Or am I a caterpillar dreaming that I am a man dreaming that I am a butterfly? That would be intriguing.
— Ly Tin Weedle, Jr.


Harry awoke in the middle of the night.

Was it the middle of the night…?

He wasn't entirely sure, being as muzzy-headed as you get from hanging head down over the side of your bed, which is what he was doing. It was dark, but in Scotland at this time of year it was almost always dark. On the other hand it wasn't just dark, there were no lights on. (Did that make sense?)

He tried listening. No snoring, no breathing; nobody there? It must be fairly early yet.

He tried opening his eyes, and when things came into focus found he was looking at a wand, lying in a puddle of moonlight on the floor; it had clearly fallen from somewhere, probably his pocket. He ought to pick it up...

Harry told his arm this.

Harry's arm informed him that reaching was too much trouble, and that even if it weren't, his hand would like to add that Accio was too much of an effort at the moment, and in any case it would require getting out his other wand.

Other wand? he thought. Oh, right. He was looking down at the bespoke wand that Madame Zelkova had made for him.

The moonlight caught the fingernails of his dangling hand, and started working its way up towards his knuckles.

Look, he told himself, I'm going to have to pick it up before going down to dinner. If I haven't missed it.

Ooh, dinner, said his stomach, and apparently it made a deciding counterargument to the arm and hand, resulting in some form of compromise, because he then, without giving any thought to it at all, stretched his hand out over the wand and whispered:



Harry stared at the wand in his hand with mild surprise, and woke up a bit more in order to be shocked that it had obeyed, and then converted the shock into motivation to wake further up enough to shove himself backwards onto his pillows.

Frowning, he dug into his inside jacket pocket for the holly wand, set it down on the blanket between his knees, held his palm over it and whispered "Up!"

Not a sausage.

He felt vaguely betrayed.

"Up!" he whispered again, fiercely, making it an order.

The holly wand twitched like an indifferent dowsing rod.

Well…Madame Zelkova had said Ollivanders made the kind of wand you grew into.

He picked it up and cast a clock charm; just past the wand's tip, tiny numbers appeared, glowing blue in midair, reading 5:57 PM / 28 November 1991 — and the events of the past day slotted back into place in his mind:

Sneaking off campus in the early morning. Catching the Knight Bus to Nicolas Flamel's office for a quick pediatric checkup, as you do this time of year. Spending the day at Kirkus Square doing a bit of Christmas shopping. (Oh wait, no, that's what you do this time of year, Christmas shopping, not letting the invisible man living in your head pump your pediatrician for information on Lord Voldemort.) Coming back and knocking an invisible Draco Malfoy buns-over-tea-service, leading to getting caught out of bounds after sunset, getting lectured a bit by one head of house and two prefects, each in their own way, and then—


Fir Tree Two (2: Supper's Ready).

You wizards have a better class of transportation, Rupert was saying.

The phrase "shank's mare" came out of nowhere and cantered around in Harry's mind briefly, because he was halfway up the castle to Gryffindor and getting a wee bit tired — well, more tired.

That was the best bus. I've been on the buses before, but they were all rubbish. Go to the beach, no ocean in sight, know what I mean?

Get up early, sneak out of school, go places he'd never even heard of — he'd been walking all day. More than all day, technically, thanks to the shopping center's different attitude to time. And he was going to have to walk back down for dinner. And his shoelace was coming untied.

Almost as good as the Hogwarts Express, that bus. And you know I love that train, it's got something, an allure. It doesn't just take you where you want to go, that one offers a better destination.

Harry, mumbling noncommittally, arrived at a landing. There were no chairs, of course, they invariably wandered off, but there was a stubby pedestal suitable for sitting as it had no statue, just a brass plate reading PLURALITAS NON EST PONENDA SINE NECESSITATE.

"You know," he said, hopping up on the pedestal and taking his foot into his own hands, "I'd get a lot more done if I didn't have to stop and tie my shoes. There's probably a charm for it."

Harry Potter, do you know what would happen if you just magicked away every impediment?!

{ No, what would happen? }

You'd discover the artistic value of carefully deployed inconvenience. Happens all the time. You finally evolve color vision and discover the poignance of black and white. You acquire hearing and discover the merits of silence. Oh, and the charm is number 602, although 480 and 623 are related and 801 can stop things coming undone to begin with.

{ Ta. }

Whilst fiddling with his laces Harry found himself struck by a brief memory of Dudley's childhood shoelace-tying instructional toy that at least one of the children in the house had actually learnt to tie shoelaces from.

After that there was a flash of yellow shoes, the ones the werewolf he'd met on the bus had been wearing.

He finished up with his laces and hup!ed his way off the pedestal.

Christopher Backus — he needed to write a letter about him.

He also needed to think about the dual-house thing.

And study for exams.

Oh, and not get killed by Voldemort…

…somehow he'd wound up with a to-do list. Hermione would be proud of him.

Was this what growing up was about? He really would need a Dragonskine at this rate…

After picking up the pedestal he'd knocked over by hup!ing off it, he continued upstairs, wondering what task to put off first.


Mme. Du Mont's portrait had just latched behind him — she hadn't been in it, he could hear the muffled sounds of someone running a bath from just out of frame, along with some preparatory mi-mi-mi-mi's, so he just shouted the password in — when an invisible cloud of epically eyewatering silent-but-deadly exploded across the common room with a WHUMF.

Cries of misery and despair arose everywhere. Also mewling and puking, thankfully simulated.

"Damn it, Jordan!" said someone behind a Golf Digest. "Open a window before you do a product demonstration!"

"And do it on your way to the ground!" added a Daily Prophet.

"Language!" said Percy, coming through the door of the common room's kitchen-cubby with a cup of tea (no milk; milk was banned as a source of Future Mysterious Smells).

"Darn it, Jordan!" said the Golf Digest.

"Better," said Percy. "—Merlin's halitosis, it smells like death in here!"

"It smells like death died," said the Daily Prophet.

"Tragic scythe accident?" said the Golf Digest. "Going down the stairs, tripped over his robe, whee-splat, tum tumty-tum tumty tumty tumty tum?"

"You're strange, Iain," said Percy.


"Give it a moment, ladies and gentlemen," said Lee Jordan, who was keeping a careful eye on a stopwatch in his hand. "Wait for it…wait for it…annnnnd —"

The atmosphere changed vastly.

"—Potpourri!" he declared, clicking the button on the stopwatch. "Thirty seconds exactly."

"Hmm," said Percy, giving a cautious sniff, one of his better sniffs.

"That's…not bad, actually," said the Daily Prophet.

"Pricing to be determined," said Lee, "but we think we can offer very attractive terms for the Christmas trade."

"Also available in cinnamon spice!" said Fred.

"And juniper and gentian," added George. "We're having issues with rosemary and lavender, have to wait and see on that."

"Pumpkin spice?" said the Daily Prophet.

"Never," hissed Fred. There were no sibilants in Never, but he hissed it anyway.

Harry edged around the room towards Hermione's book fort, which now had two signs on it: Academic Help 5 Knuts and Back in 1 Hour.

He frowned at the signs.

"That was us," said George, offering him a pre-order flier for WJW Transmogrative Dungbombs.

"I had a feeling," said Harry, taking it.

"Took George a while to convince her we weren't joking, mind," said Fred.

"Incidentally, young Harry," said George, laying a hand over his own heart, "allow us to say: we don't know, we just don't know."

"Sneaking off campus," said Fred. "Good, admittedly."

"— Yes, very good," interjected George, "ten out of ten there —"

"— but with a note?" said Fred. "That's almost permission. It's not on, you know, it's just not on. Minus points."

"At least four," said George, shaking his head sadly.

"Maybe even six," added Fred, ditto.

Harry, suddenly very glad that it was Percy who was the Weasley prefect, said "You heard about that already?"

"We hear everything!" said Fred, moving on to the next potential client.

"Keep our copious ears to the ground, we do," said George, following after.

Harry leaned over the book fort but found no Hermione behind it, just her timetable, so he decided that a quick lie-down before dinner.

He climbed the dormitory stairs and turned his bed from a destination to a location…


…and — now — a point of origin.

Whilst oozing out from under the covers Harry took a moment to appreciate his bed. He loved that bed. It was amazing how much rest you could squeeze out of a quick nap in it; it was almost like time went more slowly while you were in it.

He decided to change his socks before going downstairs. Not that he was fastidious, he didn't know the spelling of the word fastidious, but you never turn down warm socks, especially the kind with no sand in them, and his trunk was stacked with piping hot clean laundry.

He took his trainers off and found they were full of beach sand. He started thumping them out on the stone floor…

I love sand, said Rupert. It gets everywhere. Would you mind saving that for me? I have strange ideas about souvenirs.

Harry snorted and moved his laundry to the bed. { Do you ever have normal ideas? } he said, rummaging through his trunk for a spare rubber-stopper phial.

Yes, but I keep them to myself, I've a reputation to think of.

Harry found a slightly cracked phial at the bottom of the trunk and pulled it out along with a sheet of paper that had got stuck to it.

Interesting word, souvenir, continued Rupert. Means come from beneath. From the depths. De profundis. Like the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, whence this sand, so fairly literal souvenir. I love a good coincidence!

Harry filled the phial (the sand carrying capacity of cheap trainers was uncanny), and — Snape being a stickler for labelling, horrific points off if you didn't — stuck a blank label on it automatically. He wrote PS on it for Pacific Sand, and then started to wrap it with the paper that had come with it.

Oi! interrupted Rupert. Hold on! Respect the coincidence. What is that paper?

Harry gave it a casual glance. It read:

Other Equipment
1 wand
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 telescope
1 set brass scales
1 wand
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad

{ School equipment list, } said Harry, and dropped it.

It's a good thing you kept it — it's important.

{ It is? } said Harry, brushing sand off the sole of his left foot. { Why? }

The school told you "1 wand" twice. Think about it. Why would it do that?

{ Why would it tell me to buy a book about fantastic beasts? } said Harry, brushing sand off the sole of his right foot. {That was pointless. }

Never underestimate the interconnectedness of all things, Harry. Open your mind til you can hear the time winds blowing through it. Consider that Hogwarts knows her students from the moment they have names. Why would it say you should have two wands?

{ It told everybody to have two wands, } said Harry, with some exasperation.

Did it? Have you actually seen anyone else's shopping list?

Harry sighed. { Hermione probably still has hers if you want me to look. }

Yes, please. Oh, and if you don't need me for anything I feel a need to go write things on an imaginary chalkboard, and I'm quite keen to find out what they'll be.

{ Fine, fine, } said Harry, and took up a pair of clean socks. They were still piping hot. How did the house elves do that? It was like — oh, right, magic. You want the people you're caring for to have warm socks, and so bend the universe to your will…

…and of course once he'd got fresh socks on he felt obliged to change everything else, so he did, and after restoring his normal schoolwear and stuffing his street clothes under the bed found himself with one item left over: the button with the smiley blood drop on, the one from the Society for the Tolerance of Vampires. He attached it as a tie-pin, and sat down to do his laces up.

After the first knot he thought: Aunt Petunia's Bane.

After the second knot he thought: what about it?

He stood up and stared down at his trainers and thought:Dandelions.

While staring down at his trainers in pretend abashment while being lectured by Snape, he'd seen that Malfoy's shoelaces had dandelion leaves tangled in them.

Again, what about it?

It was nearly December. The only dandelion patch left was the indestructible one between the castle and Hagrid's hut, so why would Malfoy be sneaking into the front of the school if he'd just been out in the back of it? This on top of being invisible while doing it, of course. Come to think of it, did it make any sense to sneak in through the main door invisibly? How would you even do that? Wouldn't someone wonder about the main door opening and closing on its own? Oh, hello, is that someone sneaking about invisibly, perhaps I'll conjure up a cup of flour and find out…

If you wanted to sneak into the castle while invisible you'd go in the back door; it was usually propped open with a brick anyway.

Of course, he hadn't reached the door yet.

Maybe…he wasn't going to be invisible. Maybe he was going to toss his inviso-packet into the bushes and be seen coming through the front door.

Being seen coming in the front door might be a better way to hide than to sneak invisibly through the back…

Harry suddenly flushed red: he was thinking like a Slytherin.

He fled downstairs to the Gryffindor common room.


Hermione was back — from the library, it almost went without saying — and crossing the floor with a stack of books that put Harry in mind of a tower in Italy. The topmost book slid off as she passed him; he caught it before they hit the ground.

"You need a shopping bag," he remarked, and caught the second one as it fell.

"I keep thinking I won't need one," she said. "Every time, I think I've got the habit under control…"

He walked her back to her book fort, casually examining the books in his hands. One was a biography of Berus Glyndŵr, who, according to the back cover, was Minister for Magic from AD 1400 to 1415, and a master of summoning sea-spirits. The other —

"Plunkitt of Tammany Hall?" he said.

"It's from the Muggle section," she said, setting her stack down without further incident. "A library aide overheard me talking to Neville about becoming Minister for Magic and gave me a whole reading list on Politics in Magic and Muggledom."

"Did he have steel rimmed glasses?"

"I think so," she said carelessly, and started distributing her books onto her book fort by category. "It's all so fascinating!" she said, now with enthusiasm.

"Mm," he mm'd.

It was meant to be an agreeing mm, but it came out wrong.

"No, really!" she said. "There's all sorts of weird things you need to know about wizarding law. Like nilrem!"

He blinked "…You need to know how to spell Merlin backwards?"

"What? Oh. No. It's two words, nil – space – rem. It means 'nothing to the point'."

"Okay," said Harry, who was entirely on board with pointless things. He looked to the door; most of the population of Gryffindor was departing dinnerwards.

"No, it's terrible!" she said earnestly.

"Is it," he said. His stomach said something ruder.

Hermione quickly finished sorting her books and they made their own exit. "Look," she said patiently, as the still-empty portrait closed behind them — Mme. Du Mont wasn't singing in the bath, but she was making musical gurgling noises — "you know that Professor Dumbledore is Chief Mugwump of the Wizengamot, yes? It's on his Chocolate Frog card."


"Well, the Mugwumps can't introduce or write legislation, it's to constrain their power, but they can amend it. So they invented nil rem. The Mugwump's friends introduce bills that pass the main body of the Wizengamot and go to the Chief Mugwump for approval, and then he strikes out the entire text and replaces it with his own, and then they pass it on a voice vote when no one's paying attention!"

Harry jumped off the landing and thumped onto the third step down. He pointed an acknowledging finger at Ron and Neville, who were waiting at the next landing. "You already finished half that reading list, didn't you," he said. "Wish I could read that fast."

"Oh, well," she admitted, "that one I just opened Sapphyre's Politickal Dictionary in the middle and there it was…"

"Has it ever occurred to you," said Ron, "that one day you may read too much and your brain will explode?"

Hermione sniffed her best sniff — positively Percivalian. "When I was seven my mum told me that when you're young your brain is stretchy like a balloon, and you should fill it up with everything you can before it gets all stiff with age…"

"Where have you been all day?" asked Ron, mainly of Harry.

Harry opened his mouth.

"Slytherin, mostly," answered Hermione, in a not-just-the-library tone.

"You what?" said Harry and Ron.

"Well, below Slytherin, really," said Hermione. "Sub-Slytherin. There's an older common room below the current one. After the flood they pumped it out but apparently the Malfoys donated a new one — not the current Malfoys, dead ones — so they turned the old one over to the school ghosts for a sort of staff room.

"It's quite nice," she added, "until you notice all the curtains are lakeweed and the carpet is moss. Anyway the Baron wanted someone to talk to about his historical presentation for Professor Binns."

"The Bloody Baron?!" said Ron, stumbling a bit and sliding down one step too many.

"He's not really a Baron, you know," said Hermione, "he's a thane…anyway, he's really quite flustered about getting up in front of an audience…"

And so they went to dinner: in their usual manner.


By the time they settled in at table it was apparent that butt had been getting scuttled furiously and Ron was now one of the few people who didn't know where Harry had been.

The consensus toward the seventh-year ends of all four House tables was that there was going to be Trouble.

"The sixes and sevens think they're going to make an example of you," said Fred, flapping a sonar ear with his finger. "It's because you did everything right in the leaving campus department."

"Very exacerbating, doing things properly," said George. "It's wossname, showboaty."

"Oh," said Harry. "Oh well, it's been fun, I'll be sure to write and tell you all about Stonewall High, if they let me keep my owl…"

"Not to worry," said Percy authoritatively. "I will intervene personally, if need be, to make sure that doesn't happen."

"You don't want him to keep his owl?" said Ron. Percy gave him a withering look.

"I thought you were Disappointed," said Harry.

"I am!" said Percy. "But justice must be tempered with mercy, and retribution with grace. And in retrospect I almost regret docking you."

"Almost," said Harry.

"Yes. I was a bit worried at the beginning of the year, you know. Thought it was going to be Fred, George and Harry in the caffeinated ferret department, to be brutally honest. Instead — glass half full! Loath though I am to admit it, going down Under The Lake once a week seems to have cooled you off. And of course all that extra quidditch practice, it does tucker you out."

"It certainly does," said Harry, and took up a traditional elbow-table cheek-fist position, and stared past everybody.

Across the inter-table gap he could see Malfoy's back.

"Under The Lake" as as a sort of euphemism for Slytherin was one of those old school things Harry had picked up in passing, along with the nicknames for the other houses: Ravenclaws were Up In Cuckooland, sometimes Cloudcuckooland in full; Hufflepuffs lived Down There In The Earthworks; Gryffindors tried to live In The Catbird Seat but in practice were caged in The Yowlery.

As descriptions they'd all been vaguely disparaging until Fred and George had gotten together with Dean Thomas to work them into jumper designs. The crazed badger exploding from the ground with its paws clutching worms was their best-seller. The goggle-eyed gryffins crammed into a cage several sizes too small for them with their back feet up around their ears was a moderately close second.

"If you're lucky you might get to copy old discipline cards," said Fred.

"That would be excellent," said George. "If you ever get a choice in punishment, we highly recommend copying old discipline cards."

"Do you," said Harry.

"They're very educational," said Fred. "Even Professor Dumbledore got detention once," he added slyly.

"For what?" said Hermione, aghast.

Fred, with a careful lack of expression, fixed her with a stare, and said "Tittupping in the halls."

There was a moment of silence at the first-year end of table.

"Excuse me," said Hermione, getting up to leave. "I need to visit the dictionary."


The bomb dropped the next day, Friday; Professor Snape, after spending three hours closely directing the making of decoctions of ling zhi mushrooms, which he rather pointedly described as being useful for sharpening the wits, dismissed the rest of the class but added Mr Potter and Mr Malfoy will remain.

"As your common Head," he said, "I have been charged with informing you, in the interests of sparing you needless —" he paused while some unidentifiable expression played faintly across his face — "suspense, that your punishment for being out of bounds has been scheduled for the evening following the conclusion of examinations, that it may neither interfere with your holidays, nor taint the beginning of your New Year."

Harry had a moment of uncertainty as to when the day of examinations was — he could swear he'd seen a calendar with Christmas Eve marked, but then remembered that Hermione's ever-present timetable had said the 20th.

"Sir," ventured Malfoy, "has the actual punishment been decided?"

Professor Snape looked up briefly from the papers on his desk.

"Yes," he said.

After a moment he added, "Good afternoon."

Harry thought Draco was too young to have a vein throbbing in his forehead like that.


Shortly before dinner Harry dropped five knuts into Hermione's shoe-box, and when Hermione's head rose into view asked her to read over his sketch of a letter to the Daily Prophet about Christopher Backus.

She sighed and gave him his money back. "You don't need to pay me for that kind of help," she said, and started to read his notes.

While he waited he listened with one ear to Question Time, which was not a wizard wireless programme.

"Define Arithmancy," read Lee from a card.

"The study of numbers that don't add up," said George.

(According to a ceiling-staring Percy, Question Time was a traditional...feature...of exam prep that Fred and George had taken over from Bill and Charlie when the elder Weasleys had graduated.)

"A Defense Against The Dark Arts question," said Lee. "What is a Dementor?"

Fred said, "A killjoy Hoover."

George said, "An all-day soul-sucker."

"Mmm," said Hermione with mild distress. "Not to say you didn't spend nine and a half years with the muggliest muggles who ever mugged…but…"

"But what?" he said.

She moved her head from side to side in an uncertain way. "They're your family, you know them better than I do, and they probably won't find out you've been rude about them, but it's not their fault they're muggles."

"That's…true," he said. "But I'm trying to think like a Daily Prophet reader."

She made a face. "If you want to mess the readers about, and I don't think you should, say that Hogwarts survived You-Know-Who, and it's embarrassing that people think it can't cope with a vegetarian werewolf."

Harry thought that was advice worth five knuts, and said so.

"What's worth five knuts?" said a rubber-duck-clutching Ron, who'd apparently spent the hours since Potions in the bath, judging by his epic finger wrinkles.

"I'm helping Harry create a scandal about admissions practices," said Hermione, staring disapprovingly down at the growing damp spot on the carpet.

"Oh," said Ron without much interest. "Why?" He started reading the letter over her shoulder, which left her with a complicated expression, because, one, annoying, but two, discouraging Ron from reading obviously went against every fibre of her being.

"You're dripping on me," she said neutrally.

"Sorry," he said, and dripped on Harry instead. "Hey, werewolf? Brilliant."

"Were we out of towels?" asked Hermione.

"With bathrobes like this, who needs towels?" said Ron.

"Has it got a hood?"

"No, why?"

"How about you?" said Harry to Ron. "I mean, you've been a wizard all your life, what do you think people would like to hear?"

Ron took a quarter-step back and squeezed a startled quack out of his duck. "Me? Huh. Well…if you're trying to get someone in here…" He inserted the little finger of his right hand into his right ear and wiggled it around with audible squelching. He looked at the letter again and called across the room to his oldest available brother. "—Hey, Perce! Do you know the name Backus?"

"Vaguely?" said Percy, not looking up from his latest re-read of Prefects: Rites And Responsibilities.

"Do you remember from where?"

Percy stared up at the ceiling. "Ummm — mmmmaybe — yes. The retiree plaque at the Ministry. Backus, Joseph. With a service star."

"Ta," said Ron, and ran a thoughtful hand through his wet still-black hair. "Family," he said. "Can't say it's useless."

"Yes!" said Hermione. "Family. History. Wizards love the past, they never let go of it, have you seen the wizard wireless listings?"

The Wizard Wireless Corporation never cancelled anything, they just opened up another spot on the tuning dial. Apparently some of their serials had started out in the back pages of the Daily Prophet in the 18th century. And still with all the same characters.

"Good idea," said Harry, "I'll try to work that in."

"Where's my five knuts, then?" said Ron. Harry dropped them in the front pocket of his robe. Ron made a face that opened with "I was kidding" and finished with "five knuts is five knuts".

"And check the geneology section at the library," added Hermione. "Oh, and if you're going now, could you return some things for me?" She started to assemble a pile.

"Yeah, okay," he said to the growing pile, since apparently he was, in fact, going now. "Oh — come to think of it — do either of you happen to remember your school equipment list having a mistake on it?" He reached in his pocket and showed them the paper with the extra wand listed.

Ron shrugged and gave his head a probably-not-but-I-don't-remember-that-far shake.

"No," said Hermione with confidence. "My list didn't have a mistake."

"Are you sure?" he said, laying a hand on the stack of books and comparing its height to his own.

"Oh, I'd remember," she said. "School papers with mistakes on drive me mad! It's like my mother and forms where you have to do part three in order to finish part two…"

"Tell me about it!" said a fervent Percy.

Harry contemplated the completed Leaning Tower of Returns, drew his wand and cast Wingardium Leviosa on it.

"I should have thought of that!" said Hermione.

"Forest for the trees," he said, and carried it off one-handed.


It turned out that the Backuses could be traced back to the Bochus family, which had contributed a number of worthwhile wizards to all the houses at Hogwarts, mainly Hufflepuff, so he added that to his letter along with the bit about You-Know-Who…

…and although he struck out the overt rudeness he did keep the point that the presence of C. Backus at Hogwarts was exactly the sort of thing that would drive his muggle relatives up the wall. Which was true: Uncle Vernon had Views on vegetarians, and the only thing that would bother him more than a werewolf was one that wouldn't eat meat.

That was what he wanted: a letter that was true.

Hm, he thought, and after putting the B volume of What Witch Is Who on the shelving cart, went looking for a library aide with steel-rimmed glasses.

"Ah, Potter," said Beaconsfield, shelving a copy of Imaginary Beasts And How To Summon Them. "Have you come to a conclusion on which Howler piece I should submit on your major-minor House idea? Pro? Con?"

"Not exactly," said Harry. "I mean, if you're graduating you won't be going under the Hat for a second look, so won't people just get fussed that you have an opinion at all? That's what my uncle would do, anyway. He'd be one of the people who'd be against it and think you're wrong about everything, but if you came out against it, he wouldn't switch to supporting it, he'd just get angry that he was on the same side as you."

"Hmm," said Beaconsfield. He picked another book from his shelving cart, examined the title and started wheeling the card towards the Restricted Section; Harry followed after him. "Now that's what I call mugglethink. That's the advantage you have actually living with them, lucky boggart. — How about if I go with the best factual pro side, but anonymously?"

"That would be good," said Harry, and added "You don't mind giving up credit?"

Beaconsfield gave him a sidelong so-I've-got-an-ego-the-size-of-the-moon-do-I look. "Oh, I think I'll get satisfactory attention from my other letter."

Harry stared at him curiously until something slotted back into place in his mind. "'Multiple jet blast pipes'?"

"Pre-cisely," said Beaconsfield, and shelved a copy of MAGICK MOSTLY EVILE. Then he frowned at the book next to it, a thick volume titled

of the
Third Counternecine Convention
of the
Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers

and said "What are you doing in the Restricted Section?" He took it down and tossed it on the shelving cart. "Fraternizing with the enemy — for heaven's sake..."

"Do I have to wait along with everyone else to find out what that means?" said Harry.

Beaconsfield looked around, found no one else in sight, and leaned in close to Harry's ear. "I've got a trick memory for random facts. That model Hogwarts Express you found in our closet? Belonged to Rufus Fudge. Nephew of Minister. Always banging on about the Hogwarts Express, it was his favourite train, he was full of trivia he wanted you to know.

"It was built for wizards, but it was built by muggles, and they got something wrong with the engine — design or construction, I forget, doesn't matter — but the mechanism had an inconsistent draught, so after the Department of Magical Transportation took delivery they just magicked out the whole business.

"But when you came to Hogwarts, the train got refurbished. I looked it up in the Daily Prophet, because I remembered reading that phrase to conjure with, you should pardon the expression. It wasn't in the article, it was in the photograph caption: from the something-or-other to the doohickey to the brand-new multiple-jet blast pipes. Brand new! Replaced during —" he paused to raise an instructional finger — "a period of regrettable-but-necessary austerity."

"Austerity," said Harry.

"When the government can't spend money on making life better," explained Beaconsfield, wheeling his card back out of the Restricted Section. "Only on administration. Anyway, a new coat of paint? Certainly. Repairs? To be sure, everyone wanted to put on their best face for the sake of The Other You Know Who —" he pointed at Harry's forehead — "but why refurbish, let alone supposedly replace at some expense, a wholly unused bit of kit?"

"I'm The Other You-Know-Who?"

"Sometimes, yes, the nice one. Fame, you know…"

"I should get contact lenses so no one will know who I am," said Harry.

"Go for magenta. Anyway, no one but me having twigged, I dropped a Dear Sir on a carefully selected magazine editor. Investigative wheels started turning, and once the next issue drops — well, the winter holiday promises to be quite interesting."

"If Rufus Fudge built a model of his favourite train," said Harry. "Why did he leave it behind?"

"Something of a school tradition," said Beaconsfield. "Leaving something behind as a legacy — a transmittendum, they call it. Like Professor Pie's stretchable blackboard in Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff's hatstand."

"And the Friar's old cell key?" hazarded Harry.

"Hum!" said Beaconsfield, scratching an ear. "The general idea is that so long as what we leave behind remains, we aren't really gone, and he actually is still here, so all the more so, I suppose…

"Incidentally, would you mind noodling Weasley as what sort of things are in the Gryffindor collection? I've got an open bet that says they're all bowling trophies."


On his way out of the library Harry passed Professor Quirrel; he must have gotten the ginger tea he needed as he looked a lot less peaked. In fact he was almost healthy…