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Chapter 1: So Hank, You’re a Muggle?

So somehow I’m sitting in a big green chair and looking out of a castle window.  A castle.  The night had cooled rapidly; even though it was still technically summer, the first week of August to be exact, the combination of elevation and strangeness made it seem colder.  Maybe it was just a trick of the mind, but then again, everything seemed so…what was the word?  “Other” was the only thing that came to mind.  There was another world existing right alongside my “real” world, and nobody even knew it.  There were no fire engine sirens, police sirens, car traffic; none of the things that said “I am living in the modern city.”  Instead the lamps slowly illuminated themselves, the flames starting in slow trickles but growing stronger until the entire room was illuminated.

“Rooms.”  I said that part out loud, to my unpacked luggage and stacks of books.  A robe hung on the door of the wardrobe, an official robe, Longbottom said, not an everyday one.  Longbottom…man the English have odd names.  Everyday robes?  This just kept getting weirder.  At least I remembered a bottle of scotch.  But if I was going to have a drink, though, I really needed a glass.  And ice.  Where do they get ice?  I just need one ice cube for the glass.  The way everything had been, though, I probably would need more than one.  Water?  What about a small pitcher of water?  

A knock on the door erased those questions from my mind.

“Professor Boyd?  I hope I’m not intruding.”  The tall, dark-haired man poked his head in the door, looking as if disturbing someone would be the absolute last thing he would wish to do.

“Of course not, Mr. Longbottom.  Please come in.”

“Thank you, Professor.  Please, call me Neville.  When Hogwarts is in session, though, please call me Professor.  Among us, though, just Neville, please.”

“Of course, Neville.  Please call me Hank.  I’m still not used to being called Professor, though.  Have a seat; I was just about to have a drink.  Care to join me?”

We sat at a small table to the side of the room.  It was a tower room, or more appropriately rooms, and the ceilings were over ten feet tall with heavy scarlet and blue curtains covering the large windows.  Books, boxes and other items were cluttered alongside the far wall next to the large bed.  After going over to the bed and, after moving multiple boxes and packages out of the way, I finally found my goal, a large backpack.  Unzipping the main compartment and unrolling a towel I pulled out a bottle of scotch.

“Friends sent this off with me when I left.  I was really hoping it didn’t break.  Um, Neville, I have a question.  Where can I get some glasses, ice, and water, um pretty much everything except scotch?”

Neville grinned, seemed almost embarrassed and pulled a little stick out of his robes.  Some stick waving later two glasses appeared on the table alongside a small bucket of ice and a silver pitcher of water.  

I watched the beads of condensation trickle down the pitcher and didn’t say anything for a few minutes.  “Sorry, Neville.  That’s going to take some getting used to.”

“No no no, I’m sorry.  I apologize, I’m sure it will come as some shock for a bit.  I think you’ll get used to it, though.  Some of my best friends were Muggle-born and they’ve seemed to adapt fairly well.”

“True, but they can use magic, right?”

“Um.”  Neville looked at the raven statue on top of the bookcase in the corner.  “True.  But some of their parents aren’t wizards or witches.  I’ll introduce you sometime.  I think you’ll find it educational.”

I poured out two glasses of scotch, added one ice cube and a small bit of water to mine and handed Neville the other glass.  

“Neville, I think the whole part of my being here, let alone being the Professor of Muggle Studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, will be an educational experience.”

Later that evening, after a single glass of scotch, Neville had excused himself and said goodnight.  It took the better part of an hour before the room was manageable enough, let alone the bed cleared off enough to sleep, before I could stop and try to begin to process everything.  I decided upon a small mental checklist, a trick I used when studying or during important things.  While looking at the moon sliver through a gap in the curtains I went through the list:

What I Know

I am in Scotland

I am at school for magic

Magic really freaking exists

A nice guy who’s in charge of this place just made scotch glasses appear out of thin air

I’m supposed to teach something called Muggle Studies

I’m single.


The last item on the list snuck up on me.  Dammit, it wasn’t supposed to happen like that.  I was in Scotland trying to get away from everything.  Hell, this place was completely as far away from that as possible.  Half a world away from Virginia, half a world away from that heartache. I realized I was talking out loud again.  “Bullshit” the little voice inside my head said.  “You can never run away from that.  Stupid.”

I woke up sometime later, and due to the very heavy curtains, could not decide if it was day or night.  After I stumbled out of bed and tripped over a book I almost ended up landing on a half-unpacked trunk full of clothing.  Light streamed into the room when the curtains parted.  “Morning, I guess.”  Talking out loud again.  Am I talking to myself or am I still talking to her?  Crap.  I needed my watch.  Where the hell were my glasses, too?  At least the room had a decent shower, and someone was nice enough to put minimal toiletries in the bathroom so he didn’t have to dig through his stuff.  God knows where it was packed.  After all the horror stories I’d heard from the family in the airport, the shower warmed up quickly.  That family didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, Scotland is great.  They must have stayed at awful hotels that didn’t have a hot water heater from this century or towels worth a…towels.  Shit.  I didn’t remember seeing any towels.  Crap.  I stuck my head through the shower curtain and looked around hopefully.  No towels were in sight.  “Now where the hell am I going to get a towel?”


Standing on the bathroom floor with one hand over its eyes and another holding a towel was the weirdest little thing I had ever seen. I had almost slipped out of the shower in surprise at the huge-eyed thing with weird ears.

“FUCK!  What the hell?”  

“Oh, I’m so sorry, so sorry.  You asked for a towel so I brought you a towel.  I’m so sorry if I scared you Professor Boyd!”

I took a longer look at the small creature that trembled and held a towel towards my general direction.  After stopping the water and taking the towel I wrapped it around my waist and stepped out, still dripping slightly.  “You can look now.  Thank you, by the way.”

The small creature removed his hand from his eyes but lowered his gaze immediately.  “You’re welcome, Professor Boyd.  Very welcome.”

“Please, call me Hank.  What’s your name?  And I’m sorry if this is rude, but what exactly are you?”

“A house elf, sir.  Nonky, sir.”  

“Nice to meet you, Nonky.  Thank you for the towel.  If you don’t mind me asking, how did you know I asked for a towel?”

“I’m a house-elf, Prof...that’s what we do, we help.  Must go now.  Goodbye.”

With another loud crack Nonky disappeared.  I stood there in a towel and rubbed my head.  As Neville said, this was definitely going to be educational.

After standing at my wardrobe and luggage pile, wondering what professors wear to breakfast when school hasn’t started yet, I eventually pulled on jeans, a polo shirt and my favorite old driving loafers.  It was a good thing the loafers passed the sniff test, nothing like meeting your new colleagues and wondering if everyone could smell your shoes.  I was just about at the door ready to head to breakfast when I realized I had absolutely no clue where anything was in this place.  Arriving here at night had been a blur, the castle (holy shit it was a castle) had loomed large in the clouded moonlight, and then Neville had led me to my room where all of my belongings had already arrived.  There was no map of the place on the back of the door; after all, this wasn’t like the hotel room in the French Quarter where we…damn.  Again with those memories.

A knock on the door brought me back to reality.  I walked over and opened the door to see Neville standing there smiling.  “Good morning, Hank.  I figured you might need some help finding your way to breakfast.”  

I smiled back.  Thank God for Neville.  “Morning, Neville.  You’re absolutely right.  Thanks a lot.”

We walked down towards the Great Hall and Neville pointed things out as we walked.  My head was swimming as it was almost too much to keep up with.  Finally we reached the Great Hall where a small amount of people were beginning to gather, and the smells of breakfast hit me like a ton of bricks.  

“Wow, I can’t remember when the last time I ate was…probably that stuff that was on the airplane.”  

Neville laughed slightly, “Yes, I’m sorry about that.  The Ministry decided it was best you travel like a Muggle to avoid any notice.”  

“Neville, are all the Ministry folks so, um…are they always like that meeting we had?  Are they all so, um, official?”  

“No, Hank, not all of them.  That was just Percy.  He’s better than he used to be.”  

“That’s scary.”

We sat at a table towards the corner of the Great Hall.  “I thought this would be better for your first time here in the hall.  That way I can answer any questions you have about Hogwarts.”  

“Sounds good, Neville, but how do we get breakfast?”  

“Just think of what you want for breakfast and the house elves will bring it to you.”  

This was too good to be true.  I just knew I was going to wake up in my little house and it would all be a dream.  Well, if it was a dream then I was going to take full advantage.  I closed my eyes and thought of a big ham & cheese omelet, fried potatoes, bacon and a big cup of hot coffee from my favorite coffeehouse with sugar and cream.  The smell hit me before I could open my eyes.  The moment I opened my eyes I saw all the food I had just thought of, large portioned and waiting, right in front of me on the table.  But the coffee wasn’t there.  


“Pardon me, Headmaster, but Neeker is having a small problem with Professor Boyd’s order, sir.”  

I looked at the house elf and saw Nonky’s big eyes plead with Neville for understanding and forgiveness.  

Neville smiled.  “Good morning, Nonky, how are you?  What’s the issue with Neeker?”

“Neeker doesn’t have any of the coffee that Professor Boy…”

“Hank, Nonky.  Call me Hank.  If you don’t have any coffee that’s fine.  Dark tea will work great.  Sugar and cream…”  

“Milk, Hank.”  Neville smiled.  “We do milk in tea, not cream.”

“That’s cool.  Nonky, just bring me tea like Neville’s if it’s not too much trouble.”  

Nonky let out his breath and sighed in extreme relief.  “Oh no, not at all, not all all.  Right up.”  

Before I could even thank Nonky a cup of tea appeared on the table.  

“Thank you, Nonky.  Please tell Neeker not to worry.”  Neville thanked the house elf, which stood at his side.

My mental images of Neeker punishing herself due to a lack of coffee were quickly dissipated by Nonky’s small bow and smile, and with that he was gone

Neville took a sip of tea and relaxed.  “A proper cup of tea will help get you acclimatized to Hogwarts.  Now Hank, do you have any questions?”

My big laugh echoed off the walls and caused the small amount of people in the Great Hall to look our way.  “How much time you got, Neville?”

Relax.  It’s only a dinner party.  These are people that Neville says will help you understand what kind of world you’re in now.  Relax.  Right.  You’re in Scotland and somehow you’re going to end up in London at someplace called Grim-odd with everybody that can do magic except you and it’s just going to be a pleasant evening all around.  No awkwardness there at all.  No Janine there to lend support, either.  DAMMIT.  Now you’re thinking about her again, and that can’t go well.  You’re out of scotch, you can’t find an electrical outlet to iron your shirt and your belt is somewhere at large amongst all of the luggage that’s yet to be completely unpacked.  Wonderful.

I looked in the mirror again and smoothed my hair and decided the goatee wasn’t ready for a trim yet.  I put my hands on the side of the sink and took a long look in the mirror.  Almost thirty-six years old, going slightly bald, the reddish-blonde hair going white in my beard, lines beginning to form around my eyes just like Granddad’s.  At least my glasses were ok, even though I need a new prescription but hadn’t done that yet; that would be just another reminder that I’m getting old and wasn’t married.  Married.  Crap.  I’d planned on proposing to Janine, had even gone as far as to look for a ring before she had dumped me at that damned black tie dance for her work.  She’d made sure I rented a very nice hotel, we went to the dance…crap crap crap.  It’s because I’m too old for her; that had to be part of it even though she didn’t say so.  I know it deep down that had to be part of the reason.  Good God, now I’m getting hairy ears.  “Just give me a walker and a Clapper and pack me off to the old people’s home.”  My reflection in the mirror did not reply.

Neville knocked on the door and poked his head in.  “Ready Hank?”  

I left the bathroom and walked into the room, adjusting my glasses as I walked.  “I guess so, Neville.  How are we getting there?”  

Neville smiled calmly.  “Well, since you’ve got your special Ministry privileges, we’re going to side-along apparate.  Normally we couldn’t do that since you’re a Muggle, but you are a special case.”  Neville explained apparition, watching me turn slightly pale.  

“This sounds like something out of a science-fiction story.”  Seeing Neville’s expression, I quickly told him not to mind, that it was a Muggle thing, and he was as ready as he would ever be.

It was a big house, and after the shock of watching it appear in front of my eyes I wondered if I would ever get used to the realization that the magical world existed right alongside my world.  Neville knocked on the door and it was then that I felt a sinking feeling that I was being a bad guest; I hadn’t brought a bottle of wine or anything for the hosts.  My mother would be aghast at this lack of manners.  Maybe things were different here in London.  London.  I’d been in Scotland a few minutes ago and now I was in London.  Mind boggling.  My reverie was interrupted when a red-haired woman answered the door and invited us in, hugging Neville and welcoming me in with a smile.  

“Harry, everyone, our guests are here.”  She gave Neville a kiss on the cheek and put her hand out to me.  “Hello Hank, I’m Ginny Potter.  Very nice to meet you.”  

I shook her hand.  “Very nice to meet you.  Thank you for having me over tonight.”

I followed Neville and Ginny to a very large, comfortable room with bookcases, pictures and full of people.  In short order I met Ginny’s husband, Ginny’s brother and his wife, and several other people who’s names I would have a hard time remembering.  Names, names, names.  I knew I was going to mess up remembering everybody’s names at least a couple times, but at least I could remember Hermione’s name (Hermione Weasley, Ron’s wife. Hermione Weasley, Ron’s wife.  Ginny’s sister-in-law.).  That was one I’d hadn’t heard outside of my literature readings.  That and George Weasley, Ginny and Ron’s brother, as he only had one ear for some reason.  After introductions and shaking everyone’s hand Hermione took matters into hand.  Literally.  She took my hand and led me over to the couch and told everybody else to sit and relax.  

“Care for a drink, Hank?”  It was Harry.  

“Um sure.”  I could really have used a beer, but whatever would be great.  Mom’s ‘gracious guest’ phrase kept sticking in my head.

“We’ve got tea, some…”

“Hey Harry, I think this occasion calls for something a little more, shall we say, powerful?”  I looked at the red-haired guy with one ear.  He pulled out a small flask and waggled it around.

“George Weasley!”  The older red-haired woman sitting in the corner did not look pleased.  

“Aw Mom, we’re all grown-ups now.”  George looked slightly irritated, but somehow he didn’t look entirely truthful.  Ok, so the older red-haired woman is George, Ginny and Ron’s mother.  That makes sense.  

“Butterbeer would fine for me.”  Ron looked sheepishly towards the other women, and when nothing happened immediately he broke in “Butterbeers it is then.”

After a couple of butterbeers and polite conversation about Hogwarts I began to relax a bit.  These people were very nice, and now that I had established that all of the red-haired people were related, there was just Neville and an older woman who were probably not Weasleys or Potter/Weasleys.  While thinking about how big the house must be that would hold everybody, the elder of the red-haired men walked over and sat down on the couch next to me with a look on his face like it was Christmas morning.  

“So Hank, you’re a Muggle?”

“Arthur!”  Molly, sitting on a chair across the room, had a mortified look on her face.  I noticed that everyone else in the room was grinning.

“Um, yes, I guess so.  Neville told me on the way to Hogwarts that you call people who aren’t magical Muggles, and if that’s true then I’m probably about the biggest Muggle you’ll ever meet.”

“Extraordinary!”  Arthur took a drink of his butterbeer.  “So tell us about yourself.  How did you get here?  I’m sure that’s a fascinating story!””

Crap.  I knew this moment was going to come eventually.  At least here it was a small group.  Neville had told me that the people at this dinner party were his closest friends and I could be myself tonight.  Small comfort, but at least this wasn’t an auditorium full of people.  “Ok, I guess I’ll give it a shot.  My name is Hank Boyd, and I’m an adjunct instructor of literature at a small college in Virginia.  My full name, which I never use, is Henry Aaron MacDonald Boyd; I’m named for my father’s favorite baseball player and my mother’s maiden name.  Obviously they compromised on the name, but whenever I have to fill out any paperwork they never have enough room for all of my names.  I’ve been Hank for as long as I remember, so please just call me Hank.”

I took a quick drink of butterbeer.  “The question I know you’re all wondering is how I got here, though, and sometimes I’m not too sure myself.  I was in Washington, D.C. last spring for a literature conference and sat in on a presentation called ‘Making Magic Real: The Literature of the Fantastic.’  I hadn’t planned on attending but the professor who was going to go decided that it was more up my alley, and since I was going to focus on fantasy literature for my next paper he gave me his place.  Besides, I think he wanted to go golfing.  Anyway, this worked out perfect for me because later that evening I was going to a formal dinner and dance with my…”  I stopped a minute and lowered my eyes, took a deep breath, and then took a large drink of butterbeer.  “I was going to a dinner and dance thing with my girlfriend.  It was her company’s big event and they were having it in D.C.  Since it was formal, and I didn’t have time or anyplace to change before the dance, I went kilted.”

“Excuse me.”  It was the older lady.  “Did you say that you were kilted?”

I know I must have been smiling at that.  “Yes, I was.  MacDonald through my mother.  I thought I recognized your accent.  You’re Scottish, right?”  

She smiled.  “Yes.  My last name is MacGonagall.  Please continue.”

After another drink of butterbeer I decided to keep going.   I was going to need more before the night was through.  Maybe something stronger.  “Right.  So I have my tie and my jacket in the car and I’m at the conference wearing my kilt.  It usually attracts attention and stupid questions, but after I took my seat a guy sits next to me that drew most of the attention away from my kilt.  I haven’t seen a lime green leisure suit in years, and even then I’ve never seen anyone wear sandals with one.  He sat down and began asking me some questions and I began wondering if this guy was a mental patient or just one of those weird professors that every university seems to have on staff.  The presentation started and it was pretty interesting, talking about how some sci-fi and fantasy authors are exploring the possibilities of the scientific theory of magic, and whether or not magic actually exists, stuff like that.  Before I know it the presentation is over and Mr. Leisure Suit is hanging around, looking like he wants to start talking.  From his previous questions I could tell from his accent that he’s Scottish.  I’ve been researching my family history, and I’ve always wanted to travel to Scotland, so I decide to see if he wants to go get a beer.  After all, I’ve got a couple of hours before I have to pick up…”  I looked at everybody, noticing their rapt attention.  Great.  Compound my heartbreak.  “…Janine.  So we head over to a local watering hole and have a few beers.”

Harry had obviously noticed my butterbeer becoming rapidly empty and walked over and handed me another one.  I thanked him and took a swig.

“I start asking him questions about Scotland, especially the western highlands, and he’s telling me great stories, but I wonder if he’s about thirty beers ahead of me.  He’s talking about stuff that I’ve never heard of, and I’ve done quite a bit of reading.  He asks me if I’m related to Magnus Dent-Head MacDonald, but I haven’t been able to get my family tree back to Scotland yet so I really can’t give him an answer.  He then asks me a bunch of questions, about stuff that is really odd.  I chalk it up to him being another whacked-out academic and tell him that I have to leave.  He tells me that he’ll buy me lunch at the conference tomorrow if I wouldn’t mind answering some more questions, especially about my literature courses and the conference topics.  I figure it’s a free lunch, so why not.”

I shifted in my seat a bit and took another drink of butterbeer.  Fuck it.  Spill it.  Do you good.  Go for it.  “I’ll pick up the next day at the conference.  He finds me right away and starts talking then he stops, because he can tell I’m all messed up.  He motions for me to sit in the hotel lobby chairs and I tell him what happened.”

“What happened?  OW.”

“Honestly, Ron, you are so rude.”

“Well I’m interested, ‘Mione.”  

“Be nice, Ronald.”

I smiled at the couple.  “It’s ok.  Really.  What happened was that we went to the dinner and dance, which cost me over $900 for everything, and after dessert Janine tells me that she doesn’t think things are working out anymore.  That it’s not me, it’s her; that I’m a really nice guy but she doesn’t think our lives are moving in the same direction and it would be better if we just didn’t see each other anymore.”

“Ouch, mate.”  George gave a low whistle.  “After you shelled out all the money, too.”

“Tell me about it.”  I looked and saw sympathetic faces all around.  “We’d been together for two years.  She’d gone from the bottom of her company to the medium-level pretty quickly.  I guess I just wasn’t rich or young or successful enough for her.  She’s 10 years younger than I am.”


“George Weasley, I will…”

“Lighten up, Mom.  It’s a man thing.”

That’s when I noticed Ginny and Hermione looking at their spouses.  Harry and Ron studiously drank their butterbeer and avoided looking at their wives.  “Right.  So Mr. Leisure Suit, or, um, Dr. Telephus Dante, says that the rest of the conference is bollocks and that what we needed right then was a drink.  Even though it was around ten in the morning I wasn’t going to argue, so we ended up back at the bar we were at the day before.  For the rest of the day.  Somewhere around mid-afternoon Dr. Dante looks at me like he’s just discovered electricity.  He tells me to wait for him, he’d be right back after he owled somebody.  I only remembered the part about ‘owling’ later, though.  I’d had enough Guinness and scotch not to care what he said, so I didn’t move except to use the facilities and bum few cigarettes off some old guy.  Eventually he came back looking all happy and asks if I have an eleckeltronical mail address.  Seriously, even as gone as I was I remembered that part.  I give him my email address and after another couple of rounds I figure that nothing good is going to happen that day and catch a cab back to the hotel.”

“The hotel.”  Ginny looked at me quizzically.

“Yeah.  The really nice one I rented for Janine.  I had planned on staying the weekend in D.C. so I wasn’t due to check out until Sunday.  I don’t remember much after getting to the hotel, and I woke up the next day feeling like week old garbage.  Eventually I checked out of the hotel, fought the traffic and went back to my little house in Virginia and holed up for a couple of weeks.  I wasn’t teaching any classes that semester so nobody said anything.  Then about a week or so ago I got an email, asking me to attend a meeting in D.C., and it’s from Dr. Dante.  It was a Saturday, so at least traffic wasn’t horrible.  I drove up to the address and it’s in a sushi place that’s pretty good, so I figured at least I could get some good sushi out of the meeting.”

“What’s sushi?”  Ron looked at Hermione.  

She looked exasperated.  “I’ll tell you later.  Now be nice and listen.”

I smiled slightly at Hermione.  “Dr. Dante is there and so are two other guys.  One guy looks like he could be a linebacker for a pro football team and the other guy…well, actually, he looks a lot like you.”  I nodded towards Arthur.  “Dr. Dante lays it all on table, then.  There’s an offer, but first he asks me some questions.  Things like if I’ve ever had a gut feeling about something one way or another without being able to explain it, stuff like that.  Noticed things out of the corner of my eye.  I told him that I had, but I just chalked it up to intuition.  He looked at the other two guys and when they nodded he launched into it.  The offer was a teaching position at a school in Scotland.  It would be an exchange program of sorts.  There’s a teacher in Scotland who would come over to the U.S. but wouldn’t be at my school.  There’d be no official record of this.  I looked at the big guy and he takes out a little stick and all of the sudden I can’t hear anybody else in the sushi place.  

“Ah yes, Kingsley takes control of the situation as always.  I remember when...”


“Mom, I…”

Molly looked at me and smiled.  “Please do continue, dear.”

“It’s no problem.  So the big guy, Kingsley is it?  Tells me about how the magical world exists all alongside the Muggle world.  That I might have some magical blood way back in my bloodline.  That the offer is strictly a one-time thing, and that if I don’t agree that I’ll never remember the conversation.  I figure what the hell.  What does my life have going in it that I really want to stay?  Besides, it would mean a free trip to Scotland.  I agreed, and the red-haired guy brings out some paper and a quill, acting very official-like.  A real quill, like they signed the Declaration of Independence with.  The red-haired guy starts going into stuff like ‘party of the first part’ and ‘magical contract’ and stuff.  I signed the contract with the quill and, um, Kingsley tells me to get all of my stuff packed and I will receive further instructions by owl, and if I say anything to anybody that there are protections in place that I really don’t want to know about.”

I took a deep breath.  So far, so good.  “So I pack my stuff, tell my parents and my brothers and sister that I’m going to Scotland to travel, write and research for a year.  They know about Janine dumping me, so they don’t say anything much.  A freaking real, live owl bangs on my kitchen window the next morning with this little letter tied to his leg and I’m looking at airline tickets to London.  There’s also an itinerary and the contact information for Neville.”  I nodded at Neville, who smiles back.  “I make it through security, sleep on the plane, wake up in England, meet Neville, take the train, and then do something with powder that gets me to Hogwarts.  That was a little over ten days ago, and now I’m here.””



Arthur grins back.  “It’s called the Floo Network.  We’ll explain later.”  

“Thanks.  I’m sure that y’all will have to do a lot of explaining.  One question, though.  I went to iron my shirt for tonight and I couldn’t find an electrical outlet at Hogwarts.”

Arthur’s eyes went wide.  “Do you mean a plug?”

“Yeah, a plug.”

Arthur thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out the ends of an ancient extension cord.  “Here, have one of mine.  You can never have enough plugs.”