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SIYE Time:3:27 on 17th January 2022


Antidisestablishmentarianism!
By Spenser Hemmingway

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Category: Alternate Universe, Deathly Hallows Challenge (2009-1)
Characters:None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 8
Summary: Someone wants the Deathly Hallows. They want to dissect them, analyze them, place them under a microscope, and to find a simple, scientific explanation for their capabilities. Sometimes even a Wizarding government forgets the source of magic. Surprisingly, Harry and Ginny want to go out of their way to help, once they’ve retrieved the artifacts from their plain-sight hiding places in Diagon Alley. Understand? Well, there is a great deal of misunderstanding that day.

A follow-on to my other Challenge entry “It’s Kind of Fun Doing the Impossible”.
Hitcount: Story Total: 4531



Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.



Author's Notes:
This is indeed a follow-on to my other Challenge entry “It’s Kind of Fun Doing the Impossible”. It can be enjoyed on its own, but will be a lot more fun if you take some time to read that other story first. This story came to me while some of us here were bantering about some interesting new words and their meanings. At the time this was set, there still existed an actual Church of Elvis, complete with chapels, governmental tax breaks, and a clergy with long sideburns and sequined suits. Thank ya...thank ya very much—Eric B.




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Antidisestablishmentarianism!

By Spenser Hemmingway


“Home computers are being called upon to perform
many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly
eaten by the dog.”
–Doug Larson




Antidisestabli shmentarianism (ăn `t `dis `ĕs `tăb `lĭsh `men `tr `ăn `ĭz`m) n. 1. The doctrine or political position that opposes the withdrawal of state recognition of an established church.



I suppose it’s common enough knowledge how writers sometimes have trouble coming up with a topic. In my case, I’ve been blessed with friends and family who seem to attract trouble (the fun kind), find adventure at the drop of a sorting hat, are interesting even when they’re asleep, and, most importantly, who don’t mind my writing about them…usually. For me, in many cases, the difficulty lies in deciding what I want you, the faithful reader, to know about them.

I’m proud to say I’ve written dozens of stories and even a few books about our little group. I’m prouder of the fact that I’ve kept a good number of them away from public consumption. In all likelihood, if you are reading this, you are a grandchild, or great nephew or niece who Harry and Ginny have allowed into the family achieves. If not, you had better have a good reason for invading their privacy.

The world, Wizarding and Muggle, has an insatiable appetite for all things Harry Potter. Maybe you have a Harry Potter action figure on your dresser, sheets on your bed with his playing Quidditch imprinted on them, a poster on the wall with Dumbledore’s Army from the fifth film, or a stuffed dragon you still sleep with. I’ll tell you, Ginny and Harry are flattered by the interest, but not the unnatural adoration. They’re people–-good people, but just people. Perhaps your attention and such devotion would be better directed elsewhere.

You don’t understand? I suppose one more story to make my point could be in order. You may or may not have heard about the trouble Harry and Ginny had that time with The Royal Academy of Magic. In a nutshell, it involved the Deathly Hallows, certain people wanting them, how Harry came up with a way to regain their normal lives, and how Ginny and he were able to shift the veneration thing back where it belonged, despite governmental intentions.


*****



“It’s sacrilege Mr. Potter…absolute sacrilege! The very idea that the Royal Academy of Magic would reduce the Deathly Hallows, three of Wizardry’s most sacred relics to the status of laboratory fodder–-stick, stone, and cloth dissected to their base faerie-dust elements!”

“Actually, the Muggles call them atoms and molecules.” Shut up Spenser, Harry and Ginny’s looks said, if not their words. They were still angry with each other, and I needed to keep my distance for a bit longer.

It was less than a day since their Hogsmeade farmhouse had been vandalized in a failed attempt to appropriate the Deathly Hallows. It was just that morning they had met with the man responsible, and amazingly agreed to give the artifacts as gifts to the Royal Academy of Magic…under strict conditions. We had only been in Diagon Alley for two hours–-come to retrieve the objects from hiding. Ginny was getting angrier by the hour with the whole situation, but, for some reason, Harry had become the target.

“Please call me Harry, Mr. Ollivander. After all these years, and all we’ve been through…”

“As well as the fact that you’re an old married man now Harry–-an old man of twenty I should say. I believe that makes me ancient, and I do feel that way this morning. Oh, the poor quality of the wands I’ve been seeing of late, and for which too many of my clientele settle, is extremely disheartening. I’m sorry, am I venting? It’s just that the real garbage my few competitors produce discourages me more than it compliments what I build here. Now, you tell me all this. There is no respect for the old ways. There is no respect for what was once sacred.”

“Sacred…as in hallowed sir…the Deathly Hallows?” Ginny quietly asked after a quiet moment. Was that what he was speaking about? “I’m not sure I understand. I thought that there were only a very few people, such as Mr. Lovegood, who believed the artifacts to be anything more than part of an old fable.”

“Most fables are based at least in part on fact my dear. You yourself know this one was.” The elderly shopkeeper paused and gave her a patient smile before continuing his explanation. “Mrs. Potter…Ginny, Wizardry and magic are neither a religion, nor a church in the traditional sense. Our personal beliefs and tenets are as widespread as those of the Muggles, and they, indeed, correspond with their spiritual establishments. With that said, we do have those things which we hold in great reverence, often in an organized manner. Did you know there is actually a monastery of sorts in central England dedicated to Merlin? No, he’s not worshiped, merely studied. There are similar groups of adherents in reverence to such things as Quidditch, to a Muggle woman by the name of Marilyn Monroe, and yes, to the Deathly Hallows.”

“But, except with Elvis, they’re not churches?” It was a legitimate question, so no one growled at me this time. Harry and Ginny were too busy snarling at each other. For some reason, the two seemed to have been at each other’s throats ever since we’d emerged from the Floo at The Leaky Cauldron.

“In a manner of speaking they might be perceived as such, but no one…no one I’m acquainted with…participates to the exclusion of more traditional beliefs. The Hallows are worthy of a form of devotion, just not adoration. That the government is withdrawing its support in allowing such is appalling!” The bells to Mr. Ollivander’s door chimed then, announcing another set of customers. This time it was a mother and her tall, gangly, yet grinning teenage son. “Excuse me for just a moment while I see to this. I know the family, and they somehow manage to destroy a wand or two every few months. They are one exception I have to my aversion to the cheaper wands.”

As our host moved off to serve the new customers, or rather regular ones as he pointed out, Harry, Ginny, and I stepped over to a spot by the front window and a bit more privacy. Each of us in turn studied the passersby outside, justifiably cautious about someone inappropriate following us about Diagon Alley. I didn’t see any suspicious shadows on the street, but that didn’t mean anything.

“Harry, I probably should have brought this up before, but why am I along today?” I finally asked.

“Comic relief as always Spenser,” Ginny answered too quickly. She was smiling, but at me not Harry. “We’re giving you a chance to write a second story for your SIYE Challenge, as well as to add some more to the one you’re posting to the Wizarding Wire Service. People need to know what the Academy and that Ministry official are trying to do to us. I can’t think of a better way to bring about justice for the break-in than to air it in the media.”

“Spenser, the Cloak of invisibility…we need Luna and you to go fetch it for us.” My head snapped around so fast at Harry’s request that I pulled something in my neck. My friends grimaced at my pain as if they’d read my last story. “Uhm, where is Luna anyway? She was supposed to meet us here twenty minutes ago.”

“She’s at Madame Medusa’s Glamour Emporium, making herself beautiful for…” Ginny’s revelation was cut short when the very girl finally walked in to belatedly join us. “Oh my…” That was an understatement.

I don’t know which hurt more just then–-my eyes which were bulging out or my tongue where I was biting it. I think Harry and Ginny both had blood in their mouths suddenly as well. Luna’s hair was… The make-up they applied was… Uhm, her outfit was…whoo, boy! I needed to go have a long, loud discussion with the proprietor of that Emporium. First things first–-I wanted to ask Luna how far she’d walked through the Alley like that. I didn’t get the chance.

“Well now, that was easy. I simply gave Mrs. Crashweary half a dozen plywood wands. They are utile yet disposable. I also gave strict instructions for her sons to avoid the sides of mountains when playing Quidditch. Now, oh…” Ollivander was older, but still a human male. I could feel my face go red as I threw my jacket over Luna’s shoulders. She looked hurt, but also amused somehow. “So, Harry, how may I help you with the matter concerning the Academy?”

“This is Luna, Mr. Ollivander.” Harry didn’t add believe it or not. “You remember her, don’t you? She’s helping us as well. Sir, we need your assistance in retrieving Professor Dumbledore’s wand. You may not have realized that it was actually the Elder Wand.

“Ah, he allowed me to examine it on two occasions Harry. I wish he had told me. I suppose he couldn’t though, could he? I understood it to be interred with him in his crypt at Hogwarts. What could you possibly need of me today? Anything, anything. I believe you now know how I feel about what our government and its academic henchmen are trying to undo.”

“Mr. Ollivander, Harry and I feel there is only one way to reestablish our normal, private lives, as well as the respect we all believe is due the Hallows.” Ginny smiled here, wickedly, and, if I didn’t know the whole story, it would have scared me. “We feel that the solution is to give the Academy the artifacts. We need your help in obtaining the wand from here in Diagon Alley.”


*****



“Mutz, Jefferies, you call those disguises?”

The Ministry bureaucrat’s face was as purple with rage as if he were Vernon Dursley’s twin. The man could never really be mistaken for that however. He made Harry’s uncle look absolutely anorexic (especially after Petunia reminded Vernon of an upcoming school reunion and bought him a home gymnasium).

“I don’t understand Mr. Poindexter. Potter and his missus will never recognize us like this,” Mutz suggested. His partner and he had put a lot of time and effort into obtaining and then climbing inside the suits of armor.

“They won’t recognize you! They don’t even know you! I told you two to wear something so that you wouldn’t attract the attention of any witnesses!”

“Right, so we…” Poindexter held up a hand, cutting off Jefferies’ explanation. “You really don’t like them?” His metallic visor slipped and fell shut.

The pompous Ministry clerk took a long, deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. He gave a quick glance up then down the alleyway, actually expecting Aurors to suddenly appear in response to his shouting. Nothing had been going right for the past day. First, that fool burglar D’Manic had been caught in the act of rummaging through the Potters’ house looking for the Hallows. He should have known that something so valuable would not be secreted there. It would have been too easy. The family was rumored to have a London residence as well, but that, even if it could be located, was just as unlikely a location.

Poindexter’s plan had begun so well. He had convinced the Royal Academy of Magic that he was the Ministry’s Undersecretary for Historical Preservation. The misguided scientists and archeologists had immediately shown great…no fanatic interest in the Deathly Hallows. Dissenting voices, those not enlightened enough to see the relics strictly for their scientific value, those adherents to an ancient veneration of the Hallows, they had been easily overruled. Until Poindexter had presented the evidence he’d secretly (and illegally) obtained from purloined reports, there had never even been true verification of the artifacts’ existence. The old ways were as antique as the objects he now needed to obtain.

Potter and his annoying young wife had seen right through his own thin disguise when Poindexter tried approaching and bluffing the Hallows away from them. How could he have missed that the girl had family employed with the Ministry. It was a near-fatal mistake. What’s more, D’Manic had confessed to everything while under some manner of legal torture. What on earth was Three-Alarm Texas Chili?

It was all the more astounding, therefore, when Potter volunteered to give the wand, stone, and cloak to the Academy as gifts…under strict conditions. Not the least of which was how the couple wanted to be the ones to formally do the handoff to the scientists during an open ceremony. Poindexter saw his chance for the credit disappearing, and his discovery as a fraud immanent. In point of fact, he was a minor, minor clerk in a minor, minor government office.

“Now listen carefully you two fools. Dispose of the tin cans you are wearing, don a set of fake beards, and get yourselves to Ollivander’s wand shop. I was somehow able to trail them that far, but they know me, and I can go no further. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I’m relying upon you two to obtain the artifacts for me.”

“You can count on us Mr. Poindexter! We’ll do it…or die trying!” they said together.

“That might be preferable,” the clerk mumbled to himself. Wonderful! I’m counting on two dimwits who can’t even count to twelve without using their fingers and toes. “I know you’ll succeed–-you have to!” Poindexter almost moaned and feeling his stomach sink. “Do whatever you must…whatever you must!”


*****



“Harry, where are we going exactly? I heard every word Mr. Ollivander said, but I’m not sure how much I understood, if any.”

“That’s why we need to follow his directions exactly. It probably has a great deal to do with how the wand is being safeguarded so effectively.”

Ginny thought that Harry was speaking a bit too loudly for what they were secretly trying to accomplish. She almost blew up at him about it but had enough sense to know it wasn’t the time or place for a continuation of their…disagreement. That portion of the Alley, not many blocks from her brothers’ joke store, was hardly crowded, but neither was it abandoned at the moment. One or both of them shouting again would have brought the wrong kind of attention.

“Harry, did that nun we just passed have a beard? I thought I saw someone who looked remarkably like her maybe a block back.”

“It’s probably just a requirement of their order Ginny. It’s not as if we’re being followed.” Harry was even louder now, and Ginny had to hold herself from shushing him. “Here we are. The first Deathly Hallow, Dumbledore’s wand, will be found in the basement of this building. We must proceed with caution!”

“Why are you yelling?” she in fact yelled.

Ginny grabbed Harry’s arm, and pulled him into the doorway of a small used bookstore, intending to finally have it out with him. Before she could, the girl noted two things. The first was that one of my early paperback books was now sitting in the outside bargain bin at a price of five Knuts. She was indeed very embarrassed to have to tell me this later. The second, and more important (at least for Harry and her), was that the nun had disappeared. There was, however, in front of a cigar store, an enormous, unattended baby carriage, with the largest bearded infant Ginny had ever seen.

“Harry…?”

“I saw Ginny. Trust me.” Harry’s voice was now much softer, but only for that. “It’s amazing that they will allow a herd of man-eating, blue-tusked hypergillions inside the city, as dangerous…lethal as they are. Let us be prepared for their vicious attack.” Harry shouted this as loudly as he probably thought he could without attracting the wrong kind of attention. As he spoke, he gently guided Ginny toward their original destination. “You need to be very quiet now…hush.”

“Don’t you hush me Potter! I can’t believe you today! First you…”

“First I what? You’ve been in a foul mood for hours now. What did I do?”

“You know exactly what you did! “Harry…this place smells like a boys’ locker room.” They had paused just inside the descending stairwell, to take a quick glance back for their tail.

“How would you know what a…? No, never mind. I don’t need to know.” Ginny’s impish smirk told Harry she was kidding…probably. “Whoever they are, they’ll wait for us outside, I think. Their type is as cowardly as they are stupid as a rule. I’ll assume our friend works with Mr. Poindexter. We need to work as fast as possible.”

“Is there a backdoor Harry? It would be safer.”

“Maybe not in the long run Ginny. I’ll explain in a minute. First we need to get past the hypergillions.”

Ginny stopped so suddenly she almost tripped on the steps. “You are joking, aren’t you Harry?”

“Yes, I am Ginny,” Harry laughed. It was the first time he had done so since lunchtime. “We have something even fiercer down there–-salesmen on commission.”


*****



“I’m not the one who exchanged her sensible shoes for six-inch spiked heels Luna. We’re walking across cobblestones too.”

“Don’t you like how I look Spenser?”

No, no I did not. Pure and simple, I didn’t know how to tell her that a little black dress (emphasis on little) like that was more appropriate for evening cocktails than for Sunday afternoon Deathly Hallow retrieval. I didn’t want to hurt her, although I knew I already had. Ounce for ounce, Luna had more makeup on her face than the average street mime. Her hair, piled above her head, looked as if it had been varnished into place. Maybe it had been.

“Is it really that bad?”

“No, I suppose not,” I lied, and to the one person in the world I couldn’t never fool, nor wanted to. “There it is up at the corner; Bea’s Quilting Shoppe. That’s an appropriate name, and not a bad place to hide away an invisibility cloak. How are your ankles Luna?”

“Fine.” She was the one lying this time. Her blank expression worried me more than tears would have. Spenser, you thick-brained toady! “Spenser, do you like my dress?” Luna threw off my coat then, and twenty feet behind us, a man with a phony-looking beard, and dressed in lederhosen, slammed hard into a lamppost. “He was following us Spenser.”

I helped her on with the jacket again, suddenly realizing how angry I was at the moment…with myself. I just wasn’t sure why yet. Neither of us said another word until we reached the entry to the store.

“I understand that Newt Scamander is signing books today at Flourish and Blotts. I was wondering if Rolf will be with him. No, you wouldn’t appreciate my seeing your competition today would you Spenser?” Still not looking at me, Luna pulled her wand, and touched it to the top of her hairdo. “Bibbity Bobbity Boo!” A blue light passed down the girl, transforming her slinky costume into a long, green robe and brown leather sandals. Her hair was damp and draped down over her shoulders. Luna’s face was clean-scrubbed, but still expressionless. My guess was that the girl was angry.

I’d have to worry about it later. Harry and Ginny were counting on us, and they would soon be waiting on us. I had to wonder if the guy back there with the bump on his head might be as well when we came back out.


*****



“Ah…Harry Potter, Harry Potter! You honor us with your presence! You hear that a lot, don’t you?”

“More than you know. We were referred to you by Mr. Ollivander for…a certain object that you are holding for us.”

“Of course, of course–-Dumbledore’s wand.”

Harry cringed at the merchant’s words, despite the appearance of their being the only three in the tiny room. The squat little man had the stereotypical look of a salesman. A loud plaid suit, slicked-back dark hair, a pencil-thin mustache, gold teeth, a toothpick lodged there–-Harry was sure the man would have easily fit into a comedy film. Despite being some form of clearing house for used merchandise, the room was empty except for one large toy display, and the wooden counter the man was leaning on.

“You can help us?” Ginny asked, staying in character, even though both Harry and she knew they were expected there. Mr. Ollivander had stressed that.

“Of course, of course,” he said again as if he had a pathological need to constantly repeat himself. “Happy Hannigan’s Treasure Repository carries everything…anything. Tell me son, how much for this pretty redhead…?”

The salesman found himself across the room lying in the pile of stuffed Burundian kowtowing toady dolls before he had finished his sentence. Harry’s wand was actually smoking.

“Ah, my apologies Mr. Potter. I beg your pardon.” The man came to his feet faster than they would have thought possible. He must have quite a bit of practice being stunned by angry husbands. “Yes, yes…I’m dealing with Harry Potter, the fastest wand this side of Sight City, Arkansas–-home to Earl’s Pig Rind Museum.”

“Does everyone need to reference that town in Spenser’s stories?” Ginny quietly asked.

“As I was trying to ask…how much would you take for this pretty redhead’s…lovely scarf? I could give you top Galleon for it…top Galleon!” Harry lowered his wand but didn’t put it away. He wasn’t completely sure whether to believe that was what Hannigan was actually going to say before being zapped.

“Bring out the wand please,” Harry told him then. “I will know if it’s not authentic.”

“I’m sure that you will dear Harry. Could I interest you in a flying carpet while I’m back in the storeroom? No? Well, I’ll just be a moment. Excuse me.”

When he had darted off, Harry and Ginny shared a quick glance, and then did a cursory search of the room to try and ensure they were indeed alone. Ollivander had insisted that the establishment was secure, and its owner could be trusted. They had received a warning, however, about how Hannigan lived, breathed, and bled profit. They wouldn’t leave the building without it costing them money.

“Here you are Harry, straight from my vault, which, after Gringotts is the most secure in England.”

Neither Harry nor Ginny believed that for a second. The safety of the wand there had lain in the business’ unexpected location and nature. Unwrapping the Hallow, the merchant then stepped back to allow the examination. It was exactly as Hannigan had said. He was honest in that regard.

“Mr. Ollivander told us that the price for your…assistance would be two hundred Galleons,” Ginny slowly told him. She was expecting just the reaction they got then.

“Two hundred? That’s outrageous! I cannot believe he would say that…that he would expect such a sum to be named! Mr. Potter…Mrs. Potter isn’t it…such a deal I have for you! Five hundred Galleons, and I’ll throw in the carpet.”

“What?” Ginny almost screamed back at the man. Hannigan didn’t even flinch.

“Three hundred, and you can keep the carpet,” Harry countered. “We didn’t really enjoy our ride on one when we were in Iraq.”

“Done!” the salesman shouted back. It was clear that he would have settled for less, but Harry and Ginny didn’t have the time.

“Outstanding. We’ll take two,” Harry told him.


*****



Our time at Bea’s Quilts went very well and not well at all. Unlike Harry and Ginny’s host, Bea turned out to be a very pleasant, young woman and a fellow American as well. She was originally from San Francisco. We took a few minutes to talk about home, or what had once been home. The shopkeeper, like me, had met someone special in England, and decided to stay on after finishing school–-Cambridge in her case.

The Witch was a nice, pretty, friendly girl. On the other hand, with every passing moment, Luna was growing more upset, and, in her case, uglier…at least in regard to her mood. Bea had been expecting us, had the cloak already packaged in brown paper and twine, and refused any payment for her helping a fellow countryman. When we shook hands, I heard the shop door slam behind a retreating Luna. That was when it occurred to me that she hadn’t said a word since we arrived there.

Dashing off after her, I was a bit surprised at how far ahead of me Luna had moved between the time she’d left the store and my giving chase. I actually found myself running, dodging fellow shoppers on the now-crowded street. We were almost to our tea shop rendezvous before I caught up with the girl.

“Luni?” I gently took her arm, but she jerked it away…not so gently.

“Don’t call me that today please.”

Okay, that confirmed my suspicions. Luna was upset. Three things always seem to happen when she’s that mad with me. First, she would disregard our being characters in my alternative universe and evoke Rolf Scamander in front of me. Second, I would lose my standing permission to use my affectionate nickname for her. If number three occurred, I was dead meat and sleeping on the sofa.

Luna allowed me to hold the tea shop door for her. There was that hurt…angry look though, and I knew I had to wait to ask her why until it softened just a bit. It probably wasn’t about my reaction to her extreme makeover either. I didn’t have much time. It was three o’clock, and we could expect Harry and Ginny any minute. Come to think of it, they hadn’t been having a good day either from what I’d seen.

I ordered us a pot of a nice spiced tea I knew Luna liked. I took a sip, waiting for number three. She was very accommodating with that.

“Spenser, I understand. I hope you and that barmaid in the tight dress will be very happy together.”

Yes, I did spit out a mouthful of tea. Luna always waited until I was drinking something before dropping a bombshell. Bombshell? She’s let loose a truckload of dynamite. By the time I’d grabbed a napkin, and stood up, Luna was out the front door again. I tossed down a Sickle for the tea, grabbed the package, and once more went to chase her down.

When I got outside, I saw Luna was already across the square. She paused for a moment, looked back at me, and…that was the last thing I remembered before the lights went out.


*****



“You know exactly what you did Harry! You and Spenser should be ashamed of yourselves!”

“Will you stop saying that Ginny! I have no idea what you’re talking about. If I did something wrong, then I’m sorry, but don’t go and assume I know what you mean.”

“Typical male–-covering for your friend. He’s in worse trouble than you are mister. Now why did you bring me to this dirty, deserted end of Diagon Alley? Don’t want people to hear what I shout at you?”

Someone was listening. The long street running between a pair of large warehouses wasn’t entirely empty. The two were so involved in their argument, that they didn’t see the bearded man in an ice cream vendor’s uniform approach from one side.

“Excuse me,” Mutz tried.

“Maybe I brought you here, so no one will see what a fool you’re making of yourself Ginny!”

“Now you’re calling me a fool? Better a fool than some heartless gigolo!”

“Excuse me. I hate to interrupt, but I am in a bit of a hurry,” Mutz attempted again.

“What do you mean a gigolo? I’ve never so much as looked at another girl that way!”

“How about stared, ogled, eyeballed, drooled over–-you and Spenser both, and today of all days.”

“I hate to be a bother, but I am trying to rob the two of you.”

“What do you want?” Harry and Ginny shouted back, finally taking just a second to look at the stranger. If they cared about the wand pointed at their heads, they didn’t show it.

“I said that I’m robbing you. If you’d be so kind as to hand me that parcel, and to raise your hands, I’d really appreciate it.”

“What is so special about today Ginny?”

“Oh Harry, don’t give me that! You know exactly what today is. You’re in this with him!”

“Pardon me again. One last thing–-is the Resurrection Stone inside with the wand?” the thief asked, as he ran his hands over the small parcel.

“What? Oh yeah, it’s in there. Now if you don’t mind, my wife and I are trying to kill one another. Ginny, will you please tell me, once and for all, why you’re so angry. I do not know what today is–-exactly or inexactly!”

“Of all the… Hold on! We’re we just robbed?”

“Yes, we were, and I expected him here several minutes ago.” Ginny’s eyes went wide with the realization that Harry had meant to lose the Hallows just then. “I suppose we should have put up more of a fight. Would you care to do the honors?”

Ginny stared at him; opening her mouth to speak twice. Finally, she shook her head in frustration, drew her wand, and pointed it at the retreating Mutz. “Broos-Wain Boogie-Woogie.” Despite the distance, the hex hit the man square in the back of the head, causing him to lurch forward. A heartbeat later the bats began to pour out of his nose to commence their attack.

Satisfied with her work, Ginny turned back to Harry, and the two locked eyes. For a full minute, they stood there before she finally dropped her gaze in surrender.

“You really don’t know do you Harry? You have no idea why I’m angry because you’ve done nothing for me to be angry. That is, except for playacting for Poindexter’s people all day without telling me.”

“I thought it was pretty obvious Ginny, and I got a better performance out of you, didn’t I?” She finally smiled, and then accepted the hug Harry knew she needed just then. “Come on. We’ll talk as we go. We’d best go find Luna and Spenser to see it they had as easy a go of it as we did? A gigolo Ginny?”

“Didn’t know you had it in you did you Potter?”


*****



“Really Mum…I did see someone just appear atop the slide there. It was those two men with the funny-looking beards and all those bandages. They just materialized out of nowhere and fell down the ladder. I’m not lying Mum.”

“Bartholomew, one more word out of you and you can say goodbye to that comic book collection. It’s rotting your brain! Where do you come up with all this nonsense? You get it from your father, that’s where! I have just the cure for you, young man! Ten minutes of playground time has been more than enough for one day. Two hours of bassoon practice now; three chapters of microbiology; and I will need to go over your school report on obscure Egyptian mummification techniques.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have it anymore. You see, this blibbering humdinger came into my bedroom and… It’s the truth Mum! Really, a beastie ate my homework while I was playing computer games. Ouch…ouch, not the ear Mum!”

Mutz and Jefferies ignored the small Muggle boy’s wailing and wouldn’t have cared if they had noticed his watching their earlier Apparation to the park. Their concentration, apart from the numerous injuries they had sustained, was on Poindexter waiting for them at a picnic table near the swing set. As best they could with the crutches the pair now had to employ, they made their way to meet their employer. The fat bureaucrat didn’t seem at all surprised with their appearance.

“Do you have them?” Poindexter asked, as if he were merely inquiring after a street vender’s souvenirs.

“We got the goods,” Mutz told the man, tossing down three packages of varying size, and then spitting out a tooth to one side. “If we’d know it was going to be this hard, we’d have asked for more money. Speaking of which…” Poindexter tossed down a small pouch, which jangled when it landed and again when Jefferies retrieved it for them. “Potter was easy enough. Still, we only got the wand and stone because he was distracted, arguing with his girl when we snuck up on him. The redhead didn’t like that.”

“Neither did the blond girl when we stunned the Yank, and she had help then too,” Jefferies added. Both thieves looked like poster children for British Wizardry’s free medical care.

Without another word, Elbert Poindexter retrieved the three Deathly Hallows, stood, and waddled off to where he could Disapparate–-in his case, out of sight of inquiring eight-year-old boys. If his two associates had truly been successful (he would carefully examine the objects once he was home), the Academy would soon have their artifacts. Unless he missed his guess, Poindexter would also have a letter of commendation in his Ministry file, as well as a nice promotion. That was if he didn’t pursue his other idea. Perhaps it would be better to play it safe now.

After he had gone, Mutz and Jefferies took advantage of the now-vacant benches to rest their broken, battered bodies. Despite the pain, the two began to laugh hysterically.

“Well Jeff, how long do you think it’ll be before he finds out we switched them for the fakes?”

“Long enough for us to sell the real ones to that collector in Australia I told you about, take the money, and enjoy some marlin fishing. I’ve got a sister that lives down there. She’ll take us in for a price.”


*****



“Owww! Did anyone get the number of that bus? What hit me? Where am I? Harry?”

“You’re upstairs in one of the rooms at the Leaky Cauldron. Those two goons learned their lesson after they were done with the two of us and used a stronger spell to knock you down. I’m surprised that they had any body parts left after Luna and that large group of bearded nuns was done with them. I’ve never heard of The Order of the Blessed Whiskers before, but it was good they were passing by. Didn’t Luna know the thieves were supposed to get away with the Hallows?”

I lifted my sore head off the pillow, and then managed to sit up on the bed somehow. “Yeah, well, she’s been acting pretty strange all day, even for her. Do you know anything about a barmaid in a tight dress that I’m supposed to run off with?”

“You mean the girl who was supposedly flirting with us when we came through the Floo this morning? The one who was all over us at lunch? Both girls seem to think that we were showing too much interest in her…the wrong kind of interest.”

“They know better than that. Was that why Luna got all gussied up? She thought…? Oh brother! Where are they anyway?” I managed to get my feet to the floor, but then thought better of trying to stand just yet.

“They’re off somewhere talking I imagine. Ginny and my fight; it’s really your fault you know. You forgot, and I didn’t remind you.”

“I did not forget! I never forget! Feldercarb, maybe I’ll write this part out of the story.” Harry grinned at me, but only for a second. He had something else to say.

“Then maybe your dragging her off to help us today, yet again, didn’t sit too well. Spenser, why do you write so many stories about Ginny and me? I know I’ve asked you that before.” Harry knew the answer, but I maybe he needed to hear me say it.

“Buddy, when I came over here to finish School at Hogwarts, you, Ginny, and Luna took me in like I was an adopted big brother.”

“You’re only a couple of weeks older than I am.” Harry knew what I meant

“Yeah, well, it meant a lot to me. The Weasleys were great, but Hermione and I didn’t get along at first, and being in love with her, Ron was a bit standoffish as well sometimes. I never got that with you. Writing your story, at least what the nice Muggle lady didn’t include in her version, it’s the best way I have to give something back. Besides, you have to admit that your lives are great subject matter.” Harry smiled again at that.

“Spense, maybe it’s time to take us down off the pedestal though.” Harry paused, no doubt trying to spare my feelings with the right words. “There’s plenty out there for Wizardry to admire and venerate. If our plan works, the Royal Academy and the Ministry will renew their support for the old ways, at least in regard to the Hallows. I just don’t want Ginny and me to be held up there with the legends that way.

“Let me tell you about something that happened to me right after the final battle. Ginny and I were heading back to Gryffindor Tower. I held all three Hallows then. The wand…it seemed to tug at me for some reason, and it took us to another part of the castle, to a strange little room, and to the Mirror of Erised. Somehow, the Hallows allowed me…us to actually speak with my parents’ reflection this time–-it was real. It wasn’t an illusion this time. We talked with them, I introduced my parents to Ginny, and Mum and Dad gave us their blessing. Can you imagine how we would be treated if the world knew we’d done that? We don’t want any of the hoopla. Now where did I acquire that word? Anyway, the Deathly Hallows brought the special magic about, I didn’t. They deserve the respect associated with them, and only they do. Can you understand?”

I actually did. My friends were human, not the gods some admirers saw them as. They lived, breathed, sweat, and bled just like everyone else. The couple probably had some other great arguments, and their making up was inversely fun. I wouldn’t share it, but I would write this story just as it happened, including what happened next.

The door slowly opened, and in walked a grinning Ginny followed by Luna back in her new outfit. The hemline was lower, the neckline higher, the shoes were more practical and looked comfortable. Her hair had been braided then pinned up, and it was obvious that Ginny had helped with the makeup, not some circus clown this time. I also recognized the nice necklace Luna was wearing. I managed to stand up finally and went to meet her.

“Luni how could you ever think I’d forget your birthday? It’s the day after our little boy’s.”

“How could I go all afternoon wearing your jacket, and only find my present and card in the pocket twenty minutes ago? How could I believe you’d leave me for that other girl?”

“I’ll tell you–-I honestly don’t remember her, but if she’s like you said, we can fix her up with Rolf in between the truck stop bimbos he dates.” I took Luni’s hand and moved toward the still open door. “If you two will excuse us, I’m taking Mrs. Hemmingway here to supper. We have reservations at Chez Homer’s House of Corned Beef.”


*****



“That was really nice what you did for Luna, Ginny.”

“My mum taught me more than just how to cook Harry. Could you pass me the horseradish.”

“On chicken salad? You are a Weasley.” Harry smiled at his wife, and decided he felt good at the moment, and not just because of the excellent meal they were enjoying in the tavern. Surprisingly, the Leaky Cauldron’s kitchen was legendary.

“I’m a Potter now good sir.” Ginny giggled, as much at how stupid their disagreement had been as with Harry’s comment. “Now, just a bit of hot mustard for extra zest, chocolate sprinkles and a cherry on top.” She held in her laughter this time. Sometimes her culinary tastes weren’t for the faint of heart…or stomach. “So, what happens Harry?”

“We next see if our Mr. Poindexter joins us at the castle ruins tomorrow morning to retrieve the first artifact. If he doesn’t, then he believes the Hallows he holds aren’t fakes. He’ll deliver them to the Academy, and then run to the Ministry for credit and rewards. Kingsley is expecting him though. If the man does discover what we did, then so much the better. He’s probably been expecting some devious trick from us, and now we’ve obliged him. He’ll be much more willing to help us retrieve the real Deathly Hallows. Now, will you please refresh my memory, and point out this barmaid who caused us so much trouble.”

Ginny’s eyebrows went up, but just for comic effect. She could not believe she had ever considered Harry seriously looking at another girl that way.

“I don’t know if she’s still working Harry. No wait. There she is just coming in the side door.” Ginny nudged her head in the direction of a tall platinum blond in a medieval server’s dress.

“Her? You mean the one with the big…”

“Harry!”

“…smile on her face? Now that’s what I call a nice…”

“Harry!”

“…tray of sandwiches she’s carrying. Hand me the horseradish please.”


*****



As it so happened, Elbert Poindexter did in fact appear at the scheduled time and place the next day. One of the conditions for receiving the gifts was that he assist us in re-obtaining each from its high security hiding place. In point of fact, this meant doing it for us. Personally, I thought that safeguarding them in plain sight in Diagon Alley shops was brilliant. On the other hand, Ginny was satisfied with her revenge on the man by the time he encountered the troll.

The Hallows did go by guarded courier to the Academy, but this really funny thing occurred with them there. It seems that no one gave the group sufficient warning not to have all three objects in the same place at the same time. There was this curse or something on them that rendered the artifacts inert…they didn’t work anymore. This naturally caused quite an uproar with that fine institution, in turn causing a drastic change of leadership. The new board of governors was much more dedicated to the old ways. With the Ministry’s blessing, they arranged to move the Hallows to Merlin’s monastery, where they could be on limited public display. Mr. Ollivander had his Wizarding church back, with governmental blessings, and Harry and Ginny reacquired their much-cherished laic normalcy.

Mutz and Jefferies did make it to Australia, but they didn’t stay long after the collector realized he hadn’t been sold the real articles. The pair was reportedly en route to Tierra del Fuego under assumed names with two fine fellows named Knuckles and Bluto close behind. Poindexter wasn’t quite as fortunate when he tried to auction off the artifacts in Mexico. He’s now enjoying a rather long stay in one of their fine institutions with a cellmate named Raul.

Dear old Elbert couldn’t understand it. He was certain that he had kept the real objects, and those passed onto the Academy couriers were the bogus set. Had someone tricked him? Was someone playing a game with counterfeit Deathly Hallows? Now who do you suppose would pull a nasty trick like that on everyone?

Mischief managed!
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