‘As there is little foolish wand waving-here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic.’
Professor Snape’s words are still memorable for me, not just from the movie, but from the book. Up until the point where Snape’s first class is shown to us, there had been spells or at least, the idea of a spell and wand probably being involved. It was Snape’s dulcet tones that kind of brought a feeling of awe to the subject where there wasn’t many spells or wand-waving – Potions. Over the series, we’re introduced to many potions, like Felix Felicis (which brings luck) and Polyjuice Potion (which helps a person to assume the form of another).
One of the potions that is mentioned but perhaps not remembered as much is Veritaserum. The potion, the use of which is controlled by the Ministry of Magic, is one of the most powerful truth potions in existence. It is almost indistinguishable from water, as it is crystal clear, colorless and odorless. It takes a whole month to mature and is very difficult to make, even for the best Potions master, Professor Snape. It can be mixed with a drink, and a few drops are enough for the drinker to spill his innermost secrets.
The potion is first seen in The Goblet of Fire when Snape threatens Harry Potter with it, suspecting him of raiding his stores for ingredients to make Polyjuice Potion. The potion is then used at the end of the same book to make Barty Crouch Jr. (who was actually the one stealing the ingredients) to spill his secrets. It is also seen in the fifth book when Umbridge uses it to interview the students for information and in particular, interview Harry. Harry only pretended to drink it. So the potion had no effect. And Dumbledore later reveals that Snape had given Umbridge a fake potion in the first place as well.
In a world where deception has become quite common, perhaps Veritaserum would be quite useful perhaps to know the truth. But then again, even the lie-detector tests in the Muggle-world are not completely accurate. A potion in the wizarding world has antidotes, and even Veritaserum does. Dumbledore particularly mentions this in the sixth book when Harry suggests using the potion for asking Professor Slughorn for a memory. So even in the magical world, nothing really is perfect.
I wonder what you’d use the potion for if you had the chance… maybe to find out why a person had drifted apart, or if your spouse is cheating on you. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the potion doesn’t exist, for otherwise, one would always be doubtful of everything in the world, and not have trust in things or people, or even our own instinct.
(© 26th April 2016)