Chapter Sixteen: Unexpected Purchases

"Ah. Philosophy."—Om.

"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 of him?"

"Which word?"

"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 more danger."

"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 what about—?"

"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 Ankh."


"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."[1]

"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 others?"

"Rincewind ran away," Ponder explained, addressing Gytha rather than Hermione. "Harry followed him."

"The Luggage didn't?" Gytha said, shocked. "That's…"

"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 annoy him.

"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 self-preservation.

"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.[2]

"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."

"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 experiments.

"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 faint.

"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 stepped in.

"Rincewind, why where you hiding in the Luggage, of all places?"

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 people home."

"Three, send my mother—neatly ensconced in stone—for a sail on the Ankh, and four, get you out of my house," Draco added bitterly.

"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 challenge."

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 ready."

* * *

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. "Um… dad."

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 followed them.

"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 wizarding tradition?"

"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 can find."

"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.

The End


[1] Alert readers will of course be aware that by 'worse' Draco meant Narcissa, rather than Voldemort.

[2] *!#*!, 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.

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