the inherent intent to cause harm. That said, sometimes the line can be a little blurry. Therefore, we will cover several specific potions, their effects, and what makes them Dark in nature, with the goal of enabling each of you to develop an ability to identify Dark potions on your own in the future. The characteristics we discuss will be specific to each potion, but will be made broad enough that they could be applied to other potions. Do not get too excited; we will not be brewing any potions in this class, simply discussing their effects and why they are considered Dark. Without further ado, let us begin with this first potion. 

Confusing Concoction
As we have already talked about confusion, I will assume that I do not need to cover the details of that aspect of this potion again. If you are confused about confusion, please revisit your notes. My primary goal here is to discuss why it is ethically and morally wrong to utilize this potion on another individual, which is the reason that it is considered a Dark potion.

The Confusing Concoction, also known as the Confusing Draught, is a potion that causes the drinker to become confused within minutes after the potion has been ingested. Due to the delayed effect of the potion, it is rare that the ‘giver’ of the potion, the person who likely brewed it and gave it to the drinker, is caught. They will have long since fled the scene so as not to be near and potentially caught once others realize what has happened. This leaves the victim of the potion in a confused and disoriented state where they likely are unable to care for themselves.

As discussed in Year Four when we covered the Confundus Charm, causing confusion in your opponent, or on another person outside of a combat situation, places a burden of care on you. You have taken away a person’s ability to care for themselves for the duration of the effect, so it becomes your responsibility to ensure that person’s safety. Unfortunately, too many people refuse to take that responsibility and will simply leave the person unattended. Because of this potion’s effect, which harms another person’s ability to think, as well as the indirect effect that they are in harm’s way without someone to care for them, the Confusing Concoction is considered a Dark potion. There is also no known antidote to this potion, since that would require an in-depth understanding of how the mind works, something that scientists - both magical and non-magical - are still working on. All that can be done is wait for the effects to wear off.

This applies to all potions that have effects that cannot be countered, but that are not permanent. When the effect is not permanent, but also non-lethal, the person who applied the potion has a moral and ethical responsibility to care for the drinker. 

Draught of Living Death
This second potion, the Draught of Living Death, is considered a Dark potion because of the numerous ways that it can go wrong. When brewed properly, it places the drinker in a deep, comatose-like slumber from which they are unable to awaken naturally. The effects, when the potion is brewed improperly, depends on where the brewing process went wrong. For example, if the addition of the Valerian Root is done incorrectly, the potion may become toxic and cause the person not only to fall asleep, but to slowly die in their sleep. As I’m sure our esteemed Potions professor would remind you, this is why it is so important for you to be very careful when brewing potions.

While the intended effect of the potion is not harmful in an obvious way, it does negatively impact the individual who drinks it. With no natural way to wake up from the effects of the Draught of Living Death, the one who drinks it becomes dependent on another to wake them up. This becomes particularly problematic when you take into account that there is only one known way to wake an individual from the effects of the Draught of Living Death: The Wiggenweld Potion. This was discovered when a prince, who had traces of Wiggenweld Potion on his lips, kissed a princess under the effects of the Draught of Living Death. This story got passed down and became the basis upon which Muggles based their idea of “true love’s kiss.”

What really happened was that the prince went to rescue the princess. He battled his way past multitudes of enemies and proved his valor in abundance. He had arrived at the tower the princess was trapped in and had sustained many wounds. To heal himself, he drank a potion that had been given to him by the court vizier. The prince did not suspect that it was a Wiggenweld Potion – he had been told merely that it would help sustain him in his hour of need. When he reached the top of the tower, he found the princess in a deep sleep. He tried all known conventions of waking her up, but none were successful. With no solution in sight, he leaned down to kiss the princess he believed to be his true love goodbye. The traces of Wiggenweld Potion on his lips were transferred to the princess and by the time the prince had made it back to his horse, the princess was shouting down from the tower to alert him that she had awoken. Neither the prince nor the princess understood what had happened, but the vizier – who was no doubt a wizard – did. He recorded the information and ensured all wizards in his circle were aware of the interaction between the Draught of Living Death and the Wiggenweld Potion. However, the Muggles did not understand the magical interaction that had happened and came up with the only ‘magical’ solution they could think of: love.

Don’t get me wrong, love is a very powerful kind of magic that ties into the ancient ways of spellwork (something we will be talking about a bit in our final lesson together), but in most modern spellwork and potion-making the power of love is not itself powerful enough to counter a Dark potion. Had the prince in the situation described above not applied a Wiggenweld potion when kissing the princess, it is very likely that the princes would have remained forever in a magically induced coma.

The final potion we will be discussing today is the potion Weedosoros, a poison so potent that even the smallest drop will cause you severe harm. Early symptoms of consumption include convulsion, but as the poison continues to progress through your system, it will begin to slowly shut down the organs that it comes into contact with until, eventually, all of your bodily functions will have been shut down. The process will be painful. It is not dangerous if it gets on your skin - it will not leave any burn marks - but you should immediately wash the area where the potion hits if you are unfortunate to be hit by splash. If ingested, the ability to cure it depends entirely on the dosage. Even at the dose of a few drops, it takes an exceptionally powerful antidote to cure; use the average dose of one mL of this potion and no antidote will cure them. If, by some accident, you consume Weedosoros, you should immediately seek medical assistance.

Weedosoros is fairly easy enough to brew, which goes to show that complexity does not necessarily indicate the level of danger. However, that also does not indicate how frequently it is used. Despite the average skill it takes to brew, Weedosoros is rarely used. This is because it is such a potent potion that a professional can detect it in a person’s bloodstream with ease. Not that detecting that will save the person, but there are far more subtle ways to attack someone, rather than using a poison that is so easy to detect.

As always, the use of this potion comes with an ethical and moral question: are you willing to accept that the victim will most likely die? In this class, I would hope that the answer is no. However, for those who hesitate, remember that deeds have a way of coming back on themselves. Some people call it karma, others will call it good or bad luck, but people seem to universally understand the saying “what goes around, comes around.” For those unfamiliar with the phrase, it effectively means what you do comes back to you. Do good things in the world and the world will return good with good. Do bad in things in the world and the world will return bad with bad. 

Types of Dark Potions
After reviewing the information that we have covered, what, then can we glean from these potions? The answer is that we can glean several different types of Dark potion, which I hope you all would be able to at least make educated guesses at. However, I will outline them specifically so that none of you can complain that I am being unfair as I know many of you would. The first type of Dark potion is “counterable, non-lethal” or “CN.” These potions are Dark potions with the intent to harm an individual, but will not kill them, nor will the effect remain for an unlimited duration. There is also a known antidote to potions like these. Therefore, the level of danger at the time of consumption is low. You should still take these Dark potions seriously, as you should all facets of the Dark Arts, but if you do ingest a CN potion, your chances of survival are extremely high.

The second type of Dark potion is the inverse of the first type: Counterable, lethal (CL). These types of potions are more dangerous because they do have the potential to kill, but an antidote will work. The duration of each effect will depend on the potion, but it is still likely that you will survive the experience. I still do not recommend drinking these types of potions; if you do drink them, it is critical that you are able to think on your feet to make the antidote available to you quickly, yet ethically. I stress that even in a dire circumstance, you must be ethical about obtaining the antidote. No sense saving your own life if it means that you end up facing the Ministry for theft.

The third type of potion steps the danger up and becomes what is called “Uncounterable, non-lethal” (UN). These potions are, in theory, more dangerous because there is no known antidote that will work on them. However, the effects are not lethal, so you will survive, and they also are very likely not permanent, so you will be fine once the potion has made its way through your system and left your body. Unfortunately, these potions can be painful, but there is nothing to do but wait until the effect(s) stops. It is not recommended that you take any potions for the pain without consulting a certified healer; you never know how the ingredients of the different potions will react with each other.

The final type of Dark potion is, as you likely guessed, the inverse of the third type of potion: uncounterable, lethal (UL). These are the most dangerous types of potions because there is no antidote that is strong enough to counter them when taken at the average dosage, and they will kill you. It may take a day, it may take a week, but the effects will kill you and there will be nothing you can do to stop it. This is why, for those of you who are considering careers as aurors, it is imperative that you take Potions, and take seriously everything you learn about them. You will want to be able to identify them so you do not accidentally ingest a UL potion and find yourself in a very unfortunate situation.

I would apologize for being long winded if I thought the information provided wasn’t vital for ensuring your safety outside these walls. Therefore, I will not apologize but say that I hope you were paying attention. This may be Defense Against the Dark Arts, and not Potions, but this information is still important. It is not a deviation from our topic because these are the Dark Arts. They do not always look like spells and creatures, but can also be slipped into your drink while you’re unaware. They will not always announce themselves, but instead will sneak their way into your system and kill you from within. Therefore, always be aware of your surroundings. Never leave your drink unattended, and never trust a drink that you have not seen made or simply made yourself. Even if you have seen it made, proceed with caution.

I may be harsh, I may be blunt, and I may intimidate you, but I also care about each of you and do not want to have to inform any families of your passing because of carelessness. But enough of that for today; now, you are dismissed to work on your homework assignment, one essay based on today’s lesson. Until next class, when we will begin the first part of our final topic.

In this final course for Defense Against the Dark Arts, we will be exploring the worst aspects of the Dark Arts. Using the lens of human rights, we will be looking at the most evil Dark Arts, exploring why they violate basic human rights, and how to defend ourselves against them if it is at all possible. This will be the most rigorous term in Defense Against the Dark Arts, so do not enter the classroom lightly or with a faint heart.
Course Prerequisites:
  • DADA-601

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