A/N: The Wanderer has returned! And that was a spoiler, too.

The last chapter was updated significantly several months ago, so that the evil cliffhanger is resolved. Sorry if you didn't notice… well, maybe not…

Disclaimer: I am not Rowling. I am a guy. Mistaking me for the owner of the Harry Potter series is just insulting.

–––––––––––––

Chapter 6: Our Trusty Ministry Friends

–––––––––––––

1975

Mordecai, James, Daren and the girl who had helped Mordecai with his wand in Knockturn Alley were standing close together dueling with an equal number of Gryffindors; all eight of them were shooting spells, and most of them ricocheted off each other, making them very unpredictable and difficult to aim or block. Snape had claimed a corner in the back of the room and cursed anyone who came near him, Slytherin or Gryffindor. Potter and Black repeatedly tried to get at Snape, but his corner was on the Slytherin side and they were invariably cursed unconscious before they got to him and had to be summoned back and reawoken by Remus. Barone was sitting behind his desk enjoying himself, and no spell seemed to be able to get near him; he had obviously warded the area around his desk beforehand.

James kept trying to curse Barone, and, while his spells seemed to get farther than anyone else's, they never quite made it. He also kept getting stunned while his attention was on the professor.

Quit worrying about Barone and just curse Gryffindors, Mordecai 'growled' at James as he reawoke him for the fifth time.

They just wake each other back up.

Do you have a better idea?

Yes.

A ray of black energy flew toward Barone, slowing as it neared him, and Mordecai might have heard a deep, powerful hum, but he couldn't be sure through the noise of the battle. Surprise and apprehension flickered across the professor's face for a moment before the ray stopped inches from him and exploded into a shower of sparks and he flashed a cheeky grin at James.

Mordecai was getting rather annoyed with James' determination to attack the professor, and he was considering not waking the would-be ward-breaker back up as he fell to the floor again, when a deafening BOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM! echoed through the room. Everyone looked to the source of the explosion to see Barone standing in front of his desk, wand upraised and a plume of smoke rising from it.

"When I said 'shoot spells at each other at random times' I meant ambushes in the corridors and stuff, not a pitched battle, because it doesn't take much vigilance to notice when everyone in the room is dueling. You don't look like you're up to the last fifteen minutes of defense class, so you're free to see Madam Pomphrey now."

–––––––––––––

1996

"Stupid owl," Ron grumbled as he stumbled downstairs, still rubbing sleep from his eyes. Normally, he would be making use of the holiday to sleep in, but Pigwidgeon wouldn't shut up and Ron wasn't going to stay in the same room with the noisy owl.

Ron was a little surprised to find Bill and his father still eating when he made it into the kitchen of Grim-mauld Place; Pig had awoken him way too early.

Tonks was also there, and looked like she'd been up the entire night, as her appearance was even more disorganized than usual; she even looked like she wasn't wearing make-up, but Ron was pretty sure she never wore make-up anyway, so she was probably too tired to use her metamorphmagus abilities.

After responding to several variations of 'good morning' with an indistinct mumble, Ron began piling food onto his plate and asked Tonks what had kept her up so late. She answered with an indistinct mumble and several Weasleys laughed.

The fireplace roared with green flame for a moment before a harried Kingsley Shacklebolt stepped out brandishing a newspaper, "We've got a leak, Tonks!"

"Uh?"

Shacklebolt threw the paper down on the table and everyone except Tonks reached for it; Ginny, being the most starved for information, got to it first. Ron was a close second.

"Dark Lord's spymaster returns to England," she read, "an exclusive contact in the Ministry reveals that auror intelligence has recently confirmed rumors of the return of James Sultzey, reports Kathleen Murdrow.

"Aurors attempted to capture Sultzey last night, only hours after he arrived from America, but were eluded by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's most feared spy. Ministry officials are confident that he will not evade capture long, but Prophet readers will recall the same things were said about Sirius Black.

"Civilians are warned that Sultzey is armed and extremely dangerous. The dark wizard was an unspeakable before being revealed as a follower of You-Know-Who, and may have been a member of the highly secretive Unspeakable Strike Force, a group of phenomenal duelists with access to the Department of Mysteries' most dangerous spells. The Ministry has once again refused to confirm the group's existence…

"And a bunch of other useless stuff," Ginny finished.

"As I remember him from Hogwarts, James couldn't win a duel with a fly without laying several traps beforehand," came the voice of Remus Lupin as he entered, still rubbing sleep from his eyes.

"We all know the Unspeakable Strike Force is rubbish anyway," mum said dismissively.

"He doesn't need to be any good at dueling," Tonks said, "we tried to catch him last night, and we'd spend two or three hours chasing him down only to find out we'd been chasing an illusion or something, and then he'd show up and curse someone with a bizarre hex and we went through it all over again."

So she wasn't up all night on Order business, Ron and Ginny thought at the same time.

Apparently not wanting to get into this discussion in front of the little helpless babies who'd been fighting Death Eaters two weeks ago, his dad changed the conversation, "What did Harry say in the letter you got last night?"

It really says something about your social life when you get an owl and no one has to ask to know who it's from, Ron thought glumly. "You know he can't say anything in a letter," Ron said, letting his temper show through; he was still mad at the Order for making Harry stay with the Dursleys. At least they could write, even if they couldn't write about anything important.

The rest of breakfast continued with Ron and Ginny doing their best not to strangle anyone. With great effort, they succeeded.

–––––––––––––

1975

Auror Dawlish entered a particular third floor corridor, moving toward a particular section of wall, when he heard the door behind him open again; whirling around, his eyes fell on an older Slytherin.

"Shouldn't you be eating lunch?" Dawlish questioned; if there was anything he didn't like, it was people who weren't always exactly where they supposed to be and doing exactly what they were supposed to do.

The student flicked out his wand, silently conjuring a very large and succulent crab leg, minus the exoskeleton. Stuffing his mouth, he managed to say, "Uh am."

"Sultzey, isn't it?" Dawlish sneered, his opinion of eating with your mouth full about on par with his opinion of the boy's attitude. "I suggest you get your nose out of auror business."

The crab leg vanished and Sultzey's mouth cleared instantly, leaving him with such a cold, blank expression that Dawlish thought for a moment he was Crouch undercover with polyjuice, before remembering that Crouch had recently been promoted to head auror and would no longer be doing undercover missions. "I am fully aware of the Open Conspiracy," Sultzey stated with perfect neutrality.

"You are one of us?" Dawlish asked in surprise.

"Hardly. If you attempt anything here, I will kill you."

Oh, really? Dawlish thought; he could kick any student around like a quaffle, and probably wouldn't even need his wand. "Who put you up to this?"

"I don't think she would like to be incriminated."

"You can be arrested for threatening an auror," Dawlish warned, "now tell me who told you to do this."

"I meant 'no,' in case my previous phraseology was too complex for you to understand."

Dawlish decided that Sultzey's attitude could be best cured by a show of force: any student would rapidly be reduced to babbling confessions and pleading ignorance when they realized that aurors weren't professors. As his fingertips touched his wand holster, he felt that his wand was not there; inwardly cursing, he held his hand in position so that Sultzey wouldn't note its absence and threatened, "I don't have time for this. Comply immediately or I will use force."

"I'm ready for a duel, then," Sultzey stepped back and drew out a second wand in a single motion. Dawlish's eyes widened as he realized that he would never be able to close the gap between them before Sultzey could curse him with anything he pleased, and–

"Return my wand IMMEDIATELY!" Dawlish commanded, attempting to compensate for his helplessness by shouting.

"As you wish," Sultzey said, tossing his wand back to him, "but remember, I could steal the life from your body just as easily." Then the clever wizard vanished with a faint pop!

Dawlish, knowing that apparition inside Hogwarts wasn't possible, snatched up his wand and sent a massive burst of paint down the corridor, splattering the walls but revealing nothing invisible. If Sultzey had used a disillusionment charm he wouldn't have been able to get out of the way without a tell-tale blur.

"Accio Sultzey!"

Nothing. But a clever sneak would not give out his real name, and it wouldn't apply if he was transfigured. Perhaps a small animagus form?

"Accio animagus!"

Nothing. Maybe a part demaguise?

"Accio part demaguise!"

Still nothing. Crouch needed to hear about this.

–––––––––––––

1975

Mordecai was having a much less interesting lunch in the great hall where he was supposed to be. His lunch was downright dull, in fact, without anyone to talk to; Mordecai didn't know anyone here and everyone else had their friends and conversations... well, except Snape, but there was a reason he didn't have any friends.

Then there were classes, which somehow managed to be boring, complicated and require a great deal of homework, all at once.

And Headmaster Dumbledore, who had stumbled on his way to the head table for lunch. It wasn't much of a stumble, and Mordecai wouldn't have thought anything of it, but Dumbledore never stumbled; maybe he was being a bit hypocritical, he'd always complained when people paid him too much attention and started jumping to conclusions.

All of these were vying for second, after his ongoing battle to not murder anyone; Mordecai thought he should be given some sort of medal for not killing anyone. Granted, none of the people he had grievances against had been murdered in the seventies, so it wasn't actually possible for him to skewer Bellatrix Lestrange–Black–with his fork, but he still thought he should get some sort of award.

Mordecai stuffed the last of his sandwich into his mouth and gathered his bag, wondering how in the name of Merlin he was supposed to be able to conjure snails by his next transfiguration class. It just wasn't fair! It's not like he was Hermione.

Just as Mordecai entered the entrance hall on his way to Care of Magical Creatures, James Sultzey crashed into him and sent both of them sprawling to the floor.

"Sorry... bit distracted..." James mumbled as he picked himself up.

"What's the hurry? You've got plenty of time for Care of Magical Creatures," Mordecai asked.

"Huh? But... it took me twice that long to get here before," James protested, distractedly waving his wand at the contents of Mordecai's bag.

"The staircases and doors move around," Mordecai answered.

"Merlin, makes it impossible to plan your day," on the third try, James succeeded in making Mordecai's stuff pack itself back up.

"Thanks. Is something wrong?"

"Huh? No."

"You seem rather distracted."

"Yeah, first day and all that..." James lifted a small notepad Mordecai hadn't noticed before and began scribbling something with a pen.

They had already made it onto the grounds before Mordecai did a double-take, realizing that a pen in Hogwarts was definitely odd. When James nearly tripped over his own feet, Mordecai began to wonder what was so fascinating about what James was writing on the pad, but decided to respect his privacy.

After about ten seconds of respecting James' privacy, Mordecai's curiosity got the better of him and he craned his neck to peer over James' shoulder. The notepad–notepad, not parchment, Mordecai abruptly noticed–was covered in extremely complex runes, calculations and diagrams.

Mordecai gulped. "We don't have to do that to conjure the snails, do we?"

"No," James reassured him, "this is just a little project of mine."

"You're not doing that for fun, are you?"

"Yes. Would you stop gaping if I pretended to be offended?"

Mordecai shut his mouth, but had no time to come up with a suitable retort before they reached a small paddock behind Hagrid's hut that would be used for the lesson. Apparently, Care of Magical Creatures lessons were still held near Hagrid's hut, even before the half-giant became professor.

"Las' been fed at six this morning," Hagrid's voice came drifting from the other side of his cabin.

"Thanks, Rubeus," an unfamiliar voice answered, and a moment later a pudgy man with a buzz-cut and short, red beard came around the cabin levitating several crates. After introducing himself as Professor Kettleburn, he lectured them about the importance of their N.E.W.T.s and proceeded to teach a rather boring lesson about bowtruckles. Mordecai got the idea that Kettleburn found the topic boring, too, but didn't want an eventful first lesson of the year.

Mordecai spent most the rest of the afternoon trying to conjure snails in the Slytherin common room along with most of the rest of his year.

"I think you're supposed to twist your wand a little before you flick it..." Nott was saying a bit uncertainly.

"No," a girl Mordecai didn't know interrupted, "I think it's more of a snap, like this," she demonstrated, making a rather odd snap-and-flick motion, and was rewarded with an empty snail shell.

Throughout the afternoon, younger students passing by shuddered in fear of the work they would have to do in the future, older students nodded sympathetically before beginning some monumentally difficult task, Snape sneered in derision and James chuckled in amusement.

"If you're so smart, you do it!" yelled an angry and frustrated Bellatrix Black (whom Mordecai had learned was the girl that had helped him with his wand in Knockturn Alley).

James drew his wand and jabbed it forward conjuring a large snail on Black's open book.

"You!" Black shrieked, blasting it away from her as quickly as possible, "I know that's not the wand motion!"

"I improved it a little," James shrugged, as though it was no big deal.

"Show off," half the table muttered under their breaths.

About an hour before dinner, Mordecai finally decided to ask James for help. It just didn't seem right to ask someone other than Hermione to help him, and James would probably think he was stupid, and... Mordecai wasn't going to be conjuring snails by his next transfiguration class without help.

An Advanced Guide to Transfiguration sailed past his ear as Mordecai entered his dorm and he looked up to see James sitting on his bed and glaring at the book.

"Did it bite you or something?" Mordecai asked.

"No, just the usual defects of school textbooks."

"What are those?" Mordecai asked, "Other than being so boring."

"That's exactly it! The idiots who write them always seem to think the best way to teach is to write a great many of the lengthiest, most boring sentences they can–without ever actually saying anything–then reviewing them at the end of each section, the end of each chapter, the end of the book, the beginning of the next book, while scrupulously avoiding any mention of useful information! Oh... did you want anything?"

"Er…" Mordecai fumbled, again wondering what James would think about him needing help, and it was still the first day… Why do I even care what he thinks? "…I needed a little help with the snails."

"Hmmm… how familiar are you with organic conjuring?"

"…"

James seemed to hesitate for a moment, and peered at him as though weighing him. Mordecai thought he felt something prickling at his mental defenses, but couldn't be sure.

A shift in James' demeanor seemed to show that Mordecai had passed whatever test he had just been subjected to, "I assume that you do not know the underlying principles of transfiguration," it wasn't so much a question as a statement that demanded confirmation.

"No," Mordecai admitted, flushing and feeling stupider with every word James spoke.

"I thought not; it is a highly protected Ministry secret in Britain."

Mordecai nearly choked in surprise.

"Are you at all familiar with atoms or the particles that make them up?"

"Um… a little. But that was years ago," Mordecai responded.

"The electrons and quarks that make up atoms are what nearly everything is built from. Most transfigurations are complex arrays of massive numbers of tiny manipulation spells that rearrange matter at the atomic or subatomic level. The only reason such complex magic can be managed by a wizard is that transfiguration spells group smaller manipulation spells together in such ways that nearly all of the work is done without thought by the caster; still, transfigurations are very difficult."

"Er..." Mordecai said, trying to take all that in. "So," he began again, "transfiguration is rearranging subatomic particles?"

"Often. But many times atoms or molecules are left intact, if possible; that's why it's easier to transfigure an object into something similar to itself."

"Conjuring and vanishing?" Mordecai asked.

"No one is entirely sure how, but conjuring and vanishing bring individual particles into and out of existence. Any transfiguration that changes the size of something involves some conjuring or vanishing, which is why transfigurations that do not change an objects' size are easier."

It sort of made sense, if the inevitable headache didn't bother you too much, but Mordecai still had one question: "So how do I conjure snails?"

"Because rearranging so many particles is a far more complex task than any spell could accomplish on its own, transfiguration draws on the caster's understanding of the objects they are transfiguring, so that a detailed understanding of what is being transfigured and the theory of the transfiguration itself is incredibly helpful," James answered. Somehow, he managed to make Mordecai feel stupider than Hermione ever had; it was as if James thought everyone should already understand what he was saying, but he was trying not to embarrass them out of sympathy for the lesser mortals.

Mordecai pushed his feelings aside and determined that he would understand what James told him. After attempting the spell several times while James watched, James would advise him to add a slight left-to-right movement to his wand motion, because wizards with slightly high blood pressure often needed a higher level of transversal manifestation energy, or that he needed to draw his wand in slightly as he brought it down, because yew wands often needed to have their aggressive tendencies curbed when casting creative spells, and what in the name of Merlin was his wand core made of?

By the time they left for supper, Mordecai was able to conjure snails and even control what size they were, though he had trouble making different species. He was also a little in awe of James Sultzey.

James had seen from the way his spells worked that Mordecai's wand had an unusual core and that he had a deep magical bond with another; James also claimed that Mordecai had slightly high blood pressure and a genetic predisposition to skin cancer, though Mordecai was a little suspicious about the last two.

But, even after being lectured about a myriad of complex transfiguration principles he had never even heard of before, Mordecai still had many unanswered questions. Most of these were questions about James himself that Mordecai didn't think would be answered, such as why would James be telling him Ministry secrets less than 24 hours after meeting him.

But he thought it okay to ask "How can you stand to leave your mind senses open?" as they departed the Slytherin common room, "I've got enough thoughts without trying to listen to everyone else's."

"Normally I don't pay much attention to others' thoughts, it's sort of like being in a talkative crowd. I only pay close attention to my own 'conversation,' or thoughts," James answered. "Did we go left or right here? I'm pretty sure we need to turn."

Mordecai realized with a chill that he had completely forgotten how hard the corridors were to navigate. Fortunately, he had never known the dungeons very well, so he hopefully hadn't shown too much knowledge of the castle's layout.

"Do you remember?" James asked again.

"Right, I think. You might have remembered too if you didn't walk around all day with your nose in that notebook."

"It was fascinating!" James defended himself, sounding amazingly like Hermione when she talked about some impossibly difficult subject.

"What was it about, anyway?" Mordecai asked.

"I've been trying to find a way to conjure enchanted objects with enchantments already on them, but I haven't had much success."

"Isn't that impossible?" Mordecai was pretty sure only non-magical objects could be conjured, but he wasn't going to trust his transfiguration knowledge over James'.

"Yes, that's why I'm trying," James answered shooting him a grin.

Mordecai grinned back, understanding completely. Now scribbling complex runes in a notebook all day made sense: James was adventurous, just in an unusual way. "If I want to do the impossible, I usually try in the middle of either a battle or a quidditch match."

"What's the diff–"

"AVADA KEDAVRA," someone yelled behind them.

Mordecai threw out his arm, pushing James to the floor as he drew his wand and whirled to face their attackers. Mordecai's vicious banishing charm flew wide, showering the attackers with chunks of rock from the wall behind.

"TRUCE!" yelled a slightly panicked voice and Mordecai stared in shock as he recognized the marauders looking nervously at his wand and reaching for their own, which were not yet drawn. Potter took a moment to relax before saying flippantly, "Merlin, he's jumpy. Wonder what he'd have done if I had been holding a wand when I said that?"

The marauders grinned weakly, apparently trying to get Mordecai to understand that it was all 'just a prank.'

Mordecai was infuriated.

"What in the name of Merlin makes you think you can start yelling killing curses at people! The next time someone sneaks up on me like that, I am NOT going to stop with banishing charms!" Mordecai paused in his rant to glare at Potter, who he was pretty sure had been the one to yell the killing curse.

While Potter may have been mildly apologetic before Mordecai started ranting, he did not take kindly being yelled at by a Slytherin and exploded, too.

"Like that's any worse than stealing MY LILY!"

Mordecai was flabbergasted for a moment, wondering how an ice cream counted as 'stealing Lily,' but felt obligated to retaliate. "How is she YOUR Lily? If you listen to her, you're hell-bent on ruining her–"

"I'LL NEVER TRUST A SLYTHERIN! I'LL NEVER TRUST A SLYTHERIN ANYWHERE NEAR MY–"

"I DON'T KNOW HERE YOU COME FROM, BUT HERE A GIRL HAS TO AGREE TO BE 'SOMEBODY'S'!"

"WHAT ARE YOU ACCUSING–"

Mordecai smirked at Potter as he saw Remus Lupin aim his wand at him and cast a silencing charm at the incensed marauder, but had no time to wonder why Potter was smirking before his own voice was cut off. Both infuriated wizards rounded on their companions and tried unsuccessfully to yell at them.

"I feel obligated to point out," James addressed Potter, "that yelling the incantations of unforgivable curses may not be the best way to win the heart of a muggle-born prefect."

Potter snarled and drew his wand just as Professor McGonagall rounded the corner, causing everyone to freeze immediately, with varying degrees of guilt on their faces.

"Is there a reason for drawing wands in the corridor?"

"Everything is under control, professor," Lupin said evenly, despite the drawn wand in his hand. His perfectly controlled expression gave the idea that he could have lied convincingly to Dumbledore. "Heated words were exchanged, but James was just about to put his wand away; he hasn't cursed anyone."

"Is that true?" McGonagall asked turning to Mordecai and Sultzey.

"Yes, professor," Sultzey answered, but when McGonagall was not convinced he added, "silencing charms were necessary, but it did not go further than words." The Slytherins' tone was every bit as calm and collected as Remus', and McGonagall seemed satisfied with a stern warning; after all, the only spells cast had been silencing charms, and those in an effort to diffuse the situation.

As soon as the professor had disappeared around the corner, James and Lupin countered the silencing charms they had cast. "My apologies," Potter said to Mordecai, extending his hand, "I should not have surprised you like that, or said what I did."

Mordecai was rather taken aback, but pleasantly surprised at Potter's sudden maturity, and shook the offered hand. As he opened his mouth to accept the apology, Potter spoke again, "Why don't we meet some time and I'll show you some nice hexes?"

Mordecai thought that was rather more than necessary, and became suspicious; it took him several moments to work out that Potter was challenging him to a duel. "I don't think so, but I'd be happy to give you a few pointers on defense."

"We'll see," Potter said, "since you're new, I'll give you three days to select the time, place and your second," and with that, he strode off.

"Don't look at me," James said immediately.

Mordecai sighed as they made their way to the door, wishing again for his friends. He was beginning to seriously question the wisdom of traveling through time alone, and reaffirmed his commitment to try to think things through more before rushing in headlong. Maybe he should have thought for more than a few seconds about accepting a duel with James Potter, whose second would no doubt be Sirius Black, both of whom had made a much better showing in Defense than Mordecai. There was the question of how he was going to get a second, and why was Potter letting him pick the time and place? Was he trying to insult Mordecai, or was it customary? Malfoy hadn't let him choose in first year, but his scheme wouldn't have worked if he had…

Plus, he was far from pleased that he had already gotten himself into a duel with the Marauders on the first day of classes. Most people didn't end up dueling with their parents after every other conversation.

"Fine, I'll be your second."

"Huh?" Mordecai asked, before he processed James' words. "But you just said you wouldn't, and I didn't even ask."

"I have an unhealthy level of curiosity, and am unfamiliar with English dueling customs."

"You sound like Hermione."

"Who?"

"Someone I used to know," Mordecai explained, kicking himself. This fighting with parents business was more distraction than he needed while trying to maintain a completely invented identity. Time for a less risky topic… "So how unhealthy is your curiosity?"

"I entangle myself in an astonishing number of risky magical experiments," James responded in the amused voice used when telling a funny story.

That was when Mordecai decided that Hermione and James were both incredibly intelligent and curious, but that was where the similarities ended. He also decided to tell James about his various fights with dark wizards; a small voice in the back of his head told him that would be giving away too much information, but Mordecai did not think he could succeed in hiding such a large part of who he was, not to mention that, with his unexpected sorting into Slytherin, 'staying under the radar' would likely require at least lip service to Voldemort. "My unhealthy curiosity involves everything from fleeing acromantulae to battling dark wizards out for blood," Mordecai offered as they moved into the great hall.

"You must be much more adventurous than myself," James said, moving toward the nearest seats on the Slytherin table, occupied by a group of third years who immediately jumped up and ran to the other end. It reminded Mordecai of his second year, except that they were fleeing James Sultzey the Terrifying Legilimens rather than Harry Potter the Heir of Slytherin; that, and James seemed to think this perfectly natural as he took his seat.

The only other 'person' Mordecai had ever encountered who was so accustomed to being feared was Voldemort himself; James certainly didn't seem to be anything like Voldemort… but it was enough to make you wonder what Tom Riddle was like at that age.

"I suppose we should prepare for that duel; Potter and Black certainly will," James spoke up, breaking Mordecai from his reverie.

"Yeah," Mordecai agreed as James drew out his pen and notepad and flipped to a blank page, "we should definitely practice some nasty curses…"

"You need to learn some stronger shields, silent spell-casting, better legilimency…" it didn't take James long to fill six inches with what he needed to learn, including such useful dueling skills as arithmancy and astronomy.

"But," James protested, "the position of the stars has a slight effect on the efficacy of many spells–"

"Just how slight is slight, anyway?"

"Up to five percent!"

"That's a fascinating quill you've got," interrupted Lucius Malfoy's smooth voice, "don't you need to refill it?"

"Only once every few days," James answered, waving the ball-point pen for emphasis, "but I put a refilling charm on it."

"Why doesn't it leak?" Malfoy asked. Mordecai was having difficulty repressing a snicker, even though it was a valid question: the reason wizards didn't put refilling charms on their quills was that they would leak, and the spells necessary to only let ink out while writing were generally considered too complex to bother with on quills.

"The tip is shaped so that ink only comes out when it is pressed against something, and it can be retracted so it doesn't touch anything in your pocket," James demonstrated by clicking the pen.

"Ingenious… where did you get it?"

"You can buy them at any muggle department store."

All present only held their composure for a moment, before Malfoy took a step back with a look of utter revulsion and James and Mordecai burst into laughter.

As soon as Malfoy had gone Mordecai wondered aloud whether he would believe the pen was muggle or convince himself James had only been joking.

"Oh, he'll believe me. But whether a ball-point pen with a refilling charm is magical enough for a pureblood to use is something he'll have to decide."

–––––––––––––

A/N: Is everyone following the references to James Sultzey and James Potter? Don't suggest changing Sultzey's name, though, I want to make you think...