by Canadibrit

(Note to TLAS readers -- this fic takes place instead of Tour of Duty.
For Potterfans, this is sort of my crossover answer to Order of the Phoenix.)

(Scene: McIntyre Manor, kitchen. Carol is sitting at the kitchen table, leafing through a bunch of coupons. AP comes in, looking a little sad and apprehensive.)

AP: Hey ... Mom?

Carol: (not looking up) Yes, dear?

AP: Just wanted to let you know that I'm leaving for England in a few days.

Carol: Didn't you do that?

AP: Last Christmas, Mom. We're gonna stay at Purple Peril's aunt's again.

Carol: Purple...?

AP: (sigh) Lynn Cullen, Mom.

Carol: Oh, your little girlfriend...

AP: (wince) No, Mom. See, first I went out with her and then she moved and then we moved and then I went out with... (begins to realise that the concept even confuses him) Never mind.

Carol: (whose mind has drifted elsewhere) You said England?

AP: (sad) Yeah, Mom.

Carol: Well, you should probably drop in on Arthur while you're there.

AP: (fear; "is she taking a turn for the worse?") Who?

Carol: Arthur, dear. My brother. I haven't seen him in ... oh, the longest time. I don't even remember...

AP: (looking askance at her) I guess, Mom. Where does ... Uncle Arthur live?

Carol: I think his address is with your father's little black phone book. But he wouldn't like you looking in there, so...

AP: Don't worry, Mom. I'll find ... Uncle Arthur.

Carol: Oh, and send my love, will you? I haven't seen him in ever so long...

AP: Sure, Mom, no problem...

(He steps out of the kitchen and into the main hall. As he exits, he stops and shakes his head in utter confusion.)

AP: (mutter to himself) Uncle Arthur?

(He spies Fred asleep on the sofa, and his briefcase on the armchair near the front door. He flips it open and digs, finding the little black phone book in question. He scribbles out a note on a Post-It and drops the book as Fred stirs and grumbles his way awake. AP shuts the briefcase, but too late to escape detection.)

Fred: What are you doing in my briefcase, Andrew?

AP: Uuuhhhh... Looking for Post-Its! I needed a few for an experiment I'm working on cos if I don't mark which is which I'm gonna...

Fred: Okay, okay, that's enough! Now can I go back to my nap without worrying about you rocking the house on its foundations?

AP: Sure, dad! (big grin)

Fred: I don't know about you sometimes, Andrew.

AP: No one does! That's half the fun! (Fred groans and settles down. AP steels himself, then...) Dad?

Fred: (eyes still closed) What, Andrew?

AP: I met your sisters, but I never met any of Mom's family. Doesn't she have any brothers or sisters anywhere?

Fred: (emphatic) No. And keep an eye on your mother if she ever starts mentioning ... things like that. It could be signs that she's getting unstable again.

AP: (looking askance at his dad this time) Right, Dad. Sure. I'll see you later.

(Fred settles down to his nap as AP tromps up to his room.)

*** Now talking in #dv8s
*** Topic is 'If you wanted affection, buy a puppy. We bite.'
*** Set by Purple_Peril on Jun 27 14:45:38
<Psycho-Maverick> Hey ho, Purple Peril...
<Purple_Peril> Salutations, Maverick. You 'sound' dubious about something.
<Psycho-Maverick> I am, kinda.
<Purple_Peril> Do I have to *pry* it out of you?
<Psycho-Maverick> Noooo... see, you know I thought MOm didn't have any sis' or bros or anything?
<Purple_Peril> Yeah. Turns out she does or something?
<Psycho-Maverick> Yeah. In ENGALND.
<Purple_Peril> *chuckle* Your typing sometimes...
<Psycho-Maverick> I'm upset, K? I got the news that I got an uncle!
<Psycho-Maverick> & 7 cousins!
<Psycho-Maverick> IN *ENGLAND*!
<Purple_Peril> Okay, okay, calm down.
<Psycho-Maverick> But dad lied to me about it too! he said that mom didn't nave any bros or anythign & if she told me she did he might have yer locked up!
<Purple_Peril> CHILL!
<Purple_Peril> You know where these people live?
<Psycho-Maverick> Yeah. They don't have a phone or an email or anything, so I guess I better send a telegram or sommethign.
<Purple_Peril> To...?
<Psycho-Maverick> Let em know i'm coming! I gotta MEET em, Peril!
<Purple_Peril> Well ... I'm sure there are B&Bs in ... wherever.
<Purple_Peril> We can do that, sure.
<Psycho-Maverick> Cool! It's ... Ottery St Catchpole.
<Purple_Peril> Ottery ... St Catchpole?
<Psycho-Maverick> Yeah! Heard of it?
<Purple_Peril> Think Lorna mentioned it. Once.
<Purple_Peril> What are their names? I never did ask Carol's maiden.
<Psycho-Maverick> Says here Weasley. Arthur and Molly Weasley.
<Purple_Peril> O_O
<Psycho-Maverick> ?
<Purple_Peril> Nothing. Just something I saw somewhere.
<Purple_Peril> I have to go. I have to make a call.
<Purple_Peril> Pizza King. Eight.
*** Purple_Peril has quit #dv8s (Quit: "Beautify America. FOD.")
<Psycho-Maverick> ...you have a DSL connection...
<Psycho-Maverick> Drat.

(Scene: Pizza King, evening. AP is sitting at their booth, poking ice to the bottom of a cup of soda with his straw. Enter Jane, sketchbook under her arm. She stops short when she sees AP.)

Jane: She called you too, huh?

AP: Nah. I was on IRC with her.

Jane: Oh. (beat) AP, you know there is a little invention called the phone? Very convenient, and you don't have to push as many buttons?

AP: Well, yeah, but my phone line's always tied up with the 'puter anyway. Besides, typing I can do. With a spell check. It's handwriting that's a bitch.

Jane: I gotta give you that. (sits down) So do you know what's going on this time?

AP: Nope. Not a clue. You expect me to know? (bitter grumble) I mean, I've only been her best friend since we were running around keeping Chris Hutchins from beating the crap outta us...

Jane: Well, if it makes you feel any better, she's hiding stuff from her own sister.

AP: Been there, done that...

Jane: Ate the T-shirt?

AP: Ha. (beat) Seriously. Mom just told me I have an uncle and some cousins in England. And Dad said that if she started telling me that, we should have her looked at by the doc again. But I saw the name in his phone book.

Jane: (blink) Another mystery afoot? Sheesh, when are we calling in Robert Stack?

AP: Dunno, but I think it's beginning to suck.

(enter Lynn, looking a little unnerved)

Lynn: (sitting down next to Jane) Where's Daria?

Jane: Oh, she had to get around Quinn ... something about, if she can be in a school play, she must want to look good some of the time. She's gonna rat out Quinn's last scheme for staying out past curfew and wait for the fireworks, then run like hell.

Lynn: So she'll get here soon? I don't want to have to repeat this.

AP: Purple Peril? What's going on? I mean, what happened to that tour of the US?

Jane: Yeah. I hope you realise I'm only going along on this England thing again because I can't take Trent's whining about losing his singer and a great tour to "family crap".

Lynn: Something came up and it seems I need you guys along too. For company if nothing else.

(Enter Daria, looking annoyed, carrying a bag.)

Daria: I'm staying at one of your houses tonight, no questions asked.

Lynn: I'm curious now.

Daria: Somehow I got blamed for the window breaking.

Jane: Whoa! You went Lynn? Way to go, Daria!

Daria: I didn't do anything...

(Flashback to Morgendorffer living room. Daria steps downstairs with Quinn trailing after her, arms flailing as she rants.)

Quinn: Daria, you don't understand! When you were in that school play thing, you had to wear makeup and look attractive, right?

Daria: If by "attractive", you mean something the audience could immediately dismiss to get on to the actual acting ... correct.

Quinn: Look, even you have to admit that they made you look better and everything. So can't you see that you should have to look good normally?

Daria: "Normally"? I never thought I'd hear you admit that there are special occasions where fashion can take a firm backseat.

Quinn: EWW! Don't you know me at all, Daria?

Daria: Unfortunately, yes. But on the plus side, knowing your opponent is an advantage in any battle of wits, even when your opponent is practically unarmed.

Quinn: (probably didn't understand it; moving on) Anyway, It's not like that freaky Lynn girl. I mean come ON! Who would want to dress like a depressed psycho freak all the time?

Daria: (frowning; raising her arms slightly to emphasise her own outfit) Excuse me...

Quinn: I mean, she goes around being rude to people and fine, maybe she did help me get some money for some new clothes and I guess she did make sure you got some kind of boyfriend by talking to that ... that thing you were seeing... (Daria frowns again and begins to clench her fists. She is, quite obviously, approaching that state known as Grand High Piss-Off.) But I mean, seriously, I don't know why you hang out with her; she's a psycho!

Daria: Maybe because, unlike some of my blood relatives, she doesn't railroad over everything I have to say.

Quinn: Well, if you even listened to me ever, you'd have a lot more friends. Instead of that freaky art girl and that psycho other sister and that ... that thing.

(Daria's fists clench that little bit tighter and two windows behind Quinn shatter. Daria blinks, unclenches her fists and steps back in the same movement, looking startled and completely confused.)

Jake: (Offscreen) Damnit! We just replaced those windows a month ago!

Quinn: Don't blame me, Daddy! (little smirk at Daria) I bet Daria and that little freak girl who looks like her rigged them to, like, explode or something.

Helen: (OS) DARIA! You get in here right now, young lady!

(Daria shoots a shocked look at Quinn, who smirks like a snake and walks off. End flashback and return to Pizza King, where Jane and AP are staring at Daria in bewilderment. Lynn, however, is looking at the table; she looks a little guilty.)

Jane: What's with her?

AP: I'm thinking either trouble in paradise or she's on the... (cuts his eyes to Lynn) Uh ... y'know. Girlie stuff.

Daria: Actually, things with Ted are fine. That's kind of the problem. He's basically decided to focus his attentions on his biological daughter and Quinn's resenting it. Not that she isn't using it to her advantage when she can, but he's starting to put real pressure on her about Ted. To be honest, even without today's surprise attack, I'll be glad to get out of the house for awhile.

Lynn: (avoiding Daria's eyes) Right. You can stay at mine, no problem. (beat; businesslike) For now, I wanted to fill you all in on what's going on for the British summer.

Jane: Great idea, seeing as all we know is the date we're flying out...

Daria: Yeah; we don't even know how long we're staying yet.

Lynn: That's not something you need to worry about.

Daria: Dad's starting to get ... persistent. He might not let me go, the way things are going.

Lynn: Well, let him try. But given some of the history here, I doubt he'll go that far. Or think he has the right to.

(Daria's turn to look away.)

AP: So what's the plan?

Lynn: We need to stop at Lorna's for a couple of days first, but then we're all going to Ottery St Catchpole.

AP: What?

Daria/Jane: (unison) Where?

AP: Ottery St Catchpole. That's where my uncle Arthur lives.

Daria: Since when do you have an uncle Arthur?

AP: Since forever, seems like, but Mom only told me this afternoon. Why are we going there?

Lynn: I told you Lorna mentioned the Weasley family. We're going to be paying them a visit for a fair bit of the summer. Hope no one minds.

AP: Butbutbutbutbut...

Jane: Motorbut.

Lynn: I should warn you: just in case, pack anything you couldn't live without for a long while. I don't know how long we're staying any more than you do.

(Daria, Jane and AP facefault at her. Lynn looks back with equanimity.)

Daria: Okay. And we leave in two days?

Lynn: First class all the way. (beat) Pizza?

Jane: You're buying.

(Lynn shrugs with a Mona Lisa smile.)

(Scene: Heathrow airport. Lorna waiting -- she's in eveningwear, her hair's a little tousled and her makeup is ever so slightly smudged. AP struggling with a luggage cart behind a sick-looking Daria, an excited Jane and an outwardly calm Lynn, who raises an eyebrow at Lorna's appearance.)

Lynn: You didn't even have time to go home?

Lorna: Oh, I could have, probably, but it's the proliferation of sensitive new-age men. They just don't feel right unless they get to serve the lady tea in the morning.

Daria: Tea sounds really, really good right about now.

Jane: Could you maybe just drop me off at Tate Modern? I hear there's a Hirst exhibit...

Lorna: Sorry, but you'll have to get there yourself. By the time we get back, I'll have just enough time to shower and make myself presentable before I meet my appointment and then I have stop by the bank -- those irritating little goblins are giving me gyp about my business account.

(She snatches the luggage cart from AP and stalks off. Daria looks at Lynn a little oddly.)

Daria: Irritating little ... goblins?

Lynn: (sounding tired) Don't the British have the most interesting expressions?

(With that, she stalks off after Lorna. Jane *poing*s off after her, visions of bisected cows in tanks of formaldehyde dancing in her head. AP, equally oblivious, follows them and Daria, after shaking off the seriousness with which Lorna mentioned goblins, does the same.)

(Scene: Smythe living room. Daria steps out of a room and into the hallway, noticing Lynn and Lorna seated in the living room, having a quiet conversation. Daria, frowning, inches closer.)

Lorna: I take it you still haven't told them?

Lynn: And it's the easiest thing in the world to break to people? Think what we're related to.

Lorna: Dear girl. Even the most oblivious get the news with that silly yellow letter, or at least one just like it, when they turn eleven. You weren't granted the same dubious courtesy, or even an owl from your father, but they should at least know. It's not as though they're Mug...

(And Jane slams out the same door, nearly knocking into Daria.)

Jane: Whoops.

(Daria turns to the living room. The conversation has officially broken up. Daria slams a fist onto the floor, at which Jane raises an eyebrow.)

(Scene: the Intrepid Fox, Soho -- a pub. Its main features are a] scarred wood furniture b] rock band posters covering every square inch of wall c] leftover Hallowe'en decorations and d] statuary made out of old auto parts -- a spider hovering over the bar and a crucifixion scene in the corner. It's next to this latter that Daria, Jane and AP are sitting.)

AP: "Mugs"?

Daria: Well, that's how they've been treating us. And I can't think of any other way of finishing the word.

AP: Muggee, muggyver, muggruff?

Jane: Don't make it painful. (to the stares) Big men in dog suits and trenchcoats... (she shivers)

Daria: (let's move on from this) Anyway. It's the comment about the owl that confused me ... unless the Smythe family business is a bird sanctuary.

Jane: Who knows? Maybe it's a family expression.

Daria: (raised eyebrow) You mean like "goblins" at the bank?

AP: Well, what else is it gonna be? I mean, it's not like there are gonna be real goblins or real owls, right?

Daria: I guess you're right. But this is one strange thing too many.

Lynn: (approaching with drinks) This is London. There are no limits to the strange things that go on around here.

AP: We weren't talking about that; we were talking about...

Jane: (interrupting but not changing the subject, exactly) Hey, how long a drive is it to Ottery St Catchpole?

Lynn: A few hours; why?

Daria: Good. That gives you a captive audience while you tell us what's been going on with you lately.

Lynn: Well, you'll be a captive audience, all right, but I somehow doubt that's what you'll be listening to from me. (to the quizzical look) Remember what I had to say the last time I drove in this country?

(Off Daria's "Oh, Christ, I wish I didn't" look, smash cut to...)

(Scene: the open road. Lorna's yellow van roars past at a speed that far exceeds the posted speed limit.)

(Scene: Van interior. Lynn driving. Daria shotgun. Jane and AP in the back with the luggage. The three passengers are looking a little pale; Lynn's slightly flushed but calming faster than the others are.)

Lynn: Feeling better?

Daria: What is it with you and British roads? You're fine in Lawndale...

Lynn: Ever seen me at Seven Corners?

Daria: No...

AP: And you don't wanna, believe me. The swearing's a little better but it's more with the near-death. She once came close to rear-ending some goofball of a guy in a red jeep.

Daria & Jane: Kevin.

Lynn: Well, he deserved it. He just plain stopped...


(Scene: open fields. Van stops and Jane leaps out the back. Daria, Lynn and AP follow, bewildered. Jane has dragged out with some pastels and a sketchpad.)

Daria: Muse attack. I should've known.

Jane: I never see fields like this back home! We're almost there; it's not like we're going to be late!

(She steps into the field and approaches some hedges, looking around. She turns to the others.)

Jane: This is a perfect spot; I swear, it'll take five minutes ... well, maybe fifteen. I want to sketch that weird-looking house over...

(She starts pointing to a really eclectic-looking house and is hit full in the face by something small, brown and screaming. Jane starts screaming herself as the others step back -- even Lynn is nonplussed.)

Gnome: Gerroff me! Gerroff me!

Jane: You gerroff me! I mean get off me!

(As Jane manages to grab a hold of the gnome and fling it off behind her, a red-haired boy looks over the hedges and facefaults.)

Boy: Oh, bugger ... uh ... (the boy raises a wand and points it at Jane.)

Jane: What the...

Lynn: (panic; she knows what he's about to do) Oh, for the love of God, Weasely, don't...

Boy: Obliviate!

(Jane's face suddenly takes on a blank look.)

Lynn: (resigned) ...use a Memory Charm...

Daria: (running over to Jane, concerned) Jane? JANE?

Jane: I'm standing in a field. (beat) Why am I standing in a field?

Lynn: (to the boy) Which one are you?

Boy: George. Who're you?

Lynn: Lynn Cullen ... Smythe. One of your visitors. She's a witch, you ... pillock!

George: You what?

Daria: Lynn? What medication did you not take?

(Fred and Ron run over to join George at the hedges.)

Ron: Oh, George, you know we're not supposed to do magic outside school! You'll have us in it up to our necks! And what are you doing carrying your wand around anyway?

Fred: After that business at the World Cup, Ron? Are you mental?

George: And you think the Ministry wants Muggles running around telling people about being hit by garden gnomes? And I don't mean those miniature Father Christmases.

Lynn: She's Muggle-born, yes, but she's not a Muggle, you ... you daft prat!

Daria: What's a Muggle? What are you talking about? (beat) And I take it you're the Weasleys?

AP: You're my cousins? (beat; looking at the three freckle-faced redheads) I guess I can see that, yeah.

Lynn: (to Daria, Jane and AP) Okay, I'll give you the basics. We're witches. Well, apart from you, AP; you're a wizard. And this ... this pillock just wiped Jane's memory.

George: I wasn't to know, was I? I mean, you all look ... well, so much like Muggles!

AP: What in the name of whatever is a Muggle? I'm not that bad with words...

Jane: (still dazed) I didn't get drunk again, did I? I said I was never going to drink again...

Lynn: Can we explain this inside? I think Jane needs caffeine ... or a Wit-Sharpening potion ... or something.

Fred: Yeah ... that'd be right. Come on, you lot.

George: Yeah, c'mon; I think we all have some explaining to do.

(Scene: The Burrow. Fred and Ron enter the house, followed by Daria and Lynn, who are supporting a dazed-looking Jane. George and AP follow them. Molly looks up from her cooking with a smile.)

Molly: Oh, you're here! I'm ever so glad to meet you finally, Andrew dear...

AP: Uh ... I like AP. It's a nickname.

Molly: Oh. Sorry. Uh ... is something the matter with your friend?

Fred: We thought she was a Muggle!

George: We didn't know we were having visitors!

Fred: Even she didn't know she was a witch; how were we supposed to?

George: We were degnoming and she got one of Ron's in the face.

Fred: We needed to practice 'Obliviate' anyway, so if the Restriction of Underage Magic people come calling...

Molly: But ... she didn't know?

Lynn: (guilt personified) None of them did. Except for me.

Daria: Wait. ALL of us? You're telling us we're a wizard and three witches?

Lynn: I said, didn't I?

Daria: I was a little more worried about Jane than you saying weird stuff about 'Muggles', Lynn.

Jane: But there's no such thing as witches, Daria. You and Lynn proved that ... right?

Daria: Case. Rested.

Molly: Oh dear. Perhaps I should let Arthur explain this to you. I'll just contact him by Floo; I'm sure the Ministry won't mind if this is an emergency...

(Molly bustles distractedly out of the room, leaving Ron, Fred and George staring at the new arrivals.)

Ron: So you're our cousin?

AP: Yeah. Dad's an accountant for a firm somewhere in the US.

Fred: He must be the one we don't talk about!

George: No, that's a second cousin.

AP: No, Mom's your dad's sister.

Ron: What, the one that never sends owls to Dad anymore?

AP: 'Owls'? The only owl I've ever seen really close is the stuffed one in Dad's office.

(Ron, Fred and George look at each other.)

George: It ... wasn't a barn owl, was it?

Fred: About a six-foot wingspan?

George: Little white spot on its forehead?

AP: Yeah...

Fred: The git killed Raine!

George: Last time we saw that owl was after Dad sent her out to Aunt Carol. He'd invited her to visit. We were really little and no one got why Dad never got word back.

Fred: Dad thought she'd died or something. (beat) Your father's a pillock, you know that?

Daria: I'm not sure exactly what a "pillock" is, but I can only assume that it's too soft a term for what Fred McIntyre is.

Fred: He's called what? (beat) I never used to hate my name, but with that pillock using it...

AP: (looking really guilty) Uhh...

George: Well, we can always just call you Gred.

Fred: Shut it, Forge.

Ron: (let's change the subject) And you're Lynn and Daria Smythe?

Daria: Morgendorffer.

Lynn: Yes.

Fred: Dad mentions your dad sometimes. You don't hear much about Aurors in Misuse of Muggle Artefacts, but the Order of the Phoenix is historical and that!

Daria: Order of the... No. I at least know all those words. Aurors?

Ron: Dark wizard-hunters. Since You-Know-Who has been on the rise again...

Daria: I don't know who...

Lynn: Lord Voldemort. (Ron, Fred and George flinch) The most powerful Dark wizard in a thousand years. He's back and his main ambition is to kill Harry Potter -- 'The Boy Who Lived'. (to Daria's lost look) It's in all the history books, but Dad told me most of this awhile ago.

Ron: And if he kills Harry, he'll go on to take over the wizarding world!

Jane: I don't get this. You're telling me that there are witches and wizards all over the place and one of them is set to take over the world. And I'm supposed to believe this? It all sounds like something out of a book.

Fred: We'd show you, but...

George: We're not supposed to use magic outside of school.

Lynn: You used a Memory Charm on Jane and the Ministry has yet to beat a path to your door. Trust me; it'll be fine. Or, if you're that worried...

(Lynn grabs George's wand, which he never let go of, and waves it at a milk jug on the table.)

Lynn: Wingardium Leviosa!

(The milk jug rises into the air, somewhat shakily. Daria, AP and Jane just stare.)

Ron: Wicked! I had the worst time with that one to start with.

AP: Uh ... do I wanna know how you did that? (beat) Oh, hell, what am I saying, of COURSE I wanna know how you did that!

Lynn: You'll learn. You can do this too, if you put your mind to it.

Jane: Whoa. Cool!

Lynn: Ladies and gentleman. Welcome to the wizarding world.

(Enter a tired-looking Arthur Weasley with Molly.)

Arthur: Hallo... (spots AP) Um...

AP: Hey ho, Uncle Arthur!

Arthur: ...Uncle...? You must be ... Carol's boy. Andrew, isn't it?

AP: AP, actually. But yeah, that'd be me. And that's my ... um ... friend Lynn, her sister Daria, and Jane.

Daria: Hey.

Jane: Yo!

Lynn: Nice meeting you, sir. Dad talks about you.

Fred: She's Jerome Smythe's daughter.

Arthur: Oh my. I suppose we have some things to talk about. Molly?

Molly: Uh ... why don't you go through to the sitting room and I'll make tea. Ginny?

Ginny: Oh, but Mum...

Molly: But me no buts, young lady.

(Molly keeps a hand on Ginny's shoulder as the entire gang move out of the kitchen.)

(Scene: Weasely sitting room. Daria, Jane, Lynn AP have crammed themselves onto the sofa. Arthur is seated tiredly in an armchair. Ron, Fred and George have taken seats on the floor.)

Arthur: So how much has been explained to you all?

Jane: Well, most of us don't know anything. Hell, I'd be happy enough to know how I got here.

Arthur: Well ... it appears you're a Muggle-born. It's a little surprising, I grant you, that you all got together, but I suppose like calls to like.

Daria: And ... the Order of the Phoenix?

Lynn: It's a group of Aurors -- the dark wizard hunters mentioned earlier. They were set up by my grandfather Gerald some years back. They called him the Phoenix because of ... well, you won't know about Animagi yet, but let's just say he could turn into one. The Smythes were the founders of that group of Aurors and we've been involved with them ever since.

AP: (grinning) It's like the Force, isn't it? (to the looks) Well, it is! Magic runs strong in your family.

Arthur: So it would appear.

Daria: Let me get this straight. You're a witch. And yet you need guns to defend yourself?

Fred: "Guns"?

Ron: Metal wands Muggles use to kill each other. Remember, from the Prophet report on Sirius Black?

Lynn: (sigh) I'm a witch with no wand, little training and against a Muggle under the Imperius curse?

AP: The who?

Arthur: Well, you see, there are three Unforgivable Curses. Imperio puts you under the control of the person who casts it on you.

Jane: We're lucky Ms. Li couldn't use that one.

Lynn: Why do you think Li did what she did in the first place?

(They all facefault.)

AP: She ... she ... who ... muuuuuh...

Arthur: It would have been a Death Eater that did that to your headmistress.

Jane: Death. It's what's for dinner?

Lynn: Servants of Voldemort.

(Weasleys wince.)

Fred: Say 'You-Know-Who', will you?

Lynn: Why? It's just a name.

AP: (grin) "That which we call a rose"...

Daria: That's not your line, AP.

Lynn: Can we stay on the subject, please?

Daria: So. Three Unforgivable Curses. What are the other two like?

Arthur: One -- Crucio -- is pain. The other...

Lynn: Avada Kedavra. Instant death.

Jane: The wizarding equivalent of a nuke?

Lynn: No, more specific. And a lot harder to arm. There's no fighting that one ... but the Order started by teaching me how to defend myself against Muggles under the Imperius curse. So that the Jackboot Affair didn't happen again.

Jane: Whoa.

Arthur: And now I suppose it's time for all of you to learn how to use the powers you have.

Lynn: I have a question. Why Hogwarts? Why not one of the American schools?

Arthur: Ah. Well. Uh. Mostly because most of you have family here.

Jane: Maybe all of us. Dad was talking about doing Welsh landscapes again...

Lynn: Jane, you don't think your dad...

Jane: Well, he's new age enough... (looks around the place) But that doesn't seem to be a criteria.

Arthur: And because ... well ... we can help you catch up a bit. So you can join Ron's year at least.

Fred: You will explain who this ... Ms Li, you said?

Lynn: Sure. If you're not afraid of total mayhem.

Ron: Afraid of? They thrive on it!

AP: Wizard mischief-makers! Kick!

George: We recently got ... some funding ... for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.

Arthur: Oh, George...

Fred: Ton-Tongue Toffees...

(The twins share a snicker with Ron over what they did to Dudley...)

George: Canary Creams...

Ron: (aside to the erstwhile Muggles) You really have to have a care what you eat here.

(Lynn gives an evil smirk)

AP: I want in too!

Jane: God help the wizarding world...

Daria: Bit late for that, it seems.

Arthur: Oh dear... Just ... don't let your mother know...

Lynn: I have a book these guys have to read.

George: Can you work around 'Accio'?

AP: Hell, she can work around FBI.

(Blank looks from the Weasleys.)

Lynn: Never mind. I think we all need some down time. Can we start the lessoning tomorrow?

Ron: Sure! But ... are you sure the Restriction of Underage...?

Arthur: Oh, that's all sorted out already.

Fred: Wow, Dad! How'd you manage that?

(Enter Molly, a little too well-timed...)

Molly: I made the tea! Oh, do leave them to rest a little, Arthur! They've come a long way today.

(Arthur shoots a grateful look at Molly; everyone looks suspicious.)

(Scene: Ginny's room. Ginny's fast asleep in her own bed; Daria, Jane and Lynn are in sleeping bags on the floor [there's not enough space in Ginny's room for three camp beds]. They're still awake, staring at the ceiling and talking softly.)

Daria: So why haven't we done anything ... I don't know ... magical ... before?

Lynn: What I got told was that we sometimes have. When we were scared, hurt or angry...

(They muse over this point for a moment.)

Daria: So when that stupid cabin in the woods nearly collapsed and killed us both...

Lynn: Probably us.

Daria: Well, if this whole wizarding world thing doesn't work out, I could make a fortune in the demolition business. (beat) And you with your "I have a feeling that something incredibly stupid's going to happen" over that dance...

Lynn: Oh, please. We were living in Lawndale. That wasn't a prediction; that was a sure thing.

Daria: Jane? How about you? Ever do anything...

Jane: Who knows? It's not like I had parents around keeping tabs on me when I was growing up. I could have levitated the house into the ionosphere and the only reaction I'd have got was Trent rasping "Hey, man, what a cool dream" and going back to sleep.

Lynn: (shrug) Well, whichever way you look at it, whether we did weird things as kids or not...

Daria: Oh, I think it's safe to say that we all did weird things as kids. It's whether they could be considered 'magical' that's at issue here.

Lynn: ...The point is, we're here now. And this is what we have to work with. (*sigh*) I am beyond jetlagged -- it's been a day. Night, you two.

(She rolls over and falls asleep as Daria and Jane continue to stare at the ceiling, pondering.)

Jane: What're you thinking now?


Daria: As much as I hate to say it ... this is probably going to be cool. (beat) You?

Jane: This is going to be damn cool. (beat) Except for the whole Death Eater thing.

Daria: And to think you were once so set on finding the silver lining.

Jane: (smirk) 'Night, witch.

Daria: Good e'en, oh foul and secret midnight hag.

(Jane chuckles and they both close their eyes.)

(Scene: Ron's room. AP's asleep in a camp bed next to Ron's empty bed. All of a sudden, there's a crashclatter and several small explosions. AP jumps upright.)

AP: AAAAAAAAAGH! WhadIleave? WhadIleave? Wh...uh?

(He scrubs a hand through his hair as the door opens and Ron sticks his head in.)

Ron: Alright then?

AP: What the hell?

Ron: The clattering's the ghoul in the attic. He thinks it gets boring first thing in the morning.

AP: And the...

(Something goes *BOOM* and there's a sound of falling roof tiles.)


AP: (wide-eyed) They make stuff blow up?

Ron: Oh, nothing to worry about, but sometimes...

AP: (big grin) Great! (bounds out of bed) Hey Fred! George! Whatcha using?

(AP scrambles out of the room. Ron looks very confused.)

(Scene: Weasley kitchen. Molly's dishing out porridge into bowls. Percy is looking over the Prophet.)

Molly: Well, what do you want to go looking at flats for? Percy, this is your home!

Percy: Mother, this place is bursting at the seams. And with everything that's going on at the Ministry ... trying to get to grips with Mr Crouch's replacement ... I need my own space! Bill and Charlie have their own private residences...

Molly: Oh, Percy dear, please don't think that we want you out because you think it's inconvenient...

Percy: But Mother, I don't want to stay just because my leaving would be inconvenient. I know the gold coming in makes things easier...

Molly: Oh, Percy, don't be ridiculous; we'll manage, same as we always have. If moving is really going to make you happy...

(*BANG!* *fweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* *POP-POP-POP* *BOOOOOM!* and the flat *thwack* of a door blown off its hinges hitting the floor. Then, after a shocked silence, there is laughter.)

George: (OS) That was incredible, AP!

Fred: (OS) Yeah, Snape won't know what hit him!

Molly: RON! FRED! GEORGE! DOWNSTAIRS NOW! (beat; kindly) And you too, AP dear!

(Enter Ginny, who pulls up a chair and starts pouring treacle into her porridge.)

Ginny: Lynn's up there with the boys. They blew the door right off. And they wouldn't let me in.

Molly: (puffing up) Just as we-- What on earth would you want to go in there for?

Ginny: To see what's going on!

(Daria and Jane clump in. Molly goes from stunned to beaming in 0.2 seconds.)

Molly: Good morning, dears; breakfast's on the table.

(She bustles off to the whistle of a tea kettle. Daria and Jane sit down and the clump-clump-clump of several sets of feet come down the stairs. Ron, Fred, George and AP descend upon the table like a plague of oversized locusts; Lynn follows behind at a more sedate pace.)

Ginny: So what were you doing up there?

Molly: Ginny!

Fred: Don't worry, Mum; we weren't going to tell her!

George: Sorry, little sister, but Mum'd kill us.

Fred: Anyway, we want to keep the baby of the family safe!

Ginny: I'm not a baby, Fred; I'm fifteen!

George: And we want to make sure you reach sixteen.

Daria: Jane, you have the biggest family of all of us. Are they always like this?

Jane: How should I know? Most of mine scattered to the four winds before I really knew what they were like.

Molly: Oh, how dreadful! (with a pointed look at Percy) It must be horrible to live away from the ones you love, without a real family around...

Jane: Actually, it's more horrible with a real family around. The phone's never free, the place is packed with people talking and yelling and hitting each other with foam rubber bats, never a room to call your own...

Percy: That's exactly my point, Mother!

Molly: (scowling) Well, we're different!

Percy: Yes. Here there are explosions.

Daria: Speaking of family ... how are we supposed to explain all of this to our parents?

Jane: Daria, my only question is how I'm supposed to find my parents.

Daria: You have it easy. And Lynn and AP's parents presumably know all about this. I just can't see Mom and Dad being very accepting of British schools or having a witch for a daughter.

Molly: Oh, don't worry, dear. Your parents will receive an owl from Hogwarts explaining everything.

Ron: Most Muggle parents get used to it quick enough. Hermione Granger's parents did.

Daria: And if my parents decide not to take the word of an ... owl?

Molly: Well ... I ... suppose I don't know, exactly. Not that it's the owl itself they'll have to believe, but the letter the owl's carrying...

(Speaking of owls, a massive one flies through the window and drops a letter at Lynn's place, circling the table and flying off again without once touching solid ground. Lynn frowns and tears the letter open, and her eyes widen.)

Daria: Lynn?

Lynn: It's from Dad.

Molly: Not bad news, I hope...

Lynn: Not for us, anyway. But I'm not sure it's so good for Jake and Helen... Or for Fred and Carol, for that matter.

(Daria frowns at Lynn; Lynn just hands over the letter. AP gets up and reads over her shoulder. Both of them look at Lynn with wide eyes.)

Fred & George: (avid unison) What?

(Scene: Morgendorffer kitchen. Jake, as per usual, behind a paper. Helen working on papers. Quinn quietly eating behind a fashion magazine. Helen looks up with an expression that reads "I just thought of something...")

Helen: Jake ... did Daria say anything to you about when she'd be coming back from that place in England ... Ottery St somewhere? I mean, after that silly thing with the owl...

Jake: (still behind the paper) Damn flying vermin...

Helen: (getting frustrated) You're thinking of pigeons, Jake, and... Oh, will you put that paper down?

Jake: I'm trying to remember, Helen! Please! (doorbell rings) Who could that be?

Quinn: (getting up) I'll get it!

(Scene: Morgendorffer front hall. Quinn opens the door and sees Jerome standing there. His hands are in his pockets and he looks a little sheepish ... but he relaxes slightly when he sees Quinn.)

Jerome: Good day; I'm Jerome... And you must be Quinn. You've been blessed with your mother's looks.

Quinn: What do you want? And who are you, anyway? I mean, like, it's weird enough at home right now with Daria's stupid joke with the owl and everything...

Jerome: (back to sheepish) Ah, I take it the Hogwarts letter arrived.

Quinn: You're not telling me that's for real! I mean, God, I stopped believing in that magic stuff when the love spells in "Waif" didn't work!

Jerome: It might be wise for you to re-evaluate that opinion, m'lady.


Helen: (OS) WHAT?

(She and Jake both appear at the door behind Quinn a few seconds later, and they both freeze when they spot Jerome.)

Jake: Who are you?

Helen: J-J-Jerome? What are you doing here?

Jake: This is Jerome?

Jerome: I'm here to speak to you about Daria. And her new school.

Jake: What the hell's wrong with the school she's in now?

Jerome: (slight sneer) It's American, isn't it? That speaks for itself.

Quinn: Waitaminit. You mean Daria's going away to boarding school? This is great! I can finally get that walk-in closet now!

Helen: Quinn, we are not turning Daria's room into closet space. (turning to Jerome) Now explain to me exactly what Daria's supposed to be learning at this Hogwarts place that she couldn't learn right here?

Jerome: In a word ... magic.

(long pause)

Quinn: I so want to not have to believe you.

Jake: You don't have to believe him! I mean, what proof do we have that this man isn't some ... some sort of bird-loving lunatic?

Helen: Now, Jake, maybe we should...

Jake: We should just call the police and make him give my kiddo back! Damnit, Helen, who knows what kind of crap he's filling Daria's head with? (He grabs Jerome; Jerome shoves him back) Look, you bastard! I want my kiddo back, and if I have to beat where she is out of you...

Jerome: (sigh; whips out his wand) Petrificus Totalus!

(Jake freezes up and falls flat on his face. Quinn and Helen scream. Jerome kicks Jake onto his back and looks down at him.)

Helen: Jer--ohmygod! Jake! What did you do to him?

Jerome: Perhaps now we can have a civilised conversation like two mature adults. (beat) Oh, don't fret; I'll unfreeze your husband when we're through, no harm done. And I had to do something to prove that magic exists, didn't I? How else would you believe that your daughter's capable of similar acts?

Helen: You mean my daughter is a ... a...

Quinn: I always knew she was a freak, but this...? (beat) Does that mean I'm one too?

Jerome: Hardly. Apparently, this particular trait appears on my side of the family.

Quinn: Oh. (something really nasty hits) That Lynn girl too?

Jerome: Most assuredly.

Quinn: We're all gonna die, aren't we?

Helen: Quinn!

Quinn: No ... no, you don't understand. The only person I can think of who it'd be worse if they had magic would be that ... thing Daria was seeing once. That AP freak.

Jerome: AP McIntyre, you mean? (nasty little Mona Lisa smirk) He's attending Hogwarts this year as well.

(Quinn whimpers and flees for her room. Helen, meanwhile, has finally managed to shake the shock.)

Helen: All right ... if Daria needs a ... a special school... Whereis this place, anyway?

Jerome: The town is called Hogsmeade, Helen. It's on the England/Scotland border. She'll have the best education England can provide from a magical perspective.

Helen: And what about her real education, Jerome, did you think of that? What about college?

Jerome: M'dear, I attended Hogwarts for the full seven years, and I was admitted to Harvard. Daria will be more than qualified to attend any university that takes her fancy. What she lacks of Muggle teaching, she can make up herself; from all I hear, she's an autodidactic little thing.

Helen: (grudging) Well, she takes after you that way.

Jerome: She'll likely send an owl for you in a few days. Be easy in your mind, Helen.

(He smiles slightly at her, then turns to leave.)

Helen: (slight panic) Jerome! (he turns back) What about Jake?

(Jerome blinks, then smirks apologetically.)

Jerome: (pointing his wand at Jake's chest) Enervate.

(Jake sits up screaming. Helen flinches backwards until Jake gets hold of himself, then helps him up. By the time she's dragged Jake to his feet, Jerome is gone -- likely Disapparated. Jake looks at Helen, his face confused and angry.)

Jake: (through clenched teeth) Explain. This. NOW.

(Helen sighs and leads him into the house.)

(Scene: McIntyre household. Jerome Apparates on the front doorstep and rings the doorbell. Ten seconds pass, and the door is opened by Carol.)

Carol: (slow as always) Oh ... hello. (beat) May I help you?

(Jerome blinks loudly and proceeds to watch her very carefully.)

Jerome: Good afternoon, Carol. I'm Jerome Smythe -- perhaps you remember me? (after a moment of Carol's blank stare, he sighs and gives up) I'm here to speak to you about your son.

Carol: (after a short pause) Oh. Andrew. Yes. (beat) I hope he's not in trouble at school again.

Jerome: Carol ... it's July. (slightly sotto) For two Sickles, I'd have you in St Mungo's right now.

Carol: (even more blank than usual) Where?

Jerome: (slight sigh) Never mind. Is Frederick at home?

Carol: One moment, please. (calls into the house) Dear? Someone wants to speak to you about Andrew's school.

(Enter Fred, who takes one look at Jerome and unceremoniously steers Carol back into the house.)

Fred: I thought this state was rid of you, you preppie British freak.

Jerome: Pleasant as always, Frederick.

Fred: It's July; what are you talking about Andrew's school for?

Jerome: I was referring to his new school, Frederick. Or haven't you received the owl?

Fred: I shoot owls around this house on sight.

Jerome: (scowl) This one was property of Hogwarts, Frederick. That'll cost someone a tidy few Galleons.

(Fred goes white, then brick red)

Fred: You mean that ... that ... freak haven my wife came out of? Hell, I knew your little bookish freak would wind up somewhere like that, but we...

(Jerome visibly restrains himself from reaching for his wand -- the Ministry's going to have enough problems with what he did to Jake.)

Jerome: What you will have to do is accept the fact that your son has been accepted to the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world.

Fred: If I'd have known my son was one of ... of those, I'd have...

Jerome: (accusatory) You'd have done what, Frederick? Beat the tendency out of him? You'd have found yourself firmly attached to the ceiling if you'd so much as tried. (very slight smirk) Or perhaps you'd be inflated ... though some'd say that it would just be an addition to the hot air you're already full of.

(Silence as they face each other down.)

Fred: (backing down) What're you doing being that freak school's errand-boy, anyway? That ... that world didn't want you for anything but donkey-work?

Jerome: We happen to believe that your son is destined for great things, and wouldn't entrust this sort of thing to anyone but the best. (now he does pull his wand) Would you like to test me?

Fred: (caving completely) There's a letter from that ... that damned place, I suppose?

(Jerome tosses the letter at Fred in a manner that suggests he'd much prefer embedding it somewhere between a couple of his ribs.)

Jerome: Always a pleasure, Frederick.

(With that, he Disapparates. Fred looks at the letter ruefully and walks inside with it, slamming the door behind him hard enough to make the glass set into it rattle.)

(Scene: Ginny's room. Lynn, Daria and Jane are lounging on their sleeping bags, each with their nose in a book -- Jane's got "The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2", Daria's got "Intermediate Transfiguration" and Lynn's mid-way through "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them". Lynn's boom box sits on the floor between them, blaring loudness. Enter Fred, George, Ron and Ginny; they look mystified.)

Fred: Oi, you three! You're going to burn your eyes out.

Ron: You don't think they got one of those books you just can't stop reading, do you?

George: Nah; we'd've got it all before they did. (walks up and grabs the book from Jane) Now, take a break, you lot!

Daria: (not looking up) We've got a lot to get through before we get to Hogwarts. You didn't expect us to take it easy, did you?

Ginny: (pointing at the stereo) What is that, anyway?

Lynn: (also not looking up) Boom box.

Ginny: What, you mean like that thing Fred and George built for my fifth birthday?

(Now they do look up, levelling raised eyebrows at Fred and George.)

Daria: I seriously doubt it. Unless AP rigged the wiring again.

Jane: It plays prerecorded music.

Ron: That's music? Weird!

George: C'mon. Time you got some practical work in.

(The looks are now quite interested.)

(Scene: Weasley garden. Fred and George exit the back door with Daria, Jane, Lynn and a soot-covered AP in tow. They stare around the garden; Fred and George look around carefully.)

Jane: We're going to learn Herbology?

Fred: Not really, no.

(He plunges his hands into a bush, which shakes viciously; from the bush, he produces a gnome.)

George: We never got to finish degnoming, so we'll use this to teach you pest control.

Ron: (from doorway) How're you going to teach them magic this way? You know we're not supposed to use...

Fred: Special dispensation, remember?

George: Ickle Ronniekins never used to miss a trick when it came to rule-breaking...

Fred: (holding up his gnome) Now who wants to show us how well they learned a Banishing charm?

(Jane raises an eyebrow with a smirk. George hands her his wand and she aims it at the gnome.)

Jane: Say bye-bye, Mister Potato-Head...

(Scene: field next to the Burrow. It seems so quiet ... until the Dopplering scream of a garden gnome travelling at high velocity fills the air. The gnome flies into shot and becomes buried face-down in a large pile of sheep muck. Applause is heard from out of shot.)

Fred: (OS) Wow, Jane, that even beats Harry's record!

(Scene: Fred and George's room. It's like a wizard's version of AP's room -- there are ... well, best just to call them things ... scattered everywhere. A bunk bed as rickety as the house is flush up against the wall; neither bed is made. The wardrobe doors and dresser drawers are open to various degrees, with robes and what could be describes as Muggle clothes sticking out. Fred and George usher Daria in, and Daria stares around her.)

Daria: And I thought the Techno-Weasel den was bad.

Fred: (who doesn't get it) The what?

George: (who doesn't have to) The Techno-Weasel Weasley! I like that!

Daria: And you've brought me in here just to show off the extent of your housekeeping skills?

Fred: We thought that this would be the best place to give you some practice on Summoning charms.

Daria: Well, there's certainly no shortage of targets...

George: Just point at something and say "Accio". Like this. (points at the pillow on one of the beds) Accio!

(The pillow shoots off the bed and George catches it. Fred hands his wand to Daria and looks at her expectantly. Daria looks around, looking a little nervous. Eventually she points to the desk vaguely.)

Daria: Accio!

(Something green, gelatinous and nasty-looking flies off the desk; she sees it coming and lets it go right past her. It hits Fred in the face with a *squelch* and sticks there. George gapes at her and she lifts a hand in a vague and overly belated attempt to stop the gooey thing as in the canon opening credits. Fred, meanwhile, is struggling to get the thing off his face.)

(Scene: Weasley paddock. The gang is standing with Fred, George, Ron and Ginny. Percy is standing off at a distance, obviously as a chaperone.)

Percy: I still think we should wait for Mother and Fa...

Fred: Oh, shut it!

George: It's alright, Percy; Mum said that she'd be no good at these kinds of charms. And Dad's at work.

Fred: So they put us in charge.

Ron: C'mon, Percy; just let us get on with it.

Fred: Right; you'll each need a partner...

George: We'll start. Daria, you partner Fred. I'll take Lynn.

Fred: After we've gone, Ron'll take Jane and Ginny'll face off against our dear cousin.

Ron: You're joking! She's far closer to your style than, say, Daria; she'll massacre me!

George: She'll go easy on you.

Jane: (suspicious) Why are you so set on doing it this way, anyway?

Fred: Symmetry.

Lynn: (raised eyebrow) Symmetry.

Ginny: Well, I suppose ... it would be interesting to look at...

AP: It would be damn scary to look at! Why'd you wanna freak us out that way?

Daria: Because it's not us he wants to freak out.

(They all turn around to look at Percy, who squirms under the blossoming smirks. Then Ron and Ginny hand their wands to Lynn and Daria respectively and the two sets of look-alikes face off. Cutting to Percy, we see that the sight two identical duelling pairs have had the desired effect on him. Whether it's because of the eerie mirror effect or the identity of the combattants themselves, Percy looks like Armageddon would be a blessing. Back to the gang.)

George: Alright? Now, let's start simple. Disarming?

Ron: Oh boy...

Fred: Just point the wand at your opponent and say "Expelliarmus".

Percy: You will be careful, won't you? I don't want to be responsible for explaining your injuries to Mother!

Lynn: (pointing the wand at Percy) Petrificus Totalus!

(Percy freezes; falls over. They all look at Lynn.)

Fred: Uh...

George: Lynn...

Lynn: (innocent blink) What? Weren't we doing Freezing Charms yet?

(Fade out on the slightly scared, slightly admiring looks she's getting.)

(Scene: Weasley kitchen. Lynn's poking at the kettle. It's poking back. She sighs and reaches in the draining board for a saucepan when AP barges into the room.)

Lynn: (nodding towards the kettle) I swear that thing can see me. I brought out the Turkish and it refused to let me within a few feet of it. (beat; seeing the look on his face -- somewhere between angry and panicked) What's with you?

AP: Get me OUT of here! I mean, Uncle Arthur's cool and everything, but if I have to explain ... (*shudder*) escapators one more time, I'm gonna rip out what hair he has left!

Lynn: (filling her saucepan) It can't be that bad.

AP: He tried to use my laptop, Purple Peril! I always thought the 'white-out on the screen' thing was a geek myth!

Lynn: He knows from white-out?

AP: He has a bottle. One shelf down from the plug collection. Along with a few Dictaphones and a stapler held shut with an elastic band.

Lynn: Held ... shut?

AP: I took the rubber band off. It tried to staple my hand to the shelf.

(Lynn raises an eyebrow but the water has started to boil; she dumps the contents of a packet into it and stirs briskly. Enter Jane, looking a bit dishevelled with various ... things ... stuck in her hair.)

Jane: You know ... I thought magic was gonna be a lot more fun. (to the lack of looks) Well, seeing as you're so interested, I had Accio lessons. And none of Daria's foresight. Or reflexes.

(Lynn adds sugar to her concoction -- neither she nor AP are looking at Jane. Jane looks incredibly peeved by this.)

AP: Though I guess I see his point about the money. I mean, English money's warped. Why's it all funny shapes and sizes?

Lynn: (stirring again) It's friendliness to the blind and partially sighted. They're an equal opportunity sort of country.

AP: What, you mean like opportunity to no one? (Lynn nods and goes mug-hunting) Figures.

Jane: (sniffing) I'll forgive you for ignoring me if you pour me some of that. You have no idea how sick I am of tea.

(Lynn has produced four mugs and is pouring ... glop that smells too much like coffee to actually smell like coffee into them. She hands one to Jane, who swallows some of it undiluted, shudders, and heads for the faucet to add some water. AP goes milk-hunting as Lynn moves the other three mugs to the table -- she uses Wingardium Leviosa to do it. Then she goes to the table and takes a swig of her own brew.)

AP: Where's Erudite Emerald? I guess the fourth cup's for her...

Jane: Good luck. She prefers tea. Now that she's found a way to take caffeine that doesn't involve involuntary muscle spasms...

Lynn: Good thing it's not for her, then, isn't it?

Jane: But then who...?

(As if in reply, Arthur staggers in. He looks tired, like he didn't get enough sleep.)

Arthur: Morning, all. Is there tea?

(Lynn just holds up the mug. Arthur, too tired to argue, takes it and swigs. He nearly chokes on the first mouthful, then looks at Lynn.)

Lynn: (as if talking to a very small child) Cof. Fee.

Jane: Like tea, only ... looks stronger, smells stronger, tastes stronger and ... well, is stronger.

AP: And the way she makes the stuff, you won't be tired for awhile.

Jane: Like, for days.

AP: Milk might help, if you want to tone it down some...

Arthur: (cradling the mug protectively) No! Er ... no, thank you; I'll take it as is.

(With that, he takes another mouthful; obviously the effects, if not the taste, are growing on him. He leaves still carrying his mug, and Jane and AP look at Lynn, who shrugs and takes another sip of her drink.)

(Scene: Weasley sitting room. Daria is holding a a little rubber ball, squinting at it. Jane wanders in, with Lynn right behind her.)

Jane: It's an interesting piece. What does it say to you?

Daria: (bringing out her wand; pointing it at the ball) Lumos Sphericus.

(The ball lights up green; the other two girls look at it, eyebrows raised.)

Lynn: You can say that again.

Daria: I thought the Lumos spell that lights up wand tips was interesting. I thought I'd see if it had other applications.

Jane: Yeah, but what are you going to do with a glowing rubber ball? Apart from submit it to the MOMA?

Lynn: (smirk) Aussie Rules Quidditch.

(Ron, Fred, George and AP poke their heads around a door. Ron has broken out in rainbow-coloured polka dots.)

Fred: Did someone say Quidditch?

George: And what's Aussie Rules?

Fred: Come to that, what's an Aussie?

Ron: (unlike those two, he looks panicked) I've heard of this from Dean. I told you this, remember?

Fred: What, with the...?

George: And then when they...?

Fred & George: (unison) Ooooooooooooh...

AP: That's the thing that's with the "no death, no foul", right? (when Lynn nods) Oooooooooooh!

Ron: But you can't play Quidditch outdoors at night! What would happen if you lost the Snitch? Or if a Bludger flew into that Muggle town?

AP: Who said anything about "at night"?

Lynn: Who said anything about "outdoors"?

(Fred, George and Ron exchange looks. Jane and Daria do the same.)

(Scene: Weasley kitchen. Molly and Ginny are in the kitchen, conjuring up a meal [literally]. Molly's stirring something in a saucepan on the hob and Ginny's rooting through the cupboards.)

Molly: (not looking) Oh, Ginny, while you're there, could you get me the...?



Ginny: Ow!

(Now Molly looks 'round and sees Ginny rubbing the back of her head; her hair's full of flour and she looks vastly put out. They both look at the little glowing green ball, which is now lying on the floor. Then they look up at the door between the kitchen and the sitting room, through which AP barges. He grabs the ball off the floor and then freezes at the looks he's getting from the Weasley women.)

AP: Sorry. Forgot how much torque a Beater could give a ball.

Molly: What on earth are you lot doing in there?

AP: Aussie Rules Quidditch. (to the still blank looks) You basically got a dark room, a glowing ball and you peg it at each other as hard as you can.

Molly: Well, that's the daftest idea I've ever heard--

Ginny: And I want to play!

AP: (big grin, handing her a Beater's bat) Here's your "broomstick"!

(Ginny grins back, grabs the bat and runs into the darkened sitting room, with AP right behind her. Molly looks scandalised.)

(Scene: Weasley kitchen. AP is sitting at the table, poring over a large book. Lynn is sitting across from him, lacing her boots. Daria walks in, shrugging into her coat, and AP slams the book, looking disgusted.)

AP: This sucks. Don't they have any of this crap on CD-ROM?

Daria: Would you be able to use it on your computer anyway?

AP: Yeah, well, you try getting white-out off a computer screen. It's wrecked! And I can't ask Uncle Arthur to replace it because even if he knew what to look for and how to buy ... well, anything in the normal world, he couldn't afford it!

Lynn: Would it help if I promised to replace the machine out of my trust fund?

AP: Aw, c'mon, Purple Peril; I mean, it's nice of you and all that, but I couldn't... (Lynn glares at him; he stops, blushing and a little afraid) Uh ... eee ... I...

Daria: I believe the words you're groping for are "thank you".

AP: Yeah. Uh. Eee. I...

(Enter Jane, Fred, George, Ginny and Molly.)

Molly: Now, dears, Arthur won't be able to join us for this shopping trip; something about a necklace with a minor rash curse in it going to a pawn shop in Electric Avenue. Wizards can be very petty... (when Fred and George snicker) And it's not funny, you two! And if I ever hear of you doing anything like that...

Ginny: Mum, you should explain about Floo Powder. Remember when Harry wound up in Knockturn Alley that time...

Molly: Oh dear, we'd better not have that happening again. Ginny, you go first and show them, would you?

(Ginny graps a pinch of Floo Powder from the pot by the fireplace, chucks it into the fire and steps in.)

Ginny: (loud and clear) Diagon Alley!

(Ginny vanishes. Fred goes next as Daria looks green and Jane reaches for her sketch pad with the speed of a gunslinger.)

Jane: Wow.

Daria: That's not the exclamation I'd use.

Ron: (as George goes) You and Lynn might want to take your glasses off, Daria. Harry had his broken last time.

Molly: Why don't you go next, Daria dear?

(Daria pockets her glasses, nervously takes a pinch of the Floo Powder, and tosses it into the fireplace. Then she steps in.)

Daria: (very deliberate) Di. Ag. On. Al. Ley.

Molly: (as Daria vanishes) Very good, dear! Jane?

(Jane reluctantly puts her sketchpad away, takes a pinch of Floo Powder and approaches the fireplace. As she does, Lynn and AP share a look.)

Jane: (OS) Diagon Alley!

(Molly turns to Lynn and AP.)

Molly: AP dear?

AP: Ladies first.

Molly: Lynn, then?

Lynn: He said ladies first.

(Molly looks at her a little strangely, but takes her turn at the floo. When she goes, Lynn and AP smirk.)

AP: (obviously practicing his innocent act) She went just ahead of me; I don't know what could've happened! (beat) Hey, y'think she accidentally went down Knockturn like that Harry kid?

Lynn: (practicing too; and she's better) I got a mouthful of soot and was coughing a bit. Guess I wasn't clear enough. (With that, she grabs a pinch of Floo Powder and chucks it into the fire) Knockturn Alley!

(As Lynn vanishes, AP looks at the fire, which is burning a little low. He piles some more wood on and looks at it critically again. Satisfied, he goes for the Floo Powder.)

(Scene: Diagon Alley. Daria, Jane and AP are in front of Fortean Florescue's ice cream parlour, nibbling at small cones.)

Daria: And you really expected anyone to believe that?

AP: Well, it fooled Aunt Molly...

Daria: Fine. And you really expected anyone who isn't unbelievably naïve to believe that?

Jane: She could have at least let me in on it. It could have been great drawing material in there!

Daria: And you haven't got enough artistic inspiration to last you for the next thirty years? I mean, look at this place.

(Pan around at Daria's orders. The white architechture and gleaming brass doors of Gringotts dominate the alley. Cauldrons of every size and metal gleam in the sun. Wizards and witches in brightly coloured robes mill about, carrying bags and boxes. It's bright and colourful and very beyond the realm of Muggle experience. It's very easy in the light of that to see Daria's point.)

Jane: Okay ... I'm just planning to live another seventy years, at least.

(Daria rolls her eyes. Lynn approaches from around a corner; she looks dirty and a little shaken.)

AP: So how was it?

Lynn: Take one of the worst nightmares you've had, marry it up with The Fall of the House of Usher and throw in a little Lovecraft for seasoning.

Jane: And you didn't let me in on it?

(Without a word, Lynn throws a small yellow box at Jane. She examines it -- it's a disposable camera. Jane beams.)

Lynn: It wasn't any fun without any money anyway. Come on.

Jane: It's not going to be as easy as using an ATM, is it.

Daria: Knowing the wizard world, it's not. But console yourself with the fact that it will be more impressive to look at.

(Scene: Gringotts. Lynn and Daria lead the way into the bank and Jane and AP follow along. Daria, Jane and AP stop dead when they notice the Gringott staff.)

Daria: Goblins. (beat) Actual goblins.

(Jane has just pulled out her sketchpad until AP grabs her by the arm.)

AP: Make with the memory storage and do the drawing later.

(The trio move towards the tellers, where Lynn is showing one of the goblins a token she's wearing around her neck -- it's a silver disk embossed with the emblem of a striking falcon.)

Griphook: Ah, Ms Smythe. You're here about the domestic accounts -- vaults 745 through 748. Right this way, please...

Daria: (facefault) Four vaults of this wizard money?

Lynn: No, more like one and a half. Vault 745 is mine. Vaults 747 and 748 are for the four of us to use for however long we're at Hogwarts.

Jane: Funny; I don't remember filling in any scholarship application forms.

AP: Are you complaining?

Daria: And ... vault 746?

(In response, Lynn just digs through a pocket and produces a small pewter disc on a pewter chain. That disc is also embossed with a falcon. Daria looks at Lynn in shock as Lynn presses it into Daria's hand.)

Lynn: Come on. Let's not keep the goblin waiting. (beat) Oh, one thing. Could you transfer about a quarter of the contents of vault 745 to the Weasleys' vault?

Griphook: Certainly, Ms Smythe. Let me just get the appropriate forms and a quill.

Daria: (sees what Lynn's doing and likes it) Make it two.

(As she says this, the Weasley clan approach. Griphook nods and moves along the counter.)

Molly: Hello, dears. Is there a problem with your vaults?

Lynn: No, just moving some gold around. I felt it necessary to pay my recent tutors.

Molly: Oh, that's really not necessary, dear; we were glad to have you...

(Griphook returns with two quills and two rolls of parchment. As Daria and Lynn unroll them to have a look, Fred and George move behind Daria and Lynn respectively and peer over their shoulders. They see the amount being transferred, presumably, because they nearly keel over with the shock.)

Fred: Ginny! Ron! Come look at this!

George: This makes our Galleon Prize Draw win look like chicken feed! Wow; cheers, you two...

(Ron moves next to George; Ginny stands on tiptoe to see over Fred's shoulder. Molly comes up behind them, stern.)

Molly: No, dears; it's most kind of you to think of us but... (she sees the amounts as well, stops dead) Oh my.

Daria: We're glad to do it, Mrs Weasley. And believe me -- I might take no for an answer, but I'm not sure Lynn knows the meaning of the word.

Lynn: Sure I do. When it's me using it.

(With a flourish, Lynn signs her name to the parchment and hands it to Griphook. Daria does the same, minus the flourish. Molly looks from one look-alike to the other, speechless.)

Griphook: Now, you'll be wanting vault 747 to start with? For your school things. Someone will be with you in a moment, Mrs Weasley.

(Griphook leads Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP off somewhere. AP looks back, then awkwardly jogs back to the stunned Weasleys.)

AP: Uh ... you might not know to do this but ... never mention that to Purple Peril again. She doesn't like people throwing it in her face that she's ... y'know... nice sometimes. If you want, just think of it like you're my family and she takes care of her own.

(Molly nods a little spastically.)

Jane: (OS) Come on, AP!

(AP grins at the Weasleys and jogs off again. The Weasleys exchange looks. Then Fred and George grin.)

Fred: A Nimbus 2001?

George: Nah; Malfoy's got one of them. 2000 will do.

Molly: Fred! George!

(They fall to bickering.)

(Scene: Vault 747, ext. Two carts wheel to a stop in front of the vault doors; Griphook is with Lynn and Jane in the lead car while AP shares the following one with Daria. Jane, Lynn and AP look like kids at an amusement park. Daria, however, just looks very, very sick.)

AP: (slightly grossed out) You're putting these jeans in the wash, Erudite Emerald.

Daria: (weakly) Sorry.

(Lynn, meanwhile, is fitting her pendant into a slot in the wall near the door. The door opens, and they all peer inside. It's huge and its contents are predominantly gold. There are just no words, as evidenced by the looks on the faces of the gang.)

AP: Eeeeeeeeeeeee...

Daria: It's school money. I take it our fees are coming out of this?

Jane: Are theirs this size?

Griphook: Ever so slightly larger, actually.

Daria: (weak smile) Not anymore, they're not.

Lynn: Come on; let's collect some money and get out of here. We have a lot to get before we meet Ron again.

AP: What, like our own wands?

Jane: If they have Quik Quotes Quills, I want to see what else they've got for art supplies.

Daria: I'm interested in magic texts myself.

Lynn: There's something else we have to get. And given the nature of the shopping, we should probably get it over with first.

Jane: Come on, Lynn; it can't be that bad.

(Lynn raises an eyebrow at Jane, who begins to doubt her own words.)

(Scene: Madame Malkin's. Daria's up on the platform being fitted for her Hogwarts robes. Her face is miserably deadpan.)

Daria: It's the bridesmaid's dress all over again. (beat; slightly evil smirk) But at least I'm not suffering alone this time...

(She looks over to the other platform, where Jane is looking decidedly less than thrilled.)

Jane: I will kill you. And bury your body in these robes.

Daria: Like it'd make a difference. I have to wear them anyway.

Jane: True. (beat) Solidarity?

Daria: Humiliation in numbers.

Jane: I thought that was safety in numbers.

Daria: We're going to a school for juvenile witches, run by a nation that gave us Monty Python. And you expect safety.

(short pause)

Jane: I really hate it when you're right.

(Pan to the other side of the room, where AP and Lynn are waiting in chairs.)

AP: Floor-length robes? Jeez, I have enough trouble walking in pants!

Lynn: You think you've got it bad. I wear this crap, and that's months of street-fighting training down the drain.

AP: (blink) I don't wanna know, do I?

Lynn: (lost in her train of thought) I mean, imagine trying to execute a flying kick to someone's windpipe in this thing?

AP: Purple Peril? Take the Fifth before you scare me. (beat) Never mind, too late. Just ... take it anyway, huh?

(Lynn looks at him, shrugs and shuts up. AP ponders that with a slightly nervous look. Daria and Jane finally step down from the fittings.)

Daria: Let me out of here.

Lynn: Wands next?

Daria: Suits me, so long as it's nothing to do with clothing. I felt too ... much like Quinn.

Jane: Here's a thought that's guaranteed to cheer you up.

Daria: Jane ... this is me.

Jane: Even you'd get a kick out of this. (beat) Quinn ... wearing ... this stuff.

(Short pause, then they all start laughing and remove themselves from the shop as Madame Malkin gives them an odd look.)

(Scene: Ollivander's. Enter TFJM, who look around at the near-empty shop.)

Jane: Wow. (pulls sketchpad) It's like something in a Gothic horror story.

Lynn: 'The Telltale Heartstring', maybe.

(Jane ignores that, content to sketch the room. Daria groans. AP just looks confused.)

AP: Not even gonna ask this time. (beat) Is there a bell we ring to get some help, or what?

(Ollivander appears as if from nowhere behind them.)

Ollivander: Good morning.

Daria/AP: Gah!

(Daria, Lynn and AP spin round to face Ollivander. Jane keeps sketching, oblivious.)

Lynn: Hello. You must be Mr Ollivander. Your reputation precedes you.

Ollivander: Ah, yes, you would be Miss Smythe. I remember your father -- twelve inches, cedar, supple ... heartstring of Hebridean Black.

AP: (impressed) Guess I'm not the only one with a memory...

Ollivander: And this must be the half-blood Weasley. Your mother was Carol, was she not?

AP: Yeah... Wait, she was in here?

Ollivander: (nods) Six inches, rainbow eucalyptus, pleasantly bendy, hair from the mane of a particularly friendly unicorn mare. Does she still find use for it in the Muggle world?

AP: (sad) Not lately.

Ollivander: A pity. It's a fine wand. (sees Daria) Another Smythe?

Daria: (reluctant) So it would appear.

Ollivander: The resemblance is uncanny. How remarkable. (nodding to Jane) And this young lady?

Jane: (absent nod; still sketching) Yeah hi.

Ollivander: I believe I have the perfect wand for this one. Eleven inches, balsa, somewhat whippy, phoenix feather. (removes it from a shelf, extends it to the still oblivious Jane) Try it out, if you would...

(Jane absently sticks her pencil behind her ear, takes the wand and gives it a wave. It gives off a shower of red sparks and Jane drops her pad in shock.)

Jane: Whoa! (looks at wand speculatively) Hey, can I carve designs on this thing?

Ollivander: (taken aback) I wouldn't advise it.

Jane: Paint?

Ollivander: (sniffily) If you must...

Jane: Cool!

(Jane stuffs the wand in her pocket, retrieves her pad, takes up her pencil and resumes sketching. Ollivander watches her for a moment with slightly offended eyes.)

Ollivander: Now... (nods to Daria) ...Miss Smythe?

Daria: (firm) Morgendorffer.

Ollivander: (*blink*) Yes. Well. Perhaps oak ... (rummages on the shelves) and unicorn hair? Nine inches, somewhat rigid... Give it a wave.

(Daria does so. Absolutely nothing happens.)

Daria: Uh...

Ollivander: No? Not to worry. Let me see ... definitely unicorn hair ... something inflexible, I think... (Daria scowls at the ephasis on 'inflexible') Perhaps mahogany, ten inches...

(He hands her the new wand. She waves it. Nothing.)

Daria: (dry) Perhaps not.

Ollivander: Hmm ... a difficult customer... (Daria scowls at him again.) Ah! White birch, seven inches, nice and sturdy. (hands the wand over) Give it a try.

(She does. Green and orange sparks hit the wall inches from Ollivander's head. He does not flinch.)

Daria: (slight smirk) There.

Ollivander: (dry) Indeed. (turns to Lynn) Miss Smythe?

Lynn: (somewhat reluctant) Cullen.

Ollivander: ('not this again...') As you say. Now ... dragon heartstring would be best -- Hungarian Horntail, I think...

Lynn: (dry) You flatter me.

Ollivander: Preferable to your aunt's wand, Miss. Eight inches, rosewood, Veela hair, the vain madam. I don't even normally use it, but nothing else would suit her... In any case, try this. Silver birch, nine inches, a bit bendy.

(Lynn takes the wand and waves it. Purple and silver sparks fly.)

AP: Way to go, Purple Peril!

Lynn: (blush; attempt at monotone) I made with the sparks. Go me.

Ollivander: Now for you, young man. Perhaps something in pine ... eleven inches, core of phoenix feather.

(Ollivander hands him the wand. AP waves it, squinting in anticipation of sparks. There are none. His shoulders slump.)

AP: Aww ... nuts.

Ollivander: Never mind. Let's see ... perhaps Douglas fir ... unicorn hair ... ten inches, springy.

(AP waves it; nothing.)

Daria: I have a bad feeling about this, for some reason.

Jane: You had to say that, right?

(Dissolve to: some time later. AP is surrounded by most of the wands in the shop. Ollivander seems to be taking this in stride but AP looks disappointed and the three girls look bored. AP waves yet another wand and yet again, nothing happens.)

Lynn: Ohfortheloveof...

AP: What do you want from me, Purple Peril? I want this over with as much as you do!

Ollivander: Don't be discouraged, young McIntyre. It took Harry Potter about this long before he found his wand...

AP: Yeah, but he finally found one, didn't he? Oh man, I think I'd have better luck just making my own damn wand!

(Ollivander looks shocked, probably at AP's language ... then gets a funny look in his eyes.)

Ollivander: Perhaps you would, at that. And perhaps I can help you with the process. It so happens I've a number of potential shafts and cores in the back awaiting assembly.

AP: Uh ... sure. I guess. Thanks. (beat) Mr O? You okay?

Ollivander: Hm? Oh. I'll be all right, young McIntyre. I was merely remembering ... when I was old enough to have my own wand, I came into the shop like any other customer. But I couldn't find a wand that suited me either, so I decided to make one of my own. The moment I laid eyes on it ... on my own creation ... that was when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. That was when the family knew this shop would stay in Ollivander hands when my uncle passed on.

AP: (dubious) Uh ... right. Good for you, sir.

Jane: So ... what? Do the rest of us just wait around?

Lynn: Not a good idea. We do have other shopping to take care of, after all.

Ollivander: Ah. Yes. Quite right.

AP: Go on, guys! I'll be fine! (beat) I think.

(Scene: Ollivander's, ext. Daria, Jane and Lynn step out, looking bemused. Lynn pulls out her wand and looks at it.)

Daria: He was good, wasn't he?

Lynn: Mmm. (beat) Both birch. Wonder if that means anything.

Jane: (*shrug*) I dunno. Balsa for an artist is so cliche. (beat) So where to next?

Lynn: We're supposed to meet Ron and his friends outside Fortescue's. So let's go.

(They head off.)

Daria: I'm still having a hard time believing this. I mean, not only am I a witch, but I'm one with an oversized Gringotts vault.

Lynn: I guess that's where the trust fund came from. I wonder what the dollar/Galleon conversion rate is...

Jane: Hey, who's that with Ron?

(They look. Standing in front of Fortescue's are Ron, a small boy with black hair and glasses, and a girl with bushy hair. [I don't think we need an introduction...])

Lynn: One way to find out. (she steps towards them)

Ron: Heya, Daria, Lynn, Jane! Meet Hermione Granger and Harry Potter.

Lynn: So you're the Boy Who Lived. Dad talked about you some. I won't ask you to show me the scar, you'll be glad to hear.

Harry: Hello. Ron's told us about you. Your dad's an Auror, isn't he?

Lynn: One of the best currently in action, apparently.

Herm: Oh, it must be fascinating to hear these things from the Auror's point of view. Professor Moody wouldn't tell us anything about his Auror days ... well, that was mainly because he wasn't an Auror at all, as it turned out...

Daria: We heard ... something about that. Nice to meet you, Hermione.

Herm: Likewise. So what's America like? I mean, I've read all about it, but the books are no substitute for actually having experienced the culture first-hand.

Ron: Never thought I'd hear her say that.

Herm: Oh, shut up, Ron!

Harry: So how've you liked the Burrow?

Lynn: Well, the gnomes are interesting. Oh, I found an alternative to the traditional degnoming.

Ron: She was practicing Wingardium Leviosa...

Herm: Oh dear. Did you get an owl from the Ministry?

Ron: That's the best bit, Hermione. We got special dispensation from the Ministry so we can teach them the things they'll need to know from the fifth year. We got to use magic all summer!

Herm: Really? Why on earth would the Ministry do that?

Ron: Who cares?

Lynn: Anyway, Harry, heard from the twins you play a mean game of Quidditch. And have a fairly nice broom.

Harry: Fairly nice?

Lynn: Sorry. Haven't seen it firsthand so I can't really give a decent opinion.

Harry: The Ireland side won the Quidditch World Cup on Firebolts.

Lynn: Hmm. May have to pick myself up one, if only for pickup games.

(Harry, Ron and Hermione look a little confused at the terminology.)

Jane: American term. Means a casual game with a team picked up off the street.

Harry: Lynn, a Firebolt's kind of ... expensive for a casual broom...

Ron: (fervent) She can afford it. Trust me.

Harry: Well, I could show you Quality Quidditch supplies; you could probably pick one up there.

Lynn: Sounds good. We have some time to kill before AP comes out of Ollivander's anyway.

Herm: Ron tells me you like to read, Daria. I could show you around Flourish and Blotts, if you like. They have some exceptional books on magical theory.

Daria: Sounds good to me.

Ron: Oh, not another one! We're on holiday and you're reading magical theory!

Jane: While they're doing that, maybe you could find me an art supply store or something? My paints got squashed on the plane.

Ron: Sure! Anything but Flourish and Blotts. I'll have to be in there enough for the set books.

Harry: So how about we meet in Flourish and Blotts in about an hour? That'll give us all time to get through everything.

(They nod and separate -- Harry goes off with Lynn, Hermione with Daria and Ron with Jane.)

(Scene: Quality Quiddich Supplies, ext. There's another crowd formed in the window. Harry and Lynn approach.)

Lynn: What's the commotion over there?

Harry: Dunno. Maybe there's a new racing broom out. Year before last, the Firebolt was the top of the range model for broomsticks, but I suppose they came up with something new this year.

(They shoulder their way towards the front and stop when they see an absolutely gorgeous broomstick -- it makes Harry's Firebolt look a little frumpy. They turn their attention to the conversation an older couple are having as they look at the broom.)

Older Gentleman: ...Stormfront model. Word has it that the Tree-Skimmers will be riding those in favour of the old Firebolt this year.

Harry: (slightly scandalised) 'Old' Firebolt?

Elderly Lady: I think that might give the Tree-Skimmers the edge on the competition at this year's Whizz Hard Invitational.

Older Gentleman: I don't know, my dear. I still think the Kenmare Kestrels stand a chance.

Elderly Lady: Oh, come now, Richard, the only team the Kestrels could beat this year are the Chudley Cannons.

Lynn: (interested) The Stormfront, huh...?

Harry: Lynn, have you ever ridden a broom before?

Lynn: Fred and George's Cleansweep Fives.

Harry: A real racing broom is nothing like a Cleansweep. Sometimes they get outstripped by butterflies.

Lynn: A racing broom can't be any worse than Amethyst. (to the look) I have a motorcycle. A racing bike, to be exact.

Harry: But that's... (Lynn's already in the shop) ...on the ground...

(Harry wanders in after her, looking a little dazed.)

(Scene: Flourish and Blotts, ext. Ron is helping Jane dust a great deal of what looks like chalk dust off her shirt.)

Ron: I'm really sorry about that. You look that much like a Muggle, someone should have warned you...

Jane: I go into art supply stores, I attack the art supplies. They're not supposed to attack back!

AP: (OS) Hey ho, Art-Smart Scarlet! Whoa; snowball fight?

(Jane and Ron look up to see AP staggering towards them, looking just a little green.)

Jane: Attack of the Killer Erasers. What happened to you?

Ron: Did you get your wand in the end? They said you were having some trouble...

AP: More like I made my wand.

(He digs into a bag, pulls out a long thin box and pulls out what looks like an ornate beechwood table leg. Ron and Jane stare.)

Ron: You made it? Weird!

Jane: Couldn't you have done something about the shape?

AP: If I'd let him work it, I'd have been all day and there's this stupid book list. Maybe you can show me later?

Jane: Sure. If he won't let me carve designs into mine, at least I get to get creative with yours...

Ron: Just be careful how much you take off; you don't want the core to get exposed. (beat) What's in the core of yours, anyway?

AP: (going greener) Don't ask. You don't wanna know and I don't wanna think about it.

(AP stalks towards the door of Flourish and Blotts. Jane and Ron look at each other, shrug and follow.)

(Scene: Flourish and Blotts, int. Daria and Hermione are browsing the shelves; they're already holding their set books. Jane, Ron and AP enter and look around.)

Jane: Wow.

AP: Jeeeeeez. This place just scares me.

Jane: I'm sure Daria knows a word for phobia of the written word...

AP: Not just! I mean, think how much less space it'd all take up soft copy! Less paper, too, and less ink! Think of the plantlife!

Jane: Eco-friendly speeches? From the guy who's rumoured to have poisoned two acres of wheatfield when he was thirteen?

AP: Hey, no one can pin that on me! (beat) Anyway, it was more like three.

Ron: (looking around desperately) Daria? ...I can't believe I'm saying this ... Hermione? A little help?

(Hermione turns from her browsing and joins the group.)

Herm: So what were you all discussing?

AP: Farming.

Jane: Slash and burn agriculture.

Ron: (wanting a subject change) Got the set books?

Herm: Of course! Oh, and we found some marvellous books on theory for extra reading...

Ron: I don't believe you, Hermione! I think I'd rather hear about AP poisoning the wheat crops of America!

Herm: What? Oh, AP, you never...

AP: Jeez, it wasn't mass murder or anything! I was just fooling with chemically-made crop circles and...

(Daria rounds a corner, laden down with books)

Daria: Not the wheatfield fiasco again.

AP: Hey, don't blame me for bringing it up; it was her! (He tries to point accusingly at Jane and knocks over a large stack of books.) Ohhhh ... damn.

Herm: Erm ... shall we find you copies of the set books? We know where to look now, after all, and...

Ron: Well, shouldn't we wait for Harry and Lynn?

Jane: We may be here awhile if we do. Trust me; if Lynn's as serious about her broomsticks as she is about her motorcycles, she'll be in there all day.

Daria: Well, why don't we get...

Lynn: (OS) I think I'm going to like this place.

(Enter a slightly breathless Harry)

Harry: Sorry. We got in awhile ago but Lynn found the Curses and Jinxes section and ... (as he sees all faces bar Hermione's go deathly pale) ... have I said something?

(A moment's tense silence.)

AP: (at the top of his lungs) DROP IT, PERIL!

(He, Daria and Jane run out of shot. Harry and Hermione look really confused.)

Ron: Y'know Fred and Geroge? (They give bewildered nods) They take lessons from her.

(That drives the message home; the confusion in their faces is transfigured into horror.)

(Scene: Flourish and Blotts, ext. Lynn is forcibly dragged out the door by her companions, grumbling.)

Lynn: There wasn't time to get half what I wanted...

Jane: (looking at the spines of Lynn's books) "Just About Forgivable Curses"; "Formula for Revenge -- a Potion Master's Guide"; "The Midas Touch and Other Inconveniences"...?

(Jane gives Lynn a bewildered look.)

Lynn: (*sigh*) You cast them on other people, Jane.

AP: Hey, can I borrow that Formula one?

Harry: (to Ron and Hermione) Good job we're used to dodging death at Hogwarts' by now.

Herm: Was there anything else you wanted to get?

Harry: You might want an owl. They're always useful. Especially if you don't want to borrow the school owls for anything. You're welcome to borrow Hedwig, but she's not any good for secrecy; snowy owls aren't native around here.

Ron: And you can borrow Pig if you like, but he's useless. Little show-off.

Lynn: Might be an idea. Daria?

Daria: Well, they used to call me one in grade school. Only fitting that I own one of the damn things.

AP: I'm gonna find some food. After the whole wand and potion ingredients thing, I think I can just about eat.

Lynn: Meet you guys out in front of ... Eeylops, is it?

Harry: They have the best selection, yeah.

Ron: And if you go into the Menagerie, you might wind up with some crazed ginger furball.

Herm: Don't talk about Crookshanks that way!

(The two stride off, squabbling. Harry shrugs and heads off after them, followed by Jane and AP. Lynn looks at Daria.)

Lynn: They called you owl?

Daria: Uh-huh. (beat) Tell me you never got "misery chick".

Lynn: Not at school. Summer camp.

(slight pause)

Daria & Lynn: Anyway. Owls. (beat) Oh, CHRIST.

(They walk away before they do the unison again.)

(Scene: Eeylops Owl Emporium. Lynn enters, Daria right behind.)

Lynn: I'm thinking something fairly big. I mean, I don't know what I'm going to wind up sending ... or who I'll be sending it to, but AP might have use for it...

(There is the sound of heavy flapping wings, and a great horned owl flies out of the back room. It lands on Lynn's head and hoots once.)

Daria: (stunned) Well ... it stands proudly and proclaims 'I am'?

(The owl screeches, then flutters onto Lynn's shoulder and turns its head to look at her. She stretches out her arm and it moves out onto her wrist, still looking at her.)

Lynn: Hello.

(The owl hoots once, flaps its wings and settles.)

Daria: It sure looks ... comfortable.

(Enter the witch who runs the Emporium.)

Witch: Oh, hello. Sorry if he's been of any bother to you...

Lynn: (still locking eyes with the owl) No ... no bother. I was looking for an owl anyway.

(Daria reaches out for the great horned owl, who beats its wings threateningly at her. Daria backs off very quickly.)

Daria: I ... think I might pick one of my own. This one ... seems to like you. (beat) Got anything ... less intimidating?

Witch: Well, we have a few Scops owls ... they don't sell very well, but they're loyal. A little flighty on occasion, but...

Lynn: Daria, you sure?

Daria: Sure. It'd be nice to have an owl of my own anyway.

(Scene: Eeylops', ext. Harry, Ron and the others are standing outside, leafing through books or examining their wands. Daria and Lynn exit the Menagerie. The great horned owl is still resting on Lynn's shoulder. Daria has a small birdcage in which a small grey owl bats around like a demented ping pong ball.)

Lynn: He wouldn't be caged. Guys, meet Shylock.

Daria: I don't know if this thing can be named.

AP: (peering in at the Scops) Hey, it's a winged Dustpuppy! Hey ho, Dustpuppy!

Daria: AP, I'm not naming it ... what are you...?

(AP is opening the cage and has stuck a hand inside.)

Lynn: (covering her eyes) I can't look...

(AP comes out holding the owl, who hoots happily.)

AP: (cheery) Friendly little Dustpuppy, aren't ya?

(The Scops hoots cheerfully as if in reply.)

Lynn: I don't believe he still has all his fingers. Usually, animals hate him...

Daria: I am not naming him Dustpuppy. (beat) He doesn't have feet, for one thing.

AP: Feet, talons, same diff.

(Daria looks from the owl, who is hooting cheerfully, to AP, who's stroking the owl's head, to Lynn, who shrugs, to Jane, who smirks.)

Daria: (sigh) Put... (beat; resigned) ...'Dustpuppy' back in his cage and let's get out of here.

Herm: Did you get everything?

Jane: Wands...

Daria: Books...

AP: Potion goop...

Lynn: Those godforsaken robes...

Jane: Quills, parchment, sundry art supplies...

Daria: Cauldrons, scales, owls -- one frightening and one feebleminded...

Lynn: Gloves, telescopes, top-of-the-line racing broom...


AP: I think that's it. Y'know, I used to hate shopping...

Harry: Are you staying at Ron's with us?

Jane: (dry) Of course. I've always wanted to see a house bust a seam.

Lynn: We're staying with my aunt -- we have shopping of a Muggle nature to do.

AP: We can meet at ... where're we meeting?

Ron: King's Cross. Let's meet outside the building for platforms 9 through 11.

Herm: Do enjoy London -- I hear there's a fascinating exhibit at the Natural History Museum...

Jane: Oh, come on. We managed to do nothing really educational for two whole weeks last time! You really think we're going to start now?

(Hermione looks sheepish and indignant all at once.)

(Scene: Camden market. Daria's standing by a rickety-looking flight of stairs. AP's sitting on the stairs, tapping away at a shiny new laptop.)

Daria: Are you sure this counts as school equipment?

AP: It's a computer. What school doesn't like computers for research and stuff?

Daria: A school where half the students don't even understand the rudiments of electric typewriters.

AP: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wizards've gotta have URLs same as everyone else.

Daria: Says the man who only bought that thing because his recent host ruined the screen with white-out.

(A small owl with a letter in his beak, recognisable as Pigwidgeon, flies over and hits AP in the head. As AP winces, Pig hits the ground, gets to his 'feet', staggers a little, then bites AP hard on the leg. AP yelps and Pig flies off again, leaving the letter behind. Daria picks it up and looks at it.)

Daria: Definitely for you.

AP: Jeez, what was your first clue? (grabs it, tears it open, reads aloud but not ahead) "AP, mate, you're brilliant! Mum's about forgiven you for nearly burning the house down but careful of any owls from Percy -- he may send a Howler once the burns heal. But now we've got Ashwinder eggs! Cheers! Gred and Forge." (beat; looking up) Come again?

Daria: What's an Ashwinder?

Lynn: (coming down the stairs) According to Newt Scamander, it's sort of akin to a salamander. You leave a wizard fire with something like Floo Powder in it burning too long, you get Ashwinders. They crawl out, lay eggs and die. The eggs incubate really fast -- and I mean "spontanous combustion" fast -- within a few hours. But if you freeze them in time, they're useful for things like love potions. Why?

AP: (realising; guiltily) So ... if you ... maybe ... were the last one to go somewhere by Floo ... and you made sure the fire was burning real good before you left...

Daria: ...You'd accidentally make Ashwinders. And nearly burn down the Weasley house if not for Percy.

(Lynn and Daria just glare at AP, who probably isn't sure what to be more scared about -- the promise of their combined wrath or the eerie exactness with which that glare reproduces itself.)

AP: Uh ... I guess a distraction wouldn't work...?

Lynn: It'd have to be a damn good one...

Jane: (OS) Hey, I could finally afford the Jane Jetson dress!

(All three of them look up. The dress is mostly made of the same foam rubber they use to make those novelty "#1" giant hands for sporting events, and looks ridiculous. Daria and Lynn look up at her in astonishment, then start chuckling, trying to hide it behind their hands. AP, on the other hand, gets up and walks up to a slightly irate Jane.)

AP: Thank you. Really. Thank you.

(Then he starts laughing too. Jane puts her hands on her hips, indignant.)

Jane: What the hell's so funny?

(That just makes them all laugh harder.)

(Scene: Lorna's kitchen. Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP are slumped over their breakfasts, not saying anything. Packed trunks are sitting just visible in the living room nearby. Lorna, dressed in a smart pinstriped skirt suit with a very short skirt and the quintessential Doc Marten three-holes, charges in and stands in the kitchen doorway, hands on her hips.)

Lorna: All right, ladies and gentleman, you have a day ahead of you and it starts now. Finish brekky and let's get a move on.

Jane: (disbelieving) 'Brekky'?

Lorna: It's a British thing, never mind, we need to get you off to the station so quick-chop let's go...

Daria: Where do we have to be again?

Lorna: You won't know as I haven't said but you'll be meeting the Hogwarts Express at Platform Nine and Three Quarters and...

AP: Nine and Three-Quarters? Why not Platform Pi?

Lynn: Because there's no barrier between platform 3 and 4.

Jane: Non sequitur. Fifteen-love.

Lynn: Stop with the numbers. You're making me dizzy.

Lorna: You'll see when we get there, now come on, you lot, or we'll be late, getting to the platform is complicated and I need to speak to Arthur at any rate.

(Lorna bustles the stunned quartet out the front door.)

(Smash cut to the car park at the back of King's Cross, in front of the entrance to platforms 9-11. Lorna's little yellow van drives up at Ludicrous Speed and screeches to a halt in front of the building. Daria, Jane, Lynn, AP, four trunks and two owl cages are practically thrown out of the van. While they collect themselves, Lorna rolls down her window and leans out.)

Lorna: I don't see Arthur so will you tell him to get in touch by Floo? I was supposed to meet Steven two ... no, sorry, three minutes ago.

(*Vroom*; Lorna's van vanishes in a cloud of exhaust fumes, leaving the quartet blinking dazedly after her.)

Daria: (slowly) And I'm related to that?

Lynn: Surprises me too, sometimes.

Jane: I can't believe some of my family. And not just my brothers and sisters either.

AP: So. Platform Nine and Three Quarters? Barriers? Come again?

Lynn: From all accounts, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts aren't known to ... 'Muggles'. They had to hide the platform.

(Lynn gets interrupted by a caravan of approaching taxis. They stop pretty much in front of the gang and the door of the first cab opens, disgorging one ballistic Crookshanks.)

Herm: (poking her head out the cab) Crookshanks, NO!

(Crookshanks attaches himself to AP's legs and starts climbing him like a tree.)


(Lynn grabs the cat and rips him off the front of AP's jacket, causing AP to scream. Lynn turns to Hermione, still holding the wildly struggling cat around the midsection.)

Lynn: Basket. (to the cat) SHUT UP!

(Crookshanks takes one look at her and makes like a Fuzzy Wuzzy Wee Bit. Hermione makes with the basket; Lynn stuffs the cat into it and slams the lid shut.)

Ron: How'd you do that?

Lynn: You just have to speak their language, that's all.

Ron: (aside to Harry) What, y'mean anything to instill bloody terror?

Lynn: More or less.

(Molly comes over from where she's been overseeing the rest of the taxi unloading.)

Molly: All right, you lot, I packed sandwiches -- no, not corned beef, Ron... Oh, and I packed a few for you all as well.

(She hands brown bags to TFJM, who look at them funny.)

Daria: People's parents make lunches for them?

Jane: I've seen these things in history books.

Arthur: Right; I'll show you lot how to get onto the platform. It can be a bit tricky if you're not used to it.

(Scene: Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Neville, looking a little tearful, is checking his pockets delicately. Then he lifts his hat and feels around under it.)

Neville: I don't believe it! I lost Trevor again!

(AP comes out of the barrier at top speed, loses control of both his trolley and his legs, trips and lands right on top of his speeding trolley and -- CRASH! Once the flying luggage has settled, we see that AP has landed right on top of Neville, with the luggage trolley resting half on top of them. Dustpuppy, hooting madly, frees himself from the wreckage of the broken cage and stuffs himself into AP's pocket.)

Neville: Oww...

AP: Sorry! Uh ... hi!

Herm: (coming out of the barrier herself, with Ron right behind) NEVILLE! (runs over to him) Are you all right?

Ron: Oh. AP, meet Neville Longbottom. Neville, my cousin AP McIntyre. (beat) You two'll get along well...

(Daria and Lynn come through together and look at the carnage.)

Lynn: It could have been worse. There could have been sapient pearwood involved.

AP: You mean that's real too?

Herm: (dismissive snort) Those books are so silly! And of course real magic is nothing like that...

(Fred and George follow.)

Fred: Hey, Lynn, there's someone you must meet. Oi, Lee! We owled you about Lynn, right?

George: She'd be great to have aboard with Weasley's Wizard Wheezes!

(Lynn gets dragged off by Fred and George while AP glares after them. Daria turns to him with a slightly commiserating raised eyebrow.)

AP: Well? What've they got that I haven't got?

Daria: (thinking) Uh ... Methods 26 through 199?

AP: Hey, can I help it if I couldn't put the stuff I came up with first day at Lawndale into words?

Daria: I guess not. But it looks like they can.

(AP sighs. Daria puts a hand on his shoulder for a moment, then goes back to helping with the carnage. Hermione, seeing that too many hands would be a hinderance, turns to Jane, who's just come through the barrier with Ginny.)

Herm: Jane, you should meet Dean Thomas. He's an artist too, you know.

Jane: (interested) Is he cute?

Herm: I never really thought about it, actually. Come decide for yourself?

Jane: Lead on!

(Hermione leads Jane off towards the throng around the big red steam engine and taps Dean on the shoulder.)

Herm: Dean? This is Jane Lane. She's starting in our year at Hogwarts.

Dean: Heya. Pleased to meet you.

Jane: Likewise.

Herm: Jane's something of an artist too, Dean...

Jane: 'Something of'?

Herm: (blushing) Figure of speech.

(Enter Malfoy, smirking at Jane in a "I like the look of this one" sort of way. He steps in front of her, neatly shouldering an annoyed Dean aside.)

Malfoy: Well well, what have we here? Let me take you away from this Mudblood trash and into more ... refined company.

Jane: 'Mudblood'?

Malfoy: Muggle-born. Like (indicates Dean and Hermione) those individuals. Of no wizarding family, and thus by definition worthless.

Jane: And it amazes me how much personality you haven't got. So you're Draco Malfoy. I heard you were bad, but I guess I thought they were exaggerating.

Malfoy: You've been listening to Potter, then. I've warned him about the dangers of keeping low company, but the Muggle-loving goodie-good refuses to listen to sense.

Jane: 'Potter' has the right idea, I think. And I'm a Muggle-born myself, so according to you, I am 'low company'. (beat; looks him over in an assessing way) I suppose, if the looks are rodential, the personality can't be far away. Go find a ferret run.

(With that, she walks away. Applause from the crowd. Malfoy pinkens a little and stares after her, totally gobsmacked.)

Pansy: (approaching from behind) Draco? Who's she?

Malfoy: Just ... just another Mudblood, Pansy. None of your -- of our concern.

(Pansy looks dubious [a girl can tell] but doesn't say anything ... yet. Instead, she lets him usher her away, while Dean and Hermione stare at Jane.)

Jane: What? I was supposed to stand there and take that?

Dean: Nice use of the language!

Jane: (shrug) You want use of the language, you want Daria...

AP: (OS) Hey, Art-Smart Scarlet! We're ready for demarkation! (beat) Uhhhhhh...

Daria: (OS) I think you mean embarkation, AP.

Jane: You want abuse of the language, talk to him.

(With that, she walks off. Dean shoots Hermione a very confused look.)

Herm: I think it'd be easier to let you get to Hogwarts to see for yourself. I'd better go keep an eye on them. Excuse me...

(She walks off in a bit of a hurry. Dean looks after her, then shrugs it off [with at least partial success] and wanders away.)

(Scene: a carriage on the Hogwarts Express. Daria and Harry sit on one side and Harry and Hermione the other. They're chatting amiably, nibbling at Cauldron Cakes and sipping cans of cola that AP obviously brought.)

Harry: I like this. I sometimes finished Dudley's because his weren't cold enough for him.

Herm: Mother and Father never let me drink it. The phosphoric acid does terrible things to your tooth enamel, not to mention the sugar...

Harry: Oh, just enjoy it, Hermione.

(Hermione smiles a little and sips her drink.)

Herm: Do you think you'll miss the Muggle world? I mean, after four years of Hogwarts, I'm getting used to it...

Harry: And I never really enjoyed all the comforts of the Muggle world anyway, what with the cupboard under the stairs.

Daria: Oh, we brought a few of the necessities of our world. Cola, regular paints, playing cards that don't blow up...

AP: Hey, and I got a new laptop for the occasion...

Herm: Oh, AP, I have bad news for you. Nothing electrical works at Hogwarts. There's just too much magic in the air.

AP: But ... but ... how do you write your essays?

Harry: Quill pen and parchment.

AP: H ... h ... h-handwriting?

(AP keels over on the floor of the carriage with a thump. Harry, Ron and Hermione look surprised. Daria just shrugs with resignation.)

Ron: (sigh) Enervate.

(AP sits up with a panicked expression on his face)

AP: (deep breaths) A typewriter? Do I at least get a typewriter?!

Herm: I wouldn't mind, but some of the teachers might feel it's too ... rooted in the Muggle world, I suppose.

AP: You don't understand! I last handwrote an essay in 4th grade!

Daria: Does Hogwarts hold a class in Remedial Penmanship? This sort of thing can't be all that rare...

Herm: Well, if that was the case, they likely would have had Ron in it by now...

Ron: Oi! (beat) Besides, sometimes having nice big handwriting makes the difference between a five-foot-long essay and only a four-footer.

Daria: I guess that works.

AP: But you've seen my handwriting! It looks like ... like ... like...

Daria: Six year old. Turbulent airplane. Poor motor control.

AP: Thank you. (beat) I think. (beat) There's gotta be a way to make my laptop work!

Herm: Oh, cheer up. Until we get to Hogsmeade station, we're mostly on Muggle tracks and not packed as closely together... you might get a couple hours of Solitaire out of it.

AP: I don't do Solitaire. (beat) Or Windows. (beat) Oh my god, my e-mail!

Harry: Active?

AP: (spastic nod) Very.

Daria: AP, how many people are you going to get e-mail from that aren't here?

AP: Let's see ... there's the s_i_w mailing list and my contacts in the warez and cracker world.

Herm: Well, you could owl someone you trust and have them send over anything urgent.

AP: (smirk) RFC1149 in action.

Ron: RFC1149?

AP: Implementation of TCP/IP over avian-based networks. In short, the world wide web by carrier pigeon. Set yourself up on the roof with a bowl of birdseed, and you're a packet sniffer!

Daria: AP...

AP: (on a roll now) Hey, set yourself up on your roof with a shotgun. (mimes firing said shotgun) Blam! Gives a whole new meaning to the term 'packet loss'!

Daria: AP, that's not even funny to me.

AP: (sigh) All I can do is geek humour and no one gets it but me...

Daria: You know, if you're upset about your computer, just think how disappointed Lynn will be when she realises that her CD player doesn't...

Lynn: (OS from the next compartment down) EXCUSE ME?!?

(There is some low muttering -- all four of them are straining to hear but all they can hear is the anxious note in Ron's voice and Jane's grumbling. Then a door is flung open and they hear a piece of plastic and metal getting thrown down the train. AP opens the door a crack and they all peer out to see a Discman lying in the corridor. A further noise alerts them and they stand back as Lynn appears in her own doorway, wand raised. Ron peers behind her nervously.)

Ron: Lynn, I know you're...

Lynn: (pointing the wand at the Discman) Reducto!

(The thing blows up. Everyone just stares.)

Ron: (weakly) ...Upset...

Lynn: (shrug; perfectly calmly) Damn thing never worked right anyway. (beat; noticing the audience) Hi, guys.

(She steps back into the compartment. Ron and AP share a look. AP grins. Ron goggles. And then they both step into their compartments and shut the doors in unison.)

(Scene: Hogsmeade station, night. The train comes to a stop and TFJM, Harry, Hermione, and Ron get out of the car and look around. There aren't very many people left on the platform. Harry et. al look around for Hagrid, looking somewhat confused. TFJM is standing around wondering "Where do we go from here?")

AP: (doing a bad C3P0 impression) Oh, no one to meet us? (Lynn looks at him oddly) What?

Harry: Strange. Hagrid is usually around to greet the first years.

Jane: Think our reputation precedes us?

Fred: Nah. He can't run *that* far anyway.

George: Probably he just didn't wait cos you're not actually first-years.

Fred: Not normal first-years, at least.

George: Not that you could ever be normal anything...

(Dean Thomas wanders up to them, mercifully ending this little double-act.)

Dean: If you're looking for first years, they left on the boats already.

Daria: (flatly) Oh, the pain, the pain.

Jane: Yeah, and I was hoping to get rid of what I had for lunch.

(Dean looks at her strangely, then shrugs and walks off to the carriages, which our heroes see for the first time.)

Jane: So, ground turbulance or sea sickness. Your call.

(They all pause, Daria looks a bit green. The rest of the gang shrug in a "What choice do we have now?" way and walk off camera.)

(Scene: carriage interior. Daria and Lynn are sitting next to each other. Jane and AP are sitting across from them. Daria looks even greener. She's not looking out the window, but the others are -- well, Jane glances out occasionally but the rest of the time, she sketches as best as she can by the dim light of the moon coming through the carriage windows. Camera cuts to outside and moves up above the carriage, and we see why Jane's so avidly sketching; Hogwarts looms impressively before them. Cut back to Lynn in the carriage.)

Lynn: (quietly) "What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune that she sends you to prison hither?" (looks up briefly at Daria [sickly-looking], AP [lost] and Jane [not listening], then sighs) Never mind.

(She goes back to looking out the window. A couple seconds later, she reaches down, grabs an air-sickness bag, and holds her hand offscreen, all while keeping her eyes on the window. We hear the sweet sounds of someone having a vomit. Lynn, still not looking, then brings the bag away from Daria.)

Jane: (still sketching) We should have gotten some dramamine.

AP: Or I could have just made some.

Daria/Lynn: (forceful unison) NO!

(AP looks slightly offended, then shrugs. Lynn picks up the bag again and hands it off screen, still not looking. She takes it back again and folds it up neatly before opening a window with her other hand and throwing it out. She then gives an annoyed sigh.)

(Scene: entrance hall. Entire assemblage walking towards the Great Hall, Ron in the lead. They approach a corridor entrance and Ron pokes his head around the corner ... then draws it back sharply, face white.)

Herm: Ron? Whatever's the matter?

Ron: Snape!

(Lynn shushes him.)

Dumbledore: (OS) I'm sure you'll do a better job with the Defense against the Dark Arts class than has been done in the past.

Ron: Oh no! Snape got Defense Against the Dark Arts!

Harry: Ron, are you sure?

Ron: Well? Who else has hair that black? (Harry raises an eyebrow and points to his own head) Oh, fine, but you think I could mistake Snape after all this time?

Daria: This is a problem why?

Harry: You don't know Snape.

Jane: That goes without saying; we just got here...

AP: Is there going to be dinner? I'm starved.

Lynn: Harry, you think we could get the house elves to cook up an AP special pizza?

Harry: What's on it?

Lynn: Tuna, onions, capers, artichoke hearts, cayenne peppers, shrimp, and extra garlic.

Ron: Don't let Hermione hear you talking about that, or she'll start with that SPEW stuff again.

Harry: For once, I'll agree. Making them cook that would be cruelty.

Jane: Better than making them eat it. Spew is right.

Harry: Well, don't worry too much about that, anyway. There's a big feast tonight.

Ron: Oh, and I'll be able to eat, will I? Not only will we both be in danger of failing Potions, but Defense Against the Dark Arts as well!

Herm: Oh, be reasonable, Ron. Snape can't take both Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts. There'll be a replacement in Potions at least. And maybe whoever takes his place will be easier on poor Neville...

Ron: Not to mention poor Harry...

(Since there's little more to say to that, they just enter the Great Hall.)

(Scene: the Great Hall. At the far end of the Gryffindor table, quite near the door, Harry, Hermione and Ron are alternating their gazes between the Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP, who stand just inside the doorway, deliberately separating themselves from the first years so they don't look totally out of place, and the staff table. Camera moves down the line of the teachers, showing Hagrid, Flitwick, et al... and stops at Dumbledore, who is chatting to a man with longish dark hair. Like the others, we only get a rear view of him.)

Ron: See, I told you it's Snape.

Herm: Are you sure, Ron? It only looks a little like Professor Snape ... he seems less thin, for one thing...

Harry: And his hair's usually greasier-looking.

Ron: So he stuffed himself stupid this summer and washed his hair for a change! I'm telling you, that's Snape!

(Cut to Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP.)

Jane: They sure are in a panic about that Snape guy...

AP: Well, Ron says he's a biased teacher and is always nasty, so I guess I'd panic too, if I knew him.

Daria: From what I've heard, the one time he was acting substitute for Defense Against the Dark Arts, he was insufferable. I can see not being thrilled about it.

Lynn: Well, you can all relax. That's not Snape.

(This draws looks.)

Jane: How the hell do you know that?

Lynn: (a little evasive) Last I heard, Severus Snape wasn't part Chinese.

(We finally get a look at the black-haired man Dumbledore's been talking to as he casts his eyes around the room -- he is indeed of Chinese descent. In fact, he's the same man we saw Lynn talking to in "Love's Labour". His eyes stop on the gang and he smiles a little at them before turning back to Dumbledore. Cut to Harry, Ron and Hermione, who've also seen the face of the man they thought was Professor Snape.)

Herm: (smug) You were saying, Ron?

Ron: (sulky) Shut it, Hermione.

Harry: Cheer up. At least it means that Snape doesn't have Defense Against the Dark Arts.

(Dumbledore stands up and the room goes quiet. Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP instinctively move a little closer to Harry, Ron and Hermione.)

Dumbledore: Welcome to another new year at Hogwarts. Now, as last year, we have some foreign visitors among us, not least our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Please welcome Professor Bishop.

Warlock: Just Warlock. Please.

(There is bewildered applause as the man identified as "Warlock" forgoes standing and just raises a hand in acknowledgement. Pan to Snape, who's just entered -- he sneers maliciously at Warlock but says nothing.)

Dumbledore: Now, if we can begin the Sorting...

(McGonnagall exits and returns with a stool and the Sorting Hat. The first years goggle at it; Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP are less obvious.)

Daria: I can hear Quinn screaming from here.

Jane: It's got a sort of post-apocalyptic feel to it. You know, "I withstood the big nuke and all that scares me now is a pair of scissors..."

AP: It talks?

Harry: Yeah. You put it on and it Sorts you into whatever house it sees you belonging in.

Lynn: I mean, if I went around saying I was a Gryffindor just because some tight-lipped teacher lobbed a pointy hat at me, they'd put me away.

Harry: Sorry?

Lynn: You're British. Surely you've heard of Monty Python...

Harry: Comedians?

Lynn: Among the best.

Harry: Oh, then I wouldn't know. The Dursleys don't have a sense of humour.

(The rip in the Hat's brim opens and it starts to sing ... something rather unexpected.)

Hat: (to the tune of "The Lumberjack Song") o/ I'm a Sorting Hat and I'm okay, I sleep all year, and I sort one day! o/

Dumbledore, McGonagall, & Flitwick: (the latter two looking like they don't quite believe they're having to do this) It's a Sorting Hat and it's okay, it sleeps all year, and it sorts one day!

Lynn: I don't believe this...

Hat: o/ I meet first years, I pick their brains, I find out lots of stuff
Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff? o/

AP: (as the teachers chorus) Guess someone around here heard of Monty Python...

Ron: Is he a Parselmouth or what?

(Lynn and AP just look at him.)

Hat: o/ I meet first years, I read their minds, I tell them where to go
You may be uncertain but I will always know! o/

Herm: My father had a Monty Python album from when he was in college.

Harry: What happened to it?

Herm: Crookshanks ate it.

Lynn: I will hurt that cat.

Hat: o/ I read your mind, I know your hopes, I know just what you dread
You might be amazed, what's in some teachers' he--

Snape: Quietus!

(Silence falls instantly. The entire school stares at Snape, who maintains his imperious demeanour. Dumbledore gives Snape an odd look.)

McGonagall: (slightly wrong-footed) We have a few older students joining us this year, so we thought we'd sort them first. Lane, Jane Amber...

(Jane moves over to the stool and sits down. McGonagall puts the hat on her; it slips over her eyes.)

Hat: (mind-voice heard only to Jane) Hmm ... an artist ... creative ... visionary... You've pushed yourself for your art, haven't you, young lady? (pause as Jane says nothing) Oops. Didn't mean to strike a nerve. But you've dared to put things on canvas that the world's never seen. And facing this Li woman I see ... that's a challenge worthy of any GRYFFINDOR! (pause) I said GRYFFINDOR!

(Suddenly, the Hat hops off her head, over to Snape, and "glares" up at him.)

Jane: A-HEM!

Snape: (doesn't quite roll eyes) Very well. Sonorus.

Hat: (accusatory) I had enough time to think about it. She's a GRYFFINDOR!

(There is applause. Jane joins Harry, Ron and Hermione, who greet her at the table with a smile.)

McGonagall: (going to retrieve the hat) All right then. McIntyre, Andrew Phillip...

(AP tries to step forward, trips over [it would appear to the outside observer] the marble, knocks over the stool and nearly bowls McGonagall over. Laughter from the rest of the school -- good-natured in some areas but a bit nasty from the Slytherins [particularly from the Crabbe, Goyle and Malfoy end of the table].)

AP: (getting up) Sorry, ma'am...

(McGonagall glares at him. He silently 'eep's and rights the stool, plunking himself down on it. McGonagall sets the hat on his head. The following conversation is mind-voice only.)

Hat: Don't worry, lad. That entrance won't count against you. It's what's in your head that matters, not what's holding that head off the floor. Hmm ... an audacious one. Bright enough but not exactly a dab hand with the language...

AP: HEY! (beat) Well, she has all my words!

Hat: Good for her. And you break the rules, I can see that, but only because you hardly notice them. And because of her as well...

AP: (mild cringe; and this comes out loud) Muuuuuh...

Hat: And you've risked your life for her at least once. You're braver than even you know, young man. Now go join your cousins in GRYFFINDOR!

(That last was called out to the crowd, who applaud. AP pulls the Hat off his head and looks up at McGonagall with big puppy eyes.)

AP: Ma'am?

McGonagall: (*blink*) Yes?

AP: What's 'audacious' mean?

(Minor pause as McGonagall looks at him.)

McGonagall: Invest in a dictionary, McIntyre; I'd prefer not interrupt the whole Sorting for a vocabulary lesson. Smythe, Daria Elizabeth Morgendorffer...

Daria: (facefault) Smythe?

Lynn: (*shrug*) At least they kept the 'Morgendorffer'...

(Daria steps up to the stool, sits down, and puts the hat on her head. The entire conversation between Daria and the hat is mind-voice only.)

Hat: Oh my... Bright, yes, terribly, terribly bright -- but so little motivation!

Daria: Excuse me?

Hat: I see anger in there as well -- buried, but it's there and no mistake.

Daria: Repeat. Excuse me?

Hat: Anger at the world for being the way it is, at the people who surrender to it, at yourself for not doing more to change it...

Daria: I've spent my life trying to avoid this kind of cross-examination, you realise...

Hat: Only because you knew nobody'd understand it. Between all the people whose thoughts have been through here, there's not much I haven't seen.

Daria: Comforting. Right. Can we get on with this?

Hat: Yes, yes ... oh ho, what's this? You've done more good than you think, young lady!

Daria: Uh ... by signing up as a conscientious objector to everything?

Hat: Oh, you'd be surprised how much courage it can take to be a conscientious objector. Especially when you get drafted anyway.

Daria: Uh ... right.

Hat: You and your friend had the courage to destroy your own creation rather than see it compromised. That took more nerve than you may ever know.

Daria: Uh...

Hat: And believe me, I know quite a bit about nerve. After all, I used to belong to Godric GRYFFINDOR!

(That last word was shouted to the room at large. Daria pulls the hat off, looks at it speculatively, then hands it to McGonagall. Then she wanders to the Gryffindor table cringing with embarrassment.)

McGonagall: Smythe, Lynn Jaquenetta Cullen...

Lynn: (as she steps forward) Had to be the full name, didn't it.

(She sits down and puts the hat on. Again, conversation in mindspace only [don't you just love being omnicient?].)

Hat: Oh ... you're quite a mixed bag, aren't you?

Lynn: Excuse me?

Hat: Ruthless as Salazar Slytherin himself -- well, maybe not as ruthless, but ruthless in ways that'd make old Serpent-tongue green with envy. (Lynn winces) I'm not finished, dearie. Maybe not as wise as Rowena Ravenclaw, but then, Muggles these days seem to know more about the world. The bits of it they do know about, anyway. (Lynn looks a little offended) What you did to this Li woman showed your cleverness -- not to mention your bravery. You've done a lot of nervy things since you came to Lawndale. And before as well.

Lynn: You think I'd have let that Hutchins jackoff hurt AP?

Hat: He was much bigger than you. Going up against him, even in little ways, showed considerable courage, not to mention loyalty to a friend.

Lynn: Hufflepuff?

Hat: Did I say that? No, I didn't. And that's the point, really -- what I meant about the mixed bag. You've the qualities of all of the Hogwarts Four, just like me. But as yet, I can't quite tell which is uppermost.

Lynn: I am not a hat.

Hat: True, and the students probably wouldn't like you sitting on their heads. (chuckle)

Lynn: (slight smirk) o/` Sit on my face, and tell me that you love me... o/`

Hat: Miss Smythe, please! There are first-years present!

Lynn: So, are you saying I can't be sorted?

Hat: No, I'm only saying it may take a bit longer than usual. Unless you'd like to make a suggestion?

Lynn: Uh... I'm pretty sure that's not my job...

Hat: No, but every little bit helps. Hmm ... that ruthlessness, that disregard for rules that get in your way ... and the name -- "beautiful serpent"...

Lynn: ("oh god" expression) The problem with that is that my only ambition is to remain as unambitious as possible.

Hat: I beg to differ, young lady. In any case, it fits as well as any of the others. As I said, none of them's really an obvious match. Oh dear, this is going to be a difficult choice. Very difficult indeed. I'm really going to have to think on this...

(There is a long pause.)

Lynn: (aloud) This sucks. Can I go now?

(She grabs the Hat by the point and pulls. But the hat will not come off -- it seems to have contracted so that it is stuck where it is, obscuring Lynn's eyes.)

Hat: (it's speaking aloud now too) I let go when I get you sorted, dearie, and not a moment before.

Lynn: Uh ... what's the deal here?

McGonagall: (wide-eyed) This has almost never happened. Not since... (she shoots a sidelong glance at the staff table) Well, a long time ago. (long beat; McGonagall clears her throat) Uh ... I hate to rush you but ... have you quite made up your mind?

Hat: I'll tell you when I know myself, ma'am, don't worry...

(And then the hat just sits there. McGonagall and Dumbledore share a look.)

Dumbledore: Well. It appears the Sorting will have to be ... postponed. The Feast will continue as planned -- please take seats next to your friends and neighbours for the time being. At the end of the Feast, should the Hat remain undecided... (Lynn cringes on her stool) ...the first-years will sleep under the stars of the Great Hall ceiling for the night. Uh, Madame McGovern, would you take Ms Cullen to the hospital wing for tonight?

(Over steps a short, stocky woman with long brown hair. Regular TLAS readers will recognise her as Jan, Lynn's cousin met in "Rue Britannia". Daria, Jane and AP, who have clustered protectively around Lynn, facefault. Jan puts a finger to her lips with a mischievous smirk.)

Jan: Oh, wonderful. Most ludicrous student 'injury' in Merlin-knows-how-many years and Muggins here gets to deal with it.

Lynn: (recognises the voice) Jan?!?

Jan: Well, at least there's nothing wrong with your hearing. Oh, and it's Kestrel here. Or Kes to my friends. Madame McGovern to the rest of the students. So now you know. And I don't have to kill you after all.

Daria: 'Kestrel'?

(Jan [henceforth 'Kes'] vanishes and in her place is a small raptor with silver ring markings around its eyes, much like Kes' glasses. Then she changes back.)

Kes: One of the seven registered Animagi of the century. Is there a problem?

Jane: That ... is too damn cool. Can I learn to change into a cheetah or something here?

Kes: Not in your first proper year, Jane. Now come on, you lot. I take it you wanted to keep her company.

Daria: For as long as we can, yeah.

Lynn: You realise that if you keep showing the freakin' concern, my blushing may combust this stupid Hat.

Hat: Don't even joke!

(Scene: Quidditch pitch. It's incredibly foggy, so that you can only see a few feet in any direction. Lynn stands there, dressed normally but for two exceptions; her purple jacket is bright red, and the T-shirt underneath it is gold. She notices this and looks exasperated.)

Lynn: Jane! Have you been fooling around with Rit-Dye again?

(There's no reply. She looks over her shoulder; Jane, AP, Harry and Hermione are standing there, unmoving. Behind them are some other people, but their features are lost in the mist. Lynn frowns.)

Lynn: Jane? AP? Hello...

Voice: (OS) Crucio.

(The curse hits one of the faceless people behind her; the screaming begins. Lynn turns around and sees three dark cloaked figures standing directly in front of them all. Before anyone can react, the middle figure raises a hand -- it's silver, and in it is clutched a wand -- in Harry's direction.)

Voice: (OS) Avada kedav...

(Lynn doesn't even hesitate -- she throws herself directly in the path of the wand. She sees a flash of green light and...)

(Scene: hospital wing. Lynn sits bolt upright, trying to stifle a scream with both hands ... and the movement makes the Sorting Hat fall off.)

Hat: (sounding rather smug) THAT SETTLES IT! GRYFFINDOR!

(Lynn looks at the hat in some kind of panic. Kes pokes her head in, with a slight smirk.)

Kes: Well. My first effective cure. (beat) Cup of tea?

(Lynn levels that "The world has gone insane and taken you with it" look on Kes.)

(Scene: Hogwarts corridor. Kes is leading Lynn along it.)

Lynn: I could have found my own way.

Kes: Tell me you'd have negotiated that last staircase without a little help.

Lynn: I'm not used to vanishing steps.

Kes: Well, there's a lot of oddities you'll have to get used to. Not to mention your father.

Lynn: Excuse me?

Kes: Well, from the sounds of things, you're this family's first Gryffindor since old Phoenix himself. Well, besides Daria, but ... well, when she won't even take the name... (beat) And realise that they were only half-accepting of my going to Ravenclaw, my being a generation or so removed and all.

Lynn: And the rest of them?

Kes: Think about it, gel. Your father? Your grandad? Lorna, for pity's sake? Grandmother Janice, even? Slytherins, each and every one.

(A great deal of silence.)

Lynn: Oh.

(They've arrived at the Fat Lady.)

Kes: Now, the password's "phoenix ashes" for the time being... (the portrait hole opens) ...so I'll leave you to it. My regards to your sister.

(She transforms and flies out the nearest window. Lynn looks awkwardly at the portrait hole, like going in would make her a fraud. Then she sighs and starts to clamber in.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Hermione is sitting at a table, reading something large and musty-looking, not even seeming to notice that the portrait hole is standing open. She does look up, however, when Lynn enters, looking a little haggard.)

Herm: Lynn?

Lynn: (slightly dazed) The damn thing finally picked. And so, here I am. Where's Daria?

Herm: Upstairs; I'll get her if you want...

(Enter Ron, wearing his far-too-short paisley pyjamas, rubbing his eyes and looking half-awake.)

Ron: Gmrph.

Herm: Don't mind him. He's...

Lynn: Good morning to you too, Ron. Where's AP and Harry?

Ron: Umpsl. (beat) Mwrgh?

Lynn: Yeah. From the blue and gold of Lawndale to the red and gold of Gryffindor house. Go, me. (beat) And could you go wake them up? They're going to want to know how it turned out.

Ron: Yrrthn.

(Ron staggers upstairs. Hermione looks at Lynn with a stunned expression.)

Lynn: I'd say it runs in the family, but Jane does it too. (to the confused look) If you don't mind another book to read, I can teach you how to translate that.

Herm: A...all right. (beat) You mean it's a language?

Lynn: In a way. It translates well to British English, which is something I'm going to have to footnote later...

(We hear *thumpthumpthumpthump*...)

AP: (OS) Whaaaaagh!

(*THUD*. AP lands on the floor in front of them, in a pair of blue boxer shorts and a T-shirt [when he stands up, it shows Pinky and The Brain under the caption "Pinky ... are you pondering what I'm pondering?"]. When he does get to his feet, he grabs Lynn in a hug. She stands rigid, totally stunned.)

AP: You got in! You got in! I thought you might go Slytherin cos of the crap we used to pull but you got in! WhoooooHOO!

Lynn: (blushing) Uh ... yeah.

(AP finally realises what he's doing, blushes madly, lets go in a big tearing hurry and steps backwards so fast his feet get tangled up and he falls over. Harry enters then, followed by Ron, Daria and Jane.)

Daria: Well, I guess this clinches it. You're not as bad as you lead people to believe.

Jane: Oh, but don't let that get out. It'll spoil her reputation. (beat) Oops, too late. She has a heart after all.

Lynn: Will you two shut up? I'm not that bad.

AP: Tell it to Mr Harris, Purple Peril. Or Herr Dungeonkeeper back in Oakwood High.

Harry: I suppose I don't want to know. Well, welcome to Gryffindor House, Lynn.

Herm: Yes, congratulations! I mean, Ravenclaw wouldn't have been so bad really...

Ron: I sometimes wonder if the hat wasn't a little bit senile when it put her in here...

Herm: RON!

(Enter Fred, George and Lee.)

George: Wicked! We got both Smythes!

Daria: I am not a...

Lee: Oi Lynn! Now you can show us that fancy broomstick of yours properly!

Fred: Not to mention those Serpent Surprises you were telling us about for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes!

George: C'mon; let's go to breakfast. Lynn, you must be starved, as you missed the banquet and everything.

Lee: Serpent Surprises? You've got to let me in on this one...

(The Weasley twins and Lee lead Lynn out the portrait hole; she only has time to give a slightly nervous apologetic shrug at her friends before she's dragged off. AP, still on the floor, slumps.)

Ron: Don't mind them. They're just a bit excited to have someone around who can help them out.

Herm: They're going to get her into so much trouble, Ron... Can't you talk to them?

AP: Or I could. I mean, I know she likes that kinda thing but if she's gonna hang around them all the time...

Herm: Well, that's part of why you're here, isn't it? I mean, meeting people from different cultures and making new friends ... but not to go around turning people into canaries and that sort of rubbish. She'd be better off learning something useful. (ignoring the looks) Well, if you're not going to do anything, I'm going to go down to breakfast and be a good influence on Lynn.

(She stalks over to the portrait hole and exits.)

Ron: Yeah, she's a great influence. She used an illegal magical artefact, walked out on Professor Trelawny, helped pinch a hippogriff and a wanted murderer, hit Malfoy, and tried to liberate the Hogwarts house elves. And she calls herself a good influence. Huh.

AP: (picking himself up off the floor again) Well, I'm gonna go get dressed and do breakfast too. I mean, if these Serpent Surprise things are half the work they sound like they're gonna be, they're gonna need some help.

(AP exits towards the dormitories. Daria and Jane look at each other.)

Daria: Jane ... are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Jane: (bad Pinky imitation) 'I think so, Brain, but burlap chafes me so.'

Daria: (*groan*) Never mind. Breakfast?

Jane: Sure. Do they do coffee?

Daria: This is England. I'm not sure they know it exists.

Jane: Crap.

(Exit Daria and Jane. Harry and Ron look at each other.)

Ron: Serpent Surprises?

Harry: Some kind of jealousy.

Ron: Someone who's almost as good as you on a broomstick.

Harry: Muggle influences everywhere.

Ron: They make Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle look normal.

Harry: Depending on how you look at it.

Ron: We going to survive this year, Harry?

Harry: I suppose. Either because of them or in spite of them.


Ron: Breakfast?

(Harry shrugs and they exit.)

(Scene: Great Hall. Lynn is seated between Fred and George at a table; Lee's next to George. The boys are talking animatedly, while Lynn sits slightly pale and silent. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are sitting on Fred's other side, while Daria, Jane and AP are next to Lee. AP looks at the liquid in his goblet.)

AP: Pumpkin juice?

Daria: I guess the stereotypes have to come from somewhere.

(Pan to Fred, George and Lynn.)

George: So maybe we could all get together and play a casual Quidditch game sometime.

Fred: Proper Aussie Rules, this time. Since you're related to the nurse and all...

Lynn: Can you spare the practice time?

Fred: Well, it'd be practice for us, wouldn't it? And it would give Lee a chance to play. (aside to Lynn) Lee fancies himself the next Oliver Wood.

Lee: (who heard that) I do not! I like commentating. Well, when McGonagall isn't censoring me...

George: I heard some of what you said when we won the Quidditch cup a couple of years back, Lee. I was surprised she didn't use "Quietus" on you.

Lee: Well, you should have heard the language she was using. When Malfoy grabbed Harry's broom, I learned a few new words...

(Parvati and Lavender approach the table, standing just behind Lynn.)

Parvati: Hello ... I'm Parvati Patil, and this is Lavender Brown. We're in Gryffindor too.

Lynn: Uh. Hi. (beat; as Parvati and Lavender look at each other nervously) Did you want something?

Lavender: Well ... yes. You see...

Parvati: Ooh, Lynn, we heard all about how you finally got Sorted! It's simply incredible!

Lynn: (taken aback) How'd you hear about that?

Lavender: We go to see Professor Trelawny every day for extra lessons in the mornings.

Parvati: Ooh, she's simply wonderful, Lynn; you must meet her!

Lynn: I've heard about her. The lady with big glasses, way too much jewellery and has given maybe two authentic predictions in her entire life?

(Lavender and Parvati look scandalised.)

Lavender: I don't know where you heard something like that, but it's not true. Professor Trelawny is a true seer. Why else would Dumbledore have told her about the true dream you had?

Lynn: What are you two neo-hippies talking about?

Parvati: (confused) What's a 'neo-hippie'?

Lynn: Never mind. Just tell me what's going on or leave me alone.

Lavender: Madame McGovern was instructed to tell Dumbledore anything that happened to you during the time you had the Sorting Hat on. She did, and he went to Profesor Trelawny with it.

Herm: (disdainful sniff) I don't see why. She's an utter fraud and I wouldn't be surprised if...

Lavender: Oh, what do you know, Hermione? Just because there's one class on earth you're not good at...

(Hermione looks outraged, but keeps her mouth shut.)

Parvati: Anyway, Lynn, she insisted that what you saw was a true dream of your future, one that would prove you a Gryffindor. And that you must be very, very careful because the darkness she sees around... (stops; eyes shift to Harry, who makes a face at her) ...Well, around ... is also focused on you!

Lavender: Oh, you must transfer to Divination, Lynn. Professor Trelawny says you have the makings of a true seer, just like Harry Potter! And to deny that could mean ... (nervous swallow) ...your doom.

AP: (muttering into his breakfast plate) Biiiiiig mistake, Lav...

Daria: Excuse me?

AP: Ever tried telling Purple Peril that she 'must' do something? Like that?

Daria: No, because frankly, I'd fear for my life. (beat) Oh.

Lynn: I see. You and your aura-reading cronies would like me to ditch one of my other classes so that I can sit in some hot stuffy room three days a week and look into a hunk of glass and pretend I see something nasty in it.

Parvati: Divination's hardly like that, Lynn.

Lynn: Oh, I think it is. Muggles have the less-than-reputable art of Divination too ... as you'd know if you took Muggle Studies a bit more seriously. Or at all. And I don't see why your way of telling the future should be any less random, meaningless and just plain dumb than the Muggle way.

Lavender: But Lynn...

Lynn: The only future I believe in is the one I make for myself. And I'd hardly be making my own future if I listened to you instead of taking classes that actually make some kind of sense to me. (beat) If you can see the future, you know exactly what I'm going to say to you next.

Parvati: Well, we're hardly trained...

Lynn: Then let me help you. (beat) Sod off with your Divination mumbo-jumbo before I try out human Transfiguration. Because I think you'd both make very good bookends -- nice to look at, but only next to the knowledge.

(Parvati and Lavender take a step back, looking afraid but also miffed.)

Lavender: We'll ... try another time. Maybe when you're in less of a mood.

(Lavender stalks off. Parvati looks at Lynn with honest concern.)

Parvati: Oh, do think about it, Lynn. It would be really good for you.

(Very short silence.)

Lynn: Okay, I've thought about it. Go away.

(Parvati scurries off. Hermione looks vindicated.)

Herm: Well done, Lynn. Honestly, those Divination people are entirely too full of themselves.

Harry: (a little less sure) You might want to talk about that some more with Dumbledore, though, Lynn. Sometimes those kinds of dreams can be serious. And while I don't think Professor Trelawny is the best person to talk to...

Lynn: Look, the stupid thing helped me get Sorted so I could finally get that stupid Hat off and get on with my life. Right now, that's all that dream meant to me. So can we drop the subject now, please? (beat) I'm going to send an owl to Dad. He asked for updates.

(Lynn leaves her barely-touched breakfast and walks off. A hush falls over the large group.)

Ron: Is she always like that?

Daria: Ever since I've known her. AP?

AP: OHyeah. She'll be fine when this dies down. (looking in the direction Lynn took) I think.

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Lynn's playing Solitaire with an Exploding Snap deck when the remaining FJM and HHR enter the room.)

Daria: I brought your...

(Lynn lays a card down and the whole thing blows up; Lynn looks blandly at the cards for a second, then takes off her glasses and starts polishing them on her robes.)

Lynn: Remind me to use Muggle cards for that next time...

Daria: As I was going to say, I got your timetable for the year.

(She hands it to Lynn, who takes it and starts to study it gravely. Daria looks at it over her shoulder, as does Jane. Ron grabs AP by the shoulder and pulls him nearer to where he, Harry and Hermione are standing in total confusion.)

Harry: A deck of cards just blew up in her face, and no one said a word.

Ron: I mean, I know I'm used to explosions interrupting things I'm trying to say, but that's cos ... well, my brothers...

AP: Hey, Purple Peril's used to me. So are they. And hey, they're also used to her.

(With that, he wanders over to the comparison of timetables. Harry, Ron and Hermione share a look.)

Ron: Like I said. I should get Dean to draw a comic strip about this lot. It'd outsell Martin Miggs in a second.

(With that, they join the other gang.)

Lynn: ...Divination, Jane? After what we saw this morning?

Ron: And Muggle Studies? What are you doing taking Muggle Studies? It's bad enough that Hermione took it for a year; you were raised Muggle!

Jane: What part of the term 'soft options' don't you understand?

Harry: (rueful) Well, I'd hardly call Divination a 'soft option', Jane.

Ron: The amount of time we spend making sure we're not repeating disasters in the same bit of homework...

Jane: Hey, there's no chance I have the gift of prophesy. But I do have the gift of lying my way out of a hard situation.

Daria: (slightly snide) It just takes her awhile.

Jane: How often am I going to have to apologise for that?

Daria: Until I forget about it.


Jane: Damn you and your nearly flawless memory!

Daria: Okay, Lynn, Ancient Runes I understand, but Care of Magical Creatures?

Lynn: Outdoor, physical work. Anyway, I like animals.

Daria: If you follow that up with "they taste great"...

Lynn: What steamroller ran me over and made me a bumper sticker?

AP: Hey, we got Arithmancy together, Erudite Emerald!

Herm: Oh, you'll love that one, AP! (beat) But why have you taken Care of Magical Creatures?

AP: Well ... you guys were... Gotta be something to it, right?

Lynn: Best of all, it's a good chance to see what Draco Malfoy's really made of. I'm betting greenish-purple wobbly bits.

Harry: Shame we don't all share at least one free period.

Daria: (dry) Oh, the curse of diversity.

Harry: I was just thinking that we should all go and meet Hagrid. Lynn, you and AP will meet him in lessons, but Daria and Jane...

Ron: Yeah, Harry owled Hagrid about you lot when he was at the Burrow. He'd really like to meet you.

Herm: Well, why don't we all go during lunch?

Ron: It'll give us something to look forward to after the morning, anyway. Double Potions ... with the Slytherins again! I think Snape makes sure he puts us with them just to torture us some more...

Harry: Well, at least he didn't get Dark Arts, Ron.

Jane: Hey Daria. Think they're exaggerating about Snape?

Daria: Remember when we had to divest AP of the notion that Lynn had exaggerated about our teachers?

(Pause as Jane reruns the conversation through her mind.)

Jane: Right. Damn.

(Scene: Potions dungeon. Snape looks at the class for a moment. Daria and Jane, sitting at the same table, lock eyes.)

Daria: First impression?

Jane: Damn!

AP: Hey, this should be a piece of cake. I mean, alchemy's gotta be just like chemistry. (looking with a bit of disgust at his potions ingredients) Only with more newt.

Snape: Impressed with ourselves, aren't we? Have we been taking lessons from famous Harry Potter?

(Harry looks ready to say something; Hermione puts a warning hand on his arm and Lynn shoots back a "he can hold his own" glance.)

AP: Nah. No offense to the guy or anything, but here, I could kick his ass.

Snape: Consider yourself invited to try. Oh, and McIntyre? Five points from Gryffindor for language.

AP: WHAT? I don't have language, you annoying little... (Lynn puts a hand over his mouth) Mmmphmmmphmmph!

Snape: And five more for answering back to a teacher. Very brave of you to protect him from his own idiocy, Ms Smythe. I'd expect no less from an Auror's daughter.

(Lynn rolls her eyes and says nothing.)

AP: (when she takes her hand off his mouth) You didn't take his head off. You.

Lynn: I have a feeling I'm going to lose enough points off him in the near future. I'd rather not start now.

(AP looks like he wants to argue but Lynn glares him into submission and faces front.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Harry, Ron and Hermione pile through the portrait hole. Ron looks incensed.)

Ron: That lousy, biased...

Herm: (overriding) Ron...

Ron: Well, what'd he have to go and do that for, eh? Just because AP's a Gryffindor...

Herm: But Ron, he wasn't horrible to all the Gryffindors...

Harry: Yeah, Ron. He let Lynn off when she stepped in for AP. He'd have had me in detention for that.

Herm: (musing) Actually ... he would, wouldn't he? I wonder why he'd be so nice to her?

Ron: I don't much like the sound of that, Hermione.

Harry: No, it's a good point, Ron. I mean ... she is a bit odd, isn't she? That business with the Sorting Hat...

Ron: Her father's an Auror, Harry; you don't really think that an Auror's daughter's a Dark witch, do you?

Harry: Look at the Crouches.

Ron: Yes, well, all right, but she wasn't raised by her father, was she? She was raised by Muggles and didn't even know until last year that she was a witch!

Herm: But then there was You-Know-Who!

Ron: (sigh) Fine, but that's different!

Harry: Thing is, Snape isn't a Dark wizard. Not anymore, anyway. Professor Dumbledore did say Snape only stayed with the Death Eaters to spy on them...

Ron: Yeah, but Dumbledore's a little bit mental, isn't he?

Herm: At any rate, just because he's not with the Death Eaters now doesn't mean he can't try finding a few new recruits to You-Know-Who, does it?

Ron: She's best friends with my cousin, Hermione; you can't think she...

(Enter Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP. Conversation stops abruptly.)

Daria: Can't think she what?

Jane: And who 'she'?

Ron: Well, Lynn ... she can't ... er...

Harry: Er ... escape getting into trouble in Potions forever. We were just saying how lucky she was to've got off so light.

AP: You're telling me. I get that Jinx Juice right first time I try and Snape has me pickling slugs in detention for making a half-ounce too much, wasting ingredients and being a show-off. (slamming his bag down on a table) Can I help it if I can do this crap?

Lynn: From what you've said about Snape, I'm surprised I'm not slated for brine duty myself. (to Harry) You probably know him best; any clue as to why he's being soft on me?

Harry: Er...

Herm: Well, all I know is we're going to be late for Ancient Runes if we don't hurry. Coming?

Lynn: The prof for this one can't be worse than Snape, so sure. Harry, let me know if you think of anything.

(Exit Daria, Lynn and Hermione.)

Ron: Divination?

(Harry groans)

Jane: It can't be that bad.

Ron: Just wait, Jane...

AP: Should I be glad I'm not in on this?

Harry: Yes.

Ron: Very.

AP: Okaaaay... (evil grin) Have fun, Art-Smart Scarlet!

(Jane scowls at AP and leaves with Harry and Ron. AP settles in a chair and opens "Advanced Potions for the Young Rogue", at which point, enter Dennis Creevey.)

Dennis: Hi!

AP: (immersed in book) Hey ho.

(long pause)

Dennis: You're friends with Harry Potter, aren't you?

AP: Mmm-hmm.

(long pause)

Dennis: What's America like? Only I've never been and I hear it's really cool! But there's supposed to be all kinds of great wizarding schools in America so Hogwarts must be really special, mustn't it, if you were sent all the way here from America! How'd you find out you were a wizard? 'Cos Colin and I...

(As Dennis whitters on, AP voices a loud and totally unnoticed sigh and pretends to listen.)

(Scene: Hogwarts grounds. HHR are leading the way to Hagrid's hut. AP whittering madly.)

AP: ...the entire Creevey family has this! It's ... it's ... Purple Peril!

Lynn: Dependency issues. Hero-worship addiction. (beat) Desperate need for a life.

Jane: He isn't the only one. I thought Trelawny was never going to shut up about you, Lynn. It was "true dream" this and "seer potential" that.

Ron: Our only homework was to try to convince you to change your mind. (beat) So will you?

Lynn: No.

Ron: Right! That's done, then.

Herm: I don't believe you sometimes, Ron.

Ron: What? No one can say I didn't try! And I have Jane here as a witness, don't I, Jane?

Jane: I'll be yours if you be mine.

Herm: But neither of you have really tried! (noting Lynn's glower) Not that I want her to change her mind against her will, exactly, but if you have a homework assignment, you should at least do it properly!

Ron: Get serious, Hermione...

Harry: (to the others, with some relief) Just as well we're here.

(And they have indeed arrived at Hagrid's hut. Harry knocks on the door and there's mad barking from inside.)

AP: (*gleep*) Wh-wh-wh...

Harry: Oh, that's just Fang. For once, one of Hagrid's pets actually is as harmless as Hagrid makes him out to be.

(The door opens and Fang flies out, knocking Harry over and licking his face. Exit Hagrid; Daria, Jane and Lynn facefault but AP openly stares.)

Hagrid: Fang! Down, Fang!

AP: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeegh. (long pause) Biiiiiiiiiig, isn't he?

Hagrid: Yeh mus' be a Weasley. M' name's Hagrid.

AP: I'm a kind of Weasley, yeah. AP McIntyre. Nice to ... meet you? (tentatively sticks out a hand)

Hagrid: (takes it) Nice t'meet yeh.

Lynn: (from over AP's shoulder) Lynn Cullen-Smythe. We're in your Care of Magical Creatures class.

AP: Uh ... nothing's gonna ... eat me, are they?

Hagrid: Not unless yeh don' respect it. Yeh've always got teh be careful of int'restin' creatures.

Daria: (aside) And 'interesting creatures' should be taken to mean...?

Ron: (aside) ...'Dangerous monsters'. He keeps forgetting we're not all "big-boned."

AP: (who caught that)Come again?

Herm: We'll explain another time, AP, how's that?

AP: Uhhhhh...

Hagrid: Tell yeh what, lad; anything tries t'eat yeh, I'll make it spit yeh out again. How's that?

AP: (sweatdrops) Thanks. I think. Uh...

Lynn: (let's cut this off) Heard you're something of a dragon buff.

Hagrid: Yeh, tried t'raise a Norwegian Ridgeback once. Had to send 'im back. Wonder if he misses his Mummy...

Jane: "Mummy"?

Ron: He went a bit mental.

Hagrid: No more than yer brother, lad.

Ron: Charlie never raised one like a kid, Hagrid.

Hagrid: (remembering his manners and handily changing the subject) The kettle's gone -- who's for tea? (holds out a plate) Treacle toffee?

AP: Sure!

Ron, Harry, Herm: Uh ... no, thank you.

(AP looks at his companions strangely. They look back; Ron sidles over to the Flack-Jackets)

Ron: (sotto) We'll explain later. But if you like your teeth rooted in your mouth, you'll leave his treacle toffee alone.

Harry: And his rock cakes, come to that.

(slight pause)

AP: I think I'll pass on the toffee, thanks.

Hagrid: Yeh sure yeh wouldn't like summat?

AP: What's in the sandwiches over here?

Hagrid: Stoat.

AP: What's a stoat?

Lynn: "And now for something completely different: a man with a stoat through his head."

AP: Oh. Can I try one?

Hagrid: Help yerself.

Ron: He wants to eat stoat. Is it that Americans are mental, or is it just him?

AP: (*munchmunchmunch*) Mmm. Bet this'd taste cool on a pizza.

Daria, Jane, Lynn: It's just him.

Hagrid: So how're ye findin' Hogwarts?

Daria: It's not so bad.

AP: 'Cept we got some extra-curricular flying lessons this afternoon. (beat) Anyone know anything about the med facilities 'round here?

Hagrid: Well, we got a new nurse now, so dunno fer certain, but don' worry, lad. Yer away from Muggles now and we wizardin' folk can fix jest about anything.

Daria: Good. Because with him, "wizardin' folk" are going to have to.

(Scene: Quidditch pitch. Ms Hooch is looking assessingly at the gang; Lynn looks bored. Jane looks excited. Daria looks a little nervous. AP looks terrified.)

Hooch: I say; that's quite the broom.

Lynn: It's not what you've got, it's how you use it.

Hooch: Well said, young lady. All right; just hold your wand hand over the broom, and give the command -- up!

Daria, Jane, Lynn, AP: UP!

(Lynn's Stormfront slaps into her hand. The Cleansweep Five Jane's borrowed does the same. Daria's gets halfway to her hand and then drops. AP's doesn't move.)

AP: Hmm. Up. Up. Up! (blink) Uh ... down?

(The broom slaps into his hand. He stares.)

Daria: Maybe you had it upside down...?

Hooch: There is no upside down; this is a broomstick!

AP: What, then?

Hooch: Well ... perhaps it's a little contrary. Just try giving it directions opposite to what you actually want it to do.

AP: But...

Hooch: Oh, just for a few minutes while I find you a more amenable broom. (to the girls) Keep an eye on him, would you, gels? I won't be a moment. And don't leave this pitch or it will go hard with you all.

AP: But...

(But Hooch is already striding away across the pitch. AP looks dubiously at the broom in his hand, then sighs.)

(Scene: Charms class. Flitwick is teaching a group of first years a lesson we all find very familiar ... if we've read "The Philosopher's Stone", anyway.)

Flitwick: Now, remember, swish and flick; swish and flick. And be careful of your pronunciation...

(He stops at the sound of a dopplering AP-scream)

Flitwick: Do you hear somet...

AP: (OS) StopstopstopSTOP! Ohwait-craaaaaaaaap!

(CRASH -- AP careens through a window near the front of the class on a broomstick ... whump into Flitwick.)

Flitwick: Ack! McIntyre, could you...

(AP is too stunned to move; the first-years are pointing, giggling and catcalling. And Flitwick loses all patience.)

Flitwick: Wingardium Leviosa!

(AP rises into the air and winds up on the ceiling.)

AP: Ow. (*thunk* as he hits the ceiling) Ow.

(Scene: Great Hall, int. It's dinnertime and there Hall is full of noise as people talk about their first days there -- or back, whatever. TFJM seated with HHR at the Gryffindor table. The house ghosts come through the walls.)

AP: (breathy whisper) I see dead people... (Lynn baps him.) Ow! Jeez, Purple Peril, you're the one who dragged me to that Fifth Sense thing!

(Lynn rolls her eyes but before she can correct him, Nearly Headless Nick approaches the table.)

Nick: Ah! New Gryffindors, I see?

Lynn: That's what they tell us.

Nick: Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, Gryffindor Tower resident ghost, at your--

Ron: (interrupting) Come off it, Nick. (to TFJM) Just call him Nearly Headless Nick. Everyone else does. (Nick splutters at this.) Nick, these are Daria, Lynn, Jane and AP. (He indicates who's who.)

AP: Nearly headless? How does that work?

Nick: (rolls eyes, addressing next comment to ceiling) Why is that always the first question they ask?

Daria: I have to admit, I'm curious about that myself.

Nick: (still to ceiling) And at what point did my death mark become a party piece? (adjusts his ruff, then folds his head down onto his shoulder and indicates the attachment point) Look there. Half an inch of skin and sinew. If anyone ever asks you, that's the difference between headless and nearly-headless. (puts his head to rights, muttering) Forty-five strokes, for heaven's sake. Even Mary Queen of Scots had it over with quicker...

Daria: (Sledgehammer of Subject Change out and swinging) So. You're the Gryffindor ghost in residence. What about the other houses?

Nick: (starts to brighten up) Yes. Well. I'm glad you asked, young lady. Over there, at the Hufflepuff table, you'll notice their resident ghost -- we just call him the Fat Friar, and he doesn't mind. Quite likes it actually. (sotto) Probably because it's a little more dignified. You'll also see the Grey Lady at the Ravenclaw table. She tends to keep herself very much to herself.

Ron: I'll say.

Nick: And finally, keeping the Slytherins 'company', we have the Bloody Baron.

Lynn: (beat) Yeah. (beat) I can definitely see why they call him that. (beat) No offense, but how'd he get so bloody?


Nick: Do you know? I've never dared ask.

Lynn: Excuse me.

(She gets up and strolls over to the Slytherin table. Ignoring the gripes from the Slytherins, she turns to the Baron and asks him something we're too far away to hear. He seems startled for a moment, but then starts talking, looking almost pleased that someone finally asked him about it.)

Jane: (surprised) He's actually telling her?

Harry: I guess Nick's not the only one who's never had the nerve to ask.

Nick: (beat) It was as much out of politeness as anything else.

Herm: I almost wish I could hear them.

(Throughout this, we've been able to see Lynn's eyes steadily widening as the Baron unfolds his tale.)

Daria: No you don't.

(Lynn comes shambling back to the Gryffindor table. We see, as she takes her seat, that she has a serious thousand-yard stare.)

Jane: Well? What is his story?

Lynn: (quiet) You don't want to know.

Daria: That bad?

Lynn: Let's just say I hope I can forget it before I get to sleep.

(Long thoughtful silence.)

AP: Mood-lift? Somewhere? Please?

Daria: So just the four ghosts at Hogwarts?

Nick: Well, we four are the House ghosts. But there are a few lesser lights.

Ron: Like Moaning Myrtle. She haunts a girls' toilet.

Herm: She takes ... a little getting used to. (beat) A lot, actually.

Harry: She was Volde -- sorry, Ron, You-Know-Who's very first victim. I can understand her feeling a little put-upon.

Nick: And then, of course... (with great reluctance) ...there's Peeves...

AP: What's a Peeves?

(On Nick's reluctant look, smash cut to...)

(Scene: corridor at Hogwarts. TFJM walking, HHR close behind. At which point, a rather large bucket of frogspawn gets dumped over Lynn's head. She looks up, going that 'really odd shade of maroon', and sees Peeves looking down at her.)

Peeves: Gotcha, Yankee squirt! Wheee!

Daria: I think I see what they mean.

(Peeves then proceeds to throw a hunk of chewing gum at Daria -- it sticks in her hair.)

Daria: Ugh!

Jane: No, don't touch that! It'd make a great art project!

Daria: Jane!

Jane: Well, at least he hasn't... (notices something in Peeves' hands) Wait ... hey, that's the last of my Muggle paints! Hand it over, freak!

Peeves: Takes one to know one! (squirts Jane liberally with red and yellow paint, then laughs) You're in house colours now!

Lynn: All right. That's it. (pulls her wand) You have until the count of three to make yourself very scarce ... or I'll see if Reducto works on a poltergeist! One ... two...

(Peeves sees she isn't joking, drops the paints and zooms off.)

Ron: Wow. Someone mouthed off to Peeves!

AP: Purple Peril'd mouth off to the devil himself, if he pissed her off...

Jane: Kick his ass, too.

Harry: Looks like. But would she mouth off to Voldemort?

Ron: Say You-Know-Who, would you?

AP: Wouldn't stop her. She mouthed off to Cyclops once...

Herm: A cyclops? I thought they were extinct!

AP: Come again?

Daria: No, that's DeMartino. History teacher with a bulging eye.

Jane: And a heart that's going to put him in the same condition as Binns one of these days.

AP: Think Cyclops'd still be teaching, even when he's dead?

Jane: Either that or haunting Kevin.

Lynn: That would be a certain justice.

(TFJM moves on. Harry and Hermione share a look of confusion, then turn to Ron, who's obviously heard all this before.)

Ron: You really shouldn't ask.

(He follows them. Harry and Hermione share another look and decide to let it lie.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. It's obviously early morning; Ron, Jane, and AP are holding a conversation in Grog. Herm is furiously flipping through the Grog dictionary. Enter Lynn, who glances curiously at the mostly-asleep Ron, Jane and AP and the panicked-looking Hermione, who looks up somewhat pleadingly at Lynn.)

Herm: They've been like this for about forty minutes. I think Jane mentioned coffee, and AP said something about "overloading constructors," but I'm not sure.

Lynn: (looking at her watch) Another hour and they'll have beaten their record. I'm going to breakfast.

(She exits. Herm looks at her, then flips back into the dictionary, looking really stressed out to find something she can't understand.)

(Scene: Great Hall. It's mostly empty, but the entire Quidditch team is sitting together, eating and talking. Lynn wanders past and Fred and George grab her with hopeful, avid expressions. As they address her, they almost override each other, talking as one person.)

Fred: Oi, Lynn, take a seat!

George: You know how you were saying you wanted to sit in on a Quidditch practice?

Fred: Well, we've arranged one this morning and you're welcome to come if you like.

George: And if you'd lend Harry your Stormfront for the practice, see if he likes it...

Fred: And then maybe you'd let him borrow it for matches...

Harry: (interrupting with a frustrated look) I'm happy with my Firebolt, thanks. It was a gift, and I'm not going to just trade it in because a better model's out...

George: Anyway, I think you'd like seeing a practice, Lynn...

(Ron, Jane and AP stagger in, with Hermione behind them, still furiously thumbing through the Dictionary.)

Herm: Can you please make them stop? It's terrible! I can only understand one word in ten!

Ron: Shppmhrrm.

AP: Wnnbgcffmg.

Herm: Oh, this is dreadful!

Lynn: Ron told you to shut up. AP wants a large mug of coffee ... (loudly in AP's direction) which you're not going to get because we're in England now...

AP: Stppfgncntrwffncff...

(Hermione whimpers and puts her head in her hands.)

Harry: Don't worry, Hermione. A bit of fresh air always wakes him up. You are coming to watch our practice, Ron?

Ron: Yrrmrrpfft.

Harry: (to Lynn) That was a...

Lynn: Yes.

Harry: Where's Daria, anyway?

Lynn: Upstairs. Asleep. Like a sane person.

George: C'mon, I've had enough of this. Practice, all!

(Angelina, Katie and Alicia get up and head out. Fred and George grab Ron under the arms and follow, dragging their little brother with them. Lynn looks at Jane and AP, who are asleep with their heads on the [thankfully empty] plates. Then she taps Hermione on the shoulder and Hermione gets up and follows gratefully.)

(Scene: Quidditch pitch. Ron, Hermione and Lynn are standing within earshot of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. George is addressing them.)

George: Right; it didn't matter last year that we...

(*WHACK*; a bludger hits Fred in the back of the head and he goes down. George looks panicked.)

George: WHAT GIT LET OUT THE BLOODY... (ducks as a bludger streaks towards him)

Malfoy: (OS) Shame. The Mudbloods and the poor mice don't seem to be able to keep their equipment under control.

(George picks up his beater's bat on sheer instinct and knocks aside the bludger that comes his way, which heads in Lynn's direction. She grabs Fred's bat and whallops the bludger...)

Malfoy: (OS) gnih... (*thump*)

Lynn: And you won't be using yours comfortably for awhile. (beat) Moron.

(Pan briefly to Malfoy, who is curled up in a foetal position, cupping his privates in a protective gesture that is far too little and far too late. Back to the Gryffindors; Harry and George look extremely uncomfortable. Katie, Alicia and Angelina look impressed. Then the other bludger heads back their way and George jumps on it. The other one aims for his head and Lynn whacks it towards Harry, who manages to subdue it. The two boys strap the bludgers down, murmuring amongst themselves. Enter Hermione and Ron -- Hermione looks nervous and Ron can barely stand upright he's laughing so hard.)

Herm: Ron, it's not funny! What if she gets in trouble?

Lynn: Hermione, getting hauled up on the carpet for something like this would be a pleasure.

(Unnoticed by Lynn, Harry and George wave Katie, Alicia and Angelina over to where they stand by the box. Ron, Hermione and Lynn walk over to where Fred is still lying prone on the ground.)

Lynn: Who does the honours?

Herm: Ron has unicorn hair. His'd probably work better.

Ron: And he's my brother. (beat) Sure we can't leave him a little while longer?

Herm: Ron!

Ron: Well, it's my best chance to get my own back for the Acid Pop!

Herm: Ron, I don't believe you sometimes! (points her own wand at Fred's chest) Enervate!

(Fred groans and sits up as the remainder of the Gryffindor Quidditch team approach.)

George: Oi, Fred! We want a word with you and Lynn!

Lynn: About...?

Harry: Fred, you've played substitute Keeper a couple of times, and you're alright at it...

George: He's better than alright!

Fred: Mmmhmm...?

Lynn: But if he's the Keeper, you're missing a... (she catches the looks and freezes) ...You're kidding.

George: Well, if you can aim a bludger that well...

Fred: How well?

(George steps up to Fred, crouches next to him and whispers in his ear for a moment. Fred's eyes go wide.)

Fred: Pull the other one!

George: No, seriously!

(Fred looks Lynn's way with some awe.)

Harry: So, Lynn?

(Lynn looks at the team, who are looking at her expectantly.)

Lynn: But ... I look crappy in red?

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Harry, Lynn, Fred and George clamber through the portrait hole and Lynn's immediately accosted by Lavender and Parvati.)

Parvati: Ooh, Lynn, you can't!

Lavender: Remember your dream! Facing off against Death Eaters wearing RED!

Lynn: What part of "keep away from me with your divination bull" don't you two understand?

Lavender: We talked to Professor Trelawny about it and...

Lynn: Oh, for the love of...

Parvati: If you keep on playing at Quidditch, you'll surely die!

Fred: Only one who looks like dying on that pitch is Draco Malfoy.

George: Either of embarrassment or a bludger to the goolies.

Lynn: George, please. It wasn't that impressive.

George: I dunno, Lynn. Looked pretty impressive from where I was standing...

Lynn: ANYWAY! (to Parvati and Lavender) You two can go back to the neo-hippie dragonfly you worship and tell her that I spit in the face of her so-called fate. She's predicted Harry's death more times than even he can count and he's still breathing, unless he's a very well-preserved zombie...

(there is laughter. Parvati and Lavender look scandalised.)

Lavender: But...

Lynn: If you two don't stop it, I will light some of your incense sticks and insert them into whatever orifice will cause you the most pain. Do you get me?

(That about tears it for Lavender and Parvati, who storm off. Lynn looks at Harry, who looks back with a shrug.)

Harry: I sort of wish I could say that to Professor Trelawny.

Lynn: Start simple. A "Go to hell" in the right tone is better than any death threat.

George: So you really are going to do it, then? You'll play Beater for Gryffindor?

Lynn: (raised eyebrow) You've decided it's safe to ask again, just because there's something remotely resembling added incentive in the fact that my joining the team would annoy those two. Moreover, you think that I'd base that decision on the irritation opportunities?

Fred, George: (unison) Actually ... yeah.

(Lynn looks at them for a long moment ... then sighs.)

Lynn: It'd be less depressing if you weren't so right.

(Fred and George grin at each other. Harry gives Lynn a reassuring smile, which kind of fades at Lynn's glare. She relents just enough to turn the glare onto Hermione, who's slumped in a chair and looking guilty.)

Herm: Well, you can blame Ron! He was the one who couldn't shut up about what you did to Malfoy! I just ... well, they were asking what you were doing on the Quidditch pitch and...

(Lynn just walks off for the dormitories. Herm slumps further in her seat, hiding behind a large book.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Hermione is, as usual, studying - but she looks almost panicked. Daria approaches and looks over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow.)

Daria: Finding a cure for overwork?

Herm: Oh, Daria, this is simply dreadful!

Daria: (looking at what Hermione's studying) Untraceable poisons? Yeah, that could fall loosely under the category of dreadful.

Herm: No, you don't understand! I'm always top of my class ... well, except in Divination, but I don't see how anyone could truly excel in a class run by a fraud teaching nonsense.

Daria: I don't know -- Parvati seems to manage pretty well. Oh, I see. You place kissing up in the nonsense category. The real world's going to come as a real shock to you.

(Lynn arrives just soon enough to catch this last and snickers. Hermione frowns in irritation.)

Herm: Daria, really! Even with Professor Snape's bias, I'm still usually top of his class and now AP's gone and...

Lynn: You may as well give up now. He has a natural aptitude for mixing chemicals. (beat) Shame he isn't quite the same about food -- never eat anything he's concocted.

Herm: Well, I'm not going to give up! (sigh) It's a good thing I'm free until this evening -- I have a lot of work to do.

Daria: You mean someone actually uses their free periods to study? Not much like American study hall.

Lynn: You studied in study hall.

Daria: (dry) Oh, the shame.

(Ron bursts into the common room, dumps some of his books out of a tattered bag and onto a table, then rummages to make sure he has parchment and quill.)

Ron: Mind watching this lot for me? I'm late for my first day of Defense Against the Dark Arts!

Daria: Excuse me?

Herm: But Ron, we don't...

(Ron hasn't listened -- just barged out the portrait hole and away.)

Daria: (slowly) We ... didn't look over our timetables very carefully, did we.

(They dig for their timetables and look a little bit closer.)

Lynn: A-D-A-D-A? (beat) Adada. (beat) Sounds like a Middle Eastern country always on the verge of getting bombed.

Herm: Well, the last four letters must mean Defense Against the Dark Arts. (beat) But what's the other A for, I wonder?

(Enter Harry, looking confused and a little dazed.)

Harry: I just ran into AP...

Daria: Are you sure it wasn't more the other way around?

Harry: (grin) Yeah. But he said he was going to Dark Arts and...

Daria: We know. We saw.

Herm: Harry, do you know what the A means?

(Jane enters next.)

Jane: Any clue why we're in Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts?

(They all just look at her.)

Lynn: By Jove, I think she's got it.

Herm: I should have worked that out. Ooh, the pressure in Potions is really beginning to get to me...

Jane: Actually, I asked ... Warlock. He wouldn't tell me why we were in an advanced course, but he at least cleared that much up.

Herm: But why would he put us into an advanced course? You three are, no offense, very new to the wizarding world.

Daria: Maybe, in Lynn's case and mine, he puts more emphasis on the bloodline than he seems to. We are an Auror's daughters, after all.

Lynn: Whichever way, we're in it now. (*shrug*) I guess we'll work it out when we get there.

(Scene: Dark Arts classroom. Now that they've actually got there, Harry, Hermione, Daria, Lynn and Jane are all tense attention. The class is full of relatively familiar faces -- among them the Weasley twins, Lee Jordan and Colin Creevey, proving that this is not your average age-based class. Warlock stands at his desk at the front of the room, regarding them all impassively until he has quiet -- it doesn't take long. Something about the man radiates "sit down and shut up".)

Warlock: Welcome to Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts -- something of an Auror Academy, if you like. I go by Warlock. Any wisecracks will earn you the Furnunculus charm.

Daria, Jane, Lynn: (unison) Damn.

Fred, George, Lee: (unison) Bugger.

Herm: (aghast) Daria! Jane! Lynn! Fred!

Warlock: (over Hermione)Your attention while I call the roll. (Hermione shuts up but glares at all six of them.) Abbott, Hannah... Bones, Susan... Brown, Lavender... Creevey, Colin... Granger, Hermione... Jordan, Lee... Lane, Jane... Tell me the name's some kind of joke.

Jane: Ask my sister Penny.

Warlock: Indeed. (beat) Longbottom, Neville... MacDougal, Morag... MacMillan, Ernest... Patil, Padma... Potter, Harry. (beat) Ah, the famous Boy Who Lived. I worked with your father on more than one occasion.

Harry: Uh ... yes, sir?

Warlock: (moving on) Smythe, Daria Elizabeth Morgendorffer and Lynn Jaquennetta Cullen. I've worked with your father as well, albeit more recently. (beat) Not identical twins, I take it...

Lynn: Half-sisters, sir. Different Muggle mothers.

Daria: And I prefer to go by just Morgendorffer. Not Smythe.

Warlock: I only know what they tell me. (beat) Thomas, Dean... Weasley, Fred and George... Zabini, Blaise. Now. You all need special training. Regular Dark Arts classes won't do it. I'm sure you've all heard the story of Peter Pettigrew trying to take on Sirius Black by himself.

(Harry looks like he's dying to say something; Hermione puts a hand on his arm to shut him up. Lynn, however, stands bolt upright and slaps her hands on the table in exasperated disbelief.)

Lynn: Excuse me?

Warlock: Ms Smythe. Your father a famous Auror or not, you will maintain decorum in my class. Five points from Gryffindor.

Lynn: Decorum hell. You're spewing bullshit.

Warlock: That'll make it fifteen.

Hermione: Prof ... Warlock sir? She's right.

Warlock: If you think you have a correction to make, you will speak to me after class. That applies to you as well, Miss Granger; five more points from Gryffindor.

Harry: But sir ... if we prove our case, will you reconsider the points?

Warlock: Mr Potter as well. This is getting quite the show. I'm sure you will more than make up your five points at the next Quidditch match. Now, may I please be allowed to resume teaching my class? Which, last I checked, it still is?

Lynn: (mutter as she sits down again) Loudmouthed, closed-minded, insensitive...

Warlock: ...good hearing...

Lynn: Damn.

Warlock: As I was saying. You are the next generation of our protectors. At least, you have the potential. It is my job to form that potential into reality. This class will be strict and on a very fast pace. The only thing we know about the amount of time we have is that it is short. Voldemort (assorted gasps from the class) could appear at the school gates tomorrow, and then where would you be?

Daria: The pearly ones?

Warlock: My job is to prevent that, Ms Smythe.

Jane: Damn. That'd be a painting opportunity and a half...

Warlock: (ignoring that, continuing) Your first assignment is to break out parchment and quill and write down every curse, hex, charm, jinx, or other spell that could serve you well in a fight.

(The FJM and HHR look at each other with wide eyes. Jane leans over to Dean.)

Jane: A Galleon says Lynn whips the bookworm at this one.

Dean: What, Hermione? She's top in everything!

Jane: Except fighting. But maybe you wanna put your money where your mouth is?

(Dean thinks about this.)

Dean: All right, then. A Galleon on Hermione.

George: I want in. A Galleon on Lynn. (beat, turning) Harry? Daria?

Fred: Likewise!

Herm: Dean! Jane! Fred! George! Our academic record isn't a gambling matter!

Harry: I don't think I will, thanks. It's too close to call.

(Daria just shakes her head and they bend to their assignment. Fade to same, some time later. Warlock is looking at the finished papers.)

Warlock: Miss Granger... your list is depressingly short. Have you not even learned Rictusempra or Reducto?

Herm: Oh, I've learned them, Professor. But ... using them on someone?

Harry: (levelling a disbelieving look at Hermione) You set Snape's robes on fire and you won't use Rictusempra on someone?

(Hermione slumps sheepishly.)

Warlock: Fifteen points from Gryffindor, Ms Granger, really, I'm disappointed. I asked for spells that could serve you well, not spells you'd be willing to use. If some servant of Voldemort's prepares to throw Avada Kedavra at your parents or your best friend, you will find out very quickly how your priorities change.

Herm: Y-yes sir.

(Trembling lower lip and wide eyes from Hermione. Dean sighs and hands over a Galleon each to Jane, Fred and George.)

Jane: Hmm. Divination prowess? Or just knowing thine friends as thine enemies?

Daria: I'm not making that call.

Warlock: (hands her list back) For every spell you add to the list, up to fifteen of course, Gryffindor will regain one of those points.

Herm: T-thank you, sir.

Warlock: (flipping through the parchments) Potter. Leglocker an interesting idea, but if you have time to throw that, why not the full Body Bind?

Harry: Hurts more when they fall flat on their face, sir. And Body Bind's near the bottom.

Warlock: For the first part, Potter, if their arms are free, they are still dangerous. For the second, why list Leglocker at all if you know the body bind?

Harry: You said all the ones we knew, sir.

Warlock: (smiles) Exactly, and well done sticking to your guns. Five points to Gryffindor. (beat) Right; that's time, ladies and gentlemen. (People start collecting their things) Would Ms Lane, Ms Smythe -- both of you -- Mr Potter, and Ms Granger please stay after class?

(Those he named approach Warlock's desk as the others file out, looking at the gang sympathetically.)

Harry: Sir? About Pettigrew...

(Warlock breaks out a bottle of something dark and fizzy and opens it)

Lynn: They actually do cola in this place?

Warlock: Call it a special potion for staying awake.

Harry: Sir, Sirius Black isn't what you think he is.

Warlock: Now. As for Pettigrew. I am aware of the ... rumors surrounding the betrayal of the Potters.

Harry: They're not rumours! Pettigrew betrayed my parents, not Sirius.

Warlock: I am also aware that Sirius Black is not being hunted by the Ministry as ... energetically as could be.

Daria: Then why continue to tell the story that way?

Warlock: Because, whether Pettigrew went alone to confront Black or the other way around, the point remains the same. And you will note, I phrased it as "have all heard the story."

Lynn: You tell it like you believe it.

Warlock: The Minister of Magic has heard these rumours as well.

Harry: But he doesn't believe any of it!

Warlock: I believe Snape will soon be teaching you about truth potions.

Lynn: Done it.

Daria: Threatened us with one, in fact.

Harry: More than once.

Lynn: (sotto) It wasn't AP's fault the damn slugs went missing.

Warlock: But did he teach you how to make one?

Lynn: No, but he didn't need to. AP found a book.

Warlock: The official word is that Sirius Black, if sighted, is to be stunned and bound back to Azkaban, there to receive the Kiss.

Harry: NO!

Warlock: I happen to know that the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, will be visiting the school in a month or so. I assume Dumbledore is ... convinced of Black's innocence?

Hermione: Y-yes sir.

Warlock: I shall have a word with Dumbledore then.

Lynn: Our word isn't enough?

Warlock: I shall see if an ... interview might be arranged.

Harry: What kind of interview?

Warlock: Well, let me set the scene. Imagine Dumbledore's office. (Harry nods knowingly) Imagine him having a conversation with the Minister. (Harry and Hermione wince) Imagine, then, if you will, a potion bottle on the desk. Perhaps Mr Fudge being asked to ensure, through the use of a simple charm, that it is indeed Veritaserum.

Harry: You're serious.

Warlock: Then let us say Mr Black is ushered through the door.

Lynn: Let's say Fudge reaches for his wand and does something bad to 'Mr Black'... Unacceptable.

Warlock: Let's say that Fudge put his wand down on the desk after ensuring the ... veracity of the potion. And let us say that when he reaches for it, it will be gone.

Lynn: You're good. You're damn good.

Warlock: And let us say that Dumbledore suggests the use of the Veritaserum.

Harry: And so Sirius takes it, tells exactly what happened all those years ago, and Fudge has to believe him?

Warlock: Under those circumstances, it would look very suspicious if he did not, n'est ce pas?

Harry: And you can arrange this?

Warlock: I shall certainly have a word or two with Dumbledore.

Harry: Uh ... right. Thank you, sir.

Warlock: Now, about these... outbursts in my class. As I believe I indicated, this class is running on borrowed time.

Daria: They'd shut you down if a few students showed signs of free thought?

Warlock: More like, if you disagree with the way that the incident appears in History books, speak with your history teacher. My job is to teach you all -- your class especially -- as much as I can about dealing with Dark Magic in as little time as possible. Does the doubt cast on the veracity of the story at all diminish the point?

Daria: No, it doesn't.

Harry: But sir, I've heard it too many times and I know too much about what really happened to be comfortable with it.

Warlock: As I said, take that up with Professor Binns. My job is not to teach you History. My job is to get you ready for the day Voldemort comes calling.

Herm: But, Professor...

Warlock: Now don't you all have other classes to get to?

(It's an obvious dismissal. They lower their eyes and leave ... except for Lynn, who stops in the doorway and glares at the man.)

(Scene: corridor. Harry, Daria, Jane and Hermione move along the corridor relatively slowly, lost in thought. Harry looks up from his shoes for a moment.)

Harry: Care of Magical Creatures next. Lynn, do you need to pick up anything in the Tower before...?

(He glances over his shoulder ... and freezes. The others stop and turn around as well, and realise that Lynn has failed to join them. Exchanging looks, they head back down the corridor and stop short of the Dark Arts classroom door.)

Warlock: ...being hard.

Lynn: I told you my reservations about them.

Warlock: You told me that Emerald and Scarlet could handle themselves.

Lynn: I said probably. I sure as hell didn't expect them to be sent here, with the way things are going. And if you remember, I didn't say anything about AP being able to cope.

Warlock: Well, they're here now. They'll do what they have to.

(Silence from Lynn. Then something slams -- possibly a chair being knocked into -- and Daria and Jane step back from the door, dragging Harry and Hermione with them. Harry and Hermione both look stunned.)

Herm: But Daria, shouldn't we...?

Daria: Do you think Filch would be particularly happy with mopping blood, sweat and teeth off this floor?

Harry: I think Filch'd use us to do the mopping; why?

Jane: Well, he'll have to if Lynn finds out we were listening in on her conversations.

Herm: But...

Harry: Maybe we should talk about it later, Hermione. We'll be late for Care of Magical Creatures.

(Scene: paddock on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid is addressing his class, which now includes Lynn and AP. AP looks very nervous; Lynn is poised to get between AP and any creature that looks like it might bite his head off.)

Hagrid: Righ', yeh lot! We're gonna spend this year learnin' 'bout the more human-like of the int'restin' creatures. An' we'll make a start with centaurs. Now, who'll tell the class summat about centaurs?

(Hermione's hand goes in the air immediately, followed by Harry's and Lynn's, in unison. AP raises his hand tentatively too, and Hagrid takes pity on him, nodding in his directions.)

AP: Well, I know 'cent' is hundred -- learned it in chemistry. So it's got a hundred legs?

Hagrid: Centaurs aren't that int'restin', lad. Hermione?

Hermione: Centaurs, thought mythical by Muggles, have the body of a horse. But in place of a head, they have the torso and head of a human.

Hagrid: Righ', righ', five points ter Gryffindor. Now, we're gonna meet a coupla centaurs, so mind yer manners.

(As if on cue, a resentful-looking Bane and a polite-looking Firenze step out of the Forest. They bow slightly to Hagrid.)

Hagrid: Hullo, Bane; Firenze.

Bane: (cold) Hagrid.

Harry: Hello, Firenze.

Firenze: (bow) Harry Potter.

AP: Uh. Hey ho!

Malfoy: Is that supposed to be some sort of greeting?

Hagrid: (brushing it off) Tell us summat about yer people, Bane.

Bane: We are not a speaking teaching aid, friend Hagrid.

AP: Do we get to ride these guys the way you said you rode the Hippogriffs, Harry, Hermione?

Bane: However much Firenze disgraced us, we are not saddle mares, boy!

Hagrid: (confused) But ... Hermione never rode the...

Hermione: (pointing wand at AP) Quietus!

AP: (nearly inaudible) sorry...

(Scene: an empty classroom, sometime after classes. Jane is standing in front of an easel that she's draped with her robes. Daria, still dressed in hers, steps into the room.)

Daria: So why all the secrecy?

Jane: Oh, I wanted to unveil something really special. I figured you'd want to be the first to see my latest masterpiece.

Daria: Oh, you've been having fun with wizard paints again. So what did you do this time?

Jane: Well, you know how we're kind of a long way from home and Mom and Dad and my sisters and brothers aren't really good at sending owls...

Daria: Well, at least this family reunion you can drape when it gets annoying. Though I'm not sure I really want to see how your father and Sir Cadogan get along.

Jane: Oh, it's not a family portrait, exactly. I decided to focus on the one family member that I'm used to sharing living space with long-term.

Daria: (getting it ... and not sure she's liking it) You didn't.

Jane: (grabbing an edge of the robe) Annnnnnnnnd voila!

(She pulls the robe off the canvas to reveal a portrait of Trent, who's asleep and snoring softly. At the motion, he snorts, wakes up and blinks out at a smug Jane and a slightly aghast Daria.)

Trentpic: Hey Janey. Uh ... what the hell am I doing here?

Jane: Well ... you're not you. You're just an artist's representation of you.

Trentpic: Oh. (beat) I feel like me to me..

Jane: But ... oh, never mind...

Daria: Jane, you're not going to hang that in the dorm, are you?

Jane: Hey, why not? I mean, it's not like you don't want him to see you...

Daria: Shut UP, Lane.

(With that, she grabs the robe from Jane and uses it to cover the painting again.)

Trentpic: (muffled) Damn.

Daria: Eep. Do me one favour, Lane. Don't paint Quinn. (Beat) Or Upchuck.

Jane: That's two favours.

(Scene: Quidditch pitch. The altered Gryffindor team step into the doorway leading to the changing rooms -- Lynn's tied her hair in her "I'm about to exercise" braid.)

George: Right! Our first match is against Slytherin, so mind yourselves! Harry, we want to avoid any real fouling, so just try to get the Snitch as fast as possible, all right? (Harry nods) Angelina, Katie, Alicia -- keep on the Quaffle as much as you can. We don't want to give them any chances to score. Fred, after Harry, you're the one who's going to get nobbled, so Lynn and I will try to stay on you.

Harry: You two watch yourselves as well, alright? You know what Slytherin's like.

George: Do I! But I don't know about Lynn here, but I'm spoiling for a good whack at them.

Lynn: And on that note...

(She mounts her Stormfront and shoots off onto the pitch, bat in hand and set look on her face. Harry mounts his Firebolt with a grin and speeds off after her. George looks at the rest of his team.)

George: Did you see the look on his face? That's the kind of eagerness that wins Quidditch cups!

(He mounts his own broom [a second-hand Nimbus Two Thousand that's still a huge improvement over his old Cleansweep 5]; Fred [with his own Nimbus] and the others mount and they shoot onto the pitch proper. Lynn and Harry are having a sporting little race around the pitch -- she has the better broom but it's obvious Harry wants it more; they're neck and neck. Malfoy flies directly into their path, scattering them -- Lynn goes low and narrowly avoids smashing into the stands. Harry, however, goes high, loops Malfoy and stops in front of him.)

Harry: What d'you think you're playing at?

Malfoy: Shouldn't you be taking this a bit more seriously, Potter? You wouldn't want to exhaust yourself before the match. You're little enough challenge as it is.

Harry: You've got a short memory, Malfoy. Slytherin haven't beaten Gryffindor in a match in three years.

Malfoy: (eyes narrowing) That's about to change, Potter.


(After a short staring match, Malfoy and Harry fly down to their respective teams. The two teams face off. Cut to the stands -- Ron and Hermione have their Omnioculars out. Jane has a camera and is poised tensely, just waiting for something interesting to happen. AP looks nervous.)

AP: And no one dies in these games, right?

Ron: Not at this level, no, AP. Worst we've ever had is a broken arm. (shooting Hermione a look) And then a deboned arm.

Herm: All right, all right, he was a useless plank, now will you let Lockhart alone? I was reading in the Prophet that he may be getting out of St Mungos next year, poor man.

Ron: (disbelieving) Poor man? Hermione, he tried to wipe our memories!

Jane: Will you two shut up? The match is gonna start!

(Back to the ground. George and Flint are shaking hands reluctantly.)

Hooch: Now, I want a good clean match. Any of you try any... (glances at Malfoy) ...stunts, and you'll be penalised accordingly. Now. Mount your brooms!

(They do, and get into position. Hooch blows her whistle and lets out the balls. Cut to Lee Jordan, commentating under McGonnagall's watchful eye.)

Lee: And Alicia Spinnett takes the Quaffle and speeds towards the Slytherin goal ... blocked by Flint, who takes possession ... hit in the back by a Bludger, nice work by Beater George Weasley! Now Angelina Johnson takes it ... mind out for that Bludger, Ang-- Oh, a crafty move by new beater Lynn Smythe; nicely aimed at the Slytherin Keeper... Gryffindor scores!

(Angelina grins and commences a victory lap around the Slytherin goal; before she gets very far, she grabs Lynn by the robes and drags her along.)

Lynn: (slight scowl) I ought to let the next one break your leg, Johnson.

Angelina: Oh, hush; you like it really...

Lynn: (yelling towards Lee) AND THAT'S CULLEN, YOU OIK!

(Back to the commentator's box; McGonnagall has gone tight-lipped at Lynn's language.)

Lee: (dry) And with me put firmly in my place, Angelina drags new Beater Lynn Cullen for a victory lap around the Slytherin goal...

(Malfoy flies to intercept the two girls.)

Malfoy: So you'd publicly disown your wizarding heritage and take the name of your pathetic Muggle mother?

Lynn: It's the name I know, Malfoy. And don't insult my mother; that's my job.

(Back to the stands, where Ron and Hermione are still glued to their Omnioculars.)

Ron: That was wicked!

Herm: What is Malfoy doing?

Daria: Ensuring his team loses this match.

Ron: But if he gets her angry, won't she play worse? Be distracted and all that?

AP: Noooooo... Her job in this game seems to be hitting things and hurting people, right? She does that better when she's in the demon-rage.

Herm: (nervous) Not real demons, though, surely...

Daria: Remember, AP, things like that aren't just words here. You're going to make people nervous.

AP: And they shouldn't be?

(Daria shrugs a little sheepishly, conceding the point. Back on the pitch, Lynn has just shot past Harry and hit a Bludger away from him. Malfoy comes up from underneath her and knocks her broom straight off course. She nearly falls off her broom but regains her balance.)


McGonnagall: (OS) Jordan! Mind your language!

Lee: (OS) All right, all right! So he nearly kills the new American Beater and all the Gryffindor team get is a penalty...

(Malfoy flies up in front of Lynn and smirks at her; Lynn's eyes narrow.)

Lynn: (a hateful, spitting noise) Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiss!

(Malfoy unconsciously backs off. Everyone nearby [Flint, Pucey, George, Katie and Malfoy] looks at her strangely but Harry, who gets such a shock he nearly falls off his broom.)

Harry: LYNN! Language!

(She looks at him oddly. When confronted with his freaked out stare, she raises an eyebrow in a gesture that says "We talk about this later" better than words ever could. She then zips over to the nearest bludger and hits it into Malfoy's stomach.)

(Scene: Gryffindor changing rooms. There is cheering from the outside world.)

Lee: (OS) And Gryffindor takes the first Quidditch match of the year, three hundred points to ninety! And let's have a round of applause for both teams...

(The team stride into the changing rooms. Katie heads the group with Angeline and Alicia; they're whispering furiously amongst themselves, shooting glances back over their shoulders. Fred and George are next; they just look a bit stunned. Harry's after them, and Lynn's not far behind.)

Lynn: And what was that all about?

Harry: Lynn, it...

Lynn: You all looked at me like I grew horns or showed off a Dark Mark or something!

Harry: Lynn ... in a way, you did.

(Lynn stops in her tracks and stares at him in confusion and horror. Harry stops; sighs, and turns to face her.)

(Scene: Great Hall. Harry has finished explaining the event on the Quidditch pitch. Ron and Hermione look horrified. Daria, Jane and AP just look confused.)

Ron: She's a ... a Parselmouth?

Herm: Frankly, that explains a whole lot.

Harry: Hermione!

Herm: Well? I don't like to question the judgement of the Hogwarts staff, but ... maybe she should have been placed in Slytherin!

Ron: Well ... she does have Snape on her side... He only really likes the Slytherins...

AP: 'Kay, could someone please tell me what a Parselmouth is?

Harry: They can talk to snakes. It's only dark wizards that can do it.

Daria: But ... you understood her...

Harry: That's apparently because I have a bit of Voldemort in me. Something left over from when he tried to ... er ...

(Lost for words, he just brushes his fringe back and shows the scar.)

Daria: I understand. But it still proves that it isn't only dark wizards that can turn out to be Parselmouths.

Herm: Well ... I suppose... But how could she... (beat) I'm going to the library. Maybe there's something there that'll give me the answer.

(Exit Hermione in a rush.)

Ron: There she goes again.

Harry: It's odd, without all of us. Where's Lynn, anyway?

AP: (glowering at him) Said she wasn't hungry. Something you said freaked her out so bad she dun't even want anyone to look at her right now.

(Harry looks sheepishly at his plate. Ron glares at AP, feeling protective of Harry. AP, feeling protective of Lynn, glares back. Daria and Jane exchange looks and unanimously decide to change the subject.)

Jane: One thing I never asked. What do you wizard types do about Guy Fawkes Day? It is next week, you know.

(AP's eyes go big and panicked. Ron looks at Jane in utter bemusement. Harry looks a little confused as well, but impressed-confused.)

Ron: Guy who?

AP: Aw, crap! I go do library too and can I borrow Dustpuppy when I find with the thing? Thankee!

(AP bursts away from the table, runs off towards the door, trips over a corner of the Hufflepuff table and skids most of the way out the door.)

Harry: (to Ron) Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament a long time ago.

Daria: He was hung, drawn and quartered, but because of the massive amount of gunpowder he and his associates planted in the House, the English use the day as an excuse to blow things up.

Ron: Sounds the sort of holiday Fred and George'd like, then. But why does AP seem so panicked?

Jane: Because Guy Fawkes is Lynn's birthday.

Harry: Which explains why you all have heard of the holiday.

Daria: (reluctantly) Not the only explanation, but the only one I care to recall.

Harry: You're telling me that Lynn was born on the same day that some traitor tried to blow up Parliament?

Ron: Better not tell Hermione that. She's suspicious enough of Lynn as it is.

Jane: You realise she'd kill us if we had a birthday party.

Daria: But she couldn't really argue with celebrating Guy Fawkes' Day in the country where it's actually recognised...

(They exchange looks.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Lynn drags herself through the portrait hole, looking exhausted.)

Lynn: One of these days I will sneak up on Warlock long enough to use Quietus...


(Pan to the room. A few Filibusters' fireworks go off. Salamanders are playing in the fire, upon which is a burning effigy -- a Guy. But since it's not catching light, a Flame Freezing charm has obviously been cast on it. A banner hangs on the far wall -- it reads "HAPPY GUY FAWKES' DAY [& happy birthday Lynn]". Lynn looks to a smirking Daria, Jane and AP, who stand in a far corner with Harry, Ron and Hermione.)

Herm: (nervous) It's not a birthday party ... exactly.

Daria: When we told Fred and George about Guy Fawkes, they couldn't resist doing something with the concept.

Harry: And we couldn't stop Fred and George to adding to the sign.

Jane: And it gave McGonagall one more reason to let us have this party.

Ron: But they got you presents and that...

AP: Please don't kill us.

Lynn: (to Daria, Jane and AP) Just wait until your birthdays...

(Scene: greenhouse 6. AP's poking at a plant. He picks up a leaf, rubs it between his fingers and sniffs. Hermione comes up behind him, watching.)

AP: What's this stuff?

Herm: It's Alihotsy. It...

AP: It poison or something?

Herm: No, it...

AP: Hmm. New pizza topping...

(With that, AP pops the leaf into his mouth, chews and swallows.)

Herm: Oh, no, AP, don't... (winces as a glazed, crazed look comes over his face) Oh dear.

(AP has started quietly mumbling things to himself and staggering around, bumping into things. Professor Sprout grabs him before he comes too close to the Venomous Tentacula, looks into his face and then turns to face the class, who's staring at AP.)

Sprout: I thought this went without saying, but I suppose I should mention this for our American compatriots. DON'T EAT WHAT YOU CAN'T IDENTIFY! Someone take ... oh, do shut up, McIntyre ... him to the hospital wing.

AP: (wandering towards the windows, looking like one of those preacher loonies on Market) You don't understand! It's the SHOE!

Lynn: (pointing her wand at him) Stupefy! (AP falls over unconscious with a dull thump) You'll thank me for that later, you moron.

Sprout: Smythe... (Lynn nods at Jane, and they each grab one of AP's arms and start dragging him out) For the rest of you, if you should ever encounter anyone at home who's stupid enough or Muggle enough or both to eat Alihotsy in your presence, the antidote is Glumbumble treacle...

(Hermione moves towards Harry and Ron, a scandalised look on her face.)

Herm: She stunned him?

Ron: He was walking into the Venemous...

Herm: She stunned her best friend?

Harry: You have to admit, Hermione, it was the quickest way to keep him from hurting himself.

Herm: But you can't go around flinging curses at people like that! It's horrible! No good witch goes around doing things like that!

Ron: Oh, come on, Hermione. You can't go around saying that Lynn's all bad just because she's a little wand-happy...

Herm: She blows things up on purpose!

Ron: So do my brothers!

Herm: She speaks Parseltongue!

Harry: So do I.

Herm: Oh, fine, don't listen to me. When your rat turned out to be You-Know-Who's servant, it was my cat who saw through him!

Ron: But you didn't!

Sprout: Granger! Weasley! Perhaps you could stop your little lover's quarrel long enough to get on with the lesson?

(That derails Ron and Hermione nicely; they blush and back away from each other very quickly. Harry just grins, a little reluctantly, and tunes into Sprout's lesson.)

(Scene: McGonagall's classroom. AP is desperately poking a slightly feathered milk jug with his wand. It hoots miserably; the way Daria's glaring at him indicates that he's Transfigured Dustpuppy and now can't change him back. McGonagall, a piece of parchment in her hand, crosses to AP's desk and tries to reverse AP's spell herself. The milk jug develops a pair of pathetic-looking owl eyes, but that's the extent.)

McGonagall: McIntyre...?

AP: I think it's the wand, ma'am. It's a little ... strong. Guess Dustpuppy's gonna be de-jugged by degrees.

McGonagall: (shaking off either utter confusion or a desperate urge to laugh) Gryffindors, before you leave this afternoon, would those of you who are going to be staying at Hogwarts over the Christmas holidays please leave your names on this parchment. And please keep in mind that we're holding another Yule Ball this year -- I think that might have some bearing on your decision.

(With a wry half-smile, she lays the parchment down beside the eyed and feathered milk jug, which is quivering. AP grabs it and looks at it as the rest of the Gryffindors crowd around it.)

AP: Ron? Y'staying?

Ron: S'pose. I normally do to keep Harry here company.

Harry: Even without you staying, Ron, it'd be better than Christmas with the Dursleys.

AP: Purple Peril? We staying?

Lynn: Unless we want to crowd the Weasley family again, we're going to have to. I got an owl from Lorna -- she's in Paris over the Christmas holidays with some guy named Jean-Claude.

AP: Van Damme?

Daria: That would be the wrong four-letter word to describe what she'll likely get up to with him in her van.

Jane: Or any van.

(Lynn ignores this; instead, she grabs her quill and removes the parchment from AP's grasp, then signs her name. Daria does the same, as does Jane. AP does the same, and he hands it to Ron, who signs a little reluctantly.)

Ron: Not another Yule Ball...

Jane: Well, it can't be any worse than the dances at Lawndale.

Ron: (handing the parchment to Harry) You haven't seen my dress robes.

(Harry looks up quizzically -- obviously wondering why Fred and George haven't followed through on their deal yet. Jane frowns.)

Jane: Dress robes?

Lynn: ("Oops" expression) Oh, I forgot to tell you about that too, huh? (to the looks) Well, I didn't think we'd need any!

Herm: (signing the parchment too) There's a Hogsmeade visit this weekend. We'll get something for you all then.

Daria: I think Jane and I will find that useful ... but I suppose you won't need to, will you, Lynn?

(Lynn's sheepish look is answer enough.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Lynn in an armchair, reading. Fred, George and Lee approach, jostling for a prime spot in front of her.)

Fred: Hey, Lynn, you...

George: ...Heard about the Yule Ball...

Lee: ...Even though we're not having the Triwizard whatsis?

Lynn: (still buried in her book) Yeeeeeeees...

Fred: So how'd you feel...

George: ...About coming to the Yule Ball...

Lee: ...With me?

Fred: Oi, Lee, I started the question!

George: This was my idea!

Lee: But I actually asked her!

(During this little exchange, Lynn has slowly lifted her head from her book; she looks a little nervous and very reluctant.)

Lynn: None of your names start with J, so why are you doing this to me?

George: Beg pardon?

Lynn: Never mind. Look, I am going alone. I'll save you all a dance, okay?

(With that, she gets up, pushes past them, and heads out the portrait hole. AP, who has seen the entire thing, slumps in a corner next to the fireplace. Harry, who's been doing his homework at a nearby table, looks up and moves over to him.)

Harry: I know how you feel, if it helps.

AP: No you don't.

Harry: I asked Cho Chang last year. Wouldn't have done if all the Triwizard Champions hadn't had to. But by the time I got the nerve, she'd already been asked.

AP: I've wanted to be really going out with her since I was ten! And now she's got all kindsa guys after her and they're all a lot better'n me!

Harry: She turned them down.

AP: But that's worse. She's going alone. She knows I heard and I can't ask her now!

(Harry, lost for words, just pats AP on the shoulder. Pan to Fred, George and Lee, who have watched that scene with growing dismay.)

Fred: I feel like a complete pillock.

George: Fred, you are a complete pillock. But then, we all are.

Lee: Maybe I'll just go ask Angelina. Only wanted in on this cos I didn't want you lot going for the most mischievous bird in the place by yourselves. Trying to save you from yourselves, know what I mean?

(Lee moves off. Fred and George head towards AP's chair.)

Fred: Listen mate, we're gutted.

George: You should've told us you wanted to ask her. We'd have let it alone.

Fred: I mean, you're family! We wouldn't have stitched you up if we'd known!

AP: It's okay. I mean, I don't blame you. I mean, you know I'd have asked her so how can I blame you for doin' it?

(He gets up and heads for the dormitory. Fred, George and Harry look at each other.)

Harry: What would I have to do to get you lot to help with that?

Fred: This one's on us, mate.

George: Yeah; we got him into this state. Least we can do.

(Scene: Potions. Harry and Ron sitting, quietly talking as they work on the potion of the day. Snape is at his desk frowning at a couple of pieces of parchment and so doesn't notice that he has an excellent opportunity there to take points from Gryffindor.)

Ron: So are you going to ask Cho Chang again this year?

Harry: I thought about it, but ... she still seems very upset about Cedric Diggory. I thought it wouldn't be fair -- it'd only remind her.

Ron: Or maybe you could ask Jane or Daria...

Harry: I wouldn't ask Jane. I think Dean Thomas wants to take her.

Ron: Someone should have let Malfoy know, then...

(Harry turns his head -- sure enough, Malfoy has left his workbench and approached Jane, who's working with Dean.)

Malfoy: So I'll meet you in the entrance hall at about seven Christmas day, to let you know.

Jane: Aw, isn't it nice of you. Giving me time and place and even offering to stand still while I hex you into next week.

Malfoy: Surely even a Mudblood such as yourself is aware that the Yule Ball is on that evening.

Jane: And won't it do your reputation ten degrees of good when you usher Puggish Pansy in wearing a really good crop of boils.

Malfoy: But I shan't be attending with Pansy.

Jane: Not even she's willing to be seen with you. Guess someone got her a Wit-Sharpening potion.

Malfoy: I will be attending with you.

Jane: Not unless you use one of the Unforgivables on me, you won't. If you'd asked last night instead of telling me today ... well, you still wouldn't have had a chance. But yesterday, I didn't have a date. Now it turns out I'm going with Dean.

Dean: You are? I... (the sound of steel-toe meeting shin) OW! I mean, you are. I mean, she is.

Malfoy: You Mudbloods deserve each other.

(With a glare that's more disappointment than anger, Malfoy stalks back to his table. Snape looks up enough to see that Malfoy's out of his chair, but seeing as Malfoy's a Slytherin, Snape says nothing; he just goes back to his parchment. Harry and Ron look at each other.)

Harry: You're asking Hermione.

Ron: No, I'm not! (to Harry's glare) I already asked Hermione. I wasn't going to let someone like Krum get the jump on me again; are you mad?

Harry: I take it she said yes. Otherwise, you'd be muttering obscenities and mutilating these roots.

Ron: She did. So is that you asking Daria, then? Only Ginny'll be disappointed...

Harry: Stick a sock in it, Ron. (beat) Besides, it'd be nice for someone to actually escort one of the Smythe girls -- even if it is just as a friend.

Ron: I'm not sure the Smythes really do nice, Harry. They're American and don't really understand the chivalry of the matter...

(There is a loud explosion from a nearby table. Snape looks up again, as does everyone else in the room, to see a table near the back completely shrouded in smoke and smouldering in places. When the smoke clears, we see Lynn and Seamus Finnegan, both covered in soot, looking at the utterly destroyed Potions ingredients and equipment.)

Seamus: Ye finally did it. Ye blew it all up!

Lynn: (cutting him off) Yeah ... what's your point?

Snape: (who has silently moved directly in front of them) The point, Ms Smythe, is that you and Finnegan have disrupted my class. However, since you are ... new ... allowances can be made. Five points from Gryffindor for your part in this. (when Seamus looks relieved) You, on the other hand, Finnegan, have been in my lessons for over four years and should have known better. Your part in this has lost Gryffindor twenty-five points.

(He stalks off. Everyone looks at Lynn and Seamus. Seamus scowls at Lynn. Lynn looks like she'd like to hide under the table but stands firm, adjusting her dragon-hide gloves before picking up bits of hot glassware and smouldering potions ingredients. Panning back to Harry and Ron, we see them share another look.)

(Scene: corridor. Jane walks out and Harry stops her.)

Jane: Now, now, Harry -- people will talk. Anyway, I'm spoken for.

Harry: No ... I was going to ask Daria to the Yule Ball and...

Jane: (smirk/leer) Why, Harry Potter! I had no idea you felt that way!

Harry: (facepalm) No, no, no, no, no! As a friend, Jane.

Jane: Not booty call, then? I'm disappointed.

Harry: (very confused) Booty ... no, I just do not want to know. I thought it might be nice for her ... and it saves me from having to ask ... well...

Jane: (raised eyebrow) A real girl?

Harry: Yes! I mean, no! I mean ... would you stop that?

Jane: Fine. So what's the problem? You tell her all that -- minus the "real girl" thing -- and you're fine. Just don't make a production of it.

Harry: Why not? I thought girls expected a...

Jane: And you're asking her so you don't have to ask a real girl; we covered this. Besides...

(She points. They look over to where Neville has nervously approached Daria, wand to hand.)

Daria: Am I expected to get into duelling position now?

Neville: Uh ... oh! No! I ... I wanted to ask if you would do me the honour of allowing me to escort you to the Yule Ball... (Daria opens her mouth) Oh! Uh...

(He points his wand at his hand and mutters something, then turns to her with a grin ... which turns to a look of horror when his hand fills with snakes.)


(He throws his handful of slithery goodness into the air as Daria stares at him with bemusement; then he runs like hell, still screaming. There's a moment's silence.)

Daria: Still no.

(Back to Jane and Harry, who are obviously trying very hard not to laugh.)

Jane: See what I mean?

Harry: Yes.

(They give up and walk down the corridor hooting with laughter. They pass Daria, who's still looking at the snakes; she looks up at them.)

Daria: (bewildered) What?

Jane: (between chuckles) You're going to the Yule Ball with Harry.

Harry: What? But...

Daria: (still a little stunned) Okay.

Harry: WHAT?

Jane: I'll explain later. But cheer up; you've got an umdate.

Harry: A what-date?

(Jane puts an arm around Harry's shoulders and leads him off, leaving Daria alternately staring after them and at the snakes.)

Daria: (flinging up her hands in exasperation) What?

(Scene: the Three Broomsticks. The gang are sitting at a large table, all with bags of shopping at their feet, all with mugs of Butterbeer in front of them. Daria and Jane look at the stuff suspiciously.)

Lynn: It's not as weird as it sounds. It helps if you remember that, taken in the right light, butterscotch sounds equally offensive to the taste buds.

AP: Hey, I think Butterbeer sounds like a great idea!

Jane: You would. You were the one who got the house elves to make that pizza with cod, stoat, English mustard and pumpkin.

Daria: (dry) And extra garlic.

AP: Look, don't knock it until you've tried it, I keep telling you!

Harry: Someone did try it, AP, remember? Poor Neville; I haven't seen anyone look that ill since Ron's slug spell backfired on him.

Herm: Oh, look, there's Prof ... er, Warlock!

(They look; sure enough, Warlock is sitting at a table in the far corner with a drink in front of him. He seems to be waiting for someone.)

Lynn: Has there been any news on Operation Black Tuesday?

Ron: Operation what?

Daria: Guess the stock market crash didn't affect that part of the world that works with Galleons.

Harry: (at least knows what Lynn's getting at) I dunno. I tried asking a couple of times, but the Professor's not exactly the kind of person you can pin down and talk to.

Herm: I don't know; I don't much trust that one. I mean, someone who won't use his own name but will refer to himself as "oathbreaker"... (to the looks from Harry, Ron, Jane and AP -- Daria and Lynn seem to understand) That's what Warlock actually means ... or at least meant at one time.

Ron: He's a strange duck, that one. And we haven't exactly had the best of luck with Dark Arts teachers.

Lynn: (surprisingly vehement) Will you leave the man alone? Give him the benefit of the doubt.

Jane: This coming from you, Miss "Innocent Until You Piss Me Off"?

Daria: Given his propensity for taking points off Gryffindor ... or more specifically, you...

Harry: It's like he enjoys making you angry. He did look rather pleased at your treatment of Lavender Brown the other day...

Lynn: (*gleep*) Well, she'd been asking for it. And I think Warlock's the kind of teacher who prefers that his students channel their efforts into their work rather than their one-liners.

Herm: But she was in the hospital wing for two days!

Lynn: That was an accident.

Ron: I think he just likes it when you go evil. True sign of a recruiter for the Death Eaters.

(There's silence as the meaning sinks in. AP sort of tries to cower under the table. Jane looks like she wouldn't mind joining him in that. Lynn has gone very still and Daria tries to jump in before something not very nice happens.)

Daria: Excuse me ... I think you're jumping to conclusions. You can enjoy a bit of ... random violence ... without being a Dark wizard. I should know.

Ron: And that?

(Turn to the door, where the hooded figure has entered and approached Warlock.)

Daria: ...Your guess is as good as mine.

Ron: This is bad. Hooded figures hanging around in pubs are bad news. Ask Hagrid!

AP: Come again?

(Daria raises an eyebrow.)

Harry: A hooded man got Hagrid into a card game. Hagrid won an illegal dragon egg, but by then he was so drunk he blurted out a Hogwarts secret that almost got Voldemort the Philosopher's Stone.

Ron: That time, the bloke in the hood turned out to be You-Know-Who! And he is after Harry!

Lynn: And you think...?

Daria: So, in other words, this will end in fire.

Herm: I don't know, Ron. He is one of our teachers...

Ron: Does that mean he can't possibly be a Death Eater?

Harry: It may have happened before, but Dumbledore would have made sure that nothing like last year happens again.

Herm: But Harry, you'd have thought that Dumbledore would have made sure that nothing like that happened after Professor Quirrell! And then look what happened -- Professor Moody ... well, Bart Crouch Junior pretending to be Moody...

Lynn: (standing up) He. Is. Not. A Death Eater. (beat) I'm going back to the school.

(She collects her shopping, slings her cloak over her shoulders and strides out.)

Jane: Well, now you've done it.

AP: Be sure'n check your bed tonight before you get in it. She does Magical Creature extra study and can get her hands on salamanders and all kindsa stuff.

(Ron looks incredibly nervous.)

(Scene: Gryffindor girls' dormitory. I'm making a guess that there aren't any more than five people per Gryffindor dorm room, so Daria, Jane and Lynn are sharing with Hermione; the fifth bed is empty. Jane sits up, staggers out of bed, walks around the bed ... and trips over a pile of presents at the foot of her bed.)

Jane: Mrrwn?

Herm: (sitting up) Happy Christmas, Jane!

Daria: (groping for her glasses) Merry Christmas, Hermio... (sits up and peers at Jane, still lying facedown on the floor) Uh ... Jane?

Jane: Mrrwn?

Daria: What are you doing on the floor?

Jane: Dnnnnnnnn.

Herm: I ... think she tripped over the presents.

Daria: (blink) We got presents?

Herm: I understood Harry being surprised, but...

Lynn: (sitting up as well, squinting at them without her glasses) Daria doesn't take well to the idea that people care enough about her to give her presents.

Daria: (slight smirk) Your pile's bigger than mine.

Lynn: (slight panic) What? You are kidding, right?

Herm: (a little stunned) Uh ... she's not, actually...

(When Lynn turns to grope for her own glasses, Daria's smirk widens.)

Daria: And I'm not the only one.

(Scene: Boy's dormitory. In this one, they've added an extra bed -- the room seems bigger to compensate. Harry's sitting on his bed, unwrapping a small package. AP's unwrapping a small one of his own two beds away.)

Harry/AP: (unison) A toothbrush.

(They look at each other strangely, each holding up their toothbrush -- Harry's is yellow; AP's is green.)

AP: Well, at least it's useful, right?

Harry: The Dursleys just don't want to have to pay dentist bills.

AP: I thought dentists came on that NHS thing...

Dean: (unwrapping a football jersey) AP, one thing you learn as a Muggle here; NHS stands for No Hope, Sunshine.

Neville: So you all ready for the Yule Ball?

Ron: Are you daft? I'll have to turn up in those horrible maroon dress robes again!

(Harry narrows his eyes a little ... and then Ron tears into a fairly large package and reveals a set of very dark navy blue dress robes. His eyes widen; Harry hides a smile.)

Harry: What was that about horrible dress robes?

Ron: I knew Fred and George were doing well with the Wheezes, but I didn't think they'd spend this much on me!

(Enter a disheveled Jane, a slightly amused-looking Daria and an incredibly disgruntled Lynn. Hermione follows, wringing her hands. They're all bearing parcels.)

Seamus: Oi! You're not s'posed to be in here!

Ron: Ah, stuff a sock in it, Seamus!

Harry: (looking up from a parcel) Speaking of socks ... more from Dobby.

Jane: (unwrapping a bright red knitted jumper) What's this?

Ron & Harry: A Weasley jumper.

Jane: (peering into the wrapping) There's fruitcake in here!

Lynn: We've all got one. (holds up a purple knitted jumper) It's ... very...

Harry: They're quite warm. Good for wearing under your Quidditch robes this time of year.

Ron: And they're better than the ones the rest of us get. Mum makes more of an effort when you're not family.

AP: (holding up his -- it's blue) She did it by the colours. Nice. (grin) So c'mon; what'd you all get me?

Daria: Why don't you just open them and find out? (she unwraps a flat parcel) Jane...

Jane: (sheepish grin) Yeaaaah?

(Daria wordlessly holds up the painting -- it's of Helen, Jake and Quinn.)

Quinnpic: My God, this place is awful! What's with all the old furniture?

Helenpic: (warning) Quinn...

Jane: (sheepish) I thought she and the Fat Lady could exchange fashion tips.

Harry: What's this?

(Everyone looks at what he holds up -- it's an odd contraption, a sort of a flat black box with straps on it.)

Lynn: It's a spring-loaded clip. I took the measurements on your wand and made it to fit.

Harry: But what's it for?

(Lynn holds up her right arm and flicks her wrist outward. Her wand is suddenly in her hand. As the young English wizards stare [Daria, Jane and AP just watch with bemusement], she rolls up the sleeve of her robe. A similar spring-loaded clip is strapped to her own arm -- she stuffs her wand back into it before digging back into her packages.)

Lynn: That's what it's for. If you face Voldemort again, I'm sure you'll be glad of having your wand somewhere that's impervious to Accio. Is this what I think it is?

(She holds up a crystal ball.)

Ron: Who got you that?

Jane: If you're going to give me three guesses, I'll say Lavender, Parvati or Madam Trelawney herself.

Lynn: Right on the nose with the third one. Well, I guess I can always use a paperweight.

(With that, she chucks it into a pile of wrapping paper and continues. The look on her face as she does so prompts a desperate desire for a change of subject ... which is provided when Neville falls over, gasping. A moment later, he's gone, having turned into a komodo dragon. Dean and Seamus, not having seen a lizard that big since the Triwizard Tournament, scream, drop their parcels and run out of the room. Everyone left in the room looks at Lynn and AP. Lynn just gives a shrug and goes back to her unwrapping. AP sheepishly provides the explanation.)

AP: He must've opened the twins' thing.

Harry: Serpent Surprises?

Ron: Well, it was certainly that.

Lynn: Actually, serpents refer to snakes, for the most part. Those were the Komodo Caramels.

Herm: That's ridiculous! And when does he turn back?

AP: In a minute or so. (beat; to Lynn) Hey, Purple Peril. Did the twins ever figure out how to make the clothes go back too?

(Lynn looks at him with slight panic and grabs a blanket off the bed, draping it over the lizard. A moment later, Neville reappears. He peers under the blanket and goes the colour of a stop sign. As he tightens the blanket around himself, climbs onto the bed and shuts the curtains around it, Ron and Harry can't help laughing; Jane joins them. Hermione and Daria, however, look varying degrees of disgusted. Lynn and AP just look a little sheepish.)

Lynn: Apparently not.

Herm: Well, I'm going to go get ready for the Yule Ball. You wouldn't believe the time it takes to get my hair under control.

(She stalks out of the room. Daria, Jane and Lynn collect their belongings and join her; Jane's still snickering. Harry and Ron look at AP.)

Ron: Am I going to have to test everything I ever eat to make sure you or my brothers haven't done something to it?

Harry: Cheer up; at least they never turned you into anything.

Ron: Oh, no; just burned a hole right through my tongue...

Neville: (OS; meek) Could someone please hand me a pair of pyjamas?

(Scene: Entrance Hall. Harry, Ron and AP are standing around, waiting. AP is wringing his hands, looking as nervous as if he actually had a date. Fred, George, Dean and Lee join them after a moment.)

Fred: We saw Ginny on the way out. The girls'll be ready in a minute.

George: AP, you'll wear the skin off your hands.

AP: Well ... I ... awjeez...

(They look up as the girls come down the stairs. Jane's dress robes are red with black lace; she looks good enough to make Dean grin. Daria's dress robes look a lot like Harry's; they're emerald green too, only they have black lace at collar and cuffs as well. Hermione's wearing her periwinkle blue dress robes and her hair in the elegant knot; she looks as lovely as she did at the first Yule Ball. Upon seeing her, Ron starts to sweat. Ginny's dress robes are tan and she looks quite happy to be old enough to go; she does, however, blush every time she looks at Harry. Angelina, like Jane, is wearing red -- obviously feeling it's her best colour -- but hers are edged in gold. Lynn's dress robes are purple [like we couldn't have guessed] and floaty. Her hair is up in a French plait, and AP's reaction to her is the same as Ron's is to Hermione.)

Lynn: Hey. (looking at AP's plain black dress robes with blue piping) It suits you.

AP: (trying not to show too much emotion) Thanks. Yours're nice too.

Lynn: (slight blush) Thanks.

Jane: (extending an arm to Dean) Come on; let's see if wizards really know how to party.

(Dean grins a little wider, takes Jane's arm and leads her into the Great Hall. Ron offers his arm to Hermione, obviously not quite aware of what he's doing. Hermione smiles sweetly, takes it and leads Ron into the Hall. Daria and Harry shrug and walk in together, but they don't touch. Lee and Angelina grin at each other a little and link arms, going in as well. Lynn follows them, alone, and AP watches with a hangdog look on his face.)

Fred: (grinning) Don't worry, mate!

George: (also grinning) Ginny's in on it too, AP.

Fred: Think of it as our Christmas present to you.

George: And a thanks for all the help with the Wheezes.

AP: But ... what ... wait ... no...

(But Fred and George are already gone. AP looks with huge eyes at Ginny, who smiles kindly at him.)

Ginny: Don't worry, AP. They know what they're doing.

(She takes his elbow and drags him into the Hall.)

AP: But ... eee ... muh...

(Scene: the Great Hall. Dinner is over, and Lynn is sitting at one of the small tables, nursing a Butterbeer and casting not-quite-casual glances across the room at AP, who's talking to Ginny. Every time she takes her eyes off him, he looks in her direction with obvious puppy-dog eyes. Ginny has noticed this and shoots George a look from where he stands at the buffet table. George nods and moves towards Lynn's table, and Ginny looks at AP.)

Ginny: Would you dance with me? Maybe if I dance with someone, I'll be able to ask ... (shoots a look at Harry, who's chatting to Hermione) someone who's not related to me.

AP: Oh, you don't wanna dance with me, squirt. I don't do with the moving...

Ginny: Oh, come on; you couldn't possibly be that bad.

(With that, she drags him onto the dance floor. Pan to where George has approached Lynn and bowed deeply to her in the manner of an English gentleman [well, it's half-right].)

George: (very overdone upper-class accent) Dear Lady Cullen-Smythe, I would be delighted if you would do me the honour of agreeing to join me in a dance.

Lynn: (raised eyebrow) I said I would save you a dance, didn't I?

George: (dropping the act) Oh, come on, Lynn; where's the fun if we can't play Lord and Lady High Muckamuck?

(Lynn just rolls her eyes, gets to her feet and takes the arm George has offered her. George leads her out to the dance floor and then spins her into his arms in a suave movement that makes her smile indulgently. AP has caught this [not a person in the room hasn't] and he scowls, losing concentration and stepping on Ginny's foot. From the extent of her wince, it's not the first time he's done it.)

Ginny: Ow!

AP: Look, see, I told you I was bad with the moving... Can we get off the floor now?

Ginny: (looking up at the ceiling) No! I ... uh ... we should just not try to move around too much. Just ... sway ... and don't lift your feet, all right?

(AP nods miserably and looks towards where Lynn and George were standing ... only they're not there anymore. They are, in fact, heading towards AP and Ginny from the side in a not-unimpressive tango step. But they don't stop when they should; they collide with Ginny and AP. For a moment, there's a confusing tangle of arms, legs and torsos ... and then George is tangoing Ginny away with a "mission accomplished" grin and Lynn and AP are standing facing each other, AP's arm around Lynn's shoulders to steady himself. They look up at the same time and spy the mistletoe hovering about two feet over their heads.)

Lynn: (*blink*) How cliché?

AP: (blushing and wincing) Damnthemdamnthemdamnthem...

Lynn: Well ... it is tradition...

(Lynn leans in and kisses him. He's stunned motionless for a split-second, but starts responding in a big hurry. The kiss lasts, finally breaking. They look at each other with stunned eyes for a moment, and then Lynn disengages herself and walks quickly away, blushing. George tangos Ginny back towards AP, grinning widely. Ginny has an indulgent, "how romantic" smile on.)

George: Looked like you enjoyed that, mate!

Ginny: How'd it go?

AP: Thankyouthankyouthankyou...

(With that, he wanders towards the doors to get some air, bouncing off several small tables on the way.)

George: (turning to Ginny with the grin) So, seems I owe you a favour, little sister. (pointed glance in Harry's direction) Anything we can help you with?

Ginny: (blushing furiously) Oh, George...

(George locks eyes with Fred from across the room and nods to Ginny, and then in Harry's direction. Fred nods and mutters something to Katie Bell, who smirks a little but approaches Harry. After a moment, Katie drags Harry onto the dance floor. Ginny looks at George, panicked.)

George: Let's go again, then...

Ginny: (blushing but freaked) Oh, George ... George, no...

(But George is off again, tangoing her towards Harry. Fred points his wand at the mistletoe and Banishes it until it's hanging just over Harry's head. Pan to Daria, who's joined by Jane at a small table towards the front of the room.)

Jane: Pity Trent's not here.

Daria: Jane...

Jane: I mean, there's Lynn and AP...

Daria: Jane, shut up.

Jane: And now ... aw, look, isn't that cute? They're both blushing...

Daria: Jane, this is your last warning.

Jane: But with the hovering mistletoe and the Cupid Twins, maybe you and Trent could finally...

Daria: (discreetly pointing her wand at Jane) Quietus.

(Jane turns around to Daria, one hand on her throat, and glares at her with accusing eyes. Daria smirks and walks away. Jane takes out her wand, points it at Daria and mouths something. Unfortunately for Jane, nothing happens. Jane grabs a pad and pen and starts looking for someone to Sonorus her.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Neville's sitting in an armchair in the corner -- he looks a little lonely. The portrait hole opens and people start piling through. Jane looks extremely grumpy and stalks over to Neville, scrawls on her pad and shows it to Neville. He frowns at it for a moment and then pulls out his wand.)

Neville: Sonorus.

Jane: (relieved sigh) Thank you.

Daria: (who happens to be passing) Damn you.

Jane: Oh, Morgendorffer, I'm going to give you such a hexing...

Daria: You'll have to catch me first.

(With that, Daria hurries up to the dorms, followed by a disgruntled Jane. Neville looks really confused. Pan to Fred and George, who've set up a game of Exploding Snap at one of the nearby tables. The sound of footsteps make them look up -- Lynn's standing there, just looking at them. They both stand up, nervous but determined.)

Fred: Look, we did that for AP.

George: He's our cousin and it was our fault he didn't feel he could ask you to the Ball.

Fred: So we played Fairy Godmother.

George: Less of the "fairy" there, George...

Fred: And if you're going to hex us, hex away.

George: (Shakespearean overblown self-sacrifice) We gladly brave the slings and arrows of Cullen misfortune in the knowledge that we gave our dear cousin a moment of happiness.

(Finally, blessed silence. Lynn looks at them a moment longer ... then steps forward and kisses them each on the cheek, once.)

Lynn: (very soft) Thanks.

(With that, she walks off. Fred and George look a little nonplussed for a moment; then they grin.)

Fred: He's in there!

(Scene: McGonagall's classroom. McGonagall is pacing the room, evaluating the work of the classroom.)

McGonagall: Longbottom...

Neville: (holding up a velveteen rabbit that's coughing up bits of cotton) Oops!

McGonagall: Allow me to reiterate your instructions, class. Slippers ... into rabbits.

(She points her wand at a bedroom slipper [white bunny slipper] sitting on her desk. *Pop*; it turns into a normal rabbit and starts hopping around the desk. Cut to AP's desk. AP waves his table leg; there is a *pop* and then he winces.)

AP: Sooooorry.

(we pan down to a desk to see a small purple rabbit. The rabbit manages to look extremely pissed off even without much in the way of facial expressions.)

Herm: At least it's better-looking than the ferret.

Daria: It doesn't matter. She'll still have to do something dire to him. Her honour demands no less.

Jane: She has honour?

Daria: You make a point. Maybe more her reputation. Someone of her temperament ... as a rabbit?

AP: (evil thought hits) Rabbit...? Oh MAN, she's gonna go Bun-Bun on me...

Harry: Who?

Daria: Web comic ... never mind. Mini-lop with a switchblade and a grudge against telemarketers.

Ron: Telemarketers?

Herm: A Muggle thing. You're better off not knowing.

AP: Uh ... Professor McGonagall? Can I be excused? I think, once you turn her back, this class'll be a health hazard.

McGonagall: Oh come now, McIntyre, what's the worst that could happen?

(McGonagall does the reversal. Lynn, her hair still streaked with purple, reaches for her wand and points it at AP with wrath in her eyes.)


(Everybody runs for cover as AP starts making like a very clumsy Fred Astaire.)

AP: ACK! Cripes! Jeez, Purple Peril, who rewrote this as the Red Shoes? MAKEITSTOP!

McGonagall: Finite Incantatem! (AP stops dancing and falls flat on his face.) Ten points from Gryffindor for horseplay and YOU, Ms Cullen ... detention!

Lynn: (clenched teeth) Yes. Ma'am. (under her breath) They teach you all this great revenge technique and then they don't let you use it...

Harry: We're meant to be the good guys, Lynn, remember?

Lynn: For me, that is good. Ask anyone.

(looks shot at Daria and AP, who nod emphatically)

Herm: Oh dear.

Ron: Wicked!

AP: Hey, if she's wicked, and a witch, and she comes from west of here...

Lynn: AP, I already have detention and nothing left to lose.

AP: Eep.

Daria: Um ... neutral corners, everyone?

Lynn: You're no fun anymore.

(Scene: greenhouse 6. Harry, Hermione and Ron are working with Bouncing Bulbs at a table.)

Ron: Come off it, Hermione! That's a load of rubbish and you know it!

Herm: I seem to know a lot more than you do, Ron...

Ron: That's only because you spend your entire life with your head in a book! How about watching the people?

Harry: Ron's got a point, Hermione. I mean, true, things with Lynn are a little strange, but think about it. If she was a dark witch, AP would have to be in on it.

Herm: Well, that would be perfect cover for him, wouldn't it? I mean, he's supposedly a relative of an employee of the Minister of Magic! No one too high up, so it wouldn't be suspicious...

Harry: Yes, but Hermione, that someone would have to be really good at fooling people.

Herm: But he could...

(A kerfuffle at a table nearby causes them to look over. AP is struggling -- his Bouncing Bulb is hitting the table, bouncing off his face and hitting the table again only to repeat the process. In short, he's been turned into a human Bo-Lo bat.)

AP: (*smack*) Ow! (*smack*) Ow! (*smack*) OW!

(Lynn finally manages to get a hold of the Bulb and she, Daria and Jane huddle around AP, who is sporting two black eyes and a bloody nose. Sprout comes over and murmurs at them for a moment, and then AP staggers out, presumably towards the hospital wing. Back to Harry, Ron and Hermione, who have watched the scene with interest. Harry and Ron level looks at Hermione, who looks a little sheepish.)

Herm: Oh, all right, perhaps he isn't the makings of a Death Eater.

Ron: And you didn't see him with Mum -- he can't lie to save his skin!

Herm: Well, that could just be his cover...

Harry: You mean he's pretending to be a bad liar so no one will see how good a liar he is? That's a bit circular, Hermione.

Ron: Not to mention too complicated! Hermione, he's my cousin, all right? I'd know if he was up to something!

Herm: Ron, you've known him five minutes!

Harry: And you've known Daria even less time and you don't seem uncertain about her. And she is Lynn's sister.

Herm: (flustered) Yes, well... Well, she... Well, she's so upstanding! She'd never get up to something suspicious! Not unless she was dragged into it!

Harry: Give her the benefit of the doubt, Hermione. After all, we do things that people would consider suspicious all the time. Anyway, most of it's just revenge. And you should know all about that, what with what you did to Rita Skeeter.

(Hermione, now looking extremely embarrassed, just turns to her Bulbs again. Harry and Ron share a slight smirk before going back to their own work.)

(Gryffindor common room. Gang lounging. Lynn is leafing through a copy of "Quidditch Through the Ages", frowning gently. Daria and Ron are playing chess. Harry's going over tactics with Fred and George while Hermione and AP work on what looks like Arithmancy homework. Jane is painting the whole thing [with her own paints, not the moving-picture stuff].)

Lynn: Skinning ... cobbing ... isn't anything legal in this game?

Harry: Well, you're allowed to beat Bludgers at the other players. Then there's things like the Wronski Feint...

Lynn: That's more for Seekers, though.

Daria: (looking up from chessboard, where her sole remaining rook has been taken by one of Ron's bishops) Your propensity for violence gets more disturbing by the day, Lynn. (She proceeds to post to alt.pot.kettle.black by sending her queen in to rough up the offending bishop.)

AP: Pro-wha?

Jane: (peering at him over her easel, eyebrow raised) I really don't believe you lasted for six months with Daria, AP...

Lynn: (to Daria) Look at it this way. Back in the Muggle world, you hit a flying bowling ball into someone's face and they're going to be in nose-splints for weeks. Here, they're mopped up, magically medicked and good as new within minutes. So why worry about hurting people when it's that temporary?

(short silence)

AP: (to the room at large) Before you ask, that's just her. She's really ... prognostic?

Lynn: Pragmatic.

AP: Oh. Right. That.

George: See, that's what's going to make her one of the best Beaters we've ever had!

Fred: Yeah! With the school's best Seeker and the school's best Beater, we're going to be unbeatable!

Daria: Bad pun. Can we have you sent to Azkaban for that?

Harry: (*shudder*) Don't even joke. Some things...

Daria: (realising) Right. Sorry about that.

George: (trying to break tension) We're going to dinner. Coming?

(A look is exchanged. Lynn doesn't seem to be in on it, still immersed in her book, but...)

Lynn: I'll be a few more minutes, George. I want to see if there's something that I can do on the pitch that won't result in a penalty shot for the opposing team.

Fred: Wicked!

George: Knowing her, it will be. You lot?

Daria: I might as well let Ron finish beating the crap out of me at this chess game.

Ron: Won't be long! (his knight makes short work of Daria's queen.) Check!

Harry: We'll wait. I want to see this.

(Fred and George nod agreement and leave. Daria knocks her king over, acknowledging defeat [a cry of protest leaves the king but she ignores it]. Lynn sticks a piece of parchment in her book and drops it on the floor near her chair.)

Lynn: Okay, speaking of Azkaban, how goes the plan as regards the clearing of Sirius Black? Any news from Warlock?

Harry: Not really. Every time I ask, he just says "it's under control".

Daria: That's ... reassuring...

Lynn: (grumbling) In a way. I'd prefer a bit more detail on just how it is being controlled.

Harry: I don't see how we can force him to explain...

Jane: Yeah; he carries the wizard equivalent of a .44 Mag. I'm not going to annoy a man who threatens the Furnunculus charm - I just got over adolescent acne and boils I do not need.

Herm: Do you suppose we could ask Professor Dumbledore? I mean, he's bound to know something about it...

Ron: Come on, Hermione; d'you really think he'd tell us?

Herm: He might tell Harry, though.

Harry: I don't want to push things with Professor Dumbledore, Hermione. It wouldn't be fair.

Lynn: Maybe I should ask him.

Ron: Who, Professor Dumbledore? But you barely speak to him and...

Lynn: No, I mean Warlock. (*sigh*) I've spent some time with the man, so...

Daria: (*blink*) Excuse me?

AP: You what? When? Where? I mean, I mean, I mean...

Lynn: Remember I took off for awhile back in June? Well, I went off to meet up with him for some last-minute witch-style training. And some further weapons work. Aurors use all the tools of the trade - magic and Muggle.

Harry: So you could talk to him? Ask for further details of what's going on?

Lynn: I was hoping not to have to do that, but... (*sigh*) Yeah, I suppose. Though if you couldn't get him to talk, Harry, I don't expect to get that much more.

Harry: Well, you can't do any worse, can you?

Lynn: You have a point. Now, we should get to dinner before Fred and George wonder what's taking us so long.

(With that, she gets up and heads for the portrait hole. The others follow.)

(Scene: Entrance Hall. The gang are heading down the stairs, talking.)

Harry: So when d'you think you'll get hold of him?

Lynn: Well, given how often he keeps me back after class, I'd say sometime after our next class with him.

Ron: But you don't have him for a couple of days yet! I have him tomorrow; I'd be better off talking to him myself!

AP: And say what? Look, Ron, you're cool and that, but when it comes to that guy, you're with the words like I'm with the words!

Ron: Oh, come off it, AP! He is a little bit odd and the last thing I want is to get a Death Eater mad at...

Lynn: He is not a...

(They reach the bottom of the stairs and Lynn, who's nearly going backwards to face Ron, runs smack into Goyle. The gang find themselves facing Malfoy and his two cronies.)

Malfoy: Why don't you mudbloods and Muggle-lovers watch where you're going?

(He turns to stalk off and nearly runs into Warlock, who's glaring at Malfoy in a way that makes Ron shrink back even as he watches with the others, eager for a repeat of the ferret incident.)

Warlock: (ice) That, Mr Malfoy, will be one hundred points from Slytherin House. You will not allow such filthy epithets to cross your lips while a student at this school.

Malfoy: What do you care?

Warlock: Perhaps you are not aware that my mother was a Muggle. You will keep your ... arrogant attitude to yourself. Or would you care for a duel?

Malfoy: I can't believe you are threatening a child of one of the most powerful pureblood families in the country. When my father hears of this, he'll...

Warlock: That'll be two hundred, Malfoy. Care to try for four?

Malfoy: (utterly stunned) No one in history has lost Slytherin house two hundred points before!

Warlock: I suppose three hundred is much rarer.

Malfoy: THREE?!

Warlock: I'm adding as I go. And may I add -- if you're a shining example of pureblood-ness, I don't want any part of it.

(Malfoy decides to cut his losses and leaves, Crabbe and Goyle following along behind. Warlock makes to move away and Harry shoves Lynn in his general direction. Caught off guard, she nearly falls over at his feet, and Warlock looks at her.)

Lynn: Excuse me.

Warlock: Was there something, Ms Smythe?

Lynn: I was wondering if I could have a word with you. In private. About ... Dark Arts.

Warlock: (casual) Of course. Having to look at Malfoy over dinner would put me off my food anyway. My office?

(Lynn nods and follows him, looking back at her friends with a shrug as she goes. Hermione looks incensed.)

Herm: I don't like this at all.

Harry: We asked her to talk to him, Hermione...

Herm: "About Dark Arts"? I ask you!

Ron: Hermione, would you relax? She was probably just looking for a way to say it without announcing Snuffles to the school!

Harry: We are trying to be discreet about this, Hermione.

Herm: Well, I think she's being discreet about more than that.

Jane: If you're going to accuse our friend of something, Hermione, do it straight out.

AP: Yeah; that way I have something solid to hex you for!

Herm: (shrinking in the face of the glares she's getting from Daria, Jane and AP) Well ... I don't ... (*sigh*) All right, I apologise. But I still don't trust her.

(With a final glare, Daria, Jane and AP head off to dinner. Harry and Ron look at her.)

Harry: I'd drop this if I were you, Hermione. At least until you have proof that there's something to be suspicious of.

Ron: Yeah; unless you fancy spending a week in the hospital wing, that is.

(They go in to dinner too, leaving a worried but still angry Hermione looking after them.)

(Scene: boys' dormitory. Harry is asleep ... at least until a long-fingered hand pokes him in the shoulder a few times. He groans and looks over to see Dobby looking at him.)

Harry: Dobby! What are you doing here?

Dobby: Dobby was wanting to see you, sir! And how is Harry Potter's Wheezy?

Harry: Ron's ... fine. (gropes for his glasses, puts them on) Dobby, it's very late and I have lessons in the morning...

Dobby: Dobby is knowing the time, sir. But Dobby thought that Harry Potter would be worried about his friend.

Harry: (blink) Which one now?

Dobby: Dobby is seeing Harry Potter's friend, sir -- one of the ones from Away. Dobby is seeing her in the kitchens, sir. And Dobby is knowing that Harry Potter is too good to want to see his friend from Away being in trouble with Mr Filch.

Harry: Is this the one in green, or purple?

Dobby: Purple, sir. And Dobby is knowing that Mr Filch is coming into the kitchen shortly and though Dobby tried, Harry Potter's friend from Away is not listening...

Harry: (getting out of bed) All right, Dobby. I'll be down soon.

(He goes to his trunk, opens it and takes out his Invisibility Cloak.)

(Scene: the kitchens. Lynn's sitting at a table, her crystal ball between her hands. Dobby's already back and standing with Winky -- they're the only two elves in the kitchen at the moment. Winky's looking a fair bit better than she had, but her clothes are still a mess -- obviously even wizarding laundry can only do so much.)

Winky: Oh, Dobby, she is getting into so much trouble...

Dobby: Harry Potter is making sure that his friend from Away is getting into no trouble -- a greater wizard there has never been.

(The door opens and shuts, and then Harry takes off his Cloak.)

Harry: Er ... Lynn?

Lynn: Mmm?

Harry: I know you missed supper ... but you really should take whatever you're eating upstairs. You see, Filch patrols...

Lynn: I know. Your sock-obsessed friend over here made much noise about that.

Harry: Come on, Lynn! I know things are a little odd right now, but I honestly don't want to see you expelled!

Lynn: You haven't been listening to Hermione very much, then.

Harry: Er ... you knew?

Lynn: I keep my ear to the ground.

Harry: And ... you don't...

Lynn: Eh. People've said worse about me. No offense taken.

Harry: Er. Thanks. (beat; gestures to the ball) I thought you weren't going to use that?

Lynn: I'm not. I've been carrying it around with me since I got it, trying to figure out what to do with it. I had been hoping Fred and George would have some ideas at dinner tonight, but...

Harry: So how did that go, by the way? What did he say about things with ... Snuffles?

Lynn: Having deciphered the code in which he traditionally speaks, you're supposed to get a message to ... Snuffles. Get him to take up residence in the Shrieking Shack, or that cave he was in last year, or anywhere nearby. Ready to come here at a moment's notice. Fudge is supposed to visit sometime in either May or June.

Harry: That was all the detail you got?

Lynn: He's not the most forthcoming of people. I was lucky to get that. I wish there was some other way...

(She's looking at the crystal ball now, mostly to avoid Harry's eyes ... and it starts to glow. She and Harry just look at it -- we see nothing, and Harry obviously sees nothing in particular, but Lynn apparently sees something that drains the blood from her face and widens her eyes. The light in the ball dies and Harry looks at Lynn.)

Harry: It never did that for me... I saw ... shapes. I ... what did you see?

Lynn: (way too fast) Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Now let's go before Mrs Norris shows up.

(Harry looks at her a moment longer, and then picks up the Invisibility Cloak. She stands next to him and he throws it over both of them. As they vanish, Dobby and Winky wave good-bye at where they should probably be.)

Dobby: Good-bye, Harry Potter! Winky and I is keeping your secrets!

Harry: (OS) Yeah ... thanks, Dobby.

(The kitchen door opens and then shuts again.)

(Scene: Great Hall. The gang sit over their breakfast; Lynn looks haggard. AP looks at her with real concern. Harry also shoots looks her way, curious and a little afraid. After a moment, owls fly in, delivering post.)

AP: It's never gonna beat "You've got mail"...

(Dustpuppy hits Daria in the head, bounces and falls into a jug of pumpkin juice. We see a letter clasped in his talons, which are sticking out of the jug. Daria rescues her owl before he drowns and takes the letter. Dustpuppy shakes the juice out of his feathers and then starts flying figure eights around Daria and AP's heads. Shylock lands on Lynn's shoulder with a letter in his beak; Lynn takes it from him gently.)

Lynn: Thank you. (hands Shylock a chunk of toast crust) Daria, what'd you get?

Daria: It's from Quinn. She wants to know if the wizarding world has any good cosmetics.

AP: Well, I can whip up a perfume or two ... do you want to make her irresitable to men, or turn her skin green?

Daria: Can you do both at the same time?

AP: Hmm... Let me think about this. (beat) What'd you get, Purple Peril?

Lynn: Letter from Dad. He's been keeping tabs on my marks and other quote-end-quote 'achievements'.

Jane: And?

Lynn: Well, generally approving. Particularly thrilled about the Quidditch. Wonders why I lost a total of fifty points for Gryffindor over the past month.

AP: Fifty?

Lynn: Fifteen for mouthing off to Warlock, ten for mouthing off to Binns, five for the thing in Transfiguration a couple of weeks ago, and twenty for the rat spleen incident in Potions.

Daria: He's keeping hard tabs, isn't he?

Lynn: Yeah. Well, he's proud of you, anyway. So far, you've more than made up for the points I lost us.

AP: I guess I'm lucky the 'rents don't know the points system from a hole in a tree.

Harry: It's useful to have Muggle parents, isn't it?

AP: Sorta like that, yeah. Not that Dad noticed that much when I got in trouble at school anyway, but it was different then. But if he ever got reports that I lost fifty points last week just cos I tried a Cheering Charm on Snape...

Jane: Well, it would've worked if you hadn't mistaken 'Rictusempra' for a Cheering Charm, AP...

(Pan to the staff table, where an eagle owl has brought Warlock a bright red envelope. Warlock looks at it for a moment, then slits it open.)


(Warlock seems to recognise the voice - or at least the cadence - and rolls his eyes as the voice from the Howler continues to shake the ceiling. Cut to a good - or, at least, loud - 15 minutes later)


(Warlock decides he's heard enough and grabs a pitcher of pumpkin juice, dumping it over the envelope. It hisses and steams balefully for a moment, but falls silent. In the very deep silence that follows, you can almost hear Harry, Ron, Neville and everyone else who's ever received a Howler asking themselves, "Why didn't I think of that? Then Warlock stands and calls to Malfoy across the room, who's looking a little smug.)

Warlock: Mr Malfoy? (beat) Pray give your father my compliments on his vocabulary ... oh, and four hundred -- more -- points from Slytherin house.

(The smug look is nearly slapped off Malfoy's face from the shock of this. The rest of the Slytherin table starts throwing food and hexes at Draco. Malfoy, covered with food and boils, leaps to his feet and draws his wand to protect himself from his fellow Slytherins. By this time, the rest of the staff and most of the students are on their feet and armed. Some Slytherin, taking the opportunity to 'miss' Malfoy, throws Jelly Legs in the vague direction of the rest of the room. Some Ravenclaw fires back Rictusempra. Gets Crabbe. Lynn pulls her wand before getting hit in the back by a Stun charm. Pan to AP, who looks guilty but determined.)

AP: (remorseful) Sorry, Purple Peril, but you'd get us all killed...

(He sees a great many people pointing wands at the Gryffindor table, turns around to Jane and nods at the table itself. Jane gets into it and, with help from Ron and Harry, they tip the table over and begin using it as cover. Things become irchonicable. The Hufflepuff table suffers Wingardium Leviosa. A silver stag runs amuck. Diffindo gets thrown at various students, finally answering the age-old question of what exactly they wear under their robes; however, since this is a family fic, we can't give you any details. The staff is totally overwhelmed with blocking or ducking random hexes.)

Dumbledore: Accio wands!

(He ends up with about 500 wands stacked at his feet. Pan over the Great Hall. It's a mess. The Hufflepuff table is hanging in midair, along with about half the Hufflepuffs. The Ravenclaw table is shattered. The Slytherin table is smouldering in places. Various students are dancing or screaming or malformed. The prefects are worst off, pretty much obviously. Cho Chang got hit with a scalper and is totally bald, Hermione's drenched in sweat from a fever charm, and Harry got hit with a broadside from about half of table Slytherin. Jane got hit by Conjuctivita, AP has slight burns, Daria's glasses are broken. Ron, by pure chance, seems to have got away unhit.)

Dumbledore, Mcgonagall, Flitwick &Amp; Warlock: (in near unison) Finite Incantem!

(Those hexed with things like Rictusempera, Tarantallegra and Wingardium Leviosa finally settle [those with Furnunculus and similar are out of luck until they get to the hospital wing.] Unfortunately, with four very potent wizards all using that spell at the same time in a room as heavily charmed as the Great Hall, that's not all that happens. The ceiling goes out. The lights go out. The armor falls over lifeless. The plates and other miscellaneous props vanish [but the food remains]. There is total silence as everyone stares at the staff table, awaiting sentence. After a moment, Dumbledore speaks.)

Dumbledore: First off, I must say that I have never seen this level of destruction during a meal in all my years at Hogwarts. I am very disappointed in all of you.

(The students all look down at the floor [if they're in any state to do so] as he continues.)

Dumbledore: (cont'd) You will all receive detention -- all tasks to do with restoring the Great Hall. First and second years will be scrubbing the Hall under Filch's direction.

Filch: (from the doorway; purple with rage) I'd rather have them put in irons, Professor! Never seen such a mess!

(Dennis, with a bad case of Twitchy Ears, looks horrified.)

Dumbledore: (ignoring that) Third and fourth years will be working with Professor McGonagall to restore the ceiling and the lights.

(Colin looks at McGonagall, whose lips have thinned to the point of disappearing, and goes white under the bad case of boils he's got.)

Dumbledore: (cont'd) Fifth and sixth years will be working with Professor Flitwick to repair the food delivery and the armor.

Ron: (looking at Harry, who's unconscious and steaming, a mess of mixed jinxes) I don't think some of us will...

Dumbledore: Seventh years will be helping cast Priori Incantatem on the other students' wands once their own have been subjected to the charm. According to the level of damage each student has created, points will be taken from their respective House. For the moment, however, claim your wands.

(The students who are capable of moving step up to sift through the pile of wands at Dumbledore's feet, moving sheepishly and as quickly as they're able.)

(Scene: the same, some time later. Daria and AP are poking at a collapsed suit of armour.)

Daria: Three hundred points. I don't believe we had three hundred points taken off.

AP: C'mon, Purple Peril, you gotta've figured. I mean, half the time the Slytherins were aiming at us. We were gonna defend ourselves, right?

Daria: The only people who lost more points were the Slytherins.

AP: (grin) Yeah. With the points he took off for all that Mudblood stuff, they're a neat eight hundred or so in the red.

Daria: Hufflepuffs only one-fifty; Ravenclaws two-fifty. An impressive level of damage all around.

AP: Saw Ron in the kitchens when I tried to get lunch -- and boy the house elves are tweeking. He says there's never been anything like this.

Daria: Where are Lynn and Harry, anyway? Lynn I can understand not being here -- her wand was probably the only one that was clean. But I saw Harry throw some fairly nasty curses Malfoy's way.

AP: They're both still in the hospital wing. Purple Peril's still a little woozy -- guess my wand packs too much torque to throw a Stunner unless I really gotta -- and Firebolt's still being de-hexed. Or un-hexed.

Daria: (raised eyebrow) "Firebolt"?

AP: They all gotta have nicknames, right? Like Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. Tell me Prongs wouldn't've been proud. Firebolt for the broom. And the scar.

Daria: Do I even want to know what you came up with for Ron and Hermione?

AP: Well, for her, gotta stick to the classics and go for Bookworm. As in point-three-oh-three.

Daria: The day she got you into Terry Pratchett was a bad day for us all. And for Ron?

AP: Deep Blue.

Daria: The chess-playing computer?

(AP just grins at her and jabs his wand at the suit of armour. The left leg links together and kicks him in the shin; he screams and falls over, clutching his leg. Daria smirks.)

(Scene: Gryffindor changing room. Lynn, in her Quidditch robes, is twining her hair into a braid. Madam Trelawny drifts in, peering at Lynn through her glasses.)

Trelawny: I was hoping to get you alone, dear.

(Lynn turns and faces Trelawny.)

Lynn: Obviously, the feeling isn't mutual.

Trelawny: I do wish you'd give more credence to your talent, dear. The Ministry does so depend on its seers. Why, I myself have had to deflect several owls from the Ministry, requesting my presence.

Lynn: Maybe you shouldn't. After all, think of how many more people you'd amuse with your so-called predictions.

Trelawny: I was hoping my Christmas present would change your mind about the ... the veracity of the divinatory arts. Have you found use for it? It's one of the best they had.

Lynn: Oh, don't worry. I've found a perfect use for it.

(Off Lynn's very slight smirk and Trelawny's slightly puzzled expression, cut to...)

(Scene: Quidditch pitch. We see Lee in the commentator's box.)

Lee: And Potter is circling, looking for the Snitch; Ravenclaw Seeker Cho Chang seems to be marking the Gryffindor Seeker instead of the Snitch -- given the power of Potter's Firebolt, that might be a mistake. Spinnet is being targeted by a Bludger...

(To the pitch itself; George moves to intercept the Bludger that Katie's desperately trying to outrace. He swings his bat at it ... and freezes dead when it shatters under the blow. As he watches the pieces fall, they change -- what he thought was a Bludger was a cunningly disguised crystal ball. Lynn speeds past him as the whistle blows for a time-out; she's smirking.)

George: (sounding rather like C3PO from RotJ) Huh. I never knew I had it in me.

(Scene: the lake. Harry, Ron and Hermione are huddled into a little knot off to one side of the rest of the class.)

Ron: So it was Lynn with the breakable Bludger?

Harry: Well, I can't think who else would have done it. Besides, you haven't seen her brooding over that crystal ball Trelawny gave her, have you?

Herm: And you say she saw something in it? Really? But it's nonsense!

HERRY: Well, usually it is nonsense. Just ... I suppose occasionally Divination's worth something after all.

Herm: Well, I don't like the fact that she wouldn't tell you about it. I mean, Madam Trelawny tells you about every stupid prediction she's ever had, real or not!

Ron: Yeah, but that's her. She likes putting people into a panic.

Herm: And Lynn's far too secretive for our good! I'd just imagine she saw something that she didn't want you warned about!

Ron: Hermione, knock it off! More like she knows no one'd believe her anyway!

Hagrid: Righ'! Settle down, yer lot!

(Harry, Ron and Hermione approach Lynn and AP, who have apparently been amusing themselves by attaching a rat's tail onto Malfoy's behind.)

Herm: Oh, Lynn!

Ron: How long d'you think he'll go without noticing?

Herm: RON!

(Harry waves at them all to shut up.)

Hagrid: Since th' weather's warmed up a bit, thought we'd start a unit on merpeople!

Harry: (sotto) As if I don't know enough about them to last a lifetime...

Hagrid: Now, yeh have t'be careful of merpeople... They kin be frien'ly, but terr'torrial... An' lots of 'em don' speak English.

AP: Uh ... anyone got a Babel fish handy?

Hagrid: 'M gonna be teachin' yeh a few phrases in Mermish; jes' enough so that yeh don' go offendin' em.

(AP, slightly panicked by the idea of learning another language, steps backwards and trips over Malfoy's tail. Both boys tumble to the floor; Malfoy screams in pain and various of the Gryffindors laugh. Hagrid fights a grin as he picks AP up by the scruff of the neck; Malfoy he leaves.)

Harry: (snickering) You have to admit, Hermione, that had some comedy value to it.

(Hermione just snorts derisively and starts paying attention to Hagrid again.)

(Scene: Great Hall. Harry and Ron enter for dinner and notice Cornelius Fudge seated at the staff table. They ease their way over to the rest of the gang, who are watching the staff table with interest.)

Lynn: I want to show you something. (flicks her wrist; out comes her wand) Wingardium Leviosa.

(Fudge's goblet of pumpkin juice hovers, about three feet to the left, landing on Hagrid's bread plate. Hagrid looks at it with some confusion, but hands it back to Fudge, who looks a little embarrassed.)

Harry: No one even noticed.

Lynn: And if I'd wanted to slip a few drops of poison or something into that glass, no one would've been any the wiser until it was too late.

Harry: This is ridiculous. Fudge dragged Dementors as bodyguards here the last time he came; why would he come so alone and unguarded now?

Ron: You heard him after the Tournament, Harry. He doesn't believe that You-Know-Who's back. He wants to prove it to Professor Dumbledore, maybe.

Harry: Bit of a stupid way of doing it, if that's the case.

Jane: Well, what do you propose we do about it? Who listens to the students?

Daria: More people than you think, particularly when one of the students is the Boy Who Lived ... and the other has a bit of a reputation for being a Seer in the making.

AP: Erudite Emerald, ix-nay on the...

Lynn: That'd be pointless. I've been denying it for most of a year; what credibility would I have if I tried to capitalise on it now?

Daria: You make a point. But you do have a certain dialogue open with Warlock that you could capitalise on.

Herm: Why don't you talk to Professor Dumbledore, Harry? I'm sure he'd be able to...

Harry: That might not be a very good idea. He's going to be busy with Fudge for most of the day, and you know Fudge has very little faith in me these days.

Ron: There must be someone we can warn!

(Scene: Transfiguration class. Herm is standing in front of McGonagall, wringing her hands. Daria stands beside her.)

Herm: But Professor McGonagall, if you'd just listen...

McGonagall: Now you listen to me, Ms Granger. Mr Fudge was obliged not to bring any protection into the school because the only ... creatures he feels are fit to guard him are those Dementors, and Professor Dumbledore just would not have it. Far be it from me to speak ill of the Minister of Magic...

Daria: But the man's only going to be able to listen to reason in this school if we leave his denial bubble alone and potentially let Death Eaters get him.

McGonagall: Now, really, Ms Smythe! I don't see how any Death Eater could gain access to the Hogwarts grounds!

Herm: But ... but Sirius Black...

McGonagall: There were extraneous circumstances there, Ms Granger.

Daria: I think a former school Governor -- and a parent of one of the students -- has some pretty extraneous circumstances surrounding him too, don't you?

McGonagall: We have no proof that Lucius Malfoy...

Daria: I didn't say Lucius Malfoy. But obviously the name's been on your mind in that capacity.

Herm: Listen, Professor, just please say you'll keep a closer watch on Mr Fudge! At least until ... uh ... his business with Professor Dumbledore is concluded!

McGonagall: I know that you and your companions have been very helpful to the school in the past, Ms Granger, but I begin to feel that the repeated exposure to such danger is making you ... a little paranoid. Now would you please trust in our ability to do our job and go back to your common room?

(The tone in which she says that is ambiguous in everything except its finality. Daria and Hermione leave the room, shooting the teacher looks over their shoulder.)

(Scene: corridor. Lynn is standing outside the door to Dark Arts, fuming silently. Harry and Jane pile out after her. AP jogs up with an expectant look on his face.)

AP: So how'd it go with Warlock?

Harry: (almost not listening) What does it mean when she turns that rather odd shade of maroon?

AP: It means she needs a distraction. NOW.

Harry: Er ... how about a game of Quidditch? That usually helps me with nerves.

AP: Uh ... Harry? This isn't nerves.

(Lynn flicks her wrist and out comes her wand.)

Jane: Um ... Lynn?

Lynn: Find. Me. Something. To. Practice. Reducto... (hole gets blown in wall.)

Harry: Er ... Lynn, how about just hitting bludgers for awhile?

AP: Yeah. After the whole thing with the Exploding Fluid, we can't afford to lose the kind of points blowing up the school will lose us.

(AP and Harry hustle Lynn off down the corridor. Jane looks at the hole in the wall.)

Jane: Well, here goes nothing... (waves own wand) Reparo!

(Poof -- like Harry's glasses, the wall's repaired. Jane looks at her wand and smiles.)

Jane: (slightly smug) I could get used to this. (looks round) Hey guys, wait up!

(She runs off in the direction Harry, Lynn and AP took.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Daria and Ron are playing chess at a table near the fire. The portrait hole opens and Harry enters. Lynn is shoved through the portrait hole next, presumably by AP and Jane, who follow her in.)

Harry: I'll go get George and the others. They're bound to like the idea of another practice, with the match against Slytherin coming up.

AP: Don't believe with all the points crap that Snape talked Dumbledore into letting Slytherin have another whack at us to earn some back -- something's wrong with that guy...

(Harry bounds out of the room. Lynn slumps into a chair in something of a sulk.)

Daria: (looking over) Something wrong?

Lynn: No one listens to the juveniles. If they wind up scraping Fudge off the floor, it's their problem and not mine. I absolve myself of all responsibility for the adults now.

(Daria raises an eyebrow and looks at Jane, who rolls her eyes.)

Jane: Just don't ask. She's...

Lynn: Exceedingly pissed off and still in the dark about why you won't let me blow holes in the walls.

Daria: I don't even want to know this time, do I?

Jane: You never want to know. But funnily enough, you always manage to find out.

AP: She's gonna go have a Quidditch practice with the rest of the team. I'm gonna go along cos I'm still trying to work out the kinks on that broomstick I'm making.

Herm: Oh, can I come along and watch you work, AP? I find the entire process of creating a magical object fascinating!

(Ron scowls at AP, who looks a bit blank.)

AP: Hey, no prob. Ron, Daria, you want in on this?

Ron: (slightly relieved) I don't think so, thanks. I'd like to see if Daria can actually beat me this time.

Daria: Not bloody likely, but I'll give it a shot. No, we'll stick around here.

Jane: I'm just gonna go get my camera. I wanted to try that moving-picture potion they keep talking about anyway.

(Jane dashes off and nearly collides with Harry, who's closely followed by Fred and George.)

George: Oh, Jane, could you see if Katie, Alicia and Angelina are up there? We wanted them in on practice.

Jane: Sure. Be right down.

Harry: We'll meet them on the Quidditch pitch, tell them.

George: C'mon, Lynn. I'd like to see if you lose accuracy when you're...

Lynn: Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?

(Something in her expression somewhat frightens George, who steps back.)

George: Something ... like that, yeah. Let's go. (Lynn exits through the portrait hole; George leans over to Fred) Watch your back.

(Fred nods; they follow Lynn out, as does AP and Harry. Daria and Ron look at each other.)

Ron: And I thought things were odd before you lot got here.

Daria: Magic or Muggle ... they don't come weirder.

(They shrug at each other and return their attention to their chess game.)

(Scene: Quidditch pitch. AP and Hermione are sitting in the stands. AP is holding a broomstick; he's tapping it with his wand and muttering under his breath. Hermione is watching him, obviously desperate to jump in and try to help.)

Herm: Oh, AP, maybe you could try...

AP: I wanna do this myself!

(Pan along the pitch; Jane's striding towards the stands, with Malfoy haring off after. Cragge and Goyle are behind, carrying umbrellas ... with remarkable foresight, as it happens, as it starts to rain. Jane pauses to look up at the sky in disgust; she obviously doesn't know Malfoy's behind her.)

Jane: (groan) It's raining.

Malfoy: (gesturing) Men!

(Crabbe and Goyle open their umbrellas and hold them over Jane and Malfoy.)

Jane: (dry) Halleluja.

Malfoy: Halle-what?

Jane: Never mind. So what are you doing slithering around here?

Malfoy: Oh, I simply thought I'd take a look at the Gryffindor's playing style. We will be playing them again next week, you realise.

Jane: It doesn't how much you spy on them, lizard-boy; you're still going to get your nonexistent butt kicked next Saturday. Again.

Malfoy: I beg to differ. We have a little secret weapon up our sleeves.

Jane: (raised eyebrow) Oh, really? That sounds interesting...

Malfoy: (nasty smirk) Ah, wouldn't you like to know? You know, that was very crafty. You have all the makings of a Malfoy.

Jane: Yeah, I also have the makings of a Soylent Green dinner for four; your point?

Malfoy: You know, you and I ... could be interesting. Of course, you'd have to do something about that Muggle family of yours, but that'd be simple enough. With the Malfoy name and money, a great many ... inadequacies ... may be overlooked.

(They've just about reached the stands now, and Jane stops to look at him like he's pondlife.)

Jane: But what can't be overlooked is your high opinion of yourself and your pathetic prejucides against Muggle-borns. (Malfoy opens his mouth) Ah-ah-ah... (pulls wand) Quietus!

(Malfoy clutches at his throat. Jane smirks as AP and Hermione head down the stands to join them.)

Herm: Oh, Jane, what have you done?

Jane: Just muzzled the hate-dog.

AP: Way to go, Art-Smart Scarlet!

Herm: What a horrible thing to do to someone -- and a terrible abuse of magic! (beat; thinks) Uh ... actually ... (stiffly but with a slight smile) way to go ... Art-Smart Scarlet.

(Malfoy, with a disgusted but almost admiring look on his face, stalks off with Crabbe and Goyle trundling in his wake. There are grins all around, which turn to shocked looks as a Bludger hits Crabbe in the back of the head; Goyle turns to look but only has the time to let out one chuckle at the expense of his friend before the bludger comes back and conks him right in the forehead. Malfoy looks at both of them, decides to cut his losses and runs like hell. The Bludger, sensing new targets, starts to shoot at AP, Jane and Hermione, but Lynn speeds into shot and cuts the Bludger off, beating it long back to the pitch and following it with an intense look on her face.)

AP: And now way to go, Purple Peril!

Herm: No, that was going too far...

(Jane apparently notices something behind them and goes pale.)

AP: What's up, Art-Smart...

Male Voice: (somewhat familiar) Crucio.

(On the Quidditch pitch, George and Lynn are trying a new trick -- beat the two Bludgers towards each other to see what happens. The two Bludgers do a very sharp U-turn and aim for their heads. George whacks his right through one of the goal hoops while Lynn dodges hers... and they both freeze dead when they hear the screaming.)

George: What the...?

Male Voice: (OS) Accio wands!

(George's wand shoots out of his sleeve from where it was obviously hidden in his T-shirt and flies towards one of three hooded figures [Death Eeater 1] on the ground. One of the others [Death Eater 2] is standing over a screaming Jane, Hermione and AP. The other [henceforth Death Eater 3] points his wand at Katie and Angelina.)

Death Eater 3: Accio wands!

(Katie and Angelina lose their wands; Fred grapples for his but he loses it too, to Death Eater 1's curse. Lynn shoots a look at Harry and flicks her wrist. Her wand, hidden up her sleeve in a spring-loaded clip, shoots out into her hand and she aims at Death Eater 1, who aims at her.)

Lynn &Amp; DE1: (unison) Petrificus Totalus!

(The curses meet midway; there's an impressive shower of silver sparks. Lynn uses this distraction to hand Fred her Beater's bat; he and George proceed to head for the nearest Bludger. Fred hits Death Eater 1 in the stomach and George grazes Death Eater 3's right ear; his hood goes skewiff and we see that there is a pale face under there, one that could be recognised if it could be seen fully. But no one's really looking; Harry's flicked his wrist for his own wand and taken advantage of Death Eater 3's moment of ill balance.)

Harry: (pointing at Death Eater 3) Rictusempera!

(Death Eater 3 doesn't have time to dodge; he is hit by the tickling charm and doubles over laughing. His hood falls away from his face entirely as he does this, and we see that Death Eater 3 is Lucius Malfoy. Harry pauses, shocked, and doesn't notice when Death Eater 2 looks up from Jane, AP and Hermione and raises his hand to remove his hood -- Death Eater 2 is Pettigrew. He raises his wand hand -- we now see it's silver -- and points the wand at Harry.)

Pettigrew: Avada Ked...

(He stops, nearly choking on the word. Harry turns and stares at Pettigrew, frozen. Lynn notices this and flies off towards him without hesitation.)

Harry: Petrificus Totalus!

Pettigrew: (almost at the same time) Crucio!

(As they deliver their curses, Lynn flies directly between them and is knocked backwards and right off her broom by Pettigrew's curse. She hits Harry as he finishes his own spell, knocking it wide. It hits Katie Bell as she buzzes Death Eater 1 and she falls off her own broom. Luckily, sort of, Death Eater 1 breaks her fall; his hood falls off, revealing MacNair [and are we surprised?]. Back to Harry, who frowns at Pettigrew. That frown freezes the former rat with terror.)

Harry: (if at first you don't succeed...) Petrificus Totalus!

(This time, his stunner hits dead on, and Pettigrew falls flat on his face. Harry zooms down to check his prey; Fred, George, Alicia and Angelina have landed near Jane, Hermione and AP and are checking them over. MacNair has shaken Katie off and gone to Lucius, who is still helpless with laughter.)

MacNair: Finite Incantatem!

(Lucius finally stops laughing but struggles to right himself; he's badly out of breath. MacNair grabs the elder Malfoy and leads him off towards the Forbidden Forest. Pan to the students; Hermione is groaning with pain; Jane has managed to stifle herself but she's still obviously aching from the stiff way she moves. AP's nearly unconscious. Angelina is still with them, as is Fred; Alicia is trying to bring Katie around. George is kneeling by Lynn, looking worried. Harry is binding Pettigrew with ropes -- obviously leaving nothing to chance this time.)

Jane: They're getting away...

Fred: Never mind that. You just worry about yourselves.

Herm: (groaning) What happened?

Angelina: (to Fred) I think we need to get them to the hospital wing, Fred...

George: (walking over) Them, maybe. I don't want to try moving Lynn. I was reading some book she loaned me and when someone's fallen that far and that hard, apparently you're supposed to be dead careful about moving them...

Harry: (moving towards them himself) Then I'll go to the hospital wing for Madam McGovern.

Fred: Not on your own, you won't!

George: Fred's right. They were after you!

Harry: (bitter and guilty) They're always after me.

Fred: Worry about it later, mate. Just, we'll go with you, right?

George: Quick as we can. On the broomsticks.

Fred: C'mon, Harry. Tell me you've never dreamed of buzzing the Fat Lady on that Firebolt of yours...

(Harry, still looking pale and guilty, mounts his Firebolt.)

Harry: One of you keep an eye on Pettigrew. If he so much as twitches, stun him again.

(Fred and George have taken the opportunity to mount their brooms as well, and they all speed off together.)

(Scene: Hogwarts staircase. Snape is going down the stairs; he stops at a dim whooshing noise.)

Fred: (OS) Mind your heads; mind your backs...

George: (OS) Wizards in a hurry coming through...

(Snape moves to the bannister and peers off it angrily.)

Snape: Messrs Weasley! There are rules about flying on...

(Fred, George and Harry barrel up the stairs from the other reaction while his back's turned and knock him off the stairwell. Fortunately for him, he has a firm grip on the bannister and actually manages to escape plummeting to his death. He looks up to see the trio barrelling up the stairs on their brooms and the scowl gets deeper.)

Harry: (OS) Sorry, Professor Snape...

Snape: Potter!

(Scene: hospital wing. Kes is just opening what seems to be a closet door when Harry, Fred and George barrel down the corridor. Kes turns to them, a length of black cloth in her hands.)

Kes: Well, you seem to be moving very quickly for the ill or injured. What seems to be the...

(Fred and George start talking at once.)

Fred: Quidditch pitch...

George: People down! Lynn, Katie...

Fred: Hit with Crucio, Lynn was, fifty feet up...

Kes: What? Wait...

Harry: Death Eaters, Madame McGovern! We got Pettigrew...

George: Full Body-Bind, but Harry did the rope thing Lupin taught him just in case...

Fred: But Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy ... and MacNair...

Harry: And Fudge never believed they were Death Eaters, since the Ministry...

George: The git's blind! Now let's see him deny that...

Kes: HOLD IT! (They stop and look at her.) You said people were hurt?

Harry: Lynn blocked the Cruciatus curse, fifty feet in the air. Pettigrew meant it for me.

Fred: Katie was Stunned, too...

George: But she's bound to be alright, she only fell ten feet or so, she's recovered from worse after the Cup matches...

Kes: Okay; I've heard enough. (*sigh*) Well, that's my evening gone straight to hell.

(She drops the length of black material on the floor of the closet, changes form and flies off down the corridor. Fred and George follow her at a run. Harry, however, hesitates, picking up the length of cloth he found on the floor. He shakes it out, hangs it on its peg and rushes out.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Ron and Daria are both squinting at the chessboard.)

Ron: You are getting better at this.

Daria: Still doesn't mean I'm going to be able to beat you.

(A raucous raptor's screech is heard out the window. Both Ron and Daria look toward the window and see a kestrel shoot past. Daria heads for the window. Ron does the same, via the mantlepiece, where someone's Omnioculars are lying. Daria squints out the window.)

Ron: Where?

Daria: It looks like she's heading for the Quidditch pitch...

(Ron trains the Omnioculars on the distance, where the Quidditch goal hoops are just visible. Then he drops them.)

Ron: Something's happening; come on!

Daria: She didn't hit someone in the...

Ron: (looking at her with wide eyes and a pale face) I seriously doubt it.

(That look on Ron's face obviously really worries Daria, but she realises there's no time to ask him for explanations.)

Daria: That was Kes. So, hospital wing.

(Ron just nods and they both dash for the portrait hole. It opens before they get to it and Neville starts climbing through, stopping as he sees Daria and Ron, who aren't stopping.)

Neville: Uh ... hi! Where're...

(Ron literally climbs through the portrait hole over Neville, who screams in protest. Daria follows him, trying to avoid him but not having much luck.)

Daria: Sorry.

(Neville lies there, battered and confused, as Daria and Ron's progress towards the hospital wing fades into the distance.)

(Scene: Great Hall. The room is full of quiet mutters. Malfoy is sitting with a group of Slytherins, looking rather smug. All the Gryffindors, who've obviously heard something, are still and rather stunned. The other two tables are looking around, swapping rumours amongst themselves. Dumbledore, at the staff table, stands.)

Dumbledore: If I may have everyone's attention...

(The Hall falls under a dead hush.)

Dumbledore: It is my duty to inform you all that Hogwarts has recently come under attack by Death Eaters.

(The Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables erupt into feverish whispering. The Gryffindor table just sit, waiting for more confirmation. The Slytherin table is a jumble -- some look shocked, others look a little shifty, and Malfoy's smug look intensifies.)

Dumbledore: I will not give the identities of the perpetrators before this entire school... (a slightly dark look in Malfoy's direction; now he looks worried) ...because there is other news that affects you all more directly. The attack took place on the Quidditch pitch this afternoon, so I have been obliged to cancel the final match of the year as a precaution.

(Some disappointed groans, but not very many, and not very loud.)

Dumbledore: Additionally, the final two Hogsmeade visits of the term will be cancelled, and all students are asked to remain in the castle as much as possible until we receive further information. However, as it is so close to exam time, the school will remain open, and there will be no further Dementor presence in this school.

(Harry looks somewhat relieved by this, as do Neville, Ginny and a few others.)

Dumbledore: Finally, I would ask you all to raise your glasses in a toast to those who weathered this particular attack. Hermione Granger, Andrew McIntyre, Jane Lane, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, Katie Bell, Lynn Smythe and Harry Potter -- and to send wishes for a speedy recovery to Ms Bell and Ms Smythe, who tarry in the hospital wing.

(Almost everyone raises their goblets in silence -- as with the last toast to Harry Potter, Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and a few of the other Slytherins stay seated. Dumbledore looks at them, apparently impassive, then sits; everyone takes this as a signal to go back to their dinners and their rumour swapping with the extra ammunition he's given them.)

(Scene: corridor. Parvati and Lavender are hovering around the doors to the hospital wing.)

Parvati: Ooh, she should have listened to Professor Trelawny...

Lavender: Oh, Parvati, maybe we should have tried harder to make her switch to Divination... Maybe Professor Trelawny could have convinced her to listen to that dream she had.

Parvati: It's just like Harry Potter - did you hear he predicted that the hippogriff would escape during his third-year exam? And he doesn't even care that he's a seer!

Lavender: It just seems wrong, that they don't understand or even respect Profes...

(*BANG*; they are showered with red sparks. They jump about two feet in the air and turn to see Jane glaring at them. She points her wand at her throat.)


(So they go running, at which point, Kes pokes her head out.)

Kes: That was disruptive to my patients, aggravating to me, and generally overdone. (beat) Thank you. (slams door shut)

Jane: YOU'RE WELCOME. (points at her throat) QUIETUS.

(She clears her throat, relieved to find it at proper volume once again, and then notices the sound of footsteps approaching from around a corner. When Snape turns the corner and sees Jane, he freezes for a moment as Jane stares at him, a little incredulously.)

Snape: Lane. Don't you have a lesson?

Jane: Free period.

Snape: Those are study periods, set you for the purpose of revising for your upcoming exams.

Jane: (pulling "Advanced Guide to Transfiguration" out of her bag) Multi-tasking is a wonderful thing. Aren't you supposed to be teaching right about now? Or did you finally decide to get medical help for that stick you've got up your--

Snape: (interrupting) Ten points from Gryffindor should teach you to mind your manners, Ms Lane. And my business is my own.

(With that, he sweeps past her and through the door to the hospital wing. Jane looks after him.)

(Scene: corridor outside the Potions dungeon. Daria, Jane and AP step out and start down the corridor.)

AP: Don't believe he took ten points off me for not listening. After all that ... stuff...

Jane: So the man has a Bezoar for a heart. We knew this. But why he was hanging around the hospital wing I don't know.

AP: Think he could really be a Death Eater? Wanting to finish the job?

Daria: I don't think so. The attack seemed focused on Harry. I mean, why would they want to kill Lynn?

Jane: Something to hold over the Aurors? Revenge? Just plain bastardry? I dunno.

Malfoy: (OS) Hello, Mudbloods...

(They turn. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle are standing behind them, smirking.)

Jane: Hello, perfect result of inbreeding.

(Malfoy looks as confused as Crabbe and Goyle for a second, but shakes it off quicker than his two dimwitted companions.)

Malfoy: Now you see what happens to half-breeds who choose to disdain their purer heritage. I suppose it goes to show what happens when purebloods fight mudbloods... Not that your little snake-tongued friend was much of a fighter anyway... I suppose she'll die; pity it wasn't Granger or someone. If Smythe hadn't been such a Muggle-lover, she'd have had potential...

(Jane grabs for her wand but surprisingly, AP's faster. He points his wand at Malfoy and he doesn't even have to say anything; the anger on his face is obviously acting for him. Malfoy goes flying backwards, slamming into a far wall. Then he gets dragged forwards, bouncing off the walls like a pinball on the way, then stops about ten feet from AP and hangs upside down, spinning. With that, Daria and Jane grab him by the shoulders and lead him away.)

Daria: Remind me to take away your Lord of the Rings DVD.

AP: Aww, you mean I'll have to read the book?

(Malfoy, wincing, hangs there for a minute longer. Then he drops to the floor with a heavy *thump*. Crabbe and Goyle just stare at him, not knowing what else to do. Snape steps out and looks at the felled Malfoy. Harry, flanked by Ron and Hermione, hover in the doorway and watch.)

Snape: Care to explain this, Malfoy?

Malfoy: It was McIntyre, sir; he...

Snape: I meant the systematic running down of the Smythe girl, Malfoy. Perhaps a further fifty points from Slytherin will teach you to air your grievances in a more ... discreet manner.

(It's a sort of contest to see who's more shocked at this -- Malfoy's gang or Harry's. Snape turns then and notices Harry, Ron and Hermione.)

Snape: And I suggest you three get to your next class. Unless you also wish points taken from your house. (beat; to Crabbe and Goyle) Get him up and get him out of here. Via the hospital wing if necessary.

(Snape then brushes past Harry, Ron and Hermione and back into the dungeon. The trio look at Crabbe, Goyle and Malfoy until the larger boys pick Malfoy up off the floor and drag him off.)

Ron: I don't believe it! Snape took points from his own house!

Harry: And for the sake of a Gryffindor. I think it's Snape who belongs in the hospital wing, not Malfoy.

Herm: For the sake of Lynn Smythe; not just any Gryffindor. There's something very odd about this. He defends her, he's easy on her, he takes points off his own house for her, and he's been hanging around the hospital wing!

Ron: Hermione, stop it! Lynn was attacked by Death Eaters! I don't think they particularly do that to their own.

Herm: (shamefaced) I ... I suppose... But then Professor Snape...

Ron: (kind of stunned) ...Snape must not be the villain we thought.

Harry: Better not let on we know that, though. Spoiling his image might well make him harder on us.

Ron: So why was he a Slytherin?

Herm: Well ... I've had a few words with Blaise. She seems alright. And just because all Dark wizards were from Slytherin, I suppose not all Slytherins have to be Dark wizards.

Ron: There'd be a lot more of them for a start, I suppose.

Snape: (OS) For every ten seconds that you three stay out there gossiping, five points will be taken from Gryffindor. Starting immediately.

(Harry, Ron and Hermione scarper in a hurry after that.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. The portrait of Trent hangs on the wall. Daria climbs in through the portrait hole and crosses to a chair near the portrait and slumps sadly.)

Trentpic: Hey Daria. (beat) Whoa. What's wrong?

Daria: If you're a painting of you ... does that mean you know the stuff Trent knows?

Trentpic: I ... dunno. I know some stuff.

Daria: Well, you know Lynn was in the hospital?

Trentpic: Yeah? Bummer.

Daria: Well, she's in the same situation again. For the same reason.

Trentpic: Sorry to hear that. I guess you two are close. Like me and Janey.

Daria: Sort of. I guess. (*sigh*) At least she knows what we are to each other now.

Trentpic: Problem with not being able to talk to someone you're close to is that there's always something you forgot to say. (beat) Hey. That'd make cool lyrics for a song.

(The portrait-Trent disappears out of the frame, presumably in search of paper. Daria looks at the empty canvas and sighs deeply.)

Daria: Even when he's a portrait, he's the same.

(Enter Harry, looking agitated. Daria gets up and walks towards him.)

Harry: I have some news from the hospital wing.

Daria: Lynn?

Harry: No change, I'm afraid. Katie came out of it fine, and Jane, AP and Hermione aren't too much the worse for wear from the Cruciatus curse. They'll be out in a little while.

Daria: So soon?

Harry: Well, Madame McGovern isn't much like Madame Pomfrey used to be. She'd keep us in overnight for anything.

Daria: (*sigh*) Oh. (beat) Has there been any ... other news?

Harry: I also went to find Warlock. After all, Death Eaters are his job.

Daria: And what did he have to say for himself? "Oops" might have been a good start.

Harry: Er ... actually ... I couldn't find him. I thought he might be ... at the Three Broomsticks...

Daria: With more suspicious-looking figures in hooded robes. How ... convenient.

Harry: Daria ... how are you on ... breaking the rules? (Daria just looks at him) Right. Sorry. So you won't tell anyone that I've gone to Hogsmeade after hours?

Daria: Of course I won't. Because you're not going.

Harry: (a little shocked) But ... I thought you said...

Daria: You seem to have a short-term memory problem, Harry. Those Death Eaters were after you. The others ... were just in the way. Literally. (shaking it off -- with an effort) At least in the school you're something resembling safe.

Harry: But we can't just let him get away with...

Daria: We won't. I'll go.

Harry: But ... sorry, Daria, but you are new at this...

Daria: And I'm not as important as you are. And this is personal. So are you going to show me how to get out of this castle or not?

(Harry looks at her, obviously struggling to find a loophole in her argument. She just looks back at him implacably.)

(Scene: deserted corridor. Daria and Harry approach the statue of the one-eyed witch; Harry's carrying his Invisibility Cloak over one arm. When they reach the statue, he hands it to Daria and pulls his wand.)

Harry: Dissendium!

(The hump on the witch's back opens. Daria looks at the cloak, then at the revealed passageway.)

Daria: You'll cover for me if anyone asks?

Harry: Daria, I really don't think you should be doing this alone. Remember what Warlock said about making sure someone can cover your back?

Daria: Right now, I trust what Warlock said about as much as I trust what Dubya says.

Harry: Who?

Daria: Never mind; American politics.

Harry: I don't think you need to say any more than that.

Daria: Anyway, I'll be careful.

Harry: I hope so. (grin) That's my dad's Cloak; I'd like to see it again.

(Daria nods, puts the cloak on and vanishes. Harry looks worried for a moment, then hears a small mewing sound. He turns, and there stands Mrs Norris. With a final look to see that the hump has closed, Harry scarpers before Filch shows.)

(Scene: the Three Broomsticks. Daria opens the door and walks in, stuffing the Cloak into her jacket. She spies Warlock at a corner table, nursing a Butterbeer and obviously waiting for someone. She stalks over to him.)

Daria: What are you doing in here?

Warlock: I could ask you the same question, Ms Smythe. I thought all Hogsmeade visits end before sundown.

Daria: I wanted some information. And it looks like I just got it.

Warlock: And what information is it that you think you have?

Daria: Well, I notice that you've said very little about the plan to clear Sirius Black's name. And you seem to have done even less.

Warlock: Things aren't always as they seem, Ms Smythe. Most of a year at Hogwarts should have taught you that.

Daria: And when Death Eaters happen to turn up at the school, the Auror teacher is nowhere to be found. And of course, we all know that sometimes the Auror in Hogwarts is no Auror at all.

Warlock: You want credentials, Ms Smythe?

Daria: What I want is an explanation. A trio of dark-robed figures attacked my family and friends, and you've recently been seen in this bar, meeting with a dark-robed figure.

Warlock: (raised eyebrow) You mean that dark-robed figure?

(Daria turns to see a short figure in a dark robe standing directly behind her, about six feet away; she reaches for her wand, but is outdrawn by the hooded figure. Slack watches with an inscrutible expression. With its free hand, the figure lifts its hood to reveal...)

Kes: (smirk) You realise how many points I could take from Gryffindor for this transgression, Ms Morgendorffer?

Daria: (blink) Kes?

Kes: In the flesh. Now, on three we put our wands away? (Daria sheepishly lowers her wand, Kes grins and does the same.) Now, may I ask what you're doing here? Or is this some Hogsmeade visit I hadn't had mentioned to me?

Daria: I ... wanted to talk to Warlock. He was meeting ... I thought...

Kes: Your friends and sister got attacked by a hooded figure, you knew Warlock was meeting a hooded figure and made a logical connection. Unfortunately, your logic didn't take you far enough to come out this way with a backup. In case of trouble.

Daria: Harry tried to come. I wouldn't let him. I was afraid...

Warlock: Someone really should build you Smythe girls a birdcage.

Daria: Excuse me? (beat) And I am not a... never mind.

Kes: And never mind about the birdcage thing either. Listen, Warlock and I needed a place well outside of the school to make ... certain arrangements.

Daria: What kind of arrangements?

Warlock: Buying a Jobberknoll, for one thing.

Daria: A what?

Warlock: You should pay more attention in Care of Magical Creatures.

Daria: (frown) I don't take Care of Magical Creatures.

Kes: She doesn't. It's Lynn that does that. A Jobberknoll's feathers are required for most memory potions ... and Veritaserum. Professor Snape may well be the Potions master at Hogwarts, but Dumbledore preferred to leave him out of dealings with Sirius Black for the time being. So it fell to me to make the Veritaserum.

Warlock: There was just one problem -- Severus was being uncooperative about his ingredient stores.

Kes: That wasn't uncooperative, Warlock; that was downright rude. I wouldn't have thought he'd have resorted to some of those insults... In any case, I heard of someone staying at the Three Broomsticks who kept a Jobberknoll, so...

Daria: So why the secrecy?

Warlock: Severus isn't the only one who knows potions, Ms Smythe. Sirius has a lot of enemies right now, and we thought it best that no one know exactly who wanted the Jobberknoll feathers, and why.

Daria: You couldn't have got secrecy at the school? That place isn't a castle, it's a rat maze.

Warlock: And we were supposed to mix a potion in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom?

Daria: It's been done.

Warlock: It still isn't safe enough. Severus has a tendency to talk to Argus Filch, who in turn has a tendency to ... communicate ... with that cat of his. It was easier all around to comandeer the Shrieking Shack and make the potion there.

Kes: Now, if you're satisfied...? We need to decide what your punishment is going to be. I mean, not only was this against school rules, but it was decidedly unsafe.

Daria: Uh. Yeah.

Kes: I'd rather not turn you in to Dumbledore, on the other hand. You were only trying to safeguard your friends. So I think an informal detention will do. And your chore should be... (she exchanges a look with Warlock) ...keeping an eye on Lynn.

(Daria looks up at Kes with surprise. Kes smirks and gives a little shrug.)

Daria: Uh ... thank you.

Kes: Now go back to school, would you? Oh, and try not to get caught. I, for my own part, never saw you.

(Daria shifts her eyes to Warlock. He remains impassive. Kes shoos Daria out and she goes, wrapping the cloak around her and disappearing from sight. The door opens. The door closes. Kes turns to Warlock, arms folded.)

Kes: All right. Just how dear is it going to cost me, keeping you quiet about what she's done? (to the smirk) God, I hate that expression from you...

(Scene: Gryffindor girl's dormitory. Hermione on her bed, reading. Enter Daria, who starts digging through her trunk without a word.)

Herm: Oh, Daria... How... I mean, what... I mean, is there anything new?

Daria: Well, we don't have to worry about hooded people in the Three Broomsticks anymore...

Herm: WHAT? How do you...? Oh, you didn't go there, did you? Not by yourself ... Daria, it's not safe to...

Daria: Don't ask -- just take my word for it.

(Daria keeps digging, idly tossing books on her bed. Then she gives up and, with a heavy sigh, turns towards Lynn's trunk.)

Herm: But...

Daria: It's okay, Hermione. Lynn and I have a standing agreement about borrowing. (opens Lynn's trunk, starts digging.)

Herm: I wasn't talking about that, Daria. I just thought ... since she's... Isn't it hard for you to...?

(Daria, who's just pulled Lynn's purple jacket out of the trunk, looks at it sadly for a moment, then drapes it over the bed and keeps digging.)

Daria: I know.

(Silence as Daria pulls out a book and shuts the trunk again without bothering to put things back in order. She gets up off the floor and, book tucked under her arm, makes her way out.)

Herm: Daria, where are you...?

Daria: (sharp) Guess.

(She slams the door behind her on her way out. Hermione looks at the mess with a sigh. She marks her place in her book, puts it down, gets up and starts cleaning the mess.)

(Scene: Hospital wing. Daria enters to see AP slumped defensively in a chair, with Fred, George and Harry clustered around him. Dustpuppy is, for a change, calm as he perches on AP's shoulder.)

Harry: If you do want to go, AP...

AP: I don't.

Fred: Oh, come on, AP! We need you on this!

George: I know you want to stay here with her, but ... seriously, mate, wouldn't she want it this way?

Fred: After all, it's his stupid git of a father who helped put her in this mess in the first place...

George: I thought she was keen on revenge.

Harry: I'll stay with her and let you know if there's any news.

Daria: Of course, that dubious honour should go to her sister.

(They turn to face Daria.)

AP: Hey ho. Where've you been?

Daria: ... Making a promise to someone. I kind of need to be here. And Fred and George are right -- Lynn'd be furious if she knew you were giving up a choice revenge scheme just to sit watching her.

AP: Oh ... well ... fine. (gets up unhappily, then grabs up Dustpuppy and hands the owl to Daria.) Just send Dustpuppy over if there's any news, 'kay?

(Daria nods. Fred and George quietly lead AP out. There's a *flapflapflap* in the corridor and a moment later, Kes pokes her head around the door.)

Kes: Any change?

Daria: No.

Kes: Well, keep me appraised. I'll be in the other room if you need me.

(She shuts the door behind her on her way out. Daria sits in the chair AP vacated, and Dustpuppy settles on her shoulder quietly as she opens the book to a page some three-quarters of the way in. Harry looks at her for a moment, then gets into another chair.)

Harry: So did you find out anything from Warlock?

Daria: He's clean. And so is the hooded figure.

Harry: And you're so sure?

Daria: Well, I do tend to trust my own cousin, even if I haven't seen her very often.

(Harry blinks at her.)

Harry: That was Kes?

Daria: It's a long story and I don't want to tell it now. Suffice it to say, though, that the danger is not from those two.

(She goes back to her book. There is a long, uncomfortable silence. Harry, after squirming for a few moments, decides to break it.)

Harry: What's that you're reading?

Daria: The Gunslinger. It's a bleak world he lives in, but right now, it seems better than here.

Harry: Oh. I've heard of Stephen King, but never read him. Never much time, with the housework around the Dursleys'.

Daria: *sigh* It's fairly depressing in parts. Particularly the way Roland has to win his guns. I mean, listen to this - "'My weapon is David, teacher'." He's going to use the hawk - the one he 'friended' - to...

(she stops and goes deadly pale. Harry looks at her with concern.)

Harry: Daria? Are you alright?

Daria: (as if to herself) 'My weapon is David, teacher...' Oh my god...

Harry: What is it?

Daria: They used her, that's what's wrong. (flinging on her cloak) KES! I'm going out!

Kes: (OS) Daria, what...?

(But Daria's already out. Harry looks at Lynn for a moment. Kes pokes her head in and looks at Harry, nonplussed.)

Harry: She's ... upset. Uh... We'll be back.

(He follows Daria out at a run. Kes looks after them, then sighs and leans against the door frame.)

(Scene: corridor. Daria is striding at speed along it. Harry catches up with her.)

Harry: Daria, what's the matter?

Daria: They used her.

Harry: You what?

Daria: They used us.

Harry: Daria, I don't quite follow...

(Daria turns down and grabs him by the shoulders. Harry looks stunned.)

Daria: You're the Boy Who Lived, and they want to keep you that way! The Smythes are Aurors, and they'll do just about anything to get Voldemort right now. And that includes using you as bait and us as a shield for you.

(slight pause)

Harry: What do you mean?

Daria: They sent us here -- out of our year, out of our depth, out of everything we know -- so that, if Voldemort came after you again, we'd be in the way.

Harry: Daria ... you can't know that... I mean, there was no guarantee...

Daria: AP's Ron's cousin. They knew that, through them, it would only be a matter of time before we became friends. If it hadn't started right away, I'm sure people would have made some changes to make absolutely sure. (beat) I'm pretty sure you have nothing to do with this, so sorry for taking it out on you.

(Daria lets him go and turns away, striding on. Harry calls after her, rooted to the spot)

Harry: Where are you going?

Daria: To have a word with a 'headmaster' who would do this to his students.

(Harry just stares after her, stunned, for a moment more.)

Harry: No ... no, Daria, wait!

(He runs after her)

(Scene: the stone gargoyle. Daria is hitting it with her wand.)

Daria: Alohomora! Reduc-

(Harry skids behind her and claps a hand over her mouth, keeping her from finishing the spell.)

Harry: Don't try that. It won't work out well, I'm almost sure.

Daria: What, then. I am getting in there to talk to him.

Harry: (tapping the gargoyle with his wand) Cockroach Cluster!

(A noticeable absence of anything happening.)

Daria: And the point to that was...?

Harry: It's supposed to be the password. I suppose he changes it every year. Uh ... Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans! (beat) Er ... Chocolate Frog!

Daria: Pear Drops.

(The gargoyle comes to life and leaps aside. Harry stares at her. Daria just brushes past him.)

(Scene: the moving staircase. Daria is standing on it with Harry behind her. Daria is still as a statue.)

Harry: Listen, I know it looks bad, but I'm sure Dumbledore would never do anything like that deliberately...

Daria: Right now, I suspect everyone involved in this mess over the age of sixteen of doing this deliberately. And that includes our father.

Harry: (pale) But...

Daria: Whatever you think of the man, the fact is that he's headmaster at this school and he would have been able to do something about it if he'd known and cared enough to have it stopped.

Harry: Maybe he didn't know, Daria. It could have just...

Daria: Slipped past the greatest wizard of the century? Not a chance.

Harry: But Daria, please listen, I...

(They hit the top of the moving staircase without realising it and trip, falling over and hitting the door to Dumbledore's office.)

(Scene: Dumbledore's office. Warlock steps cautiously over to the door and opens it; Daria and Harry stumble into the office. Fudge and Black are staring openly at the duo; Dumbledore looks a little amused. Warlock looks far from it. Daria stands up straight, nods to Warlock [he steps back a little] and slams the door shut behind them.)

Daria: Whose idea was this?

Warlock: The Smythes were known for decorum once. This must be what being rasied by Muggles does to you.

(Dumbledore watches Daria and Harry with a certain detachment -- but there's a glimmer in his eye that could be amusement. Black cuts his eyes from Harry to Daria to Dumbledore to Fudge in a continuous square pattern, obviously damn confused. Fudge, however, is trying to avoid everyone's eyes.)

Fudge: Wh-what...what do you mean, miss?

Daria: (it clicks) You did this! You put us in front of Harry to get killed in his place!

Fudge: Miss, get hold of yourself! What happened to your sister was tragic, true, but we set the precautions...

Harry: Is it true, Mister Fudge? Were they here because of me?

Dumbledore: I'm rather curious about that myself, Cornelius.

Fudge: Don't be ridiculous! When we arranged for you to be here, we certainly never intended... ("oh no, said too much...") I ... er ... that is to say...

Daria: Is that why he's here? (points viciously at Warlock) So that, when Voldemort was occupied with getting to Harry through us, 'Warlock' here could get him before he could hurt anyone else?

Warlock: First I've heard of it if that was the plan. I was told that I'd get my chance at Voldemort if I agreed to take the Dark Arts position here at Hogwarts. With the jinx on this job, it's the only thing that could have persuaded me.

Sirius: So you were told you had a shot at the Dark Lord. And you (looking towards Harry and a fuming Daria) were recently attacked by his servants.

Dumbledore: And thanks to Harry, we now have an opportunity to hear both sides of the story, seeing as Peter Pettigrew is currently in custody...

Fudge: And ... and even if all this foolishness about Pettigrew being alive and ... and the rest of it is true, then hasn't it worked out for the best? I mean, certainly the fight against the Dark Lord demands sacrifices...

Harry: But a sacrifice is freely made; you don't make someone do it without them even knowing!

Warlock: The boy has a point, Minister. And at the moment, your argument isn't impressing the hell out of me like it should, either.

Fudge: (slightly desperate) Now see here! You have no idea what you're saying, any of you! It wasn't my intention that you should be attacked so secretly... (oops again)

(Daria looks absolutely livid and steps forward, obviously about to go Lynn. Warlock, however, puts a hand on her shoulder to restrain her -- he sees something in Dumbledore's face he recognises.)

Dumbledore: (Calmly) Cornelius, if you were going to undertake this in my school, I would have appreciated being forwarned.

Fudge: Well...

Dumbledore: After all, endangering the lives of students without the faculty's knowledge rather prevents effective defence. In Loco Parentis serves for the magical world as well as the Muggle, after all.

Fudge: I... I...

(Dumbledore calmly sips from a goblet, then turns back to Fudge.)

Dumbledore: Such behaviour is not considered particularly endearing in anyone, least of all the Minister of Magic. Come the next election -- October, I believe -- the people might look rather unkindly on this sort of thing. (beat in which Fudge looks scared out of what few wits he has.) Assuming they hear about this, of course.

(Fudge stares at Dumbledore. Warlock, Harry, and Daria smirk.)

Fudge: Let's...get back to the task at hand. Pettigrew still needs to be questioned ... as does Sirius Black. (throws a glare at Sirius, which he then sweeps over Daria, Warlock and Harry until he hits Dumbledore's forbidding face) W-w-we can discuss my policies at a later date.

Harry: I ... I wanted to be here when Sirius ... and Pettigrew...

Sirius: Go on, Harry. I'll be all right.

Harry: But...

(But Warlock has a hand on both Harry and Daria's shoulders and is firmly guiding them out.)

(Scene: Hogwarts corridor. Daria and Harry both look peeved at the exclusion. Warlock seems to be mulling things over.)

Warlock: That was an ... interesting theory you came up with, Ms Smythe.

Daria: (blowing up) How many times? It's Morgendorffer!

Warlock: Fine. Ms Morgendorffer. Doesn't make the theory any less interesting.

Harry: Surely it's more than a theory when it's been proved that way.

Warlock: Point.

Harry: And why couldn't we have stayed?

Warlock: There are times when knowing everything hurts more than it helps.

Harry: Professor Dumbledore once told me that with understanding comes acceptance. And I'm having a hard time accepting that... They're my friends, and I've been worried enough about them since ... since...

Warlock: Since Cedric Diggory.

Harry: But that was an accident. Between the two of us ... pride and honour and I don't know what all... It wasn't anyone's fault that time. This was ... deliberate. And cruel. And I can't understand why anyone would do that, let alone accept it. I wanted to hear this!

Warlock: And you wouldn't have. Fudge would never have spoken openly in front of you -- either of you. His guilt and denial would have kept him quiet.

Daria: But now Dumbledore has the Minister in a forum where he feels he's safe to speak openly. So you figure he'll be able to get more out of him that way, and hopefully pass on the necessary information to Harry.

Warlock: (raised eyebrow) Your father would be proud. You seem to have a head for intrigue.

Daria: My father... (swallows it with an effort)

Warlock: Your biological father shouldn't have let this happen. But I think your sister should have more of a problem with him than you do.

Daria: She doesn't know what he...

(It hits her -- hard. She stops dead, looking horribly preoccupied. Harry looks at her, a little concerned.)

Warlock: Well, between concern over your friends' recovery and that particular question, I think I've distracted you quite nicely. Harry ... they've been your shield, however unwittingly, for long enough. Maybe it's your turn to help them.

(Warlock keeps walking, but Harry stops and faces Daria full-on.)

Harry: What is it?

Daria: Her father -- our father -- was in on this, and she had no idea.

Harry: And you don't know how to tell her?

Daria: Harry ... you told me about Sirius Black. How he's your godfather and a close friend to your parents. And how much you hated him for betraying your parents -- and you -- before you knew about Pettigrew. Now what would happen if that revelation had come the other way around?

Harry: If I'd loved and trusted him and then found out, you mean? (Daria nods; Harry considers this with no small amount of horror) I see.

Daria: And at least Sirius isn't blood-related to you. The question isn't how I'm going to tell her, but if.

(Harry struggles, but has nothing at all to say for a long moment.)

Harry: I think the truth's best. Look where lies get you.

(Daria ponders that; nods miserably.)

Daria: Then again, I may be worrying over nothing. Telling her may not be an option anyway.

(Now she walks off. Harry looks unsure for a moment but -- probably remembering what Warlock said about protecting them for a change -- heads after her.)

(Scene: Great Hall, Slytherin table. Malfoy takes a place at the table between Crabbe and Goyle, and as he helps himself to a goblet of pumpkin juice, Dustpuppy flies over awkwardly -- he's carrying a package that's almost as big as he is. He crash-lands on Malfoy's plate and lies there panting. Malfoy takes the parcel, while Crabbe grabs hold of Dustpuppy, who's just smart enough to look panicked.)

Malfoy: (reading an attached note) "Maybe I misjudged you. Here's to show how I really feel." (beat) Do either of you recognise the handwriting?

(Goyle and Crabbe are not paying attention; they are, in fact, playing a game of impromptu table tennis -- their plates are the rackets and the hapless Dustpuppy serves as the ball. Malfoy rolls his eyes and scans the other tables. When he looks towards the Gryffindor table, Jane grins and waves. Malfoy gets a self-assured smirk on and opens the box. It's a flask. He takes out the stopper, sniffs the contents, then nods with approval and liberally douses himself with the stuff -- obviously cologne or something. Then he gets up -- camera stays on Dustpuppy as he bounces headlong on the table. Malfoy's hand grabs Dustpuppy and holds him. Camera stays on Dustpuppy as Malfoy moves across the room -- everywhere they go, heads turn and shocked looks sprout. He eventually gets to Jane's side and his hand produces Dustpuppy with a flourish.)

Malfoy: (OS; smirk-voice) So ... what you really feel?

Jane: Yeah. I really feel that you're a school laughingstock. And now there's proof.

(With that, George, sitting beside her, holds up his own plate. The reflective gold shows Malfoy -- covered in screaming psychedelic scales. His hair is blotched with an array of colours nature never intended. His eyes, the only bit of him from the neck down that looks remotely normal, widen. Finally, the rest of the people in the Hall can react, and do -- they laugh themselves sick.)

Jane: (holding up something that looks like a lump of rubber) This might help, acid-trip boy.

(Malfoy takes the bit of rubber from her, shakes it out and looks at it. It's one of those rubber Nixon masks. He glares at it for a moment, then at Jane, then musters the little dignity he has left, bows slightly to her, and puts the mask on. Then he holds his head high and walks out of the Great Hall. There's a hush as he walks right out, so that we can hear his dignified tread turn into running the minute he's out of sight. Then the laughter continues harder than ever.)

Fred: Ah, that was absolutely wild!

George: So where's our little Potions genuis of a cousin, anyway?

Fred: Yeah; surely he deserved to see that, all the abuse he's taken...

Jane: (her smirk fading) He's still in the hospital wing.

(Fred and George's grins flicker and die. Suddenly, the two biggest mischief-makers in the school look a little bit ashamed of themselves.)

George: Yeah. Lynn'd have enjoyed that too. You should've ... taken pictures or...

(He stops, realising that there's no way of finishing that in the way that he intended. Harry, rather pale and guilty-looking, gets up and leaves the room. Cut to the teachers' table -- most of the teachers are smirking a little about the Malfoy thing in spite of themselves. In fact, Warlock is giving a hissing lecture to a glowering Snape. Dumbledore gets up and follows Harry out.)

(Scene: Hogwarts grounds. Harry is sitting by the lake, watching the squid move. Dumbledore approaches, hikes up his robes and sits down next to Harry.)

Dumbledore: Ah, Harry. How is your young friend?

Harry: She hasn't woken up yet, Professor; Madame McGovern's considering St Mungo's. (beat; hesitant) Er ... Professor Dumbledore?

Dumbledore: Yes, Harry?

Harry: Kes ... er ... Madame McGovern...

Dumbledore: I quite understand, Harry. Continue.

Harry: She ... she said Professor Snape's been hanging around, asking after Lynn. I ... I just...

Dumbledore: Have you considered asking Professor Snape himself for an explanation, Harry?

Harry: Well, Professor ... he doesn't ... I mean, we don't...

Dumbledore: I think I understand, Harry. You understand that any information I may have concerning Professor Snape is confidential.

Harry: But Professor...

Dumbledore: However, allow me to tell you a story.

Harry: Er ... okay...

Dumbledore: Some time ago, a young lad with a fascination with the Dark Arts came to this school. He knew, for example, a great deal about hexes that most seventh-years did not.

Harry: (getting the idea) Right.

Dumbledore: When the Sorting took place, it was ... more complicated than usual. It took three hours for the Hat to make up its mind, and for that three hours, it would not leave this young boy's head, rendering him effectively blind.

Harry: Just like with Lynn.

Dumbledore: With markedly different results. This young lad, knowing that he was particularly gifted at the Dark Arts, chose to allow those gifts to affect the outcome of the Sorting. He felt that one should be sorted according to magical talent rather than the underlying personality. Whereas your young friend did not.

Harry: I ... think I understand, Professor. Er ... thanks.

Dumbledore: Happy to oblige, Harry. Now, why don't you visit with your friend? If she wakes, I'm sure it would do her no end of good to see a familiar face. (beat) Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the ability to function within it.

Harry: Right. (as Dumbledore gets up) Er ... Professor Dumbledore?

Dumbledore: (remaining standing) Yes, Harry?

Harry: Sn ... er ... the 'young lad' in your story ... what House would he have been in, if he hadn't picked...?

Dumbledore: It would be impossible for me to say, Harry. If I had to hazard a guess, based on his actions... (long beat) ...I'd have to say it would be difficult to say whether Slytherin or Gryffindor would have been the best House for the young lad.

(Harry stares after Dumbledore as he walks away.)

(Scene: hospital wing. Dustpuppy is nervously shuffling back and forth along the head of Lynn's bed. Harry moves towards a vacant chair near Lynn's bed and sits in it. He looks around the room -- it's empty bar himself, the nervous little ball of feathers and Lynn herself [deathly pale and very still]. Then he sighs long and loud and settles back in his chair.)

Lynn: (OS; low and pained, nearly a groan) Ohwiththeheadache...

(He turns his head and looks at Lynn. Her eyes are still closed, but she is slowly lifting her hand to her forehead. Dustpuppy blinks down at Lynn, eyes wider than normal, then hoots excitedly, eliciting another groan from Lynn, and heads for the window. Unfortunately, the window is shut -- Dustpuppy hits the window, squawks, bounces, lands in a bedpan and lies there unmoving. Harry looks to Lynn [about half-conscious] then moves to Dustpuppy, who's also out of it. Harry's eyes hit the window and he lets out a soft yelp as he sees a pair of big yellow eyes. When he realises it's another owl, he opens the window and looks at Shylock, who peers into the room and then looks at Harry.)

Harry: Uh ... would you go find AP? He'd want to know...

(Shylock inclines his head in what looks like a nod and flaps off. Harry goes back to Lynn's bedside. Lynn, for her part, has tried opening her eyes but even the dim light in the room seems too much so she shuts them again.)

Lynn: Owww... Is there any aspirin or something?

Harry: We're wizards ... er, we must have something better. Just a mo... KES!

Lynn: (wince) Ahahahow...

(Off Harry's sheepish look, fade to...)

(Scene: Boy's dormitory. Harry's bed is, of course, empty. Ron, Dean, Neville and Seamus are curled up in their beds; AP is on his bed, fully clothed, and is twitching in his sleep. CU on his face. A beak leans into shot and grabs his earlobe hard enough to draw blood.)


(Pan back as he looks to see Shylock sitting on his pillow. Once he wakes up a little, he looks at Shylock with wide eyes that fill with major joy. Meanwhile, Ron, Dean, Neville and Seamus are poking their heads out of their blankets to look at AP with sleepy confusion.)

Ron: AP, wha...

AP: (big grin) WooooooHOO!

(He rolls off the bed, hits the floor with a thump, scrambles to his feet, and runs out of the room. Ron, understanding what's going on, gets up himself, steps into his slippers and runs out after AP. Neville, Dean and Seamus exchange looks.)

Neville: Wha?

Seamus: We'll fin' out in th' mornin'. 'M gonna gae back t'sleep.

(With that, all three of them bury their heads under the pillows.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Neville's at a table, face-down in "The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5". Dean's asleep across the table from him, head pillowed in his arms -- apparently, Neville was quizzing Dean and they both lost it somewhere along the way. Hermione comes downstairs, looking aggravated. Daria and a bleary Jane follow. Hermione slaps a piece of parchment down on the table and the sound jerks Neville and Dean awake.)

Herm: The next time you all feel it necessary to make all kinds of noise at three in the morning, do use this. It's a soundproofing charm so the rest of us don't have to suffer.

(With that, she stalks out. Dean and Neville look after her, tired and irritated.)

Neville: But Hermione, it wasn't... (portrait hole slams shut) ...us.

Dean: It was AP yelling, actually. He and Ron barrelled out of here like someone set their beds on fire last night...

(Daria and Jane, who's suddenly a lot more awake, share a look.)

Jane: (punching the air) All RIGHT!

(And they both exit at a dead run. Neville and Dean look at each other.)

Dean: Want to get back to it?

Neville: All right, then.

(Dean drops his head back on his arms, Neville drops his head back into the book, and they're both asleep again within seconds.)

(Hospital wing. Enter Hermione carrying an overloaded book bag. Lynn turns her head and looks at her. Hermione beams.)

Herm: Oh, you're alright!

Lynn: Right. The next one who says that gets thrown under a camel.

Herm: That's no joke if you're a witch. Flitwick told us about the wizard Baruffio who said S instead of F and ended up with a buffalo on his chest. Anyway, I suppose that explains what all the noise was about last night. (beat) So when's Madam McGovern letting you out?

Lynn: Despite my protests that what currently ails me is nothing that a couple of Excedrin wouldn't cure, she's not letting me out of here until tomorrow.

Herm: Right; that doesn't give us a great deal of time. (starts unloading her book bag) There's a lot to get done and I asked Madam McGovern and she said that you'd be alright for this.

Lynn: For what?

Herm: Well, for revision, of course! Lynn, exams start next week and you do want to be prepared, don't you?

Lynn: I suppose there's no special dispensation for the wounded?

(She kind of wilts under Hermione's stern stare and then props herself up with a resigned expression, submitting herself to the grind.)

(Scene: Gryffindor common room. Fred and George are conjuring decorations. Daria and Hermione, however, are undoing all their hard work, removing everything they put up. Harry and Ron are watching the whole thing with amusement.)

Ron: This whole thing's a little pointless, innit?

Harry: It's like a panto. "Oh, yes we are". "Oh, no we're not".

Herm: How many times must Daria tell you? She won't want a party! (popping a bunch of balloons with a quick wave of her wand) This is such a waste of time, cleaning up after you when I could be revising.

Fred: (re-conjuring the balloons) Then stop doing it, then!

George: She wouldn't ask for any fuss, but she'd like it, really!

Herm: Oh, and I suppose that whole incident with the Flobberworms in your pillowslip is something she does as a response to something she likes!

Daria: (as Hermione pops the ballons again) Actually...

Fred: Hermione, you should be thanking us! The rest of the Gryffindors are.

George: We've been working like house elves on our revision, anyway -- we've got N.E.W.Ts to take! Think of this as ... what's that term Muggles use when they need a break or their heads'll blow up?

Daria: A mental health day.

Fred: Right; one of them.

Herm: She'll turn you into a newt!

George: Oh, she did that already.

Fred: I got better.

Daria: (facepalm) Okay, who got them into Monty Python? (beat) And why am I asking such a stupid question?

Ron: Actually, it was Hermione who did that.

Daria: (turning to face Ron, nearly dumbstruck) Excuse me?

Harry: Apparently, AP and Lynn reminded her of how much her parents liked it and when she went back over the Easter holidays, she spent the entire holiday watching the stuff.

Herm: Well? Just because I work hard at my studies and intend to get somewhere in the wizard world doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humour!

George: And does she!

Ron: (a bit angry) And why do they know about this and not us?

(Hermione doesn't look particularly keen to answer that, but is saved from having to do so when the portrait hole opens. Daria and Hermione work as hard as possible to remove the last of the streamers and balloons as Neville, Lee and Lynn clamber through.)

Lee: Oi; did you know that this lot was standing out there at least five minutes?

Neville: It wouldn't have been that long; I wish they didn't have to keep changing the passwords!

Daria: (poking a pile of streamers and accidentally setting it on fire) So how was the hosp-- ACK!

(Hermione puts the flame out with a jet of water from her wand.)

Lynn: Quieter than here looks to be. (looking at the table) All that food had better be in preparation for an all-night cram session.

Lee: What, like see how many of those eclairs we can stuff into our gobs?

Daria: She means what you people refer to as revision.

Fred: Well, actually, we meant to have a...

George: I mean, you are all better now and all and we figured it'd be good to...

(Harry and Ron watch with amusement as Fred and George shrink under the matched glares of Daria, Lynn and Hermione.)

Fred/George: Revision session.

Ron: Wonder if I could get them to spend the summer at ours. It's wicked getting that lot to shut up for awhile.

(Scene: girl's dorm. Jane and Hermione are asleep. Daria and Lynn are lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.)

Daria: Think we'll pass?

Lynn: Sure. Even between intrigue and mistrust, it'd be a cold day in hell if we didn't manage to learn something.

Daria: Lynn ... about the Order of the Phoenix... We found out some things when we saw Dumbledore after the attack. The Ministry...

Lynn: Oh, right. That. I was hoping you weren't going to have to hear about that. Probably gives you a bad impression of your birthright, huh?

Daria: You knew?

Lynn: I had an idea. You have no idea how serious the Order is. Harry's the only one who's ever successfully fought off Voldemort and they have a vested interest in keeping him alive.

Daria: (bitter) Not so much the rest of us.

Lynn: I believe Dad's words were something to the effect of... (muses) "a kind boy, particularly stalwart, a risk-taker ... but very young and with too much bloody honour".

Daria: Too much honour for what?

Lynn: Fighting Voldemort.

Daria: Okay. Let's look at this from a Smythe's-eye view. Those in the know felt that eventually, Harry will wise up to the fact that you can only beat the bad guys by being able to think like them, which he can't do yet. Associate him with borderline bad guys -- us -- and he's bound to learn how.

Lynn: Taking it further, if he's friends with borderline bad guys -- but borderline bad guys who would do just about anything for their friends...

Daria: He'll learn not only how to think like bad guys, but also learn that being able to do so won't make him a bad person. (beat) He worries that much about having a bit of Voldemort in him?

Lynn: Wouldn't you? Anyway, there's a third benefit of allying the Boy Who Lived with people who play dirty...

Daria: The Boy Who Lived continues to do so. I worked that one out for myself. (beat) You knew?

Lynn: Warlock dropped a few hints. He didn't know what was going down any more than we did, but I think he figured something like that was in the works. So he tried to warn me. I didn't want to listen because I didn't want to scare anyone. (beat) A lot of things tried to warn me.

Daria: Excuse me?

Lynn: The divination. The dream I had with the Sorting Hat on. (sigh) And something I saw in that stupid crystal ball.

Daria: I was wondering why you got rid of it so ... completely.

Lynn: And publicly. That I did in the hopes that it'd get Trelawny off my back. Did the job really well, too -- I think she had a "vision" of what that Beater's bat could do to her.

Daria: Going to tell Harry about this?

Lynn: I don't think I have to. Hermione'll do it for me. (raising her voice) Won't you?

(We see Hermione, who's lying with her back to them, eyes wide with information overload and panic.)

Herm: Uh ... oh ... how about ... we all tell him together?

Lynn: Sounds fair. G'night.

Daria: How did y...

Lynn: (hear the smirk) I'm a Seer, remember?

(With that, she rolls over and goes to sleep. Daria looks at Hermione. From their expressions, the idea of Lynn having that much knowledge freaks them both out.)

(Scene: Great Hall. Hermione is speed-eating. Ron and Harry are watching her with awe.)

Herm: (through a mouthful of shepherd's pie) Wha'? 'Mungry!

Harry: Well, it has been a long day, all those exams.

Ron: Long day? Try long week! All that stuff and I just bet that Warlock geezer didn't know about it!

Harry: If he had known, Lynn'd have told us. I'm pretty sure of that. Anyway, I suppose the Order had a point. Maybe I am a little too ... uh ... "bloody honourable".

Herm: Oh, Harry, don't say that! You're a great wizard and you know what they say about Professor Dumbledore! About how he could use the Dark Arts but is too honourable to!

Ron: Well, at least he knows how it all works! C'mon, Hermione, ease up!

Harry: You have to admit, Hermione, for a Dark witch in the making, Lynn turned out to be all right in the end.

Herm: Yes, all right, but just don't lose sight of the honour, Harry. It's what makes you great. (beat) Where are Daria and the others, anyway?

Ron: They're in the hospital wing.

Herm: Oh, not still. You were alright after an hour in the lake...

Harry: Well, merpeople get a bit nasty when offended. I guess Mermish just isn't his language.

Ron: Harry, English isn't his language either.

Herm: Does AP actually have a language? Aside from Grog, I mean.

Jane: (approaching from behind) Oh, plenty. C++, Perl, Java...

Ron: You what?

Herm: They're computer languages, Ron.

(Jane takes a seat beside Ron.)

Harry: So how's AP?

Jane: Eh, he'll be okay. Just a really bad case of swimmer's ear.

Ron: Water on the brain, more like. It'll be a miracle if he passes Care of Magical Creatures.

Herm: He'll make it up in Potions and Arithmancy. And if I want to stay top of those classes, I'd better get to the library.

(With that, she makes her exit.)

Jane: (shaking her head) Now I know where Jodie's overachiever streak went.

(Harry and Ron, who've obviously heard stories, chuckle.)

(Scene: girl's dormitory. The girls are packing up their trunks. They seem to have accumulated some interesting bits over the year, if Jane's pencil case [which is currently letting out some very odd high-pitched squealing noises], Daria's books [one's steaming, one flits in and out of invisibility, and one's actually leaking something orange], and a contraption that looks like a cross between a portable CD player and an iron lung that Lynn's currently dismantling are any indication. Hermione sits on her own neatly-packed trunk, watching them.)

Herm: Jane ... your smock...

(Jane looks over; her artist's smock, blotched with several colours of wizard paint, is trying to scuttle away under one of the beds. Crookshanks goes after it, chasing it under the bed. Hissing and the rip of cloth is heard.)

Jane: Hey, quit that!

(Jane dives under the bed after cat and smock. Thumping and the odd scream of pain from Jane join the hissing and ripping. When Harry slams his way into the room, no one notices at first because of all the noise.)

Harry: I just got... (looking at the bed, which is currently rocking) ...er...

Daria: It's Wrestlemania UK. Don't worry about it.

Jane: (OS) Hey! This your friend you're not worrying ab--OW!

Harry: Anyway, I just got some wonderful news!

Herm: You passed your exams?

Harry: Better.

Herm: But ... but you did pass your exams, didn't you?

(Ron and AP appear in the doorway behind Harry.)

Ron: Of course he passed his exams. With all the tricks he pulled on Malfoy this year, he got well ahead on his magic.

Harry: The official word came through -- the Ministry cleared Sirius!

Herm: Oh, that's wonderful! I'm so pleased!

Ron: Yeah; at least we won't have to refer to him as "Snuffles" again. Seems a stupid name for a dog the size of a ruddy garden shed.

Herm: So you'll be leaving the Dursleys, Harry?

Harry: Well, Sirius still needs to find somewhere to live, so it'll be awhile before I can join him. But surviving the Dursleys will be a lot easier now that I have that to look forward to.

Herm: Well, you'll have to send Hedwig to us when you get there -- let us know if you have a telephone and everything. I'm sure Sirius wouldn't mind if you used one...

Ron: Hey, and we'll be able to see each other properly! You can just pop in and out by Floo whenever you fancy, if you're living in a wizarding house! And maybe I can stay with you for a change!

Harry: I'd have to ask Sirius, but I'm sure you'd be more than welcome.

Ron: Good; I'm going to need somewhere to escape to this summer! Mum's pretty much given up on Fred and George having careers at the Ministry and has let them build an extra bit to the house to work on Weasley's Wizard Wheezes properly. The Burrow won't be safe!

Lynn: Good. (to the looks) A few of the newest Wheezes were AP's and my idea, so the twins sort of insisted that we get a percentage of the proceeds. If they're successful, I'm successful.

Ron: But ... you two won't be at the Burrow working on the Wheezes, will you?

Lynn: No; I'm thinking I'll take a short tour of wizard Europe ... if I can find some company.

Jane: (OS) Right here!

(With that, Jane pops out from under the bed, scratched and bruised but triumphant with the smock in her hand. Crookshanks slinks out from under the bed after her, ears flattened and face almost sulky. Then Jane looks at the smock -- it's almost unrecognisable as an item of clothing.)

Daria: I'll think about it, but I have to go home first. I think I have a lot of explaining to do to my parents.

Jane: (tossing the remains of her smock to Crookshanks) I guess. How many colours did you turn Quinn?

Daria: According to AP and the letters from Mom, six. Not counting that business with Medusa's Secret hairspray. It's a good thing she's never heard of Howlers.

Jane: So what about you, AP?

Harry: Yeah; from what you've said, you aren't looking forward to going home any more than I am.

Ron: You're welcome to stay at the Burrow if you want, really -- just try to keep them from destroying the paddock.

AP: I might do some of that some other time. I gotta do something at home first.

Ron: What did happen to Aunt Carol, anyhow? You never said.

AP: Well, best I can figure, Dad kinda got freaked about being hitched to a witch. So he got her drugged up and kept her drugged up.

Harry: Could've been worse. He could've abandoned her.

AP: (disbelieving chuckle) My dad? He'd have to cook and clean and do other "women's work". Nah; easier to make with the ... uh...

Lynn: Stepfordness.

AP: Thank you. Anyway, figured it'd be better if I went back and kept an eye out.

Lynn: Well, send Dustpuppy when and if you need a rescue, okay?

AP: Will do, Purple Peril! So what're you guys doing?

Herm: Packing; but I guess you're all finished with that already, seeing as the train leaves tomorrow and you don't look the least ... bit...

(The word "concerned" dies on Hermione's lips as Harry, Ron and AP proceed to look concerned -- actually, "panicked" would be closer. They remove themselves from the room with all due haste.)

Herm: (utmost indignance) Boys!

(Scene: Hogwarts Express. Harry, Jane, Ron and Daria are taking the ride in silence. After a moment, the carriage door slides open and Malfoy appears. In a shocking development, he's alone.)

Harry: Getting braver, Malfoy?

Jane: (pulling her wand) "Brave" and "smart" aren't necessarily the same thing.

Malfoy: (deep breath) I'm unarmed. I just... (turns to Jane) My father caused you some discomfort, I'm given to understand. And I would like to ... a-a-apologise.

Jane: What about Harry and Hermione? AP and Lynn, damnit? Your father and his stupid gang of Death Pukers caused them "some discomfort" too!

Malfoy: Those Mu-- (cuts himself off at the glares) They asked for it. They chose their sides some time ago. As far as I was able to tell, you have yet to make yours.

Ron: You're a stupid little git, aren't you, Malfoy?

Jane: (smiling sweetly) No, you're right -- I haven't made it obvious to you whose side I'm on. But that's only because, if brains were Exploding Fluid, you wouldn't have enough to blow your nose.

Malfoy: What are you saying?

Jane: That you're not worth my time. That if it was a choice between you and a Blast-Ended Skrewt, I'd pick the Skrewt -- it's less of a monster than you are. That you and your Death-Eating, Muggle-bashing, overbearing nimrod of a family can all go and Apparate off the nearest cliff.

Malfoy: And ... my apology?

Jane: Take a wild guess.

(Malfoy looks at her for a long moment, then leaves.)

Ron: You should've cursed him, Jane.

Daria: She did. She made him think.

(Harry and Ron share a look.)

(Scene: Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Jane and Lynn are manhandling the last of their trunks onto a luggage cart; Daria and AP are already handling a laden cart each. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, Ginny, Dean, and Lee are standing in a huddle, muttering amongst themselves.)

Lee: You lot are family; you ask them!

George: We like our heads where they are, thanks.

Harry: Well, someone'd better ask them soon.

Herm: Oh, honestly... (turning to the gang) We were just wondering...

Ron: Hermione!

(Hermione ignores the glares the other Hogwarts kids are giving her for invoking them.)

Herm: Well, we were all wondering ... are you coming back to Hogwarts next year? Even though ... well, even though?

(Daria, Jane and AP look at Lynn. Lynn, however, just shrugs, takes control of the third luggage cart and wheels it out through the barrier.)

AP: I'll get Mom to owl you, anyway. And hey, Hermione, here's my e-mail. (hands her a scrap of parchment) Get in touch, huh?

(He follows Lynn, as do Jane and Daria, with a short wave. The Potter gang share slightly sad looks as they vanish through the wall.)

(Scene: McIntyre living room. Fred is sitting in an armchair, reading the paper. We hear the door open, we hear it shut again, and AP appears in the doorway. Fred puts down the paper and for a moment, they just look at each other.)

Fred: Andrew.

AP: Dad.

Fred: Guess that freak place lacked something.

AP: I had something to do here.

Fred: Don't think you'll be locking yourself in your room playing those damn video games all summer. You stay here the summer, you earn your keep, boy.

(AP doesn't dignify that with a reply; just leaves the doorway.)

(Scene: McIntyre kitchen. Carol is sitting at the kitchen table, idly leafing through the coupon pages of the paper. Next to her is an empty glass -- empty and dry. AP walks in, takes in the scene and digs in a pocket.)

AP: Hey, Mom.

Carol: (looking up) Oh, hello, Andrew. How was school?

AP: Uh ... long. (beat) You want something to drink, Mom?

Carol: No, thank you, dear. I have a glass of water.

(AP frowns at the empty, dry glass. Then he takes his hand out of his pocket -- he's holding a stoppered bottle full of orange liquid. He uncorks it and pours it into the glass.)

AP: Looks like orange soda to me, Mom.

Carol: (glancing at the glass) Oh. Right.

(Now that she's reminded of the drink she meant to have, she drinks it down. A moment after swallowing, she goes very still and a change comes over her face -- her eyes are now clear, calculating and very, very angry.)

Carol: And-- Sorry. AP ... where's my wand?

AP: Well ... Dad buried a six-inch stick in the garden in Oakwood awhile back.

Carol: And this is Lawndale.

AP: Uh-huh. (beat) If you need a wand, I got one.

(He digs in his bag and pulls out his table leg. She looks at it.)

Carol: You made this, didn't you? (AP nods) Very nice. Now if you don't mind... (raises her voice to a shout) Oh, Frederick! I want a word with you about those stupid Muggle pills!

Fred: (OS; worried) C-c-carol?

Carol: (pointing her wand at the kitchen doorway) ACCIO FREDERICK!

(Fred screams. The sound of an armchair falling over is heard. Fred's feet appear in the door frame -- he seems to be holding onto the living room door frame to keep himself from being pulled all the way into the kitchen.)

AP: (very impressed) Guess you guys got stuff to work out. I'll be in my room.

(And he walks out, dodging Fred's feet.)

(Scene: McIntyre front hall. Fred is clinging to the door frame for dear life. AP stops at his Dad's head and looks at him. Fred looks at his son with desperate fear in his eyes.)

AP: See, that's the thing I had to do here. And now there's one more thing I gotta do before I catch up on my mail and the gaming. But first I'm gonna wish you luck, since you need more than I could give you anyway.

(With that, he tickles his father's armpits, making him release the doorframe. He shoots into the kitchen and, from the sound, crashes into at least one piece of furniture along the way. Then we hear Fred screaming and Carol yelling what sound a lot like random hexes. AP grins, a little, and then heads up the stairs. Over the screaming and the yelling, we just hear the door to his room close.)



Long and complicated story. Started on this one with Ben Yee, continued through it with Austin Loomis. For various reasons, working with them proved unsatisfactory and I was stuck with this massive half-finished fic and no help. Asking J seemed like a good idea, and as it turned out, it was one of the best ideas I ever had. So the following notes of thanks are in order:

To Ben -- for all the Warlock lines, the geek humour, the food fight, the Sorting Hat's new song and the serious thread.

To Austin -- for Ollivander, the Hat, the reminder about the Yule Ball, the early sounding board duty and not minding when I cut his cameo character and most of his other stuff.

To J -- For the Venemous Tentacula, Aussie Rules Quidditch, the carriage ride, the table-reads, and agreeing to join this project at the particularly thankless point he did, when most of the work involves piecing stuff together.


Monty Python -- There was one point where this whole thing turned into Python Battle on Iron Ficter. We used the Lumberjack Song, Sit On My Face, Dennis the Anarcho-Syndicalist Peasant and God only knows what else [a man with a stoat through his head, anyway] in here at some point.

Aussie Rules Quidditch -- Go check out Mac Hall. Though actual Quidditch played by the "no death, no foul" principle is just too good to pass up.

Lynn's Curse Books -- Yeah, they don't actually exist in the Potterverse. But I spent a fair bit of TLAS time coming up with the Subversion_Is_We booklist and if Muggle ones were that much fun, I wasn't going to waste the opportunity to invent magic ones.

Sapient Pearwood -- Our one real nod to Pterry, though the "green and purple wobbly bits" line does originate from "Lords and Ladies".

RFC1149 -- That's Ben's. Google and ye shall find -- I didn't get it but it was AP enough to keep.


Daria Morgendorffer et al are the creations of Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn but are owned by MTV, a Viacom company, copyright 1997, 2000. [Apparently, this is possible by 'work for hire', a concept that eludes me.] Harry Potter et al are the creations of Joanne K. Rowling. Lynn Cullen, AP McIntyre, Mara Fitzgerald, and any other character you don't recognise from any ep (or any Harry Potter book), on the other hand, were created and are owned by me, one Janet 'Canadibrit' Neilson, copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003. Touch my characters without consulting me and it will go hard with you. All cameos used with permission, though by this point they're more characters in their own rights. This is a "substantially transformative" derivative work, apparently [what a highfalutin way to say fanfic], and is protected by the Supreme Court's decision in re Campbell v. Acuff Rose Music, so keep the copyright notice where it is and don't post it for money. If you do so without my permission and that of MTV Networks, I WILL pull a Lynn Cullen on you. And then I'll call lawyers.