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This roleplay is a reboot; the original was in a previous version of S*T.


England was not a country popular for its weather. Citizens over the centuries had chastised it for its common fog, sudden rain and overall gloomy weather, but nothing had changed. In fact, that was how England operated over everything. Criticisms, complaints, then nothing. Trudging through the depressing grey streets of Diagon Alley, keeping his head low because there was nothing interesting to see looking up either, Samuel Gerlach Moore decided that he had had enough. He needed the sun. He missed home. He was sinking into depression. Samuel Moore, sinking into depression! If this was not a clear indication that something was utterly wrong, he had no idea what was.

“Is this… is this Samuel Moore?†A girl had been peering goggle-eyed at him for hours now. He was used to people staring at him, and had learnt to ignore them unless they voluntarily spoke to him. He turned to look at her now and smiled. She was such a young girl, bespectacled and clad in Hogwarts uniform, and she was twittering in glee to an old woman beside her. “It is, Grandma! It’s Samuel Moore! You know, the Chaser for the USA Hawks. I can’t believe we’re seeing him here, in person!â€

“I know,†croaked the old granny in return. “I remember him as the Keeper of the Barn Owls. A French team, I remember it was. He’s a star player, all right.â€

Samuel did not say anything in response. He never did know what to say. It was a fact that he was world-renowned, and Quidditch teams from all over the world were fighting to recruit him because of his skill in taking on every role in the game. Few Quidditch players were as all-rounded as he was. Teams found it useful to have him on the team because they could arrange him to take on any role and he would rise to the occasion. Yes, he was important and famous, but he was just as nervous as anybody else when confronted by strangers on the street professing admiration for him.

“Yeah… I’m Samuel Moore. Yeah,†was all he could muster. The lucky girl and her grandmother had him sign in their notebooks (the girl was a Chaser in school too, so it seemed, but she had forgotten to bring her playing mitts) and moved on with a cheery farewell.

Yes, the Englishmen were cheery. They were also very dignified, which he admired very much. But the fact remained that he was not one of them. It was funny no one knew his nationality anymore, not after he had played for so many countries. It would take very dedicated fans to remember that his first international game had been in the 2001 Quidditch World Cup when he was playing Australia as a Seeker.

But England had been a place which held fond memories for him too. He had studied at Hogwarts, after all, and had scored many points for Gryffindor playing Quidditch in his youth—and lost just as many playing pranks on other students. He had once been just as innocent and joyful as the girl who had left with his autograph and a permanent grin on her face, whose name he learned was Susan. He had left Hogwarts for 11 years, though, and since then, he had discovered things he never dreamed existed. Not that politics and conspiracies mattered so much to him. In a world of sports, countries did not matter so much. Things were much clearer as long as one did not dabble in drama.

“Pffft, stop being so moody already,†he cried aloud to himself, causing people in the vicinity to turn their heads and gasp at him. “You just have an injured leg and won’t be playing for a month. You’re just depressed because you’re bored. And now everybody’s gaping at you for talking to yourself. Sheesh.â€

He had reached his house. Bungalows in Diagon Alley were expensive and solely for celebrities. His house, he thought, was the most thrilling. It was painted green, red and yellow, and had balloons hanging from its roof. This was set between two other bungalows that were whitewashed and looked perfectly ordinary and dull. He laughed to himself. There was nothing like seeing his own home, and the shock it gave to VIPs who visited it, to make him feel better about anything. He hobbled up the driveway and unlocked the door.

“Mr Swift!†he exclaimed, his face brightened, as a broomstick flew towards him from the living-room. He stepped through the door and hugged the broomstick like a psyched fanboy. The lovely Mr Swift was his only companion around the house, the only friend he would pour out his troubles and woes to each day. It would have been his trusty wife had it not been a male persona.

Dinner was a simple affair. There was Butterbeer, his staple beverage, followed by a Muggle TV dinner. Mr Swift sat beside him on the sofa. It liked watching children’s shows on television, especially Horace the Hippogriff, so Samuel would humour it too. His mind was not on the show and the irritating neighing sound of the cartoon animal, though. He was thinking of Hogwarts again. He wondered if Susan knew, or any of the other pupils, that it was tied in more deeply with the Ministry of Magic than anyone thought. That ever since the Harry Potter incident had been resolved twenty-one years ago, Hogwarts had grown steadily closer with the government. And now the government was staking its claim in the world.

“Let’s make a new one!†Horace said merrily on the television screen, gesturing at the remains of a cake that had been ruined by overheating in an oven. Mr Swift wriggled. Samuel scooped up more fish and shoveled it into his mouth. An insane idea had taken root in his mind.

Can we really make a new one?

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The train rattled along steadily, the occasional bump in the track jolting its occupants lightly. Most were buried in newspapers or books, or snoozing. It was dark as pitch outside, making the train cabin become like its own little world.

If, then, this tiny cabin was a world of its own, much like the greater Earth itself was, its few occupants mattered far more than they did outside of it. In the greater world they were ones in a number of billions of co-inhabitants of the planet. In this cabin, the three occupants each made up 33% of its world. Did it matter more in the scheme of things, then, when the dozing old man sneezed in his sleep? Or when the woman peering closely at the newspaper clicked her tongue in disapproval of something she'd read?

No, Callidus decided. Their actions were still of the mundane even in a world of only three people. He, however, was contemplating greater matters. Callidus Lacroix, who worked with experimental and dangerous spells every day, was so afraid of Apparation that he was expending extra time to take the train instead. Surely this was the only important consideration in this tiny world? Callidus could apparate well enough when necessary, but this time he couldn't - he couldn't focus properly on wanting to get to his destination when, in fact, he would rather be anywhere else. He'd been splinched before trying to apparate into Diagon Alley, for the same reason.

Finally the whistle on the train blew as the brakes screeched, signalling they'd arrived at their destination. Callidus zipped out of the cabin before the other two slow-witted occupants had even been roused from their purposeless thoughts. The train halted and Callidus again was the first one out. His black robes billowed as a gust of icy wind blew across the platform, and he grumbled as he smoothed them and his underlying suit out again. His dark, neatly-kept hair too had been disrupted, but a wave of his wand saw it flattened back down once again. As he straightened his rectangular-framed glasses, the platform sign caught his eye.

Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Nostalgia swept over Callidus. Of course, he'd departed from here many times on the journey to Hogwarts. Of course, the well-known red school train had long departed, and now the platform was used for more day-to-day transportation.

Callidus walked briskly, both in no mood to daudle and trying to keep warm in the freezing night air. Winter nights in England were colder than back home, in Australia. The decision of his father, Bardus, to move to Australia shortly before Callidus was born was the only smart move he could credit the man for. Callidus was intelligent and clever, whilst his father was a moronic simpleton who never asked questions or sought knowledge. Callidus didn't know whether he hated living there with him more than having to visit London.

Of course, London was the where the heart of the Ministry of Magic was located, which was exactly why Callidus hated it so. He recalled the tales from childhood, of Harry Potter and the evil Lord Voldemort. Not nearly as scary as those were the tales of the Ministry's ineptitude. First covering up the latter's return to power, slandering all those that could possibly combat him, and its eventual fall into Voldemort's hands. Of course, Callidus was smart enough not to put full faith in childhood tales, especially from his father, but his own experience had convinced him it was true. The Ministry of today continued to try to control everything, suppressing dissent and rumours harmful to its supposed integrity. Worse still was the fact that Callidus worked for them. He had wanted to work in his country of birth, but the Ministry also seemed to like keeping all its cards close to home. There weren't any decent jobs for someone of Callidus' talents going back home, he had to live just outside London and answer to the Ministry he so despised.

But that wasn't to be pondered tonight. Tonight was a night for revelry, after all. He was in town to meet up with three of his good friends from his school days. Their meetings were hard to organise amid their varying schedules, and so Callidus would consent to meeting in Diagon Alley, that being the only workable solution for others.

Callidus stepped into the Leaky Cauldron, precisely on time, and searched around for signs of his friends. It was 9pm on a Friday, and so the place was more crowded than usual. It would not have been a surprise to Callidus if he were the first to arrive, even considering Samuel lived in Diagon Alley. He was just more organised than the others.

Well, except perhaps for one of them...

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Next appointment: Dinner with Mr Sanchez at 7.29 pm

The leather-bound pocket book was clapped shut and the door to the Leaky Cauldron opened. A man dressed in a business suit and polished black shoes strode into the tavern, emanating a superior air about him. Perhaps it was the fact that he was not wearing a wizard’s conventional robes but visibly Muggle clothing instead. Perhaps it was his snide expression that told everybody he was a busy man and could only entertain them for a while, but they should be grateful that he was even sparing what little time he had to be with them anyway. His lean legs made lengthy strides across the wooden floorboards, his black hair slicked-up and artificial. When he reached the table he wanted, he cast a suave, blue-eyed look at the only inhabitant and whipped out a name card.

“Benjy Kurosawa,†he said, flashing the name card before him. “It’s been a long time, Callidus.†He pulled out a chair by the window and took a seat. He had arrived five minutes early as business ethics required, and as expected, he was not the last one to arrive. He had counted on the only resident of Diagon Alley to be absent till the last minute, and it struck him with some surprise that there was still one other acquaintance yet to be seen.

“Butterbeer, please,†he told the waiter, dropping precise change into his outstretched hand. He never gave more than the stated price because he was always afraid waiters might mistake him for tipping.

“And so how have you been, Callidus?†he turned to his companion now. It was peculiar what little time did to change Callidus’ boyish appearance. He was still bespectacled in an era of contact lenses, absorbed in a universe of his own. Was Benjy the only one who had changed over these years?

“Hey, Callidus! Benjy! Gosh!†A familiar shout echoed through the tavern and a broomstick began whizzing towards them. Samuel never did understand the concept of lowering his voice in an enclosed space. Benjy could still remember the embarrassment he caused him when he began screaming about his favourite Quidditch stars in the Hogwarts library.

“Mr Swift, be a good boy and stand still. No, I’ve eaten, thanks. What’s that? Oh, a name card. You’ve set up a Muggle moneylending service at such a young age, and with such low interest rates too. I’ll tell my parents to borrow from you in future. Callidus, don’t zone out at me!†Samuel was a bundle of energy as usual. Benjy was sure he had his moody and dejected times, but he never showed them in front of people. And he loved parties.

“Is Daisy late? What’s she up to, letting three men wait up for her like that? I’m going to spank her with Mr Swift when I see her.†The same old broomstick that Samuel had been using ever since his third year at Hogwarts twitched at the sound of its name. Benjy was sure he had never seen a more sentient broomstick than that one. Perhaps using it often enough gave it life, like a Quick Quotes Quill.

“Do you want to send an owl to find out where Daisy is? She’s not usually ten minutes late,†he suggested.

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Thunder cracked in the sky, sounding the start of a heavy rain. In the streets beneath, the shadowed figures of people began scurrying around more urgently, zipping under cover or into buildings. A few were prepared enough and simply opened up umbrellas, making themselves as pinheads to the skies above. Daisy was not one of them.

"Aaah!" she screeched as the rain buffeted down suddenly. She broke into a run, a leash in her hand with a little dog pulling her along as if she needed further encouragement.

She skidded to a halt in front of the Leaky Cauldron, almost slipping over as her dog kept running and tugged on the leash. "Come on, Yiye!" she begged, dragging the over-excited dog over.

No sooner had she stepped into the building did the bartender chastise her, "Ya can't bring that mutt in here."

"Fine." Daisy groaned, kneeling down and giving her Shih-tzu dog a kiss on the head. "Well off you go then, be a good girl and don't go hanging around with male dogs." And with that she took off Yiye's leash and held open the door, as the little dog eagerly ran out down the street.

She stuffed the leash into the pocket of her dark jeans and spotted the table the others were at. She took the seat Samuel pulled over for her and plopped down looking miserable, her golden-blonde hair looking bedragled and soggy.

"Sorry I'm so late guys." She started, taking off her soaked jacket, which seemed to be stained with something. "I had to take care of a Bowtruckle that was attacking some Muggle lumberjacks, as well as the Obliviators that came to erase the memories of the prior. And then when I got home Camelia and Chrysantha were both sick and my mother was overwhelmed." She threw her jacket, which smelt of vomit, in the face of an old man at the next table who'd looked twice at the ample front of her singlet.

Daisy Hawthorne lived with her mother and several more adopted children than they could handle. Her mother just had too much care to give, and had started adopting children after Daisy and her two biological sisters had grown up. Her father was long dead, and her sisters living overseas, so she had to be there and help her mother when things got out of hand - as they often did with a household of 5 children. Three boys and two girls, all named after flora as Daisy and her sisters all were. Her mother had a thing for such names it seemed. Maybe she thought her children would stay rooted forever if they were named after plants and flowers?

"How's the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures treating you?" Callidus asked, as Daisy ordered a drink.

"Well, alright I suppose." she muttered, "I daresay the magical creatures treat me better though." she laughed, her clear hazel eyes coming alive for the first time since she'd trudged in.

She was with friends now, not work colleagues, and she reminded herself to loosen up.

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The food at the Leaky Cauldron suited Samuel’s tastes very well. Even though he was a world-famous Quidditch player now with a dietitian at his beck and call (though everyone knew it was always the other way round with them; they were the modern and costly version of nannies), he allowed himself to indulge in his favourite food once a week. There was steak with butter generously lathered on its surface—he called it his Beef Waffle—and potato ice-cream, quite against the dietitian’s advice.

“A second helping, please!†he hollered to the waiter, placing a Galleon on the table. Benjy’s eyes widened unwittingly at the cash. Samuel was not as rich as he was, but he sure frittered all his money away on needless things.

“And so how’re you now, Benjy?†Samuel must have noticed Benjy watching him critically. He beamed, revealing all the chewed-up food in his mouth very ungraciously. “Are you still cheating away the money of my Muggle kinsfolk?â€

“I wouldn’t call them your Muggle kinsfolk when I spend more time with them and know more about them than you do,†smirked Benjy in return. Samuel and Benjy had a strange friendship, demonstrated by their banter, that neither Callidus nor Daisy would ever understand. After all, Samuel was a Muggle-born wizard who had lost touch with the Muggle community for years after he began living alone. On the other hand, Benjy was a pureblood who did business with Muggles and always topped the Muggle Studies class at Hogwarts.

“Besides, I take offence at the word ‘cheating’. My clients put their faith in my business by taking out a loan, and I’ve never resorted to any crude or magical means in getting my money back even from the most stubborn debtors,†added Benjy in a dignified manner. “In fact, I do believe that some of them borrow money for the sake of placing bets on Quidditch teams, so who knows, you may be the underlying cause of rampant bankruptcy in the United Kingdom and beyond.†His eyes twinkled as he surveyed the man sitting right opposite.

“Pah.†Samuel stuck his wand between his teeth to pick out some stuck food. “I didn’t ask them to bet on me. I play for fun, not for people to gamble on.â€

“And I didn’t ask anyone to patronize my business either,†said Benjy smoothly. “So there’s no point in pursuing this argument. Tell me,†he leaned forward more keenly now, “have you heard of the Ministry of Magic’s newest policy? It’s in the Daily Prophet. They intend to revamp the entire education system to include more say from the government in deciding the curriculum. Apparently they intend to foster a greater sense of belonging to the wizarding circle.†He spat on his food as he quoted the line. “But I’m sure Callidus will know more details about this. He spends his days glued to the newspapers.â€

Samuel munched on his steak slowly. He was usually not expected to chip in when topics of politics and education arose, but the idea that had occupied his mind just hours ago was starting to return to him. He wondered if he ought to say it. It was likely to be dismissed as crazy rambling, but what if…?

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"Oh, that." Callidus yawned. "I find it more troubling they're reducing the intake of students from the Orientation Center. If they'd been as tight with it back in our day, we'd likely not all be sitting here now." he said solemnly.

Australia had never had a wizarding school, its magically gifted youngsters having been simply shipped off to England whether they liked it or not, in olden times. These days there was the Magical Orientation Center, where such youngsters were taught the barest basics of controlling their abilities and abiding by wizarding law. From there, they could opt to travel overseas to a proper wizarding school such as Hogwarts. Places were always limited, though usually nobody missed out, as many preferred to remain home with their families - in part owing to the negative way in which magic was painted by the instructors there; it was something incredibly difficult and dangerous, they said, and few were cut out for it. And so few dared to head overseas and try. But with the new intake restrictions, even those few would miss out.

"Of course its hardly surprising." Callidus continued, "They want to control everything, and citizens of foreign countries are too hard to control. I'd say the MOC is nothing more than a measure to keep the burgeoning magical population under control."

Callidus was getting depressed now, his face distorting in disgust at the soup he'd ordered, as if it were somehow contaminated with the unsavoury topic of discussion too.

Fortunately, Daisy noted the darkening mood. "Oh come on. We're here to relax and have fun, not talk about such... dreary things." she chirped up, seeming at the end of her sentence to be trying to convince herself more than anyone else.

Daisy had been born and raised in England, so news of the MOC didn't directly concern her. Although she didn't know what she'd have done with herself if she didn't have her present company as friends through her Hogwarts years, and if she were in school only now chances are she'd have never met them, they'd have been kept in their own country. She wondered about all the children right now at home with her mother, who'd be attending Hogwarts themselves soon enough. Would they be missing out on such friends now?

Now too miserable herself, Daisy had no more words of encouragement to fill the depressing silence.

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"I find it more troubling they're reducing the intake of students from the Orientation Center. If they'd been as tight with it back in our day, we'd likely not all be sitting here now."

The Magical Orientation Centre.

No one had noticed that Samuel had taken on a shade of pale, and was randomly stabbing his food with a fork.

The place that decided whether students were fit to proceed to Hogwarts to pursue a formal magical education.

No one ever included Samuel in intellectual discussions. He was an athlete; he made his living through playing Quidditch. Using his muscles, not his brain. He was incapable of forming an opinion.

That was what the Orientation Centre had thought as well.

"Mr Moore, we fail to understand your staunchness in entering Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's an establishment for the best students. You're a Muggle-born who can barely master the most basic spells. Why do you wish to leave Australia in the first place? Your parents aren't poor; they can afford to send you to a reputable school and let you lead a comfortable secure life as a Muggle. You can pursue your passion for sports."

He did not want to be a Muggle. Why did they not understand? So what if he was Muggle-born? So what if he seemed lackadaisical in whatever he did? He had an ambition. He had a dream. And if the MOC was not going to fulfill it for him, he would do it for himself.

"Mr Moore, you've attained respectable marks in the entrance test. We've no reason to reject your request, but we do remind you that the life of Hogwarts is much more difficult than what you're used to."

As if they knew what he was used to. As if they had expected this result. Samuel was capable of achieving magnificent results if he worked hard and set his mind to it. They did not know him at all.

"Guys." He spoke with a more decisive tone than normal. Everyone turned to look at him curiously.

"Let's set up our own school. We'll educate people who want to become successful wizards and witches, whether they're deemed suitable or not. We won't let the MOC tarnish the dreams of children all over Australia.

"Never again."

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Callidus chuckled. "If I didn't know you better I'd think you were joking. It's still amusing, even though you're not."

Daisy, however, was taking a far keener interest. "Why couldn't we do it, Cal?"

"If the Ministry wanted a school for Witchcraft and Wizardry in Australia, they'd have built one. We're just four nobodies." he replied, not without a hint of sorrow at his last words.

"Well... everyone was a nobody at some point. Maybe this can be... the thing that makes us somebodies!" Samuel managed to respond after some panicked consideration.

Callidus remained unmoved. "In a fairy tale, perhaps. But this is reality. Moreover I should hardly think people who didn't particularly excel at school, with the exception of myself and our Slytherin friend, are qualified to found one."

Samuel didn't seem to be able to produce further arguments. After all, Callidus rarely lost an argument in the group, and never to Samuel. Benjy, however...

"Samuel is right. Setting up a school will boost my reputation in the industry, and maybe it'll make my name known and I'll be more famous." Benjy said suddenly, drawing looks from around the table. "Oh don't look at me like that. Schools aren't monopolies after all. There's no law that dictates that we can't set up a private school of our own and start off small. The Ministry can't sue us for doing that. And adding more businesses to the economy is beneficial to a more capitalist environment."

Then Daisy piped up, "That sounds very reasonable! And we're not unqualified anyway. Benjy and Callidus are good at the more academic subjects, Samuel would have all sorts of fans and connections with his Quidditch playing, and me... well I've looked after children long enough to handle the average student, and looked after magical creatures long enough to handle the particularly difficult ones too!"

"Here, here!" Samuel chirped up, raising his mug for a toast and looking quite thankful at having been rescued from the situation. Benjy and Daisy raised their mugs too, leaving only Callidus looking around at the lot of them unconvinced.

Finally, Callidus sighed audibly. "Well I guess this argument is over. At the very least if you're all going to push on with this insane idea regardless, I should be there to help avert a completely catastrophic failure." and he raised his mug to join the others.

The night soon came to an abrupt end, as an owl arrived calling Daisy home to help with one of the childre who'd perched themself in a tree to sleep and refused to come down. Callidus decided it was indeed late and he should turn in too, and with the both of them going the gathering all decided to call it a night. But not, of course, before arranging another meeting for that weekend, where they would begin their plans for the school.

Though Callidus attempted to emphasize that they should first have a plan before even thinking of taking any action, it was obvious the others would all be looking into the possibilities through the rest of their week, and perhaps even settling their affairs at their places of work, in preparation of taking leave or quitting to pursue this venture.

And despite himself, Callidus was considering following suit too.

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“… Thanks.â€

“What for?â€

“Well, for backing me up, you know. I know my idea had been foolhardy, and I’ve always been a very reckless person. I’m sure that nobody would’ve supported the idea if you hadn’t piped up.â€

Benjy glanced at Samuel. The two men were trudging out of the Leaky Cauldron, having offered to foot the bill for the remaining two. It was cool autumn weather outside and neither of them were particularly inclined to rush home. Benjy kept his hands in the capricious pockets of his business coat, well aware that Samuel was heading in the wrong direction from where he resided. It must be lonesome staying alone, telling bedtime stories to a broomstick.

“Well, if you want the honest truth, I think your idea was reckless too. I don’t know if we’ll ever succeed in a venture such as this,†he said, quickening his pace as he sighted the nearest Floo network station. “And I’m heading back to my office now, if you don’t mind.â€

“Hey, wait!†Samuel was puzzled. “Why did you support the idea then, if you thought it’d fail?†The serenity of the night was gradually fading as they neared the crowd of commuters waiting for their turn. Benjy spent a few minutes at the side gauging which queue was moving the fastest.

“The real profits come in investing in a venture with no certainty of success,†he murmured. “Besides, I’ve never loved Hogwarts for its treatment of Slytherins.†He settled on the left-most queue and waved a hasty farewell to his companion before marching up to his spot on the queue, just before an old man with a walking-stick tottered up to the same position. Benjy was usually quite a civic-minded man, but when it came to queuing up for anything, he tended to look out for himself.

Obtuse as Samuel could be, this was as clear an indication as any that the conversation was over. The Quidditch player turned around and walked back the path he had come. No one came up to him shouting in recognition. To the busy wizards of the working class, Quidditch—and idolism—were for the idle and the young.

He had all night to consider just what Benjy had meant. Perhaps it was a Japanese saying.

“Mi-Mister Samuel Moore!†a young woman was chattering to him, scarlet and panting. She had not let go of his hands ever since she met him ten minutes ago and hauled him to the cafeteria for a drink. “I’ve been such a fan of you, ever since I was in school! I was a seventh-year when my friend first took me to watch the Quidditch World Cup, over in Germany. And I fell in love with you right then and there! And it’s such an honour that you were a Hogwarts student too, and a Gryffindor at that! Why, I’m proud to be a Gryffindor. It’s churned out its fair share of heroes and celebrities. I thought Harry Potter was enough, but you, too!â€

And so this woman, Ivy Lazerkroft, had squealed non-stop. Samuel was mildly amused that he was being compared with the Boy Who Lived. He was just a sports player after all. He had a sudden fancy to call himself The Man Who Scored. He would speak to his agent about that.

“And I’ve been a member of your fan society for a year now!†continued Ivy with not a single pause. “The Moore Is More Club! I’ve memorized all your details. You were born on the 12th of December, your height’s 1 metre 76 centimetres, weight’s 59 kilograms as accurate from a month ago. Your blood type’s AB and your favourite colour’s pink! Oh, and did I mention that you look so cute?â€

What with the large blue eyes gazing expectantly at him, Samuel could not bring himself to say his favourite colour was not pink at all. In fact, he did not remember ever having had a favourite colour. And why, if anybody asked him for his blood type now, he would be hard-pressed to name it. Why did his fans know more about himself than he did?

“Er, thanks. Look, I’ve got to go. I’ve got… practice. Beater practice.†In the afternoon, four hours’ time. “I’ll catch you later. And if I ever want to contact you, I’ll just check out the Moore Is More Club, right?†He was sick of fans pressing their phone numbers to him. “Yeah, so. Bye.â€

He wondered if he would ever shove the grisly image of fangirl Ivy Lazerkroft out of his mind. He sometimes wished he was not all that attractive.


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"Three... two... one... NOW!"

Several wands focused on a projector box, and rainbows of light burst from its lens; some shooting outward like rays of sunlight, others rippling down lazily like dribbling water streams. An aged wizard with a curly beard lowered his wand with an exasperated sigh, and the others followed. The cascade of rainbow lights from the projector dissapated soon after.

"Where's your mind at Callidus?" he groaned. "We managed at least partial focus not two days ago and now we're at square one again. Are you unwell? Perhaps you should take a few days off."

Callidus couldn't precisely offer much defence. Indeed, it was his wand which was lacking in usual precision, messing up the experiment for the entire group. They were attempting to turn a muggle projector, which could cast images upon a surface, into a three-dimensional projector, able to project lifelike, three-dimensional images on a spot.

In the end Callidus decided to take the offer of days off and went home. It was a fair length from the Experimental Magic Headquarters in London to his little cottage house out in the country, and he usually rode the train out of London for a while before apparating the rest of the way. He liked to have some time to think, outside of his home.

His house was of course his sanctuary, organised and set out exactly as he liked, and situated in the countryside to avoid the noise and distractions of the city. However, he found that noise and distraction beneficial in his thoughts occasionally. New stimula, unexpected ideas and sights. Home was too predictable, so he rode the train each day to enjoy some idle thinking whilst in the presence of the oft-inspiring unpredictability of the wider world.

He'd been distracted since the meeting with his friends; thinking about their idea of a school in Australia. He couldn't help it, he knew he was the only one capable of thinking it through properly. He had been stuck on the first and most crucial part: venue. Anyone could purchase a large block of land and put in place the necessary protective enchantments, and he dared to suppose that Benjy might be able to finance them - or at least find them a good loan. But they would need very specific things in an actual building. Modern muggle buildings were too flimsy to handle magical accidents likely to occur at a school, not to mention that they'd seem of ill-repute to resort to anything in the muggle style of architecture.

Hogwarts was a mighty castle, having stood the test of time grandly, and its ancient architecture was well in line with the traditional frame of mine of many magic families. Australia had no such ancient or sturdy old buildings. It's natives were nomadic, and European settlers came too late and with too little architectural ambition.

So, they could get land. But they needed a building.

The muggle woman across from Callidus was reading a newspaper. He wondered at the dubious nature of muggle newspapers, but was reminded that, really, even the Daily Prophet had many mundane or meaningless "news" stories. And suddenly, Callidus smiled, and was glad he rode the train.

After having stepped into an empty carriage and disapparating, Callidus arrived at home and went straight for his study cupboard. Inside he had a collection of newspapers from all the way back to his childhood. He collected them in case one day some bit of information was needed. He grabbed the copy of the Prophet from earlier in the week, and flipped through to the page his memory keenly had recalled, with the article unimaginatively titled "New floo network connection opens in Lancaster".

Renowned magical architect Doric Parell today unveiled his latest work with the opening of a floo network connection in the town of Lancaster.

Callidus skimmed through past all the droll talk of how long overdue a floo network connection was there and of the nuances of Parell's design. The man was considered a rising talent, but thus far had only had very meager work - especially this latest one. He'd taken the rather basic design common in London, of using restroom stalls as transports, and taken it in a different direction. He'd built a storage block of broom cupboards, each with a bucket and an old-fashioned light bulb that one turns on and off with a hanging rope cord. Travellers simply stepped into the bucket and turned off the light, and away they went. Callidus was sure he detected a hint of sarcasm in the quotes from Parell of the design.

The part Callidus was looking for was right at the end though, and it, coupled with Parell's ambition for greater projects, solved the problem of a building:

With this latest work completed, Mr. Parell has no remaining projects, and has stated he's seeking new opportunities to test his skills.

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"Alohomora." There was no one out in the driveway of Senzycaea Street at this hour; Benjy had made sure of that. The rich tended to turn in early, and no tramps were allowed to prowl this area. Security was tight on that. It was perfectly safe to open one's own door this way, and Benjy was too lazy to dig for keys. Today had been tiring and busy, quite as usual, really. There was never a day when the company seemed to proceed smoothly without his intervention. No one was as competent as he was. He rather liked that thought. With a self-assured beam plastered on his face, he stuck his wand back into the depths of his inner coat pocket. One should never go without a day of affirming one's importance in the world.

2211 Senzycaea Street was a tastefully furnished, perhaps a tad elaborate, bungalow. Benjy could not help adding some personal extravagant touches to the design. There was a stuffed lion-- his favourite animal-- perched at the front lawn beside his car. His car itself, a brilliant golden Rolls-Royce, never failed to be eye-catching on the roads. Benjy did not see why he should keep his fortune and success under wraps.

The telephone was ringing. He took his shoes off and trudged wearily through the darkness. If it was his secretary again he would give her a good telling-off about bothering him about work after he had knocked off.

"Hallo?" he said uninterestedly.

"Moshi moshi."


"Oh, good, you're home, Benji-kun. I was worried you'd be working overnight again. You mustn't work yourself too hard, do you understand, Benji-kun?"

"What did you call me for?" Benjy would bristle whenever his mother used Japanese honorifics and terms in her speech. He knew she was probably used to it, but it felt to him like an open defiance. She was Australian. There was no need to be so pretentious.

"Oh, I was wondering when you'll be returning to Tasmania. I want to visit my friends there and I thought we could coordinate our trip together. It's been so long since I last saw you."

It was indeed. Benjy had refused to take a step into Japan ever since he left it at the age of eleven, so he only met his parents in Australia, where he was based. And the last time his parents went to Australia was about three years ago. He figured they could not be too concerned about him either, if they did not take the effort to visit more frequently. In any case, this was for the best. He had no time to entertain them.

"I'll be finishing my business in England soon. I'll contact you in a week's time to finalise my plans. Also... do you know of any plot of land that's for sale or lease right now? Something large enough to construct... a castle, maybe?"

"Benji-kun, are you thinking of expanding your business again? Well, I can contact my land agent to see what he has to offer. The economic climate this year isn't very optimistic, though, so I don't expect many people will be selling their land-"

"Right, I'll see you then. Good night."

The next telephone call came right when Benjy was having a late-night dinner. He set aside his macaroni and picked up the phone again. It was unlikely to be his secretary. She was probably out partying in some nightclub at this hour.

"Daisy?" This was an unexpected astonishment.

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Her message delivered, Daisy hung up the telephone and stepped out of the booth. She still wasn't quite used to using the Muggle technology. But it was necessary because Callidus refused to.

Callidus had owled Daisy about his brainwave of enlisting the help of a magical architect, needing her to pass the message to Benjy such that he could locate for them a suitable plot of land. And so Daisy had begrudgingly gone out and, barely, managed to work the Muggle telephone to call Benjy. It wasn't a new chore for her, Callidus had always refused to use Muggle communication on the basis that it was inferior and Benjy refused to use magical communication on the basis of his preference of immersing himself in the Muggle world. So Daisy was often their translator, as such.

She didn't mind delivering good news anyway. Callidus was sure he'd found them a builder, and Benjy seemed to already have been thinking of finding land, so between them they'd managed much of the necessity of founding a school. Besides, she had good news herself to tell each of them.

Daisy herself had been thinking about people moreso than structure. It was indeed more her nature, plus she had expected Callidus and Benjy to cover what they had - that was their nature. If those two managed to get together a school building, then they still needed teachers to fill it, and so Daisy had been planning for that.

She was too excited to sleep, hence why she was out calling Benjy so late at night. That errand done, she apparated home once again to check the mail for the twentieth time that night. Still nothing. She sighed and sat down to write a letter to Callidus about Benjy's response. Moments later it was done and sent off by the family owl, Bee.

As Daisy watched Bee fly off, she noticed her swerve suddenly in the air, avoiding something. That something turned out to be a dark owl come to deliver something. "Yes!" Daisy jumped up, snatching the letter from the owl eagerly. She quickly gave the owl a thankyou response note she had pre-prepared during the tedious wait and sent him on his way. Though the friend she'd enlisted for help had said success was by no means certain, Daisy had been completely confident he had pulled through for her; and so the letter confirmed.

As requested, enclosed is the list of candidates who've applied to the Ministry for teaching positions at Hogwarts, past and present, as well as candidates the Ministry itself has identified. I could get in serious trouble over leaking this sort of personal information you know, so I hope you realise how much you owe me.

- J.H

Daisy pored over the list ecstatically. With this list of qualified individuals interested in teaching, they could surely find enough teachers for their own school.

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While his three other friends were busy sourcing for contributions to their future school, Samuel was playing Quidditch.

There was an understandable reason for it. Quidditch season was starting up again and as the star player, he was expected to put in hours of practice. He had sessions twice a day, leaving him too tired for anything else when he got home. Even Mr Swift seemed a lot more worn and ratty these past couple of weeks. It was almost time to take it to the broomstick groomer's.

He had received letters from Daisy regarding the rest's plans. She was looking for teachers, Callidus was investigating architects and Benjy was acquiring land. He could think of nothing much left for himself to do, but he was certainly not going to repeat the same mistake he made when he was a student at Hogwarts. Simply put, there had been a group project during Transfiguration lesson, and because his fellow teammates had done all the work, he had scored a P, the lowest grade in the class. No one had received T for the project.

With that nasty memory in mind, he knew he needed to assert himself and pull his weight in everything, including a venture as important as this. He set about writing three letters now, two of which he would deliver by owl and the third by snail mail. He had once tried to send Benjy a letter with actual snails, but the joke had not gone over so well when a neighbour of his found three snails scurrying into his house early in the morning. That, and the letter had taken a month to be delivered.

Each of the letters had identical messages, all of which were short and sweet.

Shall we work in pairs for each of these tasks? I feel that it will be better if we spoke to the teachers, landowners and architects in pairs, so that if anything happens we can back each other up.

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Callidus suggested to the group that their first visits must be to secure the architect and venue. They would never be able to secure staff if they could not at least state they had a venue and building in the works, so there was no point visiting potential teaching staff until those things were sorted. Callidus managed to secure an appointment to meet Doric Parell, though it clashed with Samuel's training session, so it was decided Daisy would go with him for this meeting, and Samuel and Benjy would be a pair for the land acquisition. Callidus did not know how that would work, given Benjy would probably organize the details over the phone or through agents rather than traveling to Australia in person with Samuel, but that was not his concern. Samuel's ideas rarely made much sense.


They went to meet Mr Parell on a rainy Thursday afternoon after Callidus finished work. Daisy had the day off anyway, and so while she appeared bright and cheerful, Callidus appeared tired from work.


"Perk up Cal! We've got to project confidence!" Daisy chided, jabbing him with her wand.


Callidus sighed. "We also must project a professional and collected visage." he said, straightening his suit where she'd indented it. "Let me do the talking."


The home of Doric Parell was either a mess or a work of art, depending on your attitude. It was some strange twisted shape made of cubes, some stretched or flattened to the point that they surely could not be actual rooms - yet if they weren't, then there wasn't much house in the few cubes that were more normal. After circling the house a few times, Callidus and Daisy could not find any signs of a door or entrance. Eventually Daisy resorted to calling out at a window they had found.


"Hellooooooooo? Mr Parell? We've come for an appointment but can't find your door!"


It was not long before the window was opened, and a stout man Callidus recognized as the one they were looking for appeared. "Ah, greetings. Doors are old hat now, don't you know? They take up valuable design space, I am attempting to start a trend of using windows as entrances instead, it is far more efficient. Come on in!"


Daisy was none too shy to climb in, but Callidus shook his head and muttered that he was glad nobody was watching this display - for they were in the countryside - before hoisting himself in with as much dignity as he could.


The interior was different to the exterior, as expected. The exterior sections too flat to contain any rooms did actually have rooms - although they were almost as bad as they appeared on the outside. On room with a roof so low one had to crawl in it, the architect explained, was really meant for one to lay down in and roll through. "There's not enough occasions to roll in modern design. As kids we enjoyed rolling down hillsides and such, I'm attempting to recreate that simple pleasure within the home itself."


Eventually they ended up in a triangular room that seemed otherwise to be a normal living room, where Mr Parell invited them to take a seat and help themselves to tea.


"Your home is quite wonderful Mr Parell!" Daisy said, preparing herself some of the tea, "My brothers and sisters would quite enjoy exploring it, and certainly you can say nobody has a home quite like it!"


"Oh thankyou, thankyou, miss, you're too kind. In truth it did not get particularly great reviews from my colleagues..." he replied, looking down. He was a stocky, balding man, and dropped himself down in his armchair with a weary thud. "I have all these grand ideas that seem like they will be hits, but as of yet there's been only a few mediocre successes. One of these days I surely must be right with one of my ideas!"


Callidus was at this point hesitant to bother with this architect, but he thought of Benjy's advice after learning of it. He'd written that it was a good choice because an architect currently not in demand would be at their cheapest price. It was true, they needed to be mindful of costs, and few prominent architects would take on a project as ambitious as theirs for anything short of a small fortune. He just would have to hope Parell's lucky day would be the day he designed their school.


"We have a rather large project we wish to offer to you." Callidus began, ensuring to word this such that it was them giving him a chance, and not the other way around.


"Oh, you two lovebirds need a house designed? Not a problem." Parell cut in, chuckling.


Daisy made an eep sound as she burnt her mouth with her tea, in shock at that assumption, but Callidus reacted more smoothly. "No, I assure you we are merely friends. We have something bigger in mind. How would you like to design a school for witchcraft and wizardry?"

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Benjy was awakened by the sound of his doorbell being pressed rather frantically. He let out a loud groan to show his discontent with the world, and swung around to look at the clock. It was 10.39. He granted that it was indeed an acceptable time to wake him, and proceeded to plod to the toilet in his bedroom slippers and begin his morning dental ritual.

The doorbell continued to ring incessantly. Whoever was trying to get in was enjoying an exercise in finger motion. Well, whoever it was had no such luck of getting in before Benjy was done washing up. He would never meet people when not in perfect condition. It was a full ten minutes before he admitted Samuel Moore, who promptly bounded into his living-room.

“You took so long!†Samuel lamented immediately as Benjy curled up on an armchair swirling a glass of wine. “Why, if you were a Seeker you’d be starting to search for the Snitch before the game started, if you ever wanted a chance of getting it before the opponent!â€

Benjy rolled his eyes at the pathetic Quidditch joke and asked Samuel icily what he was doing here.

“Oh, we’re supposed to be looking for land together, aren’t we?†Samuel replied. “I’ve already prepared my luggage – just got to ride Mr Swift home- oh look at that alarm on your face! Priceless! Don’t worry I’ll use Floo, so that your pristine neighbours won’t have anything to gossip about. You do have a fireplace, don’t you? I brought Floo powder in my pocket. I included your share too, in case you wanted to come with me-â€

“Hold on, hold on,†said Benjy, setting his glass down on the table, “first of all, why’re you packing your luggage? I’m not going to travel all the way to Australia to find land like some treasure hunter. And secondly, how did you get here?â€

Samuel blinked with some confusion.

“Wait, w-we’re not going to Australia?†he spluttered.

“No, we’re not,†confirmed Benjy firmly. “In fact, I’ve already contacted some business networks in Australia to help me look out for a spot. I’m sure we’ll be able to get somewhere decent before long.â€

“But, oh, I was hoping… I mean, we were going to do this together, I thought…â€

“Well, frankly, I don’t see what help you can provide in this matter,†said Benjy nonchalantly. “I mean, you’re just a Quidditch player. No doubt you’ve fans from all over the world, but I doubt a bunch of raving young people are going to be of much practical help, especially when Quidditch isn’t even an established sport Down Under. I suggest you just go home and wait for my results. And please don’t dirty my fireplace when you leave.â€

He turned around and plodded back to his study, waving a hand to draw Samuel’s attention to a shiny marble fireplace set against the wall. Samuel watched him go with some disappointment. He had been looking forward to being useful, but it seemed the truth was plainly said to his face now. He wasn’t useful. He was the least useful of the four of them. He was only good for playing sports.

The truth did kind of sting.

He walked out of the bungalow, in no mood to use Floo travel now. He walked about aimlessly until the sky began to darken and blotches of rain fell on his jersey. One particular fat droplet hit him squarely on the nose and sent him reeling. He rubbed his nose with a wince, then stiffened when he smelled blood. Rain wouldn’t make people bleed!

He had wandered into a dark alley now, and there was a man pointing what was unmistakeably a wand at him. Quick as a flash Samuel had whipped out his own wand, and a yell of “Protego!†immediately preceded his opponent’s “Crucio!†Samuel cringed as the power of the Unforgivable Curse only barely penetrated his magical barrier, sending tingles of power coursing through him. What was a stranger doing attacking him with dark spells in this place?

In this dark of night, when he felt as if he had no hope should the man decide to use another Cruciatus Curse, hope came as if like an angel. A glistening golden wand appeared beside him, together with a woman’s voice, “arcere ténebræ!†A radiant beam of light shot from the tip of the wand, a beam more luminous than even the most powerful Lumos, and the man quickly shielded his face with one arm and ran away.

When the light cleared, Samuel turned towards his saviour and came face to face with Ivy Lazerkroft.

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