Fiendfyre and the summer of 2011



A guest post from my child, N. Reed Heineman-Fleck, which grew out of our conversations about my work chronicling the southwest’s fires of 2011:

When Dad told me about the Los Conchas fire, and how it was different than normal fires–in some places it turned everything to black dust; it rolled instead of catching, it sometimes left pockets of trees baked but not burnt because of lack of oxygen– a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came to mind. (Minor spoilers for Deathly Hallows, including a character death, follow.)

“It was not normal fire; Crabbe had used a curse of which Harry had no knowledge: As they turned a corner the flames chased them as though they were alive, sentient, intent upon killing them. Now the fire was mutating, forming a gigantic pack of fiery beasts: Flaming serpents, chimaeras, and dragons rose and fell and rose again, and the detritus of centuries on which they were feeding was thrown up in the air into their fanged mouths, tossed high on clawed feet, before being consumed by the inferno.”

The spell is called Fiendfyre, and in the end it kills Crabbe. They’re in the Room of Hidden Things when he casts it, and it’s hot and destructive enough to completely destroy the nigh-indestructible Dark magical item known as a Horcrux.

But what’s relevant here is that it manages to completely wipe out everything in the Room of Hidden Things. This room was used by students and teachers to hide all kinds of items, from booze to broken furniture, and in the hundreds of years that Hogwarts has been around it’s built up piles upon piles of magical detritus, like the kindling on the forest floor.

Afterwards, Ron asks a question: “Blimey, d’you reckon it’ll still work after that fire?” And from what Dad tells me, everyone’s asking the same thing about the forests that Los Conchas destroyed: are they going to still work after that fire?

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