"He'o," said a bushy haired girl solemnly, sitting next to Harry in the sand box.
"Hi," said Harry, looking up. "I Harry. Wha's your name?"
"Daddy calls me Nee," said the girl. "I'm three." She held up two fingers, looked at them, and said, "One, three."
"Me too!" said Harry happily. "Wanna make a cas'le, Nee?"
"Okay." For a few minutes the two worked in silence, side by side, Harry savoring how nice it was to be playing with someone who didn't want to hit him, Nee thinking thoughts rather strange for a three year old.
"Wha's a metaphor?" she asked after a little while.
Harry scrunched up his face. "I don' know," he said slowly.
"Mummy used be teacher, an' she talked 'bout metaphors, but I don' know what they are," said Nee sadly.
Harry stayed quiet for a moment. "They sound like a monsta," he decided. "A big, scary monster.."
"With seven hundred teeth!" added Nee, giggling.
"Yeah! And a big, sharpy nose."
"Yeah! A really big, sharpy nose. And it eats mean people." Nee regarded Harry for a moment. "You know any mean people?"
"My cousin mean," said Harry, shrugging. "He hits me."
"Next time he hit you," advised Nee, "tell 'im the metaphor will get him."
"Okay, good idea," said Harry happily. "Oh no, there's my aunty. I gotta go now, Nee."
"Bye. Don' forget 'bout the metaphor."
Nee's mother walked along the edge of the sandbox and picked her up. "What were you talking about to that boy, Hermione?" she asked.
Hermione considered the question. "Metaphors."
Dudley swung back his fist, ready to hit Harry –
"Don' hit me!" Harry yelled, cowering. "The metaphor's gonna getcha!"
Dudley paused. "What's that?"
"A big, scary monsta," said Harry wisely, "with seven hundred teeth!"
Dudley narrowed his eyes. "Who told you?"
"My friend Nee."
Dudley lowered his fist. "You get away this time," he warned, "but not next time!"
An much older Dudley, aged nine, swung his fist, ready to hit Harry – he had to think fast or else his nose would be smashed –
A childhood thought came back to him. "Dudley, the metaphor will get you!" he shouted.
Dudley froze his fist. "What's that?"
"A big, scary monster," tempted Harry, "with seven hundred teeth!"
Dudley lowered his fist. "Okay," he said hesitantly, "you get away this time. But not next time!"
Harry grinned. "Thanks, Nee," he muttered under his breath.