The Magic Quill #30: The Circle Completed

by Robbie Fischer, concepts contributed by: Jade, Jessica Parker & Angelbot

““Joe!” he cried. “Joe Albuquerque! Is that really you?”

“No, it’s just a disguise,” said Joe Albuquerque, seating himself in a chair Harvey had just now conjured from nowhere. “So when do we get down to business?”

“What did you do with the real old goat?” Sadie asked, gazing down at the surprisingly small pile of items that had made up Joe’s disguise as the owner of the Hog’s Head. She added, in a vaguely hopeful tone, “Killed him, I suppose…”

“Oh, he’s all right,” said Joe. “Having the night off. I tell you though, I’ve never worked so hard undercover, not even when I impersonated a Gringotts goblin named Jigpod during the excavation of–”

“You’ve been standing at the bar all night?” Spanky cried.

“Well, no, the real owner isn’t much for customer service himself, and I didn’t want to blow my cover,” said Joe. “Still, I had a lot on my hands, what with the local gobstones club making a mess on the floor and several hags having a bachelorette party and overdoing it a bit.”

Spanky pressed his hand to the side of his hooded head. “You always amaze me!”

“You’re no bore, yourself,” Joe observed. “I overheard a lot of your talk about the Owlympics. It was like being there all over again.”

“What! You were there? At the Owlympics? You never showed yourself!”

Joe shrugged. “I was undercover. You remember that really attractive Frenchwoman in troll wrestling who was busted for wearing nose-plugs?”

Spanky laughed. “Don’t tell me you busted her.”

“No, I was her. Leave it to Owlympic judges to notice nose-plugs yet overlook the fact that I had a copy of Learn to Speak French in 10 Minutes and a half-empty flask of polyjuice in my duffel bag. What have you been doing since we last met?”

Forgetting the others, Spanky told him. Even though he kept his hood over his face, he had no qualms about spreading a billfold full of photos on the table—Ilona, the kids, himself wearing RMB dress robes and being decorated for Special Services to the International Magical Community. He talked for nearly thirty minutes about busting a ring of dragon smugglers in the Lake Country, fighting a werewolf and a vampire at the same time, and catching a Deputy Head of the Floo Regulation Panel poking his head into Muggle fires and yelling “Boo!” Sadie yawned.

As his narration wound down, Spanky asked Joe, “What about you? Is Nigel still working for you?”

“Of course. He sends his regards. He’s the one who arranged security for the Gryffindor Sword replica when it toured the States last spring. I felt I owed it to him, since he had the presence of mind to remove the sword from Bette Noir’s mansion before it disappeared. Of course, it doesn’t need the same level of security as in the old days, before word leaked out about the real sword being in Dumbledore’s office. How is the old man, anyway?”

“Still the same,” said Spanky. “Outscores the rest of our tenpin bowling team every Saturday, even with Lionel sucking on his sparemints. He’ll want to see you when he knows you’re around.”

Joe nodded. “I’ll go up to the school tomorrow. So what is it you need me to do, old friend?”

He said this last to Harvey, who shrugged and took a sip of his drink. “For now, listen. In a bit, go to bed and get a good morning’s sleep. In a week, return to this spot where we will have information to share and plans to make. But before we bid each other happy dreams, our friend Merlin must give us all something to think on. For the six of us, if you all accept the job, are going to get into a place many wizards and witches have tried to get out of. It has never been done, except by the leave of those who guard it—and if they know what we intend to do, they will certainly never give us leave. It may be that it cannot be done. But if it can be done, it will be done by the six of us. Now, Merlin, tell us your sad tale.”

An invisible figure shifted in its seat. A man’s voice hesitantly said, “Mind you, it was a miscarriage of justice, what sent me there.”

“I believe you,” said Harvey.

“You’re talking about a prison!” Endora gasped. “You were sent to prison, weren’t you? Not Azkaban?”

“Oh, no,” said Harvey. “Didn’t I wish it was Azkaban!”

What happens next? Send us your idea in 150 words or less, and tune in next week for another installment of the Magic Quill.

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