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Generated: Apr 26, 2018 9:09 PM
Post last updated: Dec 06, 2016 1:46 PM
diagon alley
Salmons and Carmines in Potterverse
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"What do you need boy robes for?" inquires Madam Malkins.

"I'm sometimes a boy," the girl explains.

"What?"

"Look -"

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"Boy!"

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The boy just walking into the shop has not been paying attention to this exchange!

He looks like he's probably a first year. He is, however, wearing robes, so he's probably not muggleborn.

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"I'll be with you in a moment, dear," the witch says. "You are complicating this, but alright."

The boy waves at the newcomer -

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- and is no longer a boy.

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The newcomer pauses, just about to wave, and then… proceeds to wave, somewhat bemused.

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"Now hold still! I'm already going to have to do this twice, don't make me do it more times."

The girl obeys and holds still, and various tape measures start examining her.

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The boy waits curiously.

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"Hi! I'm Sadde," the girl calls. Madam Malkins shoots her a sharp look but given that she didn't actually move doesn't say anything.

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"Anthony," he responds. "I've never met a metamorphmagus before."

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"I hadn't ever met a magical person other than myself before, so I think you're still winning."

"Hold still!" chides Madam Malkins.

"Sorry."

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"… Oh? Huh. Even rarer to be a muggle-raised metamorphmagus."

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"Muggleborn, even."

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"I'm personally not muggleborn," he says. "That was probably clear though."

He gestures to the robes he's wearing.

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"Yes, it was. Where're your parents?"

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"Mum left me to go robe shopping while she catches up with some people."

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"Oh. My mum's buying Potions ingredients for me."

"Can you turn into a boy now, dear?" asks Madam Malkins.

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"Sure."

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"I don't think I've ever heard of someone swapping gender. Not as a metamorphmagus, at least."

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"Swapping gender happens amongst muggles," she explains, "but I hadn't ever heard of someone who did it magically before."

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Pause. "How do they do it? Without magic, I mean."

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"Makeup. Clothes. Mannerisms."

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"Oh," he says. "That's– sort of a shame?"

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"Kinda is, yeah. People who don't change and are just one thing all the time can do some kinds of surgery but it's not very good."

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"Surgery with– like, knives and stuff, okay, I don't really know why I'm asking about this."

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"Not exactly knives, more like scalpels, which are really tiny -" She pinches the air to show how tiny, and Madam Malkins chides her again.

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"Surgery with tiny knives." He grimaces a bit. "I haven't really learnt much about muggles."

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"How do magical people do it?"

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"We go to healers. I'm not sure about for – changing gender, I don't recall having heard about it before."

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"I'm done, dear," says Madam Malkins, and she starts busying herself with charming robes to the correct size.

The girl is a girl again, and says, "Well, muggles don't really have healers, we do what we can with what we have. It's a lot, for the record."

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"You have – doctors, right? I guess they train to do surgery?"

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"Yes, they spend several years training and getting very specialised."

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Nod. "So – you only found out about all this recently?"

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"Well, I was a metamorphmagus since always. So I kinda knew some kind of magic must exist. But what that kind was, exactly, yeah."

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"… I admit I don't know much about metamorphmagi but – were you just a really well-behaved small child?"

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She smirks. "No."

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"So. Did they just get the Obliviators in a bunch of times, or…?"

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"- the who now?"

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"Muggleborn, right. There are some people who, uh. 'Clean up' after magical accidents, make sure there aren't people claiming to have seen wizards?"

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"...how. Exactly. Do they do that."

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"They don't go killing people or anything," he hastens to add. "They… use a spell to make people forget about it."

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"They do what?" she shrieks.

"Miss Woods! Control yourself!" Madam Malkins says sharply.

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"… I'm guessing you don't actually need it repeated," he says, quietly.

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"No. No I don't." She finds somewhere to sit. And sits.

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"I don't actually know they did it for you, just –"

He shrugs.

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"Oh, oh no. They. They definitely - this explains so much -"

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"Sorry to be the bearer of bad news."

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She buries her face in her hands.

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Awkward.

Any chance he can get measured for his robes perhaps maybe?

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Madam Malkins is making Sadde's, and it's taking a bit longer than normal because, two sets.

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But eventually she's done, and hands them to the girl. "Sorry for the delay, dear, it's your turn."

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"It's fine," he says, getting up and moving where indicated.

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She busies herself with telling magic tape measures to measure him.

Sadde looks up at him. She had not been crying. Just really - angry. "How - casual are they about it?"

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"I'm not sure how to answer that," says Anthony. "They don't want muggles to know about magic?"

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"Why?"

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"– Okay so you don't know about the statute of secrecy? It's part of why you can't do magic outside of school."

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"I know it's a thing. I don't know why it's a thing."

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"There is… a lot of history involved? It's been around since the late sixteen hundreds, started in response to– witch trials?"

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"...were witch trials, like. Actually. Dangerous. To magic people?"

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"If someone doesn't have their wand and they get tied up and lit on fire? Uh. Yeah?"

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"Why wouldn't they have their wand?"

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"Because if muggles find out that pointy sticks are used by magic people then they will probably try to snap pointy sticks and also kidnap people in the night while they're sleeping," he responds. "Which was three hundred years ago so I'm not sure the statute has much of a place anymore but I'm pretty sure it did."

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"Why would muggles even do that, though. Why weren't magical people, like. Fixing people. Curing diseases. Solving old age."

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"… I am not actually from that time in history? So I have no idea. But it's not immediately obvious the statute was totally groundless, some of the reasons made sense, they just weren't really strong enough."

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She sighs. "I'm sorry. I know it's not your fault."

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"– My mum campaigns against it, does research into things we could do without it, other solutions to the problem, things like that."

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"- I like her."

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"Me too," he agrees. "I think it's a good cause."

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"Does she want help with that?"

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"Uh, possibly? But it's like half a week until we go, isn't it?"

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"Well yeah. But like, I'm a muggleborn. That could help, maybe. Or from within Hogwarts! We could start a generation of people who think that, really, muggles aren't all that different from us!"

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"… In terms of, like, value as people, right?"

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"Yeah, what else?"

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"I just mean, you're probably going to get people saying 'but they don't have magic'. I think that's most of what they focus on."

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"Y'all don't have spaceships and you don't see me rubbing this in your faces."

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"I am not actually someone who thinks muggles are lesser or anything," he says. "And I think they might say that we could take spaceships if we wanted them. Or something."

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"Then I'm not rubbing the fact that magical people are crazy and don't want spaceships in their faces either," she retorts, grinning. "Besides, they gotta make up their minds, either Middle Ages muggles were a threat to them from whom they must hide or they can take twentieth-century muggle technology from their hands, can't have both."

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"Yeah," he says, probably agreeing.

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"Well, okay, I am going to kick this Statute of Secrecy in the butt and get rid of it." Pause. "...can lost memories be restored?"

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"… I don't think so, but I'm not sure."

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"Well. Then it's even more important that we get rid of the Statute," she says fervently.

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"I mean, yeah, but the main bit is all the magical convenience stuff. It's sort of creepy to remove memories, feels like a breach – of rights or something, but that's… a smaller issue?"

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"It's a breach of identity! I am my memories!"

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"… Yes," he says. "So am I. But. I'm pretty sure I'm still me if I lose ten minutes of memories, and I'm still me if I lose a day of memories, and all the way back down to – probably months or years? Depending?"

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"I'm not. I'm eleven, if I lose a month of memories I'm super different, if I lose a whole year that's someone else!"

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"I mean, go back three years and I'm quite different, but I'm still recognizably acting similarly – but that's different from like a week ago where it's still mostly me just not having spoken to you and whatever?"

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"I wasn't acting similarly three years ago. Not at all. I was eight. I was really different."

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He would shrug but tape-measure.

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"Weren't you? Like. You were eight. I was playing with dolls, then."

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"I mean, it was three years ago. I was helping with small chores and visiting my mum as she did protests and trying to listen to everyone I could and waiting until I could do magic and reading."

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"I like you."

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"Most people don't just say that," he responds, slightly amused.

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"Wanna start counting the ways I'm unlike most people?"

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"I've got three – four – nope, five so far."

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"...care to share them?"

"You can sit and wait, now, dear," says Madam Malkins.

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"Thanks," he says, moving to do as such.

To Sadde: "You're a witch – wizard? – anyway that was point two as well, and a metamorphmagus, and what I said just now, people wouldn't usually say that, and you also care about the statute." Pause. "Add a sixth, the memories thing, I think you're a bit more – definite about that than most people."

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"I'm also a muggleborn, which is unlike most magical people," she adds.

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"– And we could be pedantic and say looking female and having brown hair is unlike most people, use combinations of attributes."

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She giggles. "Fine, I'm not that special then I guess."

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"I hardly even know you yet," he says. "– What did you say your name was again?"

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"Sadde."

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"Is that a common muggle name? I've never heard of it."

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"I wouldn't be surprised if I were the only person alive with that name."

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"There's another point then."

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"Yep. I wonder how many you'll find before we get to Hogwarts."

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"Well you've probably never flown a broom, but that comes under being muggleborn and not having gone to Hogwarts yet."

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"And it's not, like, something about me, it's just an event."

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"… But so is being named something?"

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"I mean it's, like, something that'll change. I haven't eaten, I dunno, cricket, but that could change, it's not a fact about me like my name is."

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"So if you had ridden a broom, that'd count as a thing about you?"

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"No! You know what I mean!"

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"It has to be something that shows something about you? Uh, how much do you read, it sounds like you read a lot."

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Madam Malkins shows up again. "Here you go," she says, offering Anthony his robes before moving on to another arriving student, this one a few years older than the two of them.

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"Yes to both! Reading's fun, I'm gonna get all the books from the library."

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"Thank you," says Anthony to Madam Malkins, taking them. To Sadde: "You know there are quite a few books, right? And you only have seven years?"

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"Oh, fine, I don't have to read the ones about animals."

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"And there's a section that's restricted, you need a pass or a good reason or something to get one from there."

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"I can figure out how to get in if I need to," she declares. "Anyway, where to next?" Because of course now they're Friends and they're Shopping Together.

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"I should probably let my mum know that I've got my robes but – she shouldn't be far."

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"Okay! And I guess I should tell leave my robes with mine - what do you still need to buy?"

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"Potion ingredients but I think I might need a parent for some of it, not sure, and – ummm." Pause. "Mum has the list?"

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"Then maybe we can get your list and meet up with my mum at the store."

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"I think that is a good idea!" he agrees.

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"Lead the way, then."

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He does! "So, when did you get your letter?"

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"A week ago. You? You're a pureblood, right, you've known forever."

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"But I got my letter about the same time, yeah. How'd you take it?"

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"My letter arrived in the hands of the Deputy Headmaster, so it was. Pretty great to finally, erm. Figure it out. All of it. Or, well, I guess not all, he never mentioned Obliviators."

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"I mean. There are a lot of magical people and places and things, so he probably couldn't have covered it all."

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"Yes but we did tell him about the Hulk incidents."

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"… Hulk incidents?"

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"So you know how your magic acts - or used to act - up when you felt strong emotions?"

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"Yeah? – Oh, is that the bad behaviour you were talking about?"

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"Kinda. I was - bullied a lot. I'm a metamorphmagus. Sometimes those things... went together."

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"– Ah." Pause. "I don't know what 'Hulk' means, though."

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"Oh, right. It's - do you guys have comic books?"

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"Uh, not under that name at least?"

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She explains the concept in broad strokes, "and there's one comic book character who becomes a huge green muscled person when he gets angry."

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"That's. Um."

He pauses, not seeming to know what to say, and then – "Oh, there's my mum, be back in a sec."

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She waits.

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He goes over to her, waits politely so he can talk to her, and points at Sadde partway through the conversation, and then takes the list off her and waves.

"Got it," he says, showing it to Sadde.

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"She's not coming with?"

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"I can ask for her to? But I probably don't need her, Diagon Alley is pretty safe if you don't stray down any dark alleys."

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"Yeah, we've been told, but mum wants to know about magic as much as I do, so she's shopping with me."

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"Mm," he agrees. "It makes sense to be careful anyway, since you're not used to magic."

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"I'm used to metamorphmagic," she says, and a snake's tongue slithers out of her mouth. "Ssssss."

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"– You mmmight want to be careful doing that," he says, "but cool."

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"Why?" she asks with a regular tongue.

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"Some people have a bit of a thing against snakes and parselmouths – people who speak parseltongue, snake language – and that might be a bit close to it."

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"Snakes are sapient?"

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"… I don't know but I don't plan on eating one anytime soon anyway?"

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"But if snakes are sapient - and don't look it - what about other animals?!"

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"… I am not a huge fan of meat and don't eat that much of it anyway so it's not a huge problem for me."

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"Well, I don't care about food much, but that's beyond the point! Snakes eat other animals! And are eaten by other animals!"

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Pause. "They are but I don't think it's very easy for you to stop that, on a large scale? And other wizards don't seem to care about it as much as you so I don't think they'd really want to help."

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"Yes and that's a problem - I don't even like animals - or they don't seem to like me - but if animals are people -"

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"… It's not really one you can solve right now. You have – four? – days until you go to school."

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She grimaces. "I can at least figure out whether other animals are in fact sentient!"

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"While at school? Yeah. But – I'm not sure if they are sentient or not, it might just be a magic thing. I'm not sure people have looked into it."

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"Well, how does this - parseltongue thing - work anyway?"

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"Very rarely people have it? I think it's inherited, they just have the ability to talk to snakes even though they didn't learn it separately, it's kinda Slytherin?"

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"Slytherin being... one of the Hogwarts Houses? Why is it? And do the snakes respond? Do they actually hold conversations or?"

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"Slytherin is one of the houses, yeah, with a – patron animal, house animal or whatever – of a snake, green. So that's why it's Slytherin. I have no idea about conversations, I don't know if they're smart or just respond to basic questions or what."

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"Okay... We need to figure that out, have you gotten your books yet?"

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"Nope – uh, mum's got my wand and clothes, still need to go to the apothecary and bookshop and get a telescope – I think mum said she'd get that and the scales – then probably an owl? … Probably also with mum."

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"So just potions and books, then?"

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"Think so?"

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Onwards to the apothecary, then.

"I didn't get my wand yet. Wanted to leave it for last."

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"Any particular reason?"

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"'Cause it'd be tempting and we're not allowed to use it before school."

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"Ah." Pause. "Well yes but it's a law, I'd expect that to be discouraging enough?"

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"It's not a law they do anything about here in Diagon Alley. Not if you can look like an adult like, oh, certain metamorphmagi can."

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"… I think it might be a magical thing, based off who owns the wand, not whether you look like an adult," he says. "I've heard that people do sometimes get warnings at home?"

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"The Deputy Headmaster said it was about doing magic while underage while unsupervised by an adult."

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"Huh," he says. "They might have changed it recently or maybe rumours just aren't perfect."

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"I had to badger him a lot before he explained that was how it actually worked, and then he said I'd probably go to his House."

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"Ah. I'd be curious what 'unsupervised' means, more specifically."

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"I think it's pretty much just 'around.'"

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"– So I'm not sure if the Deputy Headmaster told you and it's kinda public knowledge and it's probably something you should know, but, uh, we had a war?"

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"Um. He didn't tell, no."

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"It ended – not that long ago, main guy on the opposing side seems to be gone for good. Might mean there's some prejudice against Slytherin, more so than usual."

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"'Main guy'? Like, a president or something? And what's Slytherin got to do with it?"

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"It was more like a civil war. People don't like to say his name, there were at least rumours there was a curse on saying it, and he was– very Slytherin, in the stereotypical way, and a lot of his followers were too."

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"Wwwhhhhhat exactly is the stereotypical way of being 'very Slytherin'?"

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Anthony pauses, thinking, then says, almost as if he has a checklist: "Dark. Having some weird link to snakes of some kind. Typically hate muggleborns, or anyone who isn't pureblood. Sort of – uncaring about what people feel. Use bribery and extortion to get what they want, and they want to rule the world for the sake of having power."

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"Why do people think that?"

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"… I mean, partially because of the same guy – he was gone for a while and resurfaced just recently – but also the house traits are cunning and ambition, so you tend to get quite a few from there who try, uh, less horrible versions of that?"

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"Cunning and ambition isn't dark!"

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Pause. "Mmh…?"

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"So that shouldn't be a stereotype!"

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"… I mean, if you have a group of people and it turns out a tenth of them joined 'the dark side', the group is probably going to get a stereotype?"

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"A tenth of Slytherins become evil?"

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"No, but he had–" Anthony pauses, looks around, and then continues in a lower voice: "He had like thirty direct followers in his inner sanctum, they all had their families indoctrinated, pureblood Slytherin families have high numbers of Slytherins who then try to indoctrinate others, and there are large bits of the population who were sympathetic to his goal of killing off muggles and non-purebloods?"

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"Well I'm gonna become a Slytherin and fix this."

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Pause. "It sounds like they need someone like that, yeah, but depending on who else is there you might be at risk of – not literally – being eaten alive. Seeing as you're muggleborn."

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"Yes well whatever I'm still gonna do it, and I'm gonna be better than all of them. I'll show them. I'll show them all!"

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"I think you're supposed to add a maniacal laugh there."

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"I'm eleven I can't do a proper maniacal laugh. I've tried."

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He laughs. "I'm pretty sure I can't either. But I don't plan on taking over Slytherin, so that's okay."

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"Oh, no, Slytherin is just the start, then there'll be the world!"

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"… If you go doing that I probably want more details on what you mean by 'fix'."

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"Well, you know, make them not be evil nor hate muggleborns and half-bloods?"

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"The whole world, meaning the whole magical world? And – 'evil' is – like it's really clear in my head what's evil but people seem to struggle following that and have different opinions so there is probably something going on."

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"Hurting other people when they don't want to be hurt seems like it covers a lot!"

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"It does, and a lot of people fail at that, but that is – probably a good first step, if 'hurting' is clear?"

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"Yeah and I'm eleven, I don't need to have it figured out yet."

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He shrugs. "No, but – you know, it's probably not a two-step process or anything."

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"Of course it's not, and if I thought it was and got into Slytherin anyway I'd be pretty sure whatever puts people in Houses has no idea what it's doing!"

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"We're not supposed to be told – what does it, that is – until we get there."

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"My point was just that any good, self-respecting Slytherin would know that's not a two-step process."

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And here's the apothecary where a woman dressed like a muggle is browsing ingredients.

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"– Is that your mum?"

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"Yep! Hi mum, I met a new person, I like him."

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The mum looks at the girl then at the boy. "Hello. I am Laura, it's a pleasure to meet you."

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"Anthony," he responds, smiling politely. "It's a pleasure to meet you too."

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"He's nice and he knows a lot of stuff and I haven't even interrogated him much yet!"

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"Forgive my daughter for any interrogation you may have already suffered."

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"It's fine," he says. "I don't usually get to explain quite so much to people unfamiliar with the context."

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"Oh, hey, Anthony, where do you live?"

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"Just outside a small city in the south-west? I don't know if you'll have heard of it – Wells?"

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"Wow you live even farther away than we do. How'd you get here? - was it by brooms, that'd be so cool if it was brooms."

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"It was by floo!" he says. "– You might not know what that is, uh, throw powder into a fireplace and arrive at the destination you say?"

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Laura raises her eyebrows. "A fireplace?"

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"… I don't think it helps if I say 'it's magic', does it?"

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"I wasn't questioning the ability so much as wondering about the method. How exactly does that work, you throw powder in a fireplace and then...?"

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"You go up to a connected fireplace, throw down Floo powder into it, wait for the flames to go green, then walk into it and say where you want to go, you spend a short time in inconvenient transit and then you arrive in a fireplace at your destination?"

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"And there's a fireplace people usually arrive in here?"

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"Yeah, it comes out at the Leaky Cauldron? You might've come through it on your way in."

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"Coool! So after we're done can I visit?"

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"Sadde, don't just invite yourself over to other people's places."

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"I – you can probably have a quick look, at least? I'll have to check with mum, but since I don't think you've been to a wizard's house before…?"

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"I haven't! You're the first wizard I've, like, actually really spoken to. Other than Professor Flitwick."

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He nods. "Mum's not usually too fussy about when guests come around, she keeps the house sort of tidy as a general principle, so I think it'll be okay? And she likes talking to people from different backgrounds, especially since she's not really used to talking to muggles?"

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"Okay! So after wands is Anthony's house!"

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Sigh.

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Relay notices this and says to Laura, sort of tentatively, "Mum will probably want to talk to you too, if that's okay?"

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She smiles. "If she would like to talk, I would be delighted to meet her."

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Smile. "It's only a sort of small house, we live actually in the city itself – smallest city in Britain, did I mention? – but we're towards the edge and have a few friends nearby, small greenhouse out back."

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"Do you have magical plants?"

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"A couple? But they're not super interesting ones."

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"What do they do?"

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(Laura will continue finding ingredients, then.)

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Anthony has a look around too, and – "I think one is used in a potion for curing warts? There are a few other potion ingredients, one that changes colour when it's going to rain?"

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"Cool!"

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Laura has been here a while so now she has found all her ingredients. "Do you want me to show you where the first-year ingredients are?" she asks Anthony.

Permalink Eye

"That would be useful, please!"

Permalink Eye

She does, then. There are many ingredients, but now that she knows where they are they are easily found.

Permalink Eye

And then – "Is it okay if we go to the bookshop next?"

Permalink Eye

"Of course, that's where we were headed next anyway."

Permalink Eye

"Cool!" he says. "Uh, I think they have quite a few books in store. Something tells me you might want to be prepared when she, um, maybe tries to buy a library?"

Permalink Eye

Laura chuckles. "I've known my daughter since she was born, I know how she feels about books."

Permalink Eye

Smile.

Off to the bookshop, then.

Permalink Eye

The bookshop: has books.

Sadde is ecstatic.

Permalink Eye

Anthony likes books too! And he can actually get some to learn spells from and practise and things!

He has seen a lot of them before, though he has not read them all.

Permalink Eye

"What's 'The Monster Book of Monsters'?" she wonders, prompted by a plaque mentioning it.

Permalink Eye

"I think it's Care of Magical Creatures…?" Pause. "Oh, it was – yeah, that was a book that tried to eat you for opening it, got removed from stock."

Permalink Eye

"It tried to eat you?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, if you opened it. It was sort of a creature itself, I think, you had to do something to calm it down? Supposed to be some sort of – teaching method, I guess."

Permalink Eye

"On the one hand that is sort of cool; on the other I'm pretty sure it would eat me."

Permalink Eye

"It's only small. I don't think it'd actually be able to, um, totally eat you."

Permalink Eye

"Animals in general hate me, I'm pretty sure an animal book about animals would double hate me. Or hate me squared." 

Permalink Eye

"Huh," he says. "I'm usually pretty good with animals?"

Permalink Eye

"When I got Richard - my owl - all the other owls hated me. But they hated him, too, so he liked me."

Permalink Eye

"Aww," responds Anthony. "I – am bad at coming up with names. Hopefully I'll get inspiration when I go get one."

Permalink Eye

"Did you get an owl, too? I named mine after Richard Feynman."

Permalink Eye

"I haven't gone yet!" he responds. "I expect I'll probably get an owl, though." Pause. "I'm not sure who Richard Feynman is."

Permalink Eye

"He's a muggle scientist who was really smart and cool."

Permalink Eye

"Ah," says Anthony. "There are – different parts of science, right? I haven't studied it much but I think there's stuff about gravity and, uh, the Sun, then stuff about animals and plants?"

Permalink Eye

"- yes, there are different parts, he dealt with very very very small things and very very very high energies."

Permalink Eye

"Ah," responds Anthony. "We really don't get taught much of that."

Permalink Eye

"I figured! It's no wonder you haven't put anyone on the Moon."

Permalink Eye

"I'm still not sure anybody is trying," he responds.

Permalink Eye

"That's a silly thing not to try! I mean, the Moon is there, why wouldn't you put people on it?"

Permalink Eye

"… There are constellations really far away, too, and you could make the same argument for those?"

Permalink Eye

"Yep, and guess where muggles totally do want to go?"

Permalink Eye

"… Into stars?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, near the stars, anyway. And we could, like, harvest them!"

Permalink Eye

"For, what, light?"

Permalink Eye

"No, energy! All the energy on Earth comes from the Sun, so we could get more stars to have more energy."

Permalink Eye

"For… what sorts of things? I'm unclear on what uses of energy you have in mind."

Permalink Eye

"Eeeverything? Pretty much everything, yes. Growing plants, powering electrical stuff, or space travel itself - everything."

Permalink Eye

Anthony pauses in his gathering of ingredients. "Those sound like… the first, a thing that's quite easy to do with magic, the second, a thing I have no idea about, and the third – surely there are easier ways than draining a sun?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes but my point is that we currently use very little of our sun and we could end pretty much all scarcity while harvesting suns, there's no good reason for them to exist so we can just drain them and use their energy better."

Permalink Eye

"I'm pretty sure the sun does… things…"

Permalink Eye

"Like what?"

Permalink Eye

"Heating the planet, growing plants – but I guess you're replacing that second one – and I think it's needed for humans to live, and, uh, I don't know, there might be some sort of magic that needs it?"

Permalink Eye

"We can heat the planet much more efficiently than the Sun can, like more than ninety nine percent of the energy it produces goes nowhere."

Permalink Eye

"… It seems really weird to be casually talking about destroying the sun so we can – do it better?"

Permalink Eye

She giggles.

Permalink Eye

"That's my daughter, yes."

Permalink Eye

"Does she talk about destroying the sun a lot?"

Permalink Eye

"Amongst other things."

Permalink Eye

"The moon?"

Permalink Eye

"She doesn't think we need live on a planet."

Permalink Eye

"… What else? Small boxes floating around?"

Permalink Eye

"Spaceships! Flying arcologies!"

Permalink Eye

"… I don't think I know that word. And I'm not sure spaceships are very big, are they?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, not yet, but they could be. That's what you drain suns for."

Permalink Eye

"People haven't actually done this yet, have they?"

(He finishes putting stuff into a bag.)

Permalink Eye

"No, we don't have technology for that yet."

She doesn't, there are so many books.

Permalink Eye

"I'll go pay for these, then," he comments. In case that prompts her to do same.

Permalink Eye

"Mum I want these," she asserts.

Permalink Eye

She smiles, shakes her head, and takes those.

Permalink Eye

Fortunately it does not take long to buy the books.

Permalink Eye

No it doesn't!

"Next is...?"

Permalink Eye

"One of the things on your list, or I go fetch mum or something?"

Permalink Eye

"Only thing left in my list is my wand, I think."

Permalink Eye

"How about I go look for a familiar and then we meet up – outside Gringotts or something?"

Permalink Eye

"Okay!"

Permalink Eye

"See you later," he says, then off he goes.

Permalink Eye

And later, Sadde and her mum are waiting in front of the bank. The former is grinning at her wand but not doing anything with it.

Permalink Eye

Anthony is along shortly! With an owl! And his mum!

"Hey," he says to Sadde.

Permalink Eye

"Hi, Anthony! Hi Anthony's mum! Hi Anthony's owl!"

Permalink Eye

Hoot, says Richard from his cage.

Permalink Eye

"Hello."

Permalink Eye

"Hello," says Anthony's mother, smiling. "Scylla."

She offers her hand.

Permalink Eye

It is shook.

"I understand my daughter has expressed a desire to spend some time at your place."

Permalink Eye

"Anthony explained this to me," she nods. "It should be allowable, though you may need one of us to explain a few unfamiliar things."

Permalink Eye

Anthony smiles at Sadde.

Permalink Eye

"Having unfamiliar things explained is the whole point!"

Permalink Eye

"Well yes, but it wouldn't be wise if you tried touching something unfamiliar. Most things should be safe, but I expect there are hazards to certain items that we're used to? The plants in the greenhouse, for example, some of those can poison you if you touch them."

Permalink Eye

"I won't touch anything without asking, promise!"

Permalink Eye

"It should be fine, then," she smiles. "Anthony can probably explain things if you'd want to ask him."

Permalink Eye

"Cool! So can I go?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure, honey, but you shouldn't stay there all afternoon, we don't want to impose."

Permalink Eye

"Are you finished with all your shopping?"

Permalink Eye

"We are, yes."

Permalink Eye

"We'll probably go by floo, if that's okay? I understand Anthony's mentioned it, at least briefly…"

Permalink Eye

"He did, it's gonna be so cool!"

Permalink Eye

"It can be quite disorienting at first, but it's perfectly safe."

She shows them the way to the public floo system and explains about the steps involved in the mechanism – grab a handful of floo powder, throw it into the flames and wait for them to change colour, step into them, and then enunciate the name of your destination clearly.

She tells them the floo address for the house.

Permalink Eye

Anthony goes first! The flames go green and he steps into them quite casually and departs.

Permalink Eye

Oooh cool green flames.

"Be back here by five?"

Permalink Eye

"Have fun, baby."

Permalink Eye

Into the flames she goes!

Permalink Eye

"Do you not also want to visit?" asks Scylla of Laura.

Permalink Eye

"Thank you for the invitation, but no, I should bring these things" gesture at the things shopped for "home and deal with a couple of other things."

Permalink Eye

"It was nice to meet you, anyway," responds Scylla with a smile, and then she's gone also.

Permalink Eye

Where Anthony and Sadde are in the sitting room! It is not huge, but it does have some nice furniture and bookshelves and a small silver badger statue on one of the tables.

Permalink Eye

And Sadde will look at everything and touch nothing.

Permalink Eye

"Most of the stuff in this room should be pretty safe!" says Anthony, noticing this. "Mum should be able to repair it if you break anything, but try to be careful anyway…"

Permalink Eye

Scylla quietly makes her way out of the room, taking Anthony's owl with her.

Permalink Eye

"Is anything here magical?"

Permalink Eye

"Most of it was made with magic," he says. "Actually magic like does things, there are a few things! The badger will move if you poke it, the clock can be set to say the hour on the hour, uh…" He looks around.

Permalink Eye

She pokes the badger.

Permalink Eye

It moves! It walks around briefly and then settles in a similar position on another part of the table.

"I think mum has a glowing necklace in the drawer, somewhere, but we should probably ask her if we want to see that…" Pause. "Do you know about the Wireless?"

Permalink Eye

"The what?"

Permalink Eye

"The Wizarding Wireless," he says, pointing towards… what looks rather like an old radio.

Permalink Eye

"That radio?"

Permalink Eye

"Uh, yeah? I think?"

Permalink Eye

"What about it?"

Permalink Eye

"I didn't know that you would recognize it for sure?" he says. "It picks up different channels, at least, from radios, I'm pretty sure?"

Permalink Eye

"Makes sense that it would, it'd be weird to have wizarding radio for muggles."

Permalink Eye

"… I think there were actually a few times where the stations have leaked."

Permalink Eye

"Reeeeally? What happened?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know," he says. "I think they just had a few people talking about some bizarre hoax, and then we caught wind of it and decided to be more careful with our transmissions?"

Permalink Eye

"Oh. That's kinda boring." Pause. "But better than anyone having their memories erased."

Permalink Eye

"It is possible some people had memories erased – the Obliviators do quite a lot of things – but I don't think so."

Permalink Eye

"Ugh. Distract me with shiny magic."

Permalink Eye

He shows her the clock! It has some fancy animation on the hour if you set it up to do that – which they usually don't, because it sounds like it could be distracting – but they were fashionable to get a few years ago in his mum's social circle – and then he shows her the hallway and what it looks like outside so she knows what the outside of the house looks like…

The stairs seem like they go quite a ways up, to quite a few different floors, if she looks up while they're in the hall.

Permalink Eye

She looks at everything and wants to see all the magic things.

Permalink Eye

Anthony shows her a bunch of them! The house is indeed rather large while simultaneously not being much larger than the other houses around when he shows her outside.

And then: greenhouse!

Permalink Eye

She is: quite envious of the house. Not that she'll say anything.

Greenhouse!

Permalink Eye

It has a few plants in it. Anthony shows her the ones he mentioned earlier and a few more. (The rain-predicting plant is a dark green right now, indicating it will rain within the next few days but not for at least one.)

Permalink Eye

So! Exciting!

Does he have one of the kinda sentient plants?

Permalink Eye

He does not, he doesn't think! He knows mandrakes are sorta-kinda sentient and he doesn't have any of those, and there are some trees (they come in smaller sizes) that can respond to poking and stuff, but… no, he's pretty sure they don't have any like that.

Permalink Eye

Do the non-sentient ones hate Sadde, too?

Permalink Eye

The non-sentient ones don't really do anything in response to Sadde, no – some of them are in fact like very nonmagical plants, not able to move of their own accord – so it would appear not?

Permalink Eye

"This is so cool. Do you do other things with magic?"

Permalink Eye

"Like… cooking? And transportation? Cleaning?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah! Or, are there magic games?"

Permalink Eye

"Sports and things? We have quidditch."

Permalink Eye

"I meant more like card games or whatever, what's quidditch?"

Permalink Eye

"Quidditch is… possibly the main sport that people play? There's the quaffle, that's the main ball, and people throw it between them and through some hoops and dodge some attack balls called bludgers, and they play it on brooms?"

Permalink Eye

"...a sport on flying brooms that is the coolest thing I wanna play!"

Permalink Eye

"Hogwarts has quidditch teams?" he suggests. "There are different positions you can play in – oh, there's also the seeker, who catches the snitch, which is a golden flying small ball-thing that nets you points and ends the game?"

Permalink Eye

"Ends the game? So it doesn't end before, or is it a lower bound, or...?"

Permalink Eye

"I think it's literally the end? There have been matches that go on for a few days before, I think, but they're rare."

Permalink Eye

"...erm. Why."

Permalink Eye

"… Why have there been matches that go on for days, or why is it the end, or…?"

Permalink Eye

"Why is it the end, that sounds like a terrible idea."

Permalink Eye

"I didn't design it? But it's not awful, it's not like it causes anything seriously bad, just weird?"

Permalink Eye

"It's not, like, awful the way malaria is awful, but it's bad game design."

Permalink Eye

Shrug. "I think a few sports are like that?"

Permalink Eye

"Like which?"

Permalink Eye

"… I'm not a huge sports fan but they mostly seem to be, uh, hit spheres at each other or things for, uh, reasons?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah but they always end after the same amount of time."

Permalink Eye

He shrugs. "Lots of people seem to be fans of it."

Permalink Eye

"What other magical sports are there?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, it depends on what you call a sport, because, well, there's – wizard's chess, I'm guessing you know the nonmagical one?"

Permalink Eye

"I know the nonmagical one, how does that one work?"

Permalink Eye

"It's, I think, pretty similar but the pieces move themselves and you can tell them where to go?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, sounds cool, but that's not a sport anyway."

Permalink Eye

Pause.  "Dueling?"

Permalink Eye

"That's not a sport - well I guess it is but..."

Permalink Eye

"Do you mean, like, broom racing? Or hockey?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, those."

Permalink Eye

"They both exist," he says. "There's a broom race through – I think it's Sweden? – every year, international thing."

Permalink Eye

"Nothing else with balls, though?"

Permalink Eye

"– There's quodpot? It's, sort of, an American quidditch thing?"

Permalink Eye

"How's it work?"

Permalink Eye

"I, uh, think it's just – with an exploding ball? Called a quod?"

Permalink Eye

"Well but what do you do with it? And do people play it here?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't think people really do? You might get a couple of people who've done it before but it's not done much, at least, and – you put it through a hoop? Or into a basket. … Or something." Shrug. "I don't know."

Permalink Eye

"Well I'll figure it out and learn how to play."

Permalink Eye

"Someone from school might have played it, if you ask around when we get there."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I will. Does Hogwarts not have sports?"

Permalink Eye

"Quidditch!" he says. "House teams."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, cool! What House do you think you'll be in?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm not totally sure! I don't know how they sort, exactly, but – house traits, I think I'd be Hufflepuff."

Permalink Eye

"I'd probably be a Slytherin or a Ravenclaw."

Permalink Eye

"If you're planning on taking over the world, yeah, that sounds pretty Slytherin."

Permalink Eye

She grins. "I just wanna make everything better for everyone!"

Permalink Eye

"Still sounds Slytherin. Like if you wanted to read a bunch of books to improve on other people's tries, that'd be some Ravenclaw too."

Permalink Eye

"I wanna do that, too!"

Permalink Eye

"We'll see what house wins out, then."

Permalink Eye

"Slytherin, probably."

Permalink Eye

"Have fun fixing them, then."

Permalink Eye

"I will!"

Permalink Eye

Then they can go back into the house and Anthony asks if Sadde would like anything to eat.

Permalink Eye

Sure! Magic food!

Permalink Eye

Well actually his dad cooked some soup last night and so they can have some of that, or crisps if she wants them, since supermarkets are quite convenient and his mum likes to go shopping from time to time…

Permalink Eye

What, really? No magic anything?

Permalink Eye

There are chocolate frogs if she wants one of those? The soup is heated up magically, too, does that count?

Permalink Eye

Ooh chocolate frogs sound fun! And being heated up magically counts, sure.

Permalink Eye

Chocolate frogs! They hop like frogs, observe, yay.

Permalink Eye

"I like these frogs. And ooh what's this -" She finds a card with an old wizard on it: "Salazar Slytherin."

Permalink Eye

"Founder, of Hogwarts. From the name you might have guessed Slytherin."

Permalink Eye

"Why is he moving."

Permalink Eye

"… I don't know what you mean?"

Permalink Eye

"He's moving! Look at it!"

Permalink Eye

"– Oh, do muggle pictures not do that?" Pause. "I suppose they mustn't."

Permalink Eye

"What is it doing! Is it alive? Is it a person?"

Permalink Eye

"It's not an enchanted portrait – it's not alive nor a person."

Permalink Eye

"- are enchanted portraits alive and people?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't think so, but they can talk and act like the person they're a portrait of…"

Permalink Eye

"O-kay, erm. Are they exactly like the person? Like is the person dead at all if they're a portrait?"

Permalink Eye

"… You mean, can you have a portrait at the same time as the original person? Yeah, you can have them together, I'm pretty sure."

Permalink Eye

"No but I mean are they - okay, I guess if you can do that - it's weird, are they the same person or what?"

Permalink Eye

"Like I say, I'm pretty sure it's not a person. Just. A portrait. But that doesn't sound like– what you want."

Permalink Eye

"Well if it talks how is it not a person?"

Permalink Eye

"… Same way the clock talks and isn't a person? But a bit more advanced?"

Permalink Eye

"The clock talks? ...do portraits just, like. Say the same things all the time, or what? Can you talk to them?"

Permalink Eye

"– Didn't I mention that you can make the clock say the hour, on the hour? I think it's just like that, but – the portraits respond to speech instead of time passing?"

Permalink Eye

"Well but there's a difference between saying things and talking."

Permalink Eye

"… It's probably more complicated to make the magic thing respond in a way that makes sense?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure but - do portraits talk or just respond, is what I'm asking."

Permalink Eye

"… Talk? If you just mean speak without being spoken to? They talk with other portraits, sometimes…"

Permalink Eye

"Okay so how are they not people."

Permalink Eye

"… I'm not saying you should treat them badly or anything? I'm just pretty sure they're magic pictures that are made using magic, not – you know, animals but smarter."

Permalink Eye

"Why would them being magic pictures made using magic not make them people?"

Permalink Eye

"… I'm sort of confused here. They're made, and it's using magic, and I'm pretty sure they just have them act like the person, they're not copying the person or– storing them in a picture, or anything?"

Permalink Eye

"Okay but that doesn't mean they're not a person, even if they're not the same person."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think magic usually makes people, though. I'm not saying it's totally impossible – but I'm pretty sure if they were people, it'd be the sort of thing people know? They're not exactly badly treated, they're usually considered antiques and stuff, but I'd expect to know."

Permalink Eye

"Okay, but you still haven't told me how they're not people, since they talk and stuff."

Permalink Eye

"Sort of… how if you were writing something down on paper, I could write back like I was someone, but that someone isn't actually a person? It's just someone I'm pretending to be? It's that but magic and automatic, I think."

Permalink Eye

"Right but you were a person, even if you were pretending to be someone else, and you'd be doing something only people can do, which is talk, so there's someone doing a thing there."

Permalink Eye

"… The person who produced the magic for the portrait, is what I was thinking…" Blink. "This is not actually, you know, what it is – I haven't asked, it hasn't made me ask this, I just treat them, uh, as I would treat a magical portrait? Try to be polite, they vary in personality, I'm related to a couple of them?"

Permalink Eye

"Do you have one here?"

Permalink Eye

"Um – no, I – maybe? My great-uncle has a portrait here but he's not usually actually – in the frame…"

Permalink Eye

"I wanna meet him."

Permalink Eye

"I'll see if he's there and if he's not mum can probably floo-call my aunt – he might be with them?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes that works. Can't you, like, knock on their portrait or something?"

Permalink Eye

"… Not that I know of, at least? Some portraits might have that enchanted in, that might be a thing people can do?"

Permalink Eye

"Okay."

Permalink Eye

So he goes to check and the great-uncle is in fact not in the portrait!

Permalink Eye

His mum, however, is perfectly happy to go have a chat with her sister to ask if he's up for visiting, and apparently he is!

Permalink Eye

So she waits for him to show up!

Permalink Eye

And then: he is in the portrait! He looks quite but not super old and looks out of it and says, "Good afternoon."

Permalink Eye

"Hi. I'm Sadde."

Permalink Eye

"Harold Knox. I understand you had some questions?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Are you - well, erm. It's a bit rude."

Permalink Eye

He seems to consider her, and then says, "I doubt I will be too offended to respond, and I retain the right to refuse to answer, but you may feel free to ask the question."

Permalink Eye

"Are you a person?"

Permalink Eye

"… Harold Knox, yes."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, do you have a personality, and memories, and desires, and preferences? Do you learn things, get bored, feel happy and sad and all that?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes," he responds. "But I'm also in a portrait."

Permalink Eye

"Do you... like being in a portrait? Would you rather not be in a portrait?"

Permalink Eye

"It could be more convenient, in some ways, yes."

Permalink Eye

"Would it be less convenient in others?"

Permalink Eye

"It's quite handy to be able to move to my other portraits from here," he says. "Not enough I'd pick it over being able to walk around and use floo, but enough that it's not as bad as it could be."

Permalink Eye

"...okay. Okay I'm gonna - figure out a way to fix that."

Permalink Eye

"… I'm not sure how you plan on going about that," he says, looking slightly amused. "And have you never spoken to a portrait before?"

Permalink Eye

"No, I'm muggleborn, and I don't have a plan yet I'm eleven and school starts next month but I'll figure it out."

Permalink Eye

"Ah."

Permalink Eye

"Do you think it would be better if people stopped making portraits?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't think so."

Permalink Eye

"Why not?"

Permalink Eye

"Because I rather think I'd prefer being in a portrait over nothing at all. In addition to the fact it'd be a horrible fuss."

Permalink Eye

Anthony raises an eyebrow.

Permalink Eye

"Would it be better if people made portraits and figured out how to make portraits walk out of their frames?"

Permalink Eye

"For us, most likely yes. It'd be a rather large change, though…"

Permalink Eye

"Yes!"

Permalink Eye

"You may also have noticed I'm a portrait. I didn't study portraiture, and I don't know if it is in fact feasible to allow us to walk out of our frames."

Permalink Eye

"I can do anything I set my mind to!"

Permalink Eye

"… You can certainly try," is the response from the man in the portrait. "Was that all?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes I think so. Thank you!"

Permalink Eye

Off he goes.

Permalink Eye

"I, uh – hope he wasn't too… brusque?"

Permalink Eye

"Hmm? No, he was fine, why?"

Permalink Eye

"He's just – it's nothing, really, he's been pretty good lately."

Permalink Eye

"...okay? Is he usually rude or something?"

Permalink Eye

"… To muggleborns, a little."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. Right, prejudice."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah," he sighs. "Sorry."

Permalink Eye

"I can deal. Dealt all my life."

Permalink Eye

"Oh?" he asks. "– Oh, right. Ah."

Permalink Eye

She shrugs. "I'm gonna fix Slytherin and I'm gonna make portraits able to leave their frames and I'm gonna figure out how to make everyone immortal."

Permalink Eye

"Which are very ambitious goals and if you achieve them I'm sure lots of people will be thankful." Pause. "But don't go into anything dark."

Permalink Eye

"'Dark'?"

Permalink Eye

Pause. "Like that war I told you about. The guy who led it – he was dark, killed people and, uh, Unforgivables. Things like that."

Permalink Eye

"And Unforgivables are...?"

Permalink Eye

"… Right, uh, they–" Pause. "It's– uh. The Killing Curse, Imperius Curse and Cruciatus Curse." He looks around, possibly checking that nobody's listening, and says, "First one is, I think, clear, second is – you can control people to do what you tell them to. Third is for torture."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. Dark is evil stuff. And there are - exactly three evil spells?"

Permalink Eye

"Evil stuff, yes, but – dark is a sort of specific category? You can be evil without using dark spells, you could, I don't know, levitate someone off a cliff, and there are other dark spells, but they're the Unforgivables."

Permalink Eye

"I guess it makes sense that spells that are only for hurting other people would be unforgivable..."

Permalink Eye

"There are some other spells, like – a really uncontrolled fire, which is dark but it's not an Unforgivable. And probably others I don't know because I'm too young."

Permalink Eye

She nods. "Well I won't do anything dark to make people immortal, that would defeat the whole point."

Permalink Eye

"Okay," he says. "Well, that's good."

Permalink Eye

She grins.

Permalink Eye

He smiles back at her.

Permalink Eye

And soon enough Sadde has to go.

Permalink Eye

But Anthony makes sure she knows his floo address! Then realises maybe her house isn't connected to the floo network and she maybe can't contact him anyway.

She's got an owl, though. His name, in case she didn't know, is spelled with a K at the start of Knox.

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Cool! Train is next week anyway, they'll see each other soon.

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Yes! But still.

He's not sure he got her last name?

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Woods. It's Woods.

Not that it matters, literally no one else has her first name.

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Okay, well, it was nice to meet her.

He'll see her at the train next week.

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Next week a boy and his mother are at King's Cross, moving towards a place that doesn't exist.

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So is another boy! And his mother!

Then when nobody's looking, they both walk through a wall.

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This boy hugs his mother, says 'bye, and he, his owl, and his stuff all go through the wall, too.

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On the other side of which, is: a train!

… Also Anthony. Anthony is there with an owl and some luggage and his mother.

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Sadde walks up to them. "Hi!"

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Anthony turns around. "– Hi! How've you been?"

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"Alright! Read all the books! At least a bit of all the books anyway!"

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"… I have not read a bit of all the books! I have read a bit of some of the books?"

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"I read all of the Charms book and the Transfiguration book and a bit of all the other books."

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"I read a few bits of the Potions books? And some of Charms, and about the introduction to Transfiguration, and a bit of the others…"

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"I like reading a lot, and this was literally the most interesting thing around."

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"… Even the theory bits? That have about three short words per hundred?"

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"Yeah."

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"Good for you, I guess."

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He beams. "Oh, hi, Anthony's mum."

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"Good morning, Sadde," she responds, smiling politely. "Looking forward to school?"

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"Yeah! It's gonna be loads of fun."

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"It's good you're so enthusiastic. Now – the both of you should probably get on-board."

Anthony's mum eyes Sadde's luggage. "Do you need help with that?"

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"No, it's fine. Let's board?"

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Anthony nods and then quickly hugs his mum.

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"I will see you soon," she says. "You'll be fine. Remember to write!"

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Nod.

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"Bye!"

He pulls Anthony along.

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Anthony grabs his stuff and follows, then waves at his mum just as they get on.

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They're early enough they find an empty compartment. Sadde puts his stuff in the appropriate places.

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Anthony does likewise! Then takes a seat and holds the door open in case anyone wants to join them.

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No one does, as of yet.

"Can we do magic here?"

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"– I think it's technically allowed on the train, but not really recommended?"

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Oh look he's got his wand now. "I'm gonna try something."

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"… Did you memorise a spell from one of the books?"

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"Of course I did," he laughs. "Gimme something to float."

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"… Chocolate frog?"

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"You have one on you?"

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Anthony grabs a bag, opens it, and: "Here you are."

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So he grabs it, moves his wand, and says, "Wingardium Leviosa!"

The frog flies from his hand -

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And hits a girl who was just about to walk in on the forehead, making her drop onto the floor with a thunk and an "Ow!"

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"Oh, are you – okay?"

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She rubs her forehead. "Ow. I'm fine. What was that?"

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"Sorry, was practising magic and, er, accidentally sent a chocolate frog at you."

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"Chocolate frog?" She looks for it and finds it, the little pentagonal box. "Ooh, can I have it?" She gets up and starts pulling her luggage inside.

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"Pretty sure it's supposed to go up," says Anthony.

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"The frog?"

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"– Yeah, the spell was meant to make it go up, don't worry. Sure, you can have the frog."

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She beams, takes a seat, and starts opening the little candy. "I'm Willow! I'm a muggleborn."

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"I'm Sadde! I'm a muggleborn, too."

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"Anthony! Not a muggleborn."

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"Were you trying to do magic? We can do magic here?"

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"Yeah, we can! I failed, it was supposed to float a thing, I dunno what I did wrong."

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"Huh."

She unwraps the chocolate frog and -

- it jumps, of course. "Eep!" she says, throwing the box away.

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Anthony catches it. "– So I'm guessing you haven't had one of these."

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"No! Muggleborn!"

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"Right, but – so's Sadde and he'd had one!"

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"Yes, at your place."

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"But you didn't jump when you saw it moving! Or, not that much – okay, never mind."

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"So you'd met? ...and can I have the frog?"

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"Yes to both!" He smiles. "We met in Madam Malkin's."

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She takes the frog and omnoms.

"That's cool! I didn't meet anyone. Well, now I met you two."

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"There's a card of a famous magical person inside the box," he says.

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"Ooh." She grabs it. Merlin. "Cool! - why is he moving."

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"Magical photos do that."

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"And magical portraits do, too, except they're also people."

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"Really?"

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"Probably! Ish. They seem like people. I haven't actually spoken to – I mean, I don't know much about portraits."

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"I talked to one and he said he was a person."

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"Right, but, if they're designed to act like people then presumably they wouldn't just say they weren't people."

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"Well if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I think it's safe to think it is in fact a duck!"

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"I mean, okay, but if it's a duck in a photo it's still a duck… but in a photo."

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"It doesn't matter where they are, the important part about being a person isn't having a body it's having a mind."

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"– That's not what I meant? I mean, a photo is just of a duck and it's on repeat and the duck isn't actually thinking or anything, and I thought portraits were sorta like that but… a bit more interactive."

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"Yeah but after you get interactive enough it's pretty much a person, isn't it?"

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(Willow munches on her frog.)

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Anthony shrugs. "It depends on why you're classing it a person? If it's 'should I treat them well and give them respect like a person' then clearly the answer is yes, you should treat them well."

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"No, it's 'I should respect their stated desires and include them in my decisions about what courses of action bring the most good in the world.'"

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"Is this back to the taking over the world thing? Or – does this also apply to the less enthusiastic of us?"

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"Both?"

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"You wanna take over the world?"

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"Well, it sounds bad when you say it like that!"

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"I'm pretty sure you phrased it like that."

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"Yeah but I didn't say it like that."

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Anthony rolls his eyes.

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"I wanna solve all problems ever for everyone," he explains.

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"Oh. Ambitious."

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"That's what I thought!" says Anthony. "Plus it's probably one of the least – evil? – reasons to take over the world, so that's nice."

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"Well the other reasons don't even make any sense."

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"I mean, if you just want a bunch of power, it makes sense you'd want to own the world."

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"But why would you want that? Power's only good if you're gonna use it for something."

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Anthony shrugs. "Some people like it for the sake of telling people what to do, or something?"

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"Like I said, other reasons that don't make sense."

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Shrug. "They might well think 'helping people' is a reason that doesn't make sense."

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"Yeah but they're wrong, that's what governments are for."

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"For helping people? … Yeah, I guess?"

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"What else would they be for?"

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(Willow continues watching the conversation in fascination. The frog has long since been consumed.)

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"I mean, it might just be to make people think there's, y'know, the government looking over things, but yeah, probably they help people, most of the time?"

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"Well it was invented in the first place because people aren't good at coordinating."

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"Yeah," he shrugs.

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"So I'm gonna be the master coordinator slash king of the world and fix every problem ever. Starting with how Slytherins hate muggleborns."

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"They do? Why?"

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"It's… it's more stuck-up traditionalist purebloods? Who hate muggleborns? Which kinda… is a lot of the Slytherins, yeah."

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"But why?"

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"… They think you have unclean blood?"

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"What."

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"… I don't know how to say it without it all sounding ridiculous? They think wizards are inherently better than muggles, they think muggleborns come from bad backgrounds, so they don't like muggleborns because they think they're inferior?"

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"...are we any worse at magic?"

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"I don't think so?"

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"So... why? And where does muggleborn magic even come from?"

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"Like I said I don't know how to say it without it being ridiculous? And I don't know, I don't think anyone's really looked into it."

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"Well then say it being ridiculous."

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"That was me trying to be ridiculous – they honestly think you have impure blood because you're from a muggle family, and muggles aren't magic so they don't have the 'right blood', but purebloods do, so they think you're not as good literally because your bloodline isn't magical."

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"Well that's silly. If we are just as good at magic why do they think that?"

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"Ridiculous prejudice?"

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"Okay yeah that's very ridiculous."

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"But I'm gonna fix it, so."

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"Good luck. Might have to wait for some of the older generations to die out."

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"I'm gonna create a conspiracy of younger years."

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"If it's all the younger years it might not be all that much of a conspiracy. And I meant adults, anyway, not like sixth-years."

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"But the younger years will become adults. And, like, if I convince all of them then that means all adults graduating Hogwarts will be good to go."

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"I mean, I don't think you'll get all of them, but sure."

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"Will too!"

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"Even the ones indoctrinated since birth?"

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"Yeah!"

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"Okay, yeah, good luck with that."

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"You're gonna be my Hufflepuff liaison.*

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"You're gonna be a Hufflepuff?"

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"Probably?" he shrugs. "It's not guaranteed, I might be Ravenclaw? I'm probably not really cunning, though, or – uh, Gryffindorish?"

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"Well I'll be a Ravenclaw, I'm sure! ...maybe Hufflepuff. But probably Ravenclaw!"

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"You'll probably do well in either, if you think it's right for you."

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"I don't really know which is right, Professor Flitwick didn't want to tell me much about the Houses."

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"Did he give you an overview of them?"

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"Sorta. Very vague."

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"Gryffindors are brave and loyal, Ravenclaws are book-smart and curious, Hufflepuffs are hard-working and form tight groups, Slytherins are ambitious and cunning?"

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"Yep, that vague."

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"I mean, it's four groups that are supposed to fit literally everyone."

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She shrugs. "So I think I'm a Ravenclaw."

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"And I think I'm either a Slytherin or a Ravenclaw."

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"And I'm probably a Hufflepuff or maybe I guess a Ravenclaw."

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And then a young girl is at the door to the compartment, looking a bit nervous but holding her head high.

"Uh. H-hi."

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"Hi! Are you gonna be a Gryffindor?"

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"P– I don't think so?"

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"Aw. So we still need a Gryffindor to complete the set."

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"… Are you three n-not first years, then?"

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"– No, we are," says Anthony, smiling. "Uh, I'm Anthony."

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She rubs at her eye. "Thea."

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"Come in! Train's about to start going, I think."

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"I'm Willow, he's Sadde."

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In she comes! She has some luggage with her which she puts under the chair and then she looks around a bit and after a moment she sits.

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"I think I'm gonna be a Slytherin, she thinks she's gonna be a Ravenclaw, he thinks he's gonna be a Hufflepuff, we need a Gryffindor to complete the set."

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"I'm, uh, not actually sure."

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"Do you know the overview, the house traits?"

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"I, yeah? I don't know, though – I'm not really very sneaky? Books are good but they're not everything?"

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"'Sneaky'? Slytherin isn't about being 'sneaky'!"

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"… I thought it was mostly about cunning?"

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"And ambition, yeah."

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"… So it's about being, I dunno, a politician?"

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"Kinda! Not exactly but almost."

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"Right," she says. "It's– it's probably still not for me."

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"Never had the urge to take over the world?"

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"… Not, uh, not really." Pause. "Maybe a little."

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He grins.

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"Some people are just really wrong."

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"They kinda are," agrees Sadde.

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"Cute how you assumed you're not one of those people."

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"I'm never wrong."

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"I expect that's a plus-one to the counter."

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"What counter?"

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"Times you're wrong."

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He giggles.

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"Do you keep a counter?"

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"Nope, but I'm guessing it wasn't zero before that. Do you?"

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"No, too much work."

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"Well, no one you talk to will have been witness to me making a mistake." The train lurches a bit... and starts slowly moving. "Oooh we're going!"

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Thea laughs, still looking a little nervous. "– I don't think I actually keep any counters like that."

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Anthony smiles. "Looking forward to school?"

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"– Sorta, yeah? It's a bit– a bit nerve-wracking."

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"Why?"

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"Because magic exists and I'm going to school with a ton of people who've known about it all their lives and there's a whole different world? – And also apparently electricity doesn't work. For some reason."

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"What really?"

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"It's what I heard. I assume we don't need lightbulbs, though, what with – I dunno, flames of never-going-out?"

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"… Yeah, basically."

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"But why doesn't it work?"

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"Uh. Magic interferes with it somehow? I'm not sure. You have, uh, computers, right? Computers use electricity? They don't work near magic."

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"Nor, like, an electrical watch. Apparently."

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"That's dumb. I'm gonna fix it."

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He coughs a few times, and the word "Slytherin" can almost be heard.

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"Sounds sorta Ravenclaw-ish, to me."

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"… Ravenclaw-ish?" asks Anthony, raising an eyebrow.

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"Yeah? Or you could say Slytherin-ish? Since ambition."

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"Or you could just say it sounds Ravenclaw or Slytherin. Without the ish."

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"Well I'm definitely not Slytherin so Ravenclaw-ish, probably."

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Anthony raises an eyebrow.

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"Ravenclaw could be fun."

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"Professor Flitwick said they have a library in their common room!"

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"What? Aw, man, no fair!"

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"There's a big library in school anyway, isn't there?"

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"Well yeah but theirs is exclusive."

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"So's the restricted section of the library, if that's a draw."

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"Of course it is."

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"… If it's called a restricted section, it's probably, y'know, restricted."

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"Yep."

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"Uh-huh. Why do I get the feeling that's your first target."

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"Not first!"

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"Is it in the top ten?"

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"...maybe."

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"… Top five?"

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"I'm not gonna tell you that!"

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Thea starts laughing.

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"If it's top three I'm worried about your priorities list."

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"Oh shut up."

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"Is it actually? Why? You could be looking into – okay but is this a short-term priorities list or are these goals just – just, why?"

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"I never said it was!"

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"You also didn't say it wasn't! And you told me to shut up!"

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"Because you're inferring things about me that are wrong!"

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"You could clarify that they're wrong!"

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"I didn't say your conclusions about my priority orderings were wrong, I said your conclusions about me were wrong, and also I'm a Slytherin, I won't just tell you my plans."

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"You're not a Slytherin yet."

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"It's the principle of the thing!" His eye colour shifts to gold.

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"… Is that a wizard thing?" asks Thea, noticing this. "Wait, no – huh?"

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"It's a me thing! I'm a metamorphmagus, I can change my body however I like!"

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"Ooh, can you turn into an animal?"

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"Not that much."

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"… You're still human though, right?" Pause. "Oh, or are you another sapient species – I saw, what are they called, uh, goblins."

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"I'm human, that's just a thing some magical people are sometimes."

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"Huh." Pause. "Just magical humans or are there also magical other – okay I guess it might depend on the definitions – are there, like, non-human wizards and witches?"

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"Uh – wizards and witches are all humans? I mean, I guess you get some people with some magical genetics but, on the whole, human."

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"'Some people with some magical genetics'?"

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"Uh, like –" Pause. "I mean, people can be part magical creature?"

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"Like what?"

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"… Veela, for example?"

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"Wait, what? How does that work?"

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"… I'm guessing you are not asking me, an eleven-year-old, for The Talk."

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"No, I'm asking you about genetics!"

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"I feel like you might not get the information you want."

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"Are other magical things, like, the same species as humans, or what?"

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"… No?"

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"So how can they make viable hybrids?"

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Anthony frowns at him. "I don't really see why that'd be an issue – as in, why they would be nonviable. Sure, a human and a cat wouldn't work, but it's just how the species work?"

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"That's not how species work!"

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"… I mean, it's how these species work?"

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"That's not how species as a biological category work! The definition of a species is 'cannot have fertile offspring'!"

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"… Okay, so by that definition then I guess we're probably all one species? Which would be, I dunno, humanoid magicals?"

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"That makes more sense, I guess. How did they evolve?"

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"Beats me?"

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"Ngh."

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She giggles.

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"I don't really know much about evolution…"

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"… Do you guys not have the concept of science?"

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"Uh, not as you're thinking of it? I don't think?"

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"What do you mean?"

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"I mean there are people who develop new spells, people who study magical creatures? But we don't really – science? It's not standard curriculum or anything."

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"Why not?"

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"… I don't actually know why the curriculum is what it is?"

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"I mean why isn't it a thing that people do."

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"Okay but I'm guessing that's the same reason or like, linked to why it's not on the curriculum?" He shrugs. "I don't know."

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"But then - how do you find things out? Like which spells work or potions or...?"

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"… There are ways to develop spells but I think that's, uh, probably fifth-year or something, I'm not actually sure. And usually people who develop potions are potion masters?"

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"Magical people are weird."

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"It seems like it'd make more sense for it to be done systematically, rather than – I dunno, is that ad hoc?"

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"Well that's what science is, figuring stuff out systematically."

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"I mean for it to be taught systematically."

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"Oh. That too."

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"If only potion masters and spell developers actually get taught it that seems like a bit of a waste."

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"Yeah."

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"Feel free to put that on your list," comments Anthony. "It seems like it could be quite interesting."

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"Put what? Teach magical people science?"

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"Or 'fix the curriculum' or something, yeah."

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"I like my idea more."

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"Feel free. Maybe it'll be how you build up your conspiracy."

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"Part of it!"

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"… Is this linked to taking over the world?"

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"I wanna make all Slytherins stop hating muggleborns and that's social capital!"

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"… All Slytherins hate muggleborns?"

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"No but lots of muggleborn hate comes from them, apparently."

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"Unfortunately," shrugs Anthony.

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"At least there's a convenient target?" says Thea. "If you don't get corrupted by them."

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"I'm incorruptible."

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"Uh-huh."

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"Also I'm a muggleborn so."

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"There is that," she concedes. "I'm sure some people could get past that little issue, though."

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"What, and then go on to hate other muggleborns? Where's the sense in that?"

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"Some people will do anything to be part of an in-crowd."

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"Yeah no I'm gonna be the pariah. I always am."

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"… Is that a religious thing? – Wait, nope, social outcast, never mind."

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"You already seem to have a group of acquaintances," says Anthony.

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"Well sure but that's because everyone's new here."

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"… I mean, I don't think I'm gonna end up just ignoring you."

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"I mean there aren't any cliques here and dominant people and people telling their parents about the weird genderfluid kid."

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"Okay, but, I don't think I'm going to just ignore you when we get to Hogwarts either."

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"Yeah because there you won't have your cliques already ready. It's a new start for everyone."

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"– So you're going to be the pariah like always but one who has a social group?"

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"Probably."

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"Sounds like… it's better than it could be?"

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Thea fidgets a bit.