by Silver Phoenix
Chapter 1: Prologue
Kent had an affinity for good gossip. In fact, this talent of hers had made her
very popular at her weekly Ladies Bridge Club meetings - even more popular than
Agatha Christie, who brought homemade sponge cake every week, or Gladys Levine,
whose second cousin was dating a famous actress. Mildred’s love for gossip and
scandal was the main reason why she enjoyed taking the London Underground to
get to and fro. The Tube trains were always rife with the sort of strange
people who were perfect subjects for Mildred to gossip about. At last week’s
Bridge Club meeting, Mildred had described with relish two piercing-covered
teenagers who, while publicly snogging on the Tube in
an obscene manner, had gotten caught in each other’s tongue piercings.
They hadn’t been able to get loose of each other and an argument about going to
the hospital had ensued. It had been rather hilarious, as they had been arguing
with their tongues stuck together.
had never seen, as far as she could remember, a fellow quite so strangely
dressed as the one who had just entered her train now. Several heads swiveled
as the man bumbled his way onto the train wearing a top hat, a pair of grey
workman’s overalls, and overtop said overalls, a green and blue kilt. Mildred’s
practiced eye was drawn to the man’s feet; to her amusement he was wearing
pointy-toed, scarlet shoes with large silver buckles, which wouldn’t have
looked out of place in the 18th century. Mildred practically clapped
with glee. After all, she had thought that she would be hard-pressed to find a
story that would top the tongue-tied teenagers. She watched as this bizarre man
pulled a pocket watch out of the breast pocket of his overalls, glanced at it,
and then clutched the pole nearest to him for dear life as the train gave a
great jerk and started moving again.
advantage of being a quite plain, unmarried woman in your sixties, Mildred
reflected, was that no one took any particular notice of you. People were
rarely aware of the gaze of an old woman like Mildred, harmless-looking with
her floral print blouse and curled grey hair. The bizarre man worriedly glanced
around at the other passengers, who looked away quickly, embarrassed to be
caught staring. But to Mildred, who was innocently gazing at an old piece of
chewing gum stuck to the floor, the kilted man paid no attention. In fact, he
seemed completely unaware of Mildred sitting on the hard plastic seats behind
him, watching his every move out of the corner of her eye. Little did he know
that Mildred’s sharp eyes took in everything, and that her sharper tongue would
regale the ladies at the club with every detail of his unusual attire.
Finally, the man seemed satisfied
that people were no longer paying attention to him. He glanced at his pocket
watch one more time, and then tucked it away. Still clutching a pole tightly
with one hand, he pulled a folded-up newspaper out of the lime green briefcase
he was carrying (it clashed horribly with his kilt), and started reading the
paper facing Mildred, with his back to most of the train.
disappointed that the man was doing nothing more exciting than reading a
newspaper, but craned her neck to read the title of the newspaper anyway: The Daily Prophet. Mildred frowned;
she’d never heard the name before. Perhaps he was a foreigner - that could
explain the strange attire. Under The
Daily Prophet, a headline screamed: Interim
Minister Shacklebolt to stand for official election. A photo beneath this
headline featured a tall fellow with dark skin, his hand raised to the public.
photo, the dark-skinned fellow waved.
blinked. She took off her glasses, rubbed her eyes, and then put them back on.
The man in the kilt had turned over the folded newspaper, and the photo was
gone. Mildred almost laughed at her own silliness; the light must have been
playing tricks on her eyes. Funny, though, she hadn’t heard of there being an
upcoming election. The man in the kilt was probably American, Mildred decided;
after all, her niece had gone to the United States on business once and had said that the Americans had horrible
The man looked up from his
newspaper. He took out his pocket watch again and glanced at it. Then he stared
past Mildred and out the window at the dark tunnel through which the train was
hurtling. Mildred quickly dropped her eyes and became very busy rummaging
through her purse. The man returned to reading his newspaper and Mildred
carefully closed her purse, daring to look up again. She caught another
headline in the man’s newspaper: Harry
Potter returns to Britain.
Probably some new young pop star, Mildred thought darkly. She strongly
disapproved of new young pop stars, especially those ridiculous girls with
their Union Jack mini-skirts. Squinting, Mildred managed to read:
reportedly being abroad, Harry Potter has once again been spotted in England.
Sources at The Leaky Cauldron confirm that Potter and
friend Ron Weasley visited Diagon Alley yesterday, on 14 July, at approximately
looked taller, and a bit more muscle-y. Broader in the shoulders, you know?”
said an anonymous source.
description could lend credibility to the rumour that The
Chosen One spent the last few weeks battling vampires in Slovakia.
collectable Potter figurines can now be purchased at Mory’s
Memorabilorium in Diagon Alley…
returned to the beginning of the article and scanned it again,
just to be sure she’d read it correctly. Yes, the word ‘vampires’ was indeed
there. Well, ‘vampire’ was most likely some kind of new teenage slang for drugs
or something of the like. Mildred sniffed; her disapproval of new young pop
The man in
the kilt turned a page and then folded the newspaper over again, glancing over
his shoulder as he did so. Mildred could make out the headlines Problems continue at Azkaban and Hogwarts Headmistress vows to re-open school
this year. Mildred hadn’t the faintest clue what Azkaban was and had never
heard of a school called Hogwarts, although the latter sounded revolting. Mildred
smiled gleefully, already picturing the reactions of the women at the club when
she told them about a school named after porcine warts. She eagerly read:
ongoing reconstruction, Hogwarts Headmistress Minerva McGonagall has vowed that
the school will re-open this year.
may be overly optimistic to hope to commence in September as usual,” McGonagall
told The Prophet, “But as long as
there are students willing to learn, there will be teachers at Hogwarts willing
faces many challenges, including the replacement of several staff members, and
the massive re-construction of the castle, much of which was destroyed in what
historians have now coined ‘The Battle
Mildred was abruptly forced to stop
reading as the train came to a stop and the man turned around, searching the
crowd of new passengers who were entering the train. A tired-looking woman with
messy brown hair separated from the crowd of incoming passengers and made her
way over to the man in the kilt, who looked happy to see her. She seemed
slightly less eccentric than her friend; the only odd thing about her
appearance was that her green blouse was wrinkled far beyond being presentable,
and furthermore, was quite clearly inside-out.
“Glad to see you, Delilah,” the man
in the kilt said in a relieved voice. “Thought for a moment I’d missed you.”
“Sorry, Hubert,” Delilah replied,
sounding somewhat breathless. She glanced around the train and lowered her
voice. “I was supposed to get on with you, but I messed up and got on the wrong
bloody train, and then I had to Disapparate in the loo, it was a mess…”
Mildred listened intently while
pretending to read a sign advertising toothpaste. She
noted that neither of them sounded American, or foreign at all for that matter.
Furthermore, ‘Disapparating’ in the loo sounded downright appalling.
“Anyway, I didn’t even get a chance
to read the ruddy memo. What’s the problem down here?” Delilah asked wearily.
“I guess there’s an infestation of
Bundimuns in the tunnels. Thankfully they haven’t completely destroyed the
tracks, but they want us to get rid of them before they start breeding and eat
away the entire Muggle Underground.”
Delilah groaned. “Perfect. And how
exactly did the little buggers get down here?”
“Well, it’s the same as with
everything else this month, isn’t it? They reckon…well, that You-Know-Who put
them down here to make a muck of the Muggle transportation system. Could have
been a mess, with them eating away at the tracks… ”
“Hubert,” Delilah said, frowning.
“We’re supposed to call him by his name, now, remember? Ministry
“Oh, right, right,” Hubert
muttered, taking a handkerchief out of his overall pocket and wiping his brow.
“Well, you know, force of habit…”
replaced the handkerchief and pulled out his pocket watch yet again. He
inspected it carefully, head slightly tilted to the side. This time, Mildred
noticed that the pocket watch did not have a face and hands as she had
expected. Instead, there was only a black needle in the centre, with a spectrum
of colours arching over it. The spectrum began with white and ended at red.
Currently, the needle was hovering at a dark yellow colour.
“We’re getting closer to the infestation,”
Hubert said solemnly. “I figure we should get off when the DMC reaches
“Then we’ll have to Scour an entire tunnel filled with Bundimuns, without any Muggles seeing. Oh joy,”
Delilah said unenthusiastically.
A bewildered Mildred was having
difficulty following the conversation. She had heard strange discussions on the
Tube before, but this one was just plain nonsensical. Her face suddenly grew
hot as a thought occurred to her: perhaps they were aware that she was
eavesdropping, and therefore were speaking in some kind of code?
“ - and our department’s first on the scene?” Delilah was
saying. “They didn’t have to call the Obliviators in?”
“No, I guess they didn’t think it
was necessary. The Obliviators are swamped as it is, you know…still trying to
clean up the mess that the Death Eaters made.” Hubert glanced down at his
pocket watch. “Detector’s at burnt orange.”
“But haven’t the Muggles seen the Bundimuns?”
“Well, Amos reckoned any Muggle
that saw one would probably just think it was normal fungus. You know Muggles,
they probably wouldn’t even notice the eyeballs, or wouldn’t believe it if they
Mildred suddenly caught on. She sat
up very straight, feeling indignant.
“You know,” she interrupted loudly,
“that’s not very nice.”
and Delilah jumped. Their heads whipped around to look at Mildred, whom they
seemed to both notice for the first time. Hubert’s face had turned scarlet, and
Delilah looked uneasy. Well, Mildred had caught on to their little ruse and she
was going to give the two of them a proper telling off.
“Sorry…are…are you speaking to us?”
Hubert asked weakly.
“Think it’s funny to play with an old lady’s
mind now, do you?” Mildred said huffily. “You knew that I was listening in and
thought you’d get a rise out of me, hm? Talking about ‘Muggles’ and ‘Bundimuns’ and fungus with eyeballs!”
Mildred’s embarrassment at being
caught eavesdropping was overridden by her indignation that the two strangers
had known it and had strung her along by making up nonsense for her to
overhear. Mildred abruptly stood, clutching her purse tightly; her stop was
“You two should be ashamed!” she
The train slowed, and Mildred
stalked over to the doors, waiting for them to open. Behind her, she was
pleased to hear that the bizarre duo had been shocked into silence.
“Should I…?” Hubert finally said in
a hushed voice, which Mildred’s sharp ears picked up anyways.
“No…I don’t think you need to,”
Delilah whispered back. “She thinks we were pulling her leg.”
“I…I didn’t think anyone was paying
any attention to us.”
“Well Hubert, really, your Muggle
disguise is terrible…”
Mildred held her head high as she
got off the train and marched out of the station. As she emerged from the
Underground, blinking in the bright sunlight, she ran over the ridiculous
conversation between Hubert and Delilah again. Oddly enough, she found herself
unable to recall exactly what they had said. The strange words they had used
seemed to have slipped away from her. Frowning, Mildred slowed in the street
until she came to a stop all together. Come to think of it, the bizarre
articles she had read in Hubert’s paper had also faded from Mildred’s normally
excellent memory. Something about…warts? A cure for warts?
Mildred shook her head to clear it.
No matter, she had plenty of material to share over today’s bridge game. She
chuckled to herself. A man wearing overalls and a kilt!
Mildred Kent cheerfully started down the
street again, blissfully unaware of the two officials who, in the tunnels below
her, were now using their wands to Scour away an infestation of fungus with
Author’s Notes: This
is my first story after an extended vacation from fanfiction,
so reviews would be wonderful! Many thanks to my beta, nundu.
Your dedication and hard work are greatly appreciated!
according to Fantastic Beasts and Where
to Find Them, are walking fungal creatures whose
secretions rot the foundations of houses. They look like green fungus with eyes
when at rest.
“DMC” stands for Detector of Magical Creatures, and is
entirely made up.