30 May 2015

Significant Digits, Chapter Nine: Boxes



Significant Digits, Chapter Nine: Boxes


And what are you saying, when you take your parents or grandparents to be “restored” or “rejuvenated,” or whatever euphemism we are using this week?  You are saying this:
“Grandmother, come here.  You are old and show your wisdom on your face, and that is not allowed.  You have scars from your battles, and they are not allowed.  You have rough edges and a special crinkle at the corner of your eyes, and they are not allowed.  You disagree with the Tower and the tyrants who control us, and that is not allowed.  Come here, so that we can make you into one of the dolls.  We will change your face.  We will change your eyes.  We will change your mind.”
And when “grandmother” comes back to you, she will be changed indeed!  She will be young and new... and she will be ready to swear fealty to the House of Potter.
No one knows what really happens when you send someone to the Tower, but there are dark whispers of the real truth.  We are fed obvious lies about a new form of magic and an impregnable clinic and happy, bouncing babies restored to their mother’s breast.  But snap that stick and all we know is that you are made unconscious and obliviated, and they send someone home who is different in ways both large and small.  No matter why they go - “rejuvenation,” spattergroit, or a broken bone: they come back different.  They don’t remember some special memories that you’d shared; they have different habits and mannerisms; you catch them with odd looks on their face.
Is the Tower changing people to suit himself, or are the people of Britain being replaced with some new creation?  Only the Tower can say, but his grip is tightening over the country and magical peoples everywhere.

Excerpt from “Stop the Changes,” by Draco Malfoy
Unbreakable Honour
Vol 4 (1999), Issue 7

≡≡≡Ω≡≡≡

“This lovely has the Pentium III processor, brand new to us this month.  Five hundred megahertz of processing power in here.  That’s going to do just about anything you could want, especially if you have cable or DSL in here.  And it’s bloody cheap -- just 1,500 pounds.  Usually for a processor this top of the line, we’d be talking two thousand or more on top of the cost of the rest of the PC.  The video quality on this is amazing, and so are the graphics on your games.”  Troy patted the cardboard box, fondly.  He knew what this guy wanted out of a computer… the same thing all of these blokes wanted out of a computer, suddenly.  They saw on the nightly news about the evil of the World Wide Web, and they wanted a piece of it.

Mr. Spoo squinted at the specifications on the side of the box.  Troy could see that the young man had been on a bit of a spending spree.  There were similar sorts of boxes stacked everywhere, labeled variously as: STUART AC/4232, Fisher SENTRON ARGUS@, HONDA EB3000C, and many others.  An odd assortment of things, some of which Troy had never even heard.  He did recognise the generators and portable breaker boxes, since the sides of their containers had little diagrams and descriptions.  He even knew what the Netwell Foam was - soundproofing melamine, like his mate Sammy had in the studio.  But he couldn’t even guess what an “ILX Lightwave TD6000” was.  What kind of lab was this place?

More than a dozen serious-looking men and women were going around the dozens of boxes, checking things off lists, and having hushed conversations.  A blonde woman was supervising the process, when she wasn’t staring absently at the wall.  But it seemed like they were in some strange castle, all solid grey stone and flickering mounted lights -- wait, were those shrouded torches? -- and why would you ever want to set up a lab here?  Was it some military thing with the SAS or something?  Funny, he couldn’t actually recall the route they took to get here…

“Looks good,” Mr. Spoo said, jerking Troy’s attention back to the young man, who had quite a distinctive scar on his forehead.  “Do you have twenty in stock?  With peripherals?”

Troy smiled widely.  “I can do.  And free delivery, as well, if you’d like.”

Mr. Spoo shook his head.  “No, thank you though.  Our lab here is a high-security facility.  We’ll pick them up from you.  Do you need a cheque on deposit?”

≡≡≡Ω≡≡≡

Harry was trying to put the situation with Hermione out of his mind, since he’d already decided that he was not going to be able to force his thoughts into any sort of useful pattern.  Something about the Vow made it too easy for his mind to start moving in circles when it came to her, and he would find himself obsessively thinking the same few things over and over.  It was like when he’d had those internal dialogues with mental models of different personalities, and he’d go around and around the same topic, wittily arguing with himself.  In a situation like this, he’d already considered his options and made his decision, and further dwelling on it was an unhealthy choice unless he got new information.

To help him take his mind off it, he was planning the next phase of his fortress.  Even better, he was planning where to put the computer.  He was already elbow-deep into the box, pulling out the manuals and papers that were packed with it like hors d'oeuvres.  He’d read every scrap of paper, soon enough.  Because finally, finally, finally: electricity!

Harry had struggled with understanding the way magic interfered with electricity, right from the start.  The presence of any spell or ward carried with it a variety of electromagnetic effects: visible light, radio waves, and even hard radiation.  There didn’t seem to be any discernable pattern to the wavelength produced by an effect - mobiliarbus produced a burst of microwave radiation, while the seemingly similar mobilicorpus produced a steady pulse of low-frequency radio.

There might be some uniting schema behind the phenomenon, but research had been slow.  At first, he’d set up separate labs in Aberdeen to try to measure and record data, but the logistics were frustrating.  The labs had to be designed with almost no warding, since spells cast over an area released a continuous diffuse interference -- no amount of RF shielding or Faraday caging could help.  But personnel with even the limited combination of scientific and magical knowledge necessary for the work were few at that time, and even fewer were trustworthy and powerful enough to operate without protective wards.  Harry had to prioritize.

Once Lovegood had joined the steady stream of students in the Hogwarts’ Science Program, he’d been able to delegate to her.  She’d easily absorbed the two-year course of magical study that Harry and Minerva had put in place, and had moved on to the two years of scientific method and rationality with astonishing ability.  Her upbringing probably had much to do with that skill: she’d been raised to be open to every new idea, even the outlandish ones.  Much of science is the willingness to follow the data wherever it goes, and Lovegood had no attachment to convention.

Her fearlessness had been invaluable to Harry, since she happily agreed to one particular tack he’d suggested: an investigation into Devil’s Snare and how it lived without sunlight.  Many witches and wizards would have hesitated before working with the dangerous plant, but Lovegood had just absently agreed.

Much of the lifecycle of Devil’s Snare made sense.  It instinctively moved to snare and strangle anything that came into its reach, animated by a series of tough fibres running through each tendril that had supernatural powers of motion.  After it had strangled or crushed its prey -- typically small animals or larger insects -- it dropped them.  The corpses decomposed to provide valuable nutrients that the Snare needed in abundance.

The thing that didn’t make sense, though, was that it was a leafy plant that hated light!  Leaves were often adapted by nature into traps or weapons or protection, but there didn’t seem to be any reason at all for a plant that primarily grew in caves to have leaves.

Harry had made two guesses: first of all, that the leaves must gather something, if not light.  Otherwise the most successful Devil’s Snare would be the varieties that had few or no leaves, and evolution would have already eliminated them.  Secondly, since Devil’s Snare lived almost exclusively in magical gardens or magical areas like the caves in the Forbidden Forest, it must require ambient magic to survive.

It had taken Lovegood only a year to demonstrate Devil’s Snare’s powers of absorption, and only two years of magically-enhanced breeding before she and her team in the Hall of Science had produced a variant that was motionless and had a voracious appetite for background magical energy.

Devil’s Snare had replaced photosynthesis with thaumosynthesis.  It ate magic, perhaps the same way chizpurfles did, and a dense mass of the plant would finally allow for the possibility of shielding electronics from ambient magics and their electromagnetic havoc.

And that meant that Harry could finally build the lab of his dreams.  Shell corporations under his control made dozens and dozens of purchases -- everything he couldn’t Transfigure -- and he spent hours on the wonderful tricky problems entailed in dovetailing magic and technology.  Designing the Tower had been delightful from the beginning, when he’d sat down with a pencil and graph paper to replace the ruins left by his own folly.  It was like being a boy of six again, creating the layout for his “dream lab” (no, Ms. Blaire, I will not design a “dream treehouse,” thank you very much). But now the problem had challenges and joys on an entirely new scale. He'd bought his own mass spectrometers!

Harry already had almost everything in place.  Soundproofing panels on wooden supports helped support and protect the thick mass of “Lovegood Leaf” (as he was calling the modified Devil’s Snare) around the walls and ceiling of the long Pairing Partnership room.  More Lovegood Leaf was under his feet, separated by corrugated metal, and the doors fitting into the entryways were backed with trellises, thick with plant matter.  Magical air-conditioning units, buried in the walls and surrounded by their own masses of vines, vented fresh and cool air throughout the room, which would otherwise be musty with the smell of the Leaf.

The overall effect was a little unsettling, since even the modified Devil’s Snare still occasionally twitched and rustled on the door trellises, but it was mostly insulated and sealed out of sight.  Once every few weeks, they’d have to turn everything off and Scourgify away leaf litter from behind paneling, but Harry was very proud, nonetheless.

And a computer!

Before Harry had first gone off to Hogwarts -- that is, the last time he had lived with his parents -- his father had kept a computer in the study.  It was something to be treated Seriously because it was a Considerable Responsibility, but Harry had spent some happy hours using the cutting-edge Windows 3.0 and even playing around with the more exciting commands of MS-DOS, the command-line which seemed to have a dangerous and sweeping finality to it.

Since then… well, there had been magic.  Events had gotten out of control with a greater swiftness than even Harry could have imagined, and as it turned out, he’d left his Muggle life forever one morning at a London train station.  He’d promised Mum that he’d never let magic come between them, that day… but it had.  That hadn’t been an unbreakable promise.  It should have been, if there were any mercy in the world.  But it hadn’t been.

After a while, Harry realized that he’d stopped unpacking the computer, and that he was ignoring the gray plastic-and-metal device nestled within the cardboard.  The manuals and warranties sat in a pile on the desk, unread.  The joy had gone out of it, suddenly.

He sat back into the chair, sighing.  This was unfair.  It was childish and stupid to think that, but his brain had that silly inbuilt programming that demanded equal treatment relative to his peers.  It even applied those demands to an impersonal fate.  It had not been fair that he’d had to shut his parents out of his life, but life wasn’t fair.

Harry needed to talk to someone intelligent.  Not Hermione, and he’d already given Moody a new face and body only this morning, so Harry wouldn’t see him until tomorrow (although Moody was a six-year-old girl this time, so Harry wasn’t exactly sure about the appropriate pronoun).

At length, he finally sighed and rose to his feet, and went off to Room 101.  He’d been spending more and more of his free time there, lately, even though that time had been getting shorter and shorter with the increasing numbers of the French using their new Safety Poles.  And since the British goblins had agreed to put one in Ackle, too, he was soon going to be even busier.

But he really did need to talk sometimes, and there were occasions when he needed the advice of someone who was completely brilliant and utterly without scruples.

Voldemort might be a monster, but he was a valuable one.  And a tame one.

Getting into Room 101 was not easy, especially since Harry hadn’t been able to get any help in setting up the security system.  Even though Hermione and Amelia knew about it, Harry had been insistent on setting up the protocols himself, without benefit of Hermione’s brilliance or Amelia’s staggering depth of magical knowledge.  In theory, they probably would have agreed to be Obliviated afterwards… but Harry had shied away from the prospect of erasing any parts of their memories.  He was sure there were some clever tricks that they could have devised to eliminate the more tedious aspects of his security precautions.

As it was, it took about ten minutes to get inside, including five minutes of simply sitting still and waiting.  But eventually, he stepped through the portal into Room 101.  Then he walked down the stairs, into the small stone room that held only two small wooden stools and a shiny black box.

It always surprised Harry, looking back with hindsight, just how stupid he had been.  There had been a time when he’d thought it was a good long-term plan to keep Voldemort Transfigured into a stone on his ring.  Even now, the stupidity of his thirteen-year-old self boggled the mind.  Eventually, Moody and Amelia and he had gotten together and concluded that it was just not a good plan to keep the most dangerous Dark Lord of all time in temporary stasis right next to his mortal enemy and the most powerful magical devices of their knowledge.  Apparent Obliviation, Transfiguration sickness, and missing hands were all well and good, but it was just a foolish risk when they had such incomplete knowledge of the villain’s plans and failsafes (all accomplices being dead or vanished).  One bad afternoon might have meant the end of the world.

Even their second system had turned out to have a single unexpected flaw, and it had almost meant disaster.  Only the barest of chances had kept Voldemort from escaping, clad in a new body.  Walpurgisnacht.

Thus: the box and Room 101 and the new Tower.  The best fortress and best prison that Harry and Moody could design.  It was, as far as Harry knew, the most secure location conceivable.

Harry sat down on one stool, looking at the box.  He still couldn’t decide if it was stupid to store valuables in an obviously fancy box, or if it served as an important warning and double-bluff.  Regardless, the box was impressive.  Its sides were a shiny and sheer black, but every so often a shudder of russet-red would flicker in an intricate tracery across the flat planes of its sides, fading in the blink of an eye.  The lock was heavy and ornate, with a circular indentation instead of a keyhole.

The box had no name, as far as Harry was aware, and it was a physical symbol of the insanity of trying to govern magical Britain.

He had asked for assistance from Amelia -- he said he needed a way to safely store something that could not, under any circumstances, be stolen.  She had gone to work on his behalf, and produced a solution in only a few days.

That solution had been annoying beyond belief, though, because apparently some of the Unspeakables had just disappeared into a vault in the Department of Magical Mysteries, and returned with this unbreachable magic box.

Everyone involved had patiently endured Harry’s angry fit, as he lectured them:
about how it was impossible to plan security if there were secret loopholes in every passage;
about how he couldn’t make optimal decisions if there were magical items of incredible power that no one had bothered to tell him about;
and about how it was insane for things to be so convenient that there just happened to be a device that fit his needs at the moment.

Anyone who had spent more than a day around Harry had gotten used to the occasional lecture.

Hermione had finally reminded Harry, in her own kind way:
that secure planning meant knowing your knowledge was imperfect;
that there was never going to be any useful list of all powerful magics because that list would be astonishingly dangerous;
and that the universe was not always as convenient as a story, but sometimes it was.

Anyone who had spent more than a day around Harry was profoundly grateful for Hermione’s presence.

Voldemort was returned to his human form, Stupefied a few dozen times (with Moody casting a ceaseless stream of more-inventive and debilitating curses), and then his consciousness was transferred neatly into the soft fibrous tissues of several Turkmenian Mandrakes.  Surprisingly, transferring a wizard’s mind into a plant operated on well-established “Dark” magical principles of golem-creation or imprisonment, and Harry was actually able to just look most of the procedure up in different books he’d requisitioned.

Then it was into the box, and Harry took that alone into Room 101.

“Boy, you are a fool.”

Harry’s mind immediately returned to the present.  The voice was familiar, in a painful way.  Harry had been gradually growing used to it, as they talked for long hours, but it was still hard to hear.  Not the actual voice itself, which was an undifferentiated male one of no particular import.  But the tone…

Curt.  Cold.  And… well, not confident, exactly.  Instead, there was an icy and thoughtful certainty behind the words that made confidence seem like the emotion of a lesser being.  That tone didn’t evoke a hateful enemy that might cut your throat: it was the indifferent knife in the enemy’s hand, to which your blood had no meaning at all.

“You’re getting your memories back, Professor,” Harry said.  He’d noticed small hints in their last conversation… troubled pauses and halting answers as they discussed the potential political moves in the Sawad.  He honestly wasn’t sure how he should feel about the development.  He’d known it was possible, with the twin changes of a Horcrux 2.0 resurrection and a transfer into a lump of plant matter.  And it made Voldemort much more valuable.  They’d had many long discussions, and he’d enjoyed having someone with whom to discuss his plans and designs, during those frequent times when Hermione was busy out in the world.  And while even a Voldemort almost bereft of personal memories was still brilliant and inventive, a Voldemort with the experience of age and the lore of Salazar Slytherin was an infinitely better resource.

And infinitely more dangerous.

“Last week,” came the voice from the box.  Possibly a lie.

There was a long pause, then the voice came again, asking cooly, “The Ritual of the Sibyl?”

“Yes, Professor,” Harry said.  Their voices sounded loud in the small stone room.  “I was not lying before.  I am sorry… truly sorry… that things had to end up this way.  But I will not let you out, even now.  Especially now.”

“Boy… you think me your enemy.  You think you have won, and that I am your pet monster, kept in your pocket, and that you have defeated the whole of my designs.”  The contempt was palpable, and it hinted at the subtlety that had laid plans within plans within plans.

It had been years, and Harry could no longer be really called a “boy.”  But the epithet was meant to diminish him, not describe him… and perhaps Voldemort was having difficulty truly understanding the passage of time.  There hadn’t appeared to be any cognitive impairment, but Harry’s tests had been crude.

“Tell me how that is wrong, Professor… tell me how I have been stupid.”  Harry leaned forward on the stool, resting his elbows on his knees.  “Because as near as I can tell, you are in a box, while I am saving the world.  Ultimately, intelligence means winning, and I have won.”

“Have you, now?”  Harry could hear extraordinary bitterness in Voldemort’s tone.  Hm, what were the constraints on the sounds a magical artificial voice could produce, with no physical limitations like diaphragm or larynx?  Harry would have to check and ensure that it stayed within a certain decibel level to prevent both subliminal messages and auditory attack.  Constant vigilance.

“You think so much of your achievements, in these past few years?”  Voldemort said.  “I remember everything you told me, when my mind was dim and shrouded, when I was new to my prison here.  I know your position, and I am oh so aware of my own.  But know this: but for a single stroke of intelligence at the cusp of matters, one graveyard night, all has gone according to my will.  I have shaped you, prepared all things, and set every event in motion.”  Though deprived of the power of Parseltongue in this form, Voldemort nonetheless practically hissed in spite.  “I told you as much, told you exactly what I would do -- told you how you would be brought to power. This is not a story, and can you possibly think that events have come to resemble my proposed plan in every detail by purest chance?  You are a fool, and you never would think more than two steps ahead.”

Voldemort was nothing more than a voice from a box, but the Dark Lord used every ounce of wit and acid that he had, and his bitter words were thick with derision at Harry’s ingratitude.  “You still think me your enemy, even though you sit on the throne I built.”

Seriously?

Harry raised his eyebrows in mild surprise.  He frowned, and shook his head.  “Professor, you can’t really think I’m this stupid.  You can’t goad me into forgetting the graveyard, or Hermione’s death.  What, will you pretend that you intended events to turn out this way?  That you were just testing me, and in the end you would have relented?  Or will you try to convince me that this your plan, all along - to be stuffed into a plant in a box?”

“Potter, prophecy spoke of you as the one who might end the world.”  Ice and bile in the voice, and disappointment.  “All of my ends have been directed at preventing that.  No plan or goal matters beyond it -- could matter beyond it.  It seems I may have failed.  But if I am to fail, I cannot accept that my brightest student is still so stupid that he cannot see the plain truth even after it has been told to him!  Think about what would have happened, had you not interfered.  Remember what I once told you, from a hospital bed.”

Harry remembered the moment well.  After the trip to Azkaban.  After he had first begun to doubt, and had demanded an explanation.  His beloved professor had explained to him a plan to seek power: "You are kidnapped from Hogwartss to public location, many witnesssess, wardss keep out protectorss. Dark Lord announcess that he hass at long lasst regained physical form, after wandering as sspirit for yearss; ssayss that he hass gained sstill greater power, not even you can sstop him now. Offerss to let you duel. You casst guardian Charm, Dark Lord laughss at you, ssayss he iss not life-eater. Casstss Killing Cursse at you, you block, watcherss ssee Dark Lord explode -"

“And you thought,” Harry said, now openly mocking, “that I would think Hermione’s life was an acceptable sacrifice.  You with your notoriously poor judgment of people.  No, of course not… you had planned all along to bring her back to life in that graveyard, just stripped of her magic.  Or will you claim that you knew that I would be able to grant her true resurrection, somehow?”  His voice rose in contempt, now.  Had he been so stupid, as a boy, to be fooled by this?  Was it simply the power differential that had made Voldemort so convincing?

If this conversation had occurred under different circumstances, this would be the moment when “Professor Quirrell” would have done some extremely impressive bit of magic, or brought the weight of his authority and the respect Harry held for him to bear in some other way.  How often had the clever Professor brushed off requests for explanation or guidance with a skillful bluff?  It seemed so transparent, now.

There was a very long, quiet moment.  Harry rose to his feet and turned away from the box.  How sad and small and stupid this all seemed.  There was a time when he could have wept at the betrayal he’d endured, but now he just wanted to reach back in time and slap his past self for being so short-sighted.

Voldemort had wanted to prevent the prophesied end of the world, Harry knew.  That had been his most important goal.  But he had also wanted a companion.   Even after the events of Godric’s Hollow, when the Dark Lord’s hubris had almost been his undoing, he continued to feel that need and to harbor the idea that any real companion would need to be forged by fire into a truly worthy adversary and ally.  Voldemort desired an equal, uncompromised by any ethical nonsense.

So he had put Harry into the crucible.  Classes, mentoring, wargames, and death.  Voldemort had put fire to Harry until the boy glowed with rage and pain, and had worked to give him a new form with careful and cool hammer blows.  To Voldemort, ethics were dross.  He had wished to burn them out.

The journey to Azkaban had not only freed Bellatrix, but also tested Harry.  Actually freeing someone from Azkaban would never have required Harry’s Patronus or the absurd risks they underwent that night -- that was just a convenient excuse that allowed Voldemort to put the boy in the forge.

If you really had wanted to free someone from Azkaban, after all, you wouldn’t risk yourself.  You just used the Cruciatus Curse on an auror at his home to find out which Azkaban guards were corrupt, wiped the memory of your source, and then held the family of one of the corrupt aurors for prisoner and demanded a Death Doll be exchanged with one of the prisoners.  Voldemort had probably done it repeatedly, over the years.

But Harry had failed that test.  He’d valued an auror’s life -- not just intellectually, but on such an instinctual level that his Patronus had stepped in front of a Killing Curse.  So Voldemort had murdered Hermione, to push the boy beyond his limits.

Voldemort had smuggled in a monster, disabled every device and craft, and arranged matters in such a way that Harry would fail to save Hermione, but would come close enough to blame himself.  Indeed, there was every reason to think that Harry had also been intended to fail in that combat, and that “Professor Quirrell” would arrive in a blaze of cursed fire just in time to save the boy - and just too late to save the boy’s dearest friend.

Harry turned back to Voldemort, now, and spat a question, “Professor, now that all your plans are exposed and open to me, tell me: when exactly did you decide that I was no longer worthwhile?  You became oh-so-terribly sick in June of that year -- was it then?  Or was it after you had to stop a centaur from murdering me -- was that when I became too great a risk?”

The Boy-Who-Lived, who had torn possibility to pieces to snatch back his friend from death, who was now the Tower, who bestrode the narrow world like a colossus, glared at a shiny black box, and his eyes burned with a betrayal that seemed undiminished by the years.

“Or was it, as I suspect, when we spoke in the forest one night after you murdered Hermione, and you discovered that I had not learned the proper lesson you wished to teach me?  When you learned that I still held human life as a positive good in my utility function?”

"If it were you who had been killed by that troll, it would not even occur to Hermione Granger to do as you are doing for her! It would not occur to Draco Malfoy, nor to Neville Longbottom, nor to McGonagall or any of your precious friends! There is not one person in this world who would return to you the care that you are showing her! So why? Why do it, Mr. Potter?" There was a strange, wild desperation in that voice. "Why be the only one in the world who goes to such lengths to keep up the pretense, when none of them will ever do the same for you?"

And there was still silence for a while yet.  After long moments, Voldemort spoke again.

“You are right.”  There was a long pause, and then a repetition… as though in astonishment.  “You… are right.”

Harry blinked.

“I do value the world, and I did fear you… feared what I had created.  I do not pretend to care about human life for its own sake, since almost all of these loathsome idiots have no purpose or worth to their mewling lives.  Nor do I pretend to care about Ms. Granger, who has the same inane affection for fools that you retain despite my best efforts.  As though human life, of itself, is somehow an inherent good... as though we were children in a moralist’s tale!”  Somehow, entirely without any physicality, the words evoked contemptuous spittle.  “But I do not apologize for seeking to preserve this world as a whole, even though it would seem I am yet at your mercy, boy.  Remember the Vow you swore on my compulsion -- no Vow to serve me or my interests, though that was within my power to demand.”

“Is this where you repent, and seek redemption?  Where I release you, as long as you take a Vow of my own design?” Harry asked.  He honestly was amused, and rather incredulous.

“No, Potter,” said Voldemort scornfully.  A brief pattern of red light flickered across the surface of the box, and was gone.  “You have locked me back in hell, and you have left me my mind, and I expect you know the consequences of those actions.”

“Indeed, Professor.  You are a threat… to me and to the whole world.  I could not release you, even if I wished it.  And I do not wish it.”  Harry rose from his seat, and walked away.  This had not been the intelligent conversation he’d sought, but it had certainly been distracting enough.  He had a computer to set up, though.  “I’ll be back in a few days.”

“Potter!”  The outcry was sharp, and had an edge of wildness to it.

“Yes, Professor?”

Silence.

“Professor, I know that this is torture for you.  I’m working on a way to get you some entertainment… something to listen to and think about.  I do not want anyone to suffer… not even you.”

Still silence.

Eventually, Harry mounted the stairs, and left.











Since the professional wars --
Corpse and carrion
Paling in rain --
The wolf has died out

In Ireland. The packs
Scoured parkland and moor
Till a Quaker buck and his dogs
Killed the last one

In some scraggy waste of Kildare.
The wolfhound was crossed
With inferior strains,
Forests coopered to wine casks.

Rain on the roof to-night
Sogs turf-banks and heather,
Sets glinting outcrops
Of basalt and granite,

Drips to the moss of bare boughs.
The old dens are soaking.
The pads are lost or
Retrieved by small vermin

The glisten and scut.
Nothing is panting, lolling,
Vapouring. The tongue's
Leashed in my throat.

      -- Seamus Heaney

1 comment:

  1. Cable is an American term. There is no such thing as cable TV in the UK. Only dish or terrestrial and then later digital

    ReplyDelete