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Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Dunkelzahn, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Gaming Geek

    Gaming Geek Tired of the random default stuff

    Jan 24, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Mythral is something that we can explain TODAY, like easy.

    It was either Aluminum or Titanium. Likely a magical type of Titanium, but it's physical description sounds more like Aluminum.
  2. Threadmarks: Section 4.7 - Industrial developments

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    4.7 Industrial developments

    4.7.1 Idle chatter

    “I still can’t believe Lockhart skipped out on us,” Abigail complained as she sat down to rest between sets. “I knew he was a bad teacher, but I never thought he was that bad.”

    It had been a week since Lockhart had disappeared and Defense classes were cancelled until further notice. The students had been instructed to study ahead on their own and encouraged to bring their questions on the topic to one of their other professors.

    Naturally, most of the student body had taken this as permission to laze about and enjoy their newly expanded leisure time. Just as naturally, Abigail and Harry had taken advantage of their newly expanded leisure time to nearly double their shared study hours. The result had proven quite agreeable for the pair.

    Harry grunted noncommittally as he continued his own exercise, an advanced variant on the setting-your-arms-on-fire one Mr. Flitwick had shown him what seemed like ages ago. Magical fire flickered into and out of existence on each of the young dragon’s currently human fingers in quick succession as he said his own piece.

    “I think I’m more surprised that Mr. Dumbledore hasn’t found a replacement yet. It’s been a whole week! You’d think he would have been able to get a substitute by now.” He paused to scowl for a moment before continuing, “I mean it’s one thing for my year, but you guys are going into your NEWTs in three weeks, right? That’s not fair to you!”

    “Don’t worry about it, Harry,” Abigail reassured him with a wave of her hand and a shake of her head. “It’s not like we had a professor for the rest of the year, anyway. As far as I’m concerned this is an improvement over Lockhart’s classes; at least now I can spend the time doing something productive.”

    With that, she returned to her own exercise. Today’s fare was intended to improve speed and precision and involved juggling a pair of small balls using a rapid succession of individually cast levitation charms. She had yet to keep them in the air for more than forty-five seconds, but the charm was nigh-instinctive at this point, which was the true point of the exercise.

    “Yeah, I guess,” Harry allowed, then continued with an indignant grumble on his friend’s behalf, “It’s still not fair, though.”

    “No, it’s not,” the older girl agreed absently, the bulk of her attention on the task at hand, “but at the end of the day, not much in life is fair, and there’s no profit in complaining about what can’t be fixed. We just need to make the best of the hand we’re dealt.”

    There wasn’t much to say to that.

    4.7.2 Pointed reminder

    As Lucius Malfoy made his way into Hogwarts from the school’s portkey receiving yard, he couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing there. Well, that wasn’t quite accurate; he knew that he was taking Albus Dumbledore up on his invitation for a business dinner. More properly, he was wondering why the invitation had been issued.

    Albus Dumbledore did not generally run in the same social circles as Lucius, for a variety of obvious reasons.

    Since the old man wasn’t being sociable, there were only a few options, and none really fit. Lucius was on the school’s board of governors, but the timing was wrong for that sort of business. It was too early for an end of year report, and there had been no hint of a funding shortfall. He’d heard that the Defense professor had run off, but the governors didn’t deal with staffing issues; those were the Headmaster’s bailiwick.

    As he passed through the front gate, Lucius served the pathetic squib Dumbledore insisted on employing as the school Caretaker with a dismissive scoff. That was a worthless position if there ever was one, given the more than adequate population of house elves in the school. The Head of House Malfoy briefly considered the idea that his son might have gotten into some sort of trouble necessitating a parental visit but took only a moment to dismiss the idea out of hand. Draco’s letters had said nothing of the sort, and the boy’s godfather surely would have let him know if anything grossly untoward was in the works.

    Had he not seen the news regarding the rather public demise of his master’s basilisk before the holidays, he might have guessed that the meeting had something to do with that situation. He had been instructed to prepare for just such a thing, in fact — his assigned role in the Master’s overall plan would have begun at that time — but the Potter Heir’s victory had put a stop to that, more’s the pity.

    Lucius’ speculation came to an unsatisfying end as he arrived at the private solar Dumbledore had indicated in his missive. He supposed he would just have to wait and see what the old wizard had to say.

    “I bid you welcome, Lucius Malfoy,” Albus Dumbledore intoned formally when Lucius opened the door. “Come and partake of my hospitality.”

    “I thank you for the invitation and accept your offer of hospitality,” he replied, reflexively matching the formal tone.

    The Malfoy patriarch frowned slightly even as he walked over to the small dining table and took the proffered seat. It seemed an odd choice for the elderly wizard. Had he been one of Lucius’ colleagues, Lucius would have assumed that it was an attempt to put him at ease; invoking formal hospitality was a solid assurance that there would be no subterfuge or assassination attempts during the visit, but this was Dumbledore. The idea that he would resort to such tactics was laughable.

    His host had to have another angle, but for the life of him Lucius had no idea what it could be.

    Lucius’ first revelation regarding the old man’s motivations was delivered along with the main course.

    It was decidedly unpleasant.

    “I see the menu is rather heavy on meat this evening,” Lucius idly remarked, taking in the appearance of the offered meal. The newly-arrived plate featured a massively proportioned slab of the substance, accompanied by a — the Malfoy Head gave a discerning sniff — red wine-based pan sauce. The cuts were much too large for any accompanying side dishes to fit alongside them, so they had been plated separately. “If you were seeking to impress me, you would have been better off with a more varied selection, rather than sheer quantity.”

    “No, Lucius,” Albus countered while busying himself with the process of portioning the hefty steak into bite-sized pieces, “I am certain it will make precisely the impression I intend.”

    That statement seemed odd, which stirred enough caution that Lucius paused long enough to watch his host take the first bite. When the elderly wizard chewed and swallowed with quite apparent gusto. Lucius felt safe to turn back to his own plate, following the example of his host and cutting off an experimental portion. Despite coming from what had to have been an utterly massive creature — not nearly as unusual in the magical world as it would have been in the nonmagical one — the meat was cooked to perfection, moist and tender enough to practically fall apart at the first hint of pressure.

    Lucius’ first bite revealed that the flavors and seasoning were quite passable, though by no means spectacular. It was a good, solid meal, yet not the sort of thing to leave any lasting impression.

    Just what had his host had meant then?

    Blond eyebrows furrowed as he considered Dumbledore’s statement. In his experience, that sort of line could mean several different things. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a man whose surname loosely translated as ‘bad faith’, his first thought had been poison, but he had been just as quick to dismiss the idea. This was Dumbledore, after all; the old man didn’t play the same sorts of games.

    That left the spectacle of the meal as the means to leave an impression, a method Lucius had used himself to good effect in the past. However, that possibility didn’t fit with the current situation; such things required a more dramatic approach. A decent meal in a modest private dining room did not fit the bill.

    Perhaps the menu involved some exotic animal?

    A blond eyebrow arched in consideration. It was a possibility that had merit. The unusual size of the cut of meat was a good indicator of that; a muscle with a cross-section at least the size of a dinner plate implied some significant heft, after all.

    The cooking method also fit the possibility well. Braising was generally used to soften cuts which had been quite active in life, things like ox-cheek or a shoulder cut. Given that and the size, Lucius concluded that the animal involved had probably been a large predator, which fit the theme quite well. At one time, he had served lion to a group of his business associates; the meat had been passable at best, but the romance of the situation more than made up for its culinary failings.

    That had to be it, and it would be best to give his host the excuse to brag; it would take forever to get to the point otherwise.

    “Might I ask what sort of meat we are dining on this evening?”

    “Basilisk,” the elderly wizard replied calmly.

    Basilisk?” Lucius choked and froze, his fork hovering stock still inches above his plate.

    That meant...

    “Indeed, Lucius,” the old man confirmed pleasantly. “You see, recently, a hideously evil artifact was smuggled into the school by some foul reprobate,” Dumbledore’s gimlet gaze momentarily pinned the younger wizard in place before he went on in a positively genial tone, “where it forced one of my students into releasing an ancient monster from its ages-long slumber.”

    The bearded wizard sighed dramatically, “Fortunately, the beast ran afoul of one of our younger students who dispatched it handily before it could cause any lasting harm. Mr. Potter was kind enough to gift me with a portion of the meat, and it now graces our table.”

    “I see,” the blond Malfoy croaked, swallowing reflexively as he attempted to moisten his suddenly dry mouth. “And have you managed to capture the culprit?”

    “Alas, we have not,” the greatest wizard in Britain sighed. “I have my suspicions... nothing that would hold up in court, you understand, but I do feel quite close to a solution.”

    “I wish you a speedy and fruitful investigation, of course,” Lucius managed to bite out. “Anything to ensure the safety of the students.”

    “Indeed, while it has not turned up the name of the one responsible for this incident, the investigation has borne all sorts of interesting fruit.” The elder wizard paused for a moment, timing his words carefully to coincide with his guest’s next bite. “For example, did you know that your old acquaintance, Voldemort, had a bit of a history with that particular basilisk?”

    Lucius froze again in mid-bite.

    “Yes, yes… it seems he considered the beast as a beloved friend, if you can fathom it! I had no idea the man was even capable of such!”

    As the Malfoy Head paled, the old man twisted the knife.

    “Just imagine how much it would gall him to see you eating that steak. Why, it was probably his only true friend in the whole world!” He paused for a moment to allow the implications to sink in, “A fitting revenge for all that ‘mind control’ he saddled you with in the last war, I suppose. Wouldn’t you agree, Lucius?”

    The old man smirked behind his glass as he sipped at his drink, “A good thing for you that he is dead, I’d imagine. Why, if he were to ever return, he would undoubtedly read this incident from your mind, and I suspect you’d not be long for this life! Dreadfully limited sense of humor on that boy.”

    Face now paper white and stomach twisting itself in knots, Lucius finally regained enough of his senses to reach for his napkin, but before he could spit out his most recent bite of the Dark Lord’s pet basilisk, he froze as his host spoke once more.

    “Are you absolutely certain you want to do that, Lucius?” Albus Dumbledore, the defeater of Grindlewald and the strongest wizard west of the Urals spoke in a dangerously calm voice. “Refusing the meal would mean refusing my hospitality, something that could be taken as a personal insult, were I so inclined. That is just the sort of insult that might precipitate a duel, I would imagine.”

    Lucius Malfoy slowly finished chewing and forced himself to swallow. The tone left no doubt whether he would be so inclined.

    “Excellent choice, old boy,” Dumbledore congratulated him in a deceptively friendly tone. His presence swelled leaving the younger wizard barely able to breathe. “Though, I must admit, my life would have been much simpler had you given me the excuse. Alas, it seems I must do this the long way. Now, listen closely.”

    “You have put me in something of an uncomfortable position with this latest stunt, Lucius,” Dumbledore stated in a conversational tone. “You planted that artifact on Miss Weasley, and I am now torn between two conflicting imperatives.”

    “You have no proof…” Lucius croaked out before a surge in his host’s already oppressive magic silenced him.

    “I have no proof that would be acceptable in court,” he clarified. “I have more than enough proof to know what you did, Lucius. Unfortunately, I am bound by the law; without properly court-admissible evidence, I cannot legally punish you, frustrating as that is. You have taken advantage of that distinction many times over the years.”

    Lucius managed to muster the will for a smirk, if a rather anemic one.

    “I know all too well that you and your peers see that unwillingness to circumvent the law as a weakness, a sign that I am too soft to make difficult decisions,” Dumbledore declared. “You and your peers are wrong. You have no vision, no understanding! Those laws are my laws: I wrote them; I promoted them; and in the end, I personally forced them onto your ilk and the rest of magical society.”

    “I did that because they are good laws, laws that will help shape a good society and guide us into a better future,” the elder wizard continued passionately, leaning forward in his chair. “But if those laws are to have any weight beyond that inherent in the whims of a powerful wizard, then they must be applied fairly and equally!”

    He slapped a hand down next to his plate to emphasize the point.

    “A nation can only be a nation of laws if those laws apply to everyone, especially to those who might otherwise have enough power to ignore them with impunity! If I do not follow those laws, no one will. Who would follow a rule that even the rule’s creator flouted?”

    He shook his head as he leaned back, white beard swaying with the movement.

    “I have trusted that the rule of law would win out in the end on its own merits... that eventually you and those like you would be caught out and punished, lending weight to those laws by proving that they have teeth.” He sighed, “No political transition has ever been bloodless, and I have been resigned to accepting delay as the lesser evil in the process of building a better future.”

    Despite the intimidating aura, Lucius’ smirk broadened ever so slightly. It seemed the old man was working himself up to let him go again. He opened his mouth to taunt the old man only for the words to freeze on his lips.

    “I am, however, also bound by my oaths as the Headmaster of Hogwarts,” the old man’s eyes narrowed dangerously, his hard gaze pinning Lucius to his chair. “And in your blind idiocy you have managed to put those two oaths into conflict! You have threatened one of my students while she was at my school, a child that I am oathbound to protect.”

    Lucius’ smirk vanished, and the younger man’s expression blanked in shock as everything he thought he knew of the man before him was turned on its ear.

    “I have brought you here to remind you that actions have consequences,” the great wizard enunciated slowly and clearly. “No lasting damage was inflicted by your recent bout of stupidity, Lucius, so I am within bounds of proper behavior to leave you alive. Nevertheless, I have brought you here to give you this warning: should I learn that another of my students has come to harm in a way that I can trace back to you, in school or out, whether the evidence is court-admissible or not, I will bury you.”

    Lucius’ brow furrowed in confusion.

    “You wonder why I brought up the conflicting objectives if I am just going to threaten you anyway?” Dumbledore asked, correctly interpreting his guest’s expression... or perhaps reading his mind, both were distinctly possible. “You see, there is one possible way to reconcile that conflict, a course of action that will satisfy both oaths.”

    The elderly wizard, still calmly seated on the other side of the table, seemed to swell to giant proportions, looming menacingly over his guest despite not having moved at all. Lucius froze, stock still and unable to muster even the will to speak, much less move.

    An idle gesture levitated the helpless man’s wand from where it had been concealed in his sleeve, casually ignoring the elaborate enchantments on the sheath intended to prevent such things. The wand settled gently on the table in front of its owner, pointed directly at Lucius’ chest, and as the frozen man watched, horrified, the tip began glowing a menacing and all too familiar green.

    Unspoken message of dominance and threat clearly conveyed, the elder wizard continued, “You see, Lucius,” he said conversationally, “I am willing to betray neither the law nor my oaths, yet there is more than one way to be law-abiding.”

    Dumbledore’s stifling aura, already enough to prevent Lucius from even attempting to speak, swelled steadily higher with each word he spoke. Lucius’ breath caught in his throat.

    “One can obey the law by avoiding those things proscribed by the law,” the monstrous figure seated across from the Head of House Malfoy continued “This is the preferred method; it is the meaning that most imagine when they hear the term ‘law-abiding’. Technically, however, there is another.”

    “One can also obey the law by willingly accepting the punishment it prescribes. You see, Lucius, I could refrain from killing you where you sit, or I could accept the punishment for killing you where you sit.”

    Lucius’ breath petered out with a faint wheeze.

    “The law cares not which.”

    Unable to breathe, Lucius’ heart pounded in his ears, its rhythm faltering under the ever-increasing strain of simply existing near the thing sitting across the table.

    “However, the latter option is one I find rather unappealing,” the terrifying wizard admitted, “mostly, I am ashamed to say, due to the fact that following it to its necessary conclusion means that I would not live to see the new world I have worked so long to build.”

    Lucius’ vision began to blur as his eyes teared up from being open for so long, yet he could not blink.

    “Make no mistake, however, reluctant or not it is a path down which I am well prepared to walk. Plans have been made; contingencies arranged.”

    Lucius’ world had contracted until there was nothing but the voice in his ears and the irregular heartbeat in his chest.

    “Know, Lucius, that if you are the one to force me down that path, the one to force me to give up on seeing my life’s work through to its conclusion, I will be quite wroth with you.”

    The monstrous presence swelled to a crescendo, and Lucius’ heart stopped entirely.

    “Should that event come to pass, Lucius, I will ensure that you will have ample opportunity to regret your actions before your end.” There was a pause. “And rest assured you would be but the first. I would not sell my life so cheaply as to trade it for yours alone.”

    The presence held for a few moments longer before it faded, and Lucius’ lungs suddenly filled as he took a painful, shuddering breath. His heart quickly hammered back into operation, and he collapsed face-first onto the table, narrowly missing his plate.

    “Do clean your plate, Lucius, lest you give me an excuse to do something you will not live long enough to regret,” the monster across the table reminded him.

    As soon as he was able to lift his head, Lucius heeded that advice, lifting his fork in spasmodically trembling hands. He then ate the long-since cooled remainder of the basilisk steak, chewing each now-gelatinous bite methodically before cutting off another portion, his quaking hands causing the flatware to rattle against the porcelain.

    He no longer cared what his Lord would think of him eating the beast because Lucius finally understood the nature of the creature sitting across from him.

    Lord Voldemort had been a monster in human flesh, one that Lucius had gladly served out of a sense of shared purpose laced with a healthy portion of fear, but so was Albus Dumbledore, as the monster in question had so ably demonstrated. Dumbledore’s goals were strange and his methods alien, but at the end of the day, when pushed far enough, it seemed the two were not so different, after all.

    It was a lesson Lucius would remember for the rest of his days.

    4.7.3 Prototypes and plans

    “It’s really busy today,” Hermione marveled.

    The bushy-haired girl walked through the streets of Hogsmeade between her sometimes dragon-shaped friend and her fellow damsel; Abigail had taken to walking on Harry’s other side. The pedestrian traffic was unusually heavy, and the town was abuzz with excitement.

    “I know!” Harry agreed. “People must be really excited about the trains.”

    “It’s a really big change for the town,” Abigail chimed in as they continued on their way to the railyard. “The railroad is the oldest industry in town, and while it’s not strictly speaking the largest business, between the town’s history and the Hogwarts Express, it’s probably the highest profile. A new, in-house locomotive is the biggest piece of company news in the better part of a century, so it’s not too surprising it’s the talk of the town.”

    “Well, I’m glad people are happy about it because this is going to be the first of many,” the young dragon nodded emphatically. “Especially if this works as well as the engineers expect.”

    “Oh?” Abigail prompted.

    “Yeah,” Harry nodded as they approached the last corner before they would be able to see the yards. “We’ve got some big plans if the numbers work out right, and they’ll get even bigger if that law Mr. Rowland was talking about clears the nonmagical parliament.”

    “What law are you…” Abigail trailed off as they rounded the corner the yards came within sight. Her eyes widened. “Oh… oh, wow!”

    If the streets of the town had been unusually busy, the scene in front of the yards was practically a riot. It seemed like the entire population had turned out for the debut, and there were still nearly two hours yet before the test run. The whole thing felt almost like a town fair, full of people in the often eye-searingly colorful robes typical of the British wizarding world. They milled about, laughing and engaged in animated conversation. Even a few food carts seemed to have sprung up spontaneously to feed the throng of visitors, sporting hastily magicked-up signage marking them as belonging to the various eateries about town.

    After taking a moment to marvel at the lively crowd, Harry frowned thoughtfully.

    “You know, I’m not sure exactly where we’re supposed to be going,” the currently human-shaped dragon admitted. “I figured we’d just find someone I knew, but I wasn’t thinking the crowd would be so thick. Hey, Suze,” he turned his head to look up at his centaur damsel. “Can you see anything?”

    “Hmm,” she scanned the front of the building from her superior vantage point above the crowd. “I do not… oh, I believe that is Mr. Rowland.” Suze raised an arm in greeting to the man. “Ah, he has seen me, and he is motioning us forward.”

    Harry grinned, “Let’s go then!”

    The four managed to forge their way through the crowd remarkably quickly, aided by both Suze’s physically imposing stature and Harry’s unconscious presence, and they arrived at the steps to the main entrance of the offices without incident.

    “Hello there, Mr. Potter!” Ross, an enthusiastic fellow in his early fifties, greeted his employer warmly, eyes bright with excitement and smile beaming his zeal to all and sundry. He served as the non-magical general manager of Harry’s business development efforts. “And welcome to you girls as well! Come on in! There’s so much to show you!”

    “I’m looking forward to it, Mr. Rowland!” Harry agreed enthusiastically, falling into step with the much older man as they turned to enter the small office building which housed the administrative functions of the rail company. The girls followed along as well, content to listen attentively. “The reports the engineers have been sending look really good! If the efficiency numbers we get from the test are in line with expectations, then we’re going to have more freight business than we can handle.”

    “Indeed, we will, my boy,” Rowland beamed. “A thirty percent cost reduction! Thirty percent over diesel-electric!”

    “Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome!” the young human-shaped dragon nodded. “I got a few things I’m workin’ on and suggestions for stuff they might want to look at that could boost that even more, but that’ll come later. Even a ten-percent advantage on total cost of operations is more than enough to get our foot in the door in the non-magical bulk freight industry.”

    “True, true,” the older man agreed. “For that matter, even five percent would have been enough to break in, but you need to think bigger, Mr. Potter!” He settled one hand on the boy’s much smaller shoulders while gesturing grandly with the other. “Thirty percent won’t just get our foot in the door; it will mean dominating the industry! I’ve been saying for years that steam is the way forward, and this just proves it! All we needed to do was put the design effort in using modern engineering and materials. Now it’s all coming together!”

    “And I will be quite happy with if things work out that way,” Harry agreed, unusually sedate. “I’ve even got some major plans that are contingent on those numbers, Mr. Rowland, but we need to confirm them first.”

    As they passed through the back door of the office building bypassing the worst of the crowds, they exited into the yards themselves, a tangled nest of train tracks leading off to various train barns and other maintenance facilities. “Um, do you think we’ll be able to check out the locomotive while they’re starting it up?”

    “I don’t see why not, but let me go check,” the older man took off at a quick jog towards a long brick building across the yard lined with arched doorways sized for train cars. When he had reached about fifty yards’ distance, he turned to call back over his shoulder, “I’ll be back in a moment!”

    As the sound of the man’s excited voice faded, Abigail turned to her friend, “Harry, what was all that about?”

    “What do you mean, Abigail?” he asked, sounding puzzled.

    “Why were you sounding so cautious about the performance of the new locomotive?” the older girl asked. “You are usually the most enthusiastic person in the room when something catches your interest, and everyone else has to hold you back a bit to get you to think things through. Do you really not believe the engineering team?”

    “Oh! Yeah, well,” the currently human-shaped dragon began, “it’s not that I don’t believe the engineering team, but this is a new application. I mean, since the stuff has all been tested individually, I’m not really expecting any surprises, but I’ve found its best to wait and see what you get before you go all in on new technology. I’ve had a couple projects now that should have worked but then went all weird on me.”

    He rubbed at the back of his head a little sheepishly. “I mean, according to the math, that magic-to-electricity rune system ought to have worked properly, but it went wrong, instead. For that matter, when I wanted to show you my CNC lathe before I’d tested it the first time, it failed.” He sighed. “I just don’t want to oversell anything before we know one way or another.”

    His older female friend reached over to wrap him in a one-armed hug. “Aw, don’t worry too much, Harry. I’m sure it will turn out well!”

    Harry nodded as the other two girls echoed Abigail’s reassurance. “Yeah, it should, I think, but… well, I’m sure you noticed that Mr. Rowland is really enthusiastic about steam power, right?”

    After noting another round of nods, the young dragon explained, “Well, Mr. Wardale — he’s one of my senior engineers; we’ll probably see him at the test, maybe earlier if they let us into the maintenance barn — anyway, he told me Mr. Rowland gets a little overenthusiastic sometimes. He’s been promoting steam rail in the face of a bunch of people who were mostly dead set against the idea for about thirty years now, and he can get off on tangents sometimes. Mr. Wardale asked me to help ‘keep him properly grounded and on-task’ when I can.”

    Harry’s much put-upon tone at the end prompted a giggle from his bushy-haired damsel.

    “What’s so funny about that?” the young dragon asked curiously.

    “It’s just… the idea of someone asking you of all people to keep someone ‘grounded and on-task’…” Hermione managed to get out before collapsing into giggles again.

    “Hey, I can keep on task when I want to,” the young Potter protested. At the raised eyebrows from Suze and Abigail, he insisted, “I can too! I get all sorts of things done!”

    “’All sorts of things’ indeed, Harry,” Suze agreed with a gentle smile. “I believe Hermione is referring to the tendency of your studies to branch off in all directions rather frequently. Just yesterday, you started the day deep in a book on runes; by lunch you were working on sympathetic magic; and then we had to drag you away from your work on those metal plates in the workroom. You do a great deal of work, but it is hardly coordinated.”

    “But those were coordinated!” Harry insisted. “I was looking at gold as a conductor for the runes, and then I thought about those shed scales I have, and then I thought about whether those might have some weird magical properties I might worry about, since they were part of me and all, and after I checked on that, I thought they might be useful for some stuff I was thinking about because of that, but you can’t melt them if you want it to work, so I was making some dies to draw it out into wire and stuff, and then I was going to…”

    “Regardless, she has a point that you hardly stayed to the original topic,” Abigail interrupted. “And before you go off on another tangent, Mr. Rowland just came back outside.”

    That got the young dragon’s attention, prompting him to look up and head for the man with renewed determination. “What did they say?” Harry called out as soon as the man got close enough to hear.

    “It’s safe for you and your ladies, as long as you stay with the executive team and don’t get in the technicians’ way,” Rowland told them with a beaming smile. “Come on in!”

    “Great!” the currently human-shaped dragon exclaimed, pleased.

    With that, the whole group made their way into the maintenance barn. The interior was all a-bustle with activity, a swarm of engineers and technicians working away under the watchful eyes of the senior engineers... well, one of them anyway. Harry didn’t see Mr. Porta in the group with the clipboards standing over in the area Mr. Rowland was leading them.

    “Mr. Wardale!” Harry called a cheerful greeting to the engineer with an enthusiastic grin once they got close enough that he wouldn’t have to yell too loudly.

    “Welcome to the shop, Mr. Potter,” David Wardale, a native Scot and an experienced steam engineer, greeted his employer. “And who are these young ladies?” he asked, gesturing to Harry’s companions.

    A round of introductions followed.

    “Pleased to meet you all,” the engineer nodded in response. “It’s a big day today.”

    Harry gave an affirmative hum as he turned to look out over the preparatory work and the prototype locomotive itself.

    The locomotive was a messy-looking behemoth a bit longer than Harry in his natural form and a great deal bulkier, if one discounted Harry’s wings. Some parts were painted in the red, gold, and black livery of the Hogs Haulage company, but the prototype’s coloration seemed haphazard, likely a result of some pre-painted parts from the company’s collection of spares. The majority was bare metal of various types and finishes; it was all very steam engine-like... with one glaring exception in the form of a thick fuzzy blanket covering the combustion chamber and boiler.

    “She’s a bonnie lass, isn’t she?” David commented, gazing proudly over the slowly rousing giant.

    “Mr. Wardale?” Hermione spoke up, at his nod she continued. “What’s that fuzzy white stuff on the locomotive? It looks kind of like wool, but you couldn’t have that around the fire, could you?”

    “That’s rock wool, lass. It won’t burn,” the steam engineer explained. “It’s there to keep the heat in and boiling water rather than heating up the outside air.”

    “Is it going to get something to cover the insulation eventually?” Harry asked with a concerned frown. “’Cause right now it looks kinda like a big mechanical sheep.”

    “She’s a locomotive, not a statue, lad. Her beauty’s in what she does, not what she looks like,” the older man replied with a laugh and a reassuring pat on Harry’s shoulder. “But don’t you worry; she’ll be getting a sheet-metal covering once we’ve put her through her paces. We just didn’t want to be cutting it open and welding it shut all the time while we were working on things.”

    “Even without that, though, she’s a beauty,” he reiterated with a happy sigh, turning back to the controlled chaos going on below. “The most efficient steam locomotive... no, the most efficient locomotive in history! Brings a tear to your eye, even lookin’ like she does now.”

    “That does sound pretty awesome,” Harry agreed. Then he looked around the barn once more, frowning with concern. “Um, Mr. Wardale, if you don’t mind me asking, where’s Mr. Porta? I don’t see him, and I’d kinda like to introduce everybody.”

    “He’s in the cab overseeing the initial firing,” David answered easily. “The combustion systems have always been his baby, and the steam injector under the grate’s been touchy lately, so he wanted to be there to see it through.”

    “Oh, okay. Um, is that going to be a problem with the design?” the young dragon asked his engineer. “If it’s going to go into production, we’ll want to get that fixed if we can.”

    “No, it shouldn’t be,” the older man waved off the question. “Your magical technicians... and that still feels so strange to say, already found the problem. When the firebox is cold, there’s a slight misalignment between the bits that handle the magic for keeping the part from corroding and the physical steam ports. They need to make a new part to fix it, and they will soon enough. We didn’t want to delay the demonstration, though, and this one works well enough once everything gets up to temperature; you just have to baby it a bit to get it there.”

    “Oh, okay,” Harry acknowledged.

    The conversation trailed off for a time as everyone simply took in the bustling activity. Eventually, a thought occurred.

    “Hey, why are you injecting steam below the grate, anyway?”

    “You need that to reduce the temperature of the firebed,” the steam engineer explained absently, the bulk of his attention on the preparations going on with the initial firing. “The gas producer combustion system needs a thick firebed to work properly, but that gets too hot, so you add the steam to cool it down.”

    Gas producer?” Hermione chimed in, surprised. “I thought the locomotives burned coal?”

    “That they do, lassie,” David nodded. “Well, this one does, steam engines can run on just about anything that gets hot enough. Thing is, you can burn coal in a lot of different ways. This one passes a limited amount of air over the hot coal to decompose it into producer gas, and then burns that in the combustion chamber above the firebed.”

    “That seems complicated,” Abigail spoke up. “I assume there’s a reason to go to the trouble?”

    “Indeed there is, and a very good reason at that,” he confirmed. “Switching to a GPCS means we can reduce the amount of primary air coming up through the firebed. Less air means the air can move slower, and that means you’re not throwing half your coal load up through the stack without burning it.”

    “Throwing coal up the stack?” Hermione prompted. “How does that work?”

    “When this one gets going, you’ll notice there’s none of that billowing black smoke that you usually see coming out the top of the stack on a steam locomotive,” the senior engineer explained patiently. “Instead, there’ll just a little bit of blue smoke and steam. All that black stuff you usually see is unburned coal particulate just thrown out the top and wasted. With the gas-producer system we burn it properly in the combustion chamber so we can use the heat.”

    “Okay, that makes sense,” Harry nodded. “It’s sort of an in-situ coal gasification plant, then. I’ve read about those before. Why do you need to cool down the firebed, though?” That struck Harry as a little odd, given his own forays into thermodynamics. “Isn’t a heat engine more efficient the hotter it burns, though? I’d think you’d want everything burning as hot as possible?”

    “That’s right,” David agreed, turning to his young employer. “but there’s a bit more to it. Good job on asking the question though, lad! I’m glad to see you’ve been putting in the research.”

    Harry smiled at the praise.

    “There’s a couple of reasons you don’t want to maximize the temperature,” Wardale continued. “One should be pretty obvious when you think about it. The firebox is made out of steel. Why do you think we ought not stoke a coal fire as hot as we can get it inside a steel firebox?”

    Harry only had to think for a moment before it came to him, “Oh, yeah, a coal fire can get more than hot enough to melt that steel, can’t it?” The currently human-shaped dragon frowned in thought for a moment before continuing, “But you kind of have to work to get a coal fire that hot, why would you need to work at keeping it cooler?”

    “Long before the steel melts, the heat will accelerate corrosion,” the older man explained. “You need to keep the temperature down to some extent if you don’t want to be replacing the firebox after every firing.”

    “Oh, I guess I can see that,” Harry agreed before making a tentative suggestion, “Um, if you didn’t know, we’ve got some really good refractory material over at my other company, if you guys want to try that. The stuff’s about as strong as mild steel, and it keeps its strength up to about a hundred degrees past the boiling point of iron, so it ought to be able to take anything a coal fire can throw at it.”

    “Another fine suggestion, Mr. Potter,” David congratulated him. “We had looked into that briefly, but we decided the steel was cheaper and would do well enough. The thing is though, even accounting for corrosion we can get still afford to get the steel a lot hotter than we do now. The real limitation is clinker.”

    “What’s that?” Harry asked.

    “Remember, the coal we’re burning isn’t pure carbon; there’s clay and other bits of rock in it too. That stuff doesn’t burn, but it will melt if you get it too hot,” the engineer explained. “When it does, it sticks to everything, and that makes the grate and firebox almost impossible to clear out for the next burn. We use the steam to keep the firebed cool enough that the clinker doesn’t melt. It’s a tradeoff between thermal efficiency and ease of maintenance.”

    “So, you said clay and rocks…” the younf dragon frowned thoughtfully. “So, the clinker’s basically glass?”

    “Mostly, and molten glass sticks to everything,” the engineer affirmed. “That’s why glass foundries run continuously for decades before they shut down for maintenance. They have to rip out the entire lining of the furnace and production line and replace it once the molten glass cools. They can’t clean it out properly.”

    “It doesn’t do that to our refractory,” the currently human-shaped dragon countered.

    “What do you mean?” David asked, eyes sharp with sudden interest.

    “I mean molten glass just beads up and drips off,” Harry explained. “Almost everything does; it’s a big part of why it’s been selling so well.”

    Really now?” the senior engineer mused. “That level of chemical resistance? That’ll be worth a good think on the next generation design.”

    “Not this one?”

    “Unfortunately not,” David shook his head. “We can’t just drop it into the existing design and turn up the heat. We’ll have to rework so much of the locomotive to handle the higher temperatures, the different flow rates, the higher pressures, the…”

    He trailed off for a few moments as he considered the implications, long enough for Ross Rowland to return and interject himself back into the conversation.

    “So, what have you boys been talking about over here?”

    “Hmm?” David managed to pull himself back out of his thoughts enough to process the question. “Mr. Potter here just raised a very interesting possibility for the core of a third-gen steam engine using a new bit of technology. I was just thinking through what we’d need to change to take advantage.”

    “Wonderful! Glad to hear it,” the excitable man gushed before calming somewhat. “Mr. Potter expressed some concerns over waiting to see how the efficiency numbers turn out. How certain are you that we’ll see the thirty-percent advantage we were talking about in the estimates?”

    “Ah, well, you should always be cautious until you see the working product. That’s just good sense,” the engineer explained, “but in this case, the numbers are pretty solid. We’ve tested all the subsystems separately, so this is an integration test more than a basic function test. I’d guess that thirty-percent number won’t be off by more than five percent either way.”

    “Great!” Ross exclaimed.

    Harry nodded thoughtfully. “So, at least twenty-five percent, then?” The young dragon fell silent for a moment, obviously thinking hard. “That’ll be right on the edge. Maybe we could… um, Mr. Wardale?”

    “Yes, Mr. Potter?”

    “Do you think there’s anything we might be able to do for diesel-electric to bring it along a bit closer?” the young dragon asked. “I mean quick stuff that can be slapped in retroactively.”

    David raised a questioning eyebrow and waited for further explanation. Ross, on the other hand…

    “Why would you want to do that?” the steam enthusiast demanded, sounding rather like someone had kicked his dog right in front of him. “We’re just about to prove the supremacy of second-generation steam as the power technology of tomorrow, and you’re already talking about switching back to diesel?”

    “Oh, no, I’m not thinking about switching, Mr. Rowland,” Harry assured him. “It’s just… those improvements might be enough to make that hypothetical deal we were talking about work, even at only twenty-five percent.”

    “Which one are you…” Rowland asked, his face screwed up in thought, trying to place the reference.

    “The one from last week, remember?” Harry clarified, and his manager’s expression cleared. “Assuming the vote goes through, it might be an option; though, I’ll have to talk with Mr. Slackhammer about the finances…”

    “Oh, right!” Ross nodded. “Why not just build more of our new steam beauties, though?”

    “Timing, Mr. Rowland,” Harry reminded him. “That deal won’t be available for long, and we can’t make new locomotives fast enough. We’ll need something to fill the gap.”

    “I’ll see what we can manage,” David volunteered with a curious expression. “I’m not sure what deal you’re talking about, but frankly, we’re going to need to look into the electrical options anyway.” When Ross turned to him, nascent outrage on his face, he explained, “As much as I love the pure mechanical drives, Ross, we’re going to need to switch to at least a partially electric power train so we don’t pound the tracks all to hell in the high-speed applications, if nothing else.”

    “For that matter, we’ll even need it for slow freight if we’re going to take full advantage of Mr. Potter’s refractory material.” Wardale grimaced. “That kind of temperature differential is going to need multiple recovery stages with different working fluids in each. Trying to tie all those together mechanically…” the engineer trailed off with a dramatic shudder. “I like a good challenge as much as anyone, but there are limits.”

    “Well, I suppose I can see your point,” Ross allowed, which was all he managed to say before the heavy whuff of exhausting steam snapped his attention back to the locomotive of the hour.

    The entire group fell silent as they watched the first second-generation steam locomotive come to life before their eyes. True to Mr. Wardale’s prediction, there was barely a wisp of blue smoke in evidence amongst the exhausted steam as the locomotive huffed its way around the Hogs Haulage test track, followed by the cheers of the excited townsfolk.

    It was a short trip, a scant few miles around a closed track, but it bore out the engineers’ predictions beautifully. In the coming decades that short jaunt would come to be remembered as the voyage that sparked the second golden age of rail.

    4.7.4 Calculated response

    Blonde eyebrows furrowed in concern as Narcissa watched her husband drop his silverware, the knife and fork clattering loudly as they struck the plate. His hands trembled as he stared down at the plate for a long moment until he finally seemed to register what had happened. Then he fumbled with those trembling hands in a clumsy attempt to retrieve the fallen utensils.

    It was the fifth time during this meal alone.

    “Lucius, are you unwell?”

    Wild eyes locked with her own for a moment before they flitted away jerkily as if searching for threats. Still, despite his seeming inability to focus, it seemed to have been enough to capture Lucius’ attention, at least enough to warrant an explanation.

    I can’t call them off, Narcissa,” he told her in a panicked voice. “We set it up to keep from being traced, but now I need to call off the job, and I don’t have a way to do it!”

    “Who are you talking about, Lucius?” she asked, visibly restraining herself from snapping impatiently. “Who do you need to call off?”

    “The capture team I sent after Granger!” Lucius snapped, panic overriding his normally impeccable manners when dealing with his wife. “I met with Dumbledore yesterday. Now I need to call off the job, but I can’t, and I don’t know what to do, and... Oh Merlin, we’re all going to die!”

    “Granger?” Narcissa frowned as she tried to place the name. “Lucius, I am afraid I need you to refresh my memory…”

    “She’s the Weasley boy’s girlfriend!” he reminded her sharply. “The one we decided to use as a catspaw to get at the brat.” He shook his head before continuing in a mumble, “And she’s a Hogwarts student, under Dumbledore’s protection.” He buried his face in his hands and whimpered, “What was I thinking?”

    Lucius,” Narcissa ground out, limited patience now exhausted, “what do you mean about calling off that job? That is part of our vengeance for the assault on our son! How could you even consider backing out?”

    “The girl is a Hogwarts student, Narcissa,” Lucius insisted. “We need to back off, find another way. We can’t risk it!”

    “She was a Hogwarts student from the beginning, Lucius. Nothing has changed!” she snapped.

    Then a thought occurred; he had mentioned his meeting with Dumbledore…

    “Did Dumbledore do something to you yesterday, Lucius?”

    Mental interference would fit with the change in behavior, Narcissa thought. If he had, she would bury the old goat!

    “He knew, Narcissa,” Lucius hissed. “He knew about the diary!”

    She stiffened momentarily, then frowned. “Nonsense! If he knew, we would be before the Wizengamot; he wouldn’t have called you to Hogwarts.”

    Back channel, under the table threats were not Albus Dumbledore’s way.

    “Narcissa, something has changed,” her husband insisted. “Dumbledore delivered an ultimatum. If one more student under his protection comes to harm by my hand, he will kill me.”

    His wife scoffed. “He would never do such a thing!”

    “Damnit, Narcissa! I know death threats!” Lucius insisted, slamming an angry fist down on the dining table hard enough to make his place setting jump. “He was not bluffing! If he can trace anything to me, I am a dead man! And if the subtext I caught was correct, he would follow it up by cutting a bloody swath through the wizarding world... our side of it.” He was shouting now, “I know not what has changed, but that was not an idle threat!”

    “Calm yourself, Lucius,” Narcissa warned her husband in a hard tone. “This is Albus Dumbledore you speak of, not the Dark Lord…”

    “And who did the Dark Lord fear, Narcissa? Who killed the previous Dark Lord in single combat at the height of his power?” Lucius demanded. “Albus bloody Dumbledore!” He shook his head in disbelief, “I have no idea how we managed to forget that, but he bloody damned well reminded me yesterday, and now I have no idea how to salvage things!”

    Narcissa Malfoy scowled for a moment before closing her eyes in thought. When she opened them, she decided to take a different tack.

    “Very well Lucius, if it is as dire a circumstance as you say, I will handle things.”

    Her husband’s wide, panicked eyes filled with naked hope.

    “You know how to handle this mess, Narcissa?”

    “I keep track of your assets, Lucius,” she reminded him. “Admittedly, I mostly do that to ensure that you do not go too far in our little games, but the same capability can be turned to other purposes. I will handle the situation before anything untoward happens.”

    The Head of House Malfoy seemed to collapse in on himself in relief.

    “Now go to bed, Lucius,” she told her husband in a kindly voice. “Leave everything to me.”

    With a mumbled thank you, Lucius scraped himself off the table and shuffled off to bed.

    As he did so, Narcissa Malfoy nee Black, owner and CEO of Black Industries, sent for one of her factors. She needed information, and then she needed to speak with one of her special assets.

    A few hours later she sat in her private solar, having met with her factor and refreshed her memory on the job in question. Soon, the door opened to reveal the “special asset” she had sent for, an almost painfully nondescript man who nonetheless managed to project an air of solid competence.

    “What did you need, ma’am?” he asked without preamble.

    “My husband has made a mess,” Narcissa explained to her favorite cleaner, handing him a small slip of parchment. “See that it is cleaned up properly.”

    The man took the slip and read it carefully before nodding in understanding.

    “When?” he asked laconically.

    “At the appropriate time,” she replied cryptically, smiling a cruel sort of smile.

    The man’s brow furrowed in momentary confusion before it relaxed as he caught her meaning.

    “Understood, ma’am.”

    4.7.5 Homely deliberations

    “What do you think of this one?” Harry asked.

    The young dragon, currently in his human guise, stood before a steel worktable in his Lair with his damsels at his side. He was pointing to a red handwritten number five on the map spread out across the table. The map was a large topographical number which occupied the majority of the expansive table. Various locations on it were marked with numbers, the one Harry had indicated among them. Strewn haphazardly across the rest of the workbench and spilling onto the map in places, lay a collection of folders marked with corresponding numbers. Each was full of papers ranging from photographs and architectural drawings, to soil assessments and charts of groundwater depth. The folders were all marked with the green and gold logo of Gringotts Merchant Bank.

    “I am unsure, Harry,” Suze replied after a moment’s consideration. “That site seems rather exposed.”

    After his first meeting with Machinist Stoutknife, in which the goblin had told Harry in no uncertain terms that his current workshop would be woefully inadequate for the work he intended to do, Harry had put a great deal of thought into how to proceed.

    “Well, yeah, I guess,” Harry nodded. “It’s on the north slope, so it’s visible from the lake and Hogsmeade, but it’s not actually supposed to be a secret facility or anything, not on the magical side of things. We can handle the nonmagical side with charms just like Hogsmeade and the castle do. I was thinking that site would be easy to connect to the Hogsmeade spur line, so we’d have direct rail access.”

    He had given serious consideration to upgrading his power supply at the Lair, but in the end he had decided against it for two reasons. The first had been pointed out by Suze: generators were loud, and even the small one they had made it hard to think straight when it was running. Between the noise and the steady stream of goblin workers in and out, she thought it would make their home almost unlivable.

    The second reason had come to Harry as he had considered his damsel’s reasoning: that steady stream of people. Accommodating that many visitors would destroy any semblance of proper security and render his wonderfully knight-proof lair no longer knight-proof. That would defeat the whole point of having a proper knight-proof Lair in the first place!

    “I understand that it is supposed to be a publicly known facility,” the centaur maiden acknowledged, “but your nature as a dragon is not publicly known at this time, and you would not be able to visit in that form without being seen from the wand-wavers’ town.”

    In the end, Harry had decided to move the nascent machining operation to an alternate facility, and the question had then become, which one?

    A quick check with his contacts at Gringotts had presented him with a number of options in various cities and towns that were not too far away, but Harry had not been happy with the idea of moving the operation so far from the Lair and his immediate oversight. He was proud of that CNC, after all, and he didn’t want to send his baby off hundreds of miles away to some workshop to be tended by strangers. What if it got lonely?

    “Well, I could just make sure to visit in human form,” the young dragon offered with a thoughtful frown.

    “What if you need to carry something in?” Suze asked. “I remember the trouble you had with moving the equipment into the Lair in the first place.”

    “Huh…” Harry frowned thoughtfully at the map.

    Eventually he had settled on building a new facility nearby, rather than purchasing an existing one. It would be separated from the Lair proper for security and access control, but close enough to be part of the same campus, at least close enough for those who could fly natively. It would be an annex of sorts, a place for working on collaborative projects that would not disrupt the security and privacy of his home.

    “How about here?” Hermione said, pointing to another marked location a few hundred yards west of the first. “It’s still close enough for the rail connection, right?”

    “Yeah, but how’s that one better?” Harry asked his bushy-haired damsel. “It’s still overlooking the lake.”

    With the broad strokes of a plan in place, Harry had contacted Gringotts again, this time to contract their construction personnel. An agreement had been reached, funds had been transferred, and proposals had been drafted. He had received them just before his most recent meeting with Mr. Slackhammer.

    Now he just had to pick one.

    “It is,” frizzy hair swayed as Hermione nodded. “But it’s near this cut in the ridge, so you could make a second entrance on this side here,” she pointed to another spot.

    “Oh, that makes sense,” the young dragon nodded with a thoughtful frown. “Hey, isn’t that…” he looked closely at the map for a moment. “Yeah, that’s right across from the Lair entrance, isn’t it? Huh, I kinda wanted it to be out of sight from the Lair, though. You know, so I can come and go without people making a big deal of it.”

    “Well, you might just have to deal with that,” the bushy-haired girl shrugged, “because I’m not sure where else you could put it.”

    He frowned thoughtfully, “Maybe we could go back to this one, and I could dig a tunnel to a second entrance here?” he indicated a spot on the other side of the ridge behind the Lair. “That’d keep most of the activity on the other side of the hill, but I’d still have a private access if I needed one.”

    “That seems like an awfully long tunnel,” Hermione said doubtfully. “Isn’t it really expensive to dig like that?”

    “The goblins might be handling the design and finish work, but I’m handling the digging, and digging’s easy,” Harry waved a hand dismissively. “I’ll write them back and see if they can rework the design, but if they don’t have any objections, I think that’ll be the way to go.”

    4.7.6 Financier

    “Welcome once again, Mr. Potter,” Vice Director Slackhammer greeted his youngest business partner when the currently human-shaped dragon arrived at his office door. “Come in, come in, do!”

    “Hi there, Mr. Slackhammer!” Harry greeted warmly. “I heard you guys have been really busy lately, so thanks for taking the time to meet with me.”

    “We have been busy indeed,” the rather rotund goblin acknowledged. “Yet we are busy with upgrades and renovations made possible by our exceedingly profitable venture with yourself and Mr. Snape. I would show very poor judgement indeed if I were to neglect the partnerships that made such ventures possible. Now then, what brings you to my office today, my young friend?”

    Harry smiled. “Um, it’s a few different things,” he began. “First, before I forget, I wanted to thank you for your help in getting those facility proposals. We picked one of them, and the architectural team is working on finalizing the design now. I should be able to get digging soon.”

    “Capital!” Slackhammer enthused. “You are quite welcome, Mr. Potter! I look forward to seeing what comes out of that shop in the next few years. Specialist Flame-Eye was quite insistent that we not pass up the opportunity.”

    “I’ll keep you posted,” the human-seeming boy promised.

    “Aside from that, Mr. Snape hasn’t told me exactly what we’re going to be doing yet,” Harry said, “but he’s hinted that we’re going to be doing something that’ll keep us out of touch for a month or so at the beginning of summer. I wanted to check in on the business stuff you guys are handling before then, and I’ve also come across a business opportunity that I wanted to get some advice on. I think it’s a good opportunity, but it’s pricey enough that I might need to take out a pretty big loan for starting capital.”

    The portly goblin gentleman straightened at that, leaning forward intently. He was interested enough that he didn’t even give his usual acknowledgement to his aide when the goblin brought in their usual drinks.

    “An opportunity of that magnitude, you say? Well, color me intrigued, my young friend. What did you…” he paused as he caught himself and sighed. “Ah, but I get ahead of myself. No matter your proposal, it would behoove us to review your current ventures before discussing a new one. Best to know what we’re working with, after all.”

    “That makes sense,” the young dragon acknowledged with a nod, sipping at his newly arrived goblin tea.

    “I took the liberty of compiling the appropriate reports when you scheduled this meeting, Mr. Potter,” the Vice Director explained as he reached into a drawer and retrieved a sheaf of documents. “Perhaps we should begin with our oldest venture?”

    Harry nodded agreeably, and his business partner to of that as a signal to begin.

    “Sales of our refractory material, which our nonmagical shell company has dubbed HPRC-1 in their marketing literature…”

    “HPRC-1?” the young dragon interjected. “Where did that come from?”

    “Ah, I believe…” Slackhammer paged quickly through the report. “Yes, here it is. It is an acronym, signifying High Performance Refractory Composition Number One.”

    “That doesn’t sound very catchy,” Harry frowned. “I thought marketing names were supposed to do that.”

    “I wouldn’t worry too much about that, Mr. Potter,” the gentleman-goblin reassured his business partner with a faint chuckle. “That sort of name is hardly unusual in industrial materials, and if our sales numbers are any indication, it has hardly had a deleterious effect.”

    “We’re doing well then?”

    “Indeed, incoming order volume is still rising with no hint of slacking off in the foreseeable future,” Slackhammer relayed. “Although not quite as extreme as the bulk superconductor market, the market for the refractory is strong. For every market sector that approaches saturation, another three new applications are discovered.”

    “That’s good!”

    “It is very good, indeed, Mr. Potter, and speaking of the bulk superconductor market, that one is booming to an unprecedented extent.” He shook his head in admiration. “As I had mentioned in our earlier meeting, our entire production volume for the next several years had already been sold. Since then, we have brought a new dedicated facility online, almost quadrupling production capacity, and we are still in much the same backlogged state.”

    “That sounds like a good sort of problem to have, Mr. Slackhammer,” Harry said with a grin.

    “It most assuredly is, Mr. Potter,” the goblin agreed with a toothy smirk of his own. “We are making money hand over fist.”

    Harry sipped his tea and then asked, “Should we look into expanding production again?”

    “We should, yet we cannot at this time,” Slackhammer said with a frown. “There is simply not enough skilled magical labor available to support more.”

    The young dragon nodded with a thoughtful frown of his own, “Are there really that few people? I wouldn’t think it would take that many for another facility.”

    “Unfortunately, the labor markets are rather tight in this nation if one is not willing to ‘hire’ at the black markets,” the rotund goblin explained with a scowl. “And even if we were willing to stoop to such, industrial alchemy is not the usual sort of skill on the block.”

    The plush office fell silent at that while Harry glowered into his tea. After a moment, he cocked his head as an idea occurred.

    “What about those guys we’ve been smuggling out, the ones you’ve snuck though with my gold?” he asked. “Do you think any of them would be interested in working for us?”

    “An intriguing idea, Mr. Potter,” Slackhammer mused. “I daresay that many would be quite eager to work for a fair wage. Unfortunately, they are by and large not possessed of the appropriate skills.”

    “Couldn’t we train them?” the young dragon asked.

    “We could,” the goblin allowed, “though it would take some years to do so.”

    “Well yeah, it’ll take a while, but if the labor market’s as tight as you said, there’s not really any way to do it faster,” Harry pointed out. “Plus, we’re going to have ‘em around for a long time anyway, so we might as well double up.”

    Slackhammer’s curiously raised eyebrow spoke for itself.

    “Well, I mean, we gotta,” the last Potter said defensively. “I mean, if what Mr. Snape said about compulsions and stuff is right, then we’ve probably got a lot of work to do fixing ‘em up anyway — it’s not like we can just turn them loose all mentally crippled like that — and that’s going to take a long time. And if we’re keeping ‘em around for… for… um, what’s the word for fixing up someone who’s wrong in the head? I know I’ve read it before…”

    “Therapy,” his goblin business partner volunteered.

    “Yeah, therapy, that’s it! Thanks, Mr. Slackhammer,” he nodded in acknowledgement. “If they’ve got to stay for therapy anyway, why not offer to train them in a trade we need more of at the same time?”

    “That is a proposition that offers some intriguing possibilities, Mr. Potter,” the Vice Director said after a few moments’ consideration. “It is perhaps something to bring up with the Director. I must admit, our interest in the matter may have been rather short-sighted.” He looked at his young business partner intently, “If I do bring this before the Board, may I name you as a potential partner in this endeavor?”

    “Sure,” Harry agreed easily.

    “Then I propose we table the topic until I have the opportunity to do so,” Slackhammer said, briskly tapping his papers on the desk then flipping to the next document. “In the meantime, back to our previous discussion. Bulk superconductor sales continue to grow sharply; structured superconductors still require more research to make a saleable product, and I strongly suspect you are more familiar with the state of Hogs Haulage than I at this juncture. Did you have any further questions, Mr. Potter?”

    “Oh! I’d almost forgotten about that research group,” the currently human-shaped dragon exclaimed. “How are they coming along, anyway?”

    “Quite well as such things go, I understand,” the portly goblin reported. “Our management team has hired several researchers in computer engineering and set them up with a facility outside London. Reports indicate steady, if rather sedate progress.”

    “Hmm…” the last Potter nodded thoughtfully. “Nothing more specific?”

    “Not that crosses my desk, Mr. Potter. I am afraid that evaluating such things is quite beyond my depth.”

    “That’s alright,” Harry reassured his business partner. “If you wouldn’t mind, though, could you ask them to keep me in the loop? I’m kinda curious what they’re up to.”

    “Certainly, Mr. Potter,” Slackhammer scrawled a note to that effect. “Now if that is all, I must admit to a rather powerful curiosity regarding that business opportunity you mentioned.”

    The owner of the wizarding world’s largest railway gave an eager grin as he began, “Well, you know how we made that new locomotive, right?”

    “Indeed,” the goblin nodded, his clawed fingers steepled before him. “And I should note that our logistics department is quite interested in licensing the design once completed, if possible.”

    “I’m certainly open to the possibility,” Harry allowed. “Anyway, we’ve got that, so we can break into nonmagical freight with no problem, but there’s something else…”

    As one of the biggest — in more ways than one, though his current guise hid that aspect quite well — clients Gringotts Merchant Bank had ever served laid out his plan, the Vice Director of the London branch listened intently, his beady black eyes glittering at the prospects being described.

    “So, what do you think?”

    “A bold plan, Mr. Potter, a bold plan indeed, yet it is not foolhardy,” Slackhammer sat back in his chair as he considered the proposal. “It is, however, more than I can authorize on my own. Do I have your permission to share this with my superiors?”

    Harry nodded.

    “Then I shall initiate inquiries.”

    And with that, the meeting ended.

    4.7.7 Where everybody knows your name

    The pub was a dimly lit, low-ceilinged affair, furnished in darkly varnished woods and festooned with brass fittings. It occupied the basement of a secondhand shop in one of the lower-rent sections of Diagon Alley, and it was presently filled to not-quite-overflowing with the daily after-work rush. Despite the low lighting and tight quarters, it was a friendly place: warm, clean, and comfortable. The welcoming staff were always ready with a smile, and a peaceful atmosphere suffused the whole place.

    Of course, the veritable sea of blue and red robes of the law enforcement personnel who frequented the pub in their off hours probably played some role in promoting that peaceful atmosphere.

    “Sorry about that,” one constable nodded an apology to a brown-haired man sitting at the bar after accidentally bumping him on the way to his seat two stools over. After receiving a good-natured grunt and a nod in turn, he turned to his already seated partner.

    “What do you make of that Lockhart business?” the other constable asked as his partner sat down at the bar to order a pint.

    “You mean the detain order that’s been the talk of the Department for the last month? Not sure, exactly.” He took a draught of his newly arrived beer. “Seems kinda odd, don’t it?”

    “Aye,” the first man agreed, sipping his own drink. “Not sure why they haven’t issued an arrest warrant if they’ve got the evidence.”

    “I’m not sure we’ve actually got anything solid,” the second demurred. “Rumor at the office is split on whether he unlawfully obliviated some people or whether he got kidnapped and the kidnappers obliviated ‘em.” He barked out a laugh, “‘Course, the ‘kidnappers’ camp seems to be mostly made of the girls in Dispatch.”

    That elicited an answering laugh from his partner. “Aye, I’m not looking forward to hearing my wife’s reaction if we bring him in. She’s mighty fond of those books of his, and I need my ears for the job.”

    “Same here,” the second officer nodded. “My little girl at Hogwarts has had nothing but good to say about him, and the less said about those book signings the better. I’ve talked to some of the lads who’ve worked security for those. There’s a lot of people who practically worship the ground that man walks on.”

    Both men sobered at that thought, settling down to a thoughtful silence for a few moments.

    Eventually, the first officer spoke what they had both been thinking.

    “If he is arrested, the evidence had better be damn good, or there’s gonna be hell to pay.”

    The pair finished their drinks in silence.

    4.7.8 Dropping eaves

    As the talkative pair finished their drinks and left, the brown-haired man two seats down slowly nursed his third beer, his expression pensive. That had been a rather enlightening conversation... more than worth burning through some of his limited supply of cosmetics to make a throwaway face. Now the question became what to do with the new information.

    It seemed the DMLE had not seen fit to publicize the nature of his crimes. Was it because they were uncertain of the facts? Possibly, he supposed, but Gilderoy considered it far more likely someone trying to cover his own arse. Accusing a former Ministry obliviator of the sorts of crimes he had committed would not reflect well on the government that had trained and employed him.

    Lockhart grimaced and took another swig of his beer. It was a pointless bit of speculation, since there was no way to take advantage of it even if he knew who was responsible, but old habits and all that rot. In any event, it was best to consider his own situation first.

    So, the public wasn’t certain he was a criminal. That would change as soon as his recent obliviations were reversed; which was just a matter of time given that he had taken a great deal of care to make the things reversible. There had been no reason to turn the DMLE pursuit from diligent and professional to rabid and vicious by effectively maiming two of their own. When they managed the reversal, they’d have him dead to rights on assault, but he had bought himself time.

    Now it was just a question of how to take advantage of that time.

    During his speculative planning, he hadn’t really thought through it all, mostly considering the extra time as simply a bigger lead on his inevitable pursuit. However, this public uncertainty opened new options which might make it easier to stay ahead. Gilderoy fell silent, waving off the bartender’s offer to draw him another beer as he puzzled through the first inklings of an idea... something that had arisen from the tail end of the officers’ conversation.

    Perhaps he didn’t have to hide his trail completely. If he made the idea of pursuit unpopular enough, the DMLE might not actively pursue him at all... especially if he faked his death. Gilderoy knew he wasn’t good enough to pull off a fake death that would actually fool Forensics, not for more than a few minutes, but for this he didn’t have to come up with a deception good enough to persuade his enemies, he just needed one good enough to persuade his fans, at which point they would take care of the rest.

    That he could manage, though it would take some planning.

    4.7.9 Spring interlude

    Time passed as time was wont to do, and the seasons continued their ponderous march from winter into spring. The last scattered patches of snow melted, and the hills came alive with verdant growth. The moors were painted with the lush green of new vegetation and strewn with great swaths of blue and white wildflowers. Sunny days became more prevalent; though ‘prevalent’ was a relative term in an area that avoided being a temperate rainforest only by virtue of its general lack of trees.

    Though, nature had begun to address that particular lack of late.

    The previously near-unbroken expanse of heather on the high moors outside the Black Woods had slowly begun to be dotted by a variety of new saplings. They were mostly birch and Scots pine, though a few of the slower growing oaks were pushing up as well. For the first time living memory, the young trees were surviving long enough to establish themselves, aided by increases in ambient magic and spurred by the recent heavy reduction in the local populations of deer and stray sheep. After many centuries of decline, Pliny’s silva caledonia had begun to expand again as the trees began their slow yet inexorable march to reclaim the Isles.

    Even as he remained mostly hidden from the world at large, the far-reaching influence of the Great Wyrm of Hogwarts proved both subtle and profound.

    On the other hand, his local influence, while certainly profound, could not be reasonably called subtle, as attested by the great snap and crackle of rock torn violently asunder that echoed loudly across the valley below the Lair.

    “Alright! That’s enough for now, Mr. Potter! Clear out of the way so we can reinforce the ceiling,” the strident voice of the foreman of the goblin construction team cut through the cacophony.

    The Gringotts architects had been quick to finalize the plans for Harry’s new metalworking facility. Detailed site plans had been drafted, engineering requirements had been written, equipment orders had been placed, and deliveries had been arranged. All of it had led to this point, when excavation had begun.

    “Right!” came the Great Wyrm’s chipper reply, even as he backed his massive scaly bulk away from the newly exposed rockface, taking care to avoid the goblin workers rushing in to reinforce the walls and ceiling of the new tunnel section. His diminutive coworkers were armed with mining drills, rock bolts, and a rented boom lift, which was much bigger and easier-to-not-step-on than the previous scissor lift.

    Harry had volunteered to provide the bulk of the muscle to excavate the site of the mostly subterranean facility, which had meant that the construction team had needed more skill than heavy labor. They had thus been able to forgo almost all of their heavy equipment and fill out their numbers from the ranks of the recently retired, avoiding two of the biggest sticking points for Gringotts in recent years. A team had been assigned in short order.

    Work had begun immediately thereafter, and Harry and his much smaller coworkers had quickly worked out how to cooperate effectively. The foreman estimated Harry’s contribution, the rough excavation, would be completed by the end of the school year. That was fortunate timing indeed, if the rumblings Harry had been hearing from the professors about a summer trip across the Atlantic bore fruit. With his part completed, he would be able to leave the finish work to the able hands of the goblins while he was away.

    There had been a few missteps along the way, of course; though the flattened scissor lift fortunately remained the worst such incident. Crushed equipment was far easier on his conscience than crushed goblins. The Gringotts team had agreed with the sentiment, and even offered to waive the cost for replacing the damaged equipment in exchange for Harry’s offer of assistance with another similarly-sized excavation job in the future.

    Having retreated a sufficient distance to clear the work area, Harry settled in for a good think while he waited for the foreman to call him in for his next task. Driving in the number of rock bolts needed for the span took a fair amount of time even for an experienced crew. Fortunately for the young dragon, there was plenty to think about.

    The new metalworking annex, while easily the most involved addition to the Lair, was not the only one, nor was it the first. The first had been Harry’s new alchemy lab. As of his last lesson, Harry had finally progressed to the point that Mr. Dumbledore declared him ready to begin the second practice exercise. The proud young dragon had been quite eager to get started, but his instructor had insisted he move into a proper laboratory first. Lying down in his living room with a bowl of water was no longer going to pass muster.

    To that end, the older wizard had given his young pupil strict specifications for the facility, and the result, completed a few days earlier, was the first truly separate annex to the Lair. Digging it out had been a simple affair — it was just a long tunnel — but Mr. Dumbledore had been very particular about where it had been dug. The hill had specifically not been the one housing his Lair nor the one set aside for the new machining facility; the opening had to ‘face away from anything he cared about’; and the tunnel could not ‘contain anything he wasn’t willing to lose’.

    Harry wasn’t quite sure what to make of those conditions, but he had dutifully followed them. Now he eagerly anticipated his next lesson, due in just two weeks... just about the time NEWTs would begin.

    A pained grimace crossed the dragon’s scaly visage at the thought of the exams. Harry was not looking forward to those... not because he was involved in taking or proctoring them, but rather because he had grown to enjoy his time spent training with Abigail, and he was not eager to lose that.

    Harry sniffled a little. He already missed her a little, and she hadn’t even started testing yet! Stupid tests, stealing away his friend… At least Hermione wouldn’t be taking them for a while yet, so she and Suze would still be around. And speaking of his damsels, they had both been doing well lately, the young dragon thought with a proud smile.

    Suze continued to improve her woodcarving under her uncle’s tutelage, and while she remained focused on bowyery, she had recently taken an interest in runic arrays. Between Harry’s lessons with Machinist Stoutknife and his continuing haphazard research into warding the Lair, books on the subject had been strewn about the Lair more than usual in the recent weeks.

    Hermione seemed to be learning and casting a brand-new spell every few hours, making for a very impressive display of magical prowess... especially for someone who could see the disparate spell structures directly. Harry had never imagined there could be so many technically distinct ways to make a magical light!

    On a more personal front, the young dragon’s daily practices had continued apace, even in Abigail’s absence. He kept up his rifle practice religiously, and Harry was now consistently getting groupings almost half as tight as Suze’s, a not-inconsiderable feat given the centaur maiden’s skill with her own guns. He was very much looking forward to showing Sergeant-Major Hookknife how much he had improved when he next had the opportunity.

    His spell accuracy practices with Hermione and Abigail had been somewhat slower to show results. Harry was confident that, should another duel come up, he would now be able to reliably hit a human-sized target at the thirty-or-so feet typical of dueling platforms, provided that said human-sized target was kind enough not to move overmuch.

    Needless to say, spell accuracy would remain on the practice agenda for the foreseeable future. He did not want a repeat of that embarrassment on the dueling platform in the future.

    On a brighter note, Hermione’s progress in the same had been nothing short of remarkable; she had taken to the practice like a duck to water. The past months’ worth of practice had brought her pinpoint accuracy at normal engagement distances, and the piercing curse they had taken to practicing with now rolled off her wand with a casual ease that Harry found quite fascinating to watch.

    His damsels were great!

    All things considered; Harry’s life was going quite well in his estimation. He’d even had a bit of a breakthrough on that project he’d been working on during the previous year, another reason the rune texts had been out so much. Putting it into practice would have to wait for later, at least until after the summer trip; he just had too many irons in the fire at the moment. Still, at least he now knew it was possible to…

    “You’re up again, Mr. Potter!” the foreman bellowed, and Harry got back to work.

    He could woolgather some other time... preferably a time when he wasn’t paying a construction crew by the hour. This was on his own sickle, after all.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
    udkudk, Corvus 501, Karion and 154 others like this.
  3. wichajster

    wichajster Away

    Aug 22, 2017
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    I wonder what kind of technology would boost steam locomotives more than electric/diesel ones.

    BTW "bulk superconductor market" and Dumbledore here and so many other things were great.
  4. Acolyte

    Acolyte Know what you're doing yet?

    May 19, 2018
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    People really do fprget that dumble dore kicked a dark lords ass already.

    And i am just imagining the amount of uses a super conductor has and they don't end. The butter flies from that must be amazing. Also his secret message will probably be the target pf a shadow run soon.
  5. Lector312

    Lector312 Not too sore, are you?

    Nov 26, 2017
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    I really want Sirius to get out and take over Black Industries already
    Corvus 501, jlk, BloodRevan and 2 others like this.
  6. Emizaquel

    Emizaquel What is a self?

    Mar 22, 2015
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    Don't you mean Black Ink?
    Corvus 501 and Acolyte like this.
  7. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
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    A bit of background on the steam improvements:

    There has been a small but very dedicated movement in the real world to modernize steam locomotives; after the introduction of the internal combustion engine, steam locomotives were basically left behind and not updated for modern metallurgy or manufacturing methods. That movement gained a bit of traction (pun totally intended) in the late 1970's and early 1980's during the spike in oil prices driven by OPEC, spawning a company, American Coal Enterprises, run by Ross Rowland and employing a team of steam engineers (including Livio Dante Porta and David Wardale among others) to do so. They managed to produce a test locomotive which showed good promise for matching the cost of diesel-electric at the time, but falling oil prices killed interest in the project which ended in 1988. The people involved went on to different things.

    Most of the improvements made involved Porta's combustion system and the introduction of modern metallurgy, piston seals, and precision machining.

    In-story, the Hogs Haulage people have been using their own expertise, magic, to optimize steam engines for about a century, and almost all of those dealt with the steam handling aspects and maintenance, getting them to the point of performing a bit better than their non-magical diesel electric counterparts, hence Harry's early ideas of expanding into non-magical freight. Rowland and his engineers are coming in fresh off the ACE project, and there was very little overlap between the ACE improvements and the Hogs Haulage ones, so many of the improvements stack, so this new locomotive is loads better than either of its predecessors, which were already close to matching diesel-electric costs. Thus, the new ones are very good indeed.

    As to why they do not work on diesel-electric, it is simply a case of design time. None of the magical improvements were developed for diesel-electric locomotives, so applying them to the diesel-electric systems will involve a long design process, just as they did for steam.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
  8. Koolaid

    Koolaid Getting out there.

    Feb 3, 2019
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    I always enjoy reading this story :)
    Dunkelzahn likes this.
  9. AndrewWolfe

    AndrewWolfe Hot glue beard disaster.

    Jan 9, 2019
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    Powder-Keg Dumbledore. Oh yes.
    Damnedmatt and Amrynel like this.
  10. Hunting time

    Hunting time Getting out there.

    Mar 29, 2018
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    i am surprised a bit that Harry isn't interested in his family history and those that knew his parents enough for it to get show here, we are at the end of his second year already and its been four years in the magical world for him.
    that should have brought up Sirius and his lack of trial and Harry's anger at the whole situation by now.
    Damnedmatt likes this.
  11. stads

    stads I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Nov 20, 2018
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    lets not invoke mr's black having a dragon around is one thing for the universe have both of them in the same universe is just cruel to the universe
    looking forward to what cissy's plan in not sure if she fears the headmaster
    CesareBorgiaWrites likes this.
  12. Ayashi

    Ayashi Well worn.

    Aug 3, 2018
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    quick note: there's an interesting system called water cracking. Basically it takes the exhaust heat produced by the diesel/petroleum/whatever combustion engine, runs it through water, which turns it into an oxygen/hydrogen gas mix (the percentage of O2/H2 and mere water steam depends on the temperature). And that you can re-inject into the motor to obvious results. You're basically recycling exhaust heat into more moving power for your engine.
    I think I remember reading that it's supposed to give something along the lines of a decrease in fuel used of 20% (for equal performance). It's supposed to be an "easy modification" to existent combustion engines too...

    or you can simply throw some super materials or magic at the problem until it goes away. That works too :V
    wasn't Lockhard supposed to be entirely burned out from the potions and other (magical) abuses he put himself through as a teacher this (half?) year? He seems pretty lucid here, hale and hearty even...
    why not simply turn human to disengage?
    pervyshyguy likes this.
  13. DIT_grue

    DIT_grue lurker

    Jun 1, 2014
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    That's a lot of repetition; is it deliberate?
  14. Tisaku

    Tisaku Versed in the lewd.

    Feb 13, 2015
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    for it to
    DIT_grue and Dunkelzahn like this.
  15. tj10209

    tj10209 Making the rounds.

    Aug 13, 2016
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    I believe that you are thinking of the wrong Lockhart from another fic.
    DIT_grue and Ayashi like this.
  16. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
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    Water thermolysis is actually something I hadn't considered. Temperatures need to get very high to have it occur at significant rates, and it absorbs more energy than you can get back out of the hydrogen afterwards. High temperature electrolysis is an option (which I suspect is where you picked up the efficiency increase, because electrolysis becomes more efficient at higher temperatures), but neither is very efficient at storing energy in that hydrogen. You'd be better off using the heat to make electricity and using that directly.

    As for recycling waste heat, the engineer was basically hinting at that with the multiple recovery cycles.

    Lockhart was exhausted after his efforts to cover his tracks and escape Hogwarts, but not particularly damaged. He's had a week or two hiding by this point to rest and recover --- or at least he's supposed to have had a week or two, if I messed up something in that regard, let me know.

    Harry stayed a dragon there mostly because I liked the image of him carefully picking his way out while avoiding the swarm of goblin workers rushing in to do their thing.

    No, no it was not, changed now.
    inverted_helix, Damnedmatt and Ayashi like this.
  17. Kitty S. Lillian

    Kitty S. Lillian Transhuman

    May 20, 2018
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    Dumbledore is terrifying to some. This is a good example how.
    More playing with trains. I expect that he'll have an accident (or an on-purpose) sometime with lifting an occupied locomotive engine or car?
    You don't often see the competent side of Lockhart required for him to get away with dozens of obliviations of heroes.
    You want "flouted", not "flaunted", here.
  18. Acolyte

    Acolyte Know what you're doing yet?

    May 19, 2018
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    Seriously tho, i love this story.
  19. Nioz

    Nioz Know what you're doing yet?

    Mar 17, 2016
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    I mean, why not both? Using the hydrogen-oxygen-steam mix could even allow you to help lower the temperature!

    I guess it’d be a question of if this would work with the existing efficiency improvements they have already tossed on the exhaust with the help of MagiTech Science?
    Acolyte likes this.
  20. Damnedmatt

    Damnedmatt Not too sore, are you?

    Dec 22, 2017
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    I love this take on Dumbledore. We always get hints and occasional shows that he is a titan, a magical legend in his own lifetime, but we are rarely given reasons for why he holds back, why he does not use the full force of his power and influence to make the death eaters/bigots stop. And this has to be my favorite explanation for why... and to be honest, the fact that Dumbledore is willing to accept the consequences of his actions if need be likely terrifies the hell out of Malfoy more than anything. He is used to working the system, to gaming it and finding the loopholes when he is not perverting the system, to cheating and abusing it.

    And then, Dumbledore tells him that the only reason Malfoy and his friends are still alive is because Wulfric is a guardian of that Great Fortress On The Hill who has tried to build the foundations strong, to last beyond his own life and care. And in that case, if he needs to be a sacrifice, to lay on the altar of justice to prove that even the mighty are bound by The Law So Be It. Because unlike Malofy he will not hide, he will not avoid responsibility. He will give a full and honest account, that all may know what he did and why, and so he may be judged accordingly according to the impartial laws he had helped enact, chains of his own creation he embraces willingly.

    Which, given the generally criminal and corrupt mindset of Malfoy has got to be a shock to the system.
  21. pjung

    pjung Getting sticky.

    Dec 26, 2017
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    yeah, especially as people like Malfoy often view those bound by things like Law or Morality to be weak.
    So the idea of a truly terrifying death threat that you believe will be carried out by that weak person...
    Randommosity and Damnedmatt like this.
  22. Damnedmatt

    Damnedmatt Not too sore, are you?

    Dec 22, 2017
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    That, and the fact is that Malfoy and his ilk are 'might makes right', with the fact that they have managed to prove themselves having the power to get away with things leading them to think that consequences are only something to be applied to the weak... also known as other people. To have someone whose sheer presence weighs down on you like the ocean at the bottom of a trench inform you that there will be consequences for action on all sides involved...

    Its priceless and hilarious.

    Not in the least because he set up Malfoy to want to deal with his master to protect himself, due to the fact Malfoy got his basilisk, his greatest friend and the legacy of his house killed and then compounded the offense by devouring her.... Malfoy must atone or die. He has no other options and it was sold and presented beautifully :D
  23. pjung

    pjung Getting sticky.

    Dec 26, 2017
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    yeah, this was one of the best Dumbledore scenes in fanfiction
  24. Ayashi

    Ayashi Well worn.

    Aug 3, 2018
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    having dumbledore use his might to force them down into behaving as he sees right only proves their might makes right mentality...
    Damnedmatt likes this.
  25. QuietlyObserving

    QuietlyObserving Life is hard, sometimes.

    Sep 21, 2017
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    Some people can't understand any language except their own. Besides, government inherently derives from a monopoly of power. If there isn't something standing behind a law's words to enforce them, it might as well not be a law at all. If that enforcement happens to be a wizard so powerful he could probably solo half the country, then that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
  26. Furoan

    Furoan Making the rounds.

    Sep 12, 2014
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    Forget Lucius, Narcissa is the really interesting one here, because she is for the large part presented as being worse than Lucius here, or at least more likely to spill the pain around. Lucius might have mucked up the Weasley family for Draco's injury back before, but its Narcissa who got Lucius to focus on Hermione who hadn't done anything other than be seen talking to Ron. More, she wants pensive memories of what is planned to be done to her to sell around.

    I think Narcissa is either going to become a liability to Lucius or find out quickly that Lucius wasn't joking when he said Dumbledore would make sure there would be consequences, and it promises to be beautiful.
    Damnedmatt and wichajster like this.
  27. pjung

    pjung Getting sticky.

    Dec 26, 2017
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    yeah, a lot of characterisations have her as being not exactly nice but less then involved with her husbands dirty work, approving but not involved. This one has her as egging him on and if anything worse then him. Also more powerful by a decent margin due to wealth
    Damnedmatt and wichajster like this.
  28. Dragonladysally

    Dragonladysally Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

    May 30, 2019
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    • Don't necro. This is against Rule 7.
    I am curious if Harry is going to pay a visit to the Malforms in dragon image
    Damnedmatt and Pyeknu like this.
  29. Hunting time

    Hunting time Getting out there.

    Mar 29, 2018
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    do you mean make a visit to the Malfoys as a dragon?
    Damnedmatt likes this.
  30. Dragonladysally

    Dragonladysally Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

    May 30, 2019
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