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Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

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

  1. TheGrog

    TheGrog In the number mines

    Sep 22, 2018
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    One thing I do have to wonder: where, exactly, do the thugs come from? It's a bit odd to think of a society where the individual members are as capable as HP wizards to generate such (seemingly trained) thugs. In real life there is a certain chain of poverty that creates many career criminals, and many of the rest get pulled in by older relatives.
  2. RedX

    RedX Not too sore, are you?

    Jul 9, 2014
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    But... they do know. They know Hermione's security situation, having been the ones to oversee its arrangement it in the first place. They know how important she is to Harry, and they know they're taking her protector off the continent.

    Though yanno, with all the explanations given, I can sort of see it happening... in a sort of massed comedy-of-errors way, with everyone assuming someone else is on the job. They'll be kicking themselves when they figure out what happened, of course. So long as they're not kicking Hermione, everything should be good, if indicative of their organization desperately needing some clearer lines of communication.

    Hrm. What happens when they all get together for the trip, and Hermione isn't there? Hopefully they'd notice they're short a participant.

    Well this I can certainly agree with, as I've been saying continuously above. Only not just Harry- Snape and Abigail, too, should be seeking to correct this via contact with the actual arbiters of Hermione's actions. (And they're considerably more at fault, being an adult and an almost-adult.)

    Hrm. Of course, Harry sort of has- he's told Snape, who's playing information-denial games with Hermione's freedom... what happens if she gets yoinked by someone that doesn't care about Harry's claim, and who ships her off to where-ever first thing? The legal and social protections are nice, but it'd be even better if she's not in any physical position to get kidnapped in the first place. Harry's also told the goblins, who don't seem to be working the situation any on their end either... perhaps because they assume he's already asked an adult closer to the situation?

    If the adults were very competent and wise, they'd be cluing into the situation themselves. They have every bit of the info anyone else does, they know the score and what must be done, they're just not doing it because it's slipping their minds. As it is, it's a massive failure of communication and organization at a minimum... but I suppose those do happen sometimes.

    Well, aside from Snape, who I'm rapidly coming to see as taking an utterly horrific gamble with Hermione here- he's intentionally cutting her guardians out of the info loop in order to push her towards closer ties with Harry, and sort of handwaving the very real risk that she gets kidnapped by someone who doesn't care about Harry's social status and can successfully exfiltrate her. It's also a completely unnecessary risk, given that Hermione could easily accept Harry's protection and her parents tell her to stick with Harry and they'll catch up later.

    (And, to address my main point and the reason I'm commenting so much on this, it all still fails as an indictment of Hermione's character. At worst, she's guilty of believing adults, and not just fellow-kid Harry, are watching out for her and would tell her when she's about to do something wrong- and she's right most of the time and in this entire story so far, when they're not completely dropping the ball and/or being cut out of the info loop by each other.)

    In this case, with active economic incentive plus low population numbers and a specialized skill-set, they're more likely to be effectively mid-grade mercenaries- more akin to cartel enforcers or the ickiest sorts of PMC rather than poor neighborhood thugs.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
    LysanderArgent likes this.
  3. Nioz

    Nioz Know what you're doing yet?

    Mar 17, 2016
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    I believe I may have but two points I wish to raise for this argument:

    1, contrivance is a necessity for almost all literary work, fantasy and sci-fi especially, that aren’t being produced as a direct deconstruction of it. After all, why would we read this story if there wasn’t enough contrivance to make it interesting?

    2, if promising young witches were kidnapped left, right, and centre there would soon be enough uproar to fuel drastic policy change (but this may be me ascribing more fluidity than reasonable to a society with people easily living into their second century. Thus the situation has to be uncommon enough that Snape is not worrying too much about it being an actual thing this summer (remember, he is also planning for the trip) meaning he likely sees it as a relatively risk-free way to get Hermione closer to Harry/out of the cesspool that is the rest of wizarding society.

    yeah, I believe that should cover my points
    Dunkelzahn and LysanderArgent like this.
  4. timuzhti

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

    Oct 5, 2018
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    Here are a list of other things that have equal levels of risk for everyone else: Rain. The pandemic. The gangs that you've just being made aware of. Here is a list of actions consistent with your philosophy: Don't do anything. Go outside as normal. Don't pay protection money.
    Jordisk likes this.
  5. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Experienced.

    Apr 11, 2017
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    If you're not going to actually argue honestly in favor of your strawman, there's no point talking to you.

    The Unicorn, RedX and Skjadir like this.
  6. RedX

    RedX Not too sore, are you?

    Jul 9, 2014
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    I think you're mixing up "contrivance", "setting", and "plot". The latter are the world in which the story happens (which could be anything, but has to be consistent within itself) and the events in the story (driven by happenstance, character's actions in pursuit of their goals, and other character's reaction to these). "Contrivance" is what happens when, instead of the plot flowing from the setting and characters, some part of the setting or characters is changed or ignored in order to create a plot point that would not otherwise flow from them. In this example, we have a plot point that Hermione gets contracted by Harry; but instead of having this arise from the situation as it stands (as it easily could have!) we instead go with cutting out all adult supervision in a series of mis-steps, miscommunications, idiot balls (especially in Abigail's case- you're a competent young woman, you don't have the excuse of being twelve/thirteen, just call her damn parents if you're so worried about her!), and Snape suddenly deciding that it's worth taking the greater risk of Hermione's permanent enslavement now in order to get her some additional political top-cover going forward. (Who the heck gave him the right to make that decision on Hermione's parents behalf?)

    As said above, I can sort-of see it all working out like that... but only in the case where the adults in question would be horrified at their mis-step and quite aghast at the comedy of errors that produced it. (Not in the case where the blame falls on a tween actually trusting them to think about her when their decisions directly and majorly impact her life, which I keep harping on because it's the entire reason I'm bothering to address any of this.)

    But that gets us right back to "the risk is quite minimal, Harry is being over-paranoid", which the author has already stated isn't the case. We have a crapsack world here, apparently, promising young wizards and witches are at significant risk out on their own, and Harry and Abigail are (apparently) right to worry about Hermione's freedom.

    But... you can't have the risk be serious enough for Harry to be in the right about the situation, and the risk be simultaneously minimal enough for every adult to think that things are going to be fine, much less the paranoid and bitter Snape. He's rolling the dice on Hermione's behalf, and has to know it- intentionally cutting Hermione's parents out of the communications loop to accomplish this is still an utterly horrible thing to do to her and them both.
  7. SystemSearcher

    SystemSearcher "I fought the door and the door won"

    Sep 9, 2017
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    Sure you can. There's still medium risk.

    Not a serious response, just an attempt to jokingly nitpick in order to lighten the mood
  8. randomchance

    randomchance Not too sore, are you?

    Sep 3, 2018
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    I just read this entire fuc, and it's awesome, I love so many things about the writing.

    Never thought I'd be this excited for a boy's eventual puberty though...
  9. Ravenwood240

    Ravenwood240 Making the rounds.

    Jun 25, 2018
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    I must have missed the fuc chapter; which one was that?
    azqs likes this.
  10. Hunting time

    Hunting time Getting out there.

    Mar 29, 2018
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    a few things that need answers for, if they are already answered please point me to where...i might have missed them.
    still waiting on seeing something about the Deathly Hollows, might have missed Harry getting the cloak, any background on how they work into the story would be interesting
    Harry is about to head to MACUSA but that was changed into something totally different, how does that change for The Crimes of Grindelwald?
    How does that change Dumbledore since he seems the same mostly?
    Why are you not using expanded spaces like Newt had? Harry would fit in it for sleeping and you could have other briefcases filled with his "food" stored in them.
    Zhen_Electric likes this.
  11. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
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    The Hallows have not been addressed yet, nor will they be a major plot device in this story. They do exist, as I've mentioned before, but they are simply powerful magical artifacts devoid of a greater meaning or purpose.
    Relevant post:

    Crimes of Grindelwald:
    I had not actually bothered to look into the plot of Fantastic Beasts when planning this, so don't expect any of that to show up here. The Dumbledore/Grindelwald conflict was entirely confined to the European theater in this setting.

    Dumbledore's backstory is as follows:
    • He is a powerful wizard
    • He had another very close friend in his youth who was a similarly powerful wizard (Grindelwald)
    • They plotted a 'benevolent' conquest out of well-meaning youthful arrogance
    • They got in an argument over something which resulted in a scuffle that caused Ariana Dumbledore's death
    • Dumbledore refused to go ahead with their plans in his grief over his sister's death, but Grindelwald went ahead on his own
    • Grindelwald launched a war in Europe which ran alongside the concurrent mostly non-magical WWII, both with his own forces and the German military (obtained via persuasion, secret alliance, and sometimes outright mind control of the upper echelons of the non-magical Nazi regime)
      • Really ugly conflict
      • Lots of casualties and tremendous cruelty
      • Lots of blood magic using human sacrifices (Grindelwald posed as a high-ranking SS officer from time to time and took full advantage of that)
    • Over the years, Dumbledore has a major change of heart, seeing where the youthful ambitions they had shared had led Grindelwald
    • Eventually he had enough and stepped in, ending the war (the magical side, at least) in a decisive duel with his childhood friend
    In the aftermath, Dumbledore turned to peaceful means of reform, avoiding the more violent methods assiduously, not trusting himself to avoid the pitfalls inherent in that approach, and seeing the slow speed and tragedy along the way as a small price to pay for avoiding a repetition of what he had seen before.

    Space Expansion:

    I've touched on the limitations of expanded spaces bit with both Lockhart and Snape. The short of it is, expanded spaces don't like being moved. Doing so requires the intervention of a sapient magical person, and the bigger the expansion is --- and the faster it moves --- the more tiring it is. Moving an expanded trunk like Lockhart's is an exhausting endeavor for an average wizard.

    There are lots of expanded spaces people are using (Diagon Alley, itself, and Ottery-St. Catchpole are prominently featured as such), they're just generally used in stationary installations. People are not carrying anything of significant size around routinely.

    It's a limitation I originally introduced because Harry is running a railway, and easily movable expanded spaces make that a losing proposition. You don't need railways for bulk cargo transport when you can air-mail someone the contents of a container ship inside a Flat-Rate box.
  12. Gaming Geek

    Gaming Geek Tired of the random default stuff

    Jan 24, 2014
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    Honestly, why not have Harry fail due to that?

    Not even joking, there's nothing wrong with him failing a venture due to not planning around something he didn't think about.

    And if that limitation were fact then how would there be things like Neut's animal farm suitcase, hermione's expanded hand bag, or that magic pouch Harry gets?

    I'm just saying, is there some super super important plot reason you have to have the railroad be profitable?
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  13. Spartan3909

    Spartan3909 Know what you're doing yet?

    Jan 6, 2018
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    Yes, so the author can write more about trains.

    More seriously, all the items you listed are things you carry with you, and as mentioned here
    as long as a thinking magical being is carrying it expanded spaces can be moved, meaning there isn't a conflict with cannon. Even if there was, this is an AU crossover, so as long as the author doesn't contradict his own logic and worldbuilding, it's all good.
    Corvus 501 and KugelBlitzner like this.
  14. tronax

    tronax Know what you're doing yet?

    Nov 16, 2019
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    You clearly have the natural talent required to make a good story (and that is not something I'm saying often), but with all the effort you'd put in characters interactions, you forgot about the plot and the little things that make a story rememberable. There is no even situational thought effort to invent little clever tricks adding the cool factor to characters. There were some inspired little tidbits, like centaur armed with firearms walking in Diagon Alley that will stick to memory, but way too rare to make a real difference.

    If you want your story to not be just another fic forgotten a week after being read, you need it to be significantly different from canon in one or more of the ways that matter. Humor, romance, clever heroes, larger world, new concepts, morals, plot, etc. This story is way too close to canon. And in the way that matters to most HP fans, it is worse. Because canon was about introducing fun magical concepts and playing with it. Here they are reduced instead, and reduced by a lot. In canon, when there was a problem, you could fully expect to see some magical solution to it. In this fic, there will be some silly explanation why magical solution wouldn't work instead.

    You know, like with troll bone stuck in dragon teeth. Personally I could pull three magical solutions from the top my head, that would work regardless of bone itself being completely untouchable by magic. And then there are having Harry just burn the bone to ashes by his flames, gluing the bone to a rope to pull it free, or drilling a hole in it to pull with it - not magical, but thoughtful ways. Instead, in your plot you had it resolved in the least magical and least clever way that was at all possible. Some of those situations are worse. Take your goblin rebellion of 1899. Goblins winning over wizards by machine guns? I can just see how a single one wizard puts invisibility mantle on himself, and then confounds goblins to shoot each other, slaughtering them by the hundreds. Full stop to the rebellion right there. And that is the most primitive way they could go about it with canon tools only. Instead, in your plot, wizards did the dumbest and least magical thing, not unlike in troll bone example.

    Again, all of the above is about making the story remarkable in some way and rememberable. It is isn't necessary for a fanfic.
    In search for story's likes this.
  15. Ravenwood240

    Ravenwood240 Making the rounds.

    Jun 25, 2018
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    One invisible wizard, huh. Perhaps you have forgotten that the goblins run the safest bank in the world, or that they have ways to strip concealment spells from a person. You think perhaps that no one has ever tried to sneak into the bank while invisible?

    Besides, that would require intelligence and bravery in a single wizard that wanted to kill hundreds of goblins, I.E., a pure blood, and of the purebloods that would do it, none of them have both.
    Corvus 501 likes this.
  16. tronax

    tronax Know what you're doing yet?

    Nov 16, 2019
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    The bank might have all the security enchantments of the world and be super secure, so what? The outside of it is purely human territory, no helpful enchantments for goblins. It's like banks in reality. Stealing money from them is hard, but that doesn't mean it's guards have any advantage over other armed individuals. Oh, and by the way. In canon, Gringotts was successfully robbed twice out of two tries. Flawless record. Super secure place, just like Hogwarts is the safest place in the world.

    Wow. I never expected to actually have to seriously attempt to persuade someone real, that brains and bravery are in no way reliant on blood purity. Are you an alien troll perchance?
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  17. Mainsail

    Mainsail A person, ostensibly.

    Jul 4, 2020
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    You're saying the story doesn't explore magical concepts... when a whole major subplot is to do with the abuse of mind control and manipulation magics that are lightly touched on in canon, and a whole other subplot is to do with using magic to improve rail transport and build a business empire.

    You're saying the story doesn't have anything memorable... and then also criticizing it for choosing a memorable scene (a muggle dentist performing an operation on a dragon, who happens to be his daughter's best friend) instead of a boring non-event like sticking rope to it and pulling.

    You're saying the story doesn't deviate from canon enough or build on the world at all... when the story currently involves making travel arrangements to go to North America (which is completely different from canon) to help drain one of the magicial nexuses that poses a threat to the entire world (a subplot completely absent from canon), a process which is building towards a wild increase in magical impact on mundane life (a massive deviation from canon, and one which will lead to a whole host of magical complications).

    Also, I'm not going to tell you what you enjoy, but claiming that "most HP fans" just want to see magical solutions to problems is wildly inaccurate. Some fans like seeing familiar characters in new and interesting situations. Some fans like seeing the world they grew up with explored in new and unusual ways. Some fans like seeing new and cool uses of magic. Some fans like completely muggle AUs. Some fans like seeing Harry turned into a dragon. The only thing "most HP fans" agree on is that they like the Harry Potter series.

    Personally, I really like this story; it's one of the rare few stories that'll get me to drop what I'm doing and read a new update the moment I see one. It's got an interesting world, novel problems, a good mix of seriousness and humour, and a long-term plot that I can't wait to see continue to develop.
  18. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Experienced.

    Apr 11, 2017
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    Those of us who followed this story clearly didn't forget it a week after being read.

    It it doesn't appeal to you, that's your business.

    Don't mistake your preferences as something everyone else shares. And don't try to claim that you speak for everyone either in some ham fisted attempt to browbeat the author to doing things the way you want.

    You don't speak for me, and I'm pretty sure you don't speak for the rest of the readers either.
    KugelBlitzner, Z488411_, azqs and 5 others like this.
  19. Albus Dumbledore

    Albus Dumbledore Getting out there.

    Jul 3, 2020
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    You really need to reread canon if you missed massive differences in type of humor, how romance is handled, how clever heroes behave, larger world, new concepts, morals, plot, themes, atmosphere etc.
  20. Ravenwood240

    Ravenwood240 Making the rounds.

    Jun 25, 2018
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    So, I assume you A. Didn't read the story, just skimmed it, or B. Are trolling for shits and giggles. The wizards rushed the bank. The Goblins opened fire from inside the bank, ie, inside their protections. And no, the bank was not successfully robbed twice, or did you forget that Tom Riddle didn't get the Philosopher's stone from the bank? And are you truly implying that in the 400 years that the Goblins have been running the bank, Riddle was the first person to try? Really?

    Please go back and read Hagrid's speech to Harry in the first book. This man raises hellhounds, breeds magical creatures and tried to raise a dragon. There must be some reason he considers trying to steal from them stupidity itself.

    OK, small words here so you understand. In HP Canon, there is not one person who hates goblins enough to slaughter them as you stated that isn't a pure blood. There are no purebloods shown in Canon who are A. That biased, B. Intelligent, and C. Brave enough to try it themselves.

    Malfoy S might have thought it up, but he'd have sent a minion to actually do it.

    Crabbe or Hoyle would have rushed into the firing lines. Ditto with crazy girl.

    You come here, making rude comments, unproven in any Canon or reality save in your own skull, to call a fic that some of us have been following since Doghead13 wrote the first snippet in the Caer Azkaban group forgettable and so far, all you have done is show a lack of common sense, logic or knowledge of this story or Canon.

    You're either a troll or a wizard pureblood.

    Either way, life's too short to debate people that can't cite actual Canon or WoG for their spurious headcanon.

  21. Klingdark

    Klingdark Making the rounds.

    Sep 2, 2018
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    Hi all,
    So I read the story on fanfiction.net way back, I enjoyed it the first time, enjoyed it the second time and I enjoyed it the other time(s) I reread the story. Then I stumbled on a Reddit thread, which linked here. I first thought, it was just a re-post or something, but I realized quickly that this was not the case, and so I began reading it with enthusiasm.

    Now, I've finally finished reading it, and boy am I still enthusiastic as ever!

    There are a few things I want to point out though. The first thing is more of an observation, but 'this' version is 'very' different then the one on fanfiction.net. I haven't reread that story recently, but I copied a random sentence from roughly in the middle and did a search here, but it couldn't find it. Some double checking, showed that it was similar but rewritten. Is this story done by the same author? Is it a rewrite? Or is it a fanfiction of a fanfiction? (the beginning is near identical though.)

    Anyway, that brings me to something else, I think you completely forgot about. In the original story (on fanfiction.net) you make several short scenes about 'large eyes opening' and then falling back asleep. You made that mention only once and that was on the previous page. (In read mode, I mean) So, I was wondering if the author forgot about that sub plot?

    If I had to make a guess, then it would be that a previous person, who 'discharged' one of those buildings, got changed into a dragon as well, but this one wasn't a child but an adult? So, there could be an adult version of the kind of dragon that Harry is.

    Well, that's it really. I truly enjoyed reading this story, as it is amusing and light hearted for the most part. The part about slaves, pleasure slaves and the like, is a bit darker, but a nice contrast all the same. Oh, before I forget, Snape made an observation that Li came from the east (or some such) and I think(?) that he might have made a comment to follow up on it, or to keep an eye on it, but that never seemed to have happened. (I could be wrong though?)

    Lastly, have Harry and Abigail told Hermione bluntly that she could be kidnapped and sold?! If hermione doesn't believe them, then they could just resort to asking one of the teachers to confirm that it happens... I can just see how Hermione might be kidnapped (temporarily?) to create some good tension and to let Harry kick some ass!

    Anyway, that's it, I'll be keeping an eye on this though, and I'm looking forward to the next post :)
  22. Klingdark

    Klingdark Making the rounds.

    Sep 2, 2018
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    ...Dude, have you READ this story, or did you just skimp it? It has to be significantly different? How about this America being at war with Aztec priests? What about muggleborns being kidnapped for purposes I don't want to think about? I can name you a dozen things that make this story completely AU! Querrelmort? Heck no, he wasn't willing at all.

    The fraud? He's FAR more clever then in the book. Snape? This Snape is likable even with his snark. As to your goblin rebellion example, the author barely referenced it once. You don't know exactly what happened and such an event could have happened in hundreds different ways. The wizards in the books are ignorant of what electricity is, even Arthur Weasley, doesn't know how to pronounce electricity for crying out loud! And if ANYONE would know, it would be him.

    So, the wizards charge ahead, and since they are completely ignorant about what guns are. They die. Messily. The whole point of fanfiction is to leave canon behind. To use it as a base and to then say 'fuck it' and change a whole bunch of stuff to try and make a new original story. I could counter a lot of your arguments with little effort.

    That being said, you at least acknowledge that the author has the natural talent to to make a good story.

    Corvus 501 and Simonbob like this.
  23. SoCar37

    SoCar37 Getting out there.

    Jun 7, 2020
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    First it is an adaption of dogbertcarol's original. With, I believe, his concurrence. The bit with the 'large eye opening' is easier to explain with some knowledge of the other part of the crossover: Shadowrun/Earthdawn (FASA editions) when they were still in the same continuity. I for one am eagerly awaiting more from Uncle Dunkie. :)
    Richard6154 and Simonbob like this.
  24. Klingdark

    Klingdark Making the rounds.

    Sep 2, 2018
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    I thought it was something like that. Still, thank you for the answer though :) I'm really happy I found this story! (Did you know it's over three hundred and fourty five thousand words? (and change) and it hasn't even reached book three yet!

  25. Thundramon

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

    Aug 13, 2020
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    Hi Dunkelzahn, I discovered this story yesterday and spent all night reading it, it was a good spot of cheer during the pandemic. Thank you for the story.

    I have a question, if the sorting hat has a name "Donald" then as per the magical mechanics of Earthdawn, shouldn't it have a soul?

    Also in earlier chapters, it is mentioned that the great wyrm hungers for the flesh of maidens. I wonder when they will realise it is hunger of a different sort, most likely when Harry goes through puberty but possibly earlier if keeps collecting damsels.

    Also nice to see you are avoiding the usual pairings like Fleur, Tonks, Daphne, Susan, Cho etc preferring to go for underdeveloped characters.

    I would like to see more of Susan and Hannah though. They were mentioned more in the beginning of first year but now seem to have all but disappeared from the story.

    Also in Earthdawn, eastern dragons are supposed to have kept cults of humans serving them, wondering if Su Li is from one of those cults that survived until the modern day and what she and her cult masters would think of her serving one of the "gods" when Harry reveals himself as a dragon to her.

    Also if you don't mind me asking, when will you be updating the next chapters. I am really eager to read more. Especially the introduction of Sirius in 3rd year.

    @Others: I think Hermione being a child is underestimating the seriousness/likelihood of the danger. To be fair, she and her parents come from a "civilized" society were such incidents are rare like people read about it in the news but the common person is very distanced from it because it has never happened to them or anyone they know or even who their acquaintances know. I honestly don't feel think is bash/rage worthy, I think Dunkelzahn has the character arcs well in hand.
  26. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
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    So, a bit of an update:

    After the last update, there were some comments about the recent poor pacing, and upon reflection I tended to agree. This was especially true in my handling of Su Li.

    To that end, I've gone back through the entire story and edited it. Most of this was rewording sentences for smoothness or clarity and removing extraneous tangents which didn't fit well enough. There were far too many edits to detail them here, but I will list the major highlights.
    • First, minor organizational changes
      • I've added a section title to each post
      • This means that the scene listings now start at one instead of zero, which makes it consistent with the chapter numbering (Here's looking at you, Kitty S. Lillian, from your post back in May)
      • It also meant that the section titles could be reworked to fit the section as a whole, rather than just the first scene.
    • I've cleaned up wordings and --- and this is a big one for me --- broken up some of my monster compound sentences into two (or sometimes even three or four) different pieces for clarity.
    • I reworked that one segment which was so problematic over of Spacebattles into something I'm actually reasonably happy with. (it was 1.4.2, now 1.4.3 - specifically Poppy's discussion of the reason Harry must learn occlumency). It now says what it needs to without taking too long doing it. It's important, but it's not as important as the previous length implied.
    • I've reworked and heavily trimmed the segments related to Su Li.
      • On the first pass through, I revealed way too much about Su Li's thought processes and motivations. That should have come later, and while I cannot un-spoil it for you, I can at least fix it for new readers.
      • Her actions remain unchanged, as does her intended role. However, while I need her as a catalyst for a number of things at this point, her arc won't be properly started for quite some time yet, so I shouldn't have been broadcasting so much detail this early.
      • Rereading will not be necessary to understand the story or her role going forward, but there is now a lot less information stated on her plans and motivations.
      • Relevant scenes
        • 3.13.2 - "Romantic" aspirations
        • 4.4.2 - Deliberations
        • 4.8.2 - Hunting license
        • 4.8.7 - Building bridges
        • 4.8.12 - Investigations
        • 4.9.2 - All's fair in love and...
        • 4.10.3 - Operational flexibility
        • 4.10.5 - Deceptive truths
    • As a bit of an interesting note, here are the net changes in word count for each chapter (it's now almost 6600 words shorter):
      • Chapter 1: -54 words
      • Chapter 2: +635 words
      • Chapter 3: -1685 words
      • Chapter 4: -5495 words (through 4.10)
    If anyone who recently read through the story is curious about which version they read, note that I've been posting the edits over the last month in order, starting from July 16 for 1.1 and ending about two hours ago with 4.10. If the section you read had a title with a horizontal line under it (like the one below), it was the new edit.

    Now to answer recent, or not so recent comments:

    The focus on rail was a conceit from the original author which I decided to run with, and the restrictions on expanded spaces grew directly out of that.

    The logic was basically thus:
    1. A magical railway exists.
    2. Magically expanded spaces exist.
    3. Why does the railway exist when expanded spaces ought to allow someone to send an entire container ship via owl post?
    4. Expanded spaces must not work that way.
    5. How can I make them work such that they can still be an interesting feature of the setting without entirely precluding the existence of a logistics industry?
    6. I'll make them hard to move! That way, I can still make use of them in little things, but it still makes sense to have a freight industry.
    There was similar logic behind most of the other choices I've made to restrict Potterverse magic. If you think about it, it makes no sense that anything resembling a conventional economy exists in the canon setting at all. You can expand spaces, transfigure nearly anything into nearly anything else, and move all around the world with a bit of concentration. You can't conjure food, but you can duplicate it endlessly. You can repair anything in an eyeblink, charm something to be unbreakable, or enchant something to spin forever. And you can do all that for no apparent energy cost.

    Any one of those would change an economy so radically as to be utterly unrecognizable, and since both Shadowrun in general and this story in particular are quite heavy in economy-driven plotlines, I felt it the better choice to introduce restrictions.

    The point is, none of that was introduced to force Harry to have a profitable railway; it was introduced so it made sense for the railway to exist in the first place.

    (Bulleted for clarity)
    • Glad you liked it!
    • As you guessed and SoCar37 explained, this is a rewrite and continuation of another author's original. Though I would point out that the original author was Doghead13, not dogbertcarroll.
    • The eye scene has been adequately explained by other posters, so I'll skip that one. Suffice it to say that the handling of that is still off in the future. He's still very sleepy.
    • Snape already followed up on that scene, though it was off-camera as it were. That's why Su Li has been Harry's lab partner since the end of Christmas break.
    • They did indeed tell her that. She didn't believe it could happen to her.

    Glad you liked it!

    I'm not familiar with the grit of the Earthdawn mechanics, but I had thought the Name reflecting the soul thing only applied to the ones that Named things.

    In any event, Donald did not Name himself, nor was he Named. He was given an identifier by his creators for ease of reference. My treatment of the soul in this focuses more on the ability to understand good and evil and agency. Naming is a secondary characteristic.

    Su Li's Clan is not part of one of those cults, though they do have some very interesting, very ancient records.

    Next section, the last in Chapter 4, will come out soon-ish. I'm settling into a new job at the moment, and have less free time but a thankfully much more regular income. Contract work is an uncertain business.

    4.11 is... probably about 80% done, while 5.1 is pretty much done, unless I choose to rework its structure.

    5.1 is currently focuses on a single event sequence from beginning to end, and that works for it. I do have other things going on in the story at the same time though, and I'm not sure I want to leave them alone for the entire section. Not sure which way to go.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  27. Richard6154

    Richard6154 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

    Mar 2, 2020
    Likes Received:
    I have updated my offline copy and will reread, not because I need to, I think your changes are very sensible but any excuse to reread your story is good to me. :)

    Terrific news, looking forward to the new chapters.
    Thanks for sharing.
    buffog and caspian1a like this.
  28. Redstone

    Redstone Getting some practice in, huh?

    Aug 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    The feather light charm reduces weight bay reducing the gravitonic effect to almost zero, but the mas remains so the energy to move it is reduced to a weary small amount.

    The feather light charm is powered by ambient magic, so the amount of reduction of down ward pull per volume and mase is a set amount, so you can overload the charm bay adding mas to the volume.

    The magic to start and set the parameters of the spell is affected by the mas and volume of the container.

    The magic needs to regulated the spell is increase by a factor of 2 by the volume and mas of the container, this increase the magic needed to keep the area of effect stable.

    Expanded spaces can expand the volume of the container and the mas it can hold, hens the amount of magic needed to cast the charm increase, so taking the amount of mas and volume in to consideration will increase the magic needed exponential.

    So huge expansions are no efficient as you would need several caster to synchronise their energy fields (spells) to work together instead of working separately causing uneven energy field to reduce the weight.

    The uneven field cause's the weight to be uneven, hence can cause the transport to tip over, thereby making transport weary difficult du to balancing of trucks and containers on trailers hampering transport.

    Hence a train would be wary good to transport for expanded containers, as roads condition would be subject to flooding frost pot holes and other hazards that could tip the transport.

    This is another way to explain it, and limit the transport of expanded space as to make the mas lither would increase in difficulty the more mas and volume you are traying to make lither, so the more magic is needed to set weight reduction, hens' rail for the win.

    Science is fore the winners! Like the author of this story. :)
    The Unicorn likes this.
  29. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Experienced.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:
    If the spell decouples the gravitational mass from the inertial mass then there are ome very interesting things you can do with it, especially if you can increase the gravitational mas just as you can reduce it, but even with just a spell to reduce gravitational mass you can get a lot of interesting stuff, a steel dirigible is probably the simplest one.
  30. Threadmarks: Section 4.11 - Setting off

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    4.11 Setting off

    4.11.1 The start to a very long day

    The village of Hogsmeade slept quietly, strung out along the east end of Loch Morar’s southern shore and nestled snugly into the narrow strip of flattish land between the shores of the loch and the hills to the south. The early summer dawn was still some time off, and the streets were correspondingly rather quiet, save for one lone figure wearing the overalls of a Hogs Haulage fireman.

    As Mac made his way through the darkened streets of Hogsmeade’s western end, on the familiar route to the railway yards, the only sound to be heard was the scraping of the hard leather soles of his boots on the damp cobblestones, and even that seemed muted by the heavy fogbank which had rolled in off the loch.

    Soon enough, he arrived at the yard, checked the board in the currently deserted dispatch office to confirm the locomotive assignment for the day, and made his way to the kennels. There the drake-dogs greeted him with their usual happy gyrations and enthusiastic gronking; the sociable critters were quite delighted to see him despite the ungodly hour. A few incidental fireballs later, Mac left the kennels, a freshly fed and watered Smaugey happily trotting at his heels.

    As he crunched his way across the damp gravel towards the maintenance shed, Mac passed the looming hulks of the various rolling stock littering the network of tracks crossing the yard. The sun had finally risen high enough for the fog bank about them to begin to brighten, turning the world from lead to silver and lending an ethereal quality to the scene.

    Mac felt the enchanting atmosphere rather fitting; there was a certain kind of magic in what he was about, after all.

    The quiescent hulk of No. 45401 gradually swam into existence out of the silvery fog, and Mac smiled, the sight like the sudden arrival of an old friend. And an old friend she was, from a certain point of view. No. 45401 was the first of the ‘new’ batch of locomotives the company had acquired during the sixties, and he’d been working with her for over three decades now... nearly as long as he’d worked with Jim.

    As he drew close, Mac began his usual pre-lighting up inspection, not that he expected to find anything amiss with No. 45401 fresh out of the maintenance shed. She’d been due for general repair, and for the miracle workers on the Hogs Haulage maintenance staff, that meant the old girl had left the their hands practically like new... clean, fit, and all-around better than the day she’d rolled out of the Scotswood Works over a half-century earlier.

    Unfortunately, ‘like new’ also implied ‘at room temperature’.

    No. 45401 looked dead as she sat there on the tracks just inside the shed on 3 Road... dark and cold, silent and still. A cold steam locomotive was a dead, lifeless thing, and at over a hundred tons of cold water and steel, that condition took a lot of work to change, but change it would. It was a work of coal and steel, the water in the boiler and the fresh Highland air, scorched by fire from ol’ Smaugey and given purpose by Mac himself.

    Earth and water, air and fire, all four elements brought together and made to dance in concert. With them the fireman would breathe life into the Black Five, turning her from the lifeless hulk sitting before him into a living, breathing thing... hissing, spitting, groaning, moving.

    Death into life; that was a magic far greater than anything they got up to over at Hogwarts!

    However, like all great things, this one demanded sacrifice, in this case an offering of time. Magical as it might be, a cold start on a steam locomotive was a long, slow process, one which would have begun yesterday with a warming fire. Large boilers like the one at the heart of No. 45401 needed to heat up slowly lest the stress of differential heating burst a seam or crack a boiler wall. Once the boiler was hot enough to produce first steam, it could be circulated to equalize the temperature throughout, and things could proceed faster, but until then it was all too easy to ruin a boiler with a bit of impatience.

    Initial inspection complete, Mac climbed the steps into the familiar confines of her cab. The rest, things like ensuring the bearings were properly oiled, he would handle while the locomotive was heating up. He opened the fire door, and the gentle warmth he felt radiating from the inky depths of the cavernous firebox told him that the maintenance staff had done their job right. Without that preheat, she’d never be ready in time for their late-morning departure, although even with it, the fire would still need to burn for a long time. It was best to get her going right away.

    It was time to light her up.

    Grabbing the well-worn handle of his rake, Mac knocked the remains of the warming fire through the grate and then threw a few shovel-loads of lump coal into the pitch-black void of the firebox, the soft rocks making a racket as they clattered on the steel grate in the predawn calm. At Mac’s side, the scaly form of Smaugey practically vibrated with anticipation at the sound.

    Lump coal took quite a bit of coaxing to set alight, and a non-magical crew would have needed to start with something easier to burn until the fire got hot enough to light it off. Fortunately for Mac, the drake dog at his side had no such difficulties. Smaugey’s fire was more than hot enough to touch off a cold load of coal; the real trick was getting the excitable critters to stop before they melted the firebox.

    “Alright there, Smaugey,” Mac spoke his first words of the morning. “Give ‘er a light.”

    With a happy ‘gronk’, the ever-eager drake-dog complied, letting loose with a gout of brilliant blue-white flame.

    The coal was set ablaze in short order, and Mac gave his animal companion a well-received congratulatory pat on the head before shoveling in some fresh coal and working the rake to even out the fire. It was time to settle in for the long, slow process of bringing No. 45401 up to temperature.

    The sun would be well above the eastern mountains and Jim would be showing up with breakfast by the time her steam gauge lifted off the pin.

    4.11.2 Nostalgia

    She was going to miss this, Abigail mused as she walked along the stone halls of Hogwarts.

    The fresh Hogwarts alumnus was on her way to the Great Hall to break her fast for the last time as a Hogwarts student. Someday she might return — as a guest, as a parent... maybe even as a professor, she supposed — but however it happened, it would never again be quite the same.

    She trailed a finger lazily along the cool stone of the castle wall as she went, taking the time to look about at the familiar environs with fresh eyes. It was amazing how the realization that she would soon be leaving for the last time seemed to change her surroundings. Things she had taken for granted suddenly became significant in a way they had never been before.

    It was bittersweet.

    Abigail had accomplished much in her time within these walls. She had done her time, learned what she needed to learn, and now she was eager to set aside those academic pursuits in favor of other, hopefully greater things. It was time to move on, and she was ready. However, among those accomplishments were the friendships she had built, and the greatest and closest of those would remain within these walls for quite some time yet.

    Partings were difficult.

    Still, she would keep in touch, and eventually her friends would graduate and rejoin her outside the ivory tower. In the meantime, there was great work to be done. She needed to get her career off the ground, and that career would start bright and early tomorrow morning in Hogsmeade, where she was due to be briefed on her new duties with Hogs Haulage. As far as first jobs went, it sounded like a pretty neat one; Harry had really come through for her there.

    Her expression firmed at the thought, as did her step.

    She had new responsibilities to handle, big and urgent ones, and there was no place in that for maudlin sentimentality. Abigail would approach this new part of her life just as she had everything else before and deal with it as it came.

    For now, she was hungry, so she would make the best of this last meal in the Great Hall, and then she would enjoy her last ride on the Express with Harry before they parted company for a time. Then her friend would be off to handle his job across the Atlantic, and she would be off to handle her job on this end of things.

    And handle it, she would!

    Her friend was counting on her, and Abigail would not disappoint!

    4.11.3 A railwayman’s breakfast

    The sun was clearly visible over the eastern mountains as Jim Coates walked the same path his fireman had traveled several hours before. While the path might have been the same, the difference in the yard around him was, appropriately, like night and day. Earlier, the Hogsmeade yard had been dark and still, now it was drenched in morning sunlight and abuzz with activity as the shunters prepared the daily train, and as rumor had it, that train was going to be a long one... much longer than usual for the Express run.

    There’d be the usual seven-coach passenger set for the students, of course, but there were likely to be a great many more freight wagons than the usual three of four. A huge heavy equipment order had been shuffling about the yard for the last month until the owner had finally taken delivery yesterday, and the twenty flat wagons it had occupied would likely be tacked onto the train to get them out from underfoot.

    It ought not be too heavy, considering more than half the freight wagons would be empty, but it would certainly be among the longest trains he’d driven since the company had changed the London run to a daily affair back in the seventies.

    Jim paused in his walk across the yard to allow the Hogsmeade shunting locomotive, a century-old 0-4-0 saddle tank, to trundle by pushing yet another of those empty flat wagons to join the end of the growing rake.

    Jim smiled at the sight, as he always did.

    The proud old lady was a longstanding fixture of the company, having been in continuous service since her purchase back in 1894, new from Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. She’d originally been acquired for the purpose of building the Hogsmeade branch line itself, and with the completion of the line in 1901 she’d been turned over to shunting duty. There she had stayed ever since.

    The Barclay had long been the darling of the maintenance staff on account of being the only locomotive in the Hogs Haulage stable to have been purchased new, directly from the manufacturer. She was their baby, and no one else had ever worked on her. Though Jim had to wonder whether she’d be replaced in that role now that the new prototype was nearly ready for her first commercial run... after all, the old Barclay might have been adopted into the company as an infant, but the new locomotive was actually born into it.

    It was something to think about.

    The Barclay rolled past, and Jim crossed the tracks she had been using with a skip in his step on his way to the locomotive he would be driving for the day, No. 45401. She sat on the tracks just outside 3 Road rumbling audibly, with the billowing column of black smoke pouring out of her chimney standing as proof of long hours his fireman had already put in getting her ready. Judging by the volume and speed of that smoke, she ought to be just starting to build pressure, which meant Mac had her right on schedule.

    Good man, that. Reliable.

    Jim appreciated that sort of reliability and made sure to reward it when he could. That was why he’d brought breakfast, as was his usual custom on those times when his fireman had to finish off a cold start. One of the privileges of rank was the ability to sleep in for such things — he’d worked his way up over the years, and he’d earned the right — but Jim had always figured if his fireman was good enough to drag himself out of his nice warm bed long before dawn to light the locomotive, then the least he could do would be to provide a good breakfast. It was a small price to pay for an extra four hours abed.

    Such courtesies were the grease that kept the wheels of society turning.

    When he drew even with the second of the locomotive’s three pairs of driving wheels, its top several inches above his head, Jim judged himself close enough for Mac to hear him over the low rumbling roar of the blower and shouted a greeting.

    “How’s it going in there, Mac?”

    The words prompted a bit of a clatter from inside the cab, and moments later, Mac poked his head out the door.

    “Mornin’ Jim!” the fireman greeted him cheerfully only to raise a coal smudged brow as he caught sight of what Jim was carrying. “Wotcher got there?”

    In wordless answer, Jim brandished the satchel containing their breakfast with a broad grin of his own, causing his fireman’s face to light up in a happy grin.

    “Come on in then!” Mac called as he drew his head back inside the cab. Shortly thereafter, the dull roar died down when the blower shut off.

    Covering the last few yards, Jim handed the satchel up to his grinning, coal-encrusted fireman, and used his now-free hand to help hoist himself up to the running plate.

    “How’s she comin’ Mac?” he asked. “Anythin’ to worry ‘bout?”

    “Nah, Jim, she looks t’ be in top shape,” his fireman answered, even as he retrieved his wand from the holster at the small of his back and cast a quick cleaning spell on the steel blade of his coal shovel. “Inspection went fine, an’ I already checked tha mechanicals. Maintenance did a grand job on our ol’ lady here.”

    “Good to hear!” Jim said with a nod as he set about unpacking his satchel of goodies.

    “So, wha’s on th’ menu this mornin’, Jim?” Mac asked eagerly as he opened the fire door, revealing the crackling flames within. He laid his now-clean shovel across the floor of the cab, the gleaming steel of the shovel blade halfway inside the firebox where he left it to heat.

    “The usual, Mac,” Jim answered, “egg an’ bacon, bit o’ bread for toast... everythin’ ya’ need for a proper fry-up.”

    Mac made an approving sort of noise.

    “The Missus sent along some biscuits, too,” Jim added, drawing a separately wrapped packet from his pocket.

    “Biscuits, ya’ say?” Mac perked up, eyes lighting with anticipation. “Your wife’s recipe? Tha oat ones?”

    “Fresh baked just yesterday,” Jim confirmed with a nod. “Tol’ me ta’ tell you it was a thank you for getting’ up so early an’ savin’ me the trouble even with a little baby in the house.”

    Irene, Mac’s wife, had given birth to their fourth child in early January, their third son. Now six months old, little Dave McDonald was quite a handful.

    “’s no trouble,” Mac averred. There was a loud hiss as first a pat of butter and then a few rashers of bacon hit the hot blade of his shovel. “Little Davey got me up all on ‘is own anyway ‘bout the right time.”

    “Regular alarm spell, he is, right?” Jim said with an affable laugh, remembering the long-ago days when his children were that age.

    Even as he laughed, though, Jim reached down to pull Smaugey away from the fire door with a practiced heave, having felt the drake-dog drawing a deep breath. “Careful there, little fella. You’ll get yours soon enough, but you give that a blast and it’s not gonna taste good when you get it.”

    “Aye, an’ glad we are fer it, too!” Mac nodded emphatically, ignoring the byplay. The he sighed, “’e’s likely t’ be our last; the missus don’ think we’re goin’ t’ be able t’ ‘ave another. ‘nother five years ‘til Davey’s old enough ter be safe ‘round a little ‘un ‘imself, an’ by then Irene figgers she’ll be too old.”

    “’s been that long already?” Jim marveled. “Why, seems like jus’ yesterday when you two started steppin’ out together, but I suppose time does fly.” He shook his head. “Though, ya’ sure wouldn’t know it by lookin’ at the pair of ya’! When me and the missus covered for ya with your little ones a coupla’ weeks back, could’a sworn you two looked jus’ like you did back then!”

    “’s been near thirty years, Jim,” Mac replied simply.

    He judged the bacon far enough along and reached for the eggs. Soon the sizzling redoubled as freshly cracked eggs hit rendered pig fat.

    “How’s the rest o’ the family been, Mac?” Jim asked, making conversation as they waited.

    “Oh, been getting’ ‘long fine, they ‘ave!” his fireman answered. “Evan’s doin’ well on ‘is lessons, an’ Colleen’s growin’ like a weed!”

    “An’ how’s Mikey?” Jim asked, absently patting Smaugey’s scaly head.

    “Mikey... well, he ain’t too ‘appy wit’ ‘is work,” the fireman said. “Don’ like the people there too much, an’...” he trailed off for a moment. “Ah, food’s done!”

    The pair ate, sparing a rasher or two for the drake-dog; all the while, the fire continued to burn.

    “Anythin’ I can do fer the lad?” Jim asked, resuming the earlier conversation even as he unwrapped the oat biscuits his wife had sent along as an extra treat. “Looks like there’ll be plenty to do ‘round the yards, if he’s lookin’ fer new work.”

    “Tol’ ‘im ‘at m’self,” Mac shook his head, absently accepting a biscuit from his long-time friend and coworker. “Said ‘e gave ‘em ‘is word, an’ ‘e’s gonna keep it, e’en if they are gits.”

    “Good man, that,” Jim gave a sage nod. “How long?”

    “Year end,” his fireman answered.

    Jim nodded again, chewing his biscuit as thought the situation over.

    There wasn’t much that could be done, really. The boy had given his word, and that was that. He’d just have to tough it out until the end of the year. Jim could lay some groundwork for the lad, though. Mikey had already talked with the young Mr. Potter back at the picnic, but it’d be better for things to start lower down... less resentment that way.

    As far as it went, Mr. Potter was well-liked, but favoritism from on-high still stank to high heaven no matter who was involved. Best for little Mikey’s recommendation to come from the ranks and then get a friendly nudge from the higher-ups, rather than coming down the chain unsolicited.

    “I’ll talk t’ some of the fellas ‘round the office,” the driver promised his old friend. “See if we can’t have somethin’ lined up an’ ready when ‘e gets loose.”

    Mac’s eyes lit up and he clapped Jim on the shoulder in thanks.

    “Thank ya, Jim!” he managed after he finished chewing. “Tha’s mighty kind o’ ya.”

    The older man nodded. It was just a shame there was nothing else to be done. He reached down for another biscuit, only to pause and look at the baked treat with fresh eyes. Perhaps there was something he could do for the poor lad; he’d have to remember to tell the missus about it when he got home.

    It might not actually help in any practical manner, but Jim had yet to see a day that couldn’t be brightened by a good homemade biscuit!

    Looking out the window, he saw the old Barclay chuff by, pushing yet another of the empty flat wagons to the back of the rake. How many more of those were left? Sticking his head out the window, Jim waved the guard over from where he had been keeping a careful eye on the assembly process, noting down each vehicle’s details in his well-worn pocket-sized notebook.

    “Mornin’, Jim,” he greeted easily as he jogged up. “We’ve got a fair old train today, wot?”

    “Too right that,” Jim agreed. “An’ it looks like it’s gettin’ longer. How many more o’ those left to go, Ivor?”

    “Should be tha las’ one there,” he replied, pulling a small notebook out of his pocket to consult his notes. “Seven coaches, two vans from Ogden’s an’ one from Sparky’s at sixteen-ton each, an’ them twenty flat wagons, empty. Jus’ gotta get this last one over and then coupled up, put on the tail lamp, and then it’ll be time for the continuity test and final inspection.”

    “Thirty wagons... well, I’ll be,” Jim shook his head. That was nearly three times the usual length, and even mostly empty more than double the weight, of their usual rake on the Express run. It was something to keep in mind, but it was still well within the old girl’s capabilities. “Thanks, Ivor.”

    The guard gave a nod and jogged off to give the formation one final once-over, and Jim pulled his head back in.

    “How’s the boiler, Mac?” he asked, turning to his fireman. “She good t’ go?”

    “Aye, Jim,” the man replied after checking the gauges and listening carefully to the sound of the fire. “She’s good ‘n ready.”

    “Looks like that’s the last wagon,” the driver said. “We’ll be up soon.”

    It was time to get back to work.

    4.11.4 All aboard!

    No. 45401 shuddered and hissed as she rolled to a stop at the Hogsmeade passenger platform. It was time to board, and on the whole, her passengers were eager to do so.

    For most, summer holiday awaited, a time away from homework and responsibilities. Others had new horizons to explore and new possibilities to investigate.

    Whatever their reasons, the passenger coaches quickly filled, and twenty minutes after she had come to a stop, the guard blew his whistle and raised a green flag signaling right away.

    A single short whistle blast issued forth, No. 45401’s fire door was closed, and shortly thereafter her driver opened the regulator. Then, huffing and hissing, the great iron horse pulled out of the station, off on her journey, carrying the future of wizarding Britain to its next destination.

    4.11.5 Until we meet again

    Harry let out an explosive sigh and bounced to his feet as the Express had pulled to a stop at the hidden platform at King’s Cross. It had been an emotional trip, and he was... while not exactly eager to get on with things, at least eager to not be on the train any longer.

    After the intense personal drama that had marked the week after the end-of-year testing, the remainder of the term had passed all too quickly, and with its passing had come the great parting of ways.

    For Harry, it was the first time he’d had to face a real goodbye... at least the first time he could remember. Abigail had left for a few months during the previous summer, but he’d been unconscious when she had left. Hermione had been with him nearly continuously since he had befriended her, and Su Li had become his friend so recently that this was the first opportunity for such a goodbye to have occurred.

    The young dragon found it to be a thoroughly unpleasant affair; though at least he could console himself with the fact that Suze would still be nearby.

    “I’m going to miss you guys!” he said as his companions stood up as well.

    “I’ll miss you too, Harry!” Abigail took the opportunity to pull him into a tight hug.

    She also took the opportunity to glare at Su Li over his shoulder, while the petite girl contented herself with quietly smiling back at her from across the cabin. Predictably, Abigail scowled in return. Working agreement or not, there was no love lost there.

    “You’ve got your emergency portkeys, right?” the young dragon asked as she released him.

    He had distributed the Gringotts emergency portkeys to all three girls during the trip.

    “I do,” Abigail reached up to tap her neck where the tiny gold pin was pinned to the inside of her blouse’s collar.

    There was a round of nodding from the other two girls, though Hermione’s was rather anemic.

    The frizzy-haired girl had been silent and withdrawn for the whole trip. She had her upcoming registration on her mind, and after taking the time to research what it meant in full, she was having trouble thinking of much else. Hermione remained mute as she and Su Li gathered their luggage, and the quartet made their way onto the hidden platform.

    Abigail filled in the conversational gap admirably as she busied herself with saying goodbye.

    “Harry, you stay safe on your trip,” she said, giving the boy another hug. “I expect you to have lots of good stories to tell when I see you next. I’ll be heading off to my job, so it might be a while.”

    “Hermione, you stay safe too!” That prompted another hug, which got a weak smile from the bushy-haired girl.

    “Miss Li…” she trailed off before turning away with a perfunctory nod. There was nothing to be said.

    With that the older girl grabbed Harry for one final hug and then made for the floo station.

    “Until next year, Harry,” Su Li said with a shallow curtsey before she too walked off.

    “Well, Hermione,” the young dragon said to his damsel, “I guess this is it.”

    “Right!” Hermione agreed with somewhat forced decisiveness. “Mum and Dad are out on the nonmagical platform. We’ll meet up with them and get going.”

    And so, they did.

    4.11.6 Misgivings

    The Granger family and its currently human-shaped plus-one exited the Underground at Embankment Station, passed a couple of colorful street vendors, and turned to walk under the shop-lined underpass of Embankment Place on the way to Whitehall.

    All around them, the mood among the shoppers and tourists was quite festive, out and about for their entertainment and the joy of it all. Harry was much the same, looking about in wide-eyed wonder at the new place and interesting sights. Even Hermione had started to recover some of her good cheer, largely because her parents were back by her side.

    Said parents, however, were not nearly so jolly.

    Tony Granger hadn’t had nearly enough time to come to terms with the full implications of their current errand. When Hermione had sent a note beforehand about an errand at the Ministry, she had implied that it was a minor affair that could be taken care of in passing on the way to taking her friend to the airport. Neither he nor his wife had had any idea what that ‘minor affair’ entailed until Harry had taken the time to explain, an explanation which had taken place while they were riding the Underground from King’s Cross...

    ...all of about five minutes earlier.

    The boy had made a very convincing case for it, though without that long-ago conversation with that Snape fellow to provide context, Tony doubted he would have been nearly so ready to take the boy at his word. With the memory, he could accept the necessity... barely.

    To be honest, even after more than a year, the true implications of what that man had told him had never really settled in for Tony. Now that those implications had him willingly — if grudgingly — sending his thirteen-year-old daughter off to sign away her future, they were finally starting to settle in properly.

    Right now, they felt rather like a millstone around his neck, and the shock had left him more than a little numb.

    “Are you sure you don’t want us to go with you, Hermione?” Tony asked his daughter for the third time in as many minutes. “I don’t really like sending you off on your own in downtown London, especially not to do something so important.”

    His little girl’s bushy head of hair rustled as she again shook her head in the negative. “Honestly Daddy, we’re only going to be going a few blocks. And Harry will be there with me the whole time even if something did happen; you don’t have to worry.”

    Tony’s expression soured, prompting his wife to squeeze his hand in a combination of comfort and warning.

    “The entrance wouldn’t even open if you were too close, anyway,” Hermione continued, oblivious to her father’s discomfort. “The secrecy wards wouldn’t allow it. Professor Snape is going to meet us inside, too. We won’t be on our own for long.”

    “I know that, sweetie,” he would never have considered allowing it otherwise, “but I’m your father, and it’s my job to worry.”

    “Don’t worry, love, I’m sure Harry will take good care of our daughter,” she shot the boy in question a significant glance, “won’t he?”

    “Of course, Mrs. Granger,” Harry said earnestly, “I mean, that’s sort of what this whole thing is about, innit?”

    “Yes… yes, it is,” Tony agreed grudgingly.

    “There’s the entrance!” Hermione spoke, pointing to an unassuming telephone box tucked into a cranny on the building at No. 3 Whitehall Place, just behind the support for a skybridge connecting it to the building across the way. “Come on, Harry, we need to get going if we want to finish in time to get you to Stansted for your flight!”

    “Hermione!” her mother held onto her daughter’s shoulder until she was sure she had her attention. “You and Harry meet us back at the Gardens when you’re done.”

    As his little girl walked off to inextricably bind her future to that of the boy beside her, Tony Granger watched them go, an unreadable expression on his face.

    “Sharon,” he asked after a moment, “are we doing the right thing, letting Hermione do this?”

    His wife’s only answer was to squeeze his hand with her own.

    4.11.7 Posting banns

    Oblivious to her parents’ misgivings, Hermione and her sometimes draconic friend crammed themselves into the telephone box that disguised the visitor’s entrance of the British Ministry of Magic, and Hermione used her wand to carefully tap out the entry code on the phone’s keypad.

    As she tapped the final two, corresponding to the ‘c’ in ‘magic’, the device triggered, blacking out the windows as the interior of the telephone box dropped like a stone, somehow managing to bring them to a safe, if terrifying, stop moments later and several dozen meters below ground level. The phone and the wall to which it was attached then swung out of the way, revealing the visitors’ lobby, in which stood a very grumpy-looking Severus Snape.

    “Hi, Mr. Snape!” Harry greeted the man cheerfully, utterly unphased by the abrupt trip. Hermione barely managed to nod in greeting as she attempted to recover from the sudden bout of vertigo.

    “It is about time you two showed up,” the man greeted his students with his usual good cheer. “Come! Due to your insistence on riding the train, we have no time to waste.”

    The trio set off to the Family Registry Office, passing a bewildering array of offices, conference rooms, and lounges along the way.

    Harry, in his usual manner, smiled broadly at everyone he saw, though he got little in the way of response from most. The one exception was a redheaded man seated in one of the lounges just outside their destination. He looked up from the cup of coffee he was nursing and answered in kind.

    With Snape’s expert assistance, Harry and his damsel managed to get in and out in just a few minutes. The relevant paperwork was remarkably easy to fill out.

    On the way out, they brushed past the man from earlier, now no longer smiling, who was walking past the door in the opposite direction. Harry’s head snapped to the side as the man drew even with Hermione, a frown forming as he looked intently at his damsel’s leg.

    “What is it, Harry?” she asked, noticing his sudden movement.

    Harry’s currently human brow furrowed further in concentration before he spoke, “I thought I saw something move by your leg, but I can’t see anything different.”

    “Really? I don’t feel anything,” she craned her neck to look down and moved her leg this way and that, examining it herself. “I can’t see anything, either. Maybe it was just my skirt?”

    “Huh, I guess…” he trailed off before dismissing the issue with a grunt.

    They had a train to catch.

    4.11.8 Fallen heroes

    “Did you catch that, Control?” the redheaded man whispered into a small communication device hidden in his collar. He waited for a long moment before he repeated, “Control?”

    Several floors away, in a darkened room half full of complicated looking equipment which framed a very detailed three-dimensional image of the redheaded man and his environs, two men stood in shocked silence next to a table full of half-empty coffee mugs.

    “Control, do you hear me?” the redhead’s voice issued from one of the supporting pieces of equipment.


    “We hear you, Weasley,” one of the men, Auror Sergeant First Class Kingsley Shacklebolt, finally managed to respond.

    The room fell silent again for one long moment before he finally managed to sum up his opinion of the events he had just witnessed in the form of a heartfelt and highly uncharacteristic “Shit.”

    “Yeah,” his partner, Auror Sergeant First Class Rupert Hayes, immediately agreed, “there goes another one…”

    Damnit!” he slammed his hand down on the table hard enough to rattle the mugs. “I’d thought the Boy-Who-Lived would be better than this!”

    “What’s all the racket?” their boss, Amelia Bones, asked, sticking her head into the room.

    “You’re not going to like it, Chief,” Shack warned her.

    “I don’t need to like it, just tell me what’s happening.”

    “The Potter boy was just past, along with a suspected Death Eater and some poor bloody muggle-born girl he’s somehow talked into registering herself as his servant,” Shack reported.

    Shit,” Amelia said shortly, unknowingly echoing her subordinate’s earlier reaction. “No signs of mental tampering, I suppose? No signs of Imperius?”

    “Nothing we could detect,” Shack confirmed.

    “As usual…”

    “You are going to like this though, Chief,” the redhead’s voice issued from the mission comm equipment once more.

    “What do you have for me, Weasley?”

    The now named plainclothes agent, Auror Second Class Matt Weasley, a cousin to the better-known branch of the House, smiled broadly enough to be visible on the surveillance display. “I tagged her with a cavalry marker!”

    His fellow Aurors and the Chief gave him a round of startled looks. A cavalry marker was Department of Magical Law Enforcement slang for a tiny pellet of bioalchemically-safe metal, enchanted with a carefully masked tracking charm and made to record and transmit spell use on the bearer. It was usually implanted into the forearms of undercover DMLE officers, and it was that use which had given the device its name. When an undercover operation went south, that little implant would do an excellent job of calling in the cavalry.

    They were expensive work, especially as they had to be made by trusted DMLE personnel for self-evident security reasons, and they didn’t last long once administered — the body’s own magic would tend to break down the enchantments over the course of a week or so — but they were one of the DMLE's few advantages in the fight against the pureblood and 'novae pure' industrialists and their underground slave trade.

    It was a trade that, despite supposedly having been stopped by Dumbledore's maneuverings on the Wizengamot some thirty years prior, everyone who was anyone knew was still going on. The appeal of cheap, hell, almost-free factory labor was just that strong, and as production-line manufacturing of enchanted goods spread, it was becoming more and more common.

    Worse yet, once someone had been got by the group — dubbed the Syndicate by the investigation team for lack of anything else to call it — it became an absolute nightmare to prove that they weren't willing, the combination of memory charms and various other mental magics was just that hard to track, especially with the well-intentioned legal protections against unlawful search and seizure..

    Half the time the poor bastards walked in the door of the DMLE offices under their own steam and were registered as bonded servants only hours before their servitude was illegally sold on the auction block.

    "How?" Amelia finally asked.

    By way of an answer, Matt slid a microdart projector out of his sleeve. The thing looked a bit like a muggle hypodermic syringe, and it was again usually used for undercover work, this time to surreptitiously fire tiny tracking darts into suspicious packages.

    "Charmed it so she wouldn't notice and shot it into her leg when she walked past me, Chief," he explained. “That Potter kid is something else, though. He almost caught me despite the charm.”

    "Good work, Weasley,” Amelia congratulated her subordinate. “Did you happen to catch the girl’s name?”

    “No, ma’am,” he responded immediately, “but I can find out. It’ll be posted in the logs here, and those are publicly accessible.”

    “You do that,” without waiting for the man’s acknowledgement, she turned to the other two aurors in the room. “Okay boys, I want that girl monitored 24-7; this could be our chance to roll up the damn Syndicate for good. Shack, Hayes, hand-pick the personnel monitoring her and make damn sure they're trustworthy. We know there are moles in this department, and if word gets back to those bastards, heads are going to roll, understood?"

    There was a round of nodding; everyone in earshot was trustworthy, very competent, highly intelligent, got good hunches, and just generally good at their jobs... they had to be.

    There were, after all, two kinds of auror: competent and dead.

    Many people mistakenly assumed that the Ministry Auror Corps were the Wizarding police. In one respect, that assumption was correct, but not if one assumed that this meant they were beat coppers. The blue-overcoated Ministry Law Enforcement Patrol — known as LEPs in Department parlance, and simply ‘The Police’ by the average British wizard on the street — were the Wizarding equivalent of the friendly neighborhood 'Bobby'.

    More educated guesses called them the Wizarding equivalent of a SWAT team or armed response unit. Again, that guess was still wrong; the Ministry Hit Wizards were the Wizarding equivalent of a SWAT team or armed response unit.

    No, the aurors were something a cut above even that. They were Wizarding Britain's elite counter-terrorist task force; you didn't send an auror to an armed robbery; you sent a Hit Wizard. When someone's sending bomb threats, or a portkey point has been hijacked, when hostages have been taken, when people have been killed or worse, that's when you sent in the Aurors.

    Hit Wizards were hand-picked from the ranks of the LEPs. Aurors were hand-picked from the ranks of the Hit Wizards. Sometimes, an LEP cadet was fast-tracked from DMLE Academy graduation to the Auror Corps for one reason or another: perhaps due to rare magical ability, perhaps due to raw talent, or occasionally due to connections. That last was highly unpopular among the majority of the corps, the ones who got there by being just that damned good at their job.

    An auror had to be one part detective, one part police officer, and one part warrior. They were the best of Wizarding Britain's best. They weren't the Wizarding equivalent of a police armed response unit; they were the Wizarding analog of the Royal Marines.

    They were also — due to the numbers involved, the unpopularity of such dangerous jobs among the well-heeled and pure-blooded, and recently the fruits of a certain Hogwarts professor’s ongoing efforts to cull the applicant pool — mostly made up of wizards and witches who struggled to find better than a subsistence wage. Whether that was because they were muggle-born, half-blooded, or just plain old poor, they found themselves welcomed with open arms in the LEPs, and then they rose quickly — because they were quick, because they were clever, because they were lucky, because they were deadeye shots, because if you wanted their trust you damn well earned it, because they were always looking for an ulterior motive, and because they were just that damn good.

    And, as soon as that cavalry marker went off, they would take great pleasure in demonstrating that prowess.

    4.11.9 …and a bag of crisps

    “It is about time you got here, you wretched reptile,” Severus Snape said by way of greeting as Harry and the Grangers finally reached lobby of the charter terminal after nearly two hours of travel. “Everyone else is already aboard and have been for the past half-hour.”

    “Sorry, Mr. Snape,” Harry apologized, “but Mr. Granger wanted to stop to get a snack.”

    For his part, Tony Granger was staring out the window. “Is that a Boeing 737?”

    “It is, indeed,” Snape nodded tersely. “The 77-33 model, to be precise.”

    “You chartered a private Boeing 737?” Hermione’s father squeaked.

    “Yes I did, and we are currently on the clock,” Snape snapped impatiently. He turned to Harry, “Get on the plane, Mr. Potter! You have already been allowed more than adequate time to say goodbye to Miss Granger.”

    “How much does that cost?” Tony asked, dazed.

    “Somewhat in excess of three hundred galleons per hour, Mr. Granger,” the potions master told him irritably as he ushered the currently human-shaped dragon out the door onto the tarmac. “And you have already wasted half an hour of that getting your ‘snack’. Now, we must be going, so I bid you good day!”

    Tony swallowed heavily as the door swung closed behind the potions master and his charge, leaving the room feeling quite empty. His brow furrowed for a moment as he ran through a bit of mental math, then he nodded.

    Wordlessly, he turned and began walking woodenly back the way they had come, in such a daze that he almost walked into another pedestrian. After an absent apology, which the man acknowledged with an affable tip of his broad-brimmed hat, Tony reached into his coat pocket to dig out the remains of his snack.

    “Tony?” Sharon asked, reaching out to catch his shoulder.

    “I’m going to go enjoy the rest of these crisps,” he said in a numb sort of tone, staring into the bag with a dumbfounded expression on his face as if seeing the common snack food with new eyes.

    Looking up, he noticed his wife’s raised eyebrow, so he explained. “They apparently cost Mr. Snape there a bit more than half what we spend on of our yearly mortgage payment.”

    With that, Tony Granger carefully retrieved one of the salty, fried potato wafers and ate it, chewing deliberately and thoroughly before swallowing.

    “I’d hate to let them go to waste.”

    4.11.10 Observer

    A man tipped his hat to the obviously shaken father, his concerned wife, and their just barely teenaged daughter as he passed them on the sidewalk outside the charter terminal at Stansted Airport. He had forgone his usual face paint for the day in the interest of avoiding attention, though if one looked closely enough, it was still possible to pick out the ghostly image of the two elongated red diamonds which would normally have been painted over his eyes from the traces of pigment he hadn’t quite been able to scrub off.

    That was not to say he passed completely unremarked upon. Tall, whipcord-thin, and dressed like he had stepped off the set of an old Western film — complete with broad-brimmed hat, snakeskin boots, and an unseasonably long brown leather duster — the man garnered plenty of odd looks, even bare-faced. He nevertheless ignored them all with the ease of long practice in favor of fiddling with something he removed from an inner pocket of his coat.

    The odd contraption appeared to be a simple torsion pendulum, little more than a thin disk with a tiny speck of rusty red set into one point near its rim. The whole assembly dangled from the end of a short hair-thin thread tied at its center of mass. Allowing the device to hang so it could rotate freely, that little speck of rust soon oscillated reliably about a line which, when carefully projected, tracked the movements of one aircraft in particular as it taxied towards takeoff.

    “Well, that answers the question of where you are now,” he muttered, intently watching the airliner as it queued for takeoff. “But where are you going, I wonder?”

    Green eyes narrowed as they took careful note of the registration number emblazoned on the side of the aircraft.

    “This is going to take some legwork.”

    4.11.11 Time to think

    The trip home had so far been a quiet one. Hermione slept soundly seated between her parents, her head settled comfortably against her mother’s shoulder. It had been a long and trying day, and the opportunity to rest on the two-hour-long trip back to Crawley was a welcome one.

    The trip had also given her parents plenty of time to review the documents their daughter had signed that day. Their train ride was much less restful.

    “God, I hate this,” Tony Granger said for the fifth time in the last ten minutes as he once again finished rereading the servant contract in his hands. “How can this even happen in this day and age? We’re in Britain, for God’s sake, not some uncivilized third-world hellhole!”

    “I don’t know about that, love,” his wife said quietly, gently stroking her sleeping daughter’s hair. “From what you’ve told me of your conversation with that Snape fellow, I’m fairly certain that we are living in an ‘uncivilized third-world hellhole’.”

    “Maybe we are,” he allowed, “but did it have to get our daughter stuck in this!” He slapped the contract gently against his knee, being careful not to wake his daughter with the noise. “This bloody damned thing is a whitewashed slave contract. There are no limits on what that boy could make her do!”

    “You’ve met Harry, love,” Sharon chided him. “You know better than that.”

    “For now, sure,” her husband scoffed. “He’s too young for anything at the moment, but in a few years… I was a boy his age once, Sharon. Once puberty hits, his self-control is going to be shot to hell, and that contract will be a constant temptation.”

    “Tony Granger! Think about just what that boy actually is for a moment,” she gave him a pointed look. “If he wanted to do something of that nature, he wouldn’t need a bloody slip of paper to give him permission!” She shook her head, “Harry has given you every reason to trust him and not a single one not to, outside your own paranoid imagination. Give him a little trust.”

    Tony slowly nodded, forced to acknowledge the point.

    “I’ll tell you what, Tony,” Sharon proposed. “Why don’t you stop obsessively rereading that damned contract, and after we get back to Crawley, we can go out to eat and celebrate getting Hermione back for the summer, rather than worrying about things we can’t change? At least try to look at the bright side of things.”

    “Alright,” he said grudgingly. “I still hate this, though.”


    4.11.12 Don’t worry, I speak jive

    Wow!” the Great Wyrm of Hogwarts marveled as the airliner broke through a thick layer of dingy grey mist to reveal the blindingly bright sun-drenched cloudscape above. “I hardly ever fly this high!”

    “Truly, it is remarkable,” Suze agreed from her position at the next window over; it was the only place on the plane that she could fit, squeezed into the space at the head of the onboard conference table. “I look forward to seeing the stars from this vantage.”

    “That’d be pretty cool,” Harry agreed. “If you want, I could take you flying up this high more often, myself...”

    “Perhaps not quite yet, Mr. Potter,” Severus Snape said from his place at the table. He was much calmer now that his three-hundred galleons per hour were being put to productive use, rather than being wasted on a bag of crisps. “One topic that arose in my discussions with Mr. Slackhammer was the efficacy of the nonmagical aerospace detection grids at discovering your presence.”

    “How did that come up, Mr. Snape?” the young dragon asked without turning, unable to tear his eyes away from the fantastic tableau on the other side of the window.

    “I had suggested enlisting your assistance to provide transportation across the Confederacy, rather than arranging ground transport,” the potions master explained. “It was explained to me that the muggle nations maintain sensor grids which are monitored quite assiduously, and that your size and metallic composition would make you stand out on them like the proverbial sore thumb.”

    “Oh, yeah! You mean their radar and stuff,” Harry said. “I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess that makes sense. Huh. It’s a good thing I’ve stuck to low altitude flying in the mountains, then. I must’ve been lost in the ground clutter, otherwise we’d have had all kinds of jet planes and stuff trying to find me.”

    Snape raised an eyebrow at that. “Am I to understand you know how such things work, Mr. Potter?”

    “Sorta,” he shrugged. “I get the basics of how radar works, ‘cause jet planes are pretty cool, and that stealth fighter one is really weird looking, so I wanted to know why it was shaped like it was, and since it’s all about not being seen by radar, I had to look into that a bit.”

    “Anyway, you got transmitters that send out radio waves, and those bounce off of stuff, and then a sensor picks up those bits that bounced and you can figure out what it bounced off of by how the signal looks, but I don’t know the technical details yet, ‘cause I haven’t looked into it very much.” The last Potter shrugged. “I know metal reflects radio really well, though, and so do lots of sharp corners, and round bits too, oddly enough, and my scales got lots of metal and lots of sharp bits and lots of round bits, so if I were to fly by an airport or something they’d probably think I was about the size of the whole terminal from the return.”

    “I see,” the potions master nodded. “Mr. Slackhammer seemed to think that, while our current concealment spells would not work to prevent such detection, it might be possible to adapt them to do so. Do you think you might be able to manage such a thing?”

    That question was interesting enough to finally pull Harry away from the entrancing vista outside; though the fact that they had climbed high enough for the clouds below to lose some of their previous fantastic detail might have contributed to his willingness to look away.

    “Um, I guess... maybe?” green eyes narrowed as their owner considered the problem. “I know you can change something’s shape to make it so the radio waves get bounced away from where they came from, but I don’t know how I’d manage that, ‘specially since I change shape all the time when I fly.” He paused momentarily as another thought occurred. “I know the stealth planes have coatings on ‘em that absorb the radio waves they use for radar, so that might work.”

    “A coating, you say?” the potions master asked, his professional interest piqued. “What sort of coatings do they use?”

    “I dunno,” Harry shrugged. “They’re real secret. The Americans only admitted they had the things four years back, and all the stuff about how they work is still kept really quiet.”

    “Understandable,” the dark man nodded slowly. “I wonder what sort of properties such a substance would require. What exactly are these ‘radio waves’ you speak of, Mr. Potter?”

    “Um, well,” the young dragon paused for a moment to marshal his thoughts. “You know how light acts like a wave?”

    “Yes, I recall you saying as much in our earlier conversations on the topic,” Severus acknowledged. “Am I to understand that radio waves are a form of light, then?”

    “That’s it!” Harry nodded enthusiastically. “Anyway, different colors of light have different wavelengths. You can see light between about four hundred nanometers and a bit less than eight hundred nanometers, but light can really be any wavelength. The radio waves they use for radar are a lot longer, like a ten million times longer, so you can’t see them.”

    “So, one would need to make a material of a color that cannot be seen,” Snape mused. “Remarkable.”

    “Perhaps you could alter a color charm to do the job,” a new voice interjected itself as Filius Flitwick inserted himself into the conversation.

    Snape nodded a brief welcome his colleague. “How would one handle the feedback? The color charm is directed by visualization, as I recall. How does one visualize an invisible color?”

    “I haven’t the foggiest idea,” the diminutive half-goblin chirped happily, “but I am certain figuring it out will be great fun!”

    “I seem to recall a runic implementation of a color charm that I came across at some point,” Bathsheda Babbling volunteered, sounding eager to get in on the conversation. “It was horrendously impractical, as I recall — lots of memorization of which modification produced which color — but I had no idea of that light-wavelength business. Perhaps there is some pattern to the runes of which I was unaware.”

    “Ooh! Can I get a look at that?” Harry asked excitedly. “I was trying to do something like that before and I couldn’t get the colors to work out right.”

    “I’ll have to look it up when we get back to the castle, Mr. Potter,” the rune mistress averred. “I’m afraid I do not have the material with me, but I would be quite pleased to assist when I do. Might I ask what you were working on?”

    “Sure! I was looking at making this thing for a regard gift, you see…”

    The conversation quickly grew to encompass the entire group from Hogwarts as increasingly esoteric and technically involved ideas flew thick and fast. The Hogwarts faculty held some of the finest magical minds in the whole of wizarding Europe, and it showed. Harry, who sported similar interests — as well as a near-eidetic memory, eclectic and wide-ranging reading habits, and a biological supercomputer in his skull completely filling a brainpan larger than most bathtubs — was having a grand time of it.

    As he sat at the table, thirty-five thousand feet above the surface of the Atlantic, the young dragon could only smile. This was going to be a great trip!

    4.11.13 Starry night

    Off to the side and out of the conversational scrum, Suze watched on for nearly an hour, smiling gently at the brightly animated face of her dragon. Eventually, she turned back to the window before her, just in time to catch the slow setting of the sun, delayed by both their altitude and their westward travel.

    She was hurtling across the heavens in a metal box too low-ceilinged for her to stand up properly, moving faster than she ever had before in her life and completely at the mercy of the strange contraption and the mysterious humans operating it, but despite that the centaur maiden felt content. As the sky darkened, the familiar patterns of the stars faded into view, their light gently illuminating the tops of the clouds marching by far below.

    Her Great Wyrm was happy; she was at his side; and the sight before her was as beautiful as any she could have ever hoped to see.

    As far as Suze was concerned, all was right with the world.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020