This started life as a series of Omakes in the main Taylor Varga story line. It's more or less outgrown that now, with enough words involved to make it viable as a (sort of) standalone story. However... It still requires knowledge of the Taylor Varga background to really understand where its coming from and/or going, so if you've never read any of that, you may find it somewhat confusing. I'd recommend quickly catching up on the main story first, it's only around 1.6 million words or so. Shouldn't take long :)
A working knowledge of the Harry Potter universe is probably helpful too, but if you know nothing about either of the sources for this, you should probably find something else to read. Unless you really like being utterly befuddled, of course! If that's the case, carry on...
The first four chapters are the Omakes currently published here at the point I moved it out to its own file, complete with original notes. From there on, there is new content, which won't be put in the main story from this point. It's not the most ideal method to deal with the entire situation, but considering some of the slightly weird and occasionally aggressive comments I've had about people not liking the previous method, it's worth a try. I fully expect I will get more or less the same sort of thing happening here too, in the other direction! It's a no win scenario, writing. But I do what I can ;)
The Omakes in the main story will be replaced with links to this story. If it works out all right, I may do the same with the other Omake series I've ended up writing, but I'm in no rush at the moment to do so.
I can't help it, these things keep coming to me and wanting to be written. Who am I to deny them?
"The Goblet of Fi..." the ancient wizard got as far as saying, when he was interrupted by the main doors to the Great Hall creaking open. All the people who were looking in that direction, mainly the professors, stared in visible shock, as did the man himself, his mouth still open but the last part of the word hissing into silence.
"Hey, I found it!" a deep female voice said, sounding pleased. No one recognized it, or the slight accent it had. "In here. Hurry, it looks bad."
The entire student body turned around and looked at the door, almost as one flinching away. Massed breaths were inhaled sharply. One or two of the first years started making little whimpering sounds, as did some of the older students. Hermione stared in total alarmed surprise at the enormous violet lizard, at least seven feet tall, that was standing in the doorway. It looked like some sort of particularly carnivorous dinosaur, on its hind legs with a long powerful tail behind it. However, the arms were very similar to a human's, albeit covered in purple-blue scales and with long talons on the fingers and thumbs.
The other thing that told her it was an intelligent being, aside from the look in the visibly glowing green slit-pupiled eyes was the fact it was wearing clothes.
Overalls, to be precise. They were oddly cut to handle the variant body shape, the tail coming out a short sleeve at the rear, dark blue in color, with a gold logo on the right breast pocket that looked like the head of some form of dragon she'd never read about. Under this were some words she couldn't quite make out from her position at the table.
It was also carrying a very large metal toolbox with the same logo on it.
The silence that the room had fallen into was broken only by slight whimpers, a lot of people breathing, and the irregular hissing rumble from the magical artifact at the top end near the staff table, the blue mystical flames coming out of it writhing and curling through the air.
Even Dumbledore didn't seem to know what to do, judging by his expression of complete befuddlement. Snape was gaping in horrified disbelief, Moody was half-way through drawing his wand but seemed to have thought better of it, and most of the other teachers were simply staring.
"Excuse me," the enormous reptile said politely as it came into the room, walking towards the goblet.
"Ianthe? Where are you?" another voice called, this one higher pitched but also female with the same accent.
"In the big room on your left, the one with all the humans in. It smells of roast chicken," the lizard, apparently called Ianthe, shouted over its shoulder. She sniffed, then licked her lips. "Mmm, chicken. Got to stop off at Fugly's on the way home, I could go for a few chickens," she muttered, her talons clicking on the stone floor as she headed directly for the goblet.
Every head in the entire hall rotated to follow her. A sound at the door made them all snap back to look in that direction, to see a smaller, more lightly built and somewhat more human appearing lizard coming through the door. This one, which was also wearing the same sort of overalls, looked around, smiled widely, and waved. "Hi, everybody. Don't mind us, we'll be out of your way soon." She trotted after the other one, which had stopped at the Goblet and was inspecting it with interest. "Wow. You're right, it's leaking like crazy. And look at that flame shape! Completely wrong."
She climbed the low plinth the magical artifact was on and stuck her entire head into it! Hermione gasped in horror, as did most of the people in the room. Dumbledore, who was still looking extremely confused, raised a hand, whether to use the wand in it, or in warning, she couldn't tell. The second lizard pulled her head out again entirely unharmed, shaking it sadly. "Flow regulators are entirely shot, the main magical flame converter is on its last legs, and some idiot has filled it with paper." She looked around accusingly. "You people clearly don't know how to maintain your artifacts. And who did the spellwork on this? It's awful, all ragged around the edges. The patching in to the main power bus is incredibly amateurish. Not to mention it voids the warranty."
"Who or what are you, creature?" Professor Karkaroff demanded, raising his wand threateningly, the shock appearing to have worn off a little. He looked worried yet furious.
"I'm Saurial." The lizard cocked her head at him. "No? From BBFO?" He looked blankly back, the wand still pointed. "Huh. Guess the records didn't get transferred with this thing."
"Records?" Dumbledore said faintly.
"Records. Like the sales invoice, the maintenance agreement, that sort of thing?" Saurial looked at him inquiringly. The old man shook his head, more in confusion than anything else, Hermione thought. "That's annoying. But it explains why no one called when this started to go unstable. Have you even read the manual?"
"Manual?" This time it was Professor McGonagall.
"For the burner."
"Burner?" Hermione couldn't work out who had said that. The tone of voice was still more than slightly puzzled.
"This thing." Saurial tapped the Goblet. She looked around, being met with a sea of blank faces. "Don't you people even know what it is?" She sighed heavily. "Humans. They never read the manual, and they always lose the records."
Stepping down, she pointed at the Goblet, taking on a lecturing attitude that Hermione recognized instantly. The girl reached into her robes and pulled out a self-inking quill and a sheet of parchment, research reflexes tingling. "This is a class three magic to thermal converter, one of a set of three, provided on contract number SS/1124/BBFO/HVAC to one Salazar Slytherin, human magic user. It was installed as part of a complete environmental package supplied by BBFO during the construction of your castle here. We were in the area and picked up the contract when the previous company failed to deliver. Something about a goblin war, I believe."
Hermione made notes, her tongue between her teeth.
"You… Slytherin… Hogwarts?" Dumbledore said, his eyes bulging a little.
"Are you claiming that you... built... Hogwarts?" Professor Snape said in a wondering tone.
Saurial shook her head, smiling. "No, of course not. We merely installed the air conditioning and heating system. It was a union job, of course. Anyway, this particular converter has been badly misused and is on the verge of catastrophic feedback and destabilization, which as I don't need to tell you, would cause a thaumic surge that would trip the main breakers of every major magical power source from here to Brisbane. Probably best not to let that happen."
Hermione made more notes.
Looking around, Saurial sniffed, staring at Professor Moody, who was staring back, even his magical eye fixed and still. "Is there a reason that man smells of a polymorphic catalyst?" she said, nodding at him. Moody went white, raised his wand and fired a wordless curse at her, then bolted.
Everyone ducked at the spellfire, wands coming out all over the room. Saurial looked down at the scorched patch on her overalls and sighed. "Guess he didn't want anyone knowing. Oops. My bad." She ran a hand over the patch which went back to pristine cloth.
Ignoring the uproar as Dumbledore started bellowing orders and staff members ran around like headless chickens after the absconding professor, who Hermione was now beginning to think might not be the real Professor Moody, Saurial turned to her companion who had been waiting beside her patiently.
"We'll fix it under warranty as a gesture of good will. I'll need the number three thaumic spanner, two half-inch mythril washers, and the big orking tool."
Ianthe rummaged around in the toolbox. Ducking slightly as several students jumped up and joined the chaos, Hermione kept watching curiously. And made notes.
Saurial took the first tool, sticking both arms into the Goblet and leaning over it intently. The blue flame didn't seem to bother her at all. She squinted into the innards of the cup, strange sounds coming out of it.
Annoyed at the shouting, which was making it hard to concentrate, Hermione tutted and got up, wandering over to watch from a few feet away. She didn't feel any malice from the two reptilian people, although she could certainly admit they were worryingly large and clearly very dangerous if they wanted to be. Ianthe glanced at her and smiled, rather more teeth exposed in the process than the girl was used to. Even so, she only flinched a little, feeling it was meant in good spirits.
"Orking tool," Saurial said, holding out a hand without looking. Ianthe slapped a weird looking thing into it, the business end of which was simultaneously brightly lit and entirely dark. It disappeared into the inside of the cup, from which Hermione could have sworn she head a cow mooing seconds later.
"Left handed fusion wrench," Saurial requested, holding out a hand again. Another weird looking item made an appearance. Bright light flashed up from the cup. "Five megathaum fuse, please."
Ianthe dropped something that was hard to look at into the outstretched hand, which retracted. A moment later it came back. "Five megathaum. This is a ten."
"Sorry, they must have got mixed up when I dropped the kit," Ianthe said, sounding a little embarrassed and quickly swapping the thing for a different one. There was a grunt of mild irritation from her companion as she took it and leaned deeper into the Goblet. The hissing sound had become louder but more even and Hermione could feel heat coming from it for the first time.
"Great, that's got the flow regulators sorted. Here, put this in a disposal pack, will you?" A lump of glowing hot metal was handed over, small rivulets of black goop dripping from it. Ianthe accepted it with an expression of distaste, holding it between two talon-tips.
"God, this one is a complete mess, isn't it?" she commented as she poked around in her toolbox, pulling out a large cylindrical object with a screw on lid. "Hey, could you just unscrew that for me?" she asked Hermione, holding it out. The girl stared, then shrugged, taking it from her and doing as requested. "Thanks." Ianthe dropped the thing she was holding into the container, then retrieved the lid which Hermione held out wordlessly and screwed it back on.
Putting it down, she smiled at the young girl, looking around the room, which was full of people running hither and yon, somehow the three of them in a small island of calm in the middle. "Is it always this noisy around here?" she asked curiously.
"No, we've got three schools worth of people here at the moment, which makes it very difficult to study properly," Hermione sighed.
"Oh. That's irritating," Ianthe sympathized. "Got exams coming up?"
"Not for a while, but I like to be prepared," she replied.
"Sensible. Don't leave things to the last moment, I've always thought."
"I need the replacement flame converter now," Saurial announced, interrupting them. Ianthe pulled a box out of her tool case and slit the tape around it with a claw, removing something that looked like a very shiny new version of the mess she'd put in the other container. This she handed to Saurial, who took it and went back to work. Strange muffled crunching sounds came from inside the goblet, while the flame hissed more loudly still, sweeping through a rainbow of colors.
"Do you do a lot of this sort of thing?" Hermione asked after a moment, watching with interest.
"Fair amount, yes. We get around. A lot of these other universes are temporally sort of unlinked from ours, or maybe it's the other way around. I'm not the expert on that sort of thing. Metis would probably know. Anyway, it means we can visit them at different periods without using time travel, which is a pain in the ass and can be extremely dangerous."
Nodding, Hermione made some more notes. Ianthe snickered. "A friend of mine is like that. You'd probably like him." She looked around, then up, before adding, "He's not much on magic, though, but if you want pure tech he's damn good."
"Technology doesn't work around magic," Hermione said sadly.
Ianthe looked puzzled. "Sure it does. If it doesn't, there's something wrong with your magic. Or someone has been playing around with some sort of tech-suppressing spell. They're pretty dangerous, they tend to have some rather bad long term effects on the mind." She shrugged. "I've seen it before. Lack of common sense, a sort of unpleasant conformity to authority… Of course, some of the more disreputable rulers have tried using them for exactly those reasons. They make the population very suggestible. But it also tends to reduce birthrate a lot. Eventually there's a population crash and..." She waved a hand dismissively. "The problem solves itself in the long run, but not in a good way."
Hermione stared, thought hard, then made some more notes. That sounded like something she needed to research more.
"OK, all done," Saurial announced, handing her companion a handful of tools and stepping back. She prodded a particular rune on the edge of the cup, the hissing sound of the now entirely even flame becoming a loud roar, the flame going almost white and giving off a massive amount of heat. Hermione quickly retreated, as did everyone else in the hall, the sound making them all stop dead and stare in shock again.
Sticking her hand into the flame, which looked entirely suicidal, the lizard-creature nodded thoughtfully, fiddling with the runes. The flame changed size and shape a few times, going brilliant blue-white at one point and nearly reaching the ceiling. The girl watching with an open mouth thought it looked remarkably like the things she'd seen on TV at home of rockets the Americans had launched, only the other way up.
Apparently entirely unaffected by the incredible heat, Saurial smiled, turning the flame down again somehow. It stabilized at about three feet high, giving off a pleasant warmth. The color was a pale deep blue like a gas flame. "There we are. All back to specification. I've replaced all the non-serviceable parts and cleaned out all the junk that was in there. Please don't drop paper into it again, it's not good for it. I also removed the unauthorized spells that had been crudely spliced in. Some of them were downright dangerous. We won't let it affect the warranty this time as a gesture of good faith, and because it destabilizing wouldn't be in anyone's interest, but if this happens again there will be a service charge."
She looked meaningfully at Dumbledore where he was standing near the head table, staring at her with a look like he couldn't believe what he was hearing or seeing. Reaching into the toolbox on the floor, Ianthe handed her companion a large envelope, which Saurial opened. The lizard creature pulled out some paperwork, quickly looking through it, as she walked over to the ancient Headmaster. "OK. Here's a replacement manual, a copy of the service agreement, and a worksheet covering the repairs I've just done. Please sign here." She tapped a place on the form she was holding out, a perfectly ordinary ball-point pen in her other hand.
Appearing to have more or less given up trying to work out what the hell was happening, Dumbledore took the form after a couple of seconds, turning to put it on the nearest table. He signed it with the pen she'd given him, then handed both back. Saurial flicked the paper with a finger, then separated it into two copies, handing him one and folding the other. "Obviously, you will need to reinstall the burner into the main heating duct system. It's not going to do much where it is. The instructions cover that process, it's a simple plug and play system. Ideally you should have all three running, but there's enough redundancy that one will work pretty well."
She smiled at him. "If you need more, we're happy to sell you some. Our contact details are in the back of the manual."
"Ah… thank you?" he said uncertainly.
"You're welcome, Mr..." She unfolded the paper again. "...Dumbledore. Please don't allow the burner to get into such a shocking state again, it doesn't need much maintenance, but leaving it like that is just foolhardy." She looked around at the people watching her. "Sorry to have interrupted your event. I hope you can get back to it soon. We'll just be off now."
Saurial walked back to where Ianthe had finished packing away her tools, slapping her companion on the back. "Come on, we still have to go and see that damn Odin character. I heard he's claiming that spear I made is another one of his own design, like the hammer. I think I need to have a word with the klepto."
"He's really irritating you, isn't he?" Ianthe commented as the two reptiles walked towards the doorway. She waved to Hermione, who waved back.
"Well, yes, he's being rude. My negative energy modulation oscillator was one thing, it sort of has a mind of its own, but the hammer? He just found that and was passing it off as his own work. I'm going to have to start signing everything, I think."
The voices trailed off as the two figures left the room, turning right and disappearing. Hermione watched, then turned to inspect the other people present. No one seemed to know what to do. Eventually, deciding that the fun was over, she shrugged and left as well, thinking she might swing by the library and do some research.
It was never not a good time to learn, in her view.