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A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era



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Old October 8th, 2009, 3:50 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Hello fellow Potter-philes!!! Once again we continue the saga that is Harry Potter!!!

Last time, we saw Dudley and Draco making quite the odd couple, leaving the fandom to puzzle over this pairing...get over it!

We saw the return of Isabella and her office-machine man-hunk Bernardo, while Dean gets ready to frolic in Paris...oh and Isabella figured out Draco's connection to the elections.

Harry and his team receive an urgent summons to the Ministry...

AND no one knows what Lucas and Helga have up their sleeves...

So, let's find out!


Chapter 322 – Pulling on the Marionette’s Strings

“Father, I’m bored.” Helga Kaoset tossed her head back, her black hair flying through the air and landing haphazardly on her shoulders. “This is taking too long.” Despite the fact that she’d been alive for over ten millennia, there was still a whiny quality to her voice, like that of a petulant child. Her father was standing by a large, plate glass window, looking out at the grand vista of mountains. He turned and placed his hands behind his back.

“Patience, my dear. All is going according to plan. That fool Westcott is drunk with power and he’s playing havoc with the Ministry.” Lucas Kaoset smiled evilly. “What’s more, that idiot Potter and his henchmen are bound and determined to blame Malfoy for all this. It’s going to create a delicious conflict.”

Helga pouted her lips. “I know all that, but isn’t there something we can do to prod them along?”

Lucas studied his daughter for a moment and then sighed heavily. “I suppose there is.” He walked out onto a wide veranda. The home resembled a Swiss chalet and the snowcapped Alps in the distance completed the look. In the center of the porch, there was a stone fire pit in the shape of an octagon. There was a bright flame in the pit, that was highlighted by its bright, neon purple glow. Lucas stared into the flame and smiled. “Let’s see if we can’t get old Westcott to move things along, shall we?”

***

Sean Manchester turned and faced Harry when the head of the Office of Aurors approached the main holding area where Tom Winters had been kept. The smallish Auror shook his head slowly.

“I don’t know what happened, Harry, but it looks like someone breached security and fed that fellow some veritaserum.” Sean pointed into the cell, through the one way window on the wall. Inside, Harry saw two healers furiously working spells and potions, in an attempt to revive Winters, who was motionless on the floor.

“What in Merlin’s name happened to our security? Who did this?” Harry asked, his voiced bearing an undisguised hint of anger.

Manchester didn’t flinch. “It was Malfoy.”

“That’s ridiculous.” Ron replied. “Even Malfoy doesn’t have access down here.”

Sean looked up at Harry and leveled a serious gaze at his boss. “He had help, Harry.”

“Who?” Harry asked.

Sean took in a deep breath and then sighed. “It was Dudley.”

***

His office was no longer safe. Draco knew that the “interrogation” of Winters would bring the Aurors down on him. He glanced over at Dudley, the large man strangely mute as the taxi meandered through the busy London streets. The events of the past few hours had gone by in a whirlwind and for the thousandth time, Draco reminded himself why he allowed this muggle to accompany him on this mission. To be sure, Dudley had gotten him access to the prisoner and as a muggle, had been instrumental in navigating them through London’s Central Hospital. Now, however, they were getting into more of the magical realm. Dudley Dursley, muggle, would have no impact on how this “dark lord” would be handled. Why was Draco continuing to allow Dudley to accompany him?

It could be about family. One thing that could be said about the Malfoys by anyone that knew them was that they were remarkably loyal to family, almost to a fault. Devotion to her son had led Narcissa Malfoy to betray even Voldemort, during the apex of the Battle of Hogwarts. Dudley was family, at least to Domina. So perhaps, this was a reflection of Draco’s commitment to family? He shook his head slightly. No. Dursley was a muggle, and while Draco had grown to tolerate half bloods and blood traitors, he still had no real stomach for muggles. Why didn’t he simply tap Dudley on the shoulder with his wand and cast the portly man out into the London streets?

“It’s because of Harry.” Because of the prolonged silence, Dudley’s voice seemed to echo in the cab.

Draco turned sharply and stared at his companion. “What are you talking about?”

“You’re wondering why you’re keeping me around. I’m a muggle, after all.” There was the barest hint of a smile on Dudley’s face. Draco, for his part, momentarily lost control of his composure, a obvious look of bewilderment on his face.

“How do you know that?” Draco finally blurted out.

“I may be a muggle, Draco, but I’m not an idiot.” Dudley folded his arms across his chest and stared at Draco. “I lived in your world for many years, wondering how I fit in, being a muggle and all. Beatrice helped me find my place, made me realize that I was important. You and Domina always thought that she was showing weakness, but you didn’t get that she knew as much about the politics as you did, maybe more.”

Draco’s normal cool returned and he nodded his head slowly. “I see. Perhaps I underestimated my late sister-in-law, but why do you say I keep you around because of Potter?”

This time Dudley broke into a grin. “That’s the easy part, Draco. You are using me as a buffer against Harry. You could have gotten into the Ministry without me, but I add an element of delay in case Harry tries to stop you.”

“Does that bother you? That I’m exploiting you like that?” Draco asked.

“I’m not being exploited if I know about it, am I?” Dudley sat back. “You have your agenda, Draco, and I have mine. Mine is simple. Those *******s that killed Beatrice are going to pay, in the only way they deserve. I’m not a wizard, but I can help and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Silence returned to the cab as Draco contemplated what he’d heard. A newfound respect for Dudley was clearly visible on his face. He clutched the box in his lap and watched London pass by the window.

***

“You’re sure it was Dudley?” Harry asked warily. Sean nodded his head. Harry looked into the room. The healers seemed to be stabilizing the comatose patient. “Do you think they learned anything from him?”

“More than we did?” Sean asked. “Maybe, but we won’t know until he comes out of it.”

“Will he come out of it?” Harry asked quietly.

“The healers can’t be sure. They’re transferring him to St. Mungo’s now. We have to wait and see.” Sean replied.

Harry nodded and then turned to Dennis. “I want a permanent guard on him. If he wakes, find me.” Dennis nodded and moved to carry out Harry’s orders.

Ron and Williamson joined him and Sean, as well as Mortimer. Ron put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “What do you want to do, Harry?”

“Well, we don’t know what they learned and we don’t know what they’re doing.” Harry responded. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, while his shoulders seemed to grow taller, more erect. “Put out an alert on Draco Malfoy and Dudley Dursley. Arrest them on sight.”

***

It had been almost five hours and Westcott hadn’t moved. He sat in his diminutive chair and stared at the glowing light in the lantern, his eyes not even blinking. Caleb Odom stood off to the side, watching Westcott and studiously ignoring the whispers of the huddled surviving Death Eaters. It was like realizing that he was on a runaway car, careening madly towards the edge of a cliff and not able to do a thing about it. Caleb knew what his people were whispering about, but they were bound, like him, by and oath that would mean certain death if they did not follow Westcott. He had to do something, if they were going to survive this madness, Westcott’s madness.

For his part, Westcott heard the voices emanating from the lantern. “Feed me…Feed me…Feed me…” Over and over, for hours and hours, the lamp beckoned him. It’s light felt like a blanket, surrounding him and warming him. Still, he resisted. He needed more than a voice to commit his horcruxes to its flame. Over time, the tug of war between his desire to keep his horcruxes and the power of the lantern seemed to be a stalemate, yet slowly, his addiction to the horcruxes was slowly winning the battle. After all, he’d yet to see what the lantern would do for him. Suddenly that changed.

The voice in the lantern was clear, seemingly audible to everyone, even though the others, especially Caleb, did not seem to react. “It’s time, William. It’s time to summon me.”

Westcott sat up with a start. He spoke back to the voice. “Summon you? How?”

“You know how. It’s time for the ceremony. It’s time for the rise of the Golden Dawn.” The voice replied.

In the depths of his memory, Westcott went back to the time before all this. He remembered Woodman, Mathers and himself conducting the ritual that would reveal their benefactor, the source of the power of the lantern. His face grew dark. He also remembered the young man in lavender robes who showed up at the most inopportune of times, the mighty wizard, then a teacher at Hogwarts, who figured out what they were up to and interrupted the ceremony. The man’s name was Albus Dumbledore and his appearance had drained the power from the lantern, denying the Order its rightful power.

“Dumbledore is dead, and you did not have the power of the horcruxes before.” How had the voice known what he was thinking? It was right, after all. Dumbledore WAS dead. There was no one who could stop them this time.

***

Caleb watched as Westcott stood up. His master swayed unsteadily and then righted himself. Westcott turned and crooked one of his bony fingers, summoning his lieutenant. Caleb approached and bowed at the waist.

Surprisingly, Westcott seemed alert, fully aware of his surroundings. He looked directly at Caleb and seemed to smile. “It’s time, Caleb. We’re leaving.”

“Where to, master?” Caleb asked nervously. The last time his master had been so lucid, they ended up attacking Diagon Alley and getting half their number killed or captured.

“We’re going to finish what we started, Caleb.” Westcott reached down and grasped the lantern’s handle. “We need to summon the power of the lantern and complete the Golden Dawn ceremony.”

Caleb tried not to show his confusion. Golden Dawn? What happened to being a dark lord? The Order of the Golden Dawn was something his master had shared with Mathers and Woodman. Didn’t his master know that the others were dead? What was this all about? Caleb stood straight up.

“I don’t understand, master. Where are we going?”

For a split second, the purple light in Westcott’s eyes faded, leaving the calm brown, human irises behind. Westcott almost looked human. He smiled, looking like a kindly old man at Caleb and then reverted back to his old form, the fire of lavender light blazing in his eyes.

“You have no need to understand, Caleb. Get the others ready. We are leaving for Avebury within the hour. Don’t leave anything behind. We will not be coming back here.” Westcott turned and placed the lamp back on the table and returned to staring at it.

Caleb stared at Westcott’s back and sighed. He slowly turned to inform the others. In the back of his mind, he wondered if any of them would be left to return to anything.

***

Harry closed the front door behind him and dropped his bag near the closet in the foyer. He paused and listened for any sign of the family, bustling about. It was late in the evening and the kids were probably in bed by now. He walked up the front stairs and down the hallway. He paused at each door on his way, ducking his head into each one, checking on his children. First there was James, a mild smirk on his face, showing his confidence to the world, ready to take on the challenge that was Hogwarts.

Harry smiled: if only he’d been that confident when he got off the Hogwarts Express for the first time. Harry made a mental note to remind himself to spend some time with James before he left. No matter what anyone said, once they left for Hogwarts, a part of them never quite returns home. He moved on to the next room and looked in on Albus. Unlike the devil-may-care look on James’ face, Harry saw a crease between Albus’ eyebrows, as if he were frowning with worry. James’ departure would be especially hard on Albus, who practically idolized his older brother. Albus looked so much like Harry, the unruly dark hair, the look of wonder, the tinge of anxiety. All could be seen, even as he slept. Albus was a reflection of Harry’s own fears as his oldest son prepared to leave the nest.

Finally, he stopped at Lily’s room. Her bright red hair was layered across her pillow, like a halo around the head of an angel. No matter how hard he tried, she practically owned him. Ginny liked to joke about how wrapped around Lily’s finger Harry was, and it was true. Even in sleep, Lily warmed his heart. He sighed and then felt the warmth of arms encircling his waist and the breath of his wife warming his back.

He turned and faced Ginny, the troubles of the day slowly fading away, lost in the beauty of her face. She smiled and held a finger to her mouth, unnecessarily reminding him to stay quiet. She grasped him by the hand and led him to their bedroom at the end of the hall. Every so often, she’d look back and smile, the gesture sending bolts of lightning through him, from head to toe.

After all these years, she looked even more beautiful than he could remember. Her red hair bounced below her shoulders, her smile highlighted by the freckles on her cheek. Her brown eyes danced in the moonlight, with the memory of their years together and the promise of more to come. By the time they got to their room, Harry had completely lost himself in her love. There would be time enough to talk about what was going on in the world, to talk about dark lords, family betrayal and his son’s leaving. There’d be plenty of time for the weight of responsibility to place itself firmly on his shoulders and wear him down.

For now, her smile was enough to lift his troubles. She stopped and stood on her toes, craning her neck upward and tilting her chin towards him. His hand strayed to her head and pulled her lips the final distance to his own. They kissed, lightly at first. The tingle of emotion passing through them like a current and slowly they became more furtive, more impassioned. Her arms wrapped around his neck and together, they pulled each other closer, lost in the forever that was true love’s kiss.

They didn’t hear the soft pad of small feet in the hall. The door to their room slowly shut, as if by magic and a small, hunched over gray figure was muttering to himself as he waved a gnarled hand over the door, locking it. Kreacher rarely smiled, but for the moment, he allowed himself a moment to bask in the happiness his master was feeling. Such moments had been rare, of late, and there was nothing manmade or magical that would rob his master of this moment. With one more check of the children, Kreacher made his way to a small chair at the top of the stairs. Slowly, he sat down, happy to be standing guard over another of his master’s loving moments. Happy that the moment had returned, at long last.


***A/N: Okay, so I was jonesing for a mushy moment. So sue me. Every so often, I tend to focus on the action and forget that this is a H/G fic. Thanks to the new readers for reminding me.

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  #322  
Old October 13th, 2009, 7:54 pm
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USNAGator91  Male.gif USNAGator91 is offline
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

It is a dark time for the rebel alliance. Imperial forces led by Darth Vader have pushed the ragtag rebel fleet to a breaking point while Han Solo languishes in the clutches of notorious intergalactic criminal, Jabba the Hutt. On the upside, Princess Leia is smoking hot in her slave costume....

Er, wait, was I thinking that or did I type that...oh, hang on...ah, here we go,

When we left HOM, Dudley and Draco were in the middle of living out a bad buddy cop film. Westcott finally got off his backside when summoned by the mysterious Kaoset, allowing the rest of the Death Eaters to stop playing with their dolls.

And Harry, got so worked up about his cousin in cahoots with Draco that he issued an APB and then headed home for some...

Bow Chica Bow Wow!

Ahem...back to the story:

Chapter 323 – Narrowing the Focus

The old factory reflected the hard times of the surrounding neighborhood. It’s once bright red brick walls were faded and chipped, the large, expansive windows boarded up and broken. The taxi tore off down the street, its driver mindful of the rundown condition of the surrounding area. Draco and Dudley stood before the padlocked gates of the property, neither taking particular note of their surroundings.

“What is this place?” Draco asked. Dudley shrugged his shoulders, ignoring the weight of the box he was carrying.

“It’s one my Dad’s old factories. When the recession hit, he had to close some of them. Let me get the key.” Dudley fumbled with the box as he tried to free his hand and reach into his pocket.

“No need.” Draco grumbled and waved his wand casually. The padlock snapped and the gates swung open with a loud creak.

Dudley looked over at Draco and rolled his eyes. “You might want to keep that to a minimum. There’s no telling what kind of attention you’ll draw.”

“What do I care? There’s no one here that will challenge us. Are you afraid, Dudley?” Draco asked with a sneer.

“No, but as I recall, the Aurors pay particular attention to any reports of magic done in the muggle world. Are you that ignorant, Draco?” In a way, Dudley seemed to match Draco’s condescending response.

Draco knew he should have been angry, yet he wasn’t. In fact, he was almost impressed at how quickly Dudley had responded and in the manner. It was conceivable that if Dudley had shown the slightest bit of weakness, Draco would have considered leaving, then and there. Instead, he nodded.

“Let’s go.”

***

Harry stood before the large, ornate fireplace, his hands behind his back, taking in the overly dramatic oil painting hanging above the mantle. The hair on the back of his neck was standing on edge, and the briefest tinge of anger passed through him. The painting had three figures, a family standing in a pose. They were not smiling. The three of them were haughty and as they moved there was a decided arrogance in their poses. Given that all three of their real life doppelgangers were alive, Harry knew that there would be no interaction with the painting, and even if pigment based people could talk, Harry rather doubted that they would deign to talk to him.

A voice brought him out of his study, forcing him to turn around quickly. “My in-laws, rather impressive, aren’t they?” The silky smooth, yet utterly cold voice of Domina Malfoy focused Harry’s attention. He gestured back to the painting of the three Malfoys; Lucius, Narcissa and Draco, done sometime around Draco’s fifth year at Hogwarts.

“I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder. My recollection of Draco’s parents is less than cordial.” The barest hint of a quiver around the edge of Domina’s lips was as close to a smile as she was capable of. Instead she motioned to the large chairs in front of the fire. Harry nodded and waited until the beautiful golden haired woman sat, then followed suit.

“I suppose that is true, considering how close both Lucius and Narcissa came to killing you.” Harry had no response and she continued. “Of course, were it not for Draco’s intervention both times, you would not be here, isn’t that right, Harry?”

“I suppose that a case can be made. Why do you ask a question that you already know the answer to?” Harry settled back and steepled his fingers in front of his face.

“Because that’s why you are here, right? You’re here because of what you think Draco might or might not have done.” She didn’t acknowledge the small house-elf who appeared and left two glasses of sherry on the table between them. “I just wanted to make sure I reminded you how much you owe my husband, Mr. Potter.”

“Fair enough, Domina, but understand, as I see it, Draco and I are more than even.” Harry reached down and took a sip of his drink. “And even if we weren’t even, that would not stop me from finding out the truth.”

“I see.” Domina fixed Harry with a stare, her icy blue eyes boring into him. She broke the gaze and waved her hand. “You don’t have any of your minions here with you. Don’t you want to play “good cop/bad cop” with me like you did my husband?”

For a moment, Harry hesitated. He had no idea if she was toying with him or she was serious. He decided to play it straight. “I don’t need anyone to talk, right? You are a member of the Ministry. I’m just asking questions. I should be in no danger.”

Completely out of character, Domina laughed. Harry was surprised at how warm and pleasant her laugh was. For a moment, she resembled her late sister Beatrice. As quick as it came, it disappeared and the severe woman returned. “You’re in no danger, Mr. Potter. Ask your questions.”

Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Where’s Draco?”

Domina tilted her chin upward and shook her head. “Now Harry, that is such a direct question, it’s so unlike you. You expect a wife to tell you where her husband is? You’ll have to do better than that.”

Harry took a breath of air and settled in his seat. “Why did Draco pretend to support Raimundo Baretto for Minister and then throw his support behind Cutter?”

Domina nodded. “That’s much better, Harry. To answer your question, he wanted to influence the Ministry. John Dawlish allowed too many do-gooders in his cabinet and was quite against business. I often laughed because Draco found himself missing Arthur Weasley.”

Harry’s gaze conveyed his doubt. “But why the misdirection? It makes him look involved with this dark lord. It makes it look like he’s behind it.”

Harry’s tone told Domina that he didn’t believe it, but in all things with public relations, something she was quite familiar with, perception was reality. “I see your point, Harry, but the double move was to throw George Weasley off. Draco knew that Weasley would gravitate to a candidate that opposed Draco’s choice. The only logical choice was Percy Weasley. That would dilute the vote and put Cutter in.”

“Is Draco involved with this new dark lord?” Harry asked.

“Of course not. I thought you knew my husband.” Domina watched Harry’s eyebrows rise. “I don’t mean that you’re friends, but you know his history. He didn’t even want to be a follower of the original Dark Lord. He’s someone that turned in both his father and his mother to the authorities. Do you really think that he’d follow some usurping amateur at this stage of the game?”

Harry shook his head. “No, not really.” Harry crossed his arms. “That doesn’t explain why he and my cousin interrogated a prisoner and why they, for all intents and purposes, seriously injured the only lead we’ve got.”

“You haven’t been paying attention then, and you don’t know your cousin very well. In fact, knowing that Dudley is your cousin, I’m very disappointed in you.”

“What do you mean, disappointed?” Harry asked.

“What would you do if Hermione Weasley was murdered?” The question was like a cold bucket of water in Harry’s face.

“That’s an absurd question.”

“Is it? I think not. You’d move the heavens to find and punish who did it, wouldn’t you?” The look on Harry’s face told her she’d hit a nerve. “It’s the same with Draco. Beatrice was my sister. We haven’t always gotten along, but she was my sister. She was family. Draco is doing what he must to bring this animal to justice.”

“No matter who he hurts? Is that why he’s dragging my cousin into this?” Harry asked angrily.

Domina stood and pointed a pale finger at Harry’s face. “You don’t know anything. Dudley came to us. He wants justice for his wife and he came to us because obviously he didn’t think he was going to get it from you.”

Each word was like a dagger in Harry’s heart. Had he been so callous? He stood and paced the room. “I’m doing everything I can. I’m doing everything the law allows.”

“And that is precisely why Dudley went to Draco.” The words were clear because they rang true. Domina’s voice lowered. “Back to my original question, you’d do anything to avenge Hermione Weasley. You wouldn’t worry about the law, or the consequences. Back when you were fighting the Dark Lord, you didn’t worry about such niceties. You do what you have to do. That’s what family is all about. Perhaps Dudley knew that Draco’s concept of family duty was far superior to your own.”

Harry shuddered, her words echoing in his head. She started walking from the room. “Now you know why. The real question, Harry Potter, is what are you prepared to do?” The question hung in the air. Harry could almost see the words hanging in front of him. Domina smiled. “You can show yourself out.” She turned her back on him and left the room.

***

The air in the old manager’s office was stale. It stank of old cigarettes and toner. Dudley placed the box down on the desk and began emptying its contents. At first, they were the trinkets collected by a lonely old man over the years. There were years of service plaque, several coffee mugs, some compact disks and various memoranda. At the bottom of the box were two books. One had a faded paper cover over the binding, its words worn away by time. The other was a black and white composition book. Dudley handed the book over to Draco and began leafing through the notebook.

Draco opened the book and studied the inside cover. He spoke more to himself than to Dudley. “Dogma and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Levi, member of the Order of the Golden Dawn.” Draco turned to the pages. Inside were discussions of various rites and ceremonies, mostly concerning inane things like rain dancing or fertility magic. Draco snorted at the quaintness of the spells, which relied cheap theatrical accoutrements then any real magic. Certain sections were dog eared. He scanned through them and then clapped the book shut.

“Well this was a waste of time.” Draco snorted.

“Maybe not,” Dudley said excitedly as he pointed to a section in the notebook. “ It says here that the Order of the Golden Dawn started out as a lark, a place for amateurs to pretend they were part of a magical secret society.”

“Well that’s pretty obvious.” Draco interjected, but Dudley ignored him.

“It included such Victorian literary figures as Yeats, Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood. Most of the time, they sat around, took opium and practiced their rituals. It was a man named Samuel Mathers that introduced tarot to magical practices.” Dudley flipped the page. “Somewhere along the line, one of the members, an Eliphas Levi came into possession of a lantern while on holiday in Finland. The lantern contained strong magical properties, an aura that made even the most inept wizard among them exceptionally powerful. The lantern, though, had to be fed. It became all consuming.”

“What did it need to be fed with?” Draco asked.

“The life force of innocents, muggle or magical.” Dudley replied. “The group began to show up on the radar of the local Ministry, especially after some very high profile ritualistic murders in Whitechapel.”

Draco nodded. “Jack the Ripper.”

“Right.” Dudley concurred. “You know, it’s always been theorized that Jack the Ripper may have had medical knowledge.”

“So?”

“Two of the four leaders of the Order were Dr. William Woodman,” Dudley paused.

Draco picked up on his thoughts. “And our own dear departed coroner, Dr. William Wynn Westcott.” Things were starting to make sense. “What happened to the lantern?”

Dudley laughed out loud. “It says that the Ministry asked the most capable wizard of the time to track down the Order. At the time, he was Head Boy at Hogwarts, but so accomplished, he filled in as the Transfiguration teacher for a time. He was both a student and a teacher at the same time.” Dudley smiled. “His name was Albus Dumbledore.”

Draco couldn’t help but laugh. “How did Dumbledore stop them?”

“It says here that he confronted them during their Golden Dawn Ceremony. During the fight, he sent a curse that struck Levi while he was adding the captured life forces to the lamp. The effect released the souls of the dead and drained the lantern somehow. When the lantern was drained, it took away the remaining members’ powers.”

Draco scratched his chin. “Somehow, this lantern must have been reignited.” Draco turned and looked at Dudley. “Does it say why they were performing this ceremony?”

Dudley shook his head. “It ends right after describing Dumbledore.”

Something in Draco’s head bugged him. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers and picked up the old book. He flipped through the pages to a dog eared section. “The Golden Dawn Ceremony is designed to summon the one who created the lamp. Once summoned, darkness and light will intermix, creating chaos, the perfect state for magic.”

Draco tapped the page. “This is what they were after. This is what they’re going to do.”

“Great, now all we need to do is figure out when and where it’s going to be.” Dudley said.

Draco smiled. “That’s the easy part. These fools were sure compulsive about documenting everything. I know precisely where and precisely when.”

“Really? Where and when, then?” Dudley asked.

“Where? Avebury Stone fields. When? August Thirteenth.” Draco said triumphantly.

“How do you know that?” Dudley asked, still a bit skeptical.

Draco pointed to the book. “The ritual can only performed at Avebury.”

“And the date?” Dudley asked.

“It has to be done during a certain type of astronomical event. It has to be done during a meteor shower. There are only a few that you can predict and the Perseid Meteor Shower peaks at midnight on the thirteenth of August.” Draco said.

He noticed the incredulous look on Dudley’s face. Silently, the pair repacked the box. Dudley finally broke the silence.

“We should send this stuff to Harry. At lease he’ll know what’s going on.” Dudley said.

Draco nodded. “Especially in case we fail. The thirteenth is only the day after tomorrow.” They finished packing and turned to leave.

“I can’t believe it. How did you know that there as a meteor shower?” Dudley asked.

Draco stopped and looked around, as checking to make sure they weren’t being overheard. He spoke in a low voice. “Just because I didn’t like Astronomy doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything.”

“Oh, come on.” Dudley chortled.

“Ok, ok.” Draco surprised Dudley because the normally stoic man blushed. “Scorpius loves astronomy and he told me about it the other day while we were stargazing.”

Dudley smiled at the thought of Draco Malfoy, bad boy extraordinaire, laying out in an open field with his young son and pointing at the stars. Draco hesitated for a moment and then drew his wand.

“And if you tell anyone about this, I’ll turn you into a toad.” Dudley laughed despite the wand pointed at him.

“Your secret is safe with me.” Draco smiled and stowed his wand.

“Come on. Let’s go.” The pair left the grimy factory behind and walked out into the night.

Dudley shook his head. “How are we going to get a cab at this time of night and in this neighborhood?”

***A/N: I know, a little heavy on the exposition, but I had to bring thing tighter. There were too many loose threads and it was hard to keep them all straight. Notice the date in the story? That will give me time to write about James to Hogwarts.

Ciao, bellas!

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Last edited by USNAGator91; October 13th, 2009 at 8:22 pm.
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  #323  
Old November 3rd, 2009, 8:26 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

NOW that the Trapdoor Contest is behind us...it is behind us, right, we can get back to HOM. When we last left our intrepid heroes, we had the Westcott looking pretty bad while Caleb is suffering from a serious case of buyers' remorse.

For some reason, the odd couple (Draco/Dudley) have figured out what Westcott is up to and are now trying to find a cab.

Harry is still red faced from his confrontation with the ever smoking hot Domina.

So, let's see what we can do...because I know that "New Moon" is coming to theaters on November 20th and GIG will be useless then.

Chapter 324 – Family

The sun set over the low rolling hills near the small village of Avebury. The summer heat of the day was slowly giving way to the cool breezes of the night. The countryside was dotted by hundreds of small, one family, farms that created a quilted patchwork of colors in the fading light. The fields boasted gentle slopes, grand trees and Neolithic stones, sitting upright across the horizon. The residents had long retired for the evening, the farm animals had settled in for the night. Consequently, there was no one about to hear the telltale crackle and thunder that marked the arrival of a magical person during apparition. In the lee of a tall elm, six figures appeared in a swirl of green light and smoke. William Westcott and his Death Eaters had finally arrived in Avebury.

Caleb Odom was instantly alert, his wand out on the search for any stray passers by. He only slightly relaxed when he realized that they had managed to arrive, undetected. He turned towards his compatriots and pointed in four different directions with his wand. Silently, they fanned out, checking the area to make sure that they were, indeed, alone. Once the four had gone on their way, Caleb turned and approached the desiccated figure of his master, the man his fate had been interminably tied to, William Westcott.

Westcott, to Caleb, seemed even frailer, smaller somehow, his body stooped over, and his head bereft of any hair. His skin was pale, with a faint greenish hue and his breathing was raspy. Still, Westcott’s eyes burned bright lavender which seemed to penetrate anyone that stared back at him. The battered lantern was firmly gripped in one hand, while the other idly fumbled with the diminished cards that he never let out of his grasp. Caleb hid a mental sigh, the regret over the pact he’d made rearing its head while he stared at the madman his master had become. The point of the fact was that Caleb accepted that he was already a dead man, it was now just a question of how and when. From the looks of his master, the when seemed to be coming up pretty soon.

“What are you orders, master?” Caleb bowed deeply at the waist. Westcott’s eyes had been darting around and when Caleb spoke, he jumped slightly, as if noticing the tall, lanky wizard for the first time. He turned his gaze upward, as if checking the position of the sun.

“It will be dark soon. We have much to prepare. Tomorrow, all will be complete.” His master’s cryptic response caused a shudder to cascade down Caleb’s spine. He waited a moment and began unpacking the bag on his shoulder.

***

The rows of broken down buildings came together in a dead end as the cab dropped Draco and Dudley off. Dudley paid the fare and took a brief look around. The buildings were not dissimilar from the muggle buildings that marked the entrance to Diagon Alley and for a moment, Dudley imagined that they were at another entrance to some magical enclave. He turned and looked at Draco, who was standing with his legs apart, his arms at his side, staring at a corner where two buildings came together.

“What is this place?” Dudley asked. He began walking towards Draco who spun around and stared at Dudley.

“This place?” Draco waved his hand around. “I’m afraid this is the place you get off.”

Dudley shook his head, as if disbelieving his ears. “You can’t.” He walked towards Draco, his arms out. Draco’s arm swooped upward, his wand snapping into place and the tip stopping Dudley just short of reaching him.

The corner of Draco’s mouth turned upward slightly. “I can, and I will.”

Dudley sat back. “What about all that tripe you and Domina said about family and honor?”

“Oh, I believe in that. In fact, I owe Mr. Westcott for more than just Beatrice, but you won’t be part of it.” Draco said, his tone almost apologetic, almost.

“You can’t do this without me. I have a say in this, Draco.” Dudley’s voice was more pleading than he’d wanted. “I’m part of this. I helped you.”

Draco’s smile turned into a sneer. “You? What help can a muggle be to me? This is a battle between the big boys, you’d just get in the way. “

“Please, Draco. I have to be part of this.” The pain of his wife’s death and his need to have closure exuded from Dudley’s face, trying to play on his companion’s basic compassion. Draco Malfoy was many things and through his life, he’d seen his emotional range grow and change. Unfortunately for Dudley, compassion for muggles, even those married to his sister-in-law, was not part of that change. He’d tolerated Dudley and on some level understood the larger man’s need to be involved. He’d accepted Dudley’s help in navigating the arcane rituals of the muggle world, but now, there was nothing he needed nor wanted from Dudley.

Draco’s sneer lessened somewhat. He flicked his wrist and Dudley’s wallet and cell phone appeared in his hands. “I’m sorry, Dudley. Rest assured that by the time you figure a way to get back to Potter, I’ll have taken care of this ‘dark lord’ in my own way.”

Draco bowed slightly and waved his wand. In a flash of green smoke and light, he disappeared, leaving Dudley staring and stranded in a darkening and dismal neighborhood. Dudley looked at his hands and crammed them into his pockets. Draco had taken every means that he had to get away from here. He’d emptied the entire contents of Dudley’s pockets. Except…

Dudley pulled his hand out of his right pocket and stared at the ball of lint in his hand. To the casual observer, the stringy mass was just a remnant of a poor sewing job on Dudley’s pants, but Dudley’s trousers were dark blue and the ball of lint was red. Dudley stared at the lint and sighed, as if weighing a heavy decision. Then he shook his head and transferred the lint to his left hand and shoved that hand into his left pocket. He took a deep breath as he was enveloped in a swirling, spinning mass of light and smoke and then he was gone.

***

Harry barely noticed the wild cacophony of sound as children ran wild through the Potter home. His focus was devoted to a piece of parchment that had just been owled over by Mortimer. Winters had regained consciousness and Harry was reviewing the transcript of the interview. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to go on. Williamson had taken a team to the hospital that Westcott used to work at, to no avail. They’d run into another dead end, as they realized that Dudley and Draco had been several steps ahead of them. He sighed and looked up from the scroll, in time to see Kreacher appear and snatch up Lily and apparate away just before James could hit her with the water balloon he had in his hand. The balloon sailed through the air, and out the door, striking Ron, who was just about to knock.

“Blimey! If you didn’t want us to visit, just say so.” Ron held the door open as water dripped from his hair. A noticeably bemused Hermione led Rose and Hugo into the Potter home while Ron shook his fist at James who was perfectly happy with the result of his attack. “I’m going to get you James, you watch it.” James stuck his tongue out at his uncle and then ran off.

Ginny arrived at the door to greet her brother and sister-in-law. Without looking up the stairs, she raised her wand and tapped it with her index finger. She was rewarded by a loud yelp. James stuck his head over the banister, he was rubbing his ear.

“Ouch, Mom! What was that for? Me and Uncle Ron play like that all the time. “ He whined plaintively.

Ginny relented and looked up at her eldest son. “I told you to stop picking on your sister and you know you’re supposed to be getting your trunk ready. Now get to it!”

James sighed and his head disappeared from view. Ginny shook her head. “Sometimes, I tell you, I don’t know if I’ll survive that boy. He’s a living, breathing hurricane of trouble. He knows we have a lot to do still, before he has to go to Hogwarts. Merlin’s beard, we can’t even get the Diagon Alley shopping done without him getting into something. He definitely is a Weasley.”

Hermione smiled knowingly at her friend. “You’re going to miss him, aren’t you.”

Ginny nodded sheepishly. “Terribly.” She and Hermione shared a brief smile and Ginny looked up at Ron. “What brings you by, anyway?”

Ron smiled. “I know we’re getting together at Mum and Dad’s on Sunday, but we wanted to bring you your present.” Hermione held out a neatly wrapped present.

“You’re a day late, her birthday was yesterday.” Harry chimed in. “Today is the 12th of August.”

Ron shrugged. “That won’t stop her from opening her gift, now will it.”

Ginny grabbed the package. “It certainly will not.” She unwrapped the paper and gasped. She placed the package on a nearby table and pulled out a camera by it’s carry strap. It looked like an ordinary muggle Polaroid camera, made of flat black and gray plastic with a large red button, but there also was a small comet on the side which told Ginny that it was a special camera. She put the camera to her eye and snapped a picture. There was a gentle whirring sound and square, blank plastic picture came out. She held it up and handed it to Harry who smiled.

The picture slowly came into focus. At first, it looked like any other wizarding world snapshot, with the figures moving but as Harry moved the picture around in his hand, he was able to zoom in tighter, beyond his figure in the picture and actually see things hidden behind objects, like a shoe behind the couch.

Ginny was giddy. She threw her arms around Hermione and then Ron. “Thanks, it’s wonderful. I’ve always wanted a Zoom-gotcha Instamatic. It’s perfect.”

Her revelry was interrupted by an insistent knock at the door. Harry held up his hand. “I’ll get it. Maybe it’s Seamus with a box of chocolates.”

“Really, Harry, you need to get over the whole alternate timeline thing. It’s not like I like him now. Although, he is quite a dancer, hmmm” Harry rolled his eyes and pulled open the door. He stopped suddenly and gasped.

His reaction caused Ron to turn. “Who is it Harry?”

Harry didn’t hear Ron. Instead, he stared out at the porch. “Dudley.”

“Hello, Harry.” Dudley was standing outside and nodded to his cousin. “We need to talk.”


A/N: Take note, that I wasn't too happy with how cozy Draco and Dudley were becoming. I'd rather have Draco get chummy with Cho, now that would be fun...

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  #324  
Old November 11th, 2009, 5:01 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Last time on As the World HOM's, Dudley was dumped by Draco because Draco didn't think Dudley was "man" enough to keep going. Little did Dudley know that Draco was contemplating a rendezvous. Harry was hanging out with Ginny when Hermione and Ron came by, not knowing that Dudley would come for comfort....

Many questions remain in this soap opera....

Who is the father of Laura's baby? Is Jacob heterosexual?

Like sands in an hour glass, these are the days of Potter...


Chapter 325 – Ceremony

The south of England roiled under the weight of a freakish mid-August storm. Massive thunderheads swooped in from the Continent and made their full fury felt amid the rolling hills and glens of county of Wiltshire. In the center of Wiltshire, the small village of Avebury found its residents huddled together against the fury of the storm. Avebury was a middling town, hardly exceptional from the villages in the surrounding countryside except for the dozens of henges that surrounded it in the fields and farms that bordered the town. Ancient stone circles were plentiful around the village, mostly now a tourist destination and yet no one had any real idea about the nature of the rocky formations. The circles had been around for centuries, even thousands of years, their weathered stones standing firm against the corrosive hand of Mother Nature. As the villagers remained inside their shuttered homes, there was movement and activity around one of the more remote rock circles to the west of town.

For the most part, the stones that comprised the henges near Avebury were made of hardened sandstone, ranging in color from a light tan to a dark brown. The circle that Westcott had selected was different. The ninety eight stones of the circle were made of smooth, glassy obsidian. They were black as night and had a sheen that seemed out of place for this ancient area. The entire circle seemed immune from the torrential downpour that was buffeting the area and for good reason. The storm had been conjured up by Westcott to keep prying eyes away from their labors. The self-styled dark lord stood off to the side as his minions prepared the site. Westcott’s gnarled and bony hands rested on a long stick made from sinewy oak. It was mottled and bent, twisted, like Westcott’s soul. His purple eyes were constantly moving, watching the work going on. In his off hand, he held his five remaining horcruxes, the high cards of his deck. He’d fed the rest to the voracious lantern, which was on the ground next to him, it’s own light pulsating as if in anticipation of tonight’s events. Westcott stared up into the circle of clear sky that he’d left above the henge. Already, he could see the bright red dot of the planet Mars as it moved towards its rendezvous with its sister planets. Once every decade or so, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn would align in the night sky, making conditions optimal for the Golden Dawn Ceremony. The Ceremony had been conceived by the original members to identify and release their main benefactor, the person who created the lamp. Only through the ceremony could the members find the true power of the Dark Arts.

In the center of the henge, the death eaters had burned in an octagon. Off to the side, Caleb was stirring a liquid bubbling in a large cauldron. Every so often, the lanky aide would toss in a preserved snake and stir the pot. Across from the pot was a triangle made from the skins of snakes. That would be where his benefactor would appear when the ceremony was completed. Westcott looked back up into the sky and squinted. The sun was rapidly plunging towards the earth. Soon, night would fall and they could begin.

***

Draco pulled the front of his heavy raincoat tighter across his chest as he walked through the streets of Avebury with the rain pounding down heavily around him. He didn’t seem to notice the torrent and was only mildly aware of the three figures walking with him down the street. One was a tall man, with closely cropped blonde hair and eyes that roved to and fro, looking for trouble. His next companion was a short, yet shapely woman with dark red hair, made even more so by the rain and bright green eyes. Her beauty belied the dangerous grace of her walk and the thoroughly competent way she covered the larger man’s back. The last figure was an even more beautiful woman, with radiant platinum hair and cold blue eyes. She didn’t seem to notice the rain. In fact, the droplets seemed to avoid her altogether, as if by magic. She too, kept a constant vigil in the street.

They walked together and exited the west end of town and immediately fell in line down the a single country lane. They passed a sign that told them the Obsidian Henge was still a couple of kilometers ahead. Draco stopped at the sign and nodded to his larger companion.

“We’re close.” He had to talk a bit louder to be heard against the rain. He turned and faced the taller man. “Lockley, why don’t you go ahead and scout the clearing? We need to see what we’re up against.” Gavin Lockley nodded and then, surprisingly for a man his size, bounded into a nearby hedgerow and disappeared into the murky night. Draco paused for a moment and then looked at the red haired woman. “Captain Innes, would you give me a moment alone with my wife?”

Muireall Innes frowned openly. She stared at Draco sullenly and then muttered. “Remember, Mr. Malfoy, I do this for you, the Aurora is mine, free and clear.”

Draco returned his own frown. “I gave you my word, Captain Innes.” She grunted and the walked a bit further down the path. Draco sighed heavily and turned towards Domina.

She stared down her nose at her husband. For a moment, a glimmer of warmth touched her pale blue eyes and the disappeared as she got down to business. “We should be on them soon. Are you prepared?”

“I am.” Draco reached into a side pocket and withdrew a large basilisk fang. “I am ready for anything.”

“Are you?” Domina leaned forward, pressing her face close to his. “No quarter, Draco. These people must pay for Beatrice.”

“I know, Domina. I can do it.” The doubt in her eyes echoed the doubt in his own mind. He harkened back to a time before, when he’d been told to kill another person. He’d hesitated then, as well. But this time, this Westcott deserved what he got. He stood straighter, his shoulders back. He looked at his wife. “I can do it.”

There was a rustle of branches as Gavin Lockley returned. “They’re just up the glen. It’s not far.” Draco smiled grimly and motioned for Gavin to lead the way.

***

“Are you sure, Harry?” Ron’s voice did not contain fear. Its timber was that of a person full of worry. Harry could scarcely blame his friend. Harry was worried too. They trudged through the western entrance to the national historical park that made up the Avebury stone circles area. The rain hadn’t made their efforts any easier, but Harry was grateful that the weather at least provided some cover for their approach. He glanced back at his friend, but did not stop walking.

“Of course I’m sure, Ron.” Harry’s mind went back to the pathetic figure of his cousin. Dudley’s sudden appearance at his home had, at first, made Harry want to bring Dudley into the Ministry, yet once Dudley had told him why he’d acted as he had, Harry finally understood. Combined with his conversation with Domina, Harry resolved himself to take matters into his own hands. It was only natural that Ron would come with him, and Harry appreciated his friend’s presence.

Ron accepted Harry’s response at face value and pointed towards a flickering light up the way. “That’s got to be them.” Harry saw the light and took a deep breath.

“Let’s go.”

***

Westcott was standing in the middle of the octagon. At each corner, there was a small metal lamp, a miniature version of the lamp that Westcott so carefully guarded. That lamp was placed at Westcott’s feet, its light pulsating bright and dim, casting his face in a deathly shadow. Four of his death eaters were standing outside the octagon, equidistant apart. They wore bright red robes and were holding copies of the book, “Dogma and Ritual of High Magic” by Eliphas Levi. They were murmuring from the book. Off to the side, Caleb Odom was standing over his cauldron. Westcott allowed himself a smile. The cauldron held his “Hell broth”, containing basilisk blood, preserved snakes and incense of mercury among other things.

Westcott sighed and held up his hands. The arrival of his benefactor was near. Yet, nothing happened He looked down momentarily at the lamp. Its pulse was getting weaker and weaker. Westcott looked at his remaining horcrux cards and fretted. His master had promised ultimate power. Sweat poured down his pale, bony forehead. He grimaced to himself. Maybe ultimate power required ultimate sacrifice. He bent down and opened the small door to the lantern. He took a deep breath and one by one, fed the remaining cards into the lantern. He stood and waited. The purple light in the lantern grew stronger, billowing out in an explosion of heat. Individual rays shot from the lantern and struck the lamps at the edges of the octagon, creating an eight spoke wheel of light, with Westcott at the apex. The broth in the cauldron bubbled and then turned into a tumult, rising into the air above the octagon where a beam of light rose up from the lantern and struck it.

The liquid morphed into steam and then into the figure of a large snake, hissing and snapping in the air. Its fangs, though vaporous, seemed sharp and deadly and its eyes glowed a brilliant shade of lavender as it howled in the night air. Westcott felt the power cascading through his body. He turned to face the triangle just outside the octagon. A bright white light emanated from the snake’s mouth and encircled the triangle. There was a loud explosion and a suddenly, the figure of a man appeared in the triangle. It was Lucas Kaoset, but when he spoke, his real identity came forward.

“Well done, Westcott, well done!” His voice thundered across the henge. “I am Loki, and now, we shall see what chaos can bring!” He raised his hands up to the sky and laughed.

***

Caleb stood mesmerized by the cavalcade of images that were passing in front of him. Absently, he stood by the empty cauldron and shook his head. Loki? That’s who he served? He muttered balefully to himself and hung down his head. As he did, he caught sight of some movement at the far end of the henge. His instincts told him it was something out of place. He snapped his wand into his hand and looked closely. His breath stuck in his chest and he raised his wand.

***

Westcott basked in the adoration and praise of his master. Chaos, he realized, was exactly what he craved. He didn’t care so much about the dark arts, nor did he want to master magic, he realized. What he wanted was pure, unadulterated confusion. He was to be an instrument of chaos. He cackled to himself. The lantern didn’t represent a side of magic, but a state of being that made good and evil be in constant conflict, thus chaos. He stared unabashedly at his master. This feeling was worth the sacrifice of his horcruxes. What did mortal life matter when he would be the agent chaos?

A voice echoed in the night, snapping him back to reality. “Master, get down!” It was Caleb’s voice. Westcott looked out, confused, but in time to see the greenish light streaking towards him. He willed his knees to collapse and he fell to the ground, Draco’s killing curse barely missing him. He stared out at the rocks at the far end of the henge and growled. He looked over at Loki, who simply smiled and waved his hand.

The large snake exploded in a mist of smoke and vapor, which divided into four pieces. The pieces charged into the four wizards that had been participating in the ritual. The vapor and water entered through their ears and nose, and they shook, as if their essences were being taken over. Their cries became growls and hisses at they continued to transform.

***

Draco cursed under his breath as his spell missed. He stepped out into the open, his companions at his side. He turned and faced them. “Do what you will with the others, but Westcott is mine.” He rumbled.

“No he’s not.” Draco spun at the voice. He saw Harry and Ron approaching, their wands out.

“Potter? What are you going to do? Arrest him?” The sneer in Draco’s voice cut deep, but Harry stood fast.

“Do you see any other Aurors here?” Harry said quietly. “Westcott will pay, but I will deliver justice, Draco, not you.”

Gavin Lockley grumbled quietly. “Can we forgo the contest and just get on with the fight? I have a feeling this is going to be a long one.” Harry looked up at the big man who was pointing out into the clearing. Harry stared out to where the four wizards had been standing, but they weren’t wizards any longer. They’d transformed into something much more sinister. They had scales on their bodies, dark black and green and their heads had turned into some form of a snake’s head, more like a rattler than a cobra. Their eyes were bright purple and they hissed as they started charging towards the group. One opened its mouth and a bolt of fire emitted from it, almost reaching their position.

Harry glanced over at Ron, almost regretting coming out without the Aurors. Ron shrugged his shoulders and pointed his wand at the attackers. Harry’s friend smiled and said, “Well, look on the bright side, at least they didn’t turn into spiders. Now that would have been scary.”

He laughed and cast a spell towards the oncoming creatures.


A/N: Okay, I'm winding this one down. I think I need to concentrate some on James going to Hogwarts and how the Potters handle it.

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  #325  
Old November 23rd, 2009, 7:28 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

So, a much smaller merry band of heroes have been drawn together, just in time to face weirdo Westcott and his minions who, not being able to get over being in a doll shop have transformed into snake dudes, with forked tongues and scales.

What will happen now? Are the heroes snake food? Or will there be a lot of boots and handbags for sale next week?

Let's find out:




Chapter 326 – Chaos

The field enclosed by the obsidian stones seemed immune from the raging torrent of rain that buffeted the general area. Harry and Draco fixed their gazes on the approaching transformed wizards. The hybrid snakemen ran along the ground in a graceful loping stride that was not quite human and not quite animal. Their feet barely touched the ground and their torsos seemed to wriggle back and forth in a manner like a snake which served to propel them faster with a side to side motion. The motion made Lockley’s first blast miss the leader by a few feet, but the tall wizard adjusted quickly and sent a blasting charm that careened off the leader’s chest. There was a cloud of smoke and dust and for a moment, the creature disappeared in the murky mist and the reappeared, slowed, but otherwise unharmed. It seemed to smile and hissed and sent a solid tongue of flame from its mouth, that was barely deflected by Murieall, who was covering her first mate’s exposed side. The others, Ron, Domina, Harry and Draco sent their own blasts out as the battle was joined.

Muireall pulled on Locklely’s arm and led him to the right at a run. Harry saw her movements and understood her plan. Right now, they were all bunched together and they needed to create some space. Harry nodded to Ron and as one, the pair ran to the left, leaving Draco and Domina in the center. One of the creatures peeled off to chase the captain of the Aurora, while another kept on its course towards the Malfoys, leaving two to pursue Harry and Ron. The six were holding their own against the wild attacks of the abominations of nature, but only barely. Still, by spreading out, at the very least, they kept the creatures from concentrating their attacks.

Murieall and Gavin worked together. One would send a charm out while the other shielded the pair from the inevitable counter attack. Innes grimaced as the force of another blast of flame struck her shield charm. Despite the relative safety the charm provided, Muireall could feel the heat from the flames edging around the perimeter of her shield. Absently, she wondered to herself if her decision to help Malfoy had been worth it. Draco’s offer had been more than attractive. When she was named captain of the Aurora, the ship itself still belonged to Malfoy’s company. Unlike Baretto, who owned the Discooperire outright and was under contract to Malfoy, Innes was essentially, an employee of Draco’s. When her nominal boss came to her with an offer to sign over the ownership of the Aurora outright in exchange for some help in getting revenge on the murderer of Beatrice Dursley, it had been an easy choice, or so she thought. Now, facing the horror that used to be wizards in front of her, she was having doubts. She looked up at Gavin’s face and those doubts disappeared. The massive man’s face was calm, almost serene as he tried one spell after the other. He had no doubts about whether the prize was worth it. Anything that put the crew and the ship in their own employ was worth it to him. In fact, he was almost smiling as he cast another spell, this time aimed at the feet of the creature.

Spells seemed to bounce off the tough scaled hide of the creature. Gavin’s spell caused the ground beneath the creature to crack and rumble and then rise into the air almost thirty feet, perching the monster on a tall tor in the center of the henge. Another spell turned the ground into glass and without firm purchase, the snakeman slide down and smacked into the hard wall that Gavin had erected at the bottom of the slide. Muireall saw the creature shake its head, momentarily disoriented. Before she could react, Gavin had sprinted to where the snakeman lay and grabbed its neck in his large hands. With a grunt, Lockley squeezed his fists together and twisted. Muscles in his arms and shoulders bulged to bursting. Veins started to pop up along his neck and biceps and he grit his teeth as he put every ounce of strength in his formidable physique into the effort. The creature’s tail snapped back and forth and it clawed helplessly at the arms that held it in an ever tightening vice grip. Then suddenly, like a tree bending in the wind, there was a loud, audible snap and the creature went limp. Effortlessly, Gavin tossed the snake’s body to the side and looked for more enemies.

***

Draco watched one of the snake wizards lock its purple eyes on Domina and Draco. Unlike the creature that was squaring off with Lockley and Innes, this one did not spew magical fire from its mouth. Instead, it emitted a liquid that was a caustic acid. The first warning that Draco had was when he pushed Domina to the side, just as a stream of viscous, gray liquid landed on the ground beside them in a hiss and crackle as the acid bore itself into the ground. Draco stared at the ground and then brought his shield charm up just before another stream struck him and Domina. As Draco held off the hissing and slithering wizard, bits of the fluid topped over the shield and sprayed on his arm, eating through the sleeves of his coat and biting into his flesh in little droplets. He grit his teeth together and waved behind him.

Domina collected her wits and a small part of her winced as she saw Draco struggle to keep the creature at bay. She got to her feet and studied the movements of the creature. It swung back and forth, side to side, trying to get its deadly spray through Draco’s shield. As she watched, she noticed that the creature had a long, slithering tail that curved upward. What she noticed was that there seemed to be a large amethyst at the end of the tail. A long string of light emanated from the stone back towards one of the smaller lamps in the octagon. It was like a power cord trailed around by an appliance. The creature never seemed to stray beyond the cord. Domina raised an eyebrow and whispered to her husband.

“Hold on for one moment longer, I think I’ve found a weakness.” Draco nodded briefly and then sent blasting charm at the creature, not so much to injure, but just to get the creature to move back. At the same time, Domina moved to the side, behind one of the obsidian stones. She maneuvered to a place behind the creature. She was much to far away from the octagon to disrupt the beam at the lantern, so she focused on the beam itself. It seemed to be comprised of light, with a bit of solidity that was liquefied. She pursed her lips and then made up her mind.

“Speculum Claustrum!” A silver light sprang from her wand and struck the ground, roughly halfway between the creature and the octagon. A large, round disk of clear glass rose from the soil and bent and molded itself into a mirrored prism that intercepted the light and redirected it skyward. She held the spell in place and looked towards her husband. “Now, Draco! His powers are gone!”

Draco rose from his knees and approached the creature, now transformed back to human form. The huddled figure of Melinda Eliof stared up at him, her hands clasping the beaten wooden spoon that was her wand. Her eyes were dancing madly, as if the power she’d been experiencing was a powerful drug that she’d been forced to quit cold turkey. She licked her lips and stared back towards the octagon, hoping that the charm would return and give the power.

“Please. Put me back.” She pleaded softly, her eyes catching Draco’s. He gripped his wand and watched her and then stared over at Domina.

“Please, give me the power. I won’t hurt anyone, I just want the power. I need the power. It hurts without the power. Please, help me make the pain go away.” Melinda’s cries were becoming more and more plaintive.

Draco nodded at Domina and turned back to face the Death eater, now a pathetic magic junkie. “You want me to stop the pain?” She nodded enthusiastically.

“Please.” She’d begun to shake.

Draco looked back up his wife, then down at Melinda. “You’ll promise not hurt anyone?”

Melinda nodded. Draco returned the nod and aimed his wand at Melinda.

“Avada Kedavra!” The green curse leapt from his wand, striking Melinda in the forehead. She fell to the ground, instantly dead. Domina walked up to her husband, as he stared the limp form at his feet. Draco shrugged his shoulders. “This is the only way I could guarantee her pain stopped AND she wouldn’t hurt anyone else.”

***

The flash of lightning lit the background behind Harry and Ron casting them in a ghostly dance of light and dark. It wasn’t raining directly on the henge and the two Aurors were thankful for the respite. They faced the final two creatures, who seemed a bit more cagey, a bit more cautious. The pair of monsters hissed and snapped and then let fly with their own special powers.

The first opened its mouth and a searing bolt of lightning struck Ron’s shield. The force and the speed of the strike caught Ron by surprise. He’d barely been able to get the shield up, and as it was, he wasn’t able to brace himself for the violence of the blow. Consequently, he was thrown backward, cast into the air well over thirty feet away. The lightning creature sprang forward to attack Ron as he lay on the ground. Harry raised his wand and was about to strike the creature with a charm when the second creature hit him with a powerful stream of water which hit him in the side and sent him flying into the air, striking one of the obsidian stones. The air exited his lungs in one gulp as his ribs compressed from the blow.

The water jet had struck him like a sledge hammer. He reached down and felt the soreness in his sides. That meant at least some cracked ribs, but he rose to his feet and raised his wand, just in time to deflect the next blast of water. The force sent him down to his knees. Harry fought hard, but as the creature began to approach him, the force of the water stream grew stronger. He was deflecting it, but for how much longer, he could not be sure.

***

Ron rolled with the force of his body hitting the ground found himself upright. The crackle of static electricity hung in the air and tendrils of his bright red hair were standing straight up. Over the years, Ron had been the butt of many practical jokes from his brothers, George and Fred, which invariably involved being shocked or struck by lightning. Thus, when confronting this creature, he noticed that he wasn’t particularly troubled by being struck by lightning, even bolts as powerful as this creature was throwing. There was one event that made him smile as readied himself to face the creature.

A few years back, when Ron was trying to ingratiate himself to Hermione’s parents, he agreed to help Dr. Hugo Granger with a project the dentist had going at their home. Being mindful of Hermione’s edict that he not use magic, Ron found it a trifle disconcerting to climb a ladder and go on to the pitched roof of the Granger home. Dr. Granger was a notorious spendthrift and was convinced that he could sweep his own chimney, thus saving a good penny from having to hire someone. So he and Ron found themselves perched precariously near a chimney, a large, metal sweep pole pointing straight into the air. Ron took his turn pushing the brush through the floo, as Dr. Granger commented on the excess amount of soot that collected because of the frequent use of the floo as a method of transportation as well as a means to heat the house. Neither man noticed the rapidly approaching thunder clouds until a vicious clap of thunder boomed and a bolt of lightning struck a house right next to where they were standing. Ron noticed that the house was none the worse for the wear and asked his father-in-law about it.

“The house has a lightning rod.” Hugo Granger pointed to a thin, aluminum pole sticking straight up from the top of the house. “It guides the electricity down and around the house and into the ground. All the houses have one.”

Ron nodded. “And all you need is a long metal pole?” Dr. Granger nodded and pointed out that the pole needed to be the highest point on the roof. Ron nodded and then looked up. “You mean like this chimney sweep pole?” Before Dr. Granger could respond, another bolt of lightning struck, this time hitting the chimney sweep pole and tossing Ron off the roof down into the garden below. Ron never forgot the experience of the lesson it taught him.

“Levitas Virga!” Ron’s wand shimmered a bright white, looking hot, but not radiating any heat. He held the wand up and intercepted the next bolt of lightning from the creature. Where the wand and lightning met was a ferocious crackling sound. The hair on Ron’s arms stood straight up and his eyebrows began to smoke, but he was containing the blast with his “lightning rod” charm. The lightning was collecting into one big ball. It had nowhere to go. Ron knew he only had a few moments before the ball released in one big blast of static electricity. He turned to where Harry had been driven to his knees.

“Harry! Direct the water this way!” Harry looked over and understood Ron’s intent. Harry shifted his wrist and sent the deflected stream of water towards Ron’s opponent. Ron tilted his wand forward. When the water met the lightning, the static ball exploded. The energy released traveled up the water streams, both towards the water creature and the lightning creature. When the released energy reached the creatures, there was a large explosion, sending bits and pieces of scaled flesh in all directions. When Harry and Ron reached the spots where their adversaries had been, there was nothing left but smoldering holes in the ground. Harry took a deep breath and turned towards the octagon. The rest of his companions had joined him.

William Westcott seemed positively outraged. His eyes were now flaring a bright purple and his skin was a sallow shade of light green. He seethed and raised his arms and then stopped, casting a questioning gaze towards the larger than life image of the man in the triangle nearby. Harry and the others seemed to notice the man for the first time. Harry seemed to recognize the man, but could not quite place him. Before anyone moved, Westcott’s voice rasped in the air.

“Master?”

Loki seemed bemused. His image was wearing a three piece, worsted wool suit. He raised his hand to his chin and nodded. “Yes, this will do quite nicely. “ An evil grin crossed Loki’s face. “Kill them, William, and you shall have power and chaos will be let loose on the world!”

Westcott turned and laughed. He held out his arms as arcs of purple energy danced along his outstretched fingers. “It shall be done.”

Westcott pointed his arms at the group and let fly a blast of ancient and wicked magic.

A/N: Just not enough room to get the whole battle in. We'll work on it and get it in tomorrow or Wednesday. Hope everyone is well. I'm kind of looking forward to James going to school.

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  #326  
Old December 15th, 2009, 9:49 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Twas ten days before Christmas and all through the COS boards,
Gator hadn't posted an HOM chapter in three weeks, Good Lord!

The story was stuck in my head like vise.
Plus I had to write other things, not once, but twice!

Up on the keyboard, there arose such a clatter!
The end of the arc finally came to me, boy did that matter.

I finished the arc and remembered I had to stress.
Exactly how we got into this mess.

When we last left our heroes, the battle was being fought.
Snake-people had been made by a potion in the pot.

Harry and the rest killed most of the snake-men toadies.
Westcott was all that remained, but he was ready.

Now the battle is joined, it's going to be great bout.
How will it end? Let's find out!

***

Chapter 327 – Endgame

The concussive force of the blast lifted Harry bodily off the ground and cast him, in the air, a few score feet backwards. Westcott’s spell had struck the ground roughly in the middle of the collected wizards. Harry felt the air leave his lungs as he landed on the hardened ground. He rolled as best he could and struggled to his feet. A quick scan of the area told him that Westcott’s blast had reduced their numbers in half. Muireall Innes, Domina and Ron all were lying still on the ground, but all three, thankfully, were breathing. That left Harry, Draco and Lockley. In less than five seconds, they’d lost half their combat power. Harry knew he couldn’t afford to lose more. He rose to his feet and let fly a spell towards the man at the center of the henge.

***

Caleb stared incredulously as the events over the past few minutes washed over him. His cauldron was empty, having given life to the monstrosities that had once been his friends. Now his master, the man he’d pledged an unbreakable vow to follow was slowly transforming into something other than human. Slowly, Westcott’s skin began to scale, what remaining hair he had on his head began to fall to the side. His eyes grew rounder, larger, protruding out, bright purplish orbs glowing in anger and madness. A horrible scream came from Westcott’s mouth and like a snake, he seemed to peel off his human skin, molting as it were and growing larger and larger. Soon, what was left was a larger version of the snake creatures the death eaters had transformed into. The body was barely recognizable as human, in that, it had two arms and two legs with a large, scaled tail. Atop the long neck, Westcott’s head had tapered flat and a long, forked tongue slithered in and out between his lips. The transformed wizard stood almost twenty feet tall and his voiced echoed in a long hiss.

“Dieeeeee!” Westcott shouted as bright, purple beams of light shot from his hands, reaching out towards the Ministry’s representatives.

Caleb’s tore his gaze from his master and studied the vapor-like figure of Lukas Kaoset. The nattily dressed mirage was pensive with almost a whimsical smile on his face, as if the life and death struggle unfolding in front of him was a source of curious amusement. Caleb’s eyes narrowed and unconsciously, his hand fell to the wand in his waistband. For some reason, he didn’t trust this “Loki” this “Kaoset”. It seemed to Caleb that all of their misfortune had begun once Westcott started doing this man’s bidding. Slowly, ever so softly, Caleb drew his wand.

***

Harry shared a quick glance with Draco and Lockley. As if by consensus, the three men spread out, surrounding the large monster in the middle of the octagon. Westcott hissed violently and then opened his mouth, revealing large, pointed fangs, dripping with venom. Draco took the moment to snap off a spell.

“Redacto!” The blasting charm flew true and struck Westcott on the chest. There was flash of fire and light accompanied by a massive explosion. When the dust settled, Westcott was still standing, none the worst for the wear. He raised an arm and pointed a thin, clawed finger at Draco. A bright flash of purple light shot out, striking Draco on his barely raised shield charm and sent the platinum haired wizard flying through the air to land with a thud on the mossy ground in the center of the henge. Westcott bounded from the octagon and moved with surprising speed for his bulk towards Draco, only to be stopped, if only momentarily by a blast from Lockley’s wand which opened a large hole in the ground in front of him. His head turned sharply and he focused on Lockley. The large sailor dove to the side, just as another blast of violent magic struck the ground near him. Lockley rolled and raised his arm and then froze in place. Westcott’s blast had struck the moss on the ground which started growing larger and larger. Its leaves turned into tendrils and then into tentacles and gripped Lockley around his wrists and waist and neck. He was lifted bodily off the ground, immobilized. The Westcott thing seemed to nod in pleasure and turned his gaze to the one remaining opponent he faced.

***

When Westcott forced out his last spell, the lantern in the center of the octagon glowed brightly. For a moment, the feeding lamps and their streams of light grew dim. It was as if the magic in the lantern was somehow tied to the actions that Westcott was taking. No one seemed to notice this difference. No one, that is, except Caleb. That wasn’t the only thing he noticed. The battered lantern would glow, while two beams of magic would come from its center. One seemed to feed Westcott, but the other went right to the place where Lukas was hovering. Caleb felt his face flush. Each magical attack that Westcott made seemed to force his power to wane ever so slightly, until replenished from the lantern. However, Lukas seemed to suffer no degradation of his power. In fact, he seemed to grow stronger with each passing blow. It was if the chaos around the glen seemed to strengthen him even more. Caleb studied the phenomenon and the searched out his master.

***

Harry was running. He was going at a leisurely pace and he wasn’t even sprinting. He was running at a breakneck pace as the Westcott creature followed close behind, snapping at his heels with his fangs and casting wild balls of purplish magic all around. Harry dare not look back, but knew how close the creature was to him by the heat from his breath and the high pitched hisses that Westcott was reduced to speaking in. Harry ran straight for one of the granite slabs of the henge and then ran behind it, weaving in and out of the embedded rocks in an effort to shake his pursuer. Soon, he came to an opening between the stones that was wider than the rest, like the open maw of a sea creature. Judging by the pace Westcott had been keeping, there was no way for Harry to get to the next stone before the creature caught him. He slid to a stop and turned to face the creature, wand up.

Westcott stopped and smiled at the defiant figure in front of him. Somewhere in the deep recesses of his altered mind, the real Westcott was laughing. All that stood between him and the full power of chaos was this one man. He thought he heard laughter. He turned to where Loki stood and was surprised to see his image had been joined by that of another figure. Westcott bowed his head briefly to Lukas.

The trickster who thrived on anarchy, on chaos seemed to smile and looked at his daughter. “Well, Helga, what do you think? What should Westcott do about this wretch?”

Helga smiled wickedly. “Kill him, father. He cheated during the whole El Dorado thing. He should have been dead a long time ago.”

“Yes, quite.” Loki turned and smiled at Westcott. “Kill Potter, Westcott. That is the key to ultimate power. Kill him now.”

Westcott turned gleefully and raised both arms towards Harry.

***

Caleb’s mind raced. In the beginning, it had been so easy. He would become the aide-de-camp to the most powerful dark wizard that had lived. What he was beginning to realize was that for all his posturing, Westcott was a weak man. He’d cheated to get the power. By circumventing the plan and going with Loki, Westcott had practically surrendered any chance of becoming a powerful and independent wizard. Caleb shook his head. This wasn’t what he signed on for. He held no loyalty to Loki. In fact, his presence had caused the deaths of some of his best friends. It was time to act, time to bring events and circumstances back to where they were before any of them had heard of Loki.

Caleb raised his wand and aimed it at the lantern. Perhaps by destroying the lantern, he’d break the connection between his master and Loki. Most certainly, this would result in the death of his master, but Caleb knew all about horcruxes. His master could die, and would be reborn by his own hand. Caleb swallowed and then sent a blasting charm towards the old lantern. At first, the lantern seemed to absorb the energy and Caleb thought he’d made a mistake. Then the small lamps on the corners began to shake and then exploded. This elicited the first sign of emotion from Loki. He turned and grimaced, all the while staring at the man he’d forgotten all about. The light in the lantern began to pulsate and hum, growing louder and louder.

Westcott turned from Harry and stared at the octagon, a forlorn expression on his face.

“No! You fool! Do you know what you’ve done?” Loki almost shouted.

“I’ve broken him away from you. We don’t need you here.” Caleb said indignantly to the floating man.

“You’ve forced me away.” Loki said forlornly. His image began to recede ever so slightly. Helga screamed and her figure simply vanished. Loki raised a hand out as his body began to fade. He turned his eyes past Westcott and stared directly at Harry. “I’ll be back, Potter. This is the last you’ve seen of me.” Then Loki finally looked at Westcott.

“I’m sorry, William, but you lose.” And then, he was gone.

Westcott let out a loud bellowing growl and stared at Caleb. The lantern wasn’t finished. Once Loki disappeared the lantern’s light suddenly turned a dark shade of blue. The glass panels on the sides exploded and like a dam bursting, dozens of rays of light shot out, grouped together and struck Westcott all at once. Each individual beam was small, barely the diameter of a penny, but where each one struck, the scales on Westcott’s body disintegrated. He screamed again, a cold, animal hiss in obvious pain. At dozens of points on his body, blackened and charred skin appeared as the light penetrated the scales and cut into him.

His head raised to the sky and one last column of purple light escaped his eyes and reached out into the open darkness. Slowly, Westcott shrank, his body slowly reforming into a man’s form, into his form with the wounds and the burns intact. His shouts became more human and then became the miserable cries of a man in horrible pain. He fell to his knees and watched as the last vestiges of power left the lantern and entered his dying body.

Harry ran up and knelt beside him. Westcott had a contemptuous expression on his face and he laughed with a sneer, coughing while he did. With great effort he reached into his tattered robes.

“I’m not done yet, Potter. I’ll be back. I have horcr---“ He looked into his hand at the one playing card he’d kept back from the lantern. A large, searing hole was in the middle of the ace. Blood seemed to seeping from the hole. He looked over to the lantern, where Caleb was kneeling. In Caleb’s hands were the rest of his cards, the ones he’d fed to the lantern for the power. They were similarly scarred and wounded.

Westcott looked back at Harry, his eyes back to normal. “I guess I won’t be back, after all.” He laughed and then let his head fall to the ground, dead.

Harry rose and looked towards the octagon where a shocked Caleb stood with the remnants of Westcott’s playing cards in his hands. Harry raised his wand.

“It’s over. You’re coming with me.” Harry said mildly.

Caleb’s shoulders slumped as his arms fell to his sides. The cards fell loosely to the ground. He looked at Harry and shook his head slowly. “No. No, I’m not going with you, I’m afraid.”

Unbreakable vows are exactly that, unbreakable. Caleb had taken an oath to serve Westcott. When he’d destroyed the lantern, he’d done so with the understanding that Westcott’s horcruxes would resurrect him, but the price of Westcott’s powers had been the power in the horcruxes. When the lantern was destroyed, the horcruxes were destroyed. Westcott had no way of returning and so his death would be permanent. Since Caleb had brought about that destruction, there was only one result. He’d broken an unbreakable vow.

Caleb looked at Harry with a mixture of relief and sadness. He raised his arms. There lines of yellow light glowing, matching places the vow magic had penetrated. The lights grew brighter and brighter and exited his arms turning in to a large ball of energy, hovering directly in front of Caleb. He stood transfixed, his feet stuck in place. The yellowish ball turned a dark green and then struck Caleb in the face. He fell to the ground, his body not moving.

Harry ran to Caleb and felt for a pulse. He heard the footsteps of his companions approaching.

“Well?” Ron said, his voice still shaky from being knocked silly.

Harry shook his head. “He’s dead.”

“Good.” Draco said in a low voice. He was supporting Domina around her shoulders. Harry looked at Draco and grimaced.

“You had the information we needed, Draco and you held it back.” Harry pointed a finger Draco.

“So? You found the place. That buffoon Dursley told you, didn’t he?” Draco held his head up.

“You played him and you played me.” Harry raised his wand, resting the tip right under Draco’s chin. “I don’t like you, Draco. I don’t think I’ve ever liked you, but this vigilante crusade you went on crossed the line. People could have been killed.” Harry dropped his wand and nodded to Lockley, Muireall and Ron. He looked back at Draco. “I’ll be watching you, Malfoy.”

Harry nodded to Domina and the joined the other three. “Let’s go home.”


A/N: Sorry guys. Crazy time of year. This arc is over. It's time for James to go to school.

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  #327  
Old December 24th, 2009, 5:26 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 328 – Empty Nest

A few years earlier…

The misty rain was accompanied by a bone chilling cold, not quite enough for snow, but enough to make Harry’s wounds ache. His apparition into Godric’s Hollow went relatively unnoticed and he seemed preoccupied to the point where he momentarily forgot that he hadn’t come here alone. Ginny Potter was not a woman to remain unnoticed, especially by her husband, for too long. He was gently reminded of her presence by the warm touch of her hand in his. The heat of her touch permeated his body and broke through the chill that went beyond the winter cold.

He looked at Ginny and received a warm smile in return. He took a deep breath and led her towards the site where it all began. They crossed the street, their footsteps echoing on the wet cobblestones. Harry walked with a slight limp, a dull ache from the injuries he’d received on his sojourn into an alternative present that was both disconcerting and horrific at the same time. He and Ron had taken many things from their experience which basically boiled down to a deep appreciation for the way things had turned out. History had played out exactly as it was supposed to and Harry confident with that.

There had been one other thing that Harry had taken away from the experience and that had led him here, standing outside the battered home of his parents, the place where’d they’d been murdered. They stopped outside the gate leading to the house. The place had been turned into a memorial, a testimony to those that had fought and lost in the war against the Dark Lord. Faded words of encouragement dotted the weather beaten sign outside the gate. Beyond, the dark ruins of the house stared out at them, causing Harry to shudder involuntarily, his memory reflecting on events that technically had never happened. He took a deep breath and opened the gate.

They walked through the blackened threshold of the house. The walls had been the first victim of the blast that had come from Harry’s first confrontation with Voldemort. They made their way into what should have been the kitchen. A part of Harry’s mind pictured his parents sitting here, in better times, loving each other and loving him. They stood for a moment, while Harry looked around.

“Maybe it’s not here.” Ginny’s voice broke the silence. She was not skeptical, only quizzical. Harry pursed his lips and studied the faint outlines of the floor plan. He raised a finger to his lips and then smiled.

“It is.” He stepped to a spot where a pile of debris was propped against one of the few remaining load bearing walls in the house. He drew his wand and with a whispered charm, the wood and plaster moved to the side, revealing a small door. Harry reached over and opened the door. Beyond was a dark stairwell leading down, seemingly, into the ground. He looked over at Ginny and smiled.

“I told you.” He looked at his wand. “Lumos.” Using the light of his wand, he walked down the stairs into the musty, wet basement below. When they reached the room, Harry took a moment to allow his eyes time to adjust to the dimness. Slowly, he was able to make out details in the shadows of the dark room. His eyes were drawn to a small, hand-sized hole in the masonry wall. He kneeled and thrust his arm into the hole. He rummaged around and then stopped. When he pulled out his hand, it held a long, thin biscuit tin. He stood and turned to face Ginny, a smile on his face.

“Is that it?” Ginny asked, anticipation in her voice. Harry nodded. “Open it, Harry.” He nodded and pulled the rusted lid off the tin after some great effort. Wrapped in a gray rags were two wands. Wands that up until his trip to another reality, he had no idea whether he’d imagined what he’d learned, but the wands told him he hadn’t.

He held the first one up. It was made of dark mahogany wood and about eleven inches long. He looked at Ginny. “This is my father’s.”

He placed it gently back into the tin. He picked up the other. It was willow and just over ten inches long. Harry voice dropped an octave. He was almost hoarse, barely audible. “This is my mother’s.”

He placed his mother’s wand back in the tin. Ginny was there, her arms wrapped around him and drawing him close. It was then, he noticed the tears that had been pouring down his face.

***

The present day…

“Stay close, James, I don’t want you wandering off.” Ginny’s voice was stern, authoritative. Any other member of her family, including Harry, would instantly recognize the intent in her tone and would understand that she was not someone to be disobeyed. However, her eldest son James seemed fairly immune. He’d pretty much figured that he was an exception to the rule. Besides, there were far too many interesting things to explore and do to really think that his mother was serious. He was a bundle of energy. The anticipation of his new adventure roiled in his head. A small thing as worrying about irritating his mother was at the bottom of his list.

Diagon Alley seemed busier, as it was this time of year. Countless eleven year olds and their families were milling about, purchasing needed items for their initial sojourns to Hogwarts. The Potters were there to finish shopping for James as he prepared to go to Hogwarts in a few days. James knew that he’d reached a milestone. He was a “big boy”, old enough to board the Hogwarts Express and to go to the great school up north. James showed not a hint of anxiety or feat. In reality, he didn’t feel any of those emotions. He was impatient and excited and because of his interactions with his Uncle George, visions of tricks and high jinks echoed through his head. There was nothing his parents could say that would keep him from wandering off. Well, one thing would and his father knew exactly what to say.

“James, why don’t we go find you a wand?” James stopped his nascent attempt to slip away. The notion of getting a wand far more exciting than exploring the ins and outs of Diagon Alley. Harry knew he had his son hooked.

“You mother, Albus and Lily will go get your other supplies.” Harry nodded to Ginny and grasped James by the hand. “Let’s go.”

They made their way down to Ollivander’s pushed open the door. The old wandmaker seemed to expecting their arrival. He rose from his stool and bowed his head slightly to Harry and then focused his attention on James.

“Ah, Mr. Potter, time to select a wand, I suppose.” He turned and cast a glance at the array of boxes that lined the wall behind the counter. “They say the wand selects the owner. None of these will do.” Harry leaned against the counter and smiled. Ollivander turned and ducked behind the counter.

“I think this is the one.” He removed a simple mahogany box and placed it gently on the top of the counter. James exhaled in anticipation and pushed his unruly red locks back from his eyes. Ollivander took the top off the box and showed the wand inside to James.

James looked at his father, and then reached for the wand. It was long, eleven inches or so, and made of rich, dark mahogany. When his fingers touched the wood, he felt warmth, almost a soothing feeling, as if he’d touched a warm blanket. He removed the wand from its box and swirled it around. It felt alive and yet it was a part of him. A huge smile crossed his face.

“I love it. Tell me about it, please.”

Ollivander smiled, a hint of sadness in his eyes. “It’s no surprise that this wand chose you. It was meant for James Potter.”

“That’s me.” James exclaimed. “You made it just for me?”

Ollivander shook his head softly and looked over at Harry for help. Harry stood and walked over to his son and placed his hand on his shoulders. “What Mr. Ollivander means, James, is that that wand used to belong to your grandfather. That wand was made for my father and now it’s yours.”

James stared at the wand and blinked his eyes. “How?”

Harry smiled. “One day I’ll tell you. For now, just know it was his and now it’s yours.”

James nodded, all sense of brashness washed away by the enormity of the gift. He gripped his wand tightly and turned to his father. “Now, I’m ready to go.”

***

The day finally arrived. Platform 9 ¾ was a hive of activity as the Potters placed James’ trunk by the others on the platform. The Hogwarts Express was idle and the students hustled about. The prospective first years were clustered around their families as mothers and fathers bade tearful goodbyes. The Potters were no different.

Ginny kissed James gently on his forehead and he chafed under the attention. “Come on, Mom, I’ll be home for Christmas.”

Harry saw that his wife was tearing up and walked up to his son. “Now, James, don’t think you can get away with any nonsense. Believe me, the faculty is quite adept at ferreting out the troublemakers.”

James gave his father a cynical look. “I’m not like other kids, Dad. “

Harry shook his head. His son looked exactly like George and Fred and probably would cause just as much trouble. Most of all, he looked like Harry imagined his father must have looked like on his first day.

“Of course you’re not like other kids, you’re a lot uglier.” A confident and deep voice snapped Harry out of his reverie. A tall, familiar looking teenager stood nearby, wearing the badge of a prefect.

“I am not.” James crossed his arms petulantly. Harry laughed.

“Hello, Teddy.”

“Hi, Uncle Harry, finally getting rid of him, are you?” Teddy stood next to them and smiled. “I’ll see that he doesn’t get in trouble. I’m a prefect after all.”

“Looks like they’ve really dropped the standards.” Ginny quipped. Teddy chose to ignore her gibe and faced James.

“You’d best get aboard, squirt, or there’ll no seats.”

James nodded and endured another round of hugs from his parents, Albus and Lily. Albus looked especially down and James slapped him on the back.

“Don’t worry, little brother, I’ll get everything ready for you!” He waved and jumped aboard the train.

Teddy turned and looked at Ginny and Harry. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after him.”

“I know you will, Teddy. We appreciate it.” Harry said and held out a hand. Teddy took and gripped it tightly and then froze.

“I’ve got to get going, er, nice seeing you all, make sure you write, and good bye.” With that, Teddy turned and jumped on the train.

Ginny looked at Harry. “I wonder what that was about?”

Before Harry could answer, a decidedly feminine voice interrupted. “Uncle Harry, Aunt Ginny.”

“Hello Victoire.” Victoire Weasley stood by the platform next to a tall, dark complexioned and equally beautiful woman wearing a head girl’s flash. Harry smiled. “Hello, Graciela.”

The two nodded and Victoire looked at Ginny. “Have you seen Teddy?”

Ginny nodded. “You just missed him. He went on board.”

Graciela murmured to Victoire. “Most likely trying to hide from us, but it’s a small train. He won’t be able to hide for long.” Graciela nodded to the Potters and led Victoire on board.

“I wonder what that was all about.” Harry asked. Ginny chuckled.

“I don’t know, but I don’t think I’d want to be Teddy right about now.” The train’s whistle echoed in the distance and the Hogwarts Express started moving, carrying another class to the wizarding school and starting a new adventure for a boy named James Potter.


A/N: Merry Christmas everyone and I look forward to some more mayhem and fun in 2010.

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  #328  
Old January 12th, 2010, 2:09 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

It was a dark and stormy night...nah...when we left our intrepid heroes, young James was getting ready to start his school adventure, while Teddy, poor Teddy had some issues of his own...

Let's find out what happens...oh and Happy New Year!!!

Chapter 329 – Scylla and Charybdis

The summer had seen an unusual amount of rain fall across the whole of the United Kingdom. The entire country was experiencing massive delays, especially with rail transport, where flooded rivers had risen to overwhelm bridges and causeways, bringing trains to a screeching halt. One train, however, was not affected by swollen river banks and submerged tracks. The Hogwarts Express proceeded at a withering pace. At places where the tracks were washed out, the engineer would wave his wand and the water would dissipate instantaneously, allowing the massive locomotive free passage through the countryside towards its destination. It would seem the only storms that could affect its occupants were those that they brought upon themselves. Considering the history of mayhem and trouble Hogwarts students could bring upon themselves, there were rain clouds aplenty brewing in the compartments trailing the mighty red steam engine.

James found an open seat in a compartment towards the back of the train. Age old habit seemed to seat the upper classes farther forward in the train, leaving the first years slim pickings at the rear of the long line of rail cars. After leaving his parents on the platform, he sidled into the long corridor and found an entire bench open in one of the last compartments. There were two others with him, a boy and a girl, from the looks of them, twins. Both were huddled together and whispering to each other. Aside from a casual nod of greeting from the girl, neither made an effort to talk to him. He pulled his knapsack from the floor and started rummaging through it, mostly out of boredom than from any real need to eat. Inside were carefully wrapped bundles of food, thankfully prepared by his father’s Aunt Petunia and not by James’ mother. Ginny Potter was a remarkable woman, but did not count culinary prowess among her many abilities.

He moved through the bag. There were a couple of books, a handkerchief and a few other odds and ends that his parents thought would make the journey bearable. Finally his hand rested on a small box wrapped in plain brown paper. He kept the box inside his bag, and carefully unwrapped it. The outer covering was a bright red, with bold gold lettering that moved around the outside of the box. The top flap was embossed with glowing green letters that blinked out “WWW! WWW! WWW!” This had been a gift his Uncle George had slipped to him outside the watchful eye of his mother. If things were going to be this boring, he might have to introduce brother and sister to one of his uncle’s amazing concoctions. He would have done so earlier, but James knew from experience that a practical joke was only as good as the number of people that witnessed it. There might be time enough for James to plant his goodies on the twins while they were in the dining car. An evil smile extended over James’ face.

His reverie was interrupted by the door to the compartment sliding open. James frowned to himself and wondered if he’d have to share his seat. The newcomer was tall, already shrouded in his school robes. After a few seconds, James caught sight of the flash of a prefect’s badge and a tuft of swirling pink hair.

“Teddy? What are you doing here?” The brother and sister withdrew further into each other as the tall teen entered the compartment and plopped down on the bench next to James and away from the door. “I thought you’d be up with your Marauder friends or in the prefects’ lounge?”

Teddy ran his hand through his hair. “That’s just where’d they’d expect me to be.” His voice was edgy, with a tinge of what James thought was fear, yet that couldn’t be possible. Teddy wasn’t afraid of anyone.

“Who would expect to find you?” James asked curiously. At least, he thought, he wasn’t bored anymore.

“Shh, they might hear you!” Teddy had put his finger to his lips and then his eyes grew wider. He tugged on James’ shoulders. “Whatever you do, you haven’t seen me!” Before James could respond, Teddy blinked twice and then transformed into a large duffel bag, adorned with the logo of the Chudley Cannons. James tugged on the straps and then heard the door slide open once more. He turned to find himself looking up at two older girls, one he was quite familiar with and the other he’d only met once or twice.

“Hi, Victoire!” He said with a wave. “Hi, Graciela.”

“Hello James.” Victoire studied the compartment quickly, her eyes stopping ever so briefly on the bright orange duffel at Teddy’s feet. “Have you seen Teddy yet?”

“You mean since I got on the train?” For some reason, James began to feel beads of sweat forming on his forehead.

“Of course, silly. We already asked you on the platform.” Graciela’s tone was friendly, but there was an underlying heat in her soft russet eyes.

James swallowed slowly. “Well, er, no, not really. Is he okay? Is he in some sort of trouble?”

Victoire and Graciela shared a long look and then Graciela turned to James. “You might say that. Hopefully, he comes to his senses and decides to find us before something really bad happens to him.” It seemed like she was talking to the cabin in general and not just to James. After a moment, the two girls turned and left.

James looked at his traveling companions. The boy seemed like he was going to faint dead away, while the girl had her eyes riveted on the duffel. James wondered if she’d been staring at it during the entire encounter. Slowly, he stood up and peered through the window in the door.

“They’re gone.” He finally said. The duffel slowly changed back into the form of the tall, brazen wizard James knew. “You mind telling me what that’s all about?”

Teddy shrugged his shoulders. “Could be anything.” He stared at James. “Women. What are you going to do with them?”

James blanched. “Do with them? Nothing, I should hope. They all have cooties.”


Teddy chuckled. “Those two certainly do. Do you think they knew I was here?”

It was James’ turn to shrug. “I don’t know, probably not.” He decided not to tell Teddy about the little girl’s inability to look away from his transformed state. Teddy rose and went to the door. He turned and waved.

“I should be able to make it to Professor Slughorn’s compartment. Gracie doesn’t like him and Victoire hasn’t been invited to join yet.” He smiled broadly. “I think I’m home free. I’ll see you over there, James, and thanks.”

James nodded. “You’ll pay me back.” Teddy had already left and James smiled wickedly. “I’ll make sure of it.”

***

Teddy decided to take no chances. Instead of turning up towards the rest of the train, he walked out the back door and with a thought, transformed himself into a monkey. Using his tail, feet and hands, he clambered on top of the train and proceeded to make his way to the front. When he got to the coal bin, he jumped down and brushed himself off as he returned to his human form. The first couple of cars behind the locomotive were reserved for baggage, so Teddy was sure that he’d be able to make his way through them and into Professor Slughorn’s cabin without being seen. That was his plan, at any rate.

He brushed off the soot from his robes and made his way into the first baggage compartment. He smiled as his eyes adjusted to the murky darkness amid all the steamer trunks and other assorted luggage. He just might make it, after all. Even a boring session with Slughorn was better than facing the wrath of the two girls seeking him out. He passed through between the first baggage car and the second and started walking purposefully towards the far door that would lead him to Slughorn’s compartment and freedom. As he took another step, he felt his legs bind up together, as if tied at the ankles and knees, and unable to balance himself, Teddy fell over, like some felled tree and landed roughly on the wooden floor of the car.

Teddy felt hands on his elbows that turned him over so that he could face the ceiling. He was still seeing stars from landing on the floor and when everything cleared up, he saw Victoire and Graciela standing together looking back at him.

“Teddy, between the two of us, don’t you think we know how you think?” Victoire’s arms were crossed in front of her and she tilted her platinum topped head towards her companion as she spoke. “It is really was immature of you to think you could hide from us. What was your plan, to try to avoid us for the rest of your time at Hogwarts?”

Teddy tested the magical bonds on his feet and realized his arms were also pinned to his sides. He could only move his head, so he was able to respond. “It seemed like a good idea at the time. What do you mean immature?” He said petulantly.

Graciela snorted and glanced at Victoire. “He’s a boy, isn’t he? That means he’s immature by definition.”

Teddy gave his most hurt expression followed by a weak attempt at innocence. “What’s this all about, ladies?”

Immediately, Teddy realized that he’d made a serious mistake. The look on Graciela’s face turned cold and her eyes darkened. “You know what this is all about, you two timing snake.”

The anger in Gracie’s expression, while frightening, was at least something he was used to and could handle. He wasn’t prepared to see the hurt in Victoire’s expression. She was near tears and something snapped inside Teddy’s chest. “Vee?”

Victoire straightened her back and fixed her cool blue eyes on his. “Was this some sort of game to you Teddy?”

“What are you talking about, Vee?” He asked but knew the answer anyway.

“You know what she’s talking about, Teddy.” Graciela responded evenly. “You can’t go out with both of us, you know. Hogwarts is a small school, really. Didn’t you think we’d find out about each other?”

No, Teddy thought to himself, but decided not say what was on his mind. Instead, “I didn’t know what I was thinking.”

“That’s obvious.” Graciela said pointedly. “You never think, you just do, no matter what the consequences.”

“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings, Gracie, because I like you and I like Victoire.” It was candid as he could have been.

Victoire stared at him and then lowered her voice. “You are a coward, Teddy. You did not have the nerve to tell either of us. You know what that means?”

“What?” Teddy cringed inside, more in pain at the hurt in Victoire’s voice than from any other time in his life.

Victoire looked at Graciela and then back at Teddy. “It means, now you don’t have either of us.” With that, the two girls left the car. Teddy was so overwhelmed by the emotions of the time, he didn’t even notice that he’d been left bound and alone in the luggage car.

***

The slow rhythm of the train passing over the tracks must have made him fall asleep. The sound of voices rousted him from his slumber, where he’d been dreaming of being forced to listen to Victoire call him a coward, over and over again.

“Here he is.” Richard Leveille drew his wand from his sleeve and tapped Teddy on the chest, releasing his bindings.

A tall, barrel-chested boy reached a meaty hand down to Teddy’s shoulders and pulled him to his feet. “He doesn’t look any worse for wear.” Lunastus Rookwood was boy of few words and the hint of a smile on his face was the equivalent of full blown laughter.

Martin Peake chuckled. “Man, Teddy, you certainly don’t go about anything half way, do you?”

The last boy in the car, Alan Bass, laughed out loud. “I know our Teddy is an overachiever, but there are Deatheaters that don’t want to cross Gracie.”

Teddy barely heard them. His mind was racing over the encounter. He turned to Richard. “Where are we?”

“We’re just about to arrive at Hogsmeade Station. We came looking for you when no one had seen you for a bit.” Richard absently pulled out a handkerchief and placed it front of his mouth and nose. “We decided to come looking for you.”

Teddy nodded. “Thanks.” He looked around and began walking towards the door.

“Hey, Teddy.” Martin was standing next to Alan. He pointed a finger between himself and Alan. “We were wondering…”

“Yes?” Teddy felt a certain sense of anxiety, but the only way to get past whatever Martin had planned was to get it over with.”

“Since you’re so popular with Victoire and Gracie, Alan and I were wondering if it would be all right for us to ask them to the Yule Ball?”

Teddy turned and left as the rest of the Marauders finally released the pent up laughter they’d been keeping in. The funny thing was, the thought of Victoire going anywhere with anyone had suddenly filled him with a feeling of dread and pain. Now why, he supposed, was that happening?

The only answer he had was the peals of laughter from his friends.

A/N: Teddy is in trouble....oh boy...

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  #329  
Old January 22nd, 2010, 8:09 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 330 – Hard Choices

“Egypt? What an excellent idea!” Ron clasped his hands together in delight. “We haven’t vacationed in Egypt since school.”

“You’ve been there for work.” Hermione responded grimly, but her husband was not to be deterred.

“Of course, ‘mione, but this is a grand idea. What made you think of it Ginny?” The Potters and the Weasleys had just returned from dropping James off at Hogwarts station. There were sitting around the study at Harry and Ginny’s house having tea and steadfastly ignoring the Harry’s moroseness over his eldest son’s departure. Ginny had suggested that they, the two couples, take a trip together.

“Oh, I don’t know, partly I was looking at pictures from our family trip and I’d just read an article about the lovely cruises down the Nile.” She looked over at Harry, who’s eyes were cast downward. “Don’t you think Harry?”

Harry looked up, bewildered. “Sure, Gin, whatever you say.”

“You need to snap out of it, Harry. We’re all going to have to go through this. Aren’t you happy for James?” Ron said.

“Of course.” Harry responded. “My first year at Hogwarts was the first time I can ever remember being happy.”

“No need to be so maudlin, Harry. James is a happy boy.” Ron replied with a snort.

“No thanks to you and George.” Ginny snapped. James had somehow become a protégé of George, Ron and Lee when Teddy had gone off to school, learning the finer points of how not to behave. Ron gave his sister a wounded look and decided to ignore the gibe.

“All I’m saying is that James is a prepared as a Potter can be for school. Besides, he’s going to have a lot of fun watching Teddy squirm.” That brought Harry out of his funk. Ron was pleased. He looked at Harry. “Did you see how mad Victoire and Graciela were?”

Hermione crossed her arms. “Well serves him right for what he did. He should just save everyone the wait and permanently turn himself into a slug.”

“Now Hermione,” There was a definite gleam in Harry’s eyes as he defended his godson. “Teddy is sixteen and sixteen year old boys are allowed to make mistakes.”

Ron guffawed. “Not like this one, Harry. The Titanic hitting an iceberg was a mistake, what Teddy did, well that was far, far worse.” Ron rose and placed his hand over his heart. “I’d like propose a moment of silence for our dear Teddy.” He let out solid oomph as his wife tossed a pillow that struck his head. Ron grinned. “Does that mean you want to withdraw from the pool?”

“What pool?” Ginny asked.

“The one that predicts how long Teddy has before the girls catch up with him.” He looked at his wife. “Hermione gives him seven days.”

“That’s horrible.” Ginny said and her voice lowered. “Is two weeks still open?”

The two couples shared a laugh and then turned to planning their vacation.

***

It was, after all, exactly what James had expected. The Sorting Hat had said “Gryffindor” in almost the exact same breath as his name. The raucous cheers nearly drowned out the ditty the old hat was saying and James thought there was a gleam in Kingsley Shacklebolt’s eye as Harry Potter’s first born leapt off the stool and made his way to the Gryffindor table. The first meal was more than he expected and he allowed himself to be carried on in haze of pageantry and ritual that marked another first year at the venerable institution. As the evening neared its end, James was carried along by the mass of students heading to their dormitories.

As he walked the hallowed corridors, James felt a strong hand on his shoulder. He turned and found himself staring up at a man with a familiar face, complete with an amiable grin. With more relief than he’d thought he would feel, James smiled and spoke to the man. “Hello, Uncle Neville.”

Neville Longbottom returned James’ grin. “It’s Professor Longbottom while we’re at school, right James?”

Chagrinned, the eleven year old nodded. “Yes sir. Sorry, sir.”

Neville patted James on the head. “That’s okay, son. I’m not yelling at you.” Neville stared James straight in the eye. “James, I know that you think you’re a brave boy, that all of this new world you’re in isn’t scary, but I want to give a small piece of advice.”

James stood straighter, throwing his shoulders back. Neville nodded. “There’s no higher expectations than those we make for ourselves. Don’t overdo it, James. Don’t be blustery and don’t think you have to impress anyone. It’s alright to be afraid.”

James seemed to pull back. He looked left and right. “But Unc-, er, I mean Professor Longbottom, I’m Harry Potter’s son. He first fought and beat the Dark Lord in this first year.”

“You see, that’s what I’m talking about, James. You want to know something?” Neville leaned in as if sharing a secret. “Your father was as scared as anyone could be when all that happened.”

James gave the man a skeptical look. Neville chuckled. “It’s true. Have you ever asked him?” The look on the boy’s face told him that he had not. Neville stood tall. “Well then, you shouldn’t believe what you read in the history books, James. Your father is a brave man and one of my closest friends, but when he was a boy, he was a boy, full of the same fears and doubts that you have now. All I’m saying is to enjoy yourself and don’t worry about being Harry Potter’s son. Being James Potter will be trial enough already. You know if you need anything, you can come to me, right?”

James nodded slowly. “Good.” Neville said. “Now run along and remember, have fun.”

They shared a handshake and James scampered up the stairs towards the painting of the Fat Lady and towards his next adventure.

***

Teddy, for the most part, had avoided the welcome feast. As the banquet was going on, he made his way quietly through the cavernous passages of the school, his steps echoing on the stone floors. He shook his head and tried, for the thousandth time, to understand how he’d gotten here, how he’d made such a mess of things.

“Ho! You are in so much trouble! You’ll surely be deaddy, Mr. Teddy!” There was streak of white mist and Teddy cast a withering stare at its trail.

“Shut up, Peeves. You’ll get me caught.” Teddy hissed. The ghost cackled down the passageway, ignoring Teddy’s entreaties. Teddy watched him go and then glanced around to see if he’d been caught. The halls were silent, only the varied suits of armor standing watch over his movements. He exhaled slowly and continued on towards the moving staircases and the relative safety of his room.

“Chocolate.” He bypassed the usual pleasantries with the fat lady and made his way down the long, dark passageway into the Gryffindor Tower. He need only cross through the common room and he’d be home free. The room was quiet, save for the smoldering of a fire in the hearth. Although he wasn’t trying to, he felt like he was tip toeing through the room. He was just about to enter the spiral stairway leading to the boys’ dorms when he felt the tell tale hold of a leg locker curse. He fell, like a tree to the floor. He felt his body being turned over and he found him staring up at the two people he both wanted to see the most who also happened to be the two people he least wanted to see. It was confusing. His body was levitated up and he was deposited roughly into one of the high back chairs near the fire. His arms were bound to the arms and his legs were locked solid. His head could move and he turned his neck to track Graciela and Victoire as the two girls settled in chairs across from him.

“It’s judgment day, Teddy.” Graciela said in a surprisingly soft voice. She chortled. “Did you think you could avoid us for the rest of you time at this school.”

Teddy took a deep breath and then smiled. “The thought had crossed my mind. I was sure ready to give it a shot.”

“So this is all a game to you, Teddy?” Victoire’s voice wavered a bit, but there was a hint of steel, of betrayal in her question and Teddy’s smile disappeared.

“Of course not, Vee, things just kind of got out of hand.” If his hands were free, he would have held them out.

“That’s hard to believe.” Graciela lapsed back into her tough girl persona. “The great schemer, the man behind the New Marauders let a small thing like being faithful get out of hand?”

“It’s not like that, Gracie.” He knew better than to beg, but he was trying to explain what happened, how he’d made the two girls he was closest to want to skin him alive. It was nerve-wracking. What made it a complete disaster was the look on Victoire’s face. Graciela was a solid, independent woman, who could take care of herself. Her manner, her expression was angry, but under control with a cool competence, but Victoire, though not fragile, was something he could not bear to see. The hurt, the betrayal in her eyes belied any type of explanation. Graciela looked over at the younger girl and patted her on the shoulder and stood up.

“Listen, Teddy, why don’t you explain yourself? Why don’t you tell us how you didn’t mean to hurt both of us? Why don’t you tell us the truth, for once?” Graciela held her gaze steady and after a bit, Teddy was forced to turn away. He shook his head.

“I don’t know where to start.” He mumbled. Victoire’s voice rang out solidly.

“Start at the beginning.” So he did.


***A/N: Next chapter, we're going to find out exactly what Teddy did to get in so much trouble. Heh heh. Notice I how I'm starting to set up the scene for the next arc? Have a great weekend all.

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  #330  
Old January 27th, 2010, 6:12 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

When we last left poor Teddy, he was tied up and about to be roasted by two very irritated women. Now we hear what happened to Teddy and why the ladies are mad...believe me, he might want to consider joining the priesthood.



Chapter 331 – Mistakes of the Heart

It had seemed like a good idea at the time. He’d spent all manner of time with Graciela, through the Marauders, Gryffindor and Quidditch. Simply put, they enjoyed a lot of the same things and spent a tremendous amount of time together. Teenage emotions merged with rampant hormones and before they knew it, they were a couple. As soon as their relationship had transformed into something romantic, Teddy had a sense that they’d made a huge mistake. It wasn’t obvious, at first, more a feeling in his stomach than anything concrete. They spent as much time together as they had before, only the way they communicated was different. They were less friends than they had been.

Before, when they were simply friends, Teddy felt he could talk to Graciela about anything. Their fights were legendary when they disagreed about something and they were formidable opponents on issues that they agreed on. Now, Teddy felt himself holding back, not being able to disagree with her on points, so as not to make Gracie mad at him. For her part, Teddy sensed that she was doing likewise, which made her not what he’d always liked about her. Still, they continued their relationship, becoming more and more entrenched in way things were, doing what was expected and on the outside, becoming the “it” couple at Hogwarts.

All this time, there was Victoire. When Teddy and Graciela started dating, Teddy never really noticed Victoire. He’d known her as long as he could remember and for the most part, she was a friend, practically family. He’d thought her infatuation with him when they were kids was a simple case of puppy love (or werewolf love, depending on his mood) not anything serious and when she started attending Hogwarts, he’d seen her as nothing more than a little girl, who could be annoying.

He should have noticed a change in her when he started dating Graciela. Before, she’d always been a constant fixture with their group, silent to be sure, but ever present. Once he and Graciela started dating, she became less of a presence. He didn’t notice it at first, because he was caught up in the whole notion of being an “item” with Graciela. Slowly, as he began to wonder if he’d made the right decision, he began to notice that she wasn’t there. At first, it was a curiosity, more than actually missing her. He wondered about it, but he was mostly self-absorbed over the day to day angst of performing as a boyfriend should. He knew something was missing, but he played that off to being a result of his overall uneasiness with being Graciela’s beau.

Two things happened over the summer that changed Teddy. At one of the many Weasley family picnics, he was idly talking to his Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny when Victoire arrived with her parents. Teddy had barely seen her since their return from school, and Aunt Ginny put into words the thoughts that Teddy had at that precise moment.

“My goodness, Victoire, you look beautiful! You have grown so much!” Ginny exclaimed and she was right. Victoire wasn’t the awkward pre-teen he remembered, but a lithe, graceful young woman with long platinum hair and rich azure eyes that twinkled at the attention. Her skin was light, almost porcelain, like a china doll’s, with a hint of color that came with compliment from her aunt. Teddy felt the air leave his chest, and he gasped silently, trying to recover, but realizing that Ginny had unknowingly uncovered something that he, only now, realized. Victoire was an extraordinarily beautiful woman. This realization struck him like a thunderclap. Of course, what happened next, nearly gave him a heart attack.

“And who might this fine young man be?” Harry said, extending his hand to a tall, broad shouldered boy, about Teddy’s age. He had a dimpled chin and smooth skin with shoulder length russet hair and piercing gray eyes. He smiled easily and Teddy saw that his handshake was firm and confident.

“This is Robert, my boyfriend.” Victoire said shyly. For some reason, Teddy noticed that she’d pronounced his name “ROW – bear”, the French way. Teddy’s mind was buzzing and he did a double take when Victoire seemed to be speaking to him. “Are you all right, Teddy? You look sick.”

Teddy put his hand to his mouth and cleared his throat. “Yeah, Vee, I’m fine, must be something I ate.” Teddy screwed up his courage and extended his hand. “I’m Teddy Lupin, nice to meet you.”

“Thank you. I’ve heard so much about you.” Robert’s voice was deep, especially for a teen and had a slight lilting continental accent.

“You never said anything about a boyfriend, Victoire, when did this happen?” Ginny asked. Teddy didn’t notice an odd expression on Ginny’s face, as if she noticed his reaction to the new developments.

Victoire seemed to be oblivious to Teddy’s presence. “We met when I went to see my grandparents in Nice. Robert attends a sorcerer’s academy there. His parents are old friends of my mother’s.”

“Well we’re glad to have you here, Robert.” Harry spoke up. “Do you enjoy Quidditch?”

“Oh no, sir. It is a barbarian’s game, no?” Teddy watched in fascination as a brief scowl covered his godfather’s face, but Harry covered it up quickly. Victoire seemed to sense that the wrong thing had been said and stepped up and touched Robert’s arm.

“Oh, there’s my grandmother. You must meet her, Robert.” She guided the boy towards Molly, leaving Harry, Ginny and Teddy standing where they were. Teddy watched them leave and then turned and found Ginny staring at him.

“Nice boy, don’t you think Teddy?” Ginny asked. Teddy shrugged his shoulders.

“Sure, I guess.”

“Barbarian’s game indeed.” Harry interjected. Ginny gave Harry a cross look and the Head of the Office Aurors grinned sheepishly. “I suppose I should see if there are any more biscuits left.” Harry turned and beat a hasty retreat. Ginny continued to fix Teddy in her gaze.

“You don’t like this Robert?” Ginny asked quietly.

“I hardly know him, Aunt Ginny. I don’t have any opinion about him.” Teddy said, rather too quickly.

“Of course you don’t.” Ginny seemed to be inspecting her nails. “It doesn’t bother you that Victoire is dating him?”

“No, why should it?” Teddy snapped. “Besides, I have a girlfriend.” There it was, the ultimate retort.

Ginny nodded. “How is Gracie doing anyway?”

“Huh? Who?” Teddy found himself still staring after Victoire.

“Graciela. Your girlfriend?” Ginny said, with a slight hint of teasing in her voice. Teddy flushed.

“She’s fine, Aunt Ginny.” Teddy cleared his throat. “I think I’ll go find James.” He excused himself and left, his head and chest fluttering in confusion.

***

The school year started and Teddy could barely contain his misery. Things with Graciela were more about image than anything real and he found himself playing along, now more intent on her not killing him than out of any desire to be with her. At the same time, he felt a growing resentment for all things French. Victoire seemed happy in the long distance relationship she’d established with Robert, and Teddy was beside himself at the notion of what he’d squandered. He and Graciela began to bicker, yet he still couldn’t figure out a way to break things off. He resigned himself to his fate and as the next Tri-wizard Tournament approached, buried himself in his work and in Quidditch. He was still too old to participate in the tournament, but he wasn’t too old to attend the Yule Ball. It was taken for granted that he’d go with Graciela and he wallowed in self pity the entire week leading up to the dance.

It didn’t help that Victoire was all giddy about the prospect that Robert was coming for a visit. Every owl, every package he sent made Teddy more and more despondent. Still, he resolved to enjoy the party. Sadness turned to anger and he figured that if Victoire didn’t want him, then SHE was making the mistake. His decision manifested itself in the way he started treating Victoire, starting a day before the dance.

Teddy was coming down the hall and was nearly run over by Victoire, whose arms were full of boxes.

“Oh, sorry, Teddy.” She murmured as she began to pick up the scattered boxes. On instinct, Teddy began to help her.

“What is all this?” He finally asked.

She beamed. “I can’t decide on a dress for tomorrow night. I want to look perfect for Robert.” She held up a pretty, royal blue gown. “What do you think of this one?”

Something snapped inside Teddy, he dropped the box he was carrying onto the pile and stood up. “What do I care? Wear whatever you like.” He turned abruptly and stalked off down the corridor, leaving Victoire standing there with her mouth agape, a shocked look on her face.

***

The dance was starting and Teddy walked arm in arm with Graciela down the long corridor leading from Gryffindor Tower. He was noticeably silent.

“Is something bothering you, Teddy?” Graciela asked, a combination of concern and annoyance in her voice. She’d noticed a change in Teddy’s demeanor over the past few months.

“No, not really.” He said absently. He turned and looked at her, patting her arm with his hand. He brushed past his lapel and winced. “Darn it. I forgot my boutonniere.” Graciela had purchased one to match the color of her dress. Teddy grinned shyly. “Why don’t you head on down, and I’ll run and get it.” At that moment, the rest of their group was coming and she nodded.

“Don’t take too long.” He nodded his head and began running down the corridor.

He made his way to his room and found the flower right where he’d left it. He quickly pinned it to his jacket and began walking quickly down the staircase and into the common room. He didn’t know what made him stop. Maybe he heard a sound, or he had some sort of feeling, but he paused and tilted his head. It was soft, like a whisper. He turned and followed the noise. In the far corner of the room, one of the large, high backed chairs had been turned to face the cold stone wall. He tip toed quietly to the chair and peered around its back. Seated in the chair was Victoire, wearing the beautiful blue dress she’d shown him, her face in her hands, and she was sobbing quietly, all alone.

“Vee?” She looked up abruptly, both shocked and angry. His heart broke to see her so sad, the tears making her vibrant blue eyes stand out against the harsh redness on her cheeks from her crying. Teddy put a gentle hand on her bare shoulder. “What’s wrong?” He asked.

Wordlessly, she handed him a small, ornate piece of parchment. He read the words and felt the anger rising in his belly.

“Dear Victoire,

I do not think that I should enjoy such childish things as can be found at your Hogwarts. I have met a far more sophisticated woman who attends Beauxbaton and she meets my needs. She is warm, beautiful and friendly. Most of all, she does not like Quidditch.

I will not be there for your little party. I did not want to be around a bunch of inane children, anyway.

Regards,

Robert”

Silently, Teddy crumpled the paper in his hand and looked over at Victoire. “I’m sorry, Vee.”

“No you’re not. You didn’t even like Robert.” She said, wiping the tears from her eyes.

“True, but I still feel bad.” Teddy responded. “Come on, why don’t we go to the dance, anyway. Your friends are all there.”

He helped her rise from the chair and they began to walk out of the common room. She held onto his arm tightly, and he reveled in its warmth, a tingle of energy shooting through him. The entered the hall and began walking towards the dance. She stopped.

“How do I look?” She asked.

“Puffy.” He responded and received a brief tap on his shoulder. He smiled. “You look wonderful.” She looked at him curiously. “What?”

“I don’t get it. What’s wrong with me?” She asked, the sting of Robert’s words in her heart. Gently, Teddy placed his hand underneath her chin.

“Nothing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you, Vee. You’re, you’re…” His voice caught in his throat and he became hoarse. He took a deep breath. “You’re perfect.” She looked up at him and a moment passed between them. Teddy leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers…

***

“And that’s where you found us.” Teddy, still bound to the chair stared at Graciela and Victoire. Graciela’s face was softer while tears were forming in Victoire’s eyes.

“Why didn’t you just break up with me, Teddy? Why keep stringing me on?” Graciela asked, uncharacteristically vulnerable.

Teddy shrugged. “I didn’t know how, without hurting you.”

“So you lied?” Graciela placed her hands on her hips and stared at him. All Teddy could do was nod. Graciela looked at Victoire who nodded slightly and rose. The two girls began turned to leave. Victoire hesitated for a second.

“It’s sad, Teddy. If you had not lied, things might have turned out all right. You didn’t want to hurt us?” She looked between herself and Graciela. “All you ended up doing was hurting us. So, you didn’t get what you wanted, did you?”

He shook his head and felt the magical bonds release him. “I didn’t know what to do Vee. I wanted to make both of you happy.”

“Well, you failed.” Victoire answered sternly. “And the irony is, now, you don’t have either one of us. “ The turned and started walking up the stairs to the girls’ dormitories. In the distance, Teddy could hear the bustle of the rest of Gryffindors returning from the welcome banquet, excited over the beginning of a new year. His shoulders fell and his hair turned dark black. He got up and started up the stairs towards his room and when the first Gryffindors entered, none could see the tears that had started forming on his face. For the first time in a long time, Teddy felt alone.

***A/N: So, I started this chapter wanting to do some slapstick, funny stuff, but somehow it went all soap opera on me. I don't know how it happened and I can't explain it, so I apologize...

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  #331  
Old February 4th, 2010, 8:04 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 332 – Discoveries

Summer on the lower Nile basin brings brutally hot weather conditions. The heat feels like a weight, pressing down a person’s chest, making them struggle to even breathe the hot, arid air. Tourists are especially vulnerable to the effects of the windless wave of heat, and they tend to feel like a hammer has hit them as they walk out of a climate controlled environment and into the light of day. Such was the case for the two couples as they left the main lobby of their hotel.

Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione left their hotel and walked down the dusty streets of Cairo. It was a little after noon and the street vendors and beggars were in full swings, adding their cries to the cacophony of sights and sounds that assaulted their senses. They were all wearing some manner of “desert” clothing, with khaki cargo shorts, hiking shoes, and loose, khaki and cotton button shirts. Harry was sporting a brimmed cap and a pair of aviator sunglasses, which had been a gift from Neville on Harry’s last birthday. Ginny and Hermione had their long hair drawn up in pony tails. Ginny had a bandanna tied across the top of her head while Hermione chose to bind her pony tail with a sheer scarf she’d purchased from one of the street vendors.

Of the four English visitors, Ron seemed to be struggling most with the hot air and humidity. His pale, freckled face was beet red beneath his large pith helmet. He’d tied a scarf around his neck, trying to hide his light skin from the brutal intensity of the sun. He was sweating profusely and gulping down water from a water bottle seemingly every fourth or fifth step. Ron’s silence throughout their walk gave Harry a good idea of just how badly his friend was struggling with the weather.

“Whose idea was this little soiree anyway?” Ron finally was able to mumble as the two couples came to a stop in front of a rather large open market filled with dozens of small stands, each with a local behind it hawking their wares. The women had found themselves mesmerized by a man selling gold jewelry of all types. Harry tried to keep a wary eye on his wife, trying will her not to spend so much money, while trying to carry on a conversation with his best mate.

Harry’s eyebrow stretched as Ginny tried on a large ring with a rather oversized gem on its mounting. “I believe it was your idea, Ron.”

Ron was not convinced. “I didn’t realize it was so hot here.” His voice almost came out as a whine.

Harry sighed as Ginny began digging into her purse for money. “You’ve been here before, Ron, on vacation. You knew how hot it was.”

Ron shook his head violently. “Mum and Dad used magic to keep us cool, something you seem to think is a bad idea.”

Normally, when magical people went on vacation, they opted for one of two types of experiences. There were, of course, wizard-centric vacations, run by other magical people and creatures where wizards and witches were free to apply their abilities to the cause of keeping comfortable. When the Weasleys had toured Egypt as a family, they’d done so on the premise of visiting Bill Weasley, who at the time was an employee for the Gringott’s branch in Cairo. As such, they essentially remained within the enclave of the wizarding community and rarely ventured out among the muggles.

The other option was to take their vacations among muggles. Because the world’s wizarding population was relatively small, choices of the magical kind were limited, so taking muggle vacations offered a broader variety of choices. The down side was that both the Ministry and the International Federation of Wizards vehemently discouraged the use of magic in the presence of muggles. The Egyptian Ministry of Magic was even more stringent, where usage could result in the offender’s wand being taken and broken, public humiliation and on rare occasions, even jail.

The vacation package that they were on was something Ron had seen on a pamphlet while visiting his in-laws. When he’d brought the idea to the others, Ron had grand visions of a calm, relaxing vacation in a balmy climate controlled by magic. Harry and the others had quickly devolved him of that notion and they’d insisted on using no magic while with the muggles.

“You know why we can’t use magic, Ron. Now get over it and try to have some fun, or I swear to Excalibur, we’ll leave your whining backside here.” Harry didn’t know if he was more cross with his friend or with the fact that Ginny was now sporting three rings with large gaudy stones. Harry let out a long, pent up sigh and nodded to Ron, then meandered to where his wife seemed to be single-handedly trying to spend all of their money on the first day.

“We should go. The boat starts loading in thirty minutes.” There was a twinkle in Ginny’s eye as Harry tried to unobtrusively catch glimpse of her hands. She didn’t him a chance to look at the rings secretly. She held up her hand displaying the rings with their over-the-top workstations.

“I’m undecided, Harry. Which one should I get? The ruby is very pretty, but the emerald is of such fine quality.” The large gemstones twinkled in the daylight, casting a colorful shadows on his face.

“er, um, I don’t know, Ginny.” Harry had been taken aback. She was asking his opinion about something, yet he was adamantly opposed to telling his wife that she shouldn’t buy either. Of course, Hermione always knew exactly what to say, at exactly the wrong time.

“I say buy them both, the price is definitely a bargain.” Hermione could not suppress the smile on her face as she spoke to Harry and Ginny.

“Ha, ha, very funny, Hermione. Please, stop helping me.” Harry seemed frazzled and then noticed that both his wife and Hermione were doubled over in laughter.

“Got you!” Ginny finally said. She handed the rings back to the vendor. “Those were hideous, but they were big enough for me to make you sweat.”

The redness on Harry’s cheeks were definitely not from the heat. “Good one, Ginny. You definitely had me sweating.” Harry laughed nervously. “Can we go now?” Ginny nodded and Harry and Ron led the way out of the market. Hermione walked side by side with Ginny.

“That was a good one, although, it was pretty predictable. I can’t believe that was all you wanted to get out of that.” Hermione noticed a more conspiratorial grin on Ginny’s face.


“Of course not, Harry is so relieved that I didn’t spend all that money to get those ugly rings.” Ginny’s voice lowered so that only Hermione could hear her. “But when I do find something I want, he won’t say anything about the price because of the bullet he just dodged.”

“You are an evil woman, Ginny Potter.” Hermione said with admiration in her voice.

“I know.” Ginny smirked and the two friends hurried to catch their husbands.

***

By nature, James was a wanderer. He was always getting his mother worked at the way he’d disappear for hours, exploring the nearby forests and pastures near his house. Being at Hogwarts, for James, was the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a raging fire. There were all sorts of places for him to explore. He knew that he should probably be making friends, yet he also knew that he was the type of boy that made friends easily and there would be time enough for that. Right now, all he wanted to do was to explore his new home and all the wonders that it was hiding.

After classes ended for the day, he ran through main entry out onto the lawn. When he’d debarked from the Hogwarts Express and made his way to the boats, his first inclination was not to be awed. After all, he’d been to the school countless times as a kid. He was more about being observant, looking for special places where he could hide and explore. As his boat entered the subterranean dock, he’d notice a small alcove atop the ivy covered doors leading from the lake to the harbor. It seemed like an ideal place to check out.

He made his way down the sloping lawn to the edge of the Great Lake. A large, bulbous object broke the surface of the lake and a large eye stared at him for a moment and then dove beneath the surface. The Giant Squid still patrolled the lake. James walked along the shoreline, following upward until he was directly over the entrance to the underground harbor. He sat down on the edge and let his legs dangle. Without even a hint of fear, James rolled onto his stomach, and eased his way down, grasping the thickening strands of ivy that hung over the cave entrance. Soon, James was suspended twenty feet above the surface of the lake.

He peered through the wall of ivy and spotted opening he’d come for. He started scissoring his legs back and forth. His body began to swing like a pendulum and soon enough, he’d built up enough momentum that he released his grip on the ivy and sailed through the air, landing heavily on the ledge. James got up and dusted the front of his robe. He walked towards a hole in the wall, roughly the size of an average man. James easily passed through the arch and found himself in a dark tunnel, very much like the entry to Gryffindor Tower. He fumbled for his wand, but noticed that there was light coming from the end of the tunnel. Silently, he followed the passage way towards the light. The walls grew farther apart and the hall grew larger and larger. James could feel cool air reaching him and finally, he walked into an open cavern.

There were gas lamps on the walls of the cave, which were the source of the light he was seeing. The room was huge, with several shelves and tiers carved into the wall faces. There were items and furniture atop each of the rock shelves. It was like a museum exhibit, each assortment of items representing an era of time at Hogwarts, maybe dating back to the Founders. The deeper James walked into the cave, the closer to recent history he came. He passed one display that could have only been dated during the time of his grandparents, his father’s parents. There was a picture of Lily and James Potter in the display. They were still students at the school.

Excitedly, James kept walking, hoping that a portion of his father’s history would be seen, but it was not to be. There was an open, empty slab where his parents’ era should have been. He felt a heavy sensation of disappointment in his chest. Before he sank into a full bout of disappointment, he noticed that the cavern continued on and there was another collection of items a little further down. Curious, he walked over to where the most recent era, the current era seemed to be represented. There were pictures and curiosities from the school, that didn’t seem to favor any one house or any group of students. It was as if the entire student body had contributed. Further down, there appeared to be a life sized diorama of a scene. It was frightening. It showed several students, some no older than he, standing off against werewolves. James remembered when the school had been attacked by werewolves, and this seemed to be an image of that time. He focused on one of the animals. James could pick out Greyback, but the one he looked seemed so lifelike, so real. He drew closer, to look at the display. The fur was shiny, and fuller than a mannequin should be.

As his face drew near its charcoal eyes, he started reaching out his hand, to feel the fur of this very real display. Just before his hand reached the back of the display creature, it took a breath. Its large, sinewy head snapped around and its eyes glowed red. It snarled menacingly. James fell backwards, tripping in the hem of his robe. Frantically, he reached inside his pockets, trying to draw his wand. The creature took a step off the dais and growled, its eyes never leaving James. The werewolf crouched on its hind quarters, its muscles tensing, and like a released coil, it sprung into the air, its talons out, heading right for James Potter, who could only raise his arms up in front of his face, waiting for the fatal strike.

***A/N: My goodness, it's been so long since I've had a decent Cliffie...the old timers will remember...muhahahahahaha!

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  #332  
Old February 23rd, 2010, 7:24 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

There once was evil fan fic author,
Who would not post, what a bother.
But a lesson to learn,
His readers want him to burn,
And then start reading the works of another.

Chapter 333 – A Leisurely Cruise

“That’s it? What a piece of junk!” Ron slapped at his forearm, trying to catch another of the interminable gnats flying about in the hot sun. His face was still flushed, both from the heat and from seeing the boat they’d be spending a week on. They were walking down a sloping pathway that led to wooden wharf on the river. The sun was at its apex, beating down mercilessly on the workers below. Thick clouds of reddish yellow dust floated in the air, coating every crease and crevice in their clothing. Harry snorted and shifted the strap of the bag around his shoulder and tightened his grip on the handles of the suitcases he was carrying in each hand.

“Stop complaining, Ron. You picked this vacation, after all.” Harry continued down the wharf, wishing, yet again, that he could simply draw his wand and levitate the luggage to the waiting boat. It was not to be. They’d booked a vacation on a muggle cruise and most of the crowd around them were muggles. He grit his teeth and continued on.

The path ended at the edge of a ramshackle wooden wharf, choked with people, crates and animals. The sounds were that of a crowded bazaar, every so often punctuated by the long, baleful bleat of a boat whistle. Their ship was at the end of the pier, bound tightly to the bollards by frayed and battered ropes. Of course, calling the vessel a ship was quite charitable, for it was actually quite small, typical of the old Nile river steamers. It looked more like a dirty white box atop a raft with two long, thin black smokestacks poking through. Soot, smoke and cinders belched from the stacks while a large red paddle wheel was affixed to the stern, the paint chipping, but seeming to strain against its lock in a need to carry its charge out onto the Nile itself.

Near the pier, the river’s water was a grimy green and brown with layers of dust and dirt and trash floating on the top. Ron pinched his nose as he looked down at the water.

“Ew, I’m getting an infection just looking at that water.” He pointed out towards the middle of the river. “Look, they can’t even keep those logs out of the water. Someone is going to hit one of them.”

Ginny snorted. “Those aren’t logs, Ron.” Her brother shook his head and then stared outward. Ginny nodded. “Yep, crocodiles. I wouldn’t worry too much about swimming around here if I were you.”

The gangway consisted of two cracked wooden planks reaching from the pier down to the main deck. Gingerly, the foursome did a precarious wire walk laden with their bags and made their way onto the boat. When the plopped on board, a bored looking officer, dressed in white shorts, a white officer’s shirt complete with a gold striped shoulder board and a white peaked cap looked up from a magazine that was atop the weather beaten podium he was leaning against. The front of the poem had dull, barely readable letters, spelling out the ship’s name, “Cleopatra”. Harry shook his head. It was an obvious attempt to curry favor with the tourists. He was about to say something to Ron, when the man spoke.

“Greetings, welcome aboard the Cleopatra. My name is Yawar Shah, I am the ship’s purser.” He hesitated and then continued. “I’m also its cook, chief engineer, executive officer and activities director.” Yawar smiled pleasantly. He was older than he first appeared with dark brown skin and a thick bushy mustache flecked with streaks of gray and white. He had dark black eyes beneath a large, protruding uni-brow. Upon closer inspection, his white uniform had spots all over it, obvious food and drink stains that had left their marks all over him. He moved his can of soda from atop a green ledger on top of the podium. He flipped open the book and snorted.

“Are we expecting you?” He asked, arching his one large eyebrow at one end.

Hermione smiled. “Yes, the Potters and Weasleys.” She said with a smirk. Yawar made a show of scanning the ledger and mumbling to himself. The Cleopatra was a standard river steamer and as such, never carried more than twenty to twenty five passengers and the current economic climate convinced Hermione that there couldn’t be more than ten or fifteen on this trip. Finally, he stood straight.

“Ah yes, here we are.” He reached beneath the podium and lifted a tiny rusted bell by a long, worn wooden handle. He ran the bell pretentiously, eliciting a smirk from a portly man sitting nearby, wearing an tightly fitting, dirty white smock. He stood and grinned.

“Yes sir?”

Yawar raised his nose in the air. “Please take the Potters’ and Weasleys’ luggage to cabins four and five, please.” The fat porter nodded, his chins shaking from the effort. He snapped his fingers and two sailors appeared to grab their luggage. The porter bowed and extended his hand.

“This way, please.” Harry shared a baleful glance with Ron, who snorted.

“This should be fun.”

***

James felt the hot breath of the creature as its paws pressed down on his chest. For a moment, he felt an overwhelming sense of panic then something clicked in his head and he reached out and smacked the beast on the tip of its snout.

“Cut it out, Teddy. You’re getting my robes dirty.” With a snarl, the large werewolf gradually morphed into the smiling form of Teddy Lupin. The teen stood up and extended his hand towards James.

“What are you doing here, James?” Teddy brushed some dust off his pants and then folded his arms, staring at the younger student.

“I was exploring. I found this place.” James looked around. “What is this place?”

Teddy shrugged his shoulders. “It’s some sort of museum.”

James nodded. “I can see that, but who put it together?”

“I don’t know, it’s always been here, as far as I can tell. I didn’t put the exhibits about my friends and me.” Teddy turned towards James. “So you found the passage entrance near the kitchen?”

“What? Oh, no, there’s an opening near the harbor cave entrance. I climbed down there.” James replied and then began studying the exhibits. He paused at the empty slab that was obvious by its lack of adornment. “Where’s my Dad’s era?”

Teddy shrugged. “I don’t know. I only found this place a couple of years ago and it was like this when I got here.”

“Who updates this place? Someone has to do it.” James asked.

Teddy shook his head. “I don’t know. Every so often, I’ll come down here and something is added.” Teddy walked to a low shelf carved into the wall and sat down. “I really only come here to get away.”

“Get away from what?” James joined Teddy on the bench.

“Mostly, I was hiding from Victoire and Graciella.” James nodded and then snickered.

“That problem is over, isn’t it? I heard they caught you and turned you into a frog or something.” James broke into an open laugh.

Despite himself, Teddy laughed. “Well, they’re not hunting me down, but I still like to get away from them.”

“From them or from one of them in particular?” James teased.

“I’ll never say.”

James jumped up and walked to the empty display case. “I’d sure like to know why my parents’ aren't included here.” He turned and faced Teddy. “They practically saved the planet from Voldemort.”

Teddy stood and sighed. “Okay, what do you want to do?”

James smacked his hands together. “Well first, we could create their exhibit ourselves and then second, we find out who did this.”

“Sounds easy.” Teddy snorted, not really meaning it. “Building Uncle Harry’s exhibit is something we can do, so how exactly do we find out who this little museum’s curator is?”

James punched Teddy playfully on the arm. “That’s the easy part.” James grinned, the wheels turning in his mind. “Obviously someone doesn’t want my parents’ time remembered. If we put something here, they’ll be bound to come back and remove the items. When they do, BAM! We’ll catch them.”

James folded his arms while Teddy contemplated his plan. After a moment, Teddy snapped his fingers. “It might just work, but we’ll need help.” Teddy started walking towards the far end of the cave, presumably towards the entrance. “It might just work.”

***

The oppressive heat of the Indian summer did not seem to extend to their cabins. Despite outward appearances, their rooms were surprisingly large and comfortable. The four friends made their way down the narrow central corridor lined with mahogany doors denoting the other cabins on the boat. At the end of the corridor was a pair of French doors that led to the parlor, which, like the cabins was well apportioned and at a comfortable temperature.

As they entered the parlor, they saw about a dozen of their fellow passengers engaged in various activities around the room while cabin boys walked around carrying large silver trays lined with food and drink. One of the servers approached them and held out a tray with four glasses atop and they each took one while Harry nodded his thanks.

Nearby, there was a tall, older man wearing a khaki safari shirt, matching shorts, brightly polished brown leather boots with a pith helmet atop his head canted at a jaunty angle. His look was finished by the swagger stick he held tucked beneath his right arm and the monocle stuck right in front of his right eye, magnifying the blue color of that eye to twice its size. If he seemed a bit over the top, his companion was decidedly well over the moon.

He was short, no more than five foot four with a head shaped like an egg, tilted to one side. He had a stiff, military mustache and his black hair was perfectly styled, not a strand out of place. Despite being in Egypt, he wore a dark gray worsted wool suit with a perfectly tied regimental tie. His shoes were black leather, polished to a brilliant sheen and he held a cup and saucer daintily in his hands, his pinkie finger extended as he took a sip. He turned to the newcomers and bowed at the hip.

He spoke with heavy French accent. “Well, bon jour! You must be our newly arrived guests.” He stood, his bearing impeccable and his clothes unblemished by dirt or dust. “My name is Hercule Poirot and this is my friend, Colonel Race.”

The tall man with the monocle clicked his heels together and smiled. “Retired, of course.”

With deliberate effort, Harry stifled a grin and introduced Ginny, Ron and Hermione. Ron took a sip of his drink.

“Poirot? So you’re French, then?” Colonel Race snorted on his tea and Poirot turned a decided shade of puce around his neck.

The small man lifted his nose and spoke regally. “I am Belgian, monsieur, surely you can tell the difference.”

Ron stumbled on his words and then recovered carefully. “Now that you mention it, I did think that the mustache was a Belgian style.” This time Harry allowed a laugh to escape his lips and Ginny grinned wide. She stepped forward.

“What do you do, Monsieur Poirot?” This time Colonel Race interrupted.

“You’ve never heard of Hercule Poirot? He’s the greatest detective mind that’s ever lived.” Poirot seemed to feign embarrassment, but did not stop his friend. “He’s the best criminal investigator to ever catch a murderer.” Race took a breath and nodded in apologize. “Of course, I’m embarrassing my friend. What do you all do?”

Ron looked at the small man and his companion. “Well Ginny, my sister, is a reporter.”

Race smiled. “Oh really, what do you cover?”

“She covers Quidd- oomph” Before Ron could complete his sentence, he felt Ginny’s elbow in his stomach. She stepped forward.

“I’m a sports reporter.” Race nodded, but no one seemed to notice the thoughtful gaze on Poirot’s face.

Still rubbing his stomach, Ron offered Ginny a withering look and continued. “My wife, Hermione,” This time Ron hesitated, as if choosing his words. “She works for the government as a prosecutor.” Ron checked with Hermione who nodded. “Harry and I are constables back in England.”

“Mon dieu, how wonderful.” Poirot responded. “It is so nice to be around fellow professionals.” He leaned in and his voice dropped. “I have been using my little gray cells to make observations about our fellow passengers.” He smiled broadly. “I have a feeling that this will be a very interesting voyage.”

Harry looked around the parlor. “Really, why’s that?”

Poirot gestured for them to follow him out onto the deck where several lounge chairs were arrayed. “Come with me, my new friends and I will regale you with what I have seen.”

The four followed Race and Poirot out onto the deck. They walked past a young, attractive couple who were engrossed in a game of chess. The woman flashed a grin at Ron and then turned back to her companion. Ron stopped for a moment and then continued on, now more curious then ever to discover the secrets of the passengers.


A/N: Okay, I really, really apologize. Last week I ahd to go out of town and freeze my backside off in three feet of snow. I tried to work on it, but I was really too busy. Back home now and the good news is that we'll be pursuing this double story arc for a bit. It'll be fun.

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My Fanfics:
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Teddy Lupin and the Legacy of the Marauders ; A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era (on hiatus); You Are Cordially Invited... (First Attempt)

Last edited by USNAGator91; February 23rd, 2010 at 7:35 pm.
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  #333  
Old March 1st, 2010, 6:18 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

I wonder, sometime, how patient the readers will be...I mean, I'm allowed to have a life, aren't I? Then I realized, no, I'm not. So, I've been working on this as hard as I can, but twin arcs require a little more set up, and yes, I could have done this on the Amazon, but I just loved Death on the Nile, but we're going further South. Anyhow, for those still reading:


Chapter 334 – Mouse Traps

Poirot and Race settled on a pair of high stools next to an elaborate tiki bar along the back rail of the open patio. Harry noticed a grinding noise as the canvas roof of the parlor was peeled back, creating a larger party space. The sun was slowly settling over the western horizon and a cool breeze was flowing across the Nile, making for a pleasant early evening. The hustle of the pier had been left behind, replaced by low banks teeming with lush green foliage and rows and rows of fig trees. The only sound seemed to be the regular flow of black smoke from the twin stacks atop the Cleopatra’s infrastructure. All around, the porters were lighting torches affixed to the rail along the edge of the platform. Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione gathered around their new companions, their backs to the bar, looking forward towards the rest of the passengers.

Poirot accepted a small, clear glass of port and sipped it daintily. He sighed in appreciation and looked up at Harry. “So, Constable Harry, let us share observations, yes?” He nodded unobtrusively towards a young couple crouched over a low table with an ornate chess set. Their heads were together and they were giggling after every move. The woman wore an extravagant dinner dress and her neck, wrists and ears were adorned with the most expensive jewelry Harry had ever seen. She was pretty, but not overly so, with brown hair and brown eyes. She seemed a bit on the too thin side, with her bare shoulders showing more bone than shape. Her companion was young and well built, with a strong chin and nose and darting eyes that never seemed to quite focus on the lady. He was wearing black trousers, a black bow tie with a white shirt and a white dinner jacket with the bud of a small rose affixed to the lapel.

Harry smiled. “They are new couple, maybe newly married. She seems to be rather well off.”

Poirot beamed and snorted gently. “Bien, Monsieur Harry. You are exactly correct. That is Linnet Ridgeway Doyle and Simon Doyle. They are, how do you say, on their honeymoon. What else do you notice?” Harry looked over the diminutive Belgian, but Poirot shrugged. “Please, indulge me, it’s important.”

Harry stared at the pair, but he couldn’t determine information beyond what he had. Ginny and Hermione shared a quick glance and then Ginny smiled. “Mrs. Doyle is very well off, but her husband doesn’t come from money.”

“How do you know, Madame Potter?” Poirot asked, in the manner of a professor. Ginny smiled.

“His clothes are all new. They are expensive, but don’t quite fit, like they were bought recently and off the rack. He’s wearing expensive fashions, but he doesn’t have any accessories that would say he’d worn that type of clothing all his life.” Harry looked at Ginny, a question in his eyes. She smiled. “There are no cuff links, no rings, no watch chains, just the new outfit.”

Poirot’s eyes glistened in delight. “Oh, well done, Madame. I’ve always thought that a journalist’s powers of observation must match that of a great detective, like myself. You are, of course, both correct.” He sipped his wine. “Madame Doyle’s father founded Ridgeway Microtech, a very large electronics consortium. She is worth billions. Her husband, Simon, is someone she met through a friend in college, which brings us to the next person.” He paused and then indicated a rather shapely woman trying unsuccessfully to blend into the corner of the room. She wore a simple black dress and a single strand of pearls. She held a drink in her hand was acting like she was interested in the conversation that a man and Yawar were having, but every so often, she would glance at the Doyles and her eyes were light into a fire, like two gleaming blue orbs. She was stunningly beautiful with long, rich brown hair. Her skin was smooth, with a hint of redness beneath her eyes and on her cheeks. It was the mixture of anger and hurt in her eyes every time she stared at the newlyweds which caught their attention. Ron, however, was the first to speak.

“That must be the friend from college, yeah? I bet she and old Simon were an item back then and old money bags stole him from her.” Ron’s lower jaw jutted out prominently as he stared down Poirot for affirmation. The nattily clad man smiled.

“You are correct, mostly. That young lady is Jacqueline de Bellefort and yes, she went to school with Mrs. Doyle and yes, she and Simon Doyle were an item before Linnet met him, but it was Simon who strayed, not Linnet who drew him off.” Ron’s confidence drew down ever so slightly. “Do not worry, Monsieur Weasley, you were mostly correct. The poor girl, as I understand things, has been following the Doyles where ever they go. It is a sad, pathetic tale of a woman scorned, I’m afraid.”

Harry watched Jacqueline with renewed interest and shook his head. “How sad.”

“Yes, Monsieur Potter, how sad indeed, but ah, let me introduce you to the others on this voyage.” Harry nodded at Poirot and leaned in as he continued his exposition. As he turned towards the diminutive Belgian, Harry caught a look on de Bellefort’s face. Her eyes were still focused on the couple, but seemed to be locked on Linnet. They blazed with hatred, with an unbridled, seething venom that no one else saw and which quickly disappeared. Harry felt a shiver run through his spine, for he’d seen that look only a few times before. The look was murder. Its user wanted to kill. Harry resolved to keep a close eye on the jilted Ms. De Bellefort. This was turning into a very interesting cruise, indeed.

***

Very little had changed through the years for the New Marauders, save for the weirdness of their interpersonal relationships. Janet Higgs had dated Martin Peake and Alan Bass in turn, and for a while, there was a bit of tension between the two dorm mates until Lunastus had locked them both in the wash room until they’d worked out their differences. Lunastus Rookwood had grown into an even larger than life figure, still relatively shy and a young man of few words. However, when he spoke, his friends, including Teddy, tended to heed his advice. Carlo Baretto was still rail thin and the complete antithesis of his vivacious mother. He still struggled with the increased tension that having Graciela and Victoire around after Teddy’s adventure with the both of them. Even now, there was uneasiness among them which their friends had no idea how deal.

The person who’d both changed the most and changed the least was Richard Leveille. He was still the hypochondriac, dusting here and there with his ever present anti-bacterial wipes and face masks. When they were younger, his friends had to fend off would be bullies from the frail young wizard, but his discovery of his ability in Quidditch, combined with the fact that of all of them, he’d grown the most, tended to dissuade the efforts of the more boorish members of the school. Still, Richard was Richard and the journey into the cavern brought about his omnipresent nervousness about dust and dander.

“Would have killed you to dust a little?” Richard carefully removed another disposable handkerchief from the zip loc bag he pulled from his robe pocket. “I mean really, a museum doesn’t need to preserve the dirt and grime that’s accumulated over the centuries.” He stopped and sneezed and then pulled a pair of rubber surgical gloves from his front pocket and carefully stuck his hands inside. “I hope I don’t need a tetanus shot after this.”

There was a collective chuckle among the group and James smiled at how easily they worked together, despite the differences some of them had. Even Richard’s whining was taken with ease, and then put to an immediate stop when it went too far.

“I really should take a disinfectant rag to this armor.” Richard started digging into yet another pocket when a deep, rumbling voice stopped him.

“You’ll not touch anything in that exhibit, Richard, I mean it.” Lunastus stood next to Richard, between him and his intended target.

“But, Lune, it’s filthy! You can only imagine how much of a breeding ground for germs it is.” Despite his reply, Richard did not make a move towards the exhibit. It was the first one in the series and Lunastus turned to face it.

“That suit of armor belonged to Godric Gryffindor, Richard. I don’t think we deserve to touch it.” There was a reverence in Lunastus’ voice. Richard stopped squirming and his face became thoughtful.

“Gryffindor’s? Really?” Richard looked around, his aversion to the musty cavern lost. “How did all this stuff get here? We’re not talking about a second-hand museum. Someone went to great lengths to put this here.”

“That’s what we’re going to find out.” Teddy said, leading a group of levitated boxes down the ramp.

“I know this is stupid question, but I’ll ask it anyway.” Carlo was examining an exhibit from the nineteenth century. “Did anyone think to ask a teacher?”

There was general silence among the group. Carlo took a deep breath. “Not for nothing, but what if this place was already known about and the faculty maintains it?”

“What about the missing exhibit?” James asked. “And the secrecy?”

Carlo shrugged. “There are a lot of very valuable items here. There’s Gryffindor’s armor and the first Quidditch brooms.”

“And my father’s era?” James would not be turned away so quickly.

Victoire spoke up. “Well, the current teachers are mostly from that class. Professor Nott and Professor Longbottom, if you really think about it, and Headmaster Shacklebolt.”

“What’s your point, Vee?” Teddy asked hesitantly. He grimaced when he saw her flinch when he spoke. She addressed her response to all of them.

“I’m just saying that considering who they are, maybe the felt funny about glorifying themselves. Most of them are pretty reluctant when you talk about what they did during the struggle.” She said.

James started to open his mouth and then clamped it shut. His father never liked talking about what he did, only about what others did. James felt a burning sense of disappointment at the prospect that their adventure would end due to a simple case of modesty. He was just about to raise his hands in surrender when a loud voice pierced the room.

“Well, I asked a teacher.” It was Graciela. She was standing near the entrance with an older, but recognizable Rubeus Hagrid next to her.

Alan smacked his head. “You BROUGHT a teacher here? What are you, daft?” Her piercing stare brought a meek response from Alan. “Sorry.”

“Don’ you worry yer li’l heads about young Gracie here. She done right in callin’ me out here. I never seen anythin’ like it.” Hagrid glanced down at one of the exhibits, dated sometime two hundred years earlier. Inside was an oversized boot missing its laces. “They e’en ha’ Grupus Hazard’s shoe here. This is big, indeed. No, my pets, this isn’t the handiwork of yer teachers. This is somefin’ else all together.”

“You’ll help us Hagrid?” James’ eyes were energized.

“Of cours’ I will, young James. In fact, I brought somefin’ for yon mousetrap.” Hagrid reached into the folds of his vest and pulled out two items. One was a large talon, that looked small in his hand and the other was an oversized eagle’s feather, both of which he laid in the staging area for the Harry Potter Era exhibit.

The students stumbled together to view the treasures. Even Richard gazed with reverent awe. James studied the items and then turned to Hagrid. “What are they?”

“I’m glad you asked. That talon and that feather come from my good friend, Buckbeak. Now everyone knows who Buckbeak is, yeah?” Hagrid put his hands on his hips. “Well, these come before the Buckbeak escaped the executioner. He molted and I kept them as mementos.”

“Those are perfect, Hagrid.” Teddy smiled. The large half giant nodded in appreciation.

“What else you got there, Teddy?” Hagrid asked and Teddy stood.

“Well, James and I figured we’d start with stuff we had and I asked my grandmother to send some items and well, we kind of ‘appropriated’ some things from around the school.” This brought a look of disapproval from Hagrid and Teddy turned red. “We’ll return them as soon as we can. I promise.”

Not completely mollified, Hagrid didn’t say anything as Teddy pulled items from a box. “Well, for starters, we have pictures of the people, you know, Uncle Harry, Aunt Ginny, Aunt Hermione, but we got some really cool stuff. My grandmother sent me my mother’s Auror shield.” Teddy paused and held the silver badge in his hand reverently, then continued. “We have a pair of Uncle Harry’s glasses from when he was a second year, some basilisk tusks from the Battle of Hogwarts, a broken time turner, a cracked crystal ball, a singed Gryffindor flag from the Triwizard Tournament, and a bunch of other stuff.”

Teddy handed the items over to Alan and Martin, who arranged them in the empty display space. After a few hours, they had everything laid out. Victoire added the finishing touch. She drew her wand and aimed at the rock wall. Her spell caused several spots on the wall to glow brightly, illuminating pieces of the exhibit like a spot light. The rock face turned crystalline and mirrored other lighting in the cavern. The spell was complex, because the light could not be warm and it had to last for a while, years. Victoire was an extraordinary witch, however, and the spell was well done.

“Nice.” Teddy said. He noticed Victoire flush slightly which made his chest warm, but what really got to him was the fact she did not recoil when he spoke. For the first time in quite a while, he allowed himself to feel hope. His reverie was interrupted by Martin.

“So, now what do we do?” He asked.

James rolled his eyes. “We wait! Duh!” James never saw the twin water balloons that Martin and Alan tossed his way.

***A/N: I don't want James to get too uppity and we've still got some more setup to do.

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  #334  
Old March 18th, 2010, 8:12 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 335 – Fandom

***The day after the Battle of Hogwarts***

The suburban neighborhood in the northwest corner of London was unremarkable. The homes were cookie cutter varieties of the same design, neatly arrayed in a mind-numbing sameness that bespoke of a standard, middle class upbringing. The bus came to a stop alongside one of the many intersections in the neighborhood and a gangling, rail thin teen dressed in black trousers, black tee shirt and black combat boots jumped down the stairs and started walking rapidly towards a nearby cul-de-sac. He had a canvas backpack draped over his shoulder and he leaned forward from the weight of the books that it contained. Although he appeared to be looking straight ahead, his eyes were glazed over from deep thought and some tears, not of sadness, but of anger. Despite the warm late spring day, his face was flushed, as if he’d stayed out in a winter gale far too long.

He turned up the path of one the homes and pulled a key from a chain looped around his neck. He stopped in front of the door and took a quick look to either side to see if anyone was watching. He dropped the key back inside his shirt and reached into folds of his bag. He drew out a thin, straight piece of dark wood and aimed it at the door.

“Alohomora.” There was a brief click and the door opened slightly. Despite his dour mood, the teen smiled to himself and pushed the door open. He took the stairs two at a time and ran into his room, shutting the door and throwing his bag atop his bed. He stepped over the piles of clothes on the floor and plopped down in the seat beside his desk. He looked about the room without really seeing it. The worst thing had happened and he didn’t know what to do.

It was a typical teenager’s room. It wasn’t tidy, looking more like a tornado had sprinted through and deposited all of his worldly possessions about the area. The walls were dark blue with posters of various pop culture icons of the day strung all about. From the outside, Gardner Fox was no different from any other adolescent that one might see anywhere. Gardner was different. He’d found out when he was ten that he was a wizard. His father had died a few years after he’d been born, leaving his brother and he alone with his muggle mother. She didn’t speak much about his father, and she remarried rather quickly, to a man who had no idea about magic and was never told about how special Gardner was.

At first, it was small things. A locked door would open as if of its own volition, or a pathway would clear out on a cold, snowy day. Objects seemed to fall from their places on shelves when he looked at them. After a while, he found that these were not random events, but that he could control them. He thought he was special, that he was different, and for a long time, he kept his ability to himself. Then one day, his mother caught him making a dish fly through the kitchen from the table to a sink. She gasped and pulled him by the ear to his room.

“I don’t ever want to see you do that again, you hear me? I’ll put you out, I will.” Her face was almost nose to nose with his. The fear in her eyes only compounded his own fear.

“B-but Mum, why?” He blurted out. “Am I a bad boy?”

Her face softened. “No, baby. Your father, your real father, was…” She paused, collecting herself. “He was a wizard. You might be one too, but being a wizard is what got him killed and I don’t want that to happen to you.”

She sighed and touched the top of his head. “I didn’t know much about your father, but he was something called a Deatheater. He was an evil, evil man. He was killed by other wizards and I decided to take you and your brother away from that world.”

“Samuel is a wizard too?” He asked, somewhat non-plussed at the thought that he wasn’t unique, that he wasn’t special.

“No baby, at least I don’t think so.” Her voice dropped, almost to a whisper. “You must never let anyone know that you are a wizard. I don’t want what happened to your father to happen to you. Do you promise?”

He thought for a moment, still slightly annoyed at her, but she was his mother. “I promise, Mum.” He meant it too. He kept his promise, right up until the day she died.

***

He had just turned thirteen when a sudden illness took his mother from him, leaving him and his brother alone with their step father, Cameron Fox. Cameron wasn’t a bad man and he was genuinely heartbroken when the boys’ mother died. He was a construction foreman, whose work often forced him to be away from the house for weeks at a time, leaving Gardner to care for his younger brother. At his mother’s funeral, he nodded to his step father and walked off. There was a driving rainstorm, yet somehow, just by thinking he managed to keep the water from touching him. He smiled a brief apology to his now dead mother and decided that he wanted to continue being special. He turned a corner and nearly ran into a man standing on the corner of the sidewalk.

“Sorry, sir.” Gardner mumbled. As he tried to walk around the man, he found his path blocked. The man had sidestepped in front of him. Gardner studied the man closely. He had a pockmarked face and his shoulders had a slight stoop. He smiled down at Gardner, but there was no mirth, only menace.

“You look like your father.” The man’s voice was surprisingly smooth, cultured. He sounded important, like the headmaster of his school. Gardner shook his head.

“I’m sorry sir, but I’m adopted.” Gardner said weakly, but somehow he knew who the man meant.

The man chuckled. “I’m talking about your real father. He was a friend of mine.”

Gardner paused. His mother said his father was an evil man. Was this man evil? Yet an overriding curiosity struck him. Gardner drew in a breath. “You are a Death eater, right?”

“I see your mother told some of the story.” His eyebrow arched. “Of course, I’m very sorry for you loss. It was very tragic the way she died.” The man did not sound like he was sorry.

“What do you want?” Among other things, the man was beginning to bore Gardner.

“I want nothing from you. My name is Augustus Rookwood and I’ve come to pay my respects.” He reached into the folds of his jacket. “I also wanted to give you this. It belonged to your father.” He held out a long, thin stick made of dark wood. It was tapered at the end with an intricately carved handle, a skull protruding at the end.

“Go ahead, take it. It was your father’s wand. Let’s see if it chooses you.” Despite his mother’s warnings, despite his misgivings, something inside him compelled him to reach out. He grasped the wand by the handle and felt a tingle run up his arm. A sheen of blue light echoed from the tip of the wand and streamed across his body, bathing him in warmth. Rookwood smiled. “The wand has selected you. Well done. You passed.”

“Passed what?” Gardner asked, still reveling in the warmth.

“Passed your first test as a wizard. You do want to be a wizard, don’t you?” Gardner simply nodded. There was no hesitation, no reluctance. The feeling of raw power seemed to satisfy a nagging hunger in his belly and he took to it rapidly.

Rookwood shook his head from side to side. “You’re a bit too old to start at Hogwarts, so I suppose I’ll have to train you myself. Would you like that?”

Again, Gardner nodded. Rookwood pulled a weather beaten book out of his pocket and handed it to Gardner. It was small, with faded yellow pages and a torn leather cover. The faintest hint of black lettering outlined the title.

“The Mysteries of the Dark Lord: A Manifesto from Lord Voldemort”

Gardner looked up. “Who’s Lord Voldemort?”

Rookwood sighed. “He was…rather, he is a great man. Read up, young Fox and I will be back to start your lessons.” He held up a finger of warning. “Tell no one about this. Show no one what you can do. Do not try to practice magic without my supervision. The Ministry will find out if you do.”

“The Ministry?”

Rookwood laughed. “All in good time, my boy. Now run along.” Like that, he disappeared in a flash of green smoke. Gardner gripped his wand and book and ran home.

***

Gardner held his head in his hands and let loose a groan. He reached into his backpack. He withdrew a tattered newspaper and unfolded it. He spread it out on his lap and took in the large blaring headline, that literally scrolled across the page.

“VOLDEMORT DEAD!!! POTTER TRIUMPHANT!!!”

He read further down the fold and saw the list of the dead. His mentor, Rookwood, wasn’t on the list, but he had been taken into custody. Over the past few years, Gardner became more and more tied into the mythology that was Voldemort. He believed in the Dark Lord and that had all been wiped away. It had been wiped away by someone not much older than him.

There was a loud bang, announcing the arrival of his younger brother. He could picture Samuel’s progress through the house from the noise. There was the thump of his bag being dropped by the door. There was the clatter of glass and dishware in the kitchen as he grabbed a snack. There was the steady thump of his feet as he came up the steps. Finally, there was the creak of the door as Samuel tucked his head inside Gardner’s door.

Samuel immediately realized that something was wrong. “What’s up? What happened?”

“Voldemort is dead.” Gardner shared everything with Samuel.

“What? How’d that happen? What’s going on?”

Gardner handed the paper to his brother who scanned the headline. Samuel shook his head. “What kind of name is Harry Potter? Sounds plain.”

Despite his sadness, Gardner laughed. Samuel had a way about him that eased his fears.

“He was good enough to beat Voldemort and the Death eaters.” Gardner said. Samuel nodded.

“So where does that leave us? What about your studies?” Samuel asked finally.

Gardner sighed. “I was pretty much done with the basic stuff. I learned one very important thing.”

“What’s that?” Samuel asked.

“I’m nowhere near ready. I need to learn more. I need to practice. I need to prepare.” Gardner said.

“Prepare for what?” Samuel asked.

“Prepare to avenge the Dark Lord.” Gardner said grimly, tossing the newspaper to the floor, the face of Harry James Potter looking out from the copy.

***

***Present Day***

The Cleopatra wound its way slowly down the river, the personal dramas of the passengers very much on Harry’s mind. The rest of the passengers were tied in some way to the major players of the drama: Linnet and Simon Doyle. There were agents and victims of her company. There were people with all kind crises related to the couple. It seemed to Harry, the plot to a very cheesy murder mystery dinner theater experience. Poirot and Race were the real mysteries. Strange and proper, yet very aloof, the two men seemed to be observing the Potters and Weasleys as much as they were observing the others on the cruise. Still, there was an underlying tension that Harry could not quite place his finger on. Harry stood on the veranda outside his cabin and sipped his drink. The Nile was smooth and glassy and the evening was cool. Thunderheads gathered in the distance, a cacophony of light and sound rumbling towards them.

Harry stood lost in thought until he felt the warmth of her hands reach across his back and shoulders. He opened his arms, making room for Ginny to nestle beside him. Together, husband and wife looked out across the desolate landscape of the southern Nile basin.

“Penny for your thoughts?” She asked softly. He chuckled and reached down and kissed her gently on the forehead.

“Oh, just thinking about all these strange people. Muggles can be quite entertaining.” He rubbed her shoulder softly. “What about you?”

“James.” She said, her voice very low.

He nodded. “James is fine, Ginny.”

“He’s never been away from home this long. I miss him.” Harry had never seen his wife this vulnerable. It was a bit disconcerting.

He turned and grasped her at the shoulders, his green eyes piercing the dusky evening and holding her eyes in check. “James is fine, Ginny. He’s not alone. He’s got Teddy and Neville and Kingsley and everyone else. No student has ever had the support that he’s had going to Hogwarts.” He lowered his hands down to hers, pulling her towards him. “We’re on vacation, Ginny. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since we’ve been alone. Let’s enjoy it, okay?” She smiled as he led her into their cabin. He returned the smile and chuckled. “James is as safe as anyone can be. I bet he’s have a lot of fun, right about now.”

***

“This is not fun. What is that thing?” James trailed behind Richard as the two ran down one of the side passages leading from the cavern.

Richard pointed his wand behind them and let fly a blasting charm that knocked bits of rock and dust down from the tunnel entrance. “I don’t know and as big as it is, that won’t hold him long.”

As if answering Richard’s prediction, the tunnel was filled with a guttural roar followed by the sound rocks being blown aside. James felt a tendril of heat slip past him.

“Well, it breathes fire too.” James quipped. Richard nodded and continued running. James dared not look back and kept on the older boy’s heels. “Where does this go, anyway?”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea and right now I don’t care. I’ll run to London if I have to.” Richard turned into a sharp hairpin and continued. The tunnel continued to slope downward. “Why do you care, anyway?”

James grunted. “I was just thinking.”

“Yes?”

“What if we run out of tunnel?” At that moment, they came to a stop. The tunnel ended in a small round room, with no discernible exits. Richard looked at James sharply.

“What? It’s not my fault!” James held his hands out. Richard snorted.

“Draw your wand already, James. It looks like we’re about to see what this thing is, after all.” James pulled out his wand and stood next Richard. Up the tunnel, there was a spout of fire and light at the hairpin, followed by a loud, raspy roar. They were about to find out, indeed.

***A/N: Finally figured out where I want to go with this. Whew. I haven't done much original character development in a while. It's fun playing with historical characters, but I'm partial to the villains I make up. You guys are going to like this one.

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  #335  
Old March 26th, 2010, 12:36 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 336 – Continuing Education

***Five Years After the Battle of Hogwarts***

Heathrow Airport held a steady thrum of noise over top of the masses of people scurrying to get to their planes or trying to navigate the myriad of baggage carousels. Samuel Fox hovered with the others waiting to greet arriving passengers outside the international arrivals terminal. Just turned twenty, Samuel was tall, with pale skin, dark black hair and an angular nose. Standing outside, he held a smoldering cigarette in his mouth and his hands were in his jacket pocket as protection from the cold. Soon enough, he saw the familiar figure of his brother, brushing past the customs agent and walking out the automatic double doors. His older brother, Gardner, seemed older, his frame more erect, his shoulders broader, but it wasn’t the physical change that Samuel noticed as much as the change in demeanor. When Gardner had left four years ago, Samuel had fought it. It wasn’t that he didn’t like his step father, it was that he saw himself and his brother part of a greater whole. Samuel wanted to be in Gardner’s world, and their step father didn’t fit in.

Of course, when his step father died of a massive coronary last week, he immediately contacted his brother. The method still intrigued him. He wrote a brief note on a piece of ancient parchment, rolled it up and then rang a bell. Before long, an owl, a real, honest to goodness owl, had landed on his ledge and he placed the message in the container affixed to the owl’s leg. Soon, the owl returned with Gardner’s return itinerary. When Samuel saw it, his eyebrows raised. First, why wasn’t his brother “whooshing” back like he’d learned to do from old Rookwood? Secondly, the ticket showed a return flight originating in Phoenix Arizona. What his brother doing in the United States? Despite the questions nagging him, Samuel felt a warm sense of steadiness as his older sibling waved in greeting. The two brothers embraced and Samuel smiled.

“You really should be careful about that. You know how they frown on passengers with such a small amount of luggage on international flights.” Samuel pointed to the small, worn leather satchel over his brother’s shoulder. “I’m surprised customs didn’t give you more of a once over.”

Gardner grinned slyly and shrugged his shoulders. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a problem.”

“Why’s that?” Samuel asked.

“Let’s just say that muggles are so easy to influence.”

Samuel shook his head. “Using the Jedi mind trick, are you?”

The brothers shared a laugh and walked towards the parking garage.

***

“They held the funeral a couple of days ago.” Samuel said as they sat at the kitchen table of their family home.

“I’m sorry I missed it.” Gardner responded.

“Why didn’t you just teleport over here? You didn’t have to miss it.” Samuel’s tone wasn’t accusatory and Gardner didn’t take it that way.

“I couldn’t take the chance. I have no idea how much the Ministry is tracking things and from what I’ve read, Potter and his allies are knee deep in running things over there.” He watched his brother nod.

“I saw that. I also saw they locked up the rest of the Death eaters. It looks like you’re the last of them.” Gardner shrugged.

“I don’t know about all that. Death eaters were his followers.” He held up his hands to the curious expression on Samuel’s face. “Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in what the Dark Lord sought to bring. I believe in the cause our father fought for, but that era is done. It’s gone. It should be wiped away from memory, all of it.”

Samuel studied his brother’s impassioned face. “What happened over there? Where have you been all this time?”

Gardner undid the clasp on his jacket and took it off. Slowly, he pulled his worn tee shirt off his chest, revealing a heavily tattooed and scarred chest. His skin was bronzed, like a piece of leather, but the carnage around his torso made Samuel cringe.

“What the heck happened to you?” Surprisingly, Samuel seemed more interested than shocked or dismayed.

“I’ve been training, learning new forms of the dark arts, planning what I want to do and figuring out how to do it.” Gardner seemed lost in a trance, his voice monotone. “I met a shaman who had been cast out from his tribe.” Gardner chuckled. “Believe it or not, it was an old medicine man named Frank Sinatra who exiled him because he was following the dark path. Anyway, this shaman had actually met the Dark Lord, way back when he was first turned down for some position at the Hogwarts school. So, basically, it was as close as I could get of actually learning from the Dark Lord himself.”

Samuel nodded, still marveling at the destruction on his brother’s body. “So, what did you learn?”

“Lots of things, but basically, I learned one main thing.” Gardner said.

“What’s that?” Samuel asked.

“I am a very good wizard. I’m far above most in ability, probably better than any, if I get experience.”

Samuel laughed. “Always the modest one, aren’t you?” Gardner didn’t react. “So, where will you get this experience? Are you going back to see this shaman again?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Gardner said quietly.

“Why not? You said you learned a lot from this guy. Why not learn more?” Samuel asked.

“Because he’s dead. I killed him.” He saw his brother’s confusion. “He didn’t have anything more to teach me and I couldn’t very well have someone around that knew what I’d been learning. Besides, it was like a final exam, which by killing him, meant I passed.”

This time Samuel was taken aback. His brother had been so casual, so nonchalant about taking someone’s life. He felt numb with a slight edge of fear creeping in. Gardner took a sip of his drink and continued as if he hadn’t confessed to murder.

“So, you’re finished university.” Samuel nodded. “Good, because I think you should consider going to a good business school. It’ll come in handy for what I want to do.”

They continued talking through the night.

***Present Day***

Richard and James peered down the hall. The older boy doused the light at the end of his wand and watched down the passage as tendrils of flame heated the rock walls to a bright red sheen. The creature rounded the hairpin turn, its eyes glancing back and forth for some sign of them. It had four legs, its muscles bursting from beneath a thick coat of reddish brown fur. It had powerful forelegs, much like a bulldog, with the face of a bear. Even on all fours, it was tall, almost eight feet tall and it growled imposingly, streaks of flame dripping from its teeth.

As it made its way down the tunnel, Richard looked about the room they were in, trying to find a way out. James peered meekly down the hallway, his eyes wide. There had been four of them, large bears that came in the lake front entrance of the cavern. The Marauders had been keeping vigil for most of the night. Hagrid had gone home to his hut with a warning for them to keep out of trouble. Most of them had fallen asleep, but James was too wound up to sleep and Richard had been too afraid of dust mites to lay down on the cavern floor. They had been at the entrance of one of the many side tunnels to the cavern when the deafening growling took them by surprise. Richard had been quick on the draw, sending a spell towards the intruders while James screamed out to the others. The creatures moved with amazing speed. The spell simply bounced off the animal’s thick hide, making it mad. In return, the first spout of flame from one of the bears almost singed the hair off James if Richard hadn’t pulled him by the robe and flung him down the side tunnel. Together, they ran as fast as their legs could take them, hoping the passage led somewhere. Unfortunately, it led to a dead end.

“It’s almost here Richard!” James shouted, but Richard was busily studying a place on the far wall that seemed damp. James grunted and aimed his wand at the top of the tunnel.

“Redacto!” There was a blinding flash and the roof came down in a sea of rubble and stone. James turned to Richard. “That won’t hold him much longer.”

Richard turned and nodded. “Can you swim?”

James stared at the wall and back at Richard. “Oh no, you wouldn’t, I mean we don’t even know how far we have to go…”

Richard cut him off. “Look it’s either that, or you become bear flambé.” James nodded and started taking in deep breaths. The debris pile in the tunnel was already turning bright red. Richard aimed his wand at the seam where the wall met the ceiling. His blast charm brought a torrent of frothy, cold water from the Great Lake into the cavern.

James felt the immediate chill from the water and lost sight of Richard in the darkness of the murky depths. He pulled his arms to his side, swimming upward, following the bubbles from the explosion. He reached upward, and upward, not seeing a sign of the surface. His eyes were growing darker, his need to breath more frantic. There was no sign of Richard and no way of knowing if he was close. He pulled for all his might until he finally broke the surface of the lake. He gasped for air and then shook with fright as the water broke near him, but it was only Richard. The pair swam to the shore and collapsed on the dewy grass of the front lawn.

“Do you think it followed us?” James huffed.

“I don’t know.”

James looked back at the water. “Do you think the others made it?”

Richard looked at him heavily. “I don’t know.”

***

Out of habit, Ron and Harry rose early, just before dawn and scuffled out to aft deck. Normally, they’d get a good magical workout in, but given that they were around muggles, they kept things to a standard set of pushups and sit ups. They finished, flush with the exertion and sat at one of the tables as a porter brought them fresh squeezed orange juice. The sun was just cresting the far horizon and Ron smiled.

“This is fun, eh Harry?” Ron reached for a pastry on the center of the table. Harry just nodded. Ron continued with a mouthful of sweets. “Of course, I have no idea where we’re going. It isn’t even a desert out there.” His hand swept the bank of the Nile. There was lush vegetation and tall trees.

Harry smiled. “We’re going to the upper Nile, in the jungle. It’s more a safari than a caravan excursion.”

“Oh.” At that moment, Hermione and Ginny walked up. Ron stood up and grunted at Hermione. “Me Tarzan, you Jane.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You gorilla and me need coffee.”

The friends sat together. Poirot and Race joined them on deck and took a table near by. Harry was about to greet them when a loud, piercing scream echoed through the boat. By instinct, Harry and Ron leapt up and ran to the source of the sound. They shuffled to the door of one of the cabins. The interior was a wreck. The dressers were cast about and clothing lay all over. A maid stood near the door and Harry and Ron had edge her aside to move in.

On the floor, near one of the vanities, Linnett Ridgeway Doyle lay motionless, her eyes staring blankly at no one. Her skin was pale, but there was no obvious sign of injury. Their attention was drawn by a low groan. Simon Doyle crawled from the far side of the bed, his head bloody and dragging an obviously broken leg. The sight of his wife caused him to go into a frenzy of screaming. Harry held him back from throwing himself on the body.

Yawar Shah entered the cabin and the pointed to one of the porters. “Clear this room and get the captain. Mrs. Doyle has been murdered.”

Harry and Ron pushed out of the room. They passed Poirot and Race in the corridor and continued walking. When they were out of ear shot, Ron leaned in. “You know how she died, don’t you Harry?”

Harry nodded. “That was a killing curse.” He looked up and down the passageway. “There’s another wizard on this boat and they have committed murder.”


***A/N: Slowly but surely, we'll bring things together. I'm trying to develop the villain here, and to tie him back to some other events we've been through. It takes some researching of my own fanfic! Arrrgghhh. Anyway...bon apetit.

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  #336  
Old April 12th, 2010, 6:12 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Fellow COS'ers...I'd like to thank everyone for your patience. As I indicated earlier, I've been struggling with some personal issues that have taken away from my writing. Things seem to be settling down and I'm hoping to keep this thread going. I'm very sorry for the delay.



Chapter 338 – Old Enemies

***Ten Years after the Battle of Hogwarts

Gardner felt uncomfortable in the muggle suit, nevertheless, he accepted the need for it in order to keep up appearances. His research and preparation was going well and he was especially proud of what Samuel had been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. Gardner walked into the lobby of the large office building and walked past the guard station with relative ease. With typical efficiency, Samuel had prepared the guards for his arrival. He walked past the main bank of lifts and walked around the corner of the granite-encased corridor and approached a non-descript elevator located at the end. The doors slid open as he approached and spindly old man replete in a doorman’s uniform stood at the button panel within.

The panel only had two buttons, one labeled “L” for lobby and the other labeled “P”, which Gardner assumed stood for penthouse, his destination. The operator didn’t look at him, merely depressing the “P” button and then grabbing onto a nearby handle. Before Gardner could fully comprehend his actions, the lift shot upward, nearly knocking him down just before he gripped a handle of his own. The building was over eighty stories high, overlooking the heart of London’s historical district. It was a testament to the power of the company that the building could even be erected in this location. With a couple of minutes, he felt the acceleration diminish and eventually the lift came to a halt. The doors slid open and Gardner stepped out of the lift without a look to the operator.

Like the lobby below, the reception area of the penthouse was vastly ornate, gilded in gold and ivory and trimmed with fine Italian marble. There was a large reception desk trimmed in mahogany in the center of the room with a remarkably beautiful woman sitting behind it. She smiled at him and despite his aloofness, he felt the pull of attraction towards her beauty, which, in retrospect, had been the intent after all.

“Please, go right in, Mr. Fox, he’s expecting you.” The lyrical quality of her voice matched her external beauty. Afraid of making a fool of himself, he simply nodded and walked through a pair of large double doors that led into a rather large office with a sweeping view of the city below. The doors closed behind him and he chuckled to himself.

“What’s so funny?” Gardner turned and found his brother ensconced behind a large desk. Like Gardner, Samuel wore a suit, but his jacket was hanging on a hooked rack behind the desk. The shirt sleeves of Samuel’s custom tailored shirt were rolled up and he was busily keying on a laptop that sat next to a bank of computer and television monitors arrayed on his desk.

“Look at you, my little brother, now the big CEO.” Gardner plopped himself down in a chair across from Samuel’s desk. He crossed his legs and spread his arms outward. “Who’d have thought we could get this far, so soon?”

Samuel shrugged. “It doesn’t seem easy. This is a lot of work.”

“You’re not quitting on me, are you?”

Samuel picked up a paperclip and threw at his brother, playfully. “You know better than that.”

Gardner studied his brother’s face and then exhaled. “So, where are we? What’s our status?”

Samuel leaned back in his comfortable chair and scratched his head. “Well, when Simon Clark disappeared, his company was in considerable disarray. Taking over Clark Industries was easy enough, but running it has been difficult. Clark put a lot funds into his crusade.”

Gardner nodded. Taking over the Clark Industries had been his brother’s brainchild, especially after Clark’s attempt to kidnap Harry Potter had gone awry. Still, the overall plan required the power and the funds that the company provided, not to mention the hidden cadre of muggles who knew how to handle wizards.

“What’s next, little brother?”

Samuel stood and stared out the window. “Well, we certainly can’t act as Clark Industries. Potter would immediately be suspicious. We need to mask this company and what we’re doing.”

“What would you recommend?” Gardner knew his brother wouldn’t bring something up if he didn’t have a solution.

“Well, we merge with another company and adopt its name.” Samuel could see that Gardner knew he had one in mind. “Yes, I do have someone in mind and I have a plan on how to remain completely hidden from sight.”

“Really? I thought I was the wizard of the family.” Gardner chuckled. “How do you propose to do that?”

This time Samuel grinned widely. “Funny you should use the word ‘propose’, since this whole idea involves a wedding.” It was rare that Samuel surprised his brother. He reveled in the small victory and nodded his head. “That’s right, I’m getting married.”

***Present day

James and Richard pulled themselves to their feet and shook off beads of water from their excursion into the coldness of the Great Lake. Full darkness had descended upon the castle and the twinkling of stars in the sky made the scene deceptively idyllic. After a moment, the spot in the lake they’d just exited began to eddy and swirl, with frothy bubbles slowly effervescing to the surface. James stared wide eyed at the surface as the lake, barely feeling Richard’s grip on his sleeve.

“We’ve got to go.” Richard mumbled, dragging James behind him. “We’ve got to go now.” James turned and ran with Richard just as the billowy head of the creature that had pursued them in the tunnel broke the surface of the lake, its growls echoing in the night. James fell in beside Richard, the two running at full speed towards the beckoning castle gates.

James risked a quick look back and was rewarded with the startling vision of the “bear” barreling down at full speed on them. It had already closed the distance and was gaining. Spurred on by the specter of the rapidly approaching creature, James felt himself quickening his pace. The gates of the school seemed frighteningly far away and after careful consideration, James came to an ominous realization.

“We’re not going to make it.” He shouted.

Richard kept running. “We have to try. Come on!”

James was right. The two students could feel the air growing hotter as the creature breathed fire in their direction. Richard contemplated turning and fighting, but realized the futility of such an act. Despite the dire consequences, he reached back for James’ sleeve and dragged the boy along with him. It was inevitable that the breakneck pace would fall victim to a mishap. James’ foot caught on a tuft of lawn bringing both boys down in a crashing heap and ending any hope that they’d make the safety of the castle. The creature roared in triumph behind them.

***

The Cleopatra rode at anchor along a steep part of the Nile riverbank. Dark splotches of red and brown from the heavily silted waters stained its otherwise pristine white hull. The water was calm, not giving any hint of the panicked turmoil on board. The open veranda was full to capacity, with both passengers and crew crammed into the open space. At the center of them all, stood Hercule Poirot, twirling his waxed mustache as he studied the crowd once more.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the captain,” Poirot nodded towards a portly man seated on a settee next to a standing Yawar Shah. “The captain has asked me to conduct an investigation into the murder of the late Mrs. Doyle.”

“Wait a minute, Poirot, how do you know it was murder?” A tall man in an ill fitting seersucker suit grumbled.

“Monsieur Grant, is it? You were Madame Doyle’s chief of staff, yes?” The man stared at Poirot in surprise and nodded his head.

“Well, yes. What I was saying is how do you know it was murder? There wasn’t a scratch on her. How do you know she didn’t just keel over from a sudden heart attack.” Grant sat back and studied Poirot triumphantly.

Poirot merely shrugged and pointed on of his overly fingers at this head. “My little gray cells tell me that we have a murder. There are things that I will make everyone aware of that will confirm my theory.” Harry shifted uncomfortably as Poirot’s black eyes seemed to single him out.

“So why wait here? Why not pull into a port and let the authorities handle it?” Jaqueline de Bellefort’s voice seemed to shake. It was meek, barely heard.

Poirot nodded sagely. “But of course, that would be a consideration.” The captain was visibly perspiring at that. Poirot ignored him. “That would make it easy for the killer, or killers to escape into a city before the police can be engaged. Out here, the killer has no where to go.”

“Why not simply jump over the side?” Ron asked blithely.

This time, it was Colonel Race who cleared his throat. He walked over to a snack table and picked up a sizeable piece of roast beef and tossed it over the rail, into the Nile. There was flurry of gnashing teeth and growling. The passengers peered over the side and saw hundreds of crocodiles floating in the water, like so many logs.

Ron cringed and then nodded. Race turned and bowed towards Poirot. The diminutive Belgian cleared his throat.

“Now, let me address Monsieur Grant’s objection.” Again, Poirot’s eyes seemed to linger on the Potters and Weasleys. “In order to understand why Madame Doyle’s death was murder, I must ask you to forget what you think you know about the world as you know it.” Poirot reached into his inside pocket and drew a large ruby from his breast pocket. He raised it above his head, the sun above catching the facets and sending an eerie red glow around the room. With a sudden quick movement, he threw the ruby onto the ground. Amazingly, it shattered into thousands of pieces. The room was bathed in a mixture of warm red light and crimson smoke.

As the tendrils of smoke touched him, Harry felt his throat constrict. He tried to move his hands to his neck, but his body was locked still, paralyzed. The smoke drew tears from his eyes. In a panic, he caught sight of Ginny in his peripheral vision. She seemed to be similarly handicapped by the smoke. Harry turned his eyes towards Poirot.

The detective seemed to be genuinely contrite and sad. He shook his head from side to side in sorrow.

“I am sorry. Truly, I am sorry.” Poirot walked over and checked Ron, Harry, Ginny and Hermione one at a time. “This is necessary, I’m afraid.”

The diminutive man snapped his fingers and several sailors walked up and picked up the frozen quartet and carried them down to an empty cabin with a large oaken door. The door had a small, barred window in the center. Poirot looked inside and shook his head.

“The paralysis will subside in an hour or so, but make no mistake, you are all my prisoners, and you will answer for your crimes.”


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  #337  
Old June 22nd, 2010, 4:29 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Hello everyone...let me start out by apologizing for my absence. All I can say is that I've been going through some very bad personal problems and hopefully, things are getting better. I've missed the story very much and I think I've let you all down. I hope that I can regain your interest and so, I've tried to keep it going.

This next installment picks up where we left off, but does NOT require a reread. I'm kind of rebooting the reboot.

Thanks to all who wrote me on my FB page. I truly appreciate it. So, let's see how this goes, okay?


Chapter 339 – Seems like old times…

Light. For the moment, all he could see was an omnipresent bright white light. He shut his eyes, but the light bore through his lids and straight into his head, very much like a dagger into the skull. The pain was unbearable and yet, not completely debilitating. He felt his mouth move, as if to moan, yet no noise came from his vocal chords. All he was aware of was the blinding light and the pain in his head. He took a deep breath and fought back the panic bubbling up from his chest. He couldn’t feel his body. He sent a mental command to his hands to clench its fists, yet nothing happened. He didn’t feel paralyzed. His limbs weren’t ignoring his orders, he could not feel his extremities at all. The last thing he remembered was falling on the lawn at Hogwarts. The beasts were almost on him and Richard. He knew they were doomed. He knew that he’d lost and that he was about to die.

In his mind, the shock of that thought momentarily overcame the pain. “Am I dead?” He thought, or did he speak? He could not be sure.

“Most assuredly, you are not dead, James Potter.” The voice in the background echoed in this skull with a ruthless glee. It reverberated amid the echoing pain in his cranium and sent a fresh stab of agony down his spine. At least he had a spine, that was something, he thought in an offhanded way. Then the voice spoke once more.

“You’re not dead, but soon, you’ll wish you were.” Once more, the light flared and then, mercifully, he passed out.

***

The first feeling he had was in his finger tips. It was like a bolt of lightning hammered through his fingernails and into his arm. Harry winced and clasped his hands together, rubbing them to get the blood flowing. He was in a cell. The walls were dark gray stone glistening with moisture, putting him somewhere underground and near a river. He shivered as a cool breeze wafted through the barred door and touched his slowly recovering senses. The last thing he’d remembered was the paralysis and Poirot’s apology. He took a tentative step from the wall and stumbled, his legs having not quite gotten all of their feeling back. He steadied himself and then walked slowly to the door. He leaned his head against the rails and peered in both directions. He was in a prison or dungeon of some sort. There was no sign of Ginny or Ron or Hermione. The adjacent cell doors he could see were all dark. He called out.

“Hello?” His voice echoed through the passage, and reverberated back without a reply. “Ginny?” His tone was even, controlled, no sign of the increasing anxiety he felt. After a few moments, he realized he was alone. He’d been on the ship and now he wasn’t. He had no idea what was happening, or why. He ran a finger along the seam of one the stone walls.

He was still in his clothes from that morning. From the rumble in his stomach, it must be at least be a day later or longer since that grisly discovery of Linnet Doyle’s body. To a wizard, a day meant that he could be thousands of miles from the little steamer on the Nile. He tapped his pockets and sighed. His wand had been taken. No matter. He extended his right hand towards the door. It was time to get out. It was time to get answers.

“Redacto!” Instead of the door blasting outward, he felt a ripple of pain shoot up from his palm and into his chest. It was as if the charm had been bounced back into his body. He was propelled back into the far wall, the air forced from his lungs from the impact. He fell bodily to the floor in a heap and shook his head, cursing himself. Poirot or whoever he’d been working for certainly knew magic and wizards. They’d know he’d have tried wandless magic. Obviously this cell had counter magic spells, powerful ones, not unlike the ones Harry himself had installed at Azkaban prison. He was stuck right where he was, until his adversary made the next move. He stood up from the floor and walked to the rickety cot along one of the walls. He pressed down on the moldy mattress, testing its strength and then sat down with his back against the wall, facing the door. There was nothing he could do, but wait.

***

The next time James opened his eyes, the painful, glaring white light was gone. He could feel his body, and knew right away he was bound in some manner. His head was rigid, facing straight ahead, but his eyes could finally move in their sockets. He peered around. He was in a tiled, white room that reminded him of a patient’s ward at St. Mungo’s. It had an antiseptic smell, and he sighed inwardly, finally realizing that he had regained control of another of his senses, that of smell. He heard a steady, low hum that didn’t seem to be coming from the bright fluorescent lights overhead. He peered down. He was upright, against a wall with bands of red light wrapped around his body. They seemed to be keeping him held up against the wall. A familiar voice spoke up, just out of eyesight.

“Is anyone there?” It was Richard.

Relief bounded through James’ head. “Richard? It’s me, James. I can’t move.”

“Neither can I.” James could hear the relief in the older boy’s voice. Richard grunted. “I’m bound by something. You?”

“Same here. The last thing I remember was stumbling on the lawn with those things chasing us and then poof, nothing.” James tested his bonds, but his arm wouldn’t move. “Whoever has us seems pretty put out. I think he’s been here recently.” James shuddered remembering the pain of the meeting with the mysterious voice.

“I don’t remember.” Richard admitted. “There’s nothing we can do, it seems, but wait and see who our jailor is and what he wants.”

James would have nodded if his head could move, but he agreed with Richard. At least, he felt finally, he wasn’t alone and that made all the difference in the world. He hoped.

***

“Blast him!” Samuel Fox threw a chair across the room where it smashed against the wall.

Gardner smiled and chuckled. “Now, now brother, it’s not a total loss. We’ve got the son and the wife as well as the best friend and the brother-in-law. We are making progress.”

“But Potter got away. I had him and he got away.” Samuel settled in to large chair and adjusted his tie. A fleeting darkness passed over his brother’s face and disappeared before Samuel could notice.

“Tell me again, what happened?” Gardner asked quietly.

Samuel rolled his eyes in exasperation, and then nodded. “I gave Linnet the cameo. When she opened it, the curse struck her and I pocketed the chain and cameo.” He paused and then continued. “She truly looked like she’d been struck by the killing curse, brother. It fooled Potter, that’s for sure.”

Gardner nodded. That much had been planned. Samuel had taken on the guise of a man named Simon Doyle. He’d gotten close to Linnet Ridgeway and they’d married. That, in effect, merged Clark Industries and Ridgeway Industries into one company, effectively hiding their takeover of Potter’s old muggle nemesis. After a bit of bribery and a lot of planning, they’d discovered that Poirot and Colonel Race, while not wizards themselves, were agents of the International Confederation of Wizards’ Muggle Separation Unit. That unit gave muggles and wizards special tools to enforce the Muggle Magic Ban. Ostensibly, it allowed the Confederation to enforce the proscription of the use of magic in the presence of magic. The plan had been to frame Harry Potter with the murder of Linnet Doyle. If anyone had doubted the motive, then the next step would have been to release the Clark Industries connection to Linnet Doyle, which would have raised even more doubt in the Confederation. It should have worked.

Gardner turned his eyes back to his brother. Samuel rubbed his temples and continued. “Everything was going according to plan. Poirot had some sort of relic which incapacitated Potter and his people. It should have been easy for Poirot to summon Enforcers from the Confederation.”

“But?” Gardner prodded.

Samuel nodded. “But no Enforcers came. Poirot seemed convinced that something else was going on.” Samuel shook his head. “He was convinced that Potter was innocent and insisted on conducting his own investigation, to root out the culprit.” Gardner simply raised and eyebrow and motioned for his brother to continue. “I raised a stink with the man. I insisted as far as I could without admitting that I knew about magic, but he didn’t budge.”

“That’s when you summoned the Dark Militia?” Gardner asked.

Samuel nodded. “I figured without the Confederation stepping in, than we’d have to go to our backup plan.” Gardner seemed to agree. “I brought them in. When they attacked, it was ruthless and unexpected. Most of the witnesses were killed in the first pass. They got Race right away. Somehow, Poirot and Potter disappeared.”

“But you got Potter’s wife and the Weasleys, correct?” Gardner asked.

“Yes. Jacqueline and I secured them and the Militia brought them to the fortress.” Samuel mumbled. “But Potter got away.”

Gardner smiled. “It’s no matter.”

“But the idea was to get back at Potter, to make him suffer.” Samuel moaned.

Gardner shook his head. “That is the idea. In fact, with the people that he loves most in our hands, maybe we can make him suffer even more than if we’d captured him.” Gardner felt a flush of excitement. “In fact I’m sure of it. Harry Potter will suffer and then when it hurts the most, we will take away everything he holds dear and make him hurt even more.” There was no maniacal laughter, just a thin, small, knowing smile.

***

He must have dozed off. He’d felt no passage of time, but from the small trickle of light flowing from the passage, Harry could tell he’d been sitting for quite a while. The only sound was the slow drip of water running down the walls of his prison. He started, his eyes flying open. There had been the rattle of a door at the far end of the hall and the staccato beat of footsteps approaching. Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on the sounds. The footsteps were close together with a slight scraping on one beat. He tensed up as he heard the grating sound of the cell door open. Without opening his eyes, Harry tensed.

“Hello Monsieur Poirot.” Harry opened his eyes and studied his visitor. Hercule Poirot seemed completely out of sorts. His normally perfect clothing was in disarray, with bits of seams torn and soiled. His hair was disheveled and his waxed mustache was splayed and singed across his cheek. His beady black eyes were bloodshot and his collar was unbuttoned at the top. He looked positively out of character. His appearance took Harry by surprise. The small Belgian shrugged his shoulders.

“Please, come with me, Monsieur Potter.” Poirot extended his arm and pointed to the hall. “Please.”

Harry sighed and heaved himself up. He proceeded Poirot into the passage and stared at the diminutive detective. “Who are you, really?”

Poirot smiled. “In public, I am an Enforcer for the International Confederation of Wizards.”

“In public? I know about the Enforcers. I’d have had my day in court by now, not be locked up in some dank dungeon. Who are you in private?” Harry asked, his voice getting more and more edgy.

Poirot tried to prod Harry along. “Please, Monsieur Potter, we must go.”

Harry stopped and crossed his arms. “I’m not going anywhere until I know where Ginny and my friends are and until you tell me who you really are.”

Poirot nodded heavily. “I am a muggle, Monsieur Potter and I am an Enforcer, but I also am a Watcher.”

“A Watcher? What’s that?” Potter asked.

“Do you really think that you wizards could have such power and not be monitored by the muggles? Think about it, Monsieur Potter. We are so much weaker than you. You live so much longer than us. The temptation for one of you to try to rule the world or rule our world is far too strong for some.” Poirot smiled. “Surely you don’t think Voldemort was the first to think this up, do you?”

Harry nodded and stared at Poirot. The squat man continued. “After Genghis Khan, a very bloody member of your race, the muggle kingdoms formed a Watcher’s Council. At first, it was just to keep an eye on wizards, but as the years passed, we amassed knowledge and tools that allowed us to derail most of the egregious plots.”

“Such as?” Harry asked, curious despite the nagging questions in his head.

“We designed the coalitions that defeated Napoleon and Hitler. Do you really think that the Americans and the Russians would have worked together on their own?” Poirot laughed. “Through the years, our ranks grew or decreased based on the need. For a while, after the defeat of Voldemort, there was a general belief that we would not be needed. They called it the Pax Potter, the ‘Potter Peace’.”

“What changed?” Harry asked.

“You did, or at least the perception of you did.” Poirot raised his hands apologetically. “It’s not that you’re evil, but evil never seemed to go away. The Wizard War made it clear that the danger to muggles was still there, still relevant.”

Harry shook his head. “This all sounds very convenient. Watchers, indeed. It sounds like a bad episode of Highlander or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

“Where do you think those ideas came from? Joss Whedon is a very accomplished member of our ranks.” Poirot smiled.

“So what does this have to do with me? Where is my wife?” Harry asked.

“Frankly, I don’t know. We were blindsided by all of this. We’ve had indications of a new dark wizard on the horizon, but he’s managed to stay out of the usual limelight.” Poirot continued up the stairs. “All I can do is tell you what we know. We’ll help you in any way we can.”

“So the Watchers have a big enough organization to be of assistance?” Harry asked, following Poirot up a flight of stairs.

“You might say that. We believe in hiding in plain sight.” Poirot reached up for the handle to the door at the top of the stairs.

Harry looked puzzled. “What do you mean by that?”

Poirot pushed open the door and Harry walked through, into a large open, well lit building lined with shelves. It was a store, a very large store. Everywhere, there were large signs proclaiming sales with large smiley faces affixed to them. Overhead, a loudspeaker gave an announcement.

“Attention Walmart shoppers, there is a special on golf balls in sporting goods…”

Harry turned back to face Poirot and noticed for the first time that the small man had on a blue vest over his clothes. Poirot reached into his pocket and pulled out a name tag and affixed it on his breast. It read “Herky”.

Poirot smiled. “Like I said, we hide in plain sight, but this allows us to be everywhere. Not bad, yeah?”

As Harry shook his head, a small, spindly old lady tugged on Poirot’s vest. “Excuse me sir, can you help me find the denture cream?”

Poirot smiled, “But of course, madam.” He snapped his fingers and acne faced teen ran up and took the lady in hand. Poirot turned to Harry.

“Now, let’s find out what’s going on, shall we?” Harry nodded and followed Poirot past the incontinence relief section towards the garden center. He shook his head. Walmart really did rule the world.

***A/N: I tend to find that when I broaden things too much, I lose focus. I've decided to rein it in a bit and narrow it down. I like the Fox brothers, but I want this to be about Harry and his reactions to terror and such.

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  #338  
Old June 30th, 2010, 3:18 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Just a quick administrative note. YES, I think I did skip a chapter previously. With over 300 of them, I lose track. Anyway, what's going on here? What kind of menace is coming? It's been a long time since we've had to track a body count. I believe I may just be irritating some people with this chapter...muhahahahahaha


Chapter 340 – Madness in Their Method

Diagon Alley had served the wizarding community of England for centuries. For the most part, it resembled a quaint, Dickensian setting, with Tudor facades and trim cobblestone paths. Since the fall of the Dark Lord, the alley had grown substantially, mostly to accommodate the growth in population that the euphoric post Voldemort war era had brought. Despite the wars and strife since the fall of the dark lord, most of the shopkeepers and denizens of the Alley could agree that the shopping district’s worst time was during Voldemort’s reign of terror.

Now, the Alley was a bustling hub of economic and social activity. It was literally crowded with people walking shoulder to shoulder and in some places, shoppers had to turn sideways to pass. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Enterprises dominated one section of the Alley while more independent shops and cafés dotted the other end with Gringott’s Bank serving as a buffer between the two sections. Even Knockturn Alley had established itself as more of a counter culture, oddity-based sales area than anything nefarious. All in all, Diagon Alley had never been more active, more prosperous than in any other time in history.

Lee and Sarah Jordan stepped into the Alley proper from George Plimpton’s café. The couple was celebrating their wedding anniversary and the new tradition among their circle of friends was to mark the occasion by dining at the flamboyant chef’s establishment. Plimpton was standing between the couple, his arms draped over both their shoulders. He wore a fluorescent lime green smock with bright metallic gold parachute pants. His thick, bushy mustache held crumbs of pastry and his tall, stovepipe chef’s hat was mottled with sauce stains while tilted askew atop his mop of bushy, curly hair.

“It’s so good you came, young people. I love cooking for my friends.” George beamed, a hint of garlic radiating from his breath. Lee winced while Sarah hid a snicker.

“Thanks George. You know this is the only place we’d think of going for our anniversary.” Lee responded and then gently extricated his wife from the gregarious chef’s sprawling arms. “We’ll see you later, yeah?”

Plimpton nodded and then whirled around to head back into his café with a flourish. Lee shook his head and muttered to himself.

“Nut job.”

“Now Lee, you know he makes the best food in town.” Sarah admonished without any real heat in her words. Lee smiled and nodded in agreement. He took her hand and led her down the crowded path.

“I know, but he’s so sodding weird.” They laughed and Lee glanced at his wife slowly. “So, it’s done? Any problems?”

Sarah’s free hand dipped into the pockets of her coat. She drew out a bright, silver shield and held it up. “Yep. Of course, we need Harry’s signature, but Eric gave me an interim approval as acting director until the paperwork can catch up. I start on Monday.”

Sarah had once been an Auror, in fact, had served as Harry’s first apprentice over a decade earlier. When she and Lee started having children, she’d taken some time off. Lee, a full partner with George Weasley at WWW&E, had no problems supporting the growing family, but for the past year or so, Sarah was starting to find that she missed working, missed growing the professional side of her nature. After much discussion, Lee had finally suggested that she apply for reinstatement to the Office of Aurors. Now that suggestion was coming to be.

“I’m glad, honey. I know it will make you happy. Besides, what are two more kids to Molly Weasely’s brood anyway?” The Weasley clan matriarch had quite the daycare setup at her home at the Burrow. It had started with her minding her grandchildren, but as Harry and Ron’s inner circle of friends expanded, she took on more and more of their children as well. To her, having the Burrow echoing with the sounds of children laughing was music to fill her empty home’s timbers. Although Arthur Weasley was finding more and more time to lecture on muggle studies at Hogwarts, Molly had more than enough help in guise of Petunia Dursley and Andromeda Tonks. The three women had seen a natural progression of the wedding planner business to that of child care. They were all profoundly happy in their work.

Sarah’s smile warmed Lee and he reached his head forward and pressed his lips against hers. They were in front of the fountain outside of Gringott’s. The setting was ideal. Lee could almost imagine fireworks radiating above his head. He pulled Sarah closer, feeling the embrace and the passion of the kiss. Then, the world exploded.

***
Since the Voldemort wars and the other conflicts that had peppered the time since then, Harry had gone about strengthening the protections around all of the primary wizard gathering places. Diagon Alley, among others like Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and the Ministry were treated with the most powerful defensive spells ever devised. There was no way, really, that magic could be used to harm people within the confines of those places. In addition, there were powerful confounding charms designed to put aside the most advanced and complex muggle technology. Satellites, surveillance gadgets, microwaves were all useless. There was one fatal flaw in the security setup.

The fountain outside Gringott’s had been donated by an old goblin, a retired employee of the bank. It was round and rather large with the statue of a goblin in the center, holding a bag of galleons to the sky. The main plume of water was coming out of the masonry goblin’s nose and cascaded into the spillway. Gardner Fox has spent quite a bit of time convincing the old goblin of the need for the donation. He’d even offered to build the fountain. The goblin agreed to the gesture, and died believing he’d done some grand thing for his former employer.

The flaw in the security setup is that it did not account for simple mechanical processes. Inside the stone bag of galleons was a small, wind up alarm clock. Its clapper wasn’t attached to a bell, but to a standard self-striking match. Once the match was lit, it ignited a slow burning fuse. Over the past week, the fuse had burned down, slowly, surely. When it burned down, it touched the half ton of dynamite that had been packed into the base of the fountain. Because dynamite was chemically created and not electronically or magically created, the final failure of the extensive security precautions around Diagon Alley.

The explosion was horrific, sending a plume of flame and debris over two hundred feet into the air. Any one in the immediate vicinity of the fountain was either killed outright or seriously wounded. The white marble columns of the bank were chipped and seared black and almost every window in the Alley shattered from the shockwave. Lee and Sarah had been standing right next to one of the pillars, with the massive column partially blocking their view of the fountain. The column took the brunt of the concussive force, nevertheless, Lee and Sarah were propelled in the air, through the wrecked double entry doors of the bank. They landed among the shower of debris and shrapnel on the floor of the bank lobby. The explosion’s blast echoed through the air and reverberated of the wall surfaces that did not shattered. Its sound slowly receded until a muted hush covered the Alley. Then, the wails and desperate pleas of the survivors became a crescendo, no one knowing exactly what had happened, or why. They would find out soon enough.

***
His footsteps echoed on the tiled floor in a steady, rhythmic beat. He wore a trim, gray worsted wool suit, complete with muted blue tie and a bright white shirt. His eyes were steady, focused with a hint of excitement combined with impatience. For the thousandth time, it seemed, he dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out an old fashioned gold pocket watch. He was looking at it as he, his brother and a rather attractive woman entered the open door of the lift.

“We’ll find out soon enough, Gardner.” Samuel Fox shared a secretive smile with Jacqueline de Bellefort as he teased his brother. “The bomb went off and we’ll get the word. You can stop checking the time already.”

A dark look crossed Gardner’s face which was replaced by one of chagrin and finally a shy smile. “Sorry, Sam, we’ve been working on this for so long.” He sighed. “I guess I’m just impatient.”

“It doesn’t help that we haven’t seen or heard anything on Potter.” Samuel noted. Gardner couldn’t help but agree.

“That’s true. I’d still like to figure out where he is and how the heck he managed to get away from the Cleopatra.” The lift was picking up speed as it rose towards the upper floors of the tower. Almost immediately, the cab passed through a section of glass panes, giving the occupants a breathtaking view of East London and the Docklands. The building was less than five years old. When Samuel Fox had taken over Clark Industries and then merged with Ridgeway Industries, he’d decided to have this built as a new headquarters. Of course, the modifications made to the top five floors were the real reason for the building’s design, but the other architectural elements were something to behold.

The lift entered a more covered area and began to slow its ascent, until coming to a complete stop. There was a chime and the door opened. The trio stepped out into a modest lobby decorated with expensive granite floors and rich mahogany walls. A large receptionist’s desk was situated on the opposite end of the room from the lift bank. A blond, attractive woman sat behind the desk, and she smiled as they approached.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Fox.” She addressed Samuel, who was, after all, the CEO of the company.

Samuel stepped forward and nodded. “Good afternoon, Leslie.” On the floor in front of the desk was a circle of wood inlay on the black granite tile. Samuel stepped within the circle and motioned for Gardner and Jacqueline to follow suit. The three stood inside the circle and Samuel nodded to Leslie, who smiled pleasantly. Samuel wasn’t fooled by her pleasant demeanor. He knew that she had her right hand firmly grasped around the handle of a Mossberg shotgun mounted beneath her desk. Her free hand touched a button and after a moment, Leslie smiled once more.

“All clear, Mr. Fox. You may go in.” Samuel led them to a pair of bronze doors behind the desk. Mentally, he stared at the two long horizontal mirrors on either wall next to the doors and remembered that both muggle security guards armed with automatic weapons and wizard guards armed with dark spells were located by the two-glass, ready to pounce on any intruder.

They entered an open area office complex lined with desks and people, furiously keying things in and talking on the phone. There were flat screen televisions mounted everywhere, tuned to weather channels and news channels so that any event could be monitored first hand. The three ignored the bustle of activity and walked towards a gray, stone wall with a rather impressive, vault-like door. As they approached, the door swung inward, admitting them to a large darkened room. One whole wall was adorned with massive monitors with a map of the world on the center display. Scores of people sat behind consoles arrayed in graduated banks in the center of the room. It looked very much like a mission control setup. A man in tie and long sleeved shirt with the sleeve rolled up approached them. He had a miniature boom mike attached to his ear.

“The Diagon Alley operation is a success, sir.” Gardner shuddered with glee. Samuel simply nodded.

“It’s confirmed?” Samuel asked.

“Yes sir. Both our assets on site and in the Ministry independently confirm it. Damage was substantial.” The man nodded and turned back to managing the information center. Samuel turned to his brother with a sigh.

“I told you it would work. Now the die is cast. Should we send the message?” Samuel asked.

Gardner looked at his brother sharply. “The explosion was the message, Sam. We just need to sign it.” Gardner crossed his arms and scowled. “We’ll be sending a lot of messages.”

***

Harry followed Poirot through the sprawling store. He’d been unaware that Walmart had added a grocery store to its main store. They did sell everything. The pair made their way past electronics and through the double swinging doors to the garden center. The made their way through the topiaries and shrubs and edged through the crepe myrtles until they came to a large fire door adorned with an alarm warning. Poirot tapped the upper left hand corner of the door three times and the pair stepped through.

Harry felt a lurch in his stomach and for a moment, the world became hazy before coming sharply into focus. He was no longer at a neighborhood Walmart, but at the entrance to a large cavern. Harry paused.

“Magic?” He stared at Poirot curiously.

Poirot snorted. “Watchers aren’t opposed to magic, Harry. Through the years we’ve actually had many wizards in our ranks. Most of our devices were provided to us by the Illuminati, whom I know you are acquainted with.”

Harry nodded. Another secret Nicola Tesla neglected to mention. Poirot continued. “Our only purpose is to serve as a governor, a regulator on unchecked enthusiasms of over eager magic people.”

“Why didn’t you help with the Voldemort war?” Harry asked, unable to keep a little annoyance out of his tone.

Poirot stopped and sighed heavily. “Believe me, we tried. We lost many a good watcher during that time. The best we could do was to contain Voldemort to England. We did our level best to limit his influence elsewhere, but we were too weak to be any good.”

Harry felt the regret in the older man’s voice. After a moment, the two continued down the cavern.

“What is this place?” Harry asked.

“It’s our headquarters.” Poirot led them into a large chamber, this one mirroring the layout and setup of Gardner’s “mission control”. Above, stalactites shone a bright white, brightening up the entire room without any apparent heat. Poirot held his arms open.

“This is the nerve center of our operation. From here, we collate and monitor the entire goings on in the wizarding world.” A petite woman held up her hand to catch his attention. Poirot glanced at Harry and the walked to the woman, leaving Harry to study the area.

From what he could tell, there were both muggles and wizards in the room. Each monitor seemed to be a watch over certain common wizard areas. Everything seemed to be moving in real time. Harry’s roved towards the image of Hogwarts. Maybe he could catch a glimpse of Teddy or James. He was interrupted.

“Monsieur Potter.” Poirot’s face was grim and Harry walked over to him tentatively.

“Something about Ginny?” Harry felt his heart sink, but Poirot shook his head.

“I’m afraid not.” Poirot pointed to a bank of monitors displaying the destruction at Diagon Alley. “It would appear this new enemy has decided to go public.”

Harry squinted at the image. He saw the blackened, blasted rubble outside Gringott’s. In the air above what remained of the fountain was a cloudy, smoky apparition. It was in the shape of a viper, except this viper had long, menacing horns coming from its head. The speakers were emitting the sound from the scene, and the image seemed to be hissing out the same word, over and over.

“Unktehila. Unktehila.”

“What does that mean?” Harry asked.

Poirot shrugged. “We don’t know, but we’re asking around. We’ve sent a query to all the watcher points around the world.”

Harry nodded, his eyes never leaving the screen. He had no idea how these images were being produced, but the video was clear and graphic. After a moment, Harry snapped.

“Wait!” The console operator jumped in her seat. Harry didn’t seem to notice. “Go back.” He pointed to a section on the screen. “Can you zoom in there? Right there, on those doors.”

Poirot leaned forward as Harry watched the image grow bigger. Then Harry’s head dropped and he put his hands on his face. In the center of the picture was Lee Jordan. His right arm was shattered, his face cut and bruised. His clothes were tattered. He was kneeling on the ground, his good arm around the broken body of his wife Sarah. Her eyes were open, but lifeless. Lee was holding her close his chest, his body heaving as the unrelenting sobs broke through his armor.

Harry looked up. It was as if she was looking at him, accusing him of failing some how. Sarah Jordan, the former Sarah Peebles, one time apprentice to Harry Potter, one time Auror, full time mother and wife, was dead. Harry’s fists clenched and he turned on Poirot.

“I want to know who’s doing this and I want to know why. Most of all, I want to know where the hell my wife is now.” Harry’s face was grim and his voice dropped an octave, full of menace. “I’m going to find out who’s doing this. If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll find out.

In the background, Lee Jordan’s cries echoed through the room.

***A/N: Considering the backlash I got from Lockley, I can only imagine what this is going to do. What the heck, we hadn't seen her in a while.

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  #339  
Old July 5th, 2010, 9:48 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Wow, not too many people mourned Sarah. I wonder what'll it will take to get people all riled up? Hmmm, check out this chapter and let me know:


Chapter 341 – Pawns

Ginny’s first instinct was that it had all been some sort of horrible dream. The events on the Cleopatra had to have been something she’d dreamed of. She no longer felt the oppressive heat of the Egyptian desert. Instead, she felt cool, comfortable, if not fully awake. She must be at home and she’d dreamt the whole thing. Reflexively, she reached up to smack her forehead. Only her hand didn’t move. At first she was puzzled as she tried to get her hand to move. She tried to make move and could not. Then, she opened her eyes.

She was in a large, open room with bright white walls and floors. The ceiling extended almost five stories upward and lights emanated from unknown sources all around. She had the distinct impression she was floating. Her legs were bound together and her arms were extended out to her sides, as if she were on a cross. Her eyebrow arched as she realized she was inside a translucent bubble. Her body was centered in the middle of the bubble and the bubble itself, was floating around the room, drifting. The bubble turned as it bounced off a wall and she was able to see more of the room. There were more bubbles in the room, all with what looked like people encased in their midst. She squinted and tried to make out the forms within the bubbles.

Her clear prison cell, which was what she could only consider her current surroundings, idly drifted with the currents in the room towards the cluster of other bubbles. As she neared the group, she could make out the figures of Ron and Hermione. She drew nearer and began to make out the shapes of people in the other two bubbles. Both were wearing Hogwarts’ robes. A sense of dread began to overtake her, and she hoped upon hope that she wouldn’t find what she thought she would. At first, she saw a tall, thin, pale older boy with drawn cheeks and trimmed black hair. He looked familiar and then she remembered him. His name was Richard or Ricardo, he was one of Teddy’s friends.

For a moment, she felt a pang of guilt because she had a fleeting hope that the person in the last bubble was Teddy, and not James. As she neared, she realized she was wrong. It was, indeed, her son. His eyes were closed, but his unmistakable Weasley red hair and unconscious smirk penetrated her chest.

“James! James!” She shouted. Her voice echoed in her bubble. She didn’t know if her voice was carrying. There was no response from her son and his eyes remained shut. Her bubble touched Hermione’s. Her friend’s eyes opened wide.

“Ginny? Are you all right?” Hermione’s voice was clear, as if the touching of the bubbles carried the sound.

“I think so. I can’t move though.” Ginny’s eyes darted back and forth. “Where are we? Is James okay?”

“He was awake earlier, but I haven’t been close enough to talk to him.” Hermione responded and Ginny felt a sliver of relief course through her. Less on edge, Ginny gave thoughts to their current predicament.

“Where are we? Where’s Harry?” Ginny asked.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen anyone and there’s no sign of Harry, not since the boat.” Hermione responded.

Suddenly, their bubbles were pulled apart and as one, the orbs were pulled downward towards the floor. They came to a stop about five feet off the ground and lined up facing the one door in the room. The door slid open and three figures entered, two men and a woman.

The taller man wore all black and had tanned, weather-beaten skin and long black hair tied in a pony tail. His eyes were brown moving to black and they bore into each of them. His lips were contorted into a smile that was betrayed by the absolute menace in his stare. He stood with his legs slightly apart, and his hands clasped loosely behind his back.

“Ah, good, you’re all awake.” His grin didn’t fade. Ginny strained to look to either side, trying to catch a glimpse of James. The man continued. “I’m sure you all have a lot of questions.” His voice seemed to have no problem carrying through their bubbles.

“Who are you? Why are you holding us?” Ron’s voice also carried through the bubbles. Ginny imagined the look on his face, matching the anger in his voice. The man seemed unfazed by Ron’s outburst.

“See what I mean?” He chuckled silently to himself. “You are all a means to an end. Individually, I have nothing really against any of you, but together, let’s just say that you provide me a certain amount of leverage.”

“Harry.” The name was out of Ginny’s lips before she could catch herself.

Gardner Fox stole a glance up at her and nodded. “Precisely, Mrs. Potter. I have a bone of contention with your husband.” He swept a pointed finger up at them. “You all will be the way I get what I want.”

“What is it you want?” Ginny asked, her voice calm.

“Why the absolute humiliation and destruction of Harry Potter and all he represents, of course.” With that, he nodded to his companions and strolled out the door. As the portal slid shut, the bubbles suddenly burst apart and dumped their occupants unceremoniously on the floor. Ginny half crawled, half walked to where her son sat on the ground and wrapped her arms around him tightly.

“Mom! Stop it! You’re embarrassing me in front of the bad guys.” James smiled at her reassuringly and then nodded to Richard who was standing nearby.

Ginny smiled at her son and looked over at Ron, who was standing in front of the door. Hermione and Ginny rose and stood next to him.

“What do you think?” Hermione finally broke the silence.

Ron grunted. “I’ve tried most of the common spells. This one is locked tight. Whoever tall, dark and ugly is, he’s a really good wizard.” Hermione bent at the waist and looked at a series of letters etched into the bottom of the door.

“Ron, look at this.” She murmured, her voice almost hushed. Ron followed her gaze and read the letters.

“Clark Industries.” Dread overcame him as he remembered a night on a faraway Berlin rooftop where he’d learned to kill in the performance of his duty. He shook his head.

Hermione whispered up at him. “Simon Clark is in Azkaban, isn’t he?”

“He was during the last audit.” Ron replied. “This,” he pointed all around them, “is something altogether different.”

Ginny nodded and closed her eyes, both wishing that Harry was safe. With all that happened so far, she couldn’t be sure he was.

***

“Are you sure this is safe?” Harry stared skeptically at the contraption that Poirot was pointing to. They were in a back room of yet another Walmart. The place was dank and musty with various sales displays and discarded shelving. Poirot had led Harry through the portal from the Watcher control area. Harry hadn’t satisfied with the Watchers’ ignorance of who was behind the violence in Diagon Alley and the disappearance of his wife, and he’d subsequently learned, his son as well.

After a few hours of pouring over a history of the previous few years, it was Poirot who’d struck upon a course of action.

“The first point of contact was the Cleopatra. Simon Doyle and Jacqueline de Bellefort both disappeared after the attack. I can’t believe that this is a coincidence.” Poirot mused. “Perhaps we should start with the late Madame Doyle’s business, this Ridgeway Industries.”

Harry nodded. “How do we start?” Analysts with the Watchers did a quick Internet search of the company and its holdings across the globe, which were expansive. Harry’s head hurt from looking at the screens for obvious patterns, some tell that he could follow.

Suddenly, it hit him. “There!” He rose and pointed at a screen, causing the large woman tapping on the keyboard to jump. “Scroll back to that map.” His finger drifted over a spot on the map. Poirot glanced down.

“Very curious, indeed.” The Belgian smiled with almost a paternal air. He patted Harry on the back. “Well done.”

A young Watcher leaned in and looked at the screen. “Barstow? Barstow, California? Why there?”

Poirot shared a conspiratorial wink with Harry and pointed to the screen. “My young ami, what branch is said to be in Barstow?”

“It looks like a factory.” The young man said, still not convinced.

Poirot rubbed his hands together. “What kind of factory?”

The man edged closer to the screen and his eyes widened. “A snow blower factory?”

“Precisely, mon ami, a snow blower factory in the middle of the Mojave Desert?” Poirot shook his head. “It is not congruous.”

Harry nodded. “You’re right. Now all I need to do is get to the Ministry, pick up a team and see what’s what.”

“I do not think that would be wise.” Poirot led Harry down a long corridor. “Whoever is behind this controls very powerful magic and has been planning things for months, if not years. We must keep these in the forefront of our minds. Our little gray cells must consider every conceivable option.” Poirot pointed to his temple. “The only thing we have on our side is that the enemy does not know where you are. I would bet anything that he has spies in the Ministry, in the magic world at large. You would be giving away our one advantage.”

Harry hesitated. Poirot snapped his fingers and the same inquisitive young man approached and handed Harry a familiar, weather beaten, time worn fold over satchel. It was his kit bag.

“You will need transportation to Barstow. I believe I can help you with that.”

***

That was how Harry and Poirot ended up in the back store room of Poirot’s cover employer. Poirot had dismissed the notion of going to the Walmart in Barstow, based on the fact that the travel portal didn’t go to every store. In fact, Harry thought, nothing could keep track of that many stores. Harry shook his head and listened to Poirot.

“This will do fine. It will get you to where you need to go without setting off any alarms.” Poirot pointed to a place in the corner of the store room. There was a rectangular base with a metal can mounted on its side. That was plain enough, but it was the item mounted atop the base which gave him pause. It was a carving of a horse. It was small, decorated with chipped and faded pink paint. It had been a feature attraction at this particular store where parents would plop a quarter into the metal can and the horse would pitch back and forth. There was a metal saddle etched onto the horse’s back.

“Maybe I could get a flight?” Harry stared at the departments store novelty ride with a sneer.

“There’s no time, my boy.” Poirot responded.

“This will get me to Barstow?”

Poirot shrugged slightly. “More or less.”

“More or less? You can’t be more precise with that?” Harry’s voice heightened and octave. Poirot put his hands in front, trying to placate Harry.

“It is fine, Harry. This will get you very close. The rest will be up to you.” Harry looked at Poirot and couldn’t help but think that the twinkle in the older man’s eyes were at his expense.

Harry sighed and nodded his head. He stepped up to the rocking horse and kicked his leg over its back and straddled the saddle. His legs reached down and his feet rested on the ground.

“No, you will have to put your feet in the stirrups, I’m afraid, Harry. You’ve got to let it move on its own.” Harry sighed again and drew his knees up and squeezed the front of his toes into the stirrups.

“I don’t think I could be any more embarrassed.” Harry muttered.

“Remember, Harry, hold tight until it comes to a full stop, understand?” Harry nodded. “Do not get off the horse during the trip.

“I got it, Hercule. Can we get this over with?” Poirot grunted.

“Wait, Monsieur Harry, I almost forgot the most important piece.” Poirot squeezed his bulk back to some shelving and then returned with a small, child-sized cowboy hat made of darkened red felt with white tassel trim around the brim. It had long white string that went beneath the wearer’s neck to keep the hat on. Poirot handed the hat to Harry. “Put this on.”

Before Harry could protest, the hat was sitting atop his head, kept in place only by its string on his chin. Harry’s head was almost twice as big as the diameter of the brim.

Harry groaned. “Is the hat really necessary?”

Poirot stood for a moment, as pondering the question. “Actually no, but I had a wager with Thomas in there, you know that young man that helped us? That I could get you to wear the hat too. Looks like I won.” Unbridled amusement crossed Poirot’s face.

“What? That’s not funny.” Harry mumbled. Before he could say anything else, Poirot slipped a quarter into the slot and circus music began to play as the miniature horse began to pitch back and forth. Harry gripped the pommel as the shaking grew more violent. After another moment, the horse, complete with rider, disappeared in a flash and a puff of smoke, leaving Poirot standing there alone, or almost alone. Thomas walked up and stood beside the old man.

“I told you I could get him to wear the hat.” Poirot beamed as Thomas placed a bill in his hand. The young man was smiling. Then the smile disappeared.

“Why did you tell him that he couldn’t reach out to the Ministry for reinforcements? We’ve had no indication that the Ministry is penetrated.” Thomas asked.

“I know.” Poirot responded.

“Then why did you send him off alone?” Thomas asked.

“Because we haven’t decided whether we’re going to let Harry succeed.” Poirot’s voice was regretful, but not without resolve. “Harry Potter is the most powerful wizard that we’ve observed in quite some time.”

“But he’s a good wizard.” Thomas said, almost halfheartedly.

“You know the Watcher’s Creed, Thomas. We don’t recognize good or dark magic, only powerful magic. Any magic can be a threat to humans.” Poirot turned to leave the store room. “Powerful wizards, regardless of their intentions, can always be turned into something terrible. We must prevent that.”

“Even against someone like Potter?”

“Especially against someone like Potter.” Poirot shook his head. “I do not like it, Thomas, but if Potter gets too powerful, we may have to step in. We may have to put him down. That is the way of things. That is the way of the Watchers.”

The young man nodded grimly and followed Poirot out the door.

A/N: For some reason, I had this image of Daniel Ratcliffe dressed up in a Woody doll costume 3 times too small, bouncing up and down on the little pink horsey. (I'm twisted that way.)

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Old July 16th, 2010, 8:21 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Action, action, we want action...I heard you...let's have some gratuitous violence and mayhem...meet the Dark Militia.


Chapter 342 – The Dark Militia

When Lord Voldemort began to amass the minions that would later become known as the Death Eaters, it had been more of an ad hoc process. It started with members of his house at Hogwarts gravitating towards his ideals and his leadership. Over time, the thread of pure blood hatred became the de facto prerequisite of membership into its ranks. Of course, it also helped if one was twisted and evil, but the bottom line was that there had been no real thought put into who could become a Death Eater.

In the post Voldemort world, deadly enemies arose for the Ministry, but the common thread of their foot soldiers had been that the followers of whoever came after Voldemort were drawn from the very dregs of the wizarding world. Part of the reason Knockturn Alley had become a sort of bohemian counter culture spot was that most of the criminal element had been taken in by the various plots that had come down the pike.

Gardner and Samuel Fox considered the need for a determined group of followers to execute their plans. From the start, they knew that unstable criminals made for poor foot soldiers and they’d both been so isolated from society, they had no network of close friends. Instead, Gardner went back to researching both Voldemort’s past as well as the pasts of other notoriously successful dark wizards. The answer hit him one night, as dozed on the couch, watching a replay of the movie “The Untouchables”. He’d been half asleep, but there was a line from Sean Connery that stuck in his head. “If you keep finding bad apples, go to another barrel.”

Tom Riddle had been sequestered in an orphanage until the day Dumbledore found him. Gardner had to believe that any number of “thrown away” and “different” children were still sitting in orphanages all across Great Britain. So, that’s where he and his brother started. They combed half way houses, orphanages, and runaway shelters. Over time, they found a good number of wastrel cast offs. Using the vast resources of the Clark empire, they turned these potent wizards and witches into a fighting force. Gardner was less concerned about blood, than he was with making sure that these young men and women had something to believe in. That something was Gardner, himself. He became the reason for being. He was the one that had saved them. Now, after a decade of constant training, they were formidable and deadly. They began calling themselves the “Dark Militia”, ready to fight at a moment’s notice and completely loyal to Gardner Fox.

Their numbers were small, and Fox was not someone for finery or affectations like dark marks or death masks. Samuel actually insisted on a more professional look, patterned after the Secret Service. Dark Militia members, when not undercover, tended to wear black or gray business suits, blue or black ties, white shirts and dark sunglasses. They were well educated and by the time the Fox’s had launched their campaign on the Ministry, very experienced. Even in their casual settings, when on an operation, they tended to be neat, well kempt and stony in their demeanor. Just like the dozen or so men and women that were milling in the crowd in Hogsmeade.

It was a festival day for some departed wizard from the time of the founders. The violent kidnapping of James Potter and Richard Leveille had made the Hogwarts Headmaster, Kingsley Shacklebolt, put a moratorium on all underage wizards, not allowing them to go into town. The older students were encouraged to stay within the confines of the castle grounds, but several decided to take part in the festival in town.

Hogsmeade was teeming with people. It was late fall, and the first strands of winter were just starting to be felt, but not to any fierce degree, so people were wandering about in short sleeves and slacks. Teddy Lupin led Victoire by the hand, determined to find a place for them to finally talk, to get things clear and in the open. Trailing behind them in a group were Alan, Lunastus, Graciella and Martin, the rest of the New Marauders, although the loss of Richard and James had placed them in a dour and sad mood. No one had any indication of who had led the assault at Hogwarts and why they had taken James and Richard, but the news was just hitting the papers about the disappearance of Harry and Ginny Potter and Ron and Hermione Weasley.

There was an edge to the mood of the crowd and yet, the merchants of Hogsmeade, led by Aberforth Dumbledore were even more committed to normalcy. They’d survived Death Eaters, war, and the students of Hogwarts, they would survive this new menace wouldn’t deter them. Teddy and Victoire made a bee line for the Three Broomsticks while their friends filtered about the open air bazaar that came with the festival. They took in stands and vendors, watched entertainers and acrobats, their minds not really on what was going on, but on their missing friends.

Lunastus Rookwood had continued to grow. At seventeen, he was a hulking brute of a young man, who’s intimidating exterior belied the intelligent, gentle nature within. It had been quite a while since anyone had mistaken his docile nature for ignorance or stupidity. He was one of the brightest and quietest students at Hogwarts and had been in the running for Head Boy, narrowly beaten out by Teddy. Lunastus, like his friends, was preoccupied with other things and not really taking in the crowd, but in the corner of his mind, he noticed something that triggered the analytical portion of his brain.

Interspersed through the crowd were several well dressed men and women. They didn’t look identical, but they weren’t necessarily different. All wore short sleeved, solid color golf shirts and khaki pants with loafers. They weren’t standing together, but were noticeable in the way they were standing by themselves. Their demeanor was rigid, like sentries, but trying to stay inconspicuous. They were strewn about the street at precise intervals, and Lunastus noted that they were hawkishly looking at the crowd, yet unconsciously avoiding looking at each other. The large boy reached his hand up to Graciella’s shoulder.

“Something’s not right.” He mumbled. A man of few words, when he spoke, others listened. Martin and Alan turned to face him while Graciella stared around.

“Do you see them?” Lunastus asked without looking around. “There are a dozen or so men and women in golf shirts spread around the street.”

He watched Graciella’s eyes narrow as she scanned through her peripheral vision. She spoke through the corner of her mouth. “I see them. They seem to be…”

“on guard or something…” Alan finished her sentence.

Lunastus nodded and Martin whispered. “What do we do?”

Graciella’s hand hovered near her hip pocket, itching to draw her wand. “We could take them.”

Lunastus shook his head. “No. There are too many people.” He nodded up the road by the Three Broomsticks. There was a small storefront with a silver sign outside the door. “Let’s report them to the Aurors.” As one, they wound their way through the crowd, trying to avoid eye contact with the mysterious strangers in town.

***

Teddy and Victoire shared a tiny booth in the back of the Three Broomsticks. At first, they had a hard time speaking then taking a chance, Teddy reached out and grasped her hands in his. He needed this talk. Victoire was underage, and had taken a large risk to defy the Headmaster in coming to town, so it was obvious to Teddy that she’d wanted to talk as well.

“Vee, I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.” His head bowed a little and he stared at their clasped hands.

“You ‘urt me very much, Teddy.” Her voice, despite the pain, was still like a song in his head. “You ‘urt Graciella very much. You can not ‘ave two women. What were you thinking?”

“I wasn’t, Vee.” He swallowed and took a deep breath. “I love you. I want to be with you.”

He looked up and stared into her eyes, her gaze taking his breath from his chest. She smiled, only for a moment, but it was enough to send his heart leaping. As soon as it was there, it was gone.

“I know you do, Teddy. That is why I will not shut you out completely, but I will not be your girlfriend, not right now.” She squeezed his hands briefly and then stood. “You will ‘ave to show me, Teddy. You have a lot of work to do, and even then, I don’t know if I’ll ever trust you again.”

“But there’s a chance, right?” Teddy said, a bit of his confidence and swagger returning. “You said I had a chance. That’s all I need.”

She smiled and nodded slightly. “Yes, Teddy, there’s a chance, but not today. I’m going to go back to the castle before someone notices I’m gone. Go find your friends and have fun.”

He nodded and Victoire turned towards the door, just at the front of the Three Broomsticks exploded.

***

“Down!” Lunastus drove Graciella to the ground drew his wand in one motion. His arm snapped up. “Stupefy!” His charm reached out to the nearest stranger, striking the man in the chest and sending him flying into a wall. Martin kneeled down in front of the foursome.

“Protego!” Martin’s shield charm was barely up before the rest of the Dark Militia contingent let fly with their spells.

Their first target was the Aurors’ office. With practiced precision, four of them drew their wands and blasted the front door, the collateral explosions ripped through the front of the Three Broomsticks. The others, minus the one that Lunastus had stunned began using blasting charms on the store fronts. The destruction was terrible and they moved as a group, despite their separations, with a clock like quality. They seemed to working under some sort of internal clock, being thorough but quick, knowing that it would only be a matter of moments before reinforcements came to Hogsmeade.

Gardner Fox wanted maximum destruction and maximum terror. The four that had blown up the Aurors’ office began firing charms into the maddening throngs of people, desperate to get away. It seemed that every fourth charm was a killing curse, designed to inflict panic and death to urge the terror to greater heights.

Lunastus saw the familiar green light of the death curse and grimaced. His face became dark and he stepped from behind the protective cover of Martin’s shield.

“Redacto!” His low voice rumbled and his blasting charm struck a low stone wall at the foot of one of the attackers. Razor sharp shards of stone and mortar struck the man full in the chest and he fell to the ground, bleeding from numerous wounds. Seeing their friend’s actions, the rest of the New Marauders stood up and engaged the nearest strangers with a ferocity born of desperation and frustration.

***

Teddy picked himself off the floor and ran to where Victoire lay. She’d been behind a large support beam which bore the brunt of the blast. He reached a hand down to her mouth and felt a warm breath. He sighed in relief and took off his jacket, rolling it up and gently placing her head on it. The sounds of spells and screams caught his attention. He looked up in time to see four similarly dressed men standing outside on the street, sending blasting spells and some killing curses into the crowd. Teddy assessed the situation and made a choice. His long hair flashed pink and then crimson and his body began to change. He leaned forward on his hands and soon a large gray wolf was tensing up on its rear legs and then leapt through the shattered window to the street outside.

The men were mentally keeping time in their heads. They had a ten count before they had to leave. They never saw the mass of fangs and fur that struck them in the side. In his wolf state, Teddy weighed almost a thousand pounds and stood a good five feet high on all fours. He was almost the size of a small horse, only with razor sharp claws and large fangs. His leap pushed the full force of his leap into the nearest attacker.

To say that the man was mauled would be an understatement. His torso was literally shredded and he died without a scream. Teddy’s momentum drove him into the next wizard who died under his massive paws. The third and fourth wizards in line had an inkling of the danger and reflexively ducked to avoid the charge, but were knocked down in the process. Teddy reached out with his paw and slashed at them. This time, they had enough time to feel and then to scream.

***

Samantha O’Toole was the leading Dark Militia member on this assault. She stood on the second floor of a boarding house, watching the carnage below. The turn of fortune was immediately noticeable. Her lips pursed as things flew out of control. She stretched her arm out and let fly a charm to the sky. It was time to go. Despite the losses, they’d struck again. It was unfortunate that so many had been lost, but things were progressing as Gardner had instructed. After sending her spell up, she apparated away.

***

Lunastus saw the blue bolt of light stretch into the sky. The figure of a large, horned snake coalesced into being, hissing down to the ground below. A disembodied voiced echoed through the area.

“Unktehila.”

When he looked down, the remaining attackers were gone, leaving just the dead and the wounded amid the ruins of Hogsmeade. The difference was that the enemy had been hurt too. Six bodies lie on the ground where they fell.

“Hey, look at this.” Martin was pointing his wand at a pile of rubble.

Six Dark Militiamen had died, and one, the first one Lunastus had wounded, had been left behind, alive. Despite the destruction and loss, the Ministry had its first live prisoner and its first real clue as to who they were up against. Lunastus stared up at the snake in the sky. He hoped that they’d find out enough in time. He shrugged his shoulders and began to assist the survivors.

A/N: I'm trying to tease this out. I was going to have more, but I had a Last Author Standing entry due. I finally know where this story is going. Woo hoo!

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Last edited by USNAGator91; July 17th, 2010 at 1:50 am.
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