New Year's Eve was a party, and Sirius loved a party. The problem was, there were very few people to invite to it. They were still so new to this world, and they'd had very little time to meet people and make friends. That was solved when the Witwickys invited them to their place for New Year's.
Sam also invited Wade, another friend from school, but he had to beg off because he'd caught the flu and didn't want to spread the wealth.
Ron and Judy had their TV set up to watch the festivities in each time zone; one in New York, one in Chicago, one in Las Vegas, and one in Los Angeles. That way they could have four hours of partying. Of course, that meant that by the time midnight rolled around, the adults were all four smashed.
Harry was getting a drink from the kid-friendly side of the bar, so Sam took the opportunity to ask Hermione a question. "Are you and Harry going out?"
She smiled. "Well, not yet. Things were starting to go that way, but-" she sighed. "Everything went horribly wrong last year. He got entered into this stupid contest designed for much older students. Everyone's eyes were on him. He took someone else to the dance because he didn't want people looking at me like some kind of trolop. And then-oh, we're not supposed to talk about everything that happened. But it was horrible, and people were trying to kill us, to kill Harry! They got m-m-my p-p-parents!" Of course, her parents were alive and well, but they weren't hers anymore, and she had lost them because of the insanity of the wizards reaction to Harry's proclamation.
Unnerved as Hermione started to cry, Sam looked around for Harry, and saw him staring at them. He could have sworn the green in his eyes had gotten brighter, and for some reason, he didn't think that was a good thing, but he waved him over, and that gleam went away. "You guys survived. I'm sorry that your parents didn't make it, Hermione, but I'm really glad you did."
Realizing what was going on, Harry calmed down, shoving the jealous monster that had tried to be born down into a hole in his mind. Sam wouldn't go against him like that, and he'd made it plain that he was a friend to them. "Thanks, Sam." He wrapped an arm around Hermione, and she burrowed her head into his shoulder. As he comforted her, he couldn't help but think he'd like her to be there more often, and not just because she was sad.
Just then, the volume of the party in LA went up as they counted down the last ten seconds to midnight. Harry looked into Hermione's eyes and she smiled up at him, even through her tears. As the count reached zero, she leaned up and kissed him on the lips. Fireworks went off in his skin at the contact. He looked at her with surprise, but seeing that there was none in her face, he smiled back and went in for a more thorough kiss.
Sam flushed and left the two alone, grabbing his drink and joining the adults around the TV. He was happy for them. He could tell it was their first kiss, too. Thinking about it, and how special both teens were, he felt priviledged to have seen that first moment. Of course, that meant he was going to be the third wheel for a while, until that first newness wore off, but seriously they were perfect for each other, and he wouldn't stand in their way. Now he just needed to get a girl of his own. He thought about Mikaela, and really wished he could attract her attention some way.
Sirius and Remus finally noticed Harry and Hermione, and with a grin, Remus took out his camera. It was a disposable, meant to take pictures of the party only and then be developed, and they both wanted to make sure that moment was on the roll. Then they'd get to tease the pair for the next six weeks at least!
The camera flash, however, brought the two out of their enchantment. They both turned to look at the two Marauders in surprise. Then they looked back at each other, and matching evil grins spread across their faces. Sirius and Remus spent the rest of the night trying not to get soaked by their charges, who had found a pair of water guns somewhere and were both very good shots.
"I can't believe you convinced him."
"I don't know if I really did. I think he's betting on me not getting three As."
Harry grinned at Sam. "Maybe your Dad just thinks more of your abilities than you do." Then he frowned. "That geneology report is going to be an issue for me."
"Why?" asked Sam.
"Because we left most of our stuff behind when we left England." Remus had brought Harry's trunk with him, shrunk in a pocket, but most of that stuff couldn't be shared with a class full of Muggles.
"I didn't think about that." Sam sat back on his bed, tossing a mini basketball at the ceiling. "How come you guys came here, anyway?"
Harry glared at him. "You know I'm not supposed to talk about that."
"Hey, no one's going to find out from me!"
"Not even Wade? Or your parents?"
Sam sat up, sensing Harry was ready to cave. "No way. I don't tell Wade stuff because he couldn't keep a secret if you tied it to his balls." Harry snorted at that. "And it's none of my parents' business."
Harry sighed and looked at his friend, guaging his sincerity. Finally, he said, "Fine. But if this gets out, I'll murder you, and Hermione will murder me. Then Remus and Sirius will dig us both up and murder us again. You understand?"
"All right. I know Hermione told you people were trying to kill us. Her parents were killed because of this." That was close enough to the truth, since they were no longer her parents, and Hermione still had to grieve the loss of them. "My parents were killed when I was a baby by a terrorist named Tom Riddle. He was stopped because he tried to kill me, too. A fortune teller had told him that I would be born with the power to defeat him, and he didn't want me to grow up and succeed."
"That's crazy! He tried to kill you because of a fortune teller?"
"Yeah, but the weapon he was using backfired on him, and he ended up in a coma for the next thirteen years." Again, close enough, just edited for Muggle consumption. "Then he came back, and it all started again. Everyone was afraid of him, so afraid they wouldn't even say his name. See at first, he was really weak. But his followers were able to act, and they got me put into this contest that was meant for students who were ready to graduate. I didn't stand a chance, but the point was never for me to compete. It was for me to be isolated. People were really mad because they didn't believe me when I said I didn't enter my name. And then his people grabbed me and a student I was with. He was strong again, and he killed Cedric, would have killed me, but I was faster than he his goons expected, and I got away."
"Wow! W-were you hurt?"
"Cuts and bruises. But because the government was so afraid of Riddle, they refused to believe me that he was back, and because Cedric was undeniably dead, they charged me with his murder. Rather than go to prison for the rest of my life, I got set to run. Sirius and Remus had already planned to come with me, and then Hermione's parents were killed and she joined us. And that's why you can't tell anyone, too. They can't find us, but we don't want people thinking about any of this, either."
Sam shook his head. "That's nuts, man."
"Yeah. Remus says fear does strange things to people."
"Turns 'em into dumb-asses?"
Harry grinned at his friend. "That too."
"Well thanks for telling me. I promise, no one's gonna hear it from me."
"I trust you, Sam." He changed the subject. "So, are you still planning to sell your great grandfather's stuff?"
"Yeah, it's the only stuff I have that's worth anything, and I need that car."
"You think Mr. Hosney's going to go for it?"
"I'm still doing the report," Sam protested, "and I'm still including all of the stuff he wants, like visual aids, and actual research."
Harry gave him an evil grin. "Yeah, but is it worth an A?"
Sam shot back with, "So, how are things going with Hermione?"
Harry sat in front of his computer trying to get creative with his own geneology report. He'd asked Remus and Sirius for as much information as he could get on the Potter family, and was busy twisting it to match the Muggle world. Aparently his grandfather had worked in the only office of the War Department during World War II that a Wizard could legally be part of, and that was the Communications Office. He'd been responsible for creating codes that the Germans couldn't break for use by Allied forces.
But with precious little brought with them from the other world, the most he was able to produce was a family tree and those few photos. He was not getting the best grade here.
He sighed and stretched to work the kinks out of his neck and shoulders, then smiled when he felt slim feminine arms wrap around his chest from behind, Hermione's soft curls brushing his neck as she hugged him. "Hi."
"How's the report coming?" she asked sofly.
"Slowly. There's just nothing for me to use. It's ironic. If this had been a Hogwarts assignment, I would have been able to find things easily, because of the length of the Potter line. Sirius said the family can be traced to before Hogwarts waas built, though it wasn't always named Potter. And I can't go up the Evans line, either, because Mum never talked about home around Dad's friends."
Hermione started masaging his neck. "You should take a short break. Let your mind just work on the problem for a while without your consciousness getting in the way of it."
He looked up at her. "Planning to distract me?"
She gave him a slightly heated look. "Maybe."
Sirius and Remus were happy that the two teens had found happiness in each other, but because they were still teens and living in the same house, they had made some rules to keep things from getting out of hand. They were allowed in each other's rooms, so long as the door was open, no heavy petting until they were both sixteen, and no intercourse until they were seventeen, which was the legal age of adulthood in the wizarding world. They were also to use precautions and make sure that Hermione did not get pregnant before they were actually married. The entire conversation had made both teens blush like mad, but the rules were sensible and not too overbearing for a couple of young people in love.
Still, despite the rules, Hermione was quite easily able to distract her boyfriend from his studies. Since New Year, she had been much more able to overcome the loss of her parents, and was pretty much back to her old self, and her self was something Harry found quite distracting.
The reports went much as they had expected, though Harry got a better grade than he was expecting, pulling out a B+. Hermione, of course, got an A+, and Sam got an A- after begging the teacher with the story of his car dreams. Of course, he had not lied to the teacher, but he had certainly begged as shamelessly as he had hawked his great grandfather's old equipment in class.
It helped that it was the last assignment of the year. The teacher felt quite magnanimous.
And that evening, Sam Witwicky came home in a 1977 Chevy Camaro with an exhaust problem. Harry and Hermione went over to his house because he wanted to show it off, and they agreed to be suitably impressed by the vehicle, though both knew he wasn't going to get that much car for four thousand dollars.
But looking at the car, Harry's ability to sense magic suddenly went into overdrive. He could have sworn the car was alive, and magical! Was it some kind of illusion? And why would this magical creature be pretending to be a car?
As he stared, the car's radio came on, by itself, playing a fragment of a song. "Jeepers, creepers, where'd you get those peepers?"
Realizing that he was staring, Harry blinked, and said, "Sorry." He turned to Sam. "Sam, did you know your car was alive when you bought it?"
"Harry, did you eat one of Mojo's pills?"
Hermione was shocked. "Harry!"
"I know it sounds crazy, but-" Harry spotted the emblem on the steering wheel. "Isn't that symbol in your seventh year rune text, Hermione?"
She looked more closely, and her eyes went wide. "Yes it is. It's not a rune itself, but it's found in several ancient runic sites. It's called the Crest of the Guardians. They were said to work alongside the twelve Knights of the Round Table."
The car's radio ran through a lot of static, and managed to sound very surprised. It stopped on some kind of TV quote that said, "How'd you figure that?"
She answered the car, "I do a lot of reading." She turned to Sam. "I think Harry's right. The car's making sense, communicating."
The car flipped through clips from commercials and TV shows. "I can't believe""you got it!""Prime""is going to kill me for this."
Sam was freaking out. "What the hell?!"
The car said to him, "Take it easy, kid.""We're on your side."
Harry had the presence of mind to look around for observers. "Look, this isn't a conversation we should be having here. I don't know that your parents would be able to handle it."
Sam said, "I don't know that I can handle it!" Then he stopped and took a deep breath. "Okay. Let's get out of here, find an empty parking lot or something."
The three of them climbed into the Camaro, Sam in the driver's seat, and the two magicals in the back. The trip was silent by mutual consent, everyone wanting to wait until they were in a quiet place to talk. They stopped at a drive thru to grab some burgers, and then the car drove them to a large construction site. They all piled out, and sat on various bits and pieces.
Then, to their amazement, the car unfolded, changing from a car into a huge robot, standing two stories in height. He said, "The Secretary will take your questions now." It was obviously a sound bite from some kind of press conference
Sam said, "Did you break all the glass on the lot so Bobby B. would have to let you come with me?"
He nodded vigorously, playing a canned laugh track from a sitcom.
"Yeah, yeah, very funny."
Harry grinned, but there were far more important things to ask. "Have you got a name?"
The alien machine creature played a piece of orchestral music, fast and busy. Harry thought he should recognize it, but the name escaped him.
Not so Hermione, of course. "Flight of the Bumblebee? Is your name Bumblebee?"
Harry said, "Okay, Bumblebee. What brings you to Earth?"
Bumblebee shrugged. "But the words don't come easy." He pointed at Sam. "A treasure! A treasure beyond all imagining.""We're more like treasure protectors."
"We? So there are more of you?"
"Four ships off our port bow, Captain.""You sure ask a lot of questions""whipper snapper."
Sam said, "Wait, I'm a treasure?"
Bumble bee nodded. "Sort of.""In another's eyes."
"Why did you bring us out here?" asked Hermione.
"E.T. phone home!"
Harry said, "Okay, let's see if I've got this. Sam is in possession of a treasure, which you were sent to find and protect, and there are four more of your people waiting to hear from you on it before you call them and get them to come here."
In a cartoon voice from a kid's show, Bumblebee said, "Smartypants." Then he stood and went to the top of the site, where the power station would hide his stature, and sent a signal into the sky.
Sam said, "This is so insane. My car is an alien robot.
"Good way to hide, I suppose," said Hermione. "What have you got that they could be so interested in, I wonder?"
"And why do they need it," Harry said thoughtfully.
Bumblebee drove Harry and Hermione home before he and Sam went back to Sam's house. The two magical teens quickly went into the small house they had bought and called for Remus and Sirius to come into the front room, and there they told them all they had learned about that night.
Harry said, "Bumblebee is armed, and there are a couple of marks on him that had to have been made by weapons, scars made by some kind of gunfire. He's been in battle, and I'd guess that's with others of his kind."
Sirius said, "Do you think these others will be coming in soon?"
"Probably," Hermione answered. "He said 'Tempus Fugit', so I don't think it would be long before they arrived."
Remus said, "All right. Sirius and I should go with you tomorrow so we can meet these robots. I'm sure you two intend to help with whatever's going on, and we aren't letting you get into this without us."
Harry grinned at him. "Thanks. It's nice to have the adults on our side for a change."
"We'll go over first thing in the morning, and we'll all go into town for breakfast. We'll bring our car, and Sam and Bumblebee can follow us in."
"Not a bad idea," said Sirius. He shook his head in wonder. "Giant alien robots. You really can't have a single normal school year, can you, Harry?"
Harry's mouth dropped open, and he sputtered, "This-this is not my fault!" Then he saw Sirius trying not to grin. "You nutter!"
They dissolved into laughter for a moment or two, but after they had calmed, Hermione asked, "What are we going to do if they mean this planet harm?"
Harry sighed. "Deffend it."
Remus looked at Harry intently. "Even if that means exposing us?"
"Yes. There is no Statute of Secrecy here, only our better judgement, and if by some act of magic we can stop a group of aliens from taking over this planet, I want to do it. But it's not just me. What do you three think?"
Remus smiled, knowing that Harry was not comfortable with leadership, though he was very good at it. "Hermione? How do you feel?"
"I agree. This is our home now, and we should defend it."
Harry said, "Sirius?"
The former convict grinned. "You know I'm with you. Remus?"
"Good. I happen to agree; I just wanted to make sure you were thinking about it."
Harry shrugged. "Hopefully it won't be an issue. Bumblebee seems nice enough. But I get that he's a soldier, not the person in charge, and his superior may not be so friendly."
Hermione said, "Then there's the fact that he is a soldier. Soldiers fight in wars. So who is their enemy?"
With that unpleasant thought on their minds, the four wizards went to bed, each praying that they weren't about to be involved in another war.
Note: I hope you've all enjoyed the latest installment. Thanks to all of you who have been reviewing. Until next time...