Wednesday, 6 July 2016

"The Other Referendum" by Cecilia Busby

While the news for the week has been full of analysis and speculation on the results of the EU referendum, very little has been heard about how the vote went among the magical community. We are proud to be able to bring you a report from our roving reporter, who has been listening to the conversations in the Leaky Cauldron over a butterbeer or two...

It's been a fortnight since the wizarding community voted 52 to 48 to leave the European Union of Wizards. As I enter the dark bar just off the Charing Cross Road it's clear there's still an atmosphere of tension over the result. Several groups of witches and wizards are huddling in different corners of the room, most of them gloomily shaking their heads. But one group is triumphant.

"The word is," cackles a rather warty old witch who goes by the name of Emilia Urgus, "they're going to send all the foreigners back to wherever they come from. Good riddance, too! Never did like all their new-fangled ways. All those regulations about cauldrons!"

"Arr," nods her companion, a barrel-chested wizard wearing a pair of striped pantaloons. "Not but what it weren't useful, having cistificates of safety an' all... I remember Uncle Ernie back in the day - 'e got boiling bubotuber puss all over 'is feet from one cauldron what hadn't been reinforced with any of them safety spells."

"That's true, Bert," agrees a rather grumpy-looking wizard nursing a large glass of fire-whiskey. "Cauldron safety, and broomstick efficiency grades. And the EUW stopped Gringott's from dumping dragon effluent into the River Fleet. I can remember when that river was spitting fumes as high as St Paul's on a bad night!"

A contemplative silence falls for a moment as they consider some of the good the EUW was responsible for. But then Bert cheers up. "Still, at least it was OUR dragon effluent, eh? Never say we let that EUW tell us what to do wiv our own bleedin' dragon affluent. Am I right?"

A young and rather good-looking witch leans across the table with a frown. "I'm sorry, " she says. "This vote had nothing to do with dragon effluent. It was about fighting against the forces of global wizardism. They buy up all the spells, and organise magical commerce exactly how they want it, and they stop us fighting for fair wages for all! We can't do anything about creating a fairer wizarding community while we're part of EUW."

This speech causes a bit of a stir from another corner of the room, where the well-known Ministry witch, Hermione Grainger, is enjoying a glass of gillywater with a few friends.

"How on earth can you say being out of the EUW helps us build a fairer community?" she says, standing up in outrage. "What about the High Wizengamot in Strasbourg, or the Declaration of Elvish rights? Where will we be without those?!"

One of her companions pulls her down, nodding his head at the rest of the bar. "Come on, Hermione," he mutters. "No use making a spectacle of yourself. You know there's right and wrong on both sides."

"Well, yes, Ron," she says, sitting down crossly. "But we didn't tell all those porkies about how there'd be ten thousand galleons for St Mungo's if we came out of the EUW! Or how Hogwarts was about to be forced to give half its places to students from Durmstrang!"

Her companion - we can safely reveal that it is, indeed, Ronald Weasley, currently standing for leadership of the Socialist Wizarding Party and hoping to be the 'unity' candidate - shrugs. "Yeah, that was pretty out of order. We tried to get them to retract it but bloody Malfoy kept insisting it was true. Even Hagrid fell for it. Told me he voted out, to stop Durmstrang taking over!"

Hermione sighs. "Well, at least it looks like Malfoy's not going to be Minister for Magic. I heard no one voted for him after he denounced Goyle for being to stupid to lead the Pure-Blood Party."

There's a sudden scuffle by the door, and a pile of witches and wizard hurtle into the bar shouting. Everything is chaos for a moment, and then we realise they are wearing Auror uniforms. At their head is the instantly recognisable Harry Potter. They nod to Hermione and Ron, and then hold up their wands. "Obliviate!" they chorus.

We all blink, and then look at each other, a little dazed.

"Where was I?" says Emilia.

"Well..." says Bert. "Umm. Wasn't we just discussing the Quidditch...? It's the EUW finals next week, innit? I got a little flutter on the Harpies, m'self..."

In the corner of the room, Hermione winks, and shakes Harry's hand.

Cecilia Busby writes humorous fantasy adventures for ages 7-12 as C.J. Busby. Her latest book, The Amber Crown, was published last year by Templar.


"Great fun - made me chortle!" (Diana Wynne Jones on Frogspell)

"A rift-hoping romp with great wit, charm and pace" (Frances Hardinge on Deep Amber)

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