Otter-ly magic

The hall was not very large, somewhat less than a gym. Palms in redwood barrels decorated with precious gems alternated with clear columns filled with bubbles and exotic fish. At the far corner of the basketball-field-size table two old men were speaking.

You could hardly imagine two so differently looking men together. One was tall and thin, another one short and fat. The tall one wore long robes and purple cloak, while the short one dressed in an orange mantle. The tall one had silver hair and a beard, long enough to tuck it into his belt, which he actually did. The short man’s moustache was yellow on the left, and green on the right. They lived with their own life clearly trying to pull some prank on their owner. For example, this time they tried to get the glasses to drop off his nose. As to his beard, it was so long that he had to wrap it around his body several times. Well, on another hand, it was not easy to notice, because the beard was changing its color whenever it cared to stay visible.

However, despite all the differences, only a muggle or a simpleton would say that they were too different. Any initiated one did know at least one of these two men, who had a lot in common. They were two most powerful wizards on the whole planet.

“Green Mages…” sighed the tall one, professor Albus Dumbledore, the head of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. By his Royal British accent one could guess that this school was based in the far misty England. Despite a relatively small district, this was one of the most respectable schools in the world and Hogwarts graduates were working all around the world.

“Yes, so stupid!” agreed the short man, Ashurbanipal Ponteuxinus, who had lately, just a few centuries ago, changed his last name for the convenience of his students to “Chernomorov.” He was the member of the White Magic Academy and the head of the Tibidohs School of Sorcery.

The school served most of Eurasia from eastern Germany and Greece to Alaska. To be precise, Alaska was not part of Eurasia, but in the magic world boundaries are much more conservative, and the stupidity of muggles was not considered a reason serious enough to rearrange the Magic school district boundaries. So some of North American mages still had a chance to enjoy fine education in the ancient school with the history going back in time as far as thousands years BC.

This was quite fortunate for them, because, frankly, there was not much magic further to the East. The Washington School of Green Magic and Modern Alchemy specialized exclusively on a conversion of anything into American dollars. The reverse conversion of dollars into anything and fulfillment of wishes was left to their muggles, who were found impressively resourceful and efficient at that, when properly stimulated with pieces of cotton paper smudged with the enchanted green ink.

In fact, Green Magic was the very reason why the two most powerful wizards on the planet were sitting now together in the Ashurbanipal’s office, discussing their common problem.

The Washington School of Green Magic and Modern Alchemy had four houses. The oldest house, industrialists, had a motto “money-merchandise-money.” They found that muggles have residual magic, and if gathered in large numbers at factories they can produce a steady stream of dollars to the owners.

The second house, scholiasts, considered conversion of something material into dollars a low sort of magic. Instead they specialized on intangibles like fundamental science, people curiosity, and news. Their motto was “Knowledge is Power.”

The third house, economists, had broken off from the scholiasts not long ago. Their motto was borrowed from Einstein, who said, “I know of only two really infinite things: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe.” Not surprisingly, they specialized exclusively in converting human stupidity into dollars. This house was famous with the stock market, chain letters, financial machinations, and lately with the dot-Com bubble.

And the last house, politicians, believed that conversion itself is wrong, and dollars should be provided to a wizard just because he wants them. Anything else was considered low and unworthy to be called a true Art. In practice, they believed that enchanted muggles should bring their dollars to a wizard without getting anything back. Their motto was “One man’s problem is another wizard’s opportunity.” This house had a strict hierarchy based on how little the wizard can give back. It started from the least skillful mages like auto-mechanics, and progressed up to physicians, dentists, lawyers, all the way to the politicians, who gave the name to the house.

Not so long, about a century or so ago, the scholastic house faced a fundamental theoretical problem: how can the very Secret of the Magic be converted into dollars. It was not a question if it can be converted. In fact, any heretic who would dare to state that something cannot be converted into the dollars, would be excommunicated and exiled by the Green Mages into some obscure universe or part of the world.

However, the actual conversion of the Secret of the Magic into dollars represented a substantial problem. Muggles, who were the source of dollars, were not able to comprehend the Secret of the Magic by definition, because this was exactly why they were muggles and not wizards. To put it simply, the object to convert into dollars, and the source of the dollars weren’t able to react in any way. That was a severe contradiction to the Green Magic and Modern Alchemy axiom that anything can be converted into dollars.

Eventually, scholiasts came up with science fiction, fantasy, and Disney cartoons, which were kind of an answer to the problem. However, some Green Mages argued that these tools were converting not the Secret of the Magic itself, but rather mere muggle stupidity, which was a well known and trivial process. Hence, stated these Green Mages, the problem is still not resolved.

In the end, the leader of the house named (surprise!) Scholiast decided to conduct an ultimate test, by exposing the real magic world to muggles. Unfortunately, none of the serious wizards, like Albus or Ashurbanipal were aware of this development, and so nobody stopped Scholiast from his crazy experiment. Granted, stopping a Green Mage, when he already sees his money, is not easy, even for powerful wizards.

For purity of the experiment, Scholiast made a muggle woman write the true story, which happened in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After that, the publishing house, controlled by scholiasts, had printed the book. It worked like magic, muggles like crazy were giving away their money for the copies of the book, branded merchandise, and the movie made by the first book yielded record high revenue.

Harry Potter, the hero of the books, and a young student at Hogwarts became a celebrity overnight. Muggles were wearing colors of the Hogwarts houses and even started to try magic. And when residual muggle magic mixes up with their ignorance and actual very powerful spells, oh, that’s bad. Professor Dumbledore would say, “That’s bloody bad!” but he was too old and wise to think that strong language in the presence of the old friend could help anything.

“Well, colleague, maybe it’s not so bad after all,” suggested Ashurbanipal with his strong Russian-Assyrian accent, and his moustaches slowly waved.

“What do you mean?” Dumbledore raised his right brow visibly shocked by how lightly his friend took the problem. “The magic world is exposed to muggles, not to mention a piece of real history and a lot of spells, which should never be tried without the proper talent and training! How could this be ‘not so bad’?”

“Oh, Albus, of course, it’s bad,” agreed Ashurbanipal. “But you know, muggles are such a strange folk. I have to give the credit to the Green Mages – the muggles’ stupidity is really something special. You know how they are called in my school? ‘Lopuhoids’, that is simpletons. Maybe we can still make them consider it a pure fantasy with no relation to the real world?”

“Actually, this is why I came here.” Dumbledore was pleased with his friend’s guess. “I may have to ask you a favor. I thought about Tanya.”

“Grœtter?” Ashurbanipal’s multicolored moustaches turned up and a warm smile softened his face. “Poor girl, her life is so similar to Harry’s. It’s amazing how the same story repeated itself in two places. Leopold and Sofia were friends of mine. The only big difference is that she was spared publicity and was not treated like an action figure, as it happened to Harry because of Scholiast. So, what about her?”

“What if we publish her story as well?” Dumbledore smiled leaving his friend to finish the thought.

“So, that everybody will see the two similar stories and nobody will believe either of them?”

“Even better! You know, muggles have a funny thing called ‘copyright’. It means that a story is completely fictional, and so whoever wrote it first can get all the money for it.” Dumbledore chuckled at the thought. “If another muggle was to publish a story about Tanya, Scholiast’s lawyers would sue him for copyright violation, and so announcing to the whole muggle world that it is pure fiction!”

“Interesting, very interesting,” agreed Ashurbanipal. “However, what about the additional exposure? Don’t we have too much already?”

“Oh, we don’t have to expose it too closely to truth.” Dumbledore shrugged his shoulders and explained, “We both know, scholiasts never used the Secret, it’s just the old trick with muggles curiosity and stupidity that makes the books about Harry work. Besides, these are muggles, they will muddle and get something wrong anyway.”

“True, true,” agreed Ashurbanipal, “I bet they will mix me up with my unfortunate brother and call me Sardanapalus…”

“I thought your brother’s name was Shamash-shumukin?” Dumbledore raised a brow.

“I know, but they’ll mix up the name too. I never actually found why, but they always do,” Ashurbanipal smiled and returned to the topic, “Potter, Grœtter, Otter… I never noticed before that even their names are similar. But what if scholiasts’ lawyers will not worry about this copyleft?”

“Copyright,” corrected him Dumbledore. “They are lawyers, Ashur! Muggles are unpredictable, but Green Mages are much simpler. You know, that’s the fourth house of the Green Magic! When they see money, they can’t help, but sue. That’s their nature!”

Ashurbanipal smiled, thought a bit, and answered, “Fine, I will talk to Tanya. She is a good girl, she will understand. Let’s drink to that!” Then he put an old bottle with two goblets on the table. The liquid in the bottle was constantly changing color, just like Ashurbanipal’s beard, but that did not stop old friends from drinking it while talking about the good old times. They were sure in their success. After all, they were the two greatest wizards on the planet.

Books about Harry Potter are written by J.K.Rowling and published by Scholastic Inc. Books about Tanya Grœtter are written by Dmitry Emets and published by EKSMO Publishing House. This parody is an attempt to explain rather ethically dubious conflict between these otherwise quite respected sides.


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