Grazhir :: Crossover :: FeS2 :: 12

12

18072014-19072014

“Here’s the rope, now . . . swing away.” — U2, Wire


“And that reminds me.” Harry paused, flicking his gaze at Barty for a second, then sent, with Tom specifically in mind, ‘Can you hear this?’

In his peripheral vision he saw Voldemort’s hand twitch such that the nib of the quill he still held skittered across the parchment beneath. Voldemort slowly turned toward him, a question burning in his eyes, so Harry sent, ‘I’m going to take that as a yes. Death reminded me that I can make use of any of his powers, so that means we can communicate despite the distance, though to do actual work I expect it would be easier to be physically in the same place. You’ll need to focus and direct your thoughts if you wish to respond.’

‘. . . And I can do this to initiate a conversation?’ Voldemort asked slowly.

Harry nodded. ‘At least, I think so. I expect I would at least get the idea you’re trying to contact me and could then start things off if necessary. Earlier at the feast I had been bitching to myself that I wanted to share that kidnapping idea with you. Death chimed in at that point.’

Voldemort frowned slightly, as though in consternation. ‘Does Death always listen to your thoughts?’

He pursed his lips and shrugged a bit carelessly. ‘I think he’s got some kind of monitoring system going on so that he’s alerted if I might need him, or if I’m wondering about something he could assist me with. It’s not something I worry about because Death is . . . mostly inhuman. He’s the avatar of a concept, and while because I’m his master he acts fairly human with me, I know he’s not otherwise. It’d be like being embarrassed because your cat wandered in while you were on the toilet.’

Voldemort wrinkled his nose at the analogy. ‘I see. We need to decide how big to make a nexus. If we’re going to put multiple copies of the same linking book in for each place so as to keep up with a potentially large demand.’

Harry scratched his neck and frowned. ‘Uh, we need to think about the fact that most people wouldn’t want complete strangers having access to a linking book to their homes. Sure, we can have links to public places, but how does a teenager get back home?’

‘I suggest that we apportion lands into zones or regions. Homes might have their own copies of a linking book to the nexus, but the return book would bring them to a central location. They would have to walk the remainder of the way. If the population grew to require it, perhaps more than one nexus. But please remember, I see no reason why we could not still have a floo system in place, though it is possible that the populace may prefer the books as being a cleaner way to travel where overall distance matters not. The floo might become merely a communication system.’

‘So, like, a room set aside for linking books involving locations in the main city, or even areas of the city, another for a satellite city . . . or something along those lines, plus rooms containing books to various groups of homes. It’s not as though we would necessarily need a road system, just walking paths and the like.’

Voldemort nodded. ‘The goblins could use the nexus to transport materials, though quite probably in far smaller, more frequent quantities, yet still far faster than having horse-drawn wagons. We could set up a part of the nexus, or a separate one, for strictly that, so the general public does not interfere with their work. They would simply need to tell us what locations they would need available so we could create the linking books for their use. They would have to be different from the public-access books as the goblins would need to arrive at their destination, not some distance away.’

Voldemort reached out and grabbed a fresh sheet of parchment and began making swift and decisive lines on it, sketching out a rough idea of how a grouping of estates could be done and how a nexus could be designed. The image coming to light showed a cluster of manor homes with a common at the center containing a gazebo or something similar, presumably the arrival point. Each estate had a fair amount of land so the homes were not too close together and there was plenty of space for each family, especially if they had a stable or kept the odd exotic animals or even enough land for personal farming.

The nexus he roughed out was more on the order of a series of large alcoves around the perimeter of a circular structure, and he had to assume that each would be properly labeled and that the actual center would be the arrival point at the nexus itself. It reminded him, for some reason, of the KI devices he had eventually learned of that the D’ni used, which stored which linking books a given person was allowed access to and determined which linking books actually showed up in a nexus. But he could not offhand figure out how to work up a system like that, so Tom’s idea seemed sound enough.

‘This makes a lot of sense,’ he offered. ‘And I can see your point about a separate nexus or even area of a nexus, disconnected from a public structure such as you’ve done there, for the goblins. There would have to be a hidden door, though, if we went with the same Age, so we get into place to create the linking books for each of them. It almost makes more sense to just write them separately so there would be no question of the general public somehow gaining access to the wrong place. It’s either that or we have to create a nexus with no structures, mark out where they’ll be, create the books, and then make the actual buildings. Preferably with a linking book for us to be able to go back there, outside the nexus structures, to create more as necessary.’

‘Well. . . .’

header

As it turned out his only mostly free day was Wednesday. He had Defense in the morning, but after that nothing, so he could, in theory, disappear for most of the day. Still, Voldemort was probably correct in thinking use of the time turner was better. He could shift to № 12, set about work, then turn back and return to the school with no one the wiser. If that meant he developed a habit of going to bed early and getting a couple of extra hours of sleep per day it should become unremarkable soon enough to his dorm mates. In theory he could spend every day from lunch to before dinner there and there were plenty of open periods in which to dash off whatever homework he had. Of course, having access to the abilities of Death meant the extra sleep was probably unnecessary.

He shot off a thought to Voldemort about it while running his eyes over book titles in the hopes of finding something interesting to read, followed up by, ‘And are you going to flip out if I start calling you Tom? Because really, saying Voldemort all the time makes my tongue tired.’

‘. . . There are days when I still hate you.’

‘Ha! You never really hated me in the first place. You feared a prophecy spoken by a semi-delusional drama queen and then chucked a wobbly when that killing curse rebounded. No, you hated what I represented, not me. You didn’t know me from the next toddler gumming everything in sight and throwing food at the walls. And more recently, it’s more like—’

‘All right,’ Voldemort sent sharply, ‘I get your point. And you need to learn to take a joke.’

Harry thunked his head against the bookshelf, causing Pince to glare at him for making noise in her library. While he had realized the man was more Tom than Voldemort at this point, at least with him, he had no idea it had progressed far enough that the man would actually tease him, so was it so surprising in retrospect that he failed to recognize it when it happened? ‘I apologize,’ he sent as contritely as he could. ‘I don’t suppose it was all that politic of me to bring that up. I guess I still have some issues to deal with, but that doesn’t make it right to ambush you with them.’

‘. . . Issues with me specifically?’

‘No, not exactly. With you it’s more like how I’ve long thought it was a damn shame that someone so incredibly intelligent and talented ended up going down that particular road and ended up being obsessed and dangerously not right in the head. What a waste! Why do you think I tried from fairly early on this time to short circuit that journey and, you know, make you stop and think?’

‘All right. Your plan sounds fine. I’ll expect you for lunch.’

He sounded a bit stilted to Harry, but no longer angry. ‘Yeah. Say, do you think there’s any point in me copying the restricted section here?’

‘Perhaps. I expect I have my own copies of much of it squirreled away, but it could not hurt to make sure of it.’

‘All right. I’ll add it to my list of things to do.’

Defense with the Hufflepuffs went well. Quirrell seemed confident enough, even without Voldemort there sharing the body. He slipped away on the way to lunch and shifted to № 12 so they could begin work on the draft for a nexus, roughing out their ideas in English first, to describe what Voldemort had sketched out earlier. Voldemort allowed that Harry’s ideas were sound so they were envisioning a much larger space than originally conceived, one where they could set an arrival point for their later alterations, to go ahead and mark out with lines or stakes the area encompassed by each of the expected structures so they could then create linking books to each before building exit-free edifices. Well, unless someone decided to try blasting a wall out to see what was beyond.

When dinner time rolled around he grabbed a time turner from his chest long enough to turn back, then stowed it and headed off for a second lunch, sitting between Kevin and Luna. Herbology and Transfiguration also went well enough and he spent that night, after his dorm mates had gone to sleep, beginning to duplicate the bounty of the restricted section. When Thursday rolled around, and History of Magic, he was somewhat disturbed to realize that Dumbledore was occasionally eyeing him speculatively. It was true that Dumbledore had not originally been the one to enter his name, but it was certainly possible the man was wondering if Voldemort would try something given the ‘exciting’ possibilities the tournament might provide. Or, maybe, he was very much hoping that Harry would end up competing and be killed because of it.

He would know soon enough, anyway—unless he chose to simply rifle through the man’s mind—when it came time for the students to enter their names. If the old man’s thoughts were in any way centered around the issue of his scar, he might well attempt to enter Harry himself. And that reminded him that he needed to come up with an at least vaguely plausible reason for so many people to have gotten around those restrictions. Cedric would be fine as he was; despite being a sixth year he was old enough, being one of those, like Hermione, with a late birthday. Bole from Slytherin was already a seventh year, so no worries there, and Harry had remembered the time when the boy had slammed his beater’s bat into Alicia that one game, giving him good reason to choose him as a victim. Fawcett was a sixth year, and had wanted to enter last time, so he would facilitate that. To round out their number would be McLaggen, someone who was in some respects so disgustingly Gryffindor that he had little trouble with the idea of arranging the boy’s death.

He sighed lightly and resolved to pretend the old man wasn’t acting strangely.

header

Harry was very busy as the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrived, winnowing through their minds to see first, who actually amongst the short-list candidates intended to enter (and who had only come along because they wanted a change of pace), and second, who might actually be skilled enough to compete on a fair level. Fleur and Viktor had every intention of entering so Harry shuffled the other candidates around in his mind and eventually came to a decision.

It was while they were all seated and having dinner that he carefully reached out and started modifying memories. McLaggen was induced to believe certain things, and to want to brag a little to acquaintances of his, while others were induced to conveniently be nearby to overhear said bragging. That right there took care of a number of people and how they would reasonably have figured out a way around the matter of only a single champion per school being picked. Others he handled slightly differently, but the end result was that all of them would enter using a fake school name.

As the plates and serving platters on the tables were wiped clean Dumbledore stood up. Harry thought it was mildly pathetic how McGonagall still followed the man’s lead on so many things. A pleasant sort of tension seemed to fill the Hall and the Weasley twins over at the Gryffindor table were leaning forward, staring at Dumbledore with great concentration.

“The moment has come,” said Dumbledore, smiling around at the sea of upturned faces. “The Triwizard Tournament is about to start. I would like to say a few words of explanation before we bring in the casket—just to clarify the procedure that we will be following this year. But first, let me introduce, for those who do not know them, Mr Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation”—there was a smattering of polite applause—“and Mr Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports.”

There was a much louder round of applause for Bagman than for Crouch, perhaps because of his fame as a beater, or simply because he looked so much more likable. He acknowledged it with a jovial wave of his hand. Bartemius Crouch did not smile or wave when his name was announced. His toothbrush mustache and severe parting still looked very odd next to Dumbledore’s long white hair and beard.

“Mr Bagman and Mr Crouch have worked tirelessly over the last few months on the arrangements for the Triwizard Tournament,” Dumbledore continued, “and they will be joining myself, Professor Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime on the panel that will judge the champions’ efforts.”

At the mention of the word “champions” the attentiveness of the listening students seemed to sharpen. Dumbledore noticed their sudden stillness, for he smiled as he said, “The casket, then, if you please, Mr Onslow.”

Onslow, the man who had replaced Filch as Caretaker, and had been lurking unnoticed in a far corner of the Hall, now approached Dumbledore carrying a great wooden chest encrusted with jewels. It looked extremely old. A murmur of excited interest rose from the watching students; Dennis Creevey stood on his chair to see it properly, but, being so tiny, his head hardly rose above anyone else’s.

“The instructions for the tasks the champions will face this year have already been explained by Mr Crouch and Mr Bagman,” said Dumbledore as Onslow placed the chest carefully on the table before him, “and they have made the necessary arrangements for each challenge. There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the school year, and they will test the champions in many different ways . . . their magical prowess—their daring—their powers of deduction—and, of course, their ability to cope with danger.

“As you know, three champions compete in the tournament,” Dumbledore went on, “one from each of the participating schools. They will be marked on how well they perform each of the Tournament tasks and the champion with the highest total after task three will win the Triwizard Cup. The champions will be chosen by an impartial selector: the Goblet of Fire.”

Dumbledore now took out his wand and tapped three times upon the top of the casket; the lid slowly creaked open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a large, roughly-hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames.

Dumbledore closed the casket and placed the goblet carefully on top of it, where it would be clearly visible to everyone in the Hall. “Anyone wishing to submit themselves as champion must write their name and school clearly upon a slip of parchment and drop it into the goblet,” said Dumbledore. “Aspiring champions have twenty-four hours in which to put their names forward. Tomorrow night, Halloween, the goblet will return the names of the three it has judged most worthy to represent their schools. The goblet will be placed in the entrance hall tonight, where it will be freely accessible to all those wishing to compete.

“To ensure that no underage student yields to temptation I will be drawing an Age Line around the Goblet of Fire once it has been placed in the entrance hall. Nobody under the age of seventeen will be able to cross this line.

“Finally, I wish to impress upon any of you wishing to compete that this tournament is not to be entered into lightly. Once a champion has been selected by the Goblet of Fire, he or she is obliged to see the tournament through to the end. The placing of your name in the goblet constitutes a binding, magical contract. There can be no change of heart once you become a champion. Please be very sure, therefore, that you are wholeheartedly prepared to play before you drop your name into the goblet. Now, with Professor McGonagall’s agreement, I think it is time for bed. Good night to you all.”

Harry sighed once the old man was finally finished blathering. He left the Great Hall with his house mates, but quickly enough lost himself to sight, intent to wait until Dumbledore had set the goblet up as explained. Soon enough the Hall had emptied out and Dumbledore wandered out into the entrance hall with the casket and goblet, McGonagall trailing along beside him.

The moment Dumbledore actually set things up and his hand had left the goblet, but before he stepped back to draw an Age Line, Derek froze things, allowing Harry to skip over. The real goblet went into his left pocket and the carefully prepared fake was removed from his right, and set up as a decoy. He returned to his previous spot, still invisible, and watched as Derek unfroze the scene. Dumbledore indeed stepped back and drew his wand, and proceeded to circle the cup at a distance of about ten feet, his wand pointed at the floor. As he walked a thin golden line appeared, eventually joining up at the start of the tracery.

Harry nodded, sending his thanks to Derek, and headed off to Ravenclaw. Before he was halfway there Derek chimed in to let him know that the modifications he had made worked out, and McLaggen’s bragging session had been overheard by a number of people. He went off satisfied, slipped out later to again do some copying in the restricted section, and eventually went to bed.

The next morning, Fred and George still made their attempt to use an aging potion to get past the line, and provided those watching with a humorous conclusion to their efforts. The rest of the day went quietly enough if one discounted the high level of excitement, and soon enough they were finishing up dinner.

Before what had happened previously could begin, Derek froze the world. Harry jumped up and effected the switch. From the fake goblet he pulled all the slips of parchment and rifled through them quickly, shoving the ones he did not care about into his pocket, in the end retaining twelve of them. A extremely strong confundus charm was cast on the real goblet, forcing it to accept and ‘decide’ names for any number of schools, not just three, after which Harry tossed the slips in. Finally, he returned to his seat.

Eventually the golden plates returned to their original spotless state. There was a sharp upswing in the level of noise within the Hall, which died away almost instantly as Dumbledore got to his feet; Professor Karkaroff and Madame Maxime looked as tense and expectant as anyone. Bagman was beaming and winking at various students. Crouch, however, looked quite uninterested, almost bored.

‘Tom, I’ve made the switch,’ he sent, not expecting a response until the results were a given.

“Well, the goblet is almost ready to make its decision,” said Dumbledore. “I estimate that it requires one more minute. Now, when the champions’ names are called, I would ask them to please come up to the top of the Hall, walk along the staff table, and go through into the next chamber”—he indicated the door behind the staff table—“where they will be receiving their first instructions.”

He took out his wand and gave a great sweeping wave with it; at once, all the candles except those inside the carved pumpkins were extinguished, plunging them into a state of semidarkness. The Goblet of Fire now shone more brightly than anything in the whole Hall, the sparkling bright, blue-white of the flames almost painful on the eyes. Everyone watched, waiting. . . . A few people kept checking their watches. . . .

The flames inside the goblet turned suddenly red. Sparks began to fly from it. Next moment, a tongue of flame shot into the air, a charred piece of parchment fluttered out of it—the whole room gasped.

Dumbledore caught the piece of parchment and held it at arm’s length, so that he could read it by the light of the flames, which had turned back to blue-white. “The champion for Durmstrang,” he read in a strong, clear voice, “will be Viktor Krum.”

A storm of applause and cheering swept the Hall. Viktor rose from the Slytherin table and slouched up toward Dumbledore, then turned right, walked along the staff table, and disappeared through the door into the next chamber.

Dumbledore went on, when the goblet had eventually ejected another slip, to announce, “The champion for Beauxbatons is Fleur Delacour!” He next announced, “The Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory!” Every single Hufflepuff jumped to his or her feet, screaming and stamping, as Cedric made his way past them, grinning broadly, and headed off toward the chamber behind the teachers’ table.

“Excellent!” Dumbledore called happily as at last the tumult died down. “Well, we now have our three champions. I am sure I can count upon all of you, including the remaining students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, to give your champions every ounce of support you can muster. By cheering your champion on, you will contribute in a very real—”

But Dumbledore suddenly stopped speaking, and it was apparent to everyone what had distracted him. The fire in the goblet had just turned red again. Sparks were flying out of it. A long flame shot suddenly into the air, and borne upon it was another piece of parchment.

Automatically, it seemed, Dumbledore reached out a long hand and seized the parchment. He held it out and stared at the name written upon it. There was a long pause, during which Dumbledore stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone stared at Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat and read out—

“Cormac McLaggen.”

Every Hogwarts student turned their gaze on the Gryffindor table, and the students from the other schools followed suit. McLaggen was seen to be grinning madly, almost insufferably smug at his success at hoodwinking the goblet. He jumped up and headed off as people watched in shock. Dumbledore was about to speak when the goblet’s fire again turned red.

‘That’s it, then,’ he sent a while later. ‘All twelve of them, as planned. This place is in a massive uproar and I imagine the officials are pissing themselves.’

‘Excellent,’ Tom responded. ‘You have figured out how you’re going to be a hostage?’

‘Yep. I’ll induce Fawcett to ask me to be her date,’ he sent, nodding absently at something Kevin said. ‘Of course, I’m going to actually have to learn how to dance, but really, I imagine it won’t seem too strange for her to ask me, even if the Boy-Who-Lived hasn’t exactly done much of note since returning to the wizarding world.’

‘You—need lessons. Hm.’

‘Ha, don’t tell me. That was one of the things you taught yourself so you could slide right into pure-blood society.’

‘No, actually, though Barty would know. You probably only need to know how to waltz.’

Harry vaguely recalled McGonagall trying to teach them all and shuddered. ‘Yeah, well, if Barty is going to teach me, remember to tell him I have to be the one leading.’

As it turned out, Barty had an interesting way to teach him at the start, showing him the basic three-step combo he needed to master, alternating between the right and then left. Once he had that down Barty showed how it was done in terms of actual dancing, with the right leading northeast relative to Harry’s position, while the left led sort of west, and both included a slight turn. And, of course, that one always started to the right.

Tom had arranged to mess with Crouch Snr’s memories to induce him to suggest a specific replacement for dragons and according to Derek it went just fine. In and around the usual boring school stuff, copying from the restricted section, and learning to master the waltz, Harry continued to work on Age drafts with Tom, having moved beyond the nexus and onto an actual livable world.

The last full week of November rolled on up, and with it the first task. By pure chance Cedric was again the first one up. The crowd roared as he stepped out from the champions’ tent and into the enclosure. The handlers pushed the first cage of many into position and prepared to release the beast inside as Bagman explained to the audience exactly what was to happen; essentially, get the golden cocoon being guarded by a floatstinger, preferably without killing the creature. Harry and Tom had chosen them (and which had necessitated some interesting wards on the enclosure to protect those watching) because they could fly, but more importantly because their wings released a hallucinogenic powder. In addition to that complication, their stingers were poisonous.

Cedric got a glimpse of the creature and seemed puzzled; it seemed that while cheating might be a given for these tournaments, he had walked in clueless. Perhaps he did not take Care of Magical Creatures? Or if he did, these had not yet been covered? The Hufflepuff found out quickly enough, once the prodigious moth-like beast had been released, just what kind of trouble he could expect after taking a face-full of motes.

He began casting somewhat wildly after inhaling the powder, aiming at some unseen foes; but within minutes he seemed to visibly pull himself together and redirect his focus toward the only real creature there. Piercing spells tore holes in the beast’s wings, grounding it, and Cedric ran unsteadily toward the cocoon. He was, unfortunately, stung in the side, just below his ribs, but yet managed to get the cocoon and return to the entrance before he collapsed and was hauled away by Pomfrey.

All told, not a bad showing for someone who’d had no idea what he would be facing.

When McLaggen’s turn rolled around it was similar in that he took a face-full of the hallucinogen, but his reaction was cause for mass hilarity when the young man began stripping for an unseen audience. Harry wasn’t sure he could bear to watch the scene unfold. ‘Oh, God, he went there,’ he thought a moment later.

‘Do I dare ask?’ Voldemort responded.

‘Um, well, damn. Er, McLaggen apparently thinks he’s participating in an orgy if that tells you anything. The crowd is deathly silent right this moment, though I get the feeling the pointing and laughing will start any second. Oh, dear lord, he just got a stinger to the ass! And . . . he’s convulsing and vomiting . . . and they’re hauling him away now. So much for Mr Braggart. He’s going to have to bribe someone big time to get a date for the Yule Ball after this humiliation.’

Krum was surprisingly delicate in his approach, having obviously recognized the creature, whereas Fleur managed to set hers on fire. Bole was just as heavy handed as he was during quidditch games, totally ignoring their instructions and laying into his floatstinger with spells intended to rip it to shreds. No one else did anything particularly special and they were done by the time dinner rolled around, Krum being the clear leader in terms of points, with Cedric not far behind him.

header

“Why on Earth do you want those included?” Voldemort demanded to know.

“Because it will make Luna happy,” he replied cheerfully.

“Oh, so we’re building a world to suit Miss Lovegood’s tastes now?” was the snide response.

“No, a world to suit all of us, with a few extras included. I don’t see what the big deal is. Death provided those lines for us so it’s not as though we had to do any work for those like we did for the extinct species. Live a little, yeah? There’s always room for some absurdity in life.”

Voldemort closed his eyes and breathed out heavily, his nostrils flaring.

Harry rolled his eyes slightly and reached into a pocket, bringing out a small box. He set it on the table and opened it, then said quietly, “I brought you more tarts.”

Voldemort’s eyes flicked open. “You do realize it’s not fair of you to know things like this.”

“Of course I do, but it’s nice to be able to bring presents I know will be enjoyed,” he said with a low chuckle.

“One might start to think you liked me.”

He paused a moment before saying, “In what sense?”

“. . . I’m starting to think I have a learning disability,” Voldemort deadpanned.

Barty breezed in at that point and Harry promptly produced another box, this one filled with Jaffa cakes. Barty exclaimed in delight and snatched the box away, falling into a convenient chair so he could begin snacking. “You’re amazingly nice for a psychotic mass-murderer,” Barty commented.

“Mwua ha ha!” he ‘laughed’, then shrugged and tapped the parchment on the table between himself and Voldemort. “I think we’re almost ready. I should be able to confirm it soon. I’ve already gotten the supplies ready—what there was of it in Ae’gura—so we’re good to go. If we need more, well, I think that’s a job for the both of us so we can guard each other’s backs.”

Voldemort nodded. “Yes, agreed.”

The D’ni were not a generally violent people, but the historical books they had found and read indicated that they did occasionally have issues with terrorism, overweening arrogance, and a tendency toward enslaving other races. Not so different from wizards or regular humans in that respect, but certainly a reason to be wary if they needed to gather more supplies. Even if they already had enough, it would probably be a good idea to obtain more, or write an Age of their own, just in case, that would supply those materials.

Surprisingly, to him at least, Voldemort had picked up on those thoughts; perhaps he had been thinking too loudly?

“I agree. We have no way of knowing how they would react to us should we encounter them, and you’re right that it might be wise of us to create our own supply. We may never need it, but it would be foolish not to account for unanticipated potential needs later on. On another note, I think you should simply disappear during your term as a hostage. Leave some peculiar signs, perhaps, but nothing that would actually help them to discern what occurred, nor have any idea as to your life state.”

“All right. In many respects you do actually have a much better idea how these people think. Your plans don’t always work out, but you’re quite good at anticipating them or figuring out how to get around them. I’ll just leave behind some nonsensical detritus and let them make of it what they will.”

Voldemort seemed pleased by the compliment insofar as he could tell without invading the man’s privacy. They continued to work on the draft for the next few hours, then Harry shifted to the school and turned back those hours and headed to lunch.