Floo Network

[Library] Karma police, Arrest this man

Started by M. B. Montgomery, February 19, 2021, 10:55:14 pm

M. B. Montgomery

February 19, 2021, 10:55:14 pm Last Edit: February 19, 2021, 10:56:57 pm by Royal_Poet
Scotland was cold, even in August. Having only recently returned to Britain from Morocco, Msaed Montgomery found the cold unbearable. He'd wrapped up warmly, wearing a red velvet outer robe over his habitual pristine white linen. Still, he could feel the chill in his bones, and it was uncomfortable. He wouldn't have minded staying in his newly assigned professor's quarters all day long, warming up in front of the fireplace. However, as tempting as that sounded, he had lesson plans to get on with. Grudgingly, he left his quarters, with his pet niffler Inaya on his shoulder.

Professor Dumbledore has suggested that he spent some time in the library to look through the available texts. Letters would be mailed to all the students soon and he needed to set textbooks for the term. Truth be told, Montgomery didn't care much for this approach. Defense Against the Dark Arts couldn't be mastered by reading. What mattered was practice. At the same time, he didn't want to rock the boat with his new employer before he had even taught his first lesson. There would be plenty of time for professional disagreements later. Then again, Dumbledore had to know what he had gotten himself into by appointing a former Curse Breaker to a teaching position. If he had wanted somebody who based his lessons around textbooks there had to have been other candidates.

He'd settled at one of the empty tables in the library and pulled out the standard DADA texts to gloss over while enjoying a cup of spiced coffee. A charm or two later, he'd managed to set the ambient temperature to something pleasant enough. He'd seen the librarian flit through once or twice wearing a short skirt and a blouse. How she wasn't freezing to death in such attire remained a mystery to him. Just looking at her made him feel like he was freezing again.

It wasn't a big surprise that he didn't really like any of the DADA books in the library. They were far too focused on memorisation and didn't have enough on technique. Even more frustratingly, even though a lot of theory was covered there was almost nothing on detection spells. He sighed, got up and decided to peruse the restricted section instead to have a look for more suitable material. He ran his finger across the spines of the books as he walked along the shelves. The texts here seemed a lot more interesting, but there were rather a lot of them. He groaned inwardly. 

He resigned himself to going through the Dark Arts section book by book, when he noticed that his niffler, Inaya, had made an escape. Had he just heard something? Oh no! He had a sinking feeling that no good would come of this situation.

"Inaya," he called out. "Get back here at once."

He didn't hold out much hope that the niffler would listen. Knowing his luck, some complete and utter idiot had brought something valuable into the library. He rushed back out of the restricted section to see what had caught Inaya's attention.

Harold Prendergast

There was a pause, and a few huffing and snuffling noises. Harold muttered, "What the devil?" Followed by a slightly louder, "Get off me!" and a "Put that back!" before standing in shock, book open, in the middle of an aisle in the library.

Spotting the shambling form of his assailant - I guess you could call it that, though thief worked well - Harold drew his wand and wordlessly cast a very smooth Wingardium Leviosa, enchanted the assailant and lifting them into the air.

It was... an elderly-looking Niffler? Harold had heard about them, and had seen wizarding photos of them, but never one in the flesh. It was also holding his pocket watch in his mouth while floundering in mid-air, as if trying to swim in the air, and getting nowhere. Of course, any locomotion was carefully restricted by Harold's charm for now.

He had heard a voice over in the Restricted Section, and so gently made his way toward it - he hadn't quite heard what the voice had said but it sounded resonant and imperative in nature.

He found himself face to face with a gentleman a few years older than him - maybe a decade or so at most, not much older in wizarding terms, of course - dressed in exotic fibres and colours.

"Your Niffler, I presume?" Harold was quite dismissive, not his usual self. "I would, well, rather very much appreciate my watch back, if it's all the same to you. It is very valuable and I would like it back. Undamaged."

Harold was curious who thought bringing a Niffler into one of the greatest libraries in Europe was a good idea; there were countless tomes of great historical and magical value here - he just had to be unlucky that Niffler noses seemed attuned to shinier things than dusty old books, no matter how important they were.

What sort of idiot brings a potentially dangerous creature into a library?

M. B. Montgomery

"Inaya," Msaed called once again, trying to get his niffler to come back to him. It was only with a small delay he spotted the problem. Inaya had been waylaid by a rather formal looking, young gentleman who held her wandlocked in a wingardium leviosa. Poor Inaya was trying to get back to him, but she enjoyed no success in her effort to break free from the levitation spell. Of course, Msaed's primary concern in this situation was to see to the safety of his pet. He rushed down the library to his niffler's side and grabbed her by the scruff of her neck with one hand while impatiently dispersing the wingardium leviosa with the other.

He supposed he should be grateful that Inaya hadn't been hurt as the man opposite him seemed rather upset over a watch of all things. "Yes, she's mine. Her name is Inaya." It only occurred to him a moment later that this was probably not what the other man wanted to hear. "Of course, of course," he confirmed quickly. "My apologies. Inaya here is still getting used to our new home. There was no design upon any of your possessions. She just likes shiny things."

While still holding the niffler by the scruff of her neck he was starting to rummage about in his sleeve. He produced a wand and tucked it behind his ear. Reaching into his sleeve again, he produced another. "Not what I was looking for," he muttered under his breath while putting the wand down on a nearby table. He continued to search, making it obvious that extension charm upon extension charm had been layered onto his clothes. A curse breaker never left the house without his equipment. Finally, he found what he had been looking for: a soft, clean handkerchief monogrammed with his initials: M.B.M.

"I have to admit this wasn't how I envisioned meeting another member of faculty, but there's not much I can do about it now. I'm professor Montgomery. Pleasure to meet you." He normally would have offered to shake the other man's hand, but instead he carefully disentangled the pocket watch from his niffler and cleaned it up with the cloth. He thought that it wasn't a particularly handsome or remarkable piece, but he could tell just from how it felt in his hand that it had even more spellwork layered onto it than the sleeves of his robes.

He raised a single eyebrow as if to ask a question but handed the piece back to its rightful owner. "I am sorry to ask this, but could you please check you aren't missing anything else?" The resignation in his features betrayed that he had been in this situation before. While he was waiting for the other man to confirm one way or another, Msaed spread the handkerchief out on the nearby table next to his wand. Then he turned the niffler upside down to shake out its pouch. A few galleon coins spilled into the table as well as a pearl studded hair comb. Had he seen one of these on the librarian earlier? Msaed couldn't quite recall.

"Are you also here to set your reading list for the term?" Msaed wasn't sure there was much he could do to recover the first impression he had made on this colleague, but he'd at least try to distract him with small talk. Maybe, they could laugh about this incident down at the pub later in the evening. Truth be told, he didn't think it likely. The walking advertisement for tweed in front of him didn't seem like he was the most social of people.

Harold Prendergast

Harold was rather a little taken aback by this encounter, and was not particularly convincing in his disguise of his internal huffiness.

"Well, um, I have to confess this wasn't expected either. I won't pretend that I am more than a little relieved to have my watch back, it is rather precious to me." He gingerly accepted his watch back, giving it a critical once over before stowing it away in his pocket. "Thank you for returning it undamaged."

The immediate source of his concern resolved, Harold pushed his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose and untensed a shade. "Do forgive me, I should introduce myself - I am Professor Harold Prendergast, this is my first year teaching Arithmancy here at Hogwarts." He had a quick check of his pockets. "To your first question, no, nothing else missing; the watch is, well, the only valuable thing I carry with me - I should not need money in my pocket while exploring the great many tomes this wonderful castle library has to offer."

He paused, thinking, remembering. "To your second question, well, actually, I am rather fond of just taking the time to read a good book over a delightful cup of tea - and there are many tomes here that might be relevant for students to read, but the set list primarily deals with Numerology and Grammatica, third through fifth years approach the first two thirds or so of the book. and I have some very practical lessons on application thereof that aren't in any of the books, which should be enough for O.W.L. level examinations. I plan to take the sixth and seventh years through the latter material - but of course, you're not here to listen to me blither on about my classes."

Harold looked sidelong. "Professor, I don't believe I caught which subject you were teaching this year - but if you have... your little friend there, one presumes you are joining us for Care of Magical Creatures? Or, perhaps," Harold had a slight twinkle in his eye and the faintest hint of a wry smile, "perhaps you are rather more likely to have been recently of Gringotts and teaching something like Defence Against the Dark Arts, hm? It would explain why I believe you have a niffler, and that rather extraordinary magic woven into your clothing."

M. B. Montgomery

The mood remained tense. Even after the watch was restored to its rightful owner the situation didn't improve. He'd clearly made a bad impression on the man in front of him and was being judged accordingly. It might have once upset him to not be given much of a chance, but with increasing age he had learned that it was hard to please everybody. Sometimes, there were people that you just didn't click with and there was little to be done about it.

When the man gave his name as Prendergast, Msaed'd eyes lit up for a moment. Now that was interesting. He was about to ask another question, but the other professor had started talking about books and it would have been rude to interrupt him. Msaed was vaguely disappointed that Numerology and Grammatica was still on the Arithmancy syllabus. He still remembered it from his school days, and it was easily one of the most boring texts ever written, only topped by some scrolls by Bridget Wenlock detailing the magical properties of the number seven.

At least Prendergast seemed to have some thought of teaching their students something practical as well. It figured really that this conservative looking fellow didn't have much of a view on how to innovate the reading list. Oh well, he would figure it out on his own or maybe he would have a word with Professor Dumbledore about it and get his perspective on the matter. After all, the man had taught Defense Against the Dark Arts himself many moons ago. Msaed still remembered some of the classes the man that was now headmaster had taught. He'd been a decent enough teacher for sure.

Prendergast when on the speculate about Msaed, which earned him a hearty chuckle. "I wished I knew enough to teach about magical creatures, but alas that is not where my talent lies." His next suggestion though was spot on. "Your second guess is correct, though I haven't worked for Gringotts in a long time. We quit when they tried to side-line us to an office position, didn't we Inaya?" He picked the niffler up again and let it settle on his shoulder, where it seemed to make itself comfortable.   

"And you're a Prendergast you said," Msaed commented. The way he pronounced Prendergast made it seem as if he was considering each syllable in the name. "Any relation to the wonderful Amadeus T. Prendergast? He's really been a lifelong inspiration to me. I suppose you must be an excellent duellist as well then with a name like that?" Msaed beamed, as he fondly remembered old Deus Prendergast, who had also been a Hogwarts professor as well as an accomplished duellist. Msaed had fought the man on several occasions and he had been a tough opponent. The way Deus had worked with eradication spells had been quite memorable.

Harold Prendergast

February 22, 2021, 10:44:53 pm #5 Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 10:53:52 pm by Arantor
Harold blinked a couple of times. "Amadeus, you say? I haven't thought about him for rather a long time. Well, actually, unfortunately, I can't lay claim to knowing the fellow particularly well; there was a spot of bother some years ago, Amadeus being my father's brother's uncle or somesuch. I'm quite afraid I don't really know the details, other than that I am related to he, but being of the cousin something times removed, alas I did not inherit any of the duelling talent or persuasion. I must profess that, ah, I am not a great fan of duelling. Well, I prefer to settle things over a nice hot cup of tea."

Harold looked at the fellow in front of him again. If he had been at Gringotts and acquired a niffler - and made it through to a ripe age without having lost any limbs or having any serious disfigurements, Montgomery must be a formidable wizard indeed. He'd, of course, noted the spellwork in the sleeves as the strange fellow had ruffled through looking for his handkerchief before.

The tension was still quite ripe in the air. He hoped to try to ease it with a little small talk of his own "And well, I shouldn't want to be sidelined to an office after what must have been a very exciting career - I am sure we will find something to talk about over the coming months; I should be interested to hear your experiences with Arithmancy as I gather it is still an entry requirement for being a Gringotts Cursebreaker, and I would want to give my charges the best possible start if that is the career path they have in mind. Unfortunately my former employer did not give me much leave to tangle with the Dark Arts so I daresay I would have little to offer of practice advice - though I rather suspect you have plenty of practical experience already."

Harold smiled. "Perhaps we could take a pot of tea and sit somewhere in the library?"

M. B. Montgomery

"And you call yourself a Prendergast?!" Msaed couldn't help but tease the other man. "Your family gives rise to one of the greatest duellists of all time, and you prefer to settle things over a cup of tea?" Just the notion of that was completely and utterly hilarious. "Bold move. I like you." Also could a single human being be any more English than this? The man in front of him almost seemed like a caricature of an Englishman. Msaed wondered if Prendergast performed this role deliberately, or if it was subconsciously done.

"And I can't say no to a cup of tea." Montgomery made himself comfortable at the nearby table and called on one of the schools elves to request a pot of tea. "What do we fancy? Assam? Ceylon Pekoe?" He let Prendergast make the choice as the other man was clearly the bigger tea enthusiast. Msaed often had his tea with spices and dates, but that seemed to adventurous a proposal to make to Prendergast. Even though the other professor was considerably younger, he felt reminded of his father. Mr Montgomery senior also insisted that the answer to everything and anything in life could only be found with the aid of a nice cuppa. It was both familiar and irritating.

"I must admit though, that I am ever so slightly disappointed," Msaed confessed. "When you said you were a Prendergast I thought I'd found the perfect colleague to help me run the duelling club this year. Defense is about so much more than textbook knowledge. Giving the children an opportunity to apply their skills directly is just as important. And it doesn't help when you have to use your defensive spells for the first time in a serious situation. It's actually quite shocking how many wizards are easily disarmed with a simple Expelliarmus. And I am sure you would agree that something is brewing."

Msaed left it at loose implication. The wizarding world had enjoyed twenty five years of peace, only to let things escalate again. The same useless witches and wizards who had rallied behind Grindelwald were now whispering a new name. Montgomery didn't like it. Marrakesh had been nice. Being away from it had been nice. But of course he still heard things. Powerful artefacts were disappearing left, right and centre. People were propping up their pureblood credentials with rings and necklaces. It was distasteful. If need be, he'd fight it. He'd fought on the frontlines before.

"Oh, listen to me blithering on about duels. I'm probably boring you. So yes, Arithmancy. It's still required as far as I know. Certainly was when I signed about half a century ago. It's quite handy for deconstruction of spell work, though the mathematical models don't always transfer seamlessly to reality. I used to run the numbers more often earlier in my career, but usually being fast is more helpful than being dead and technically correct. If it's practical advice you're after, teach you students how to estimate and determine orders of magnitude quickly." He was tempted to say that he favoured working with divination for a number of things, but he didn't think a professor of Arithmancy would be happy to hear that.

There was however a theoretical magic problem that Msaed was curious about. "I've not really done many arithmantic calculations since trying and failing to break a blood malediction. How would you, as an expert, recommend one tackles that issue? My last attempt had such recoil I couldn't cast with my left for three entire months and of course the curse remained unchanged. I don't want to say it can't be done just because I couldn't figure it out, but it damn well feels like it can't be done. Ever worked with maledictions, Prendergast?"

Harold Prendergast

"I rather do call myself a Prendergast, even if I don't have the fringe family traditions." Harold was a little red in the face from this. This... silly, irritating little man before him. Almost in spite of himself, Harold found it ridiculous, and actually laughed a little at its absurdity.

"I never fancied duelling - my reactions were never especially quick, and I found my skills rather gravitating towards thinking rather than acting, which is, well, that is to say, that was how I found myself approaching Arithmancy as more than just a subject at school. I haven't really gotten... out and about, you might say, I've spent my career so far cooped up in a lab, trying to tease apart the theory of the thing. I made some... startling... discoveries in my time at the Ministry and in the end I reasoned I was better off out of it."

Harold took off his glasses, cleaned them briskly with his pocket handkerchief. They'd need a proper clean back in his quarters later, but for now this would have to do, before pushing them back onto the bridge of his nose.

"I can't say I've seen a blood malediction in the flesh, though I have read about them. Have you taken a breeze through the Restricted Section? I'm sure there's a tome or two on the nature of maledictions - Hogwarts, despite never using the full range of its library for its students, does indeed have one of the greatest repositories of magical knowledge assembled in Europe, if not the world."

Harold adopted a far away look in his eyes, looking off into the middle distance. "It is one of the reasons I came here, there were some things I wanted to study, a problem of my own or two that I wanted to solve, away from the Ministry."

He looked back to Montgomery. "I believe you said something about tea... Ceylon Pekoe is a variety that, alas, is not especially easy to acquire in this humdrum little island. I'd be delighted to share a cup with you, and over which, I'd be glad to share what I know on the subject of blood maledictions, but I am rather afraid that I don't know all that much about it. But perhaps in this hall of acquired knowledge, between us we might find something to unravel the matter?"

Grudgingly, Harold was warming to the odd little man, even if it had been the most awkward of beginnings. But there was some distance still to go - though any man who considers Ceylon Pekoe couldn't be all that bad, surely?

M. B. Montgomery

As they were speaking, the house elf was already attending to their tea order. It didn't take long until a pot of steaming Ceylon Pekoe had appeared on the table between them. Of course, the elves had thought of all the details. Milk, sugar, cup, saucers, teaspoons; everything they could possibly need was there. Msaed decided to let the tea sit for a while as it was just freshly brewed.

"Prendergast, just how?" he objected theatrically to the other man's insistence that duelling was not for him. "Who doesn't love a good duel? And who else at this school could I convince to give me a hand with the duelling club? If I can't win you over, can you at least help me with who I should ask? I don't know anyone here yet, save Albus of course, and I think he had enough of duels for a while after what happened." He left the implication hanging, thinking that his colleague knew enough about Dumbledore to fill in the blanks.

Msaed's memories of the war still felt fresh, even now. The acolyte rallies, the public unrest, Dumbledore's reticence to intervene, his later change of heart at the eleventh hour and of course the final duel between the man that was now headmaster and Gellert Grindelwald. The press had hailed it as the greatest duel of all time and it had brought Dumbledore rather a lot of, what Msaed supposed was unwanted, fame. No, he wouldn't be convincing the headmaster to join him for a spar anytime soon, as grandiose and spectacular as it would be.

"Milk? Sugar?"

Msaed poured a cup for each of them and left his own tea black, as was his preference. He produced quill and parchment from the seemingly endless hidden compartment inside his sleeve and drew up a quick diagram on the piece of paper.

"So, blood maledictions, shall I catch you up to where I am with it and you interrupt me when I stop making sense?" It seemed the easiest way of catching up Prendergast with the problem.

"I won't bore you with basics. Passed on though family lines, usual matrilineally. Victim temporarily gains the ability to transform into an animal, not unlike to what an animagus can do. At some point, the animal transformation is no longer voluntary, and the cursed person is trapped. Resulting animals are unusually long-lived but no longer fully sentient. The usual methods 'finite incantatem' and so on bear no effect on the curse."

"Boring, boring, boring. What is interesting though is the sustaining nature of the spell. Normally, animated transfiguration spells have finite durations. I'm sure I don't need to point you to the relevant laws. It seems the caster must be using the first victim's blood to fuel the permanence and inheritance of the condition. But the part that gives me pause is how the permanence works on the second generation victim, or say the fifth generation. The original casting ritual was not attuned to their blood specifically and yet still it triggers somehow. It always seemed to me that this moment of transference was where to intervene - but even exsanguination and blood replacement doesn't seem to help. I've tried with a victim, not a pretty result."

As he was speaking, we starting to note down several mathematical models to account for transference.

"Truth be told, not much research on it out there I've not seen on this subject by now and a lot of it is nonsense. But if you have a good suggestion I'd be grateful." 

He wondered if he should tell Prendergast that this was a personal project rather than a matter of simple academic curiosity. Maybe, he didn't need to. If Prendergast ever investigated the available literature the name Bonnie Clarke-Montgomery was bound to come up in the credits of quite a few publications. She'd been a prolific author on the subject of maledictions. Well, until her own malediction had claimed her at least.

Harold Prendergast

The smell of the freshly brewed tea, perfectly laid out on the tray put his mind at ease. It rather settled him. This oddly elder fellow wasn't so bad after all. Even if he did have a rather unusual sense of humour.

"Well," Harold thought back to his younger days. "You see, I am, that is to say, I am rather... not as dexterous in nature as befits a duellist. I find my nature more like tea - patient, left to strength over time. Becoming full bodied, you might say." Under his breath, "Yes, I do perhaps need to lose a pound or two."

"I came to discover a love of literature, both prose and periodical, to which the tea, well, rather suited as an accompaniment. The woodwind to the stringed section, if you will. I left the athletic pursuits to more physically minded individuals and devoted my time to more, shall we say, scholarly pursuits."

He listened to the other professor go on to explain his conundrum of blood maledictions. It wasn't really his field - this was more biology of the sciences rather than either chemistry or physics, which he was rather more suited to.

He studied the equations and mathematical models that Montgomery had drawn, over a deep intake of that rather fine tea. He must acquire some himself.

"Hmm, yes, well, rather I understand your problem. I haven't seen a malediction manifest, but I see from your models how the transformations gradually shift asymptotically towards permanent state."

Another sip of tea. "That does make one inference, though I shan't have any idea how we might manage to make use of it. A curvature towards an asymptote implies a permanent state - but the nature of asymptotes is that they occupy the infinite spectrum simultaneously; if we could figure out how to innervate the reaction further, it stands to reason that the physiognomy would begin to accelerate back away from the asymptote, though the amount of thaumaturgical energy would be..."

He pulled out a quill of his own, and deftly scratched a few complex equations on it. "If the timeline of towards permanence took this long, the residual condensing of energy potential would have... would have to be endothermic over time to account for size and..."

He put the tea down. "Where does the energy go? There is rather a lot of displaced energy here, not to mention a, well, sizeable potential difference in arcanomotive force." Without stopping, Harold continued, as if all of this were a new concept. He wasn't sure if it was new to Montgomery or not, but there was no time for that right now.

"Every spell you've tried to unlock this malediction by definition has to be absorbed by the malediction itself. That's a lot of accumulated thau-- magic. It has to go.. it has to be somewhere. We find that, that's how to unlock this malediction."

M. B. Montgomery

March 02, 2021, 09:02:03 pm #10 Last Edit: March 02, 2021, 11:13:15 pm by Royal_Poet
"... near infinite," Msaed finished for him.

"I am afraid I came to the same conclusion on that." He sighed. "And of course, attempts have been made by healers before, combining thaumaturgical energy. When I was younger, I looked into solving this chrono-nautically, but that approach gets you nowhere with third- or second-generation victims. The turners don't really like spinning that far."

"I have known for a while that solving it necromantically probably gets you around the curvature towards an asymptote problem, but the amount of sacrificial blood needed to make that work... I am aware of a scholar, and I'll use that term very loosely here, in Khartoum that was trying to research in that direction. I think he's right, but obviously the implications..."

He gave Harold a concerned look. The other professor didn't seem like the kind who had dabbled in the Dark Arts or had seen much of it up close.

"I've never found anyone willing to tell me what is required to cast a malediction, but I suspect that the Khartoum theory on this is plausible. Blood sacrifice to cast. Therefore, a direct counter is unworkable, not something you can try."

His tone had gone quite dark and the haunted expression in his eyes said it all. There had been a point in his life when he had considered it. He'd debated if he could lift a malediction if he sacrificed his life in the act of doing so. What had stopped him at the time was the rather chilling realisation that just his own life was likely not enough.

Msaed took a moment to regain composure. "I've since tried a new line of thinking. Okay, this is not very good, but let's say we write off the first-generation victim as ethically unsolvable, maybe that point of transference between generations gives a better opportunity to attack where the spell isn't refuelled by more blood sacrifice..."

He stopped himself. "I'm sorry. I probably shouldn't hit you with an unsolvable problem when we've only just met. You can call me Msaed if you like," he chuckled briefly, "If you can pronounce that. Or Sid if you can't. That might be easier. Or Monty if you can beat me in a duel, but then you said you were too tea-like for that. Though, just between the two of us, I'll have you know I've been defeated by English tea before. More than one cup of the stuff, especially with milk, and I'm struggling. I reckon your chances wouldn't be all that bad."

It was a bad joke. He knew it. But the mood in the room had grown so heavy he wanted to cut through it somehow. His colleague hadn't signed up for this. Maybe giving him a bit of time to digest wouldn't be the worst idea he'd ever had.   

Harold Prendergast

Harold listened with deep fascination. Maledictions were firmly out of his field, but listening to an experienced practitioner of the arts - no matter how aggravating they could be over the smallest things - was always a place where one could learn.

"Chrononautics are a not-well understood field, I'm afraid to say. My former colleagues in the Ministry were looking into the matter; there were theories and rumours about layering stacked Hour-Reversal Charms such that their inherent instability could be managed, but the conventional Time Turner arrangement is only reliable for five, though a successfully stable configuration for six was discovered, though it required a substantial investment of time and magical effort to work." Harold didn't dwell on the finer points of what else it took. It was better not to remember.

The implications of what Montgomery was saying began to dawn on him, but only in the loosest, most abstract sense. "The implications of bloodwork are not something I know a lot about. However, it occurs to me that if wizarding blood is involved in some kind of spellcasting, the result can only be potent."

He sat back, sipped some more of his tea. "Malediction is hereditary, you say? I shan't be surprised if this is the outcome; I have yet to read up on any common circumstances, but blood magic always has a hint of the macabre about it and it tends to have an effect or two that shouldn't normally be so. But it seems to be the way it is. I believe you may be onto something with the notion that an enchantment powered by blood sacrifice might be difficult to disenchant. Adding more blood magic to the mix is likely to only escalate the situation."

He set the tea aside, and attempted to wrap his tongue around the professor's name. "Mmseed. Mmsad. No, I'm sorry, I shall have to take you up on the kind offer of 'Sid', unless you'd prefer Montgomery? I rather suspect we both have our preferences where tea is concerned, and a strong cup of the 'English blend' with milk is a viable challenger for..." Harold laughed. "There we are, debating over tea as a weapon. I'm not certain I would win such a battle if the situation were reversed; English tea with milk may be a particular forte of mine, but I would be defeated by a Turkish or Moroccan blend, especially served with mint or fruit. I would naturally enjoy - but the fruit would get the better of my stomach, I fear."

Harold's face solidified again after his random bout of laughter. "And you needn't concern yourself with hitting me with insoluble quandaries; in this hall of learning, I daresay if there is an answer to be found, it can be found here of all places. I rather choose to believe that the solution, well, simply has yet to be located. I have my own little drama, specifically concerning the field of chrononautics, and all of the... how did you put it... 'running of the numbers' has yet to apprise me of a solution."

He stared a little into the middle distance. "You are, of course, familiar with the application of Hour-Reversal Charms. What if I told you that I believed it were possible - for only a fraction of a moment - to stack the charm in reverse? You see..." Harold paused. He got the impression that this malediction business was deeply personal and troubling and felt it were only too polite to reciprocate somewhat. "I believe I can trust you with this... My wife and I were, well, researchers for the Ministry. Department of Mysteries. She was experimenting with what I could only describe as a prototype for an Hour-Traversal Charm. I believe my wife is trapped a few moments ahead of us in time."