"Ah, shopping."—Real Estate Digest.
"But why?" Draco asked. "Surely there's
nothing wrong with a little harmless shopping-and-tourism expedition."
Ponder stared at him. "Did you use that word in front
"Tourism. Did you call it tourism?"
"I might have done," Draco shrugged. He had, but
there was no way he was going to admit that this was his fault.
"Then that's probably why. In Rincewind's world,
'tourist' means 'idiot', and he wouldn't want to hang around and get into even
"But why run away?" Harry asked.
"It's sort of his philosophy of life," Ponder
said, and then looked down. The Luggage was still with them, standing quite
calmly by Rincewind's shoes.
"This is not exactly normal," Harry remarked.
Understandably, passers-by were stopping to look at them—Harry Potter and
Draco Malfoy, with a strange man, a walking box, and a pair of abandoned shoes.
Irritably, he reached for his wand and added, "Oh, Occaecos."
They saw the crowd look around, bewildered, and then
gradually disperse when they didn't reappear.
"Handy charm, that," Harry said. "Now,
Ponder—where do you think Rincewind might have gone?"
"You made us invisible?" said Ponder, who liked
to know these things.
"Yes," Harry told him. "About Rincewind?"
"Has run away. We don't have a lot of hope of catching
him, I'm afraid, at least not until he decides he wants to be caught."
"That isn't good."
The other two could only agree. "Hermione will kill
me," Draco said bitterly.
"Why you?" Ponder asked.
Draco shrugged. "She'd never dare kill Harry, and she
likes you, so it must be my fault," he said. "I think it's high time
you told us where Rincewind might be heading to."
"I've got no idea," Ponder said. "And I
doubt he knows, either. Rincewind runs from rather than to."
"So what do we do?" Draco asked.
"A tracking charm," Harry replied. "I'll go
after him; you go back to Malfoy Manor and see what Hermione has to say."
"Harry—" Draco said. "Are you sure? And
"Take a stone from the Manor, bind her into
it—that's easy enough—and give it to Ponder. She can end her days in the
"Don't worry, Draco," Harry said, and kissed him
lightly. "I'll be home soon."
He Disapparated and Draco swore.
* * *
The trek back to the Manor was mostly conducted in silence.
They went to the Leaky Cauldron and used the Floo from there.
"Harry will be fine," Draco said encouragingly to
Ponder as they walked up the stairs to the library. It was fairly obvious that
it was an attempt to convince himself. "He's faced much worse."
"What did he mean about giving me a stone to throw in
the Ankh?" Ponder asked.
"Oh. Um. Don't worry about it. When he gets back,
we'll explain it all properly."
Ponder didn't seem to believe him, so Draco quickened his
step. He really didn't want to explain the matter to Harry's other-worldly son.
The door to the library was propped open.
"Hello?" Draco said. "How's it going?"
"We think we've got…" Hermione replied, and
turned to look at them. Her gaze travelled slowly, assessing: one Malfoy, one
Stibbons, one Luggage. No Potter. No Rincewind. "Where are the
"Rincewind ran away," Ponder explained,
addressing Gytha rather than Hermione. "Harry followed him."
"The Luggage didn't?" Gytha said, shocked.
"Weird, I know, but Harry didn't stay long enough for
me to explain that," Ponder said. "It even insisted that we pick up
his shoes. Maybe it knows he's going to come back here, or something."
Draco was staring at him. "You didn't say that!"
"Yes, I did," Ponder said. Draco was starting to
"I mean, before. Why didn't you say that before?"
"I didn't have a chance," Ponder replied, calmly.
"And so you've let Harry go off alone, to follow
someone who might just wander back of their own accord?"
"Thereby saving you and me from the trouble of
following said someone," Ponder said. He was a little amazed to discover
that Draco saw his point at once, and then surprised that he'd felt amazed.
Draco was unusual, but he was still a wizard, and wizards tended to understand
"But you could have saved us all from
following," Draco said.
"Harry can look after himself," Hermione put in.
"I was about to say: we've got a fairly definite timing on when the worlds
will be in alignment again, and hence when the Discworld people can go home.
About an hour from now."
"An hour?" Draco repeated. "We've got an
hour to find Harry and Rincewind?"
"Oh, longer than that," Hermione told him.
"Things will be stable for perhaps fifteen minutes."
"Fifteen minutes!?!" Draco yelled,
and then indulged in some explosive punctuation.
"We'll cope," Hermione said. "After all, we
don't actually have to find Harry. If we just find Rincewind, we'll either find
both of them, or we can send him home and take as long as we like finding
"Harry's a powerful wizard," Draco said. "If
we send Rincewind home while Harry's still following him, he'll follow him back
to the Disc."
"Okay, so we need to find both of them," Hermione
conceded. "Any ideas?"
There was silence for a moment, and then a ghastly
chuckling filled the room.
"Got a little stuck, have we, my dears?" a voice
said from high above their heads. They all looked up—even the Luggage lifted
its lid slightly to do so—to see a pale ghost, the image of a tall women with
shining blonde hair and an aristocratic face. Ponder looked at her, cast a rapid
glance at Draco, and worked something out.
"She's your mother?"
"Worse luck," Draco said casually. "It's
amazing Ichabod and I turned out as well as we did."
The name was carefully spun to have maximum effect.
"Ichabod?" the spectre enquired. "Ichabod?"
She floated lower over them, in front of Draco.
"That's right," he replied, face a careful blank.
"Ichabod Lockhart. Do you remember him?"
"Remember?" she growled. "I remember. You
shouldn't know about him. I'll get you for that, you…" Magic crackled
between her fingertips, and they cowered back.
From somewhere on his left, a curse flew at her. She
screamed, her magic dying back into her skin. Her image shrunk, was bound still,
and finally absorbed into one of the crystals they had been using for magical
"That's what you meant by witch-magic, isn't it, Gytha?"
Hermione said calmly. "That it stays with the ghost after death."
"That's part of it," Gytha said, shaken, looking
at the stone.
Draco stared at them.
The Luggage's lid opened completely, and Rincewind said,
"Did I miss something?"
Draco took the easy way out. He fell to the floor in a
"Rincewind?" Ponder said.
"Draco?" said Hermione.
"Bugger," said Gytha, succinctly.
Once Ponder had established that yes, it really was
Rincewind, he too hurried to Draco's side.
Draco was waking slowly, annoyed that he'd done something
as embarrassing as pass out from shock.
"It's okay, Draco," Hermione said soothingly.
"No it's @~!ing not!" he replied. He felt the
heat was excusable in the circumstances. "Harry's missing, there are people
from another world here, and you, Granger, have invaded my library! Nothing is okay!"
"It's not really an invasion," Hermione said.
"More a sort of long visit. I vote you sit in one of your nice comfortable
armchairs here, and we talk about what happens next."
Draco scowled at her, but went so far as to allow Ponder to
help him up from the floor as he complied.
"As I see it…" Hermione began, but Gytha
"Rincewind, why where you hiding in the Luggage, of
Rincewind looked sheepish. "I just wanted to look and
see if I had any money, and it sort of swallowed me. Not unusual, really."
Draco seemed close to passing out again, so Hermione went
on. "As I see it, we have two tasks—one, find Harry, and two, send these
"Three, send my mother—neatly ensconced in
stone—for a sail on the Ankh, and four, get you out of my house," Draco
"Where did this idea of sending Narcissa back with
them come from?" Hermione enquired.
Flinching, Draco replied, "We've been working on the
problem for a while. We thought we'd finally managed to Banish her forever, but
it didn't work, so we're hoping that sending her to the only place we can think
of that's as foul as she is might work. Harry's plan," he added, modestly.
Ponder was unsure whether to be proud or annoyed about the
way Draco had described his city. "I'm sure Ankh-Morpork will welcome your
mother with open arms," he said.
"Just the way Gilderoy Lockhart did, I expect,"
Draco snapped back. "Open arms and a memory charm at the ready, in case it
all goes wrong."
"I'll have you know that some people in Ankh-Morpork
are kinder than that," Ponder said. Gytha hadn't seen her master get really
furious often, but she recognised it. "The Watch accepts all sorts these
days, and some folks in the Shades—Doctor Lawn, for one—are actually decent human beings."
"I expect I'll find that my not-quite-mother-in-law's
a captain in the Watch next time I visit you, then," said an amused voice
from the doorway. "She'd make a good choice—when Vetinari dies and starts
to haunt the city, he'll have company that's more than equal to the
They turned, and Draco—unwisely—leapt out of his chair
to greet the newcomer.
"Harry! Harry, what happened?"
"I couldn't find Rincewind," Harry began, and
them spotted Rincewind in the far corner of the room. "Ask him what
happened. I just did a few spells, searched for a while, and then gave up and
came back here."
"Oh, he got trapped by his own travelling case,"
Draco replied. "Apparently it's a common occurrence." He leaned on
Harry's shoulder. "Hermione says we'll be able to send these folks home in
about an hour."
Hermione glanced at the Muggle watch she wore. "More
like half an hour, now," she said. "We'd probably better start getting
* * *
The goodbyes were mostly brief. They lit the fire with a
certain amount of ceremony in the largest fireplace in the house—the kitchen;
for some reason it was a popular room.
"I'll see you again, son," Harry said to Ponder.
"Gytha and Hermione can work out when it's safe to try crossings."
"I'll look forward to it," Ponder replied.
He stepped into the flames and disappeared.
"I'm keeping that copy of your book," Gytha said
to Hermione. "L-space is always there—stay in touch."
Hermione grinned at her. "Suggest to the Librarian
that he might consider using my system," she said, and waved as Gytha
stepped into the fireplace.
"I'll be going, then," Rincewind said, and picked
up the stone containing Narcissa Malfoy from the table. "Here, Luggage,
look after this. We'll see how bad a place we can find to spit it out in."
Together, they stepped into the fire; and then Hermione
"I promised Huxley we'd have dinner together when you
were out of trouble," she said.
"See you," Harry replied, but she was gone.
Harry and Draco stood in silence for a moment.
Then Draco said, "Did I ever tell you about the other
"No," Harry replied.
"Well, it goes like this. After a climatic battle, or
a meeting with previously unknown relatives, or for that matter anything
involving undue amounts of excitement, you have wild hot sex with whoever you
"Draco," Harry said, laughing, "all your
traditions came out of the one book, didn't they?"
"What's wrong with that?" Draco asked.
Harry didn't reply; he just lead the way to the bedroom.
 Alert readers will of course be aware that by 'worse' Draco meant Narcissa, rather than Voldemort.
 *!#*!, for example. And one he'd learned from his grandmother, who reserved it for special occasions: !#@*#. And the exotic-sounding @~!, which literally translates as 'oh dear, not the ferrets again'. He'd made a point of collecting them on foreign holidays over the years.
Stories Index Chapter Index Epilogue