DAR No Country For Unpleasant Old Men Part One

Daria is the creation of Glenn Eichler and belongs to MTV Viacom. Harry Potter is the creation of JK Rowling and belongs to JK Rowling and Warner Brothers. I own neither. I neither expect nor desrve financial compensation for this work. I am writing for ego gratification.

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Author's note: The latest ukase from JK Rowling is that witches and wizards cannot aparate across the ocean. I am going to amend it slightly to say that only the most powerful witches and wizards can aparate across the ocean. The rest of them, like their Muggle counterparts, will have to find other means of traveling from shore to shore. Since ocean liners are a scarcity these days, flying is the way to go.

It was time to see the girl, thought Arcturus Black. He'd buried more old friends in the last couple of years, and even factoring in his admittedly-weak powers of divination, he wasn't that sure as to just how long his remaining health and vigor would last. If he wished to learn whether Daria Morgendorffer was worthy to be considered a daughter of the House of Black, and if he wanted something beyond second-hand reports, he'd best do it now before old age and infirmities penned him in.

He made another inquiry at the detective agency. He wasn't too sure if the Morgendorffers were still living in that dreadful Texas town, but if they moved, he wanted to know about it, as well as learn just where they had moved to. Fortunately, "Piggy," the investigator who worked with him a couple of years ago, was still there. Piggy remembered him, still remembered the contacts his firm used in Texas, and still had records of the family he wanted investigated. Piggy quickly confirmed that the Morgendorffers hadn't moved.

Arcturus now had to decide how he'd get there. A very few of the most powerful wizards and witches could apparate across the ocean. He was all too aware that he couldn't; he'd have to use other means of crossing the water. He was dismayed to learn that the ocean liner traffic he'd taken for granted but never used in his youth had diminished to almost nothing. If he wanted to cross, he'd have to fly.

He decided that he wasn't willing to travel alone. He'd started traveling through Muggle parts of Britain again and had realized that he wasn't able to deal with some of the latest Muggle devices. Luckily for him, he was able to find a suitable companion on short notice: Iago Hook, the grand-nephew of one of his Slytheryn housemates. Iago had graduated from Hogwarts a couple of years before but was still at loose ends, despite his pure-blood status. Despite his lack of steady employment, Iago had picked up an assortment of useful skills outside the wizarding world, not only knowing how to drive, and how to use Muggle telephones, but also how to rent Muggle automobiles, make reservations at Muggle hotels and, most importantly, charter private aircraft. Iago was able to find a small charter jet operator that catered to well-heeled witches and wizards interested in traveling across the sea without having being encased for hours on end in a long, thin tube full of irritable, smelly, badly-behaved Muggles.

Arcturus also decided that Kreacher should come along with him; the house elf would prove useful. Since Walburga died a couple of years ago and since Sirius was currently in Azkkaban, Arcturus informed the house elf that he had again become his master and Kreacher complied. The elf was still mourning Walburga's death; Arcturus decided that the house elf could use the airing. If things worked as well as he hoped, Kreacher could meet his future mistress.

Arcturus now had to decide how he'd travel from the Dallas airport to Highland. He could, if he wanted to, apparate directly to Highland or use the Americans' floo network. But he decided that he wanted to see the territory his great-granddaughter was living in, and despite the fact that he was going to bring a house-elf with him, he decided to use Muggle means. He thought about chartering another Muggle jet and flying directly to Highland and rejected it; it would attract too much attention. Better to fly to someplace like Dallas and take Muggle means from there.

He thought about using Muggle public transport. He wasn't too worried about Kreacher's revealing his true nature, at least for short periods of time. Despite their subordinate status in the magical world, house elves could put on glamours as good or better than those of wizards and witches if ordered to. Unfortunately, since the American Muggles had savaged their passenger rail network decades ago, and since he refused to take a bus, he'd have to travel by automobile. And since he didn't care to drive long distances, he'd also need a driver. That was one of the roles Iago would play.

He told no one outside of his family, not even his mistress, of his real reasons for making this trip before he left. Even within his family, he only his cousin Pollux knew his true intentions. His ostensible reason for traveling at his advanced age was to see the Muggle observatories in west Texas and New Mexico. When asked by friends and family why he should go to someplace as ghastly and Muggle-ridden as Texas, he replied that he saw no reason why Wizards had to apologize for an interest in astronomy, especially since Muggle astronomers were more numerous than their wizarding counterparts and had been more active than about charting new planets, new stars, and new galaxies.

Arcturus' travel plans appeared to be going swimmingly. He had a passport, a traveling companion, flight and hotel reservations, and Iago was certain that he could rent an automobile. Then he received an owl from the air charter service. The agent that negotiated the charter arrangements with Iago insisted that all the members of Arcturus' pary attend a short class the charter agency called "ground school." The agent proved unbending in her responses even when Arcturus went over to the agency to protest. After all, he had not only flown on brooms, but he had even flown on an airliner before, admittedly before the Grindlewald War. The agent remained insistent that he attend "ground school," then became adamant when he remarked that he'd be bringing his house elf along on his travels. Not only he and Iago would have to attend "ground school," Kreacher would have to attend, too.