Author's Note: Many thanks to GJMEGA for editing this!
Two excerpts from "Memorable Muggle Mornings: the Undercover Wizard."
"It has chewed my shoes. It has shredded the curtains. It has peed and pooped and is in every way disgraceful. I came closer to using a spell then I have since starting this little experiment. I have to buy it food, and I had to take it to this muggle animal nurse called a "Vet". They then stuck needles into it (looking highly painful) and several other things that I dare not mention for shuddering. It has no redeeming values and I am quite certain I will need to dispose of it somehow.
(One week later)
I was sitting in my favorite chair after a long day of strenuous muggle yard work called "Weeding" when I heard that dreaded meow. Certain it was up to some act of mischief I prepared to get up when the thing jumped straight into my lap! At first I thought it was growling and prepared myself for an attack… and then it curled up and I realized it was purring! Such a loud purr it was. I've decided to call it Purniskus. How very sweet!
"He's done it again! And I am not fixing it up this time!" Mike ran down the stairs, yelling all the while.
He was followed soon after by a glum Harry. Kerr sighed at yet another ruckus, and resigned himself to simply waiting until Mike caught up to him at the front desk. He gave up watching the shop for any customers that might come in as the two younger kids took his attention. Mike glared at Kerr, which did not bother him the least.
Harry withered at Kerr's questioning look.
"I'm sorry, I just couldn't see it very well!" He gasped, looking up with pleading eyes.
"It was two freaking feet from your front nose, Skinny, what'cha mean you couldn't see it?" Mike crossed his arms and growled. It was clear to all that he was losing patience with Harry's clumsiness. He continued, voice low and full of heat.
"I've shown you a million times, the wooden bar has to be nailed straight across the penciled line or the chair won't hold! And to make it worse, this is the third time you've ruined an order because you can't follow simple directions!"
Harry looked pleadingly between Kerr and Mike. He had tried so hard to be a good worker, and did not want to do anything to make his new housemates angry. Maybe he just wasn't cut out for making anything, let alone something like chairs where small mistakes were very noticeable. Harry had noticed the boys seemed to be doing things other than assembling custom-ordered furniture, often sleeping in late into the morning and staying up to all hours at night. That left Harry to do a lot of the orders himself, which had turned into one disaster after another. Harry shook his head, then spoke up when he saw Kerr's inquiring look.
"I swear I couldn't see it! It needs to be darker or something… there wasn't a line there, I swear! I promise, go look for yourself!"
Harry demanded. Kerr frowned and turned to Mike, who threw up his hands and angrily shook his head.
"I double checked, the pencil was there clear as day. And it has to be something easy to cover up when we stain the wood so we can't mark it with freaking markers."
Harry groaned, stomping one foot on the ground in frustration.
Kerr interrupted Harry before he could finish his defense, his eyes kind.
"I believe you when you say you didn't see it. I've been wondering ever since you tripped right over that stool, and the fact that you have to hold any written instructions inches from your face. Have you ever been to an eye doctor?"
An eye doctor? Confused, Harry shook his head. Kerr continued.
"Well that explains it then. I'm not sure how we can get you into one without questions being asked though, and those doctors don't come cheap. I'll speak to Mister for you tonight. Mike, go back up there and redo that chair, it's got to be done by Saturday and Mrs. Hopkins's table set hasn't even
been started. Give Harry something to do that doesn't require excellent eyesight."
He had bad eyesight? Harry could see the way he always had. What would happen to him now? Mike ushered a worried Harry back up the stairs, grumbling all the while. "I knew you'd be trouble Skinny, and now you're blind too!"
Harry gazed desperately back at Kerr for any sign of help, but the older boy's attention had drifted away from them without concern.
Harry did not know what to think. For as long as he could remember, he had had trouble reading things far away, but he figured it was normal. Often he was called stupid simply because he had no idea what people were talking about. His aunt had always showed him how to cook and clean, never letting him use directions or a cookbook. Teachers avoided him because of comments made by his relatives. Outside of school, Harry rarely did any reading at all, and he was never allowed to play video games or watch T.V. Was this really something that could be fixed? Would his eyesight just keep getting worse and worse? Was he going blind? Harry felt his breathing increase and tried to calm himself down. Kerr didn't seem too worried. Maybe everything would be alright. And if, somehow, he could see better... He could really earn his place here! Mike wouldn't be able to pick on him so much. That alone would be worth seeing a doctor. Harry glared at Mike's back as the older boy ushered him along.
Why did the older boy hate him so much?
Harry sat in a corner desk and quietly rubbed redwood stain into a newly completed chair. Yesterday marked his first week staying with the Steel Wings, and it hadn't gone smoothly. Though he had followed all the directions he had been given, and even cooked once when it was his turn (and all the boys, even Mike, had admitted that the food was very good). But he still kept making stupid mistakes when it came to putting the simple parts of wood together. Now he had basically been relegated to staining the furniture (a smelly, sticky job), and fetching tools.
The Steel Wings lived in a loft on the third story above old Mr. Steel's (affectionately called 'Mister' by the boys) furniture shop. The second floor was a workroom station for making custom furniture and renovating old antiques. Kerr, Mike, and Rick were legally Mr. Steel's employees and were the only ones paid a small salary other than the simple food and place to live. What the boys did at night Harry still didn't know the details of, and the odd errands Mr. Steel sent them on at random times during the day was a complete mystery. Harry also wasn't allowed up on the fourth floor with the other boys. Harry was beginning to wonder if Mr. Steel was up to something illegal.
More illegal than harboring stray kids, anyway.
Harry and Tiny were usually kept out of sight of any passer-bys, and weren't allowed down stairs unless it was checked first. If they were caught here Mr. Steel could get in trouble for harboring runaways without reporting it to the police. Tiny sometimes got to go with the older boys, especially at night. He had heard Rick say to Tiny that he was a "Fast Thinker" the other morning, and Tiny had walked around beaming the whole day.
Last night Tiny had confided in Harry that once Harry was accepted as "one of them" he could get their gang sign, which was two steel wings inked onto their shoulder blades. But when Harry asked to see Tiny's, the boy had refused, and pretended to go to sleep when he insisted. "Probably doesn't even have one" Harry muttered under his breath as he absently rubbed the liquid into the smooth wood under his fingers..
"What's that, Harry? Lamenting your blindness?"
This came from a grinning Rick as the brown-haired boy entered the room and sauntered over to a table and sat down. Harry was about to snap back before he reconsidered. This was Rick, who was much nicer to him than Mike, and not as intimidating as Kerr. If he was going to get some information, it would be from him. Harry spoke up, looking down.
"Rick, is it true that all you guys have tattoos? Did they hurt a lot?"
Rick laughed and nodded, and Harry glanced up as the boy helpfully passed him another cloth. Rick wasn't wearing his usual red baseball cap, and his hair stuck wildly in all directions much like Harry's liked to do. Rick began to explain, looking over the work Harry had done so far.
"Yep, you get one wing after your first successful solo assignment, and your second once Mister considers you to be a good asset to our team. In other words, when you start getting paid."
Rick leaned back in the chair. What assignments, Harry wondered? Does he mean the deliveries? Before Harry could get up the courage to ask, Rick spoke up again with a teasing tone.
"And it didn't hurt at all."
The word brought both their attention around to the doorway. Kerr smiled as he walked in.
"If I remember right you cried like a baby the whole time."
Rick rolled his eyes,lightly shoving Kerr away as the boy neared.
"I did not!"
The two jostled a bit in fun before Kerr backed off and looked seriously at Harry. Harry sat up straight as he was fixed with the stern brown eyes, suddenly nervous. Kerr turned to Rick again, his tone dismissive.
"The shop is closed, and Mister will be here any time. I need you to go get Mike, for some reason he isn't back yet from delivering those packages."
Rick glanced at Harry and smiled in farewell, then stood up with a nod. He rose to his feet and casually left the room with a lazy stride. Kerr shook his head with a grin, then took Rick's abandoned seat and sat down facing Harry. Harry, realizing he had stopped polishing the wood, quickly got to work again as Kerr began to speak.
"The tattoos, no matter what anyone says, are very serious to us. It means you're with us for good, and that we are with you as well, through thick and thin. You're pretty smart, for a kid, and you have a way of remembering things after only hearing it one time. But you're going to have to be something special if you want to stick with us long-term. We've had a few people get the first wing and then leave. We've had even fewer people get both and then leave us. But we have had many boys, and even a few girls, who don't even try, or they just don't have the talent for our line of work. I think you might have what it takes, and that's why you're here."
Harry nodded, though he had no idea just what kind of work the boys did. He spoke up with curiosity.
"What happened to those who earned both wings? Why would they ever leave?"
Kerr shrugged one shoulder, leaning back in his chair.
"Once you are part of us, you never really leave. Occasionally they come back for a special job or two, or just to visit. Mr. Steel considers us all his family, him never being able to have a family with his wife dying so young and all. As for why people leave, well. There's quite a few reasons. Most don't stick around once they reach eighteen and don't need Misters protection anymore. They go to other better paying jobs, get girlfriends, some even try and go to college. What we do for Mr. Steel is... out of the ordinary. Some leave simply because they don't believe in it. I don't think we've ever had over five boys here at one time before. When one leaves we look out for another recruit, but we don't actively seek any. I'm the oldest here at the moment, Clyde left after he asked a girl to marry him a year back. He was thirty-two."
Harry's eyes widened.
"Woah! How long was he in Steel Wings? How long have you been in Steel Wings?"
Harry exclaimed.. He had been about to ask why 'believing in it' would having anything to do with a warm shelter and food in your belly, when he had been distracted by that information. Surely someone who had stayed with Mr. Steel with so long would have to have a very good reason to leave. He supposed getting married was important, but he wouldn't know why. His aunt and uncle certainly were nice to each other, but Harry hadn't benefited from their kindness.
Kerr smiled at Harry's amazement.
"He was with us since he was thirteen, and was one of the first boys Mr. Steel took in after finding he needed some… younger help. That was before we were even called 'Steel Wings'. I've been here since I was your age, about eight. I earned my first wing within only a month, but didn't get my second till I was fifteen."
As Harry was about to eagerly ask more questions, there was the sound of feet running up the stairs and Tiny's blond head peaked around the corner. His gaze found Kerr, and the young boy quickly spoke with excitement.
"Mister is here, said he read your note and wants to talk with you… privately."
Tiny said the last while looking pointedly at Harry who had been about to follow Kerr down the stairs when the older boy stood. Harry tried to shrug it off and go sit back down nonchalantly, but inside he was a ball of nerves. Would Mr. Steel not want him anymore since he might need glasses? Would he even get the chance to go to a Doctor? He didn't have any money, and he seriously doubted any of the other boys would lend him some from their personal savings so he could afford glasses. Harry looked down at the stained wood and his own dirty fingers with a sigh. Well, at least he was useful for something.
About an hour later Harry finished with his work for the day and trudged up to his temporary room he shared with Tiny. He sat on his bed and had no idea what to do with himself. He had already found that there wasn't much to do here besides work, and whatever it was the boys got up to behind a locked area of the building. He had also saw that Tiny and Mike both had schoolbooks to work on that Mr. Steel had given them. Apparently, once you'd been accepted into the gang you got home-schooled, or something of that nature. Harry didn't like the idea of schooling, but he supposed it would be worth it to stay.
When he'd mentioned it to Rick the day before the shy boy had vaguely mumbled that "Mister don't want no dummies in his house" or something along that nature. Harry wondered if the fact that he hadn't been told anything about it was a sign that they weren't going to let him stay around.
Harry wasn't even sure if he should stay anyway. No one but Kerr and maybe Tiny seemed to like him, and he'd never even talked once to Mr. Steel alone. He'd gathered that there were other groups in the area willing to harbor 'strays' for a certain price. What that price was depended on who was asking, it seemed. The one time Harry had had the courage to ask, he quickly dropped the subject after getting some dirty looks from Rick and a slightly sick one from Tiny.
Apparently the price was too high to mention.
There was a brief knock on the door, and then Tiny sauntered into the spare room and motioned to Harry imperiously.
"Alright, come on, Mister wants to talk to you."
Harry gulped, then got up and followed Tiny down to the bottom floor, and after crossing through the shop entered a door along the side wall. He had never been through here before, and had been told to not go in there and bother Mr. Steel, so he had assumed that this must be where he lived. His assumption was right.
All along both sides of the room were shelves and shelves of books, floor to ceiling. Various dusty gadgets rested on shelves and Harry could even see what looked like a telescope with a long tube attached to the end.
"Hurry Up!" Tiny whispered. That jolted Harry out of his reverie as he realised he was lagging behind, gawking at the room. Harry nodded and turned his attention away from the clutter to follow the other boy.
They continued on through the Library-like room and into another room just as cluttered, but with papers and old computer equipment. Behind a desk in the right corner sat Mr. Steel, and across from him Kerr sat in a comfy looking chair. There was an empty chair beside him, and Kerr motioned him to sit down. Tiny leaned against the doorway, looking intrigued as Mr. Steel ruffled through some papers and held up a long sheet. Harry noticed another two doors at the other end of the office, but before he could really look through the one open door Mr. Steel spoke.
"Read off this third line of letters for me Harry. Off this sheet."
Mr. Steel gently shook the stiff sheet of paper in his hand, filled with various sizes of letters on it, ranging from a huge letter E to some very fine print at the bottom. Harry squinted hard at the third line.
"Um, A, C, U G, um, ah, F, S."
He stuttered over a few letters but thought he had gotten them right. Mr. Steel nodded to him, his voice encouraging.
"Very good, very good. Now how about this bottom line? Line seven?"
When Mr. Steel pointed at it with his hand, Harry tried his best, but there was no way. He could barely even tell they were letters as they blurred together into a greyish black squiggle. Harry spoke up in a low voice, cringing.
"I'm sorry, sir, I can't really tell… I think that's a G, and ah, maybe a R? Ah, I…."
Harry felt himself turning bright red as he struggled to see what was only a few feet in front of him. Beside him, Kerr shifted and gave him an encouraging look. He thought he heard a snicker from behind him, and made himself not look back at Tiny. Mr. Steel smiled benevolently, lowering the sheet and clasping his hands.
"That's enough, Harry. I can see the issue, and it appears you're nearsighted. Now, we can't just go out and buy you a pair of glasses. No, no, you will need a prescription." Mr. Steel sighed, but he picked himself up soon enough. When he spoke next, there was no sign of disappointment in his voice, signs Harry himself hadn't realised until now that he'd been desperately hoping to never find. It was not certain, but it was a start.
"Now, Harry, how have you liked it with us so far? Getting along good with the boys?" Mr. Steel asked.
At Harry's quick nod yes he continued.
"Well, I've been talking with Kerr here, and both of us like your gumption. You've never once complained about anything, and you learn fast. This glasses thing, well, we can work around that for now. Perhaps, if your first assignment goes well we can work out a bargain to cover the price of the…."
Before Mr. Steel has finished Harry blurted out a question, his heart hammering in excitement.
"First assignment? So you're not kicking me out?"
He immediately turned even more red and hunched down in the chair when he realized he had interrupted the older man. Mr. Steel only laughed.
"Of course not! Why, I have glasses myself don't I? And don't go thinking that's just because I'm old. I've had these since I was a little lad, only a little older than you."
Harry shook his head, amazed. Mr. Steel smiled and continued.
"Kerr is going to explain to you a bit of this business we have going on, behind closed doors so to speak. You listen well and do as he says and you'll be a pro in no time. That is all."
Mr. Steel winked then shooed them out of his office. Harry felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. With a lighter step he followed Kerr and Tiny back up the stairs, the younger boy pestering Kerr with questions. He couldn't wait to finally figure out what it was exactly that this group of boys did!
An excerpt from "Memorable Muggle Mornings: the Undercover Wizard."
"It is odd how the muggle culture, while so different from ours, is almost a perfect mirror when it comes to certain things. Take communication, for instance. Both muggles and wizards have a slow means of communication: Ours by owl, theirs by personal delivery of other muggles, usually by these fast box things (how they move is somewhat of a mystery to me still). In both of our cultures you can pay more for faster delivery (our hawk is their aeroplane).
When it comes to instantaneous communication though, I can't help but think they have us matched, or perhaps even surpass us. While we must hurry to a fireplace and hope the person we wish to contact is near their registered fireplace, they merely pull out this small hand sized device called a tale-phone, or "mobile-phone". The person they wish to contact would also have this device (in fact, nearly every muggle I see carries one around, even the children!) and they speak through it to the other person! Truly amazing technology. Upon further research at a local muggle library, I read that they utilize "radio" waves, which sounds much like our own wizarding echo spells we utilize for our own Wizarding Wireless, which of course opens another train of thought… are muggles using magic? And if so, perhaps an even scarier thought: can their technology discover us?"
Kerr and Tiny lead Harry into an upstairs room, where Mike and Rick were sitting down playing some sort of board game. Kerr gave them a nod, smiling, to which Mike and Rick looked highly annoyed.
"He stays?" Mike asked with a grumble.
"Yes." Kerr answered, and then turned back to Harry with a wink. "So now it's time for you to know what it is we are doing here."
Harry fidgeted a bit, but took a seat. He was dying to ask all the questions brimming inside him. Kerr grinned, glanced at the other three boys, then began what promised to be a long story.
Mr. Steel had, in the early days after his wife had passed away, encountered an odd and most unusual phenomenon. Being the philosophical sort needing a distraction as well as curious enough for a room full of cats, he had noticed while waiting at his usual bus stop that certain people would seem to enter a back alley, while others never noticed the alley at all. Over several days, he also saw that all the people who entered the alley wore long, dress like thick robes, and tended to wear the funniest pointed hats.
One day, he made up his mind to approach this alley. Right as he stepped on the curve, his caught a glimpse of an odd, dingy looking pub…. and then he was in his kitchen drinking tea. He distinctly remembered deciding abruptly that he wanted tea, and had walked all the way home. The next day, he tried again to enter the alley, only to once more get a strong desire for afternoon tea. It didn't take a third attempt to realize that something mysterious was up. He continued his experiments: how close could he get before he wanted tea? Could he go from the side? What about the store next to the alley?
It was then, as he was performing another such experiment, when he saw one of the funny dressed people drop a newspaper. Curious to see what it was, he swiped the newspaper and quickly walked home. What he saw shocked him. The pictures appeared to be moving! He could find no scientific explanation, and together with one of his colleagues whom he shared the story with they began to search for more cast off papers. He also began to write down all the experiments he had performed, and a detailed observation of the newspaper artifact, including the articles it contained. And such articles! Talking about things that didn't exist like dragons and wands and magic… it must be some sort of code! He wrote down everything, even drew a few sketches, and it was this that saved him from being sure he was mad.
One day he came home, feeling slightly out of sorts and a tad lost. He couldn't quite remember what he had done that day, only that he "knew" it had been "normal". It was odd enough to his organized mind that this had happened: even more odd was a journal he couldn't quite remember opened on his desk… and it was filled with his own handwriting!
After reading the journal he was shocked to see all these things he did not remember doing: the alley, the newspaper (which he later found was missing from his coat pocket) and the last entry he had written had been a hurried explanation that he was heading to a particular bookstore that might contain more clues about these mysterious people. He immediately contacted his colleague, found that his memory too must have been altered: and that was when he came to his conclusion.
Some group, perhaps even from the government, possessed some sort of science that they were hiding from the citizens of Britain and even the world: and it was his duty to expose them! Such technology that was casually mentioned in the newspaper would help many people in their daily lives. This underground group had their own society that they selfishly hid from everyone else, and if the government didn't know about it, well, he would make sure they did! Why, did they even pay taxes?
His questions went on and on, and he couldn't help but wonder how much research he might have lost that he hadn't bothered to write down in his journal. It was almost exactly a year after his discovery of the newspaper, and that was when he decided to get help. He needed someone most people wouldn't pay attention to, and that nobody would be looking for. Someone who would work closely with him to find these people, discover their secret, and tell the world about their existence.
His obvious choice was homeless people who needed a place to stay, and in particular, children. He told himself his wife would be proud of him for taking them in anyways, and that it was only natural to ask a little help in return with his research.
"So what do you guys do then? For Mr. Steel?"
Harry blurted as Kerr stopped his story to get a glass of pop. Mike and Rick shushed him and Harry squirmed. Something about this story… about these people, in particular, seemed almost…. familiar. Especially the description of moving pictures.
Kerr cleared his throat and continued.
The first few people Mr. Steel had helping him with his research were useless. They didn't believe him at the best of times (since his one shred of proof, the newspaper, was gone) and actively argued with him and thought he needed help at the worst. Mr. Steel eventually found that it was easier to start with younger kids, below the age of twelve, who also hadn't been on the streets very long and were open to new ideas. It was one such kid who found the next big discovery.
It happened more than ten years ago. Clyde was a small boy for his age, but quick and clever. He also had a knack for getting out of trouble. One such day, as he was looking going through some trash bins behind a shop that was on their "suspicious activity list" a tall, black haired man came sweeping out of the shop.
"You there! What are you doing?"
Clyde did exactly what any kid would do. He ran.
There was a swooshing noise, and an odd ball of red colored light smacked the wall to his left. He glanced back quickly, saw the man holding a short stick… then scampered through an alley and ducked under a trashcan.
"Did you find him?"
This was another voice, and he couldn't see who is was from where he was hiding.
"No. Little muggle was too fast."
The voice was close, very close. Clyde held his breath.
"Ah well. We need to move again anyway. Did you find anything for the Dark Lord?"
"No. The rumor was most definitely contrived. All there was were a few books on basic herbology and magical creatures. Nothing at all useful about how to create magical creatures like Rasils. We will need to look elsewhere."
There was a thump above Clyde, like a package was cast down.
"Incendio! Lets try the next one. Point three, the blue X."
With the last word there was a loud cracking noise then nothing. Ever since the weird Indindy word Clyde had begun feeling oppressive heat. Suddenly smelling burnt paper he darted out from under the bin and looked quickly around. They were gone! He turned behind him. There were several books burning in the bin, and without thinking much further he darted in and tried to pull several from the flames. He managed to salvage two books. Their titles read: "1001 Reasons to Harvest Magical Herbs" and "The Most Dangerous and Valuable Magical Creatures."
The books, after close study and recopying by Mr. Steel, began to change his idea a bit about the identity and motives of these odd people. First, they called themselves "Wizards", and the weird guns "Wands." These code words seemed so obvious, it was no wonder people thought they didn't exist, they seemed like something from a children's book!
Another theory of the motive to these people also began to take root in Mr. Steels mind. After realizing the extent of the cover-up, how whole species of plants and animals were being hidden from the public… and that most of these plants and animals had properties to them that could cure almost any ailment and perform most wonderful effects… it must be money and greed! Why, these people had at their fingertips plants whose leaves could help heal broken bones in a matter of minutes! Imagine how much people would pay for such "potions"?
The more Mr. Steel thought about it the more it made sense, and the more determined he was to bring them to justice.
Kerr paused in his story, then smiled at Harry.
"I know this sounds far fetched, and downright odd. Let me show you our collection."
He got up and the others followed him up the stairs to the fourth floor, then into another room, to a door Harry had barely noticed, it was almost hidden behind a corner of a bookshelf and table. Tiny was practically bouncing. Harry entered the room, and felt his eyes widen.
The room was full of shelves and shelves of weird devices and books. Some of the devices did impossible things, like shine without any source of light, or change suddenly into totally different objects. Some were locked in steel cages, which they occasionally banged against as if trying to escape. There were pictures on one space of wall, and in every one… the people and animals moved!
"Pretty amazing isn't it?" Kerr asked. He laughed in delight.
"We've come a long way since those first books. With every discovery we learn more about these people, and it becomes easier to find artefacts. I myself found one of the more useful ones, it was how I earned my first wing."
Kerr reached out and pulled a book off the shelf, then handed it to Harry.
"Before you can help us keep looking for more information and items you need to learn about these people. Read their books, we have almost thirty here now. Also, you need to study the maps we have made of London, and where we have found items and where known wizard locations are. Don't forget about what happened to Mr. Steel. If you get caught, you won't even remember it, and it could lead them back to us. In all this time, only once more have they caught us, but we were lucky… we had made copies of what they took from us, and the items they recovered were not our true treasures."
"So these here..."
Harry pointed around the room.
"We have even more?"
"Yep. But you can start with these. Maybe once you've been with us awhile, once you learn some stuff, we can show you where the really hardcore technology they've created is. Don't feel bad, Tiny here hasn't seen it yet either."
Kerr said after seeing Harry's down expression.
Tiny nodded and smirked. "But I will see it soon!"
Mike laughed and playfully bumped into Tiny.
"You will if you keep it up. He found some cool stuff last week that we are still looking over, trying to see what it is. One thing we've also learned is to be careful. Some of the items, well, they are dangerous. They can hurt you in the most painful ways."
For a second Mike glanced over at Rick, who looked haunted. Harry felt as if his head was spinning at all this new information, that there was a world out there he never knew about… and yet….
"Hey, skinny, you going deaf too? Come on!"
Mike growled at Harry and he realized that the others had been filing out of the room and back towards the dining room. His stomach growled and he reflected that he could start reading the book after dinner. He glanced at the title. "Wizarding Society: Seven hundred and Seventy Seven Ways to Fulfill Your Dreams."
Mr. Steel leaned back in his chair wearily. Late at night he tried not to count the years and wonder if all he had done so far was worth it. What was he supposed to measure his life against? What was his great achievement? Would he ever succeed in cracking into the hard shell of this mysterious hidden world?
Even if he did, would anything at all come of it? With merely one spell, all he had done would be eradicated. It would be so easy for one small mistake to topple the house of cards he had built here. Still... the benefits, if he were to succeed in harnessing this technology. Or if he could just get some magical specimens. The plants alone! To cure cancer! But who on earth would believe him?
Mr. Steel again felt the crushing weight of inadequacy. He had come to the conclusion some time ago that there must be officials in the government who were aware of the phenomenon. If even someone like himself could stumble upon the secret world, who else had? Hundreds surely, if not thousands. Someone had to be also keeping tags on the mundane side of things. All his research could come to naught if he told the wrong person about his discoveries. What would happen to the children?
With that last despairing thought, Mr. Steel abruptly stood up and walked into another room and over to a cabinet. As his hand touched the handle, he asked himself again.
Was it truly worth it?