Chapter One
The Journalist

Published 10/14/2011

"Recognition code 927, I am a potato."


The journalist carrying a small briefcase looked up at the tall, newly-completed office building, a towering edifice of steel and glass in the heart of London's business district, contemplating his assignment and the man he was to interview today, hopefully. It had not been easy, getting this assignment — his publisher had dealt with an almost overwhelming number of delays, reschedules, and missed appointments, just to get him in to see the man who sat at the top of this monument to the resources of TBC Enterprises, Ltd.

The journalist smiled grimly at the irony of a corporation of this size identified as "limited." TBC Enterprises had been at the vanguard of many business endeavors since its incorporation thirteen years ago. In the past few years its interests had begun to favor the fields of nanotechnology — creating smaller and smaller structures for use in advanced manufacturing and the emerging field of biotechnology. Already the company was one of the leaders in the field in Britain, and it was vigorously pursuing a place of prominence in the global nanotech market.

That was the reason for today's interview. He was here to talk with Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres, the Chairman and CEO of TBC Enterprises. Mr. Potter-Evans-Verres had an impressive resume — he'd graduated from Oxford, where his father, Professor Michael Verres-Evans, was then an eminent professor of biochemistry. He'd had his secondary education at a private school located in Scotland, though details on his time there were sketchy — the name of the school wasn't even known. It was a fact that he'd overcome an unusual nervous system condition, a 26-hour sleep cycle that was known in the medical literature as hypernychthemeral syndrome, or more commonly as non-24 sleep-wake syndrome, which kept him awake two extra hours every day. This had been cited by his office as one of the reasons for the delays in interviewing him. Privately, however, the journalist considered this more of an excuse than a reason.

Entering the building, he took the lift up to the main offices of TBC, which he found took up the entire floor. Stepping from the lift, the journalist looked around, trying to determine where Potter-Evans-Verres' office would be. A short distance from the lift was a counter where a young woman watched him unobtrusively, waiting for him to approach. Well, who was he to disappoint her?

"Good morning," the journalist said, smiling as he stepped up to the counter. "I'm Mr. Monroe, from Singularity Today magazine. I have an appointment with Mr. Harry Potter-Evans-Verres."

The young woman nodded and glanced at a nearby screen. "Yes," she said, after what seemed a longer than necessary wait. "Your appointment was to be over lunch with Mr. Potter — you're an hour early."

"Sorry," Monroe said, smiling apologetically. "I wasn't sure when he took lunch. I decided early was better than late."

The young woman nodded but did not smile. "I'll take to you his office," she said, and led Monroe through a convoluted path of desks, corridors, and cubicles, to a waiting area nearly on the opposite side of the floor. Next to a large, highly polished oaken door sat a pleasant-looking young woman, a redhead this time, who stood at their approach.

"Mr. Monroe, this is Mrs. Thomas, Mr. Potter's personal assistant," she said, introducing them, and the redhead shook his hand politely. Her grip was firm for a woman, Monroe noted, as he took stock of her athletic build.

"Thank you, Debbie," Mrs. Thomas nodded at her, which Debbie returned then walked away. The redhead's eyes followed her for a moment before turning back to Monroe with an apologetic look on her face.

"Terribly sorry for the mix-up," she said, and Monroe gave her a puzzled frown. "Mr. Potter is very busy this morning — he may not have time for your interview, Mr. Monroe."

Monroe sighed softly. Another delay, why was he not surprised? "Would it be a terrible inconvenience if I waited, in case his schedule clears up? My editor may tear what's left of his hair out if he hears we have to delay the interview with Mr. — eh, Potter — another month."

The redhead looked dubious. "I can't guarantee anything, Mr. Monroe. Mr. Potter is quite busy, as I've said, and you may be here for some time before he has any time to spare for you. However," she continued, as my countenance fell, "I see no reason why you cannot wait, if that's your preference."

"Wonderful!" Monroe beamed at her. "That would be fantastic. I can review my notes for the interview while I wait." The journalist looked around. The waiting area was not large, with only a small though comfortable-looking divan and a few plush chairs for furnishings. He looked around for any coffee or tea stations or some kind of refreshment or vending area, but saw nothing. This level of TBC Enterprises appeared to be all business.

The redhead seemed to read his intention. "Would you like something to drink, Mr. Monroe?" she inquired. "We have tea, coffee, and soda."

"A soda would be fine," he told her. "A Pepsi or Coke, whichever you have."

"We have both," she smiled. "Which would you —?"

The polished oak door opened and a man with short black hair that stuck out in several places, with oval wireframe glasses, poked his head out at them, turning to the redhead. "Ginny," he said shortly. "I need the McLaughlin report on my desk by lunch, please." His eyes flicked momentarily to Monroe, but he did not acknowledge his presence.

"Yes, sir," Mrs. Thomas replied. "I'll have that to you in a jiffy."

Harry Potter's head (for that was who the man was, his face was instantly recognizable) disappeared and the door closed. Ginny Thomas's eyes did not quite meet Monroe's as she said, "I'll get that soda —"

"A Pepsi will be fine," Monroe told her, then sat in one of the waiting area chairs, placing his briefcase on the floor next to him. He was smiling smugly to himself. The cat was out of the bag now; there was no way he was going anywhere until Harry Potter walked out of that office and he'd at least tried to talk to him. He sat down on the divan, pulling a small notepad from his jacket. In fact, he might even consider going through the oaken door to see him now, once Mrs. Thomas left her desk for any reason.

But instead of hurrying off to get his drink, she walked around behind her desk, bent over, and came up with a glass of ice and a can of soda. Monroe blinked, wondering if there was a mini-fridge behind the desk he hadn't seen.

She handed him the glass, pouring the fizzing liquid into it from the can. "Mr. Potter will be with you when he becomes available," she said, a bit uncomfortably, then returned to her seat. Monroe watched her for a few minutes, waiting to see whether she would leave her desk or not, but she had gotten on the phone and was talking too softly for him to hear. He finally shrugged, sipped his soda, and began reviewing his questions for the interview.

Time passed slowly, almost tortuously. Monroe kept glancing up at the door to Potter's office, wondering what the man was doing in there, as Ginny at the receptionist's desk made call after call, typing on her computer in between. Other people came and went, dropping off folders or other materials at her desk, though it never seemed to become cluttered. Monroe was watching surreptitiously, trying to discover where she was putting all that paperwork, but the nearest he could figure she was putting it into drawers in her desk — drawers which should shortly be filled to bursting, even assuming they were empty when she began. It was a mystery.

It was only around 11:15 by the time Monroe had reviewed his notes for the third time, and put them away. He checked his watch every few minutes thereafter until it was nearly noon. Would Potter go to lunch, or was he planning on dodging this interview as well, just as he had dodged his past three appointments? Time stretched on, past noon, then twelve-fifteen, then twelve-thirty. Finally, Monroe stood. This was becoming ridiculous. They might throw him out, but he was going into that office.

"What are you —?" Mrs. Thomas began, then stood as Monroe walked past her desk, gripped the doorknob and began to turn it. "Wait, you can't —!"

Monroe ignored her. "Mr. Potter-Evans-Verres," he began, as the door swung aside. "I'm James Monroe and —" and he stopped, looking around the empty room; it seemed larger, somehow, than Monroe would have expected for a corner office. Potter was gone, somehow. The office itself was quite elegant, with a large desk of polished oak, nearly devoid of any paperwork or other materials, and an expensive-looking leather sofa along one wall, with matching end tables at either end. On the other wall was a set of bookcases, filled with books. Monroe could see at a glance that they covered a wide range of subjects — even some with strange titles with words like Transfiguration, Legilimency, and Potioneering. What were those?

For the moment, however, Monroe ignored the books, determined to find where Harry Potter-Evans-Verres had gone. He strode over to the other door and opened it, finding a toilet, shower and wardrobe, but no other exit. Unless he was hiding in the shower (he wasn't — Monroe opened the door to check) there seemed to be no way he could have left the office.

"Mr. Monroe!" Ginny had finally caught up with him. She had a rather stern expression on her face that momentarily gave Monroe pause. "I must ask you to leave Mr. Potter's office or —"

"Or he'll refuse to see me?" Monroe finished. "He's already done that several times now. I'm starting to feel a bit persecuted here, Miss —"

"Mrs. Thomas," she corrected, her voice still stern. "I'm sorry about that, but it cannot be helped. When Mr. Potter is busy he has very little time for anything else."

"I suppose not," Monroe agreed. He was now looking around the room, for any sign of where Harry Potter had gone. "But it would be simpler if he simply declined an interview instead of these cat-and-mouse games he's playing with my magazine. Singularity Today is read by most of the major players in the GNR and MEMS fields, and we thought Mr. Potter wanted an opportunity to put this company in the limelight of the push for the Singularity. If that's not the case then I can write that he declined to be interviewwww…" His voice trailed off.

Monroe felt a momentary disorientation and shook his head, trying to clear the sudden fuzziness he felt. He looked around. The room he was standing in was unfamiliar to him. "What — what was I just saying?" He asked the young woman, a redhead, who was putting something back into a pocket in her skirt, a woman whose name he couldn't remember.

"You were just saying you had to leave for lunch," the woman said smoothly, taking him by the arm and steering him toward the door. "I'm sorry we had to postpone the interview yet again, but these things happen, you know."

"Uh, yes," Monroe said uncertainly, being led out into a small reception area. "That's…too bad, isn't it?"

"One of the girls will escort you to the lift," the young woman said briefly. "Have a pleasant day, Mr. Monroe."

"Um, thanks," Monroe said, still confused. At the edge of the reception area, however he stopped. "There's something I'm supposed to remember…" he muttered, looking around as if doing so would help him recall what it was.

"I'm sure you'll think of it before long," the redhead said, signaling for a girl at a nearby desk to come over. "Debbie here will take you to the lift." She noticed his briefcase next to his chair in the waiting area. "I'll get your briefcase for you."

"Okay," Monroe nodded, then turned to her with a sudden glint in his eyes. "I remember now! Recognition code 927, I am a potato."

Ginny started. "What did you say?" she asked, staring at him in shock, his briefcase still in her hands.

"Recognition code 927, I am a potato," Monroe repeated. "It means I've forgotten something…"

"Where did you hear that phrase?" another voice asked. Monroe and Ginny turned to see Mr. Harry Potter-Evans-Verres striding from his office. He was giving Monroe a very odd look.

Monroe shrugged. "It's just … something I use to remind myself I've forgotten something," he replied. "If I find myself thinking it, it means I've been saying it over and over in my head, to remind myself that I've forgotten something, somehow."

"Do you remember what you forgot?" Potter asked.

"Well, now that I've seen you, sir," Monroe answered. "I recall that we had an interview scheduled for today." He looked at Ginny. "I'm not sure why the young lady here was about to escort me to the exit."

"Lunch is nearly over, anyway," Ginny said quickly. "We should probably reschedule the interview to another time — next week, perhaps?"

Potter was still giving Monroe an odd look. "No," he said, slowly. "Now is as good a time as any. We can have something brought in." His expression suddenly became normal. "Does that sound good to you, Mr. Monroe?"

"Uh, sure," Monroe nodded, still looking a bit confused. "I'm game."

They started toward the office door, but Monroe stopped, turning around. "My briefcase," he said, "I have some release forms for you to sign —"

"We'll take care of them after the interview," Potter said, smoothly. "Ginny, will you keep Mr. Monroe's briefcase at your desk, please?"

"Yes, sir," Ginny nodded. "I'm about to go to lunch, if that's okay."

Potter nodded. "Of course. Have a good lunch." He led Monroe back into his office. He gestured to the leather sofa and Monroe sat down at one end, while he took the other. "Our meals will be ready shortly," he told Monroe, settling back comfortably in the soft leather. "Meanwhile, we can get a little better acquainted. I suppose you know something about me?"

"Oh, yes," Monroe agreed, smiling. "Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres, one of the ten richest individuals in the world, and the Chairman and CEO for the largest closely held corporation in the western hemisphere. You were adopted by the eminent Professor of biochemistry at Oxford, Michael Verres-Evans, and his wife Petunia Evans-Verres, thirty-five years ago after the death of your natural parents, James and Lily Potter, in some kind of car accident, is that correct?"

Harry nodded. "Old news, of course," he said, almost dismissively. "I'm sure that's not what your readers at Singularity Today want to hear about, though."

"A little human interest never hurts," Monroe pointed out. "People would be interested in your sleep-cycle disorder, for example, and how you manage to deal with it with your busy schedule."

"I do okay," Harry replied, shortly. "Before we begin the interview, I do have a few questions for you."

"Really?" Monroe looked bemused. "Questions about the interview, I presume?"

"No," Harry shook his head. "Questions about you."

Monroe laughed nervously. "I thought I was interviewing you, Mr. Potter."

Harry smiled disarmingly. "Think of it as getting to know me better by telling me about yourself," he suggested.

Monroe shifted on the couch, looking thoughtful. "What would you like to know about me?" he asked, a bit of worry in his voice.

Harry held up a placating hand. "Oh, nothing deep or dark, Mr. Monroe! We're just getting a little better acquainted. I think it will help break the ice between us during the interview. For example, how did you come up with that mnemonic you mentioned earlier, that 'recognition code 927, I am a potato'?"

Monroe looked nonplussed for a few moments. "I never thought about it," he said at last. "It's just a mnemonic phrase I use."

"But why that particular phrase?" Harry pressed. "Did you ever hear someone mention it before you used it?"

"Is it important?" Monroe asked in a puzzled tone. "I don't see what your interest —"

There was a soft chime that seemed to come from the middle of the room, although Monroe didn't see anything there that could have made the sound. In the ceiling, perhaps?

Harry stood and moved toward the bookcases. Monroe stood as well, but didn't move; he watched as Harry approached one of the bookcases. Harry reached into the bookcase, and two of the sets of shelves opened outward, revealing a hidden room. "That's pretty cool," Monroe said, sounding impressed.

"Lunch is served," Harry said, gesturing toward the room with a slight bow.

Come into my parlor, was Monroe's sudden impulsive thought, but he smiled at the invitation and entered the room. It wasn't large, but there was a polished cherry dinner table and four chairs in the middle, with a server along one wall. In the far corner there was another door, but it was closed. One the table were two place settings, meals already in place with steam rising from the food. A basket of rolls and two decanters were placed between the plates.

At another gesture from Harry, Monroe sat down in the nearest chair, then glanced at his meal. On his plate was a filet mignon, bacon wrapped around the edge, and cognac sauce on top of it, along with a loaded baked potato and asparagus spears. "Filet mignon," Monroe said as Harry took his seat opposite him. "Very nice. I'm surprised about the baked potato, though."

"I thought you would appreciate a 'meat and potatoes' lunch," Harry said, preparing his napkin. "Considering that you're American."

Monroe looked bemused. "Is my accent that bad?"

"Oh, no," Harry demurred. "But I checked up on you," he added, reaching for a decanter. "Some wine with your steak?"

Monroe nodded, an odd look on his face. As Harry poured the wine, he asked, "Checked up on me? For an interview?" He chuckled nervously. "Did I pass?"

Harry made an "ehh" gesture with his shoulders. "Not altogether," he replied, candidly. "Some details about your past are a bit sketchy."

Monroe leaned forward. "Some details about your past are sketchy as well, sir. For example the school you attended in Scotland between 1991 and 1998 — no one seems to know where it was, exactly, or even what its name was. You went right from there, wherever it was, into Oxford, where you graduated with an Executive MBA and a Masters in Theoretical Physics. In three years."

"It was three and a half years," Harry noted. "I thought you were here to talk about the Singularity, Mr. Monroe."

"So did I," Monroe retorted. "But you've got books in that bookcase out there on stuff like Transfiguration, Legilimency and Potioneering. None of that sounds like theoretical physics, and certainly not like business administration. What's all that about?"

"I read a lot of different subjects," Harry explained, while simultaneously failing to explain. "Besides," he smiled thinly. "You weren't supposed to see those books — I would have removed them before inviting you into my office. But you decided not to wait for my invitation; I'm starting to wonder whether this interview is a good idea or not."

"That's up to you," Monroe said, flatly. "But there will be an article in Singularity Today about you, one way or another."

Harry leaned back against the sofa. "That sounds pretty ominous," he remarked. "A threat?"

"More like a promise," Monroe replied. "My editor wants an article about your company, whether an interview with you is in it or not. If you want to let our readers know what your vision on the Singularity is and the role TBC will play in achieving it, you can agree to the interview. If not, well…" he shrugged.

Harry chuckled briefly. "More like a threat, then," he retorted. "I'll tell you what. I'll give the interview if you'll tell me where you heard that mnemonic you used earlier."

Monroe shook his head. "Mr. Potter, I told you, I don't know where that came from!"

"Ve haf vays uf makingk you tok," Harry sneered, in a bad German accent.

Monroe looked at him strangely. "You're kidding. That sounds like it's right out of Hogan's Heroes." Monroe wondered if Harry even knew the reference.

"I was thinking more like Jack Bauer," Harry replied. "If he was a German. And not very fluent in English. But I'm kidding, anyway — well, at least, mostly kidding. We do have a way to recover the memory."

"What? TMS? Memory drugs?" Monroe looked apprehensive. "I'm not sure I can agree to anything like that."

"It's nothing like that, I assure you," Harry replied. "In fact, I believe you will find it quite interesting."

Monroe swallowed a mouthful of potatoes, then leaned forward. "Well, maybe we should start with that, so I'll know what I'm getting into."

Harry put down his knife and fork, then steepled his fingers in front of him, staring at Monroe pensively. "Why don't we begin with the interview? After we finish our lunch, if you don't mind — I'm a bit hungry."


"Oi! Ginny!"

Ginny Thomas sighed and turned toward the café where her brother, sitting at an outside table, had just rather crudely and unnecessarily yelled to get her attention. "I saw you, Ron, you don't have to shout like that."

"Just wanted to be sure you saw me," Ron said, as she sat down opposite him. There was already a pot pie in front of him, half consumed, and a bottle of butterbeer (which, Ginny assumed, was not his first). "I ordered you a salad, like you said," he added. "But they kept it in the kitchen 'til you got here."

"Great," Ginny snorted. "I've only got thirty minutes today." She slid her wand out of her skirt pocket and flicked it. A small parchment airplane popped out of the end and flew into the café, giving the servers notice she'd arrived.

Ron laughed. "Come on — Harry gives you more time than that for lunch, doesn't he? We've sat here for hours before and you never seemed in a hurry then."

"I have work to do, Ron," Ginny pointed out. "I can't always take however much time I want, just because Harry Potter is my boss. It's not like I'm working in that madhouse you, Fred and George started."

Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes was a novelty business Fred and George started during their fourth year at Hogwarts, originally as a mail order service. By the end of their fifth year they'd worked out an arrangement with Harry Potter, who lent them enough money to rent out a store front in Diagon Alley and begin selling their wares in earnest. They'd become wildly successful, and after his fifth year Ron joined the business as a junior partner.

"Beats working in an office wearing a business suit ten or more hours a day," Ron retorted. "I couldn't work in an environment like that."

"Yeah, where you actually have to get something done every day," Ginny sniped, as a server brought out her salad and set it down in front of her, then hurried back inside before she got caught in the crossfire. The sometimes-heated brother-and-sister arguments of Ginny Thomas and Ron Weasley had become legend at the café, carrying over from their days at Hogwarts.

Ron looked indignant at her remark. "We get stuff done," he huffed. "I've been testing a box Fred came up with that you can use to record songs off the WWN and play again any time you want, just by tapping it with your wand and saying the name of the song."

Ginny gave him an ironic look. "Muggles have had MP3 players for over 20 years, Ron. Most of the Muggleborns who come to work for us have one."

"Whatever," Ron snorted. "Fred and George think they'll fly off the shelves."

"Sure, everyone who wants to hear Celestina Warbeck sing her Greatest Hits," Ginny laughed. "Maybe Mum will buy one, if Fred and George don't give her one for her birthday."

Ron was silent for a while, playing with his pot pie. He seemed to have lost his appetite. "So how is the Head-Boy-Who-Lived?" he finally asked.

"Still mad about that?" Ginny asked, with a vicious little sneer. "It's been nearly twenty years, Ronald."

"I'm not mad about it," Ron demurred. "It's just a joke, you know? Boy-Who-Lived — Head-Boy-Who-Lived. Get it?"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "I got it back when Harry was made Head Boy over you in your final year. Not easy competing against him, was it?"

Ron was beginning to turn red. "I'm not upset about it," he growled, his tone clearly indicating otherwise. "Can we drop it, please?"

"You brought it up," Ginny pointed out. She leaned forward suddenly. "Oh, I was going to tell you — that writer for that Muggle magazine that's been wanting to interview him for, like, forever, came in again today."

Ron grinned, his anger forgotten. "He's a persistent one, isn't he? What did you do to him now?"

"I Obliviated him."

"Merlin's pants, Gin!" Ron exclaimed. "What for? I thought you said he was harmless!"

"Well," Ginny leaned in closer, lowering her voice. "He sort of threatened to write a bad article about Harry in the magazine, if he didn't agree to be interviewed. I had to do something drastic to make him forget that. But then, something really strange happened."

"Stranger than Ginny Weasley Thomas busting a Memory Charm on a Muggle?" Ron looked amused. "You should have stayed with the Holyhead Harpies instead of going to Muggle business school, sis."

"Well wait'll you hear," Ginny replied, her voice still low. "I'm escorting this guy out of Harry's office, after he broke in trying to find him and I Obliviated him, and he's trying to remember why he's there, and suddenly he says, 'I remember what it was: recognition code 927, I am a potato'."

Ron spit out a mouthful of butterbeer; fortunately most of it missed Ginny. "You're kidding," he said, wiping his mouth as Ginny cursed and grabbed a napkin to wipe off her blouse. "Isn't that the phrase Harry used whenever he forgot something or thought he'd been Obliviated?"

"Yeah, exactly," Ginny said, still dabbing at her blouse. "Next time I'll wait until you're finished drinking! Anyway, I think it freaked Harry out, because he came out of his office and started talking to the guy, and they went back into his office to do the interview."

Ron sat back and laughed heartily. "So he finally got that interview out of Harry, did he?" Ron shook his head, still smiling after he finally stopped laughing. "You said it would rain purple dragon piss on London before he'd do that!"

Ginny pointed a finger at him, her bright brown eyes flashing. "That's enough out of you," she snapped. "It was that damned recognition code!"

Ron stopped grinning and took on a calculating look. "D'you think that writer found out about it somehow, and used it to get Harry's attention?"

Ginny nodded. "It had to have been. Harry knew the Muggle was there, he put his head out of the office and asked me for a report. I think he was just going to let the guy sit there all afternoon. But about half-past twelve the writer suddenly jumped up and just burst into Harry's office."

"Where was Harry?" Ron asked. He lowered his voice. "Under that Invisibility Cloak of his?"

"I think so," Ginny nodded. Her voice was equally quiet. "He couldn't have been in his lab, he wouldn't have — oh, hi!"

Ron looked around quickly and involuntarily caught his breath. Standing nearby was Hermione Granger-Potter, smiling at the two of them. "Hi, Hermione," he said, with an involuntary squeak in his voice that made him wince. "Didn't, uh, see you there."

"I was just inside the café," Hermione smiled, with a nod toward the door she come out of. "I thought I heard you laughing, Ron."

Ron smiled, looking a bit sheepish. Never, ever, if he lived to be a thousand years old, would he ever let on that he'd had (had?) a crush on Hermione Granger in school.

"We've just been talking about Harry," Ginny spoke up. She pushed one of the empty chairs at the table toward Hermione. "Want to join us?" she asked, with a sideways glance toward Ron to gauge his reaction. Never, ever, would she let on she knew about Ron's crush on Hermione. Especially not now, with her and Harry being married and all. It just wouldn't do to stir that pot, no matter how much she, Ginny, might want to.

Hermione looked apologetic. "I have to get back to the Ministry," she said. "I thought I would just get out of the office for a while, get some air. We had such a lovely time celebrating Harry's birthday yesterday I wanted to enjoy some real sunshine for a while."

"Sunshine, huh?" Ron smiled. "That's appropriate."

"What -?" Hermione looked at him blankly for a moment, then laughed softly. "Oh yes. I'd forgotten about that." Which neither Ron nor Ginny believed for a moment — Hermione never forgot anything.

"I should be getting back. You know how demanding the Minister is," Hermione said.

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Yeah, we know," she said, with irony. Ron merely smiled, saying nothing.

"Anyway," Hermione continued. "I'd better be going. I'll tell Harry tonight I saw you today, Ron — he tells me we never see anyone anymore, except Ginny."

"He may be late tonight," Ginny spoke up, as Hermione waved and began to turn away. "He's doing an interview with a magazine journalist right now."

"Really?" Hermione looked surprised. "I thought he was holding out for an interview with one of the online news services, like BBCNet or CNNWorldNet. I wonder what changed his mind?"

"Well…" Ginny gave her a long look. "This journalist used the phrase 'recognition code 927, I am a potato' in Harry's hearing."

Hermione stared at her. "You're joking! Where could a Muggle have heard that?"

"I don't know," Ginny shook her head. "But I think Harry wanted to find out."

"Oh, dear," Hermione said, unconsciously sitting down in the chair Ginny had originally offered her. "This has never happened before. Has it?"

"I don't think so," Ginny said.

"I wonder what he's doing right now?" Hermione said, almost to herself, as she turned her head in the direction of Harry's office building, where TBC Enterprises was located. She had an impulse to Apparate directly into his office, and might have done so, except that (1) you couldn't Apparate into or out of Diagon Alley any more — entrance was strictly through the archway in the Leaky Cauldron's back courtyard, or through a Floo connection or Ministry-authorized Portkey; and (2) the entire floor where Harry's office was located had an Anti-Apparition Jinx on it as well as an Anti-Portkey Hex, and no Floo connections — you had to arrive on another floor then take the elevator up.

"He's probably just giving that bloke a quick, meaningless interview," Ginny offered, sensing Hermione's consternation. "He wasn't really ready for an interview anyway, I think."

"True…" Hermione agreed, absently. "I'd advised him against it — he really needs to talk with one of the larger online news services, magazines don't reach enough people these days. But…that recognition code… I just don't know." She didn't want to say it aloud, but Hermione Granger-Potter was afraid that Chaos had just been let loose in their lives once again.


Author's Notes: The story begins on August 1, 2016, 35 years after Harry's parents were murdered in Godric's Hollow, and 25 years after Harry began studying at Hogwarts. Since the first 77 chapters of Methods of Rationality have not even made it through Year One at Hogwarts, not all of the implied circumstances in this first chapter may pan out as written. The next chapter will be up in three weeks, so this story can alternate with Vampire's Assistant.