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SIYE Time:17:16 on 17th May 2022


Man's Laughter?!
By Spenser Hemmingway

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Category: Alternate Universe, Cluedo Challenge (2010-4), Cluedo Challenge (2010-4)
Characters:All
Genres: Action/Adventure, Humor
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 5
Summary: ** Winner of Best Imagination in the Cluedo Challenge **


There has been a serious crime committed at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! A much loved and respected (yeah…right) fan fiction writer has been brutally attacked, and no not by Sink Into Your Eyes readership. It is up to the Scooby gang to solve the mystery…but what is the mystery? What is the actual crime? I’m not supposed to mention that to you.
Hitcount: Story Total: 5610



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



Author's Notes:
Yes, I am once again utilizing Spenser's alternative take on Harry and Ginny's universe. I'd written far too much about it by the time Book Seven came out to return to pure canon. Here Harry returns to Hogwarts for his seventh year, far fewer people are killed or injured, and this Rolf Scamander is mercilessly picked on. Still, it shouldn't be too difficult to follow, and I think you'll enjoy who the narrator is this time. I hope you enjoy it---Eric B.




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Man’s Laughter?

By Spenser Hemmingway


“…not to mention zee man’s laughter.”

“Man’s laughter?”

“I said not to mention zee man’s laughter!”


–-Benny Hill, Murder on the Oregon Express, 1976



“Luna, I would have thought that you’d be much more upset about the attack on Spenser. He is your best friend. Harry could you hold the lantern higher, I think the passageway is getting narrower,” Ginny accurately pointed out. The kerosene lamp had been borrowed from Mr. Filch’s old workshop, allowing our small group to utilize our wands, if need be, for spells other than Lumos.

“Oh, I’m not at all worried. You know he’s fairly indestructible.” I adjusted my gray deerstalker hat, and then blew into the large, curved pipe I’d found. This resulted in a pretty stream of bubbles coming from it. My friends smiled at me, but they did refrain from laughing at my detective props. That was very nice of them. “Remember the time he tried to sail off the Gryffindor Tower with his homemade kite-thingy? Did you know Americans bounce when dropped from that high up?”

“He didn’t bounce. He embedded himself six inches into the sod. At least he was smart enough to engage some crash-protective spells before his foolish stunt. As it was, he was in the infirmary for three days.”

Hermione never seemed to like Spenser. It was probably because of all the stories he wrote. She thinks they’re silly, although I doubt she’s read more than one or two. Will she think this one is silly when…if she reads it? Hmm…? At least she was willing to help us find out who attacked him.

I had thought it very strange when Spenser didn’t come to breakfast that morning. Being an exchange student, he didn’t actually belong to Gryffindor House, but he did live there, and would customarily eat with them. Be that as it may, he would always stop by my Ravenclaw table to say good morning to me before his breakfast. He never failed to do this, but today he wasn’t there. Yes, I was worried. I was especially concerned when Professor McGonagall and Madame Pomfrey approached Harry, Ron, Ginny, and everyone, and then motioned for me to join them.

“Miss Lovegood, there’s been an accident involving Mr. Hemmingway,” the Healer began to explain.

“Accident?” I suddenly didn’t feel very good, and I didn’t believe it was because of the calamari omelet I had started.

“They don’t think it was really an accident,” Harry clarified. He had that tense, eyebrow-knit expression he gets when he’s in a severe mood. “He dragged himself into the infirmary about twenty minutes ago, and then collapsed. He was assaulted somewhere.”

“He looked as if our Mr. Hagrid had bounced him about the room,” the professor clarified. I cannot imagine how he managed to pull himself to the hospital in that condition. The boy is unconscious now. It may be days before he will be able to tell us what happened. I don’t understand it. Our security this school year is extraordinary. It is the first thing I confirmed. No unauthorized person or persons have entered or left school grounds in days. It must be a member of the staff or student body, but who would want to do such a thing?”

“Anyone he’s ever included in one of his stories, literary agents, power tool salesmen, polka bands, Luna’s crazed stalker Rolf Scamander?”

I glared at Ron, and fortunately saw that he realized how I didn’t appreciate any of his suggestions. I started off toward the infirmary then. I did feel better when I noticed Harry, Ginny, Ron, and even Hermione trotting to catch up with me. Two floors up, I was equally pleased to see Seamus join us.

At the hospital ward, we almost had to resort to justified manslaughter (which I’m not supposed to mention) just to get Madame Pomfrey’s assistant to give us five minutes with Spenser. He looked far worse than they described. There were casts on both arms, braces on both legs, his ribs were wrapped tight, and the massive bandaging to his head revealed little that wasn’t puffy and discolored.

After our School Healer returned, and shuffled us out of her facility, we walked along in silence until we we’re almost to the Great Hall again. I can’t speak for the others, but, at that moment, I was much angrier than I was scared. Finally, Harry held us up, and looked about to see if anyone was listening. Before he could speak, Hermione did.

“You realize that it could very well be one of us who did this.” People say I say ridiculous things. Still, she seemed determined to press her point. “Who would have a better chance of getting close to him somewhere–-of getting him to drop his defenses for the attack than the six of us? We all have our reasons, don’t we?”

“You’re crazy girl,” Ron told her, but his voice betrayed his doubts.

Just a few months earlier, Spenser had caused Ron’s own stay in the infirmary in a full body cast. He had also come close to destroying the Burrow with a flying bathtub and his less than adequate carpentry skills during the repairs. Harry and Ginny had gotten back together after their short breakup, and Spenser’s numerous stories potentially threatened to reveal to the Death Eaters how they were secretly dating again. In Seamus’ case, there could still be some hard feelings about the large batch of butterbeer he had been brewing, and which Spenser, this time, caused to explode. It might be argued, incorrectly, that I was upset about how he caused Neville and I to suspend our friendship over an article accidentally posted to my father’s magazine. I’ve already mentioned how Hermione, try as she might, just plain didn’t like Spenser.

“We’ve got to find out what happened. We’ve got to do it ourselves,” Harry said then. “I know none of us would hurt him, but we need to prove it to each other. Luna, you don’t really think there might be some way for that strange Rolf guy to sneak into the school, do you?”

“It would be extremely difficult to hide a three hundred pound balding nudist (giving new meaning to the term naturalist) with brown teeth and a preference for bad polyester leisure suits,” I admitted. Why was Ginny suddenly squinting? Had she thought of something? No, the idea must have been fleeting the way she shook her head then. “Does anyone know what Spenser was doing before breakfast this morning?”

“I saw him first off in the Common Room. Cough, cough.

“Seamus, what’s wrong with your throat?” Ron asked. “You sound bloody awful mate.”

“Touch of laryngitis. Anyway, Spense said he was going to the Muggle Studies classroom to turn in a few late assignments. That’s the last I saw of him.”

Harry nodded in understanding. “That’s our first stop then. We can apologize for missing classes after we solve all this.”

“What?” Hermione whined. “Oh, very well, but if I fail my Charms examination on Friday because of him…well we’ve already discussed what justifies manslaughter.”

“You’re not supposed to mention that,” I reminded her.


*****



In all my time at Hogwarts, I had only stepped inside the Muggle Studies classroom twice, which is a shame since Professor Burbage and her successor Professor Marvel had filled it with so many fascinating teaching aids. There were some wonderfully powerful charms in place for the one room, and these allowed Muggle devices to actually operate there, but only there, out of all the school. Despite the urgency of our mission, we took just a minute to examine some of the artifacts on display. Harry and Hermione, who had grown up in non-magical homes seemed amused by many of them.

“No Luna, that isn’t a wand trimmer. It’s an electric pencil sharpener,” Harry explained. “I wonder where it’s hooked up? Ah, there’s a tiny treadmill in the corner with a generator and car batteries attached. The house-elves must run… Oh, sorry Hermione.”

“You should be,” she indignantly replied. You might not know this, but Hermione is very protective of house-elves. “This isn’t a Muggle food slicer either. It’s an electric fan. Oh, great Gilfuddley! I don’t believe it!”

“Gilfuddley?” Ron asked for everyone.

“Alexander Bunyonleaf Gilfuddley…inventor of the tongue depressor,” I explained for her.

“No Luna, actually he was…no, come to think of it, that is the innovation for which he’s most famous.” Hermione gave me a quick but sincere smile before continuing. “What I meant was, why would Professor Marvel label an old manual adding machine as a Muggle pipe organ?”

As if to answer our question, Ginny stepped up to it, placed her fingers on the keys, and pressed a number of them in succession. Even I jumped when actual musical notes were heard. We all did a second time when Ron excitedly called us over to a small table by the innermost wall.

“Hey, look at this Bludger bat someone left next to this other organ-thingy. Maybe I’m loony, but…oh sorry Luna.” I just smiled at his slip. “What I mean, isn’t that blood all over it, and it’s barely dry. What’s the bloody thing even doing here? No pun intended.”

Maybe without thinking, Ron ran his fingers over the keyboard, but this time, instead of music, a nice picture appeared over it, and a small door, hidden in the paneling, swung inward.

“That’s not a musical instrument Ron. It’s called a laptop,” Harry quickly explained. “Hold on, are Muggle computers supposed to do that–-open secret passageways I mean? Okay, maybe in films and…”

“…and in fan fiction stories,” Hermione finished for him. “A better question might be why a photograph of Ron on a broom, holding this very bat, is posted on the screen.”

“It’s me, but it’s not me. I play Keeper. That…this isn’t Fred or George’s bat either. Theirs are a matching set of lightly lacquered ash, and this one’s mahogany I think. We need Seamus here to tell us. He knows wood like Mum knows moonberry pies.”

“You had to mention her pies, didn’t you? We never really had breakfast.” Ginny swatted him, but gently, and grinned at her brother. “Seamus needed to go back to Madame Pomfrey about his sore throat. He doesn’t need to pass it on to us either. Anyone up for a little exploring? Harry?”

“Mischief managed. No, the door wasn’t on the Marauders’ Map. I’ve stopped being surprised with how much isn’t.”

Harry was already moving into the passage with the newly lit lantern. Ginny was immediately behind him, followed closely by Ron, Hermione, and myself in the rear. We’d gone maybe a dozen steps when the door behind us slammed shut. Rushing back, and with maybe ten minutes of trying, we were unable to find anything that even faintly resembled a latch. If magic would reopen it, none we could think of, or remember, had any effect on it whatsoever. It appeared that we were committed to following the tunnel to its terminus.

Naturally, we had no conceivable means of knowing when the passageway had last been used, or how often it was frequented. Judging by the amount of dust, the occasional small animal skulls and the number of cobwebs now draped over us, we did decide it probably wasn’t one of the more popular avenues of travel through the castle. Where we started, the walls were perhaps seven or eight feet apart, but with every few minutes of walking, we would see a significant narrowing. In point of fact, at perhaps the ten minute mark in our journey, our shoulders were touching stone on both sides. I even had to duck down a bit to avoid bumping my head. I’m not an exceptionally tall girl. You can imagine the trouble Harry and especially Ron were having.

The worst of it seemed to be near the halfway point. We had to squeeze through there, but then it began to expand again. The boys were spared any addition bumps to the head when we began to find ourselves on an increasingly more spacious path. What’s more, it was also beginning to become light ahead for us. I found myself sighing deeply with relief–-not that I didn’t have complete faith in Ginny and Harry’s abilities to lead us out of there. My new good mood was a bit damped when we emerged into a medium sized chamber with only a single barred window, and apparently no door.

“I can see the Great Hall off there,” Hermione pointed out as we came to join her at the window. “I can’t be certain, but I believe we’re now in the same portion of the castle that houses the Ghost’s Billiard Room. That doesn’t seem to have a way in or out either when you first see it.”

Another thorough examination, knocking on the walls, tapping the bricks and even Open Sesame Street didn’t provide us with any better results than we’d had at the start of our walk. For the first time, we began to inspect the room itself and its contents. With the large cot in the corner, it almost seemed to be a small cell of sorts. Returning to the window and the table beside it, Ron picked up the large pile of white cloth lying there and held it up in front of him to examine. It took me a second to understand Ginny and Hermione’s giggling.

“You make a lovely bride Ron,” Hermione told him.

Ron jerked the dress upwards, and threw it away so quickly that it had all of us laughing quite hard…until we saw the red. Some object, about two feet in length and again bloody, had been wrapped in the lower folds of the wedding dress, released by Ron’s sudden movement. I had seen one in books, but never the real thing.

“Wait a minute. I recognize that. It’s a weighted dragon pike. My brother Charlie has one he’s shown Ginny and me a few times. His is a bit bigger than this though, and not as beat up.”

“Hermione, what’s this? It was on the table hidden by the gown. It’s the locket Ron gave you for your sixteenth birthday, isn’t it? There’s blood on it too, and the chain’s broken.” Harry stepped up to the astonished girl, and slowly handed it to her. “You were wearing it last night.”

“I was, but I put it away before bed. How could it have possibly gotten here?”

“We need to get out of here, and now,” Ginny softly said, voicing all of our thoughts. “This just doesn’t feel right. Why would someone leave a wedding dress hidden away at a school of magic? Who would have access to a rare dragon pike, hundreds of miles away from the nearest preserve? I believe they may even be illegal in the possession of unlicensed nonprofessionals. Again, the blood has barely even dried on it. What’s it doing here?”

“We need to find that blasted entryway,” Harry rightly added. “Look for anything out of the ordinary that might trigger another passage.”

“Such as a clock running backward?” I asked. Everyone turned to study what I had just noticed. “The time is incorrect as well.”

We moved to examine it more closely, and Harry took the opportunity to pull out his own battered, but well-used, pocket watch. As all of us crowded beneath the clock, he reached up, after checking the time, to move the hands to their proper positions. It was two minutes past nine. No one seemed to breathe as the seconds ticked by. The clock was the only sound as the hands moved back to the top of the hour. What would happen? What would the device trigger, if anything? The appearance of a small, ugly orange bird, belching rather than cuckooing, answered one question. The second solution came with the fifth burp. The floor beneath us gave way. A trap door sprang open, and we found ourselves in freefall straight down.


*****



It took us less than two seconds to encounter the chute. We did this as a mass of bodies, which helped cushion the initial impact, but, at first, made the travel experience quite difficult. The slide was actually very hard, but also seemed to be waxed to improve our ease of travel somewhat. It really was unfortunate that Hermione, Ginny, and I were wearing school uniforms there. The skirts were quite a challenge as we moved along at that speed. The boys certainly didn’t need to see our charmed knickers–-guaranteed, we were told, to help prevent kidnappings. I really do need to ask someone why anyone would kidnap underwear.

Under any other circumstances, and in more appropriate attire, the ride might have been fun. We alternated between long straight stretches, sudden curves and swirls, more than a couple loop-the-loops, and several unexpected steep drop-offs. For some reason, a good portion of the path we took was lit by magical torches. These made the chute far less frightening, but also begged the question as to who had lit them and why. They were just more aspects of our growing mystery–-one we didn’t seem to be any closer to solving.

As we went downward, we were somehow able to spread apart from each other. This was a good thing, I decided, when all at once the slide fed us into a tiny tunnel. It would have been a tad messy if all of us shot into that, or tried to, collectively and at such a high rate of speed. The tube immediately curved straight downward, and we once more found ourselves falling onto something unexpectedly soft.

“Where are we?” Harry managed to ask first. “Wait one, this is yarn.”

“This is a lot of yarn,” Ginny added. “Look, there must be tens of thousands of balls of it. They’re…they’re all the house colors.”

Collectively sitting up, we again took a moment to survey yet another castle chamber. The room was perhaps half the size of a Quidditch pitch, with incredibly high ceilings, from which hung a dozen candlelit chandeliers. Considering the great distance, we had traveled, there was little doubt that we were now far underground. This explained the lack of windows. To my surprise, the room was comfortably warm and dry. We also noted how there was a door this time, off a large platform raised above the sea of wool.

Without anyone voicing the suggestion, we began to crawl across the room toward the exit, with Harry again in the lead. If his mood matched mine just then, were the door to be locked, and Alohomora again wouldn’t work, he’d just blow it off the hinges with a quick curse. We were perhaps ten feet from the platform when Harry raised his hand to stop us.

“I’ve found something. There’s something here near the top of the pile,” he told us back over his shoulder as he pulled at it.

“Knitting needles?” Ron suggested.

I hoped so. I really am an excellent knitter. I was much more startled than disappointed when instead Harry pulled out a broom…no, two halves of a broom. Ginny, who was beside me just then, let out a soft gasp, herself surprised.

“That’s my broom, or it was,” she announced. “See where Bill burned my name onto the side of it for me? What’s it doing down here, wherever here is, and what could possibly snap it in two that way? It took the Whomping Willow to destroy Harry’s Nimbus.”

“How hard is Spenser’s head?” Hermione asked, probably not intending to say it aloud. “Oh…sorry. To answer your second question Ginny, I believe we’re in the legendary Scarf Cavern. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History. For generations house-elves, under the close supervision of Madame Pearl Crochet-Stitch, have supposedly produced thousands of school scarves for students. I’ve always wondered from where they came.”

“Madame Crochet-Stitch? You’re kidding, right?” Ron asked this time.

“I read all about her in my book,” Hermione countered indignantly. We all began to crawl toward the platform again as she continued. “In her youth, she was a very famous world-class sock knitter. The then-girl was actually employed by Queen Victoria during her final years on the throne.”

“You’re kidding,” Ron repeated as he climbed the platform, and then helped Hermione up.

“I’m quite serious Ronald. She worked at the palace for years before the incident.”

“What incident?” Ginny asked, joining us there.

“She discovered an…an evil plagiarist working for the royal family. He was actually appropriating the work of the American humorist Samuel Clemens…Mark Twain–-Anglicizing the spelling and grammar and trying to publish it. Madame Crochet-Stitch stabbed him to death with her knitting needles. The British government charged her with felony manslaughter.”

“We’re not supposed to mention manslaughter,” I again told her. Hermione actually ignored me.

“The Wizarding literary community was thoroughly disgusted by the Muggle’s unfair persecution for her clearly justifiable act, lobbied the Ministry of Magic, and arranged for her to escape and go into hiding–-exiled to Hogwarts. At least that’s what the history tells us. No one I’ve spoken with actually believes it. Now to business; Harry may I see Ginny’s broom? Oh my…I’m so sorry. It really was a beautiful broom, even for its age.”

“Someone will buy me another before this is done,” Ginny said in a low, fierce tone. We all found ourselves nodding in agreement.

“Look, there are a bunch of hair right at the break,” Harry pointed out, “and more blood too.”

“There is a little bit by the door here as well.” Curious, I tried the latch and was pleased to see it was unlocked. I hesitated when Hermione spoke again.

“Ron, please give me that empty candy wrapper from your chocolate frog. The one in…”

“How do you know?”

“…your left pants pocket. Thank you.” The girl then proceeded to pull loose a tiny whiff of hair, along with a blooded chip from the stick, and then inserted them carefully inside the wrapper. Placing it in her own pocket, Hermione moved over to Ginny. “I believe it is time to hold onto some of these clues. Maybe we can analyze it somehow. Ginny, would you like to keep the pieces of your broom?”

The girl had to think about this, but only for a moment. “No, it’s a complete loss. The way things have been going, it might be better to travel light from here on.” Harry put his arm around her, and Ginny seemed to appreciate it.

I took the opportunity to again step up to the door, this time pushing it open. I had expected another corridor, or at least another large chamber. Instead, it was merely a large closet; I would estimate it to be ten feet by ten. The room was empty except for a dark marble pedestal at its center with a large lit candlestick atop it. This, I knew, could be useful since our lantern had been lost en route. I sensed everyone joining me there as I examined it. Glancing back after a few seconds, I saw the door quietly close behind Ron, once more of its own volition. No one else noticed, so intent were they studying the candles.

“Now what do you suppose…?”

Harry never finished his question. In the blink of an eye, and with a bright flash, we were gone. It had been a portkey.


*****



“How the…? We never touched the blasted thing!” Ron shouted at the new room. “You have to make contact with the portkey for it to work!”

“Not necessarily,” Ginny began. “The spring I was helping Percy study for his N.E.W.T.s; there was a chapter on illuminated portkeys. They’re used for transporting exceptionally large groups. You only have to be at a set distance, and to come in contact with the light emanating from it.”

That made perfect sense–-even more than my theory that we had been kidnapped by Himalayan glow mites. They are absolutely fascinating creatures. Daddy says that they are how Tibetan yetis seem to magically vanish from high mountains when they are being chased by roaming snow gnomes or Muggle monster hunters. I suspect they also have something to do with those countless single socks that disappear on wash day.

Our new destination was dramatically different from our previous stops. This room could easily have passed for a classroom, had it been furnished in such a way. It had several windows along one wall, but these were at ceiling level, suggesting we were in a basement of sorts. I also noted that there were not one, but in fact two doors this time, which was encouraging.

The contents of the room were extraordinarily familiar. On a centralized workbench sat a large printing press, identical to one of those utilized at Daddy’s magazine. I almost looked for a tag identifying it as Quibbler property. The surrounding area was filled with pallets of packaged newsprint and parchment, ink, solvents, and other associated supplies. Apparently, someone intended to initiate a Hogwarts newspaper. I hoped they would have an amusing comic strip page. I especially like the one with the funny-nosed beagle in it.

“All right, where’s the incriminating evidence belonging to another one of us and the bloody…literally bloody clue we’re supposed to find?”

“What do you mean Harry?” Ginny asked just before Ron could. He closed his mouth again before a nargle could fly in---very wise.

“What I mean is…it’s as if we’re being led around intentionally. We’ve been channeled from one place to another, unable to go left, right or back. We’ve been asked to solve puzzles, endure weird travel, given clues to Spenser’s attack that are specifically related to us…only to just us. We all know none of us did it, but the evidence says otherwise.”

As if Harry’s words were a switch, the printing press came alive just then. This time no one was amazed. I stepped over to see what it was running off, and, knowing where the switch was, attempted to silence the ghost machine. Repeatedly pushing the off button produced no results. What was produced was an increasingly large pile of printed matter. Ginny, who had followed me over to the machine, picked one up before I could.

“Oh no! This can’t be! Harry…everyone look!”

I did, and I wasn’t a bit amused.


Wanted: Luna Lovegood for pock picketing, felony cow tipping, writer assault, and marginal story puns.



“Well, at least they didn’t charge you with…”

“Please don’t mention that again Ron. We really are in a gray area there with copyrights and all. It is a good likeness of me though. What’s that I’m holding in the photograph?”

“It’s a garden shovel,” Hermione said then. “It’s just like the one I hit Ron with to get him to kiss me the first time.” The two shared a smile at that special memory.

“We need to spread out; search the room for the shovel. If it’s like the other clues…”

“I found it Harry,” Ginny announced, interrupting him. No one had seen her move to the first door, once again opening to a closet, albeit a much smaller one. “Yes, there is blood on it, as well as the surrounding floor. This is getting out of hand! We don’t even know whose blood this is, if it is human blood, if it’s blood at all. Someone must be trying to frame all of us–-maybe to cast suspicion away from themselves.”

“That person could still be one of us.”

“Hermione give it a rest.” This time there was no uncertainty in Ron’s words. “It’s crazy to think one of us would beat up Spense.”

“Is it Ron?” she continued. “We’re left clues to suggest you attacked him in the Muggle Studies classroom with the Beater’s bat; that I did it with the dragon pike in the hidden cell; Ginny with her broom in the Scarf Cavern; and here we have Luna with my shovel in this pressroom. Who other than ourselves would expect us to be here together today trying to solve this? Who else could have access to some of the more personal weapons? Unless all of us assaulted Spenser, and that I don’t believe, then all but one of the clue sites are false.”

Harry had to consider Hermione’s harsh words for over a minute before he spoke. He did not sound happy. “Okay, then where is my clue? Doh! Oh crikey! How could I be so stupid?”

“What is it Harry? Have you figured it out?” Ginny asked. It was her turn to put an arm around him, and it did seem to have a calming effect.

“Come on!” Harry gave Ginny a quick kiss on the cheek, but then pulled away and ran for the second door, which no doubt was the exit.

Violently throwing it open, he passed through with the rest of us at his heels. After several steps, we stopped, turned and watched as another door slammed shut, and then faded away. We had been herded into one more room. Here it was a large glass domed indoor garden, much more elaborate than the student greenhouses. Yet again, Harry took a moment to consult his map. Yet again, he shook his head no.

“Spread out everyone!” he shouted. “Look for another bloody patch of ground and some type of weapon that would be strongly associated with me. We need to hurry! The game is almost over!”

“Game?” Ron and Hermione said together.

“Game!” Harry replied in a raised voice. “We’ve been playing Cluedo, or rather someone has been intentionally playing us. Cluedo, or Clue as the Americans call it, is a board game where up to six players explore different rooms looking to solve a murder mystery. It’s exactly what we’ve been doing, but unintentionally in our case.”

“Harry, I found it,” Ginny called to him from a nearby shrubbery. For a second time, the better luck had been with her. “It’s the Gryffindor sword. I don’t believe this is dried basilisk blood on the hilt or grass here.”

“Outstanding!” he told her and rewarded the girl with another long hug. “Everyone gather around please. Good! Ginny, hold it over your head…just like that so the sunlight coming in can hit it. Now wait for it. Let’s see if I’m correct.”

Harry was. The light seemed to make the blade glow, but then it split away to strike each of us simultaneously. Once again, we were transported away to who knows where. It was all very exciting.


*****



I really, really enjoy Wizarding travel. Brooms are amazing. Maybe not as much as Ginny and Harry are, but I’m an incredible fan where they’re concerned. The Floo Network is nice as well–-but perhaps just a tad sooty. I always carry a whisk broom when I attempt that. Apparating? Uhm, I can understand why Harry doesn’t appreciate this method, as uncomfortable as it is. There are a couple of other fun methods, which some imaginative author gave our other reality, but I don’t think it’s my place to ruin your reading enjoyment.

This time, just then, someone had provided us with another portkey. Once in a while though, as wonderful as the devices are... Well we, all at once, found ourselves with a minor glitch that afternoon.

“Harry, where are we?” Ron slowly started to ask.

The best way to describe where we’d stopped would be to say that it was the front lawn of an enormous, yet dilapidated, mansion house. If I were a Muggle, I would immediately decide it was haunted. With so many close ghost friends, however, I automatically knew how none of them would waste their time with such a clich structure. Someone was interested in this home however.

Harry never had the opportunity to venture an opinion for Ron’s question. None of us could.

All at once, unexpectedly, a large, silly, funny looking Great Dane ran past us. He was closely followed by a young shaggy-looking man, a dark-haired girl with an orange turtle-necked jumper and very large glasses, a tall, handsome blond boy with a nice silk ascot, and another red-haired girl in a well-accessorized purple outfit.

“Zoinks! Run! J. Edgar Hoover’s ghost is right on our heels.” the long-haired boy screamed as he sped by.

“Jinkies!” the girl with glasses quickly added.

The small group rushed past without acknowledging us further. Two or three seconds later, a large man in an ugly green dress floated past us in hot pursuit.

“Harry, that wasn’t…? That couldn’t possibly have been who I thought it was?” Hermione asked this time. I almost wondered if my friends knew them.

I don’t know if there was someone out there routing the portkey travel for all of us, but, if there was, corrections were made then. We were back on our way again.


*****



Our final arrival, at what we assumed was now the correct destination, was exceptionally comfortable thanks to the overstuffed sofas we found ourselves landing on. We were inside the more attractive of the rooms we had visited during the day as well. Two of the walls were lined with shelving, filled with musical instruments and stacks of sheet music. The other two had eye-catching floral wallpaper pasted there above the wainscoting. The floors were hardwood, but covered with older, yet beautiful, red Persian carpets. A nice fire had been lit, despite the warm early spring weather we had been enjoying. Finally, we had come back to a place we knew and had occasionally visited on rare occasions for tea. We had been brought to the Faculty Conservatory.

“Harry, what’s going on?” Ginny slowly asked. “Hey, isn’t that the lantern we lost sitting there on the piano?”

“Are we here because the stupid game is over?” Ron added.

“That depends. You’re probably wondering why I’ve called all of you here this morning.” The new voice came from the high-backed swivel rocking chair in the corner. “Have you solved your whodunit?” Slowly the old chair began to turn toward us to reveal…

“Spenser?” We all cried at once, and with suspicious voices.

The Wizard sitting before us was in apparently perfect health, and even smiling. He was also wearing the deerstalker hat I had lost on the slide and holding the bubble pipe I’d left in the cell. What was going on? Was it really him? I had one sure way to find out. I ran up to him, jumped into his lap, threw my arms around his neck, and then kissed him on the cheek. The way he came to his feet, unceremoniously dumping me on the floor, had me laughing.

“Luni, what the feldercarb do you think you’re doing? If your mysterious, secret boyfriend saw that he’d turn me into an Ecuadorian spotted fern beetle, or worse still, force decaffeinated coffee on me!”

“That’s the real Spenser,” I heard Ginny softly tell the others. “Only he’s that dense…” She paused to herself quickly kiss Harry, thankful that he had finally come to his senses. “…only, only he is permitted to call her Loony…I mean Luni, and only he would use a strange curse like feldercarb here.”

“If it is really him, who’s lying in the hospital bed?” Hermione asked for everyone. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m not sure, but when I woke up fully dressed this morning just before dawn, I was locked inside this room. A few hours later, all of you appeared in the large mirror over the fireplace, walking into the Muggle Studies classroom. I’ve been following your progress through the game. Someone is impersonating me, fooled everyone into thinking I was hurt, and got you to visit the classroom. Why did you go there by the way?”

“Seamus told us you said…” Ginny began to explain, but something clicked in her brain at just the same moment as it did in mine. “Oh, blast it all! How could I forget that?”

Ginny moved to the Conservatory’s door with Harry close behind. Naturally it was still locked. This time, however, I had the simple solution. I was more than a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t remembered the spell earlier. Memory is simply the second thing to go with old age (I can’t remember what the first is), and, at almost seventeen, it was beginning for me.

Portus Eratum” I said, leveling my wand at our exit. “If one cannot open or unlock a door, one’s next best course of action is simply to dissolve it away completely. I’m sorry I didn’t think of the spell sooner.”

“No worries Luna,” Harry said with a laugh as he led us out into the corridor.

Spenser and I were the last to follow. I was feeling exceptionally relieved that he was safe and well. I also knew, finally, that the principle reason I hadn’t been more worried about him was because I had somehow known it wasn’t really Spenser in the infirmary. Stepping through the door, I was more than a bit amazed at where we were…or rather weren’t. It was the wrong hallway. Turning around, and looking back inside, we all saw the same thing. It wasn’t the Faculty Conservatory at all. We were back where we had started–-Muggle Studies.

“Okay Ginny, what exactly did Seamus say to you?” Spenser slowly asked.

“That you were coming here to turn in a late assignment to Professor Marvel,” I replied for her.

Ginny locked eyes with Harry, and it took him no more than a second to understand what she and I had remembered. Without another word, we were running back to the hospital wing. Somehow, we knew they…yes, they would still be there. Somehow, we knew who our pair of arch-nemesises (I hope I’m spelling that correctly) were now, and no, neither were that awful Rolf Scamander. He doesn’t get the girl in our alternate reality. Sorry, no other spoilers.

Bursting through the infirmary doors, Harry and Ginny ran straight at the hospital beds where faux Spenser and Seamus rested. Madame Pomfrey and her assistant both screamed when her patients were hit with stunning and then restraining spells.

“Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley…what is the meaning of this? Have you lost your…?” That was when the Healer spotted the real Spenser.

The woman is absolutely not stupid. Rushing back to an adjacent medicine locker, she retrieved and returned with a small glass jar holding clear marble-sized capsules. With a strong downward motion, she hurled a pod at one and then the other of our prisoners. The Polyjuice Potion Antidote took affect just as they were recovering from the stun bolts. Madame Pomfrey pulled off the head bandages to reveal a completely hale and hearty Wizard. There wasn’t a scratch on him…yet.

“Blimey Ginny, what are you and Harry so steamed about?” George asked his little sister. His crooked grin wasn’t winning her over it appeared.

“You’re mad too Harry?” Fred inquired as well. “Didn’t you enjoy the holo-suite game?”

“Will someone please tell me what is going on here?” the Healer demanded.

“Fred and George seem to have enlisted all of us to test a new product for their joke shop ma’am,” Harry began. “A holo-suite is from Muggle science fiction literature, television, and films. It uses their technology to duplicate an environment for recreation, entertainment, and training purposes. They seem to have set up a magical equivalent in our Muggle Studies classroom. We’ve been playing out a mystery game there over the last few hours. Everything was faked. Everything was arranged to mislead us. Hermione, I’ll wager the clues you kept, as well as your necklace, are gone from your pocket. Ginny, your broom is still safe and whole in your room I think.”

“I understand. My hat and bubble pipe never left the classroom, and since they were real, they were returned to us–-the lost lantern as well,” I said.

“What gave us away?” George asked, but with the same silly grin on his face.

“You couldn’t duplicate Seamus’ Irish accent, so you pretended to have severe laryngitis. His voice was fine when he said goodnight before bed late last night. That bad of a sore throat rarely comes on so quickly. Also, you told us Spenser was turning in late Muggle Studies assignments. It was to get us to go there to investigate so you could activate your magical device. You didn’t know, and we just remembered–-Spenser isn’t taking Muggle Studies this year.”

“Very clever Ginnikins,” Fred admitted, “but really, how did you know it was us? The world is full of mischievously evil pranksters.”

“None in your class mates.” Harry was finally smiling. “Anyone who could create artificial nosebleeds and give Wizardom Puking Pastilles would have no problems faking all those injuries, and even fooling a good Healer. Then there was the fact that nothing in the game was really dangerous, and it was all designed around us five friends. It screamed family involvement to me finally, as well as it being someone still authorized to enter and leave the school grounds through security. You know, you could have just come out and asked us.”

“Nah, we wouldn’t have had as good a test if you’d known what was happening. It’s going to be a great product. George and I stayed around to see how it ended…and to catch up on some sleep. Wonderful beds you have here Madame Pomfrey. Anyway, who did you decide among you must have done it in the end, if I might ask?”

“No one. We were sure it wasn’t one of us.” Ron gave Hermione an understanding smile to help ease her embarrassment. We all knew she hadn’t really believed all she said. “It seems it was Fred and George Weasley in the Muggle Studies classroom with the Polyjuice Potion.

“Witty,” the twins admitted in unison. “Now unbind us,” they again said together. Seeing our big smiles, theirs instantly went away.

“I believe a fast owl to your parents may be in order first,” Madame Pomfrey told the two.

“I’d pay to see that little reunion. Do you have change for a bent Knut Luni,” Spenser whispered to me. I had to chuckle.

“Then it will be Molly Weasley with a wooden spoon in the headmistress’ office–-if you get off so easily.”

We groaned at the Healer’s pun, but then started giggling en mass as we started off toward the infirmary doors. By the time we had reached the staircase we were howling uncontrollably, holding our sides, and with tears rolling down our cheeks at the scene we’d just left. None of us had a doubt, however, that once the dust settled, the boys would be taking in a large number of Galleons for their new invention.

Yes, it really was very funny after the fact, especially once Spenser and I sat down to write the whole story. Now I know there may be those of you out there who will think charges should have been brought against the brothers. They did, after all, really kidnap us after a fashion. Even the genuine Seamus had been locked in a broom closet for a good portion of the day (until the mysterious explosion blew out the door). I’m afraid you’re in the minority. I will always personally believe it a hilarious adventure, and I’m quite certain there are no laws against man’s laughter. Oops…but I’m not supposed to mention that, am I?

Mischief managed!




A/N: The Murder on the Oregon Express that provided the title pun was from Season Seven, Episode Three of The Benny Hill Show. I would like to think that the late comedian was looking over my shoulder as I wrote, and maybe enjoyed the story. I hope all of you did as well. As always, please be careful of spoilers in any reviews you may leave. Thank you for reading–Eric B.
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