Now and Forever
To: The British Magical Library, Cringle Street, Battersea, London
15 September, 2097
I am the executrix for the estate of my late aunt, the world-renowned sculptress Johanna Watkinson. My aunt, as I’m sure you know, was the inventor of the Watkinson Method, which breathed life into inanimate bronze and created the first ever magically moving sculptures.
You will be aware that my aunt first rose to prominence almost sixty years ago, when her first statue was unveiled. I refer, of course, to the statue of the former Head Auror, the late Harry J Potter; a statue which is once again in the news.
I have been unable to determine the method my aunt used to animate her creations. However, I believe that the fact that she carried out extensive interviews with the friends and family of her subjects before beginning work was in some way important to the process.
While collating and cataloguing the contents of my aunt’s studio, I came across these old papers. These are the interviews she carried out with the friends and family of Mr Potter in the autumn of 2039. I believe that they may be of interest to the Library. The enclosed sheaves of parchment are all I can find of my Aunt’s interviews. From her notes it appears that only one interview is missing, her interview with Mr Potter himself. Despite this I consider that, as the centenary of the Battle of Hogwarts approaches, these documents may be of value to scholars. It is for this reason that I freely gift them to the library.
I can only apologise for the condition of these parchments. For some reason they were all caked in clay when I discovered them.
It was my Aunt’s practice to photograph the interviewee, and to magically transcribe everything the interviewee said. She did not, for some reason unknown to me, transcribe her own questions and comments. I hope that the interviewees’ comments make sense.
Cassandra P Fortescue
ps The comments in the attached documents may explain why, when the statue was moved from Diagon Alley to Hogwarts, it immediately climbed down from its pedestal and returned to Diagon Alley.
Hubert Dalrymple was a small and slightly overweight man in his forties. His eyes peered cautiously out at the world through a pair of round, wire-rimmed spectacles, his mouth was entirely obscured by a large mousy brown moustache, and his receding hair was brushed forwards in an attempt to hide the fact. Putting down the letter, he looked in astonishment at the tall and bony sandy-haired woman in front of him. He stared with a covetous longing at the pile of parchments on the table behind her.
‘Those documents could be very useful to my Department,’ said Dalrymple curtly. He strode rapidly across to the table where they lay. He was halfway across the room, and obviously intending to take custody of the pile of parchments, before the Chief Librarian reacted. She hastily interposed herself between him and the transcripts.
‘The parchments were gifted to the library, Mr Dalrymple, not to the Public Arts Department,’ Siân Finnegan told her visitor firmly. ‘The letter makes that clear. I have had them in my possession for two weeks. My staff have cleaned, copied, and catalogued them and these priceless originals will soon be placed in our vaults. Copies will, however, be made available to scholars, on request.’
Dalrymple puffed out his chest and stood up straight and tall. Despite this, he was still several inches shorter than the Chief Librarian.
‘Now look here, Madam…’ he began.
‘Miss!’ The Chief Librarian folded her arms. ‘I invited you to examine these documents as a courtesy, Mr Dalrymple.’
Dalrymple stared up into her face, read the determination on her angular aquiline features, and realised that if he continued the confrontation he would have yet another battle to fight. His already heavy heart doubled in mass, and his knees almost buckled under the weight of his problems. The press were making fun of him, the Minister was questioning his competence, and his job was on the line.
‘I … I’m sorry, Miss Finnegan,’ he began. ‘I am, as I’m sure you know, under a lot of pressure. You are quite correct; these documents are your responsibility. That was rude of me. I, er…’ He paused, and swallowed hard. ‘I can only offer you my most humble apologies.’
Siân Finnegan looked down her nose at him, but the corners of her mouth twitched slightly. She waited for a moment and watched him sweat. He stared back in silence, trying to decide what to do. The tall woman removed her pince-nez, and raked him with a reassessing gaze. He risked a tentative smile, but it was not returned. The silence between them stretched out until it became a chasm; he began to sweat.
‘Apology accepted,’ she said finally. ‘Maybe we should start afresh now, Mr Dalrymple.’
‘Thank you, Miss Finnegan,’ he told her gratefully. In his relief, he gave his moustache a nervous tug. ‘Most kind of you; most kind. Do you, er, would you like me to submit a formal request to look at the papers?’
‘I don’t think that will be necessary.’ She flashed him the briefest of smiles. ‘But the originals cannot leave this room.’
‘Of course, of course. Thank you so much, Miss Finnegan. Perhaps this is the breakthrough we’ve been looking for. These documents may be what we need to resolve the Potter problem. My Department… Well… You know…’ Dalrymple pulled out a handkerchief and mopped his moist forehead. ‘There’s no easy way to say it! We have become a laughing stock. Twice now, we have moved Mr Potter’s statue to Hogwarts, and both times it has walked more than five hundred miles back to Diagon Alley. The Knockturn Alley regeneration project is predicated upon its removal. The Minister has demanded it! The Wizengamot has demanded it! I am failing them.’
‘My advice is that, rather than try to move Mr Potter’s statue, you must persuade both the Minister and the Wizengamot to leave it where it is. Tell them that they must work around the statue, Mr Dalrymple,’ Siân Finnegan told her visitor.
‘I can’t…’ he protested feebly. He wondered whether the librarian was aware that she was adding to the pressure he was under. She certainly didn’t seem to be deliberately cruel.
‘I have read the documents. It is obvious that, at the time the statue was commissioned, everyone involved was strongly opposed to placing the statue at Hogwarts, including Mr Potter himself. It seems to me that the actions of the Potter statue show that Johanna Watkinson’s reputation is well-deserved. They say that she not only made the statues of her subjects move, but also imbued them with some of the characteristics and attitudes of the subject. It appears that Mr Potter agreed to the statue only…’
Siân looked at her visitor in concern, stepped aside, and indicated the papers. ‘I realise that you’re in a difficult position, Mr Dalrymple. Perhaps, rather than burden you with my own opinions, I should allow you to read the documents, and make your own decision. I’ll arrange for tea and biscuits, shall I?’
‘Thank you,’ said Dalrymple. ‘How very considerate of you, Miss Finnegan, very considerate indeed. Yes.’
As he lifted the uppermost piece of parchment and looked at the attached photograph, he was rewarded with another brief smile.
Photograph: A round-faced and heavyset man in his early sixties, he is almost completely bald, but affects a short and well-trimmed blond beard. He wears black robes and is sitting in a wood panelled office. Behind him, dozens of portraits line the walls; they appear to be paying close attention to the events unfolding in front of them.
‘Call me Neville, please. Only my students call me Headmaster. They call me other things, too, of course, but I pretend I don’t know about that. What can I do for you, Ms Watkinson?
‘Thank you, so what can I do for you Johanna?
‘A statue! Does he know?
‘Of course it matters! Do you have any idea how difficult it was to get him to agree to the first one?
‘That is very naïve of you, Johanna. Most people would be very flattered to have an artist offer to sculpt a statue of them. However, Harry is not “most people.”
‘Why do you think that the only statue of Harry is in Godric’s Hollow, opposite to the statue of his parents? Even when we were at school, Harry didn’t like being put on a pedestal. And that was merely a metaphorical one! It was a struggle to persuade him to agree to the Godric’s Hollow statue.
‘He only agreed because Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Kingsley—the Minister at the time—all insisted. If the statue to his parents hadn’t already been there, then there would be no statues of Harry anywhere.
‘Persuading him to agree will be extremely difficult. Where do you plan to put the new one?
‘Completely out of the question! This is my school, and I will not allow it!
‘If you think that I’m being difficult about the location you propose, wait until you speak to Harry. I will be astonished if you can get him to agree to the idea of another statue. Even if, by some miracle, you succeed he won’t let you put it here and neither will Ginny.
‘No, Johanna. No! And that is my final word. Do not try to persuade me. I am impressed by your determination, but even if you refuse to give up on the idea of a Harry Potter statue, you must give up on the idea of placing it at this school.
‘You can, of course, go above my head and speak to the Minister, but I’m certain that Susan … that Minister Mosby … will be of the same opinion.
‘This is a school!
I’m well aware that it is also a battlefield. I was there!
‘At a battlefield, you remember the fallen; you do not put up a statue to one of the survivors.
‘You may call him hero; he’ll say he’s one of the survivors. You’ll never persuade him that he is anything other than a victim of circumstance.
‘He has held the post of Head Auror longer than anyone. Perhaps you should place the statue at the Ministry.
‘I’m sorry, Johanna, you need to rethink your plans.
‘No, I will not change my mind.
‘Of course I am prepared to share my impressions of Harry with you, but frankly you’ll find them in Hermione Weasley and James Potter’s “A Revised History of Magic”. I have nothing to add.
‘My copy of “A Revised History” is over there. If you pass it over, I’ll read the relevant passage. That’s an interesting-looking quill you’re using. Did you enchant it yourself?’
(A second parchment is attached. It contains a verbatim reading of Professor Longbottom’s comments by the Hogwarts Headmaster himself.)
Photograph: A slender woman in her late fifties or early sixties whose white-blond hair is pulled back into a tight and severe bun. Her left eye is obscured by a black patch; above and below the patch, a deep scar is visible on both forehead and cheek. Her right eye is a startlingly bright blue.
The woman sits behind a large desk in a large and well-appointed office. The crest of the Ministry of Magic hangs on the wall behind her.
‘You can spare me the explanation, Ms Watkinson. Neville … the Headmaster, has already told me what you want.
‘You didn’t ask Neville to keep it secret, did you?
‘I thought not. Then you can’t complain that he hasn’t. I should warn you that he has told Harry, too.
‘Of course I haven’t told anyone else. My secretary knows, of course. He made the appointment with you.
‘He is the personal secretary to the Minister of Magic. If I thought that he couldn’t keep secrets he wouldn’t be working for me.
‘Harry won’t say anything, either, except to Ginny of course.
‘Because she’s his wife!
‘Out of the question.
‘I am in full agreement with Professor Longbottom. Even if you can somehow persuade Harry to sit for you, you cannot place the statue at Hogwarts. That is my final word on the matter. If that is all you wanted to discuss, then you can leave now. I am very busy.
‘My time in the Auror Office? Why?
‘I see. Well, like Harry, Ron Weasley…
‘Yes the Co-Director of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Don’t you know your recent history? Who on earth teaches you youngsters Magical History?
‘Still? Oh dear.
‘After the Battle I joined the Auror Office alongside Harry, Ron, Neville and Terry Boot.
‘Yes, Neville was an Auror, too. Don’t look at me like that, young woman, he was a good one. And, unlike you, he knew how to investigate, how to research! If he was coming to interview me, he would not walk into this office woefully unprepared.
‘I worked alongside Harry for several years. When he was promoted, I worked for him. I was an Auror for almost twenty years.
‘Hardworking, careful, conscientious, and caring, I think that sums him up admirably.
‘I tried to persuade him not to retire. After all, he’ll only be sixty.
‘Wipe that smirk from your face young lady. Sixty is not old.
‘His reasons are those given in the press release: he wants to spend more time with his family, with his grandchildren.
‘Of course we have! We’ve disagreed many times over the years. I still remember how much I protested when he placed Lavender in the same team as me. But he made the right decision.
‘There is only one Lavender, thank Merlin. She was an Auror too, before she left to become a full time writer of—what do they call them—bodice-ripper mysteries. Now, do you want me to tell you about Harry, or not?
‘Then stop asking stupid questions.
‘Harry has always had an instinct about Dark Magic. He was, and is, a naturally good Auror. He passed the course with top marks, and did it months before the rest of us. He was the first of us, the first of the post-Battle intake, to be promoted. He was a good boss, he still is. He makes an excellent Head Auror and I will be extremely sorry to lose him. He encourages his staff to speak their mind, to make suggestions. Most importantly, he listens to what they say.
‘You should ask Ron or Hermione, as they know him better than anyone else. They were inseparable at school.
‘I believe that he has always listened to others, although he will often ignore their advice.
‘Merlin, no! Harry certainly isn’t made to be politician. He’s popular, and could certainly have become Minister, but he’d hate the job and he’s intelligent enough to know that he would. Besides, he’d rapidly fall out of favour.
‘Because if someone was being stupid, he’d say so.
‘Yes, he now works for me. He worked for Hermione, too, when she took control of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement.
‘No, it is not easy being his boss.
‘There is a story, something Professor Dumbledore is supposed to have said, and it’s true. Given the choice between what is right and what is easy, Harry will always try to do what is right. My predecessor discovered that to her cost.
‘Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He helped lay the foundations for the forty years of peace and progress we have enjoyed since the Battle.
Photograph: A woman with long, unbound and rather untidy dirty blonde hair. Her grey eyes are slightly protruding, and the deep creases at their edges shows that she smiles a lot. The woman is beaming happily, and her arms are flailing excitedly. She is sitting cross-legged on a floor which is cluttered with toys and books. A tiny baby is crawling in front of her. She wears a long, floral print skirt and a purple blouse, over which is a bright yellow cotton gillet with bulging pockets.
‘A moving statue? Of Harry? Fascinating! How do you intend to…
‘I really think that’s rather mean of you. Knowledge should be shared, you know!
‘But, Rolf, we kept the location of the breeding ground secret because they are an endangered species!
‘And we kept Yggdrasil secret so that we could reveal its existence in “Magical Places and How to Find Them”.
‘I suppose you’re right, my dear.
‘Please don’t eat that Ruaidri, it’s made of wood. Have I told you that wood comes from trees? This lady wants to speak to me. Why don’t you go and play with your grandfather. Good boy.
‘What do you want to know, Johanna?
‘He’s Harry Potter, and he’s my friend.
‘He’s very nice.
‘I love him.
‘I love Ginny, too. I love all of my friends. Doesn’t everyone love their friends?
‘I don’t understand, Johanna. You asked me who he was, what he was like, and what I think of him. I’ve told you.
‘You want to get a feel for him? Then I suggest you go to visit him, and that you hug him. Hugs tell you a lot about people.
‘He’s a person, a unique individual. We are all unique; you know that, don’t you? We are nothing more than a random collection of stardust, stardust which has been gathered up by our parents and magically made into a person. Rolf and I made Lorcan, and Lorcan and Xiaolian made Ruaidri. Every one of us is different.
‘Harry is Harry and no one else is Harry. He’s my friend and he’s nice and I love him. It’s very simple, really.
Photograph: Careful examination shows that the image is not a photograph but is, in fact, a portrait carefully drawn to look like a photograph.
The woman appears to be in her early twenties. Her skin is porcelain pale and her long thick hair is black. She wears a white blouse and a grey cravat, the Auror Uniform of the period. Were it not for her full, blood-red, lips the image might easily be monochrome.
Printed on the back are the words: Camelia Tepes - Auror. Underneath someone has scribbled: Official Auror Office ID card image, because photographing a vampire is impossible.
‘Do you have any authority? Am I required to answer your questions?
‘Then I reserve the right not to reply.
‘He employed me. No one else would have.
‘Forgiving is my assessment. Surely that one word is enough.
‘What he did for me is hardly one of his greatest achievements.
‘He gave me a chance. I was honest with him, and he gave me a chance.
‘At the time, people called for his dismissal. They said that I was a killer. They still say I am a killer.
‘Of course they are correct; although I prefer to say that I was a killer.
‘Nineteen-forty-six, almost a century ago. I can tell you her name, I know the name of my final victim, but I can name very few of those I killed before her. It is all on my file. The Ministry likes files. Even Harry has a file. Some of it is available for public scrutiny. Why don’t you look at it?
‘Harry gave me a chance. He believes in forgiveness and redemption. He trusted me, and in more than thirty years as an Auror I have not betrayed his trust.
‘I know that he believes in forgiveness and redemption, because I know the real story. Everyone thinks that they know the story. They don’t.
‘It’s a good story. Because of a prophecy, Tom Riddle—the self-styled Lord Voldemort—murdered Harry’s parents. He killed them in cold blood, leaving Harry an orphan. Years later, after an epic Battle at Hogwarts, Harry killed the man who killed his parents. That’s the popular version of the tale, the one everyone knows.
‘True? In one way it is true. After all, that is what happened. But the truth is deeper than that fairy tale. Ask Harry, ask Mr and Mrs Weasley ... yes Ron and Hermione Weasley ... ask Mrs Potter or Professor Longbottom. They will all tell the same tale. Harry tried to save Tom Riddle. Even at the end, Harry Potter gave his parent’s killer the chance to redeem himself. He did not try to kill Tom Riddle, he tried to save him.
‘As I said, Harry is forgiving, and that is all you need to know.’
Photograph: A glamorous and immaculately made-up woman. Her eyes are violet and her auburn pre-Raphaelite tresses tumble artfully over her shoulder. The woman’s fingernails and toenails are painted a vivid violet, a colour which matches the rather short off-the-shoulder dress she wears.
The woman is lounging on a chaise longue, gazing dismissively at the camera through her unnaturally long lashes. A closer inspection shows that the woman is not as young as she is trying to appear.
‘Oh the stories I could tell! I have slept in his bed, I have worn his clothes, and I have kissed him ... and not been hexed by Ginny. But those are tales for my autobiography.
‘Facts? Facts are boring, boring, bor…ing. People want romance and adventure and sex and excitement, not facts.
‘Harry is rather boring really. He tells everyone that he likes a quiet life, and he does.
‘We share three grandchildren you know. It’s difficult to believe that I’m old enough to have grandchildren, isn’t it?
‘You’re supposed to say “Yes Lavender,” not “Hmmmmm.”
‘He’s happiest when he’s at home with Ginny. They have an orchard, they keep chickens, and they putter about the place and visit their children and grandchildren.
‘As I said, boring.
‘He’s been with the same girl since he was sixteen and they’ve been married for almost forty years.
‘I suppose that it is romantic, in a way; but it’s still boring. They don’t go to parties or receptions or anything like that. They came to the first of my book launches, but they haven’t been to any of the others. Boring, boring, bor…ing, that’s Harry.’
Photograph: An elderly couple sit side by side on a large red leather sofa in a tidy-looking living room.
He is tall and, although a few tufts of ginger hair remain on the sides and back of his head, he is almost bald. He leans back into the sofa and looks into the camera with an amused smile. The man wears a casual check-pattern shirt which strains to contain his belly, and a pair of grey denim jeans. His carpet slippers are an eye-burningly bright orange and emblazoned with a double “C” symbol.
She is shorter. Her greying wavy brown hair is shoulder-length, and held away from her face by several clips. She leans forwards attentively. Her flower-patterned top is colourful, but not fussy, her denim jeans are pale blue, and her feet are bare.
‘Both of us together, or not at all. For some reason she doesn’t trust me! Even after all these years, she thinks I’ll say something stupid.’
‘Because you will, Ron.’
‘Harry will say no to the statue, I know he will, but if you need an alternative subject I’ll pose for you, and so will Hermione. We’d like a statue. She’ll deny it…’
‘I do not want a statue, Ron.’
‘False modesty, she does, really. I’m sure that Harry wouldn’t mind if you did a statue of us instead of him. You could call it “unsung heroes” and…’
‘Will you shut up, Ron!’
‘What do you want to ask us, Johanna?’
‘Language, Ron! Just say no.’
‘She must be thick. She’s already been told no by both Nev and Cyclops Susie but she’s asking us anyway.’
‘Don’t be so rude, Ron. I’m sure Johanna isn’t thick. And Susan is the Minister, you should show her some respect!’
‘That’s what Lavender calls her, and she does it to her face.’
‘Minister Mosby should be treated with respect, Ron! But that’s not the point. My husband is right, Johanna…’
‘Shut up, Ron! As I was saying, you can’t place a statue of Harry at Hogwarts. No one has a statue at Hogwarts, no one except the founders.’
‘And Harry will say the same thing, I’ll guarantee it. Hogwarts is out of the question. Nev, Susan, Hermione and me have all said so.’
‘Neville has already told you why, and so has Susan—the Minister, but I’ll try to explain.’
‘Don’t interrupt, Ron! After the Battle there was a lot of discussion about a monument, about a memorial. We all decided that what was needed, and that’s what we got. You must have seen it, a simple obelisk on which are carved the names of the fallen. After the Battle, the Wizengamot wanted a statue of Harry in the grounds, but he said no. We all discussed it, and we agreed. Hogwarts is the place where we remember the fallen. It is not the place where we erect monuments venerating the survivors. More than fifty people died, and after the Battle we chose one name at random. The memorial was placed at the location where one of the bodies was found. She was a young woman named Christine Jackson. We didn’t know her, but that doesn’t matter. Hogwarts is for remembrance of the dead, not the obsequious glorification of anyone, especially not us.’
‘Obsequious glorification! I love it when you use big words, Hermione. Ouch! That hurt, dammit. I was going to agree with you! No statues of anyone at Hogwarts, Johanna, and that’s final.’
‘I’ve no idea where else. Ask Harry. I suppose that placing it inside the Ministry might work. What do you think, Ron?’
‘I think if you can persuade him to let you sculpturise, or whatever you call it…
‘Really? Okay—sculpt him. You should put him on Diagon Alley, at the junction where it joins Knockturn Alley. Because, when Harry and me were in the pub the other week, he was telling me that Justin … Yes, Justin Finch-Fletchley, the owner of Finches Department Store … put a life-sized photograph of Harry next to all three of the exits to his store. Shoplifting immediately dropped by thirty percent. Just think what a statue of Harry staring down Knockturn Alley could achieve.’
‘That’s brilliant, Ron!’
‘Thanks, Hermione. That’s why she married me, you know—for my brains. And my charm and rugged good looks, of course. Ow!’
Photograph: A small and curvy freckle-faced woman whose long red hair is showing a few streaks of grey. She wears a faded t-shirt bearing the legend Don’t mess with me: I’m a grandmother, a pair of three-quarter-length trousers, and flat-soled sandals.
The woman is standing on a lawn. There are trees behind her, and she is scattering grain for the hens which are clucking and fussing around her feet.
‘What a ridiculous question. Susan was right; you really haven’t done any research, have you?
‘It’s part of your method? If I’d tried that excuse when I worked for the Prophet they’d have sacked me!
‘Before I answer your questions, please answer one of mine. What did you say to Harry to make him laugh?
‘Diagon Alley, facing Knockturn Alley? Why?
‘Hah! Good old Ron.
‘No, actually, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Ron often acts the fool. Most people think that the important word in that statement is fool. It isn’t, the important word is acts. Between them, he and George have managed to build a very successful business by being underestimated by almost everyone.
‘Harry and I discuss everything. If we agree to the statue then it will be our decision, not simply Harry’s.
‘I agree with the others, Hogwarts is wrong for so many reasons. I’m glad you’ve given up on that idea.
‘I’m not sure that anyone can capture the essence of Harry. But if you’re trying to capture Harry as he is now, then Ron is right. He needs to be in Diagon Alley, or the Ministry. There is already a statue of the Harry who fought Tom Riddle.
‘Yes, the one in Godric’s Hollow near his parents’ statue. He’s in his parents’ statue, too, as a baby. The boy who fought at Hogwarts was a worried seventeen-year-old who was certain he would die. My husband is a fifty-nine-year old grandfather who will retire as Head Auror on his next birthday. I know he’s the same person, but he’s also very different.
He’s put on a bit of weight, for one thing. He’s also a lot more relaxed, and much happier.
‘No, I’m not going to take credit for his happiness, well, not all of it. I will take responsibility for his weight gain.
‘I didn’t say that he is overweight. Ron is overweight, but Harry isn’t. It’s simply that he was such a skinny little boy.
‘I can tell you what I think of him, but don’t expect me to be impartial; he’s my husband.
‘He tries to do the right thing. He wants to be a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather, and a good Head Auror. He doesn’t always succeed, but he tries his best, and that’s the most important thing.
‘Have you spoken to Luna?
What did she say?
‘You should have listened to her.
‘You didn’t hug him, I’d know if you had. You should, but you’d better warn him first. Tell him who suggested it.
‘You should always listen to Luna. What else did she say about Harry?
‘Haha! I don’t think that I can add very much to that. In fact, I’ll simply paraphrase her. He’s my friend and my husband and my lover. He’s the father of our children, he’s nice, I trust him, and I love him.
‘What did he say when you asked about the statue?
‘You’re looking at it the wrong way.
‘You may think he didn’t agree, that he didn’t say yes. But I know that he didn’t say no.
‘Where Harry’s concerned, there’s a very big difference between those two things. I will get him to agree, provided that the statue is Harry as he is now, and that it goes where Ron suggested.
Siân Finnegan watched her guest with interest, and a touch of disgust, as he rapidly rifled through the final few documents. He was reading quickly and taking notes, but his ridiculous moustache was full of biscuit crumbs, and was still damp from the tea he’d been drinking.
‘Deputy Head Auror Boot has some interesting things to say,’ she observed. ‘But the Potters’ children say very little, other than “he was a good Dad”. His grandchildren’s comments are sweet. I particularly like the drawing by the Wizengamot’s representative in the European Council. I estimate that he was three at the time. It’s hard to imagine Mr Potter’s grandson, Joey, is now Ambassador Joseph Potter.’
‘Indeed,’ Dalrymple murmured.
‘Do you have any children, Mr Dalrymple?’ she asked. His thunderous expression told her that she’d struck a nerve.
‘Don’t even have a wife,’ he muttered. ‘Not any more. Ran off with an American, professional Quodpot player. Quodpot! Bloody stupid game! Don’t say you’re sorry! Women, eh? They’ll take you for everything you’ve got.’
‘Sweeping generalisation, Mr Dalrymple,’ she said firmly. ‘I don’t hold with them. You shouldn’t either. Think about what you’ve just read.’
Dalrymple frowned and shrugged. He was trying his best not to look sorry for his remarks, or for himself. His grumpiness was, Siân suspected, simply an attempt to hide his sadness. She felt a little sorry for him.
‘Those documents piqued my curiosity, so I searched for press references to the statue,’ she said.
‘And?’ Dalrymple asked eagerly.
‘Well. I found several very unlikely sounding stories, so I checked the Sheriff’s records. They appear to corroborate the press reports. Apparently the crime figures did drop after the statue was unveiled, and soon afterwards, the statue made its first arrest.’
‘Preposterous,’ exclaimed Dalrymple dismissively.
Siân’s face fell, and it seemed that he immediately regretted his words.
‘Foot in mouth again,’ he observed quietly. ‘I’m sorry, Miss Finnegan, it isn’t at all preposterous.’ His eyes widened, and he began to laugh. It was a laugh which verged on hysteria, and Siân wondered what whether he was having a breakdown.
‘Twice now, despite every spell I’ve tried, I have watched that statue climb down from its pedestal and walk the five hundred miles from Hogwarts to Diagon Alley,’ Dalrymple observed. ‘Yet you tell me it arrested someone, and I say it’s preposterous. The Minister is right, I’m a fool!’
‘I don’t think so,’ Siân told him. ‘Perhaps these will help.’ She handed him a collection of press cuttings and reports.
‘About four weeks after the statue was unveiled, at about three o’clock in the morning, the Law Office Bailiff who was on foot patrol in Diagon Alley heard a noise coming from the statue,’ Siân continued. ‘When he went to investigate, he found that it was not on its pedestal, but was instead at the entrance to Knockturn Alley, and it was holding onto a young man. The man was, as they say, “known to the Sheriff’s Office”.’
‘Been in trouble before,’ said Dalrymple knowledgably.
‘Exactly,’ Siân said. ‘The statue was holding the man tightly by one arm. When the man saw the bailiff, he claimed that the statue had attacked him for no reason. The statue shook its head. The Bailiff moved closer, and the statue lifted a foot to reveal a marker pen. When the Bailiff got closer, he saw that there was a single stroke of black ink on the statue’s upper lip. The Bailiff was so amused that he called up several colleagues.
‘Eventually, when the man finally admitted that he had drunkenly accepted a dare to draw a moustache on the statue, the statue released him. The man was arrested, bound over, and ordered to clean the statue. After that incident, crime in the area fell even further. The statue made a number of other arrests over the years.’
‘You’ve done a lot of research,’ said Dalrymple as he rifled through the file. ‘There are an awful lot of cuttings here.’
‘I became interested in the story of the statue,’ Siân admitted. ‘And that reminds me. Did you find a Ginny Weasley toy, one of those old Quidditch figures, when you moved it?’
‘An official “British and Irish League collectable figurine”? They aren’t toys,’ said Dalrymple decisively, his eyes suddenly ablaze with excitement. ‘They are collector’s items. Why on earth should I find one at the site?’
Siân picked up a yellowed old copy of Witch Weekly and walked round her desk to the table where her guest sat.
‘According to this article, some ten years after the statue was unveiled Ann Wood—the eldest of Mr Potter’s great-grandchildren—was visiting Diagon Alley with her mother. Mary Wood used to be Mary Potter,’ Siân explained. ‘Ann, who was six at the time, thought that the statue looked lonely. She offered it the rather battered old toy she had with her. It was an old toy ... sorry ... collectable figurine, of her great-grandmother. That is the only documented occasion, other than the arrests, when the statue left its pedestal.’
‘Until we moved it,’ Dalrymple grumbled.
‘Until you moved it,’ Siân agreed. She returned to her desk and watched as her guest read the Witch Weekly article.
‘Romantic tosh,’ he announced.
‘Perhaps,’ Siân admitted. ‘But the presence of the collectable figurine was noted on a number of occasions over the following decades. I wonder what became of it?’
There was a sudden honking noise. Hubert Dalrymple pulled his message mirror from his pocket. As he read, he sighed helplessly. Looking thoughtfully up at Siân, he awkwardly cleared his throat.
‘We could take a look,’ he suggested. ‘I need to leave for Diagon Alley, Miss Finnegan. The Potter statue is back, despite my men’s best attempts to prevent it accessing the building site. Would you like to see it?’
‘Yes, please,’ Siân told him, smiling happily. ‘Thank you.’
‘Don’t thank me,’ Dalrymple said.’ Least I can do. After all… Well… yes… Afterwards, we could take lunch in the Leaky Cauldron…’
Siân glanced at his crumb-encrusted moustache, and he noticed.
‘No. Probably a bad idea. Shouldn’t have asked,’ he said gruffly, his face falling.
The statue was life size, and therefore taller than Dalrymple but shorter than Siân. It stood at the location where its pedestal had once been, and gazed at the partly-demolished remains of what had once been Knockturn Alley.
As Hubert Dalrymple approached, the statue stared at him, folded its arms and firmly shook its head. Despite her research, Siân wasn’t prepared for the metallic grinding which accompanied the movements. She gasped.
‘Sounds painful, doesn’t it?’ observed Dalrymple sympathetically. ‘I worried myself, at first. It doesn’t hurt, does it?’
He addressed his final question to the statue. It again shook its head. Taking her lead from Dalrymple, who was treating the statue as a person, Siân spoke.
‘Hello,’ she said, feeling slightly foolish. ‘My name is Siân Finnegan. I am Chief Librarian at the British Magical Library, and I have been researching you. You have stood here for almost half a century, since before I was born. The street you faced, Knockturn Alley, is being demolished. Do you understand?’
The statue again nodded.
‘So the Wizengamot want me to move you to Hogwarts,’ said Dalrymple slowly and politely. ‘Will you please do what the Minister and Wizengamot require?’
The statue impassively shook its head.
Dalrymple chuckled wryly. ‘It seems that, like the late Mr Potter, you intend to make a habit of not doing what the Minister and Wizengamot require,’ he said. ‘But, I’ve been reading up on you, thanks to this lovely young lady.’
Siân gave a snort of surprise. Even when she had been young, no one had called her lovely.
‘I will try to arrange for another location for you, somewhere in Diagon Alley.’ The statue unfolded its arms, and Dalrymple pressed on. ‘There were stories, Miss Finnegan told me; she said that you were given a Ginny Weasley collectable figurine by one of your great-granddaughters. I wondered what happened to it.’
There was a screeching and scraping of metal as the statue pulled open its coat slightly and lifted the broken remains of the old toy from its left breast.
‘Oh!’ said Siân sadly.
‘Had a complete collection of Cannons figures when I was a nipper,’ Dalrymple admitted, his voice tinged with pride. ‘The League Champions squad of 2062! Best squad for over a century.’
‘What happened to them?’ Siân asked him.
‘She took them. Sold them! She took everything,’ Dalrymple muttered.
As he stepped forwards and peered at the figure, his face lit up.
‘That’s no reproduction! It’s an original, isn’t it?’ he said excitedly. ‘Can tell by the robes. It’s from the nineteen-ninety-nine to two-thousand squad. Almost a hundred years old. Probably unique. The animation and flying spells must have worn off, when, fifty years ago?’
The statue shrugged sadly.
‘Poor thing,’ said Siân. ‘It’s all he has of his wife, and it’s broken.’
‘Could fix it,’ Dalrymple said. ‘There’s a toy repair shop just up the road.’ He held out his hand. The statue didn’t move.
‘I will bring it back, sir,’ said Dalrymple, standing up straight and facing the statue with a stubborn pride. ‘You may not like me, or what I have tried to do to you, but whatever else I am, I am a man of my word.’
‘He will,’ Siân assured the statue, suddenly proud to be standing next to the little man. ‘He’s trying to do the right thing.’
‘Do you have any idea what this is?’ Caractacus Dollman asked covetously as he tenderly examined the figurine.
‘Original Ginny Weasley action figure, almost a century old. Manufactured by Tattershall and Gubbins, who had the League contract for figurine manufacturing from nineteen-ninety to twenty-twenty-five,’ said Dalrymple, showing knowledge and enthusiasm which surprised Siân. ‘Don’t try to tell me that how much it’s worth. I know!’
‘Is it yours?’ Dollman asked. ‘I would make you a very good offer.’
Dalrymple chuckled with genuine glee, and his face was transformed. ‘You tell him, Siân,’ he said.
Although startled by Dalrymple’s use of her forename, Siân stepped aside and pointed through the shop window. ‘It’s his,’ she said, indicating the statue. ‘He followed us here. I don’t think he trusts us.’
‘Or perhaps he doesn’t trust you,’ said Dalrymple.
Dollman gasped, and swallowed hard. ‘I, er, I can fix it, he said. ‘But it will take time, and it will be expensive. Will the Ministry pay?’
‘Twenty Galleons, no more. But think of the publicity,’ Dalrymple suggested.
Siân had just unwrapped the sandwiches she’d made herself for another lunch alone in her office. She had just picked up her copy of the Daily Prophet, when her message mirror honked. She tapped the glass, and read.
Thank you for insisting that I attend the unveiling. At the ceremony, you asked me about how, and why, the figurine left my workshop the moment I completed the flying and animation charms (which, by the way, are guaranteed for a century). I could not give you an answer.
Upon reflection, I can only conjecture that, in the years the figurine was close to the Potter statue, it somehow picked up some of its magic. You said that you believed that it had somehow gained certain aspects of Mrs Potter’s personality. I must say that I believe that to be extremely unlikely. Much more probable is that the Potter statue has somehow turned the figurine into its ideal companion.
‘You’re assuming those are two different things, Mr Dollman,’ Siân said to herself as she swept the message from her mirror. She sighed, picked up her sandwich, and stared down at the Daily Prophet. It was unlikely that she would ever again make the front page, Siân told herself.
The headline read “Potter Statue to Remain in Diagon Alley” and the photograph beneath it showed Dalrymple, Dollman, and herself standing in front of the statue. The smiling bronze figure stood on its plinth at its temporary location in front of Gringotts. Siân adjusted her pince-nez, and squinted. She could just make out the tiny figure flying around the statue’s head. Hubert Dalrymple had arrived late for the photograph, and had left the moment it had been taken. “Can’t stay. Important meetings,” he’d said in his usual abrupt way. And then he’d gone, with not even a thank you. She had just started to read the article when her mirror tinkled softly.
Siân Finnegan, Chief Librarian,’ she said as she touched it. She found herself staring at the smiling face of Hubert Dalrymple.
‘Sorry it’s taken so long. Just got final agreement from carp,’ he began.
‘Carp?’ she queried. There was something different about the Director of Public Arts, she realised. It was probably the fact he was smiling.
‘Ah, sorry, K.A.R.P. – Knockturn Alley Regeneration Project. Wizengamot sub-committee in charge of the site.’ Dalrymple explained as he nervously rubbed his upper lip. ‘I took them along to see Harry ... the statue ... this morning. Tried your office. You weren’t in. Some meeting, they told me. They’ve agreed the final location, in the centre of what was going to be called Blacklock Square, after the Minister.’
‘Was going to be?’
‘Yes. One of the K.A.R.P. representatives decided he didn’t like the name. Self-aggrandisement, he called it. Several others immediately agreed. One suggested Potter Plaza. But Harry wasn’t happy, and neither was Ginny. She spent the next few minutes buzzing the poor fellow. I suggested Centenary Square, for the centenary of the Battle, and Harry and Ginny liked it! Invaluable, K.A.R.P. called me. An asset to the Ministry! Remarkable turnaround. Wish you’d been there! It’s all due to you, Siân. We never did get that lunch in the Cauldron. Care to join me now?’
Siân was about to remind him that he had withdrawn his original invitation, but his very visible smile showed that he already knew. His very visible smile…
She removed her pince-nez, and finally realised what was different. His horrible moustache had gone.
‘It makes you look years younger,’ she said, moving the newspaper to hide her sandwiches from him. ‘I’ll be there in a few minutes.’