'And that's how to turn lead into gold', Professor Dumblegrumble said, finishing his class on Extremely Unlikely Wizardry at Bogsnorts School for Squeks, 'class dismissed!', and the pupils dutifully trailed out of the classroom into the sunlight, to discuss what the professor had just taught them.
'I don't believe it works', said Melissa de Lissa, 'if you transmorgify lead it will only become tin, everyone knows that!' 'Wait just one minute', said Harry Potter, polishing his cheap NHS spectacles, 'you're forgetting the fourth dimension of time.' 'Time?' 'Yes, time.' 'I see. You mean time?' 'I mean, by saying time, time.' 'So, what you're really -'
'Get on with it!', a passing film extra shouted, and so Harry did. 'If we build the transmorgifier device that Professor Dumblegrumble outlined to us, and add a special analogue temporal mutatistical empathizing switch, we can simply take gold from the past and replace the lead with it, atom by atom, hence achieving what the prof. said, but without all the tedious spadework. And I just happen to have an analogue temporal mutatistical empathizing switch in my pocket, so let's get going!'
But Harry's friend Hermione wasn't so keen on the idea, and said so. 'I'm not so keen on this idea, and I'm saying so', she said, saying so, 'and that's 'cos I'm not so keen on it.' 'Why not?', Harry asked her, 'what on earth could go wrong?'
'What if instead of gold atoms some other atoms are absorbed by the machine, then who knows what our lead might turn into?' 'Don't be silly, we'll be extra careful', and soon the children were constructing their transmorgifying machine out of old milk bottles and newspapers, and a dead mouse they'd found in yesterday's lunch.
Finally the machine was ready, and Harry added the analogue temporal mutatistical empathizing switch. 'Are we all ready?', he asked, putting a piece of lead piping beside the machine, and a hush fell amongst the group, and then he turned the switch on. A strange humming noise came from the machine, then there was a puff of smoke and a flash of light, and the lead had disappeared, and was replaced by what looked like a small piece of stone.
'I told you!', Hermione cried in dismay, and ran away in tears as Harry carefully picked up the stone, which was still smoking, and the others crowded round him to take a look at it.
'Well, it certainly isn't gold', Barry Cotter said, and 'That bit of lead was worth a fair bit, if we'd taken it to a scrapyard we could have got a few pounds for it', added Sally Trotter. 'What use to us is a piece of rock?', asked Carry McOtter, and 'Enough rhyming names!', came from Harry Potter himself.
'This is no ordinary stone', he said to the others, 'this is ... a plagiarist's stone!', to their complete and utter disinterest. 'It isn't gold', sighed Elspeth von Zbginskiovsky-Mbebele, and soon all the children had left him on his own, when suddenly Hermione reappeared at his side. 'I knew what it was the minute I saw it', she said to Harry, 'but now you must turn it back into lead, and send the stone to whence it came from.'
'Whence?' 'For a plagiarist's stone brings nothing but trouble, and a curse on all those who come into contact with it. Those who keep it become affected with all sorts of distortions of time, being accused of theft by people they've never heard of, and accusing others themselves of theft, it all becomes very sad and pointless. You must get rid of the stone.'
And so Harry placed it beside the machine and turned it on again, and said the magic words 'Originality doth be in the eye of the publisher!', and soon the stone had vanished, and was replaced by a strange lump of greenish metal.
'Looks a bit rusty now', muttered Hermione, 'but Harry grabbed it quickly, shouting 'It's gold! We've done it!', and started dancing round the transmorgifying machine, singing 'We're in the money!', as indeed it was about a kilo of unalloyed gold.
'Maybe the plagiarist's stone has done us some good after all', said Hermione, 'for with this gold we can pay off anyone who says we stole it from them!' 'And lots of others can make more money saying we DID steal it, and take us to court. And judges and lawyers and publishers, and everyone and their dog, can all get rich out of this one piece of old metal and the media circus it will generate! This calls for a celebration!'
'Like what?', she said, hoping it wouldn't be another glass of lemonade and a packet of Wizard crisps. 'Like heading north, and going to the Edinburgh Book Burning Festival!' 'Excellent, I'll get my matches', and the two were soon seen hitching a lift on the A1(N), Harry with his copy of 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' in his pocket, and Hermione with her one of 'The Lord of the Rings'.
And everyone's lawyers all lived happily ever after.