Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Slack

Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2002 7:25 PM

From: thefridayjones@hotmail.com (Friday Jones)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Slack
A Harry Potter/SubGenius crossover fanfic
(c) 2002 by the IrReverend Friday Jones (www.fridayjones.com)

(All characters, locations, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are
owned by JK Rowling and Hir corporate overmasters. The Church of the
SubGenius can be found online at www.subgenius.com. May contain minor
spoilers for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." The events
in this story take place during the fall of Harry's first year at

"I'm worried about Neville," said Hermione.

Harry and Ron sighed in agreement as the three of them wandered across
the lawn at Hogwarts. To know Neville was to worry about him.

All four of them - Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville - were first-year
students in Gryffindor House at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry. Ron had grown up in a family of magicians, while Harry and
Hermione had only found out about magic when they got their acceptance
letter from the school.

But Neville, who was from a very old wizarding family and by rights
should have getting along swimmingly at Hogwarts, instead was doing
the worst of the first-year Gryffindors. His Charms faltered, his
Transfigurations work was marginal, and Potions - well, that was a
special torment for all the Gryffindors, but Neville's bane

Professor Snape, who taught Potions (and was coincidentally head of
Slytherin House, Gryffindor's nemesis) seemed to take a grim pleasure
in badgering students. And while Harry was certain that Snape hated
him for reasons he didn't understand, he thought that Snape might be
trying to drive Neville right out of school just out of sheer spite.
Of course, the fact that Neville really WAS terrible at Potions didn't

Ron was the first of them to notice the woman walking across the lake
towards Hogwarts. At least it looked like she was walking across the
lake, the water dimpling around her feet. Then a cloud momentarily
covered the sun, and Harry gasped. He could see down into the clear
water of the lake, where the giant squid was swimming along under the
surface, carefully lifting up a tentacle under each of the woman's
feet as she walked along. For a moment, it looked like the woman was
floating in the air and the squid was a balloon tied to her feet.
Then the woman got to the shallows and jumped in, wading to shore and
waving back at the squid with one hand.

As she crossed the lawn and approached the three of them, Harry
couldn't decide if she was a teacher or a parent. She didn't look old
enough to be a teacher OR a parent. The long rippling black skirt and
hood looked witchy enough, but the black leather jacket covered with
zippers and snaps was definitely a Muggle item. And the pipe clenched
in her grinning teeth was a third puzzle.

"Good afternoon," the woman said, her red hair blazing in the sun.
"I'm looking for a student here, Neville Longbottom?"

"We were just talking about him!" blurted Ron. Harry thought the
woman seemed familiar, but couldn't decide quite why.

"Lucky me!" the woman replied. Harry noticed that when she talked,
the stem of her pipe didn't move; it seemed to stay rooted to her
bottom teeth, or else there was a spell on it to make it float. Harry
wondered if she took it out when she ate.

"I saw Neville sitting over there on the wall," said Hermione,
pointing. The woman immediately started striding in the direction
Hermione had pointed, and the three students had to trot to keep up.
"Um, and you are ...?" asked Harry.

The woman turned back to them and smiled even more broadly, if that
was possible. Harry realized why she looked familiar: her eyes were
the same blazing green as the ones he saw in a mirror. "The name's
Jones, Smokin' Jones. Pleased to meet you, Mr. ...?"

"Harry Potter," Harry replied, waiting to see Jones gulp, or laugh, or
gasp, or any of the other things that people seemed to do when
introduced to the famous Harry Potter. But Jones just nodded her head
and said "Hi!" His name didn't seem to mean anything special to her
at all, which was a first for Harry in the wizarding world.

Jones was now shaking hands with Ron and Hermione, before turning
again and heading to where Neville was sitting, idly peeling blades of
grass between his fingers.

"Did you notice how she didn't seem to know you Harry? I mean, you'd
think that anyone would know you by name, right?" asked Hermione.
"Did you notice that she's got your eyes?" said Ron.

"Maybe she's a relative of mine ... but wouldn't Hagrid or someone
have mentioned it to me?"

Ahead of them, Neville had gotten off the wall and was staring at
Jones with his mouth open. As they came up, Neville was saying in an
awed voice "You're really her! You're really Smokin' Jones!"
Jones replied "Yup. Your grandma wrote the Foundation, asked if
someone could impart a little Slack to her grandson who was havin' a
rough time at school. And I was in London doin' some shopping for
Fanthorpe and Smith, so they tapped me to come by."

"How did you get here from London?" asked Hermione.

"Oh, I just started walkin' in what felt like the general direction
... took a few shortcuts ... and here I am! Nice day for a walk,

"You walked here from London in ONE DAY?" asked Ron, his eyebrows up
almost to his hair. "Wow!"

Neville was still just staring at Jones. "Um, how long are you going
to be here?" he asked in a quavery voice.

"Well, as long as you need me to be. Or until it starts to impinge on
my Slack, or until I get the feelin' that I'm needed elsewhere. Or
whatever." Jones spread her hands and smiled again at the four
students in front of her.

"Could you wait here for a second? I'll be right back!" said Neville,
who turned and ran towards the school as fast as his legs could take

"Hmm, I hope I haven't frightened him off," said Jones in a musing
sort of voice as she sat down on the wall, spreading the damp edges of
her skirts out to dry. "Be a shame to come all this way and terrorize
the chick back into his shell ... Well, what would you like to talk
about while we wait?" she asked Ron, Hermione and Harry in general.
"Where are you from?" asked Ron, cutting off Hermione before she'd
done more than get her mouth open.

"America - Boston area. That-a-way." She pointed, her arm quivering
a bit and then freezing like a magnet's needle pointing north. Harry
had the funny feeling that she was pointing exactly to where she was

"Do I - do you know if you're related to the Potter family at all? I
mean, you sort of ... look like me," said Harry, stumbling over the
last portion of the sentence. But Jones just laughed.

"Only the eyes, I think - and that's just because of the sun in 'em.
If I was inside, I'd have brown eyes. But my hair seems to belong to
Ron here" - she tugged at a strand of her hair that was hanging over
her shoulder - "and I seem to have your friend Hermione's nose and
teeth." She touched her tongue to her front buck teeth and giggled.
They all looked at each other, and then for some reason they all
laughed. They were still laughing when Neville came panting back,
clutching a small card in one hand and a pen in the other.

"Miss Jones - could you - sign this for me? My grandma bought me the
whole pack one year, and I brought all my favorites with me to
Hogwarts. And, well ..." Neville blushed.

"A delight, Mr. Longbottom!" said Jones, making Neville blush even
more. She took the pen and signed one side of the card with a
sprawling signature. As Neville took the card and pen back, she
drummed her heels against the stones beneath her and said "And now to
business, I guess. What seems to be making you unhappy here?"
"Professor Snape," sighed Neville, and the other three winced in

"Is Professor Snape all that's making you unhappy?" said Jones, her
eyes fixed on Neville.

"Well no, it's just ... I was so excited to get into Hogwarts, but I
feel like maybe I just don't have enough magic to make it. I try
really hard to learn things, but I always end up forgetting half of
it. And Professor Snape, he teaches Potions, he's the hardest on me."
Neville sighed again.

"Hmmm." Jones looked up, into the distance. "This Professor Snape -
strict authoritarian type? Keeps the rules? Big on discipline?"
"Big on punishment," said Harry, and Ron nodded. "He's always taking
points from our House for the littlest things ..."

"Well bear in mind, you make a mistake mixin' something and it can
blow up, like as not. Better to lose some points than to lose some
face - literally. I suppose he wears black all the time?" This with
a glance at the school robes the students were wearing.

"Always," Ron nodded.

"Passing to and fro like a thunderstorm, never a smile on his face?"
Jones asked.

"That's him," said Harry.

"Hmm ... I picture someone with dark eyes, maybe a strong aquiline
nose ..."

"Hooked is more like it."

"And messy hair ..." continued Jones, now stroking her chin with one

"Greasy too - how did you know that?" asked Neville.

"Because it looks like he's coming this way."

The four students turned and stared. Striding across the lawn towards
them, his black robes flapping behind him, was Professor Snape. His
permanent scowl was deeper than ever.

Behind them, in a dreamy voice, Jones murmured, "And I could eat him
with a spoon."

All four of the children turned back to her. Seeing their startled
looks, Jones added "Not literally. I mean, if you find him tomorrow
with little spoon marks all over him, don't blame me."

This struck Ron as so funny that he could hardly breathe from
smothering a laugh as Snape approached.

"And who, may I ask, is this?" drawled Professor Snape as he came to a
halt in front of the little group, his arms crossed on his chest.
"You may not," said Jones.

Snape's mouth fell open, then closed with an audible snap. Jones was
turning her attention back to Neville, and saying "So, when you're
studying, do you -" when Snape interrupted.

"This is a private school, and we do not allow unauthorized people to
wander around on the grounds, Miss - ?"

"Jones, Smokin' Jones - and Neville's grandmother invited me. Sorry
if she didn't tell you, I guess you just weren't on the need-to-know
list," said Jones, drawling her own words just a tiny bit. Now Harry
was the one having a hard time holding in his laughter, and Ron was
biting his lip; Hermione just looked upset. Neville looked out and
out frightened.

"I think, Miss Jones, that you and Mr. Neville and his three friends
here will accompany me to see Deputy Headmistress Professor
McGonagall. Now." Snape put his hands behind his back and aimed his
most withering glare at Jones, who only kept grinning and scratched at
the top of her head.

"Well, whatever makes you happy. Lead the way!"

Snape hesitated a moment, looking at them, then turned on his heel and
headed back for the school. Jones got off the wall and followed, and
Harry and the others trailed behind.

Worse luck, on the way to the main entrance they met Draco Malfoy,
with his goons Crabbe and Goyle in tow. Draco loathed Harry, and
Harry returned the feeling.

"In trouble again, Potter?" sneered Draco. But Jones stopped in front
of the blond boy and grabbed him by the chin, looking at his face
intently. Draco scowled and shook his head free.

"Get your hands off me!" he snapped. Jones kept on walking, now
behind Harry and Neville, and said (to herself it seemed) "Papa Joe
Junior, as I live and breathe ..."

Harry couldn't understand that; Draco's father was named Lucius, he
thought, not Joe. They were at the door of the school, and Harry and
Neville went inside - and Jones' footsteps stopped behind them. Ron
and Hermione brushed past, but when Harry turned to look, Jones seemed
to be frozen, with one booted toe just at the edge of the doorsill.
Neville noticed too, and said, "Miss Jones?"

Jones' eyes glittered strangely, and Harry noticed that out of the sun
they did in fact turn a sort of velvety deep brown. She said in a
strained voice, "I cannot come further without an - invitation."
"Oh!" said Neville, and then "OH!" He shouted at the professor's
retreating back (Snape hadn't even noticed that the others had
stopped) "Professor Snape! We can't -"

Snape interrupted, "Come along then, all of you!"

Neville almost screamed "NO!"

Smokin' Jones smiled, an even broader smile than before it seemed, and
stepped over the threshold. And then -

Harry and the others were turning their heads, looking, left and
right. Jones had seemed to split, to blur, as she crossed the
threshold into the school: it was like the entire hallway was filled
with transparent ghosts of her, all around them and around Snape
(Harry seemed to see several of the Joneses making rather strange
gestures behind Snape's head), flickering and shifting and moving,
then vanishing one by one until ... until they were all gone.

The four students and Snape were standing in the entrance, and there
was no sign of Jones.

"What was that?" snapped Snape.

"You shouldn't have done that!" gasped Neville. "You invited her in!
Now -"

"NOW we will go see Professor McGonagall and you can explain to her
AND to me what just happened!" said Snape, obviously on the edge of
losing his temper.

They went.

When the four of them were lined up in front of Professor McGonagall's
desk, with Snape glowering behind them (very much like a thunderstorm,
Jones had certainly gotten that right), Harry thought to himself that
just a half-hour before, none of this had been happening. Professor
McGonagall was listening to Snape's story, her face getting grimmer.
"And just who was this young woman that you were talking with, Mr.
Longbottom?" she asked crisply.

"S-Smokin' Jones, ma'am, she's a - well, sort of a philosopher, or a
comedian, or a saleswoman, wait!" As McGonagall looked on
disapprovingly, Neville rooted around in his robe and pulled out the
card that Jones had signed. He started reading from it; Harry could
see a picture of Jones on the side he wasn't reading.

"'Smokin' Jones - Part of the Jones Prime Hive. SubGenius Ambassador
at Largesse. Blesser, Confessor, and Hair-Messer.'"

Ron elbowed Harry at that, and Harry elbowed him back; Neville just
kept reading.

"'Emergentile and Finisher of Undone Tasks (with permission). Her
Pipe is both messenger and travel agent, and cures psoriasis with its
dottle. Red hair and variable eyes. Fights only with her left hand.
Can - '" Neville had to stop because Snape had plucked the card out
of his hands, and was looking at the picture on it.

Snape shook the card, then waved his hand in front of the picture of
Jones. Then he asked Neville, in a cold voice, "Why, Mr. Longbottom,
does this picture not move?"

Neville audibly gulped before replying, "Well, that's a Muggle card,
sir, it's never moved."

There was a moment of silence before Professor McGonagall inquired,
her voice as cold as Snape's, "Are you saying that this woman is a
Muggle? And she is inside the school?"

"But they can't!" said Hermione. "Muggles can't come onto the
Hogwarts grounds, can they?"

"They most certainly may not, Miss Granger, and don't interrupt me
again. I think that you all should head back to the Gryffindor common
room, while Professor Snape and I go see the Headmaster."

Snape laid his hand in an ominous way on Neville's shoulder. "And
what was that business when she came through the doorway? That was
magic, I'm sure of it."

"Um ...," Neville looked in distress at Snape and at McGonagall, " ...
she's a Finisher of Undone Tasks. If you invite her across the
threshold of a home or a store or whatever, she finds whatever isn't
done and starts doing it. But only if you invite her. Like, um, like
you did. Sir."

Professor Snape loomed over Neville, glaring at him. "A point from
Gryffindor for your cheek, Longbottom. And when I find that Jones
woman, whoever or whatever she is, she is going to regret the day that
she came to Hogwarts. Now off with the lot of you!"

The four students wasted no time in leaving the classroom; as they
did, Snape and McGonagall left and headed in the opposite direction.
"I don't get it. Is she a witch or a Muggle?" wondered Ron.

"Well, she's not a Muggle, but it isn't so much that she does magic as
she is magic, if you know what I mean."

"Do you mean that she studies some special American sort of magic?"
asked Hermione, always eager for something new to learn.

Neville shrugged. "My Gran never could describe it exactly, but it's
more like using magic just to slide through life, without
concentrating on casting spells or anything, just - just - just
slacking off. It's all just SubGenius, I guess."

"SubGenius? Never heard of it," said Harry, who wondered if this
wasn't all some sort of a joke.

"Well, that's what Gran called it," said Neville.

Hermione abruptly changed direction and started going down another

"Hey, where are you going? We're supposed to go to the Gryffindor
common room," said Ron to her back.

Hermione turned and said, "No, Professor McGonagall said that we
should head back to the common room, but I'm just taking a little
detour to the library. I want to look up this SubGenius branch of

She turned and kept going. Ron and Harry shrugged at each other and
followed, and Neville trailed along behind, still wondering out loud
if this was such a good idea.

At the library, Hermione was trying to figure out what section
SubGenius would be under when they heard Madam Pince calling over

Madam Pince, the librarian, was forever dashing back and forth through
the long narrow rows of the library, badgering students to put their
books back on the shelves and not leave bits of parchment and worn-out
quills everywhere. But today she was sitting at her desk, looking
relaxed and sipping a cup of tea. Her feather duster sat ignored by
her side.

"Neville - it is Neville from Gryffindor, isn't it? I wanted to thank
you for having that nice young lady stop by. Miss Jones volunteered
to help me with the reshelving, and I must say she's a wonder at it.
I could never keep up, even with my wand, there's so many books that
belong in the same section but don't like each other, so they keep
creeping away or worse yet fighting each other, and some books in
different sections keep sneaking onto empty shelves to meet ..."
Madam Pince's voice faded behind them as Neville turned round and
headed out of the library with the others in tow.

"Wait, where are you going?" asked Ron.

"To tell Professor McGonagall where Smokin' Jones is!" answered

"But you can't! Snape is with her, and if he hears it he'll come down
here and ..."

"We need to find her," said Harry. "We need to find Miss Jones and
tell her to get out of here!"

"Well you know, she isn't supposed to be in the school at all," said
Hermione in a bossy tone. Ron rounded on her.

"Does that mean she deserves to have Snape blast her out of her
shoes?" he said heatedly.

"Well no, but still .." Hermione faltered.

"Come on, let's just find her!" said Harry. "We'll split up. If you
find her tell her, I know - tell her to meet Neville and us at
Hagrid's hut. And tell her where it is. Now go!"

The four of them hurried off in different directions.

Harry had never really paid attention before to how the shelves of the
library just seemed to go on and on and on. Occasionally he would
cross paths with one of the others, but nobody had seen her. Once he
dashed around the end of a shelf at the glimpse of red hair on the
other side, only to find it was just Fred and George Weasley, Ron's

"Have you seen a woman in, er, a leather Muggle jacket?" asked Harry,
feeling stupid.

But Fred and George's faces lit up. One of them replied "Cor, you
mean that Jones girl? She's a looker, isn't she? She told us that
she was doin' a bit of library expansion work, if you know what I mean

Both Fred and George winked in unison. Harry had no idea what they
were talking about.

"Look, if you see her again, tell her that Professor Snape is looking
for her and he's really angry, and she should get out of the school
and go to Hagrid's hut. Tell her where it is, OK?"

"Will do!" said Fred - or was it George? - giving a mock salute.
Harry hurried on.

Harry had about given up hope - maybe one of the others had found her
and told her where to go - maybe he should stop looking and send a
note to Hagrid to be on the lookout for Jones - when he came into one
of the sections of tables where students would sit. Hermione was on
the other side, making funny gestures at Harry, pointing down at the
floor. What was it?

Then Jones popped up from behind one of the tables, and Snape came
into view a moment later; Harry figured that Jones must have been
hiding under a table or something. Snape had his wand out, and
pointed at Jones. Jones was still smiling, and backing away from the
furious-looking professor; he followed, his voice silky with threat.
"Miss Jones, or whoever you are, you are coming with me to the
Headmaster's office. Now. And keep still!"

"Oh, I don't think so." Jones was back into the shelves now, with
Snape still following; Harry could hear her talking as he moved along
the next row, then cut across and came up behind her.

Over the shoulder of Jones' leather jacket, Harry could see Snape's
furious face, and Hermione and Neville were behind Snape, looking
scared. Ron came around the corner and nearly knocked Harry to the
floor; then both of them started backing up.

"Get out of here, Potter - and you too, Weasley!" Snape snapped.
Harry realized that if Snape did send any spells at Jones, they might
miss and hit him. Maybe not by accident either. But now they were
all trapped in a long stretch of shelves with no breaks, so there was
nowhere to go but back or forward.

Smokin' Jones still sounded like she was smiling. "Sir, I am not
threatening you. I am perfectly willing to leave in my own time -
even now, if that's the way you want it. But really , this hostility
is not ... "

"If I have to drag you unconscious to Headmaster Dumbledore's office,
I will!" Snape was almost shouting.

"Don't make me light this pipe, Professor." Jones' hand was cupping
the bowl of her pipe, and there was a light at the tip of one finger;
Harry looked closer and could see that it was actually a flame,
shooting out of the tip of her nail. Her lit finger hovered over the
pipe. "I'm warning you ..."

"NO!" Snape snapped, and raised his wand; Harry just caught a glimpse
of Jones' finger plunging into the pipe's bowl before a cloud of blue
smoke engulfed all of them.

Harry thought that he would choke, but realized that the smoke wasn't
hurting his throat at all. In fact, it was rather nice, the smell of
it. He took a deep breath, and then another. And another. It was
really relaxing. He just wanted to sit down and enjoy the way the
smoke was making him feel, so he did. Beside him, Ron sat down on the
floor too, a silly smile on his face. Ron was such a good pal, it was
nice that he was here too ...

Harry tilted his head back, looking at the way the blue tendrils of
smoke were drifting and moving in the air. The color of the smoke was
really nice, and the way it looked against all the different colors of
the books and the ceiling and the shelves. It was so ... interesting

His head rolled to the side and he saw Hermione and Neville sitting
down on the floor too, kind of leaning on each other's shoulders.
Snape had one hand on the bookshelf beside him as he slowly slid to
the ground. Harry found this sliding really funny - it was the way he
went so SLOW - and started to giggle. Snape was on his hands and
knees now, shaking his head, and Harry found the way his hair flew
around his head in little strands just as mesmerizing as the smoke

"Oh ... Professor Snape .. before I ... forget ... may I have my ...
card back?" Neville was talking funny. Kind of slow and dreamy-like.

"Why ... certain ... ly ... ," said Snape in the same sort of voice.
He couldn't quite seem to figure out how to turn around and face
Neville - he got the card out of his pocket OK, but ended up sitting
down and rolling over onto his back to give the card to Neville.

Harry came crawling over and looked down at Snape's face: his eyes
were half-shut and seemed to be rolled back into his head.

"You know, Professor ... I really ... hate youuuu," Harry drawled. He
thought he sounded like Snape, and giggled again.

Snape reached up with one long arm and hooked his elbow behind Harry's
neck; he dragged Harry down until they were face-to-face, foreheads
touching, before saying "I ... hate youuuu ... tooooo."

Then Snape giggled. And Harry sat back and giggled. Ron, Neville,
and Hermione (who had been staring entranced at the intertwining coils
in a lock of her own hair) all joined in the mutual giggle.

Professor McGonagall found them like that, all sprawled on the floor
of the library, giggling. She was not amused. Especially since there
was no sign of Smokin' Jones.

Later it all seemed like a dream to Harry, even after Madam Pomfrey in
the hospital wing looked them all over and said the effects of the
smoke (whatever it had been) had worn off.

Had there really been a not-Muggle woman named Smokin' Jones, who
walked across the lake and disappeared when she lit her pipe? The
glare that Snape gave Harry the next day at breakfast suggested that
it certainly had all been real. And there was the signature on
Neville's SubGenius Trading Card. But it wasn't until a few days
later that there was any more tangible evidence of it.

It was mail call that morning, and the Great Hall was full of owls
swooping and dropping letters for their owners when someone at the far
end of the Gryffindor table yelled "Eek!" Along the length of the
table, people jumped back or yelled, and Harry gasped as well as he
felt something soft go scuttling over his foot, towards the teacher's
table. Heads were turning to see where the soft thing was going.

Suddenly something white jumped up onto the High Table in front of
Headmaster Dumbledore. For a second Harry thought it was a white cat
waving its tail, but then - he was near enough the end to see - he saw
that it was a white squid, about a foot long, standing on the curve of
its tentacles. McGonagall was looking alarmed, and Hagrid had his
table knife held rather threateningly; Dumbledore gestured them to be

The little squid seemed to look around at the table, then turned to
Dumbledore. It gave a little bow with its head, or barrel, or
whatever you called it - the pointy end opposite where the tentacles
came out of - handed Dumbledore a white envelope that it was carrying,
bowed again, and then jumped off the table and scuttled away under the
Gryffindor table. Now everyone was looking under the table, including
Harry, but the squid was going fast enough that he only saw a flash
going past, hopping over feet and heading for the Great Hall exit.

"Let it go, Mr. Filch," called out Dumbledore to the caretaker, who
was hovering by the door obviously waiting to close it and trap the
creature. Harry could see Filch's head turn to follow the squid as it
scuttled out the door and away.

Up at the High Table, Dumbledore had opened his letter and was reading
it. The owls overhead were being ignored, and a number of letters
ended up in people's porridge or eggs as people craned their necks to
see what letter Dumbledore had gotten from such an unusual messenger.
"What was that thing? D'you think the giant squid in the lake had
babies?" asked Ron.

Harry had a sudden image of the lake full of squid, tipping all the
first years' boats over. Then he had an image of Hagrid surrounded by
dozens of giant squid and feeding them all slices of toast. He
coughed and said, "I don't think so. And why would anyone use a squid
to send a letter, instead of an owl?"

"There's no letter-delivery squid in Fantastic Beasts. I was reading
up on squid because of the way that woman came walking across the
lake," said Hermione.

"Maybe Smokin' Jones sent it?" guessed Harry.

Dumbledore was showing the letter to Professor McGonagall beside him;
after she read it, she looked at Harry and Ron and raised her

"I'm afraid you guessed right," said Ron.

McGonagall was showing the letter to Snape now, who looked at it,
pointed to something and almost snarled. Then he looked at Ron and
Harry and lowered his eyebrows.

Ron and Harry looked at each other. Then they both started eating
their breakfast faster. Ron nudged Neville under the table and
gestured for him to hurry up too. Maybe they could get finished and
to their next class before McGonagall came over ...

No such luck.

"I want to see all of you - and that includes you, Mr. Longbottom - in
my classroom as soon as you are finished eating," said the Professor
before she went sweeping out of the Great Hall.

When the four of them arrived in the Professor's room, Snape was
already there and looking grumpier than usual, which was pretty
grumpy. There was a pile of carpet tacks on the desk, probably to be
transfigured into tops or woodpeckers or whatever by the next class.
Professor McGonagall held out two pieces of paper to Neville and said,
"I wonder if you could tell me what these mean, Mr. Longbottom?"

Neville started reading the letter, and when Ron and Harry looked over
his shoulders, he held the letter at arms'-length so that they could
all see it.

The first piece of paper was not handwritten parchment, but typed in
Muggle fashion, and said:







After they had all read that extremely strange letter, Neville held up
the second one, which was also typed:





When all four of them had finished reading, they looked at each other.
Harry didn't have the slightest idea what it all meant, and from the
looks on the others' faces, neither did they.

"Well?" snapped Snape.

"Well ... I know that CC means carbon copy, it means send a copy of
the letter to the person, my parents have to CC some of their bills
with insurance companies," said Hermione is a cautious voice, not at
all her usual know-it-all tone.

"And you, Mr. Longbottom? You are the expert on these - SubGeniuses.
What do you make of these letters?" said Professor McGonagall.

Neville shuffled his feet. "SG Foundation is the SubGenius
Foundation. All that stuff about Yetisyn genes, I guess that means
that she thinks we're all SubGeniuses too, born into it."

"She said that Draco Malfoy looked like someone named Joe," added

"And it sounds like I'm supposed to be related to Jones," said
Hermione, who didn't sound exactly thrilled by this.

"The unnamable enemy, that must be You-Know-Who. My Gran never quite
explained the Harvest to me, but it's something about making sure
there's lots of other SubGeniuses around at a particular time and

"And 'dibs confirmed on Snape'?" sneered the Potions Master.

"I don't know what that means, sir," said Neville and fell silent.

The silence stretched out ominously.

Professor McGonagall picked up a third piece of paper - a sealed
envelope with writing on one side, saying 'BURN ME.' "Considering the
effect that Miss Smokin' Jones' pipe had on everyone present when
lit," she looked at the students who looked abashed, then at Snape who
just looked angry, "I hesitate to burn this without testing it first."

"Oh, that'll be money," said Neville, confidently for once. "Muggle
money, that is - you burn it and the smoke summons the SubGeniuses.
My Gran told me that much."

McGonagall looked at the envelope with distaste. "Then I think I will
give it to Headmaster Dumbledore to dispose of as he sees fit. And I
would appreciate it, Mr. Longbottom, if you could ask your grandmother
not to invite such - alarming - people to come visit you."

"And as to the matter of points ..." Snape started, but was silenced
by a look from McGonagall.

"As the students did not invite this person here, it hardly seems
appropriate to punish them by taking off points, Professor Snape."
Snape drummed his fingers against the desk. He obviously thought it
would be VERY appropriate.

After classes were over that day, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville sat
together in the Gryffindor common room, trying to make out what the
two mysterious messages had meant.

"Happy hiving - does that mean she's going to give Snape hives?"
wondered Ron.

"It says on the card that she's from the Jones Prime Hive - maybe
she's going to turn him into a bug!" exclaimed Neville.

"Maybe she'll squash him before our next Potions lesson," said Harry

Just then Fred and George came over, and Fred immediately leaned over
Hermione and said in a whisper, "So - what do you think of the new
library expansion, eh? Great, right?"

"What are you talking about?" said Hermione. "There's no new library

Harry sat up. "Wait, that's what Smokin' Jones was doing in the
library yesterday, right?"

"Right!" The twins beamed at the four students, but their grins
faltered at their looks of bewilderment.

Ron broke the silence first. "Well ... what did she DO, then?"

Without another word, Fred and George got them all up and out of the
portrait hole, towards the library. "You are not going to believe
this!" gloated George.

Once in the library, Fred and George steered the others to a deserted
section in the back. Then, Fred took out his wand, tapped the
bookshelf, and said "Give me Slack!"

A brightly-colored book popped out of the shelf a few inches; Harry
was certain it hadn't been there before. George pulled it off the
shelf and showed it to them; it was a softcover Muggle sort of book,
and on the front cover glowed the picture of a smiling pipe-smoking
man who bore somewhat the same expression as Smokin' Jones. Before
George hid it under his sweater, Harry had time to read the title: THE

"And it doesn't matter where you are! Just go up to a shelf and say
'Give me Slack!' When you put the book back it vanishes. Go on, try
it! Each time you get a different book!"

Ron was the first one to tap, and in response he got a thick book with
a picture of an athletic-looking squid on the cover. The title was
disappointed that the squid on the cover wasn't moving, though.
Hermione tried it and got a large yellow book called BEHOLD! THE
PROTONG!, and when Harry stepped up and whispered "Give me Slack!"
with a tap of his wand, he got an smaller book with a picture of a
spaceship on the cover. ENDER'S GAME, he read, and scratched his

"Let me try!" Neville's selection was the best sign that the spell for
retrieving these books (Harry looked inside the front cover of his and
found a bookplate that said 'From the Library of Jones~54') was
specific to each person; his book had a picture of a brain on the

"D'you think this will really help me remember things?" said Neville
eagerly, scanning the first few pages.

"Only if you remember to read it - and don't let Madam Pince see you
getting' these books!" replied Fred.

Following George's example, they all hid their books under their robes
(Hermione had a hard time of it, her book was the biggest) and then
went back to their dorms to read them in private.

The next Potions class they had was sheer torture. Professor Snape
was in a foul mood, and determined to take it out on the Gryffindors
in general and Neville specifically. To Harry, it looked like Neville
was within an inch of either bursting into tears or running out of the

"We will see if your general incompetence will not be too taxed by
this Adhering Potion," he said to the class in his silkiest voice.
His expression suggested that the effort would probably kill the lot
of them, and that he would have caustic things to say about each and
every one of them at their funerals.

When Snape had turned back to the chalkboard to write up a list of
potion ingredients, Ron leaned across Harry and tapped Neville on the
shoulder. Neville looked up from his cringe and Ron showed him - a

Neville stared.

Ron made a little gesture, as though covering Snape's back with little
spoon-marks - and Neville got it. He grinned, and sat back a little

When Snape turned back to the class, and saw the broad grin on
Neville's face, he did everything he could think of to wipe it off.
But he couldn't - quite - get it all. Because all Neville was
picturing was Smokin' Jones' grin as she slowly chopped up Snape with
a spoon and ate him, one bite at a time.

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