"If I knew someone had modified my memory I would be furious too. But you can't just go breaking into the Department of Mysteries," said Fay.

"Why not?" said Luna.

An advantage of your friends being imaginary is it's easy to get away with whispering back-and-forth in Potions class when you're supposed to be distilling attention.

"Because it's impossible. The Department of Mysteries is the most secure magical facility in all of Britain," said Fay.

"Why do we say 'the most secure magical facility in all of Britain'?" said Luna.

"Because it is," said Fay.

"No. I mean why the qualifier 'in all of Britain'?" said Luna.

Fay dropped an ice cube into the Thought Condenser.

"It's like how 'Hogwarts is the best magical school in all of Britain'," said Luna.

"That we know about," said Fay, "We only tested the barrier between Platforms Ten and Eleven. The train to a double-magic school might be stationed between Platform Seven and Platform Eight."

"Why between Seven and Eight?" said Luna. She dropped an ice cube into the Thought Condenser.

"Because Seven ate[1] Nine," said Fay, "But even if that wasn't the case, we should systematically ram into all the barriers at King's Cross next year because the only way to prove a negative is to exhaustively search all of the possibilities."

An Attention Still consists of a Comed-Teapot attached to a Thought Condenser. Comed-Tea boils when you stop watching it. You stop watching it because your attention is directed elsewhere. By placing ice into a Thought Condenser at the exact instant your attention drifts, you can condense volatile attention into a liquid. Attention Stills are operated by two people because it's hard to remember to do something the instant after your own attention drifts.

"You never answered what's so important about the qualifier," said Luna.

"The Department of Mysteries is the most secure magical facility in all of Britain," said Fay.

"Why?" said Luna.

Potions Mistress Lady Yue had drifted over to listen to their conversation. "You heard her. The Department of Mysteries is the most secure magical facility in all of Britain," said Lady Yue.

"How many secure magical facilities are there in Britain?" said Luna.

"I can name one," said Fay, "The—"

Luna rolled her eyes. "Besides the Department of Mysteries," said Luna.

Fay shrugged.

"How do you know the Department of Mysteries is so secure?" said Luna.

"Everybody knows the Department of Mysteries is the most secure magical facility in all of Britain," said Fay.

"You don't find that a little suspicious?" said Luna.

"Nope," said Fay.


There is nothing special about the Repelling Section. The Repelling Section is perfectly ordinary. The Repelling Section is not important. The Repelling Section does not matter. The Repelling Section is of no concern to people like you. The Repelling Section is boring.

Do not visit the Repelling Section. There is no reason for you to be interested in the Repelling Section. The Repelling Section is somebody else's problem. Everything is progressing according to plan. Please return to your tacitly-condoned misbehavior.


  1. Eight ↩︎

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typo: supposed to being distilling attention -> supposed to be distilling attention

Fixed. Thanks.

I enjoyed the footnote a lot :) And the entire story, of course. Thanks for writing!

Thanks. Wordplay based around double-meanings is hard to write in a language which distinguishes between the different meanings.

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