Happy International Fan Works Day!

First off, I want to thank everyone who has read, reviewed, favorited, and followed this story, and to apologize.

As I was writing this chapter, I found myself going through the older sections of this story to refresh my memory, and then I found myself comparing them to my other work. Far from being proud of The Eye of the Phoenix, I find myself cringing at my many, many mistakes. Too much of TEotP was made up without a clear plan in mind, or was too heavily influenced by cliche fanfiction tropes I thought I had avoided. In several ways, I wrote myself into a corner or broke my own rules. I have grown a lot as a person and as a writer since this adventure began, and I can't stand the thought of sharing anything less than my best work. What we have here so far is not my best work, and it painfully shows every time I read it. I have a long-term plan for how this is supposed to go, but right now that narrative is standing on some pretty flimsy foundations.

I refuse to just give up on my story, but I also refuse to settle for mediocrity. Therefore, I have made the decision to start over from the very beginning. The overall story will be the same—Harry Potter bonds with the Phoenix Force to escape Dormammu when he absorbs Harry's universe—but it will be more coherent, with stronger characterization and more showing rather than telling. The first chapters of this rewrite have already been posted.

I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who has been on tenterhooks, but I will make sure the wait is worthwhile. Again, I refuse to settle for mediocrity, especially since I hope to one day become a published, professional author. For now, though, as a goodbye to the OG Eye of the Phoenix, here is the incomplete, unrefined version of Chapter 15. There is a preview of my rewrite at the end, to give you a taste of my future plans.


Greenwich Village, Manhattan, September of 2003

Tom pulled the collar of his jacket up around his lower jaw, the better to shield his face from a chilly wind as he strode down the sidewalk. He could have endured the cold without it if necessary, but he didn't particularly want to. He remembered all too well the feeling of lying outside in the woods with nothing but a sleeping bag between him and the elements before he'd constructed his modest cabin.

Tom had been in those woods for a long time before Harry accidentally dropped a transformed Bruce Banner on his head. He didn't remember all the details, but he was sure someone had left him there with orders to survive on his own. He wasn't entirely certain how old he was, but even a generous estimate would put him at no more than twenty, and while he was no expert in child rearing, Tom knew there was something wrong with that.

By the time Tom reached his intended destination, the wind had picked up, and he could hear the faint rumble of distant thunder. He looked up at the townhouse and double-checked the address number. 12 Morton Street. Still, Tom hesitated. He hadn't exactly chosen a good time to visit — it was close to midnight in New York — and this wasn't really an emergency, but Harry had assured Tom that he was welcome to visit if he needed anything.

Tom walked up the short flight of steps to the porch and forced himself to rap the griffin-shaped door knocker against the brown wood door three times. For a long moment, nothing happened. Another rumble of thunder rolled over him, and the wind made a curious, diminishing noise in its wake, making it sound like the sigh of some unfathomably large beast. As if to punctuate the moment, several locks clicked, and the door slowly swung inward.

But Harry wasn't the one who had opened it.

Asgard, September of 2003

Looking at the viewing box, Harry saw Frigga applying an orange bruise-healing paste to a sulking Loki's cheek and forehead. Beside them sat Thor, who's entire face was covered in the blue goop of a burn-healer. The fights with them had been far more interesting than any of his sparring matches with the Masters of the Mystic Arts or his battle with the Hulk.

In one sense, they had been easier because neither Thor nor Lok possessed the versatility of a Kamar-Taj sorcerer, and therefore lacked counters to many of Harry's spells. At the same time, the Aesir princes were more challenging in that they each possessed more raw power than many sorcerers and far more skill and flexibility than the Hulk, as well as superhuman physical characteristics, including a natural biological resistance to the effects of direct magical attack. Harry would have struggled had he battled them back when he was an ordinary wand-wielding wizard, but they were no match for a magically gifted Phoenix host, even one whose powers remained underdeveloped.

The arena itself was in shambles. Harry's battle with Thor had been a dramatic back and forth, each of them attempting to leverage their power down the path of least resistance until Harry managed to deprive the thunder god of his greatest asset, Mjolnir, with a Jelly-Fingers Jinx before overwhelming him with fire magic. The battle with Loki had played out like a chess match, each of them throwing out and countering a new trick until Harry had Loki convinced he was playing by his rules, only to break them by telekinetically ripping apart the entire battlefield and burying him under the rubble.

Now, only Hela remained. She and Harry both stood in the viewing stands opposite one another, watching the arena repair itself through the power of Aesir magi-tech, the sand and stone floor absorbing chunks of debris and knitting itself back together. If she was perturbed by his victories over her brothers, she showed no evidence of it. In fact, Harry thought she looked excited. There was something about the way she'd called herself Odin's firstborn that told him she took great pride in her status as his eldest, not only because of the inherent advantages it gave her in the sibling hierarchy, but because it provided her with some tangible benefit her brothers lacked. She had claimed war and death as her domains, which had to mean that she commanded the most inherently dangerous powers of the three.

The arena finished repairing itself. Hela leaped down into it, her hair billowing around her head like a black curtain, her green cape snapping behind her. Harry floated to stand opposite her so that they stood fifty meters apart with the center of the arena halfway between them, as it had been when he faced her brothers. She swept both hands back over her head, and her hair retracted under a skin tight helmet that materialized over her scalp, sprouting an assortment of scythe-like antlers.

Inwardly shaking his head at the Asgardian obsession with theatrics, Harry double checked his outfit for combat readiness, then adopted a dueling pose, hands held out in front of him, elbows bent, hands open and pointed slightly inward, fingers relaxed, feet apart. With a thought, he examined the viewing box and found Odin, Frigga, Thor, and Loki's presences all buzzing with anticipation. Odin in particular seemed almost nervous, while Thor and Loki appeared torn between embarrassment at how Harry had humiliated them and eagerness to see how well their sister would fare.

For his part, Harry couldn't find it in himself to care either way. This was a test, a chore. Hela, though, was showing her teeth in a feral grin, and Harry didn't need telepathy to know that she was going to enjoy this. He stared her down without expression, then, impulsively, he winked.

Before Hela could react, Odin slammed the butt of Gungnir into the ground and shouted "Begin!"

Harry flicked his hands, unleashing a pair of coherent fireballs. At the same time, Hela gestured sharply with both arms, conjuring a pair of black swords that flew forward at blistering speed, as if they'd been shot from a cannon.

The swiftness of Hela's attack was such that Harry barely managed to throw up a shield in time to intercept it. To his astonishment, the swords partially penetrated his defenses, despite the fact that their edges had been heavily blunted to ensure they wouldn't cause permanent damage, and the tips stopped mere inches from his chest. Harry's own attacks hit Hela square in the chest, the comet-like bolts exploding with the impact to envelop her in a blossom of fire.

Hela stumbled back, but the flames died almost instantly, leaving no sign that they had ever existed. He had managed to burn Thor with an attack of similar power, but Hela seemed to have barely felt it. That wasn't too surprising, given her status, but it wasn't exactly encouraging either. With a thought, Harry sent the swords she'd hurled at him flying to one side, then swiped at the air with two fingers, conjuring an even hotter flame crescent. It was by no means the most intense flame he knew he could summon, but this was, after all, a nonlethal sparring exercise.

Instead of leaping over the attack, as Harry had expected, Hela waited until the last possible moment, right before the flames were upon her, and threw herself backward in a controlled fall. With incredible agility, she tucked her knees close to her chest and rolled on the ground, came up in a crouch in the wake of the fire crescent, which missed her by centimeters, and flicked her hands to send a trio of swords Harry's way. In the same motion she sprang up on the balls of her feet and hurled over a dozen more projectiles, a barrage of swords, daggers, and enormous spears.

Harry managed to deflect the smaller initial volley with a Shield Charm, but caught the rest in his telekinetic grip before they could land. He tried to shoot them back at their conjurer, only to meet an invisible resistance. Then he felt pressure build against him, a different force trying to override his telekinesis and shove the conjured weapons into him.

For a fraction of a second, Harry gaped at Hela in open shock. It wasn't the fact that she could telekinetically influence her manifested equipment that startled him—he'd half-expected that. But he had never imagined that she had enough raw power to actually challenge him in a direct contest such as this.

Harry had grown significantly stronger since his encounter with the Hulk, but he was still in many ways a fledgling Phoenix Host. It wasn't a question of whether he had enough power available, he'd found, but his ability to control it. For his first few months as a trainee at Kamar-Taj, the Ancient One's power had far exceeded his own simply because he couldn't control the limitless energies of the Phoenix Force. His raw strength had since grown to overshadow hers as he studied and practiced his abilities, but he knew better than to think he was invincible. Even with that, though, and even knowing how powerful the Aesir could be, he had trouble comprehending what was happening.

For what felt like an eternity but was surely only a few seconds, Harry and Hela pushed at the mass of conjured weapons with their powers, each attempting to overwhelm the other's psychic muscles. As he continued to pour more energy into his own efforts, Harry felt his entire body begin to heat up, felt a dull ache develop in his temples. That was a danger sign; if he pushed himself much further than this, he'd lose control, and that would only lead to mutually assured destruction.

Luckily for him, a glance at Hela's face with Phoenix Sight revealed that she was under just as much strain as he was, if not more. She was baring her teeth in a grimace, her smooth brow was furrowed, and her extended hands were shaking. If this was a battle to the death, Harry figured he'd be able to overpower her, if only barely. As it stood, though, the best either of them could achieve in this particular contest was a stalemate.

So Harry did what wizards everywhere did best: he changed the rules of the engagement.

With a precise flicker of his fingers, he whispered a strained "Ebubblifors." A wisp of golden light briefly flickered around his hands, and the weapons dissolved into a cloud of pink bubbles.

In the next thought, Harry thrust an open palm in front of him, fingers angled forward, and mentally recited Focero Potentia! A crackling column of orange-gold light as thick as a broomstick handle erupted from his hand, tracing a perfectly straight line forward. The force of the spell was such that Harry had to brace his hand against a surge of kickback.

Hela's eyes widened, but she managed to conjure a gauntlet shield around one forearm and bring it up just in time to intercept the beam, which sprayed against it with an almost musical roar, excess energy cascading over the edges in flickering waves. Still, the sheer pressure was such that Hela was pushed back a few steps, her feet dragging furrows in the sandy ground. Then she slapped the arena floor with her free hand.

With an ominous rumbling noise, an enormous spike of blackened stone with protruding serration-structures like a sawfish's rostrum erupted from the ground between them, intercepting Harry's energy beam in a spray of debris. Next second, more of the barbed spikes sprouted in front of the first. The beam ate its way through the closest and smallest of them, but Harry wasn't fool enough to try bullying his way through the entire thicket, knowing as he did that doing so would leave him open to whatever counterattack Hela was preparing.

Sure enough, as Harry terminated his spell, the protruding spikes ripped themselves from their host columns and arced down towards him. He repelled the initial salvo with a shield, then simply evaded the rest by apparating to a spot ten meters behind Hela.

She started to pivot around to face him—perhaps he hadn't managed to silence his apparition well enough to fool her superhumanly acute Aesir ears—but she was too slow. Harry's blazing yellow comet caught her in the shoulder and exploded, enveloping her in a shroud of flames that flared outward as Harry continually fed power into them. The heat was such that the ground underneath the conflagration blackened and began to bubble.

As Harry stirred the flames around her into a burning tornado, Hela flailed and screamed, blind-launching small volleys of black daggers and crude spikes. A lucky shot would have struck Harry in the eye had he not cast a Shield Charm, and the interruption of his concentration on the flames allowed her to stumble free. Her entire body was wreathed in grayish steam, and her skin had reddened slightly, but otherwise the goddess looked unharmed.

The screaming must have been an exaggerated reaction meant to make Harry lower his guard, because Hela looked more irritated than hurt when she glowered at him. "Is that the best you can do?" she shouted.

"Hardly," Harry shot back. She gave him a look of mocking skepticism and sent him another hail of blades. He caught them with a thought and transfigured them into golden eagles, each several times larger than anything nature could ever produce. A silent Opugno caused the flock to fling itself at Hela, screeching bloody murder.

She shot down a few of them with more hurled swords, but the rest got within range and began to viciously harass her, spiraling through the air around her and generating buffeting gusts with every flap of their wings, slashing at her with talons the size of steak knives, and pecking with wickedly curved beaks. She summoned a sword to each of her hands and spun, slashing at those within reach with the speed and precise control of a master and launching conjured daggers at the rest.

In seconds she was surrounded by a ring of feathered corpses, but by then Harry was floating a hundred feet above the arena floor and casting a Stunning Spell. To her credit, she managed to avoid the jet of fiery light by hurling herself in the direction of her half-destroyed thicket of summoned spike structures. The spell bolt struck the ground and, as many biological status-altering spells were wont to do when they struck inorganic matter, caused an explosion. The amount of power Harry had put into the spell in order to overcome the inherent Asgardian resistance to such spells made it into an unusually impressive detonation, sending smoldering debris flying everywhere.

Hela continued to dance her way up the sloping spike structure, hurling swords in Harry's direction with every cartwheel as she dodged Harry's Stunning Spells. When she reached the top, she leaped off and summoned another to erupt from the ground, using it to catch herself in the middle of her descent. She had responded to Harry's taking flight by gaining height, and now she was doing everything she could to keep as close to him as possible without standing still. It was a sound tactic, since this was a sparring match with fixed rules and win conditions that prevented Harry from simply ascending beyond her reach.

So Harry continued to zip through the air above the arena, hurling Stunning Spells at Hela as she continued to leap about dodging them and summoning new terrain. She created a third, then a fourth, and then a fifth column of rock, throwing blades at every chance. At one point, Harry cast a Stupefy Pluribus, which created four spell bolts simultaneously. They each collided with one of Hela's hurled blades and disintegrated them.

Finally, as Hela leaped into the air for the umpteenth time, Harry changed tactics. Apparating to a spot directly under the arc of her airborne path, he cast a Stunning Spell precisely timed to hit her leg just as her rotation brought it out of the shadow of her cloak. Her graceful acrobatics went wild, and as she landed awkwardly atop one of her spike structures, Harry seized it with his thoughts and ripped it from its place, sending it to the ground in pieces.

Just as she began to fall, Hela made an overhand throwing motion, which sent an ax large enough to cleave the Hulk in two spinning end over end toward Harry with such speed he almost didn't see it coming. He barely had time to cocoon himself in a form-fitting telekinetic shield before the dulled blade struck him square in the chest. The impact produced a flash of light, and Harry found himself tumbling uncontrollably through the air, limbs flailing.

Quickly reorienting himself, he looked down to see Hela pulling herself from the rubble of her spike structure, shaking her head vigorously. Her movements seemed a touch slower than before. She was still conscious, but the Stunning Spell had definitely weakened her. He hurled another down at her and watched as she summoned a sword to her hand, which she swung around to bat the spell aside before giving it a sharp flick. The sword became a hail of small spikes.

Harry apparated again, this time to an area above Hela and to her left, then cast a second Stupefy Pluribus, which sent half a dozen streaks of light toward her, but not quick enough. Pivoting to face him, she crouched and swept her green cloak over her body, hiding behind it like a shield.

Three spell bolts hit the ground around her, triggering explosions. The others hit her cloak and fizzled out, like bubbles popping. In the next second she sprang up to her full height and hurled a multitude of blades up at him in succession — three at a time, then four, then three again, then five.

It was now or never.

Harry briefly shoved at the incoming blades with telekinesis, meant to slow them rather than catch them, then opened a sparkling circular gateway in their path. The entire volley sailed through the portal, then rained downard out of its other end, which he'd opened directly above Hela.

As she raised her arms to redirect them, Harry dismissed his portals and flicked both hands downward, fingertips flaring with gold light. The spell he cast transfigured all of Hela's summoned equipment, from discarded weapons to the great spikes, into a thick, darkly colored fluid resembling liquid concrete, which he telekinetically stirred and swirled around her, smothering her in it until her entire body save her face was completely covered. His follow-up spell solidified the fluid into a scalloped, dome-like mass of solid obsidian.

Breathing hard, Harry allowed himself to descend, then called out to Hela "You're trapped, your highness. Yield."

Hela glared at him, then snarled. "I don't think so."

Harry raised his hand to deliver another Stunning Spell—too slow. The Aesir woman and her obsidian prison vanished in a green explosion.

The explosion rattled Harry's bones and popped his ears, filling his vision with dark spots as it blasted him backward.

He forced himself to come to a hovering stop in midair, arms splayed out to either side in a defensive posture, anticipating an immediate hail of blades. Instead, he found that he had time to not only fully recover, but retaliate with a barrage of fire blasts—the energy wave must have taken a great deal of Hela's strength, because her reactions to his attacks seemed much slower and less graceful.

By the time she retaliated with another volley of blades, Harry had already transfigured another chunk of the battlefield into a wave of liquified rock. It wasn't lava, for the spell was designed to melt a target without heat, but the fluid itself retained the density of its solid form, easily swallowing up the blunted swords and spears as he sent it rolling towards Hela.

She leaped skyward, summoning a spike from the ground to give herself a perch from which to keep fighting. It was too little, too late.

As the wall of liquid rock slammed into Hela's spire, Harry apparated to her flank, right as she was halfway through the process of hurling more weapons, and struck her face with the strongest Stunning Spell he could muster. It was so powerful it blasted her off her feet; had she been human, it would have given her a heart attack, killing her the same way Molly Weasley had killed Bellatrix Lestrange.

Hela landed with a heavy splash in the river of rock, which Harry once again solidified around her. This time, he took care to add an Unbreakable Charm, but there was no need. She was out cold.

Greenwich Village, Manhattan, September of 2003

Teddy knew he wasn't supposed to open the door to strangers, no matter what, but Tom wasn't technically a stranger. Dad knew him, after all, and he'd shown Teddy the man's picture and said he was trying to regain his lost memories. The picture hadn't prepared Teddy for how big Tom was. He wasn't the tallest person Teddy had ever seen, but he was definitely taller than Dad, with broader shoulders and bigger muscles. Looking up at him through the gap between the open door and its frame, Teddy saw Tom's dark eyes widen in surprise when they looked down at him.

"Hi," Teddy chirped.

Tom stared at him, looking startled, even scared. "Uh, hi. You're Teddy, right?"

Teddy nodded. "Yup," he popped.

"Where's your dad?"

Teddy's good cheer faded a bit. "He told me he had something to take care of tonight. He'll be back in the morning." Harry always seemed to have something to take care of these days. Between the bakery, school, Kamar-Taj, and the dangerous things he said Teddy was too young to know about, they hardly spent any time together anymore.

Tom's face fell. "Then maybe I should go."

"No!" Teddy said, more loudly than he'd meant. He opened the door fully, ignoring the cold. "Come in!"

Tom hesitated. "Kid, I don't think-"

"It's ok," Teddy insisted. "I can help!" Teddy knew perfectly well that he probably couldn't help Tom with whatever it was he wanted, but the big man looked like he needed a friend, and Teddy was all too happy to be that. He was supposed to be sleeping, but the thunder had woken him an hour ago. Despite the late hour, he was so restless he'd gone to the kitchen, opened the freezer, and pulled out one of the small ice cream tubs he wasn't supposed to touch without permission. It was too cold outside for ice cream, but Teddy didn't care. If Dad didn't want him to eat the ice cream, he should have put it behind an Age Line.

Tom looked from Teddy to the empty street. A blast of thunder, louder than anything he'd heard so far tonight, made Teddy jump. Tom looked back at him and said "Ok."

Beaming, Teddy opened the door fully and led Tom inside.


And now, for those whom I haven't completely alienated, here is a preview of my planned rewrite.

Ignoring the strong smell of charred wood, the Ancient One focused on the unconscious figure lying on his back five meters away, at the center of the blast site. He was still wrapped in a rose-gold mist, making it impossible to gauge his exact height, build, or coloring, but the Ancient One had no need. She knew he was a young Englishman on the tall side, with an untamable thicket of black hair, vivid green eyes, and a scar on his forehead shaped like a bolt of lightning. Ten meters beyond him lay a modest looking tent, its entrance flap dark. Even as the Ancient One watched, the tent lit up from the inside.

To the north lay the Russian city of Irkutsk, one of the few large settlements in Siberia. To the south was Baikal, the world's deepest lake. There was no point trying to hide the burned swath of forest. Even if she used the Eye of Agamotto to undo the damage, there was no way the people of Irkutsk and the surrounding towns hadn't seen the explosion. The Russian army would be here at any moment.

With a sharp gesture of both arms, the Ancient One enveloped the unconscious man, the tent, and herself in the fractal walls of the Mirror Dimension. A split second later, a woman in a deep purple nightgown adorned with white swan patterns emerged from the tent, her expression frantic. She was tall and strong jawed, with a thin mouth, long eyelashes, dark gray eyes, and a cascade of thick, shiny brown hair. In her right hand she clutched a slim wooden stick that the Ancient One immediately recognized as a magic wand.

At the sight of the Ancient One, the woman's face darkened, and she pointed the wand straight at her face. "Don't come any closer," she hissed.

The Ancient One slowly lowered her hands to her sides, keeping the Eye of Agamotto open. She'd seen the woman in her visions, but her jagged recollections made it almost impossible to remember the details beyond her appearance. "You have nothing to fear from me. I mean you no harm," the Ancient One said.

The witch, for she could be nothing else, did not relax. "You expect me to believe that? We were nearly swallowed by some abomination from hell, then we're transported here by some thing I don't even have a name for, and now here you are telling me there's nothing to be afraid of?" She had the characteristic accent of a British patrician, if less pronounced than was typical. Despite her attempts to look intimidating, her voice shook slightly, and there was a flicker of barely contained panic in her eyes.

The Ancient One's heart climbed into her throat. "Abomination from hell? What did it call itself?"

The witch looked confused. "Are you daft? Surely you heard that voice? Deep as the void of space, evil enough to make my sister blush, very large ham?"

"I heard nothing of the sort," the Ancient One said. "Your world may be lost, but mine survives, and I will defend it with my last breath if necessary. What demon is responsible for your displacement in the multiverse?"

"You really don't know," the witch marveled. "I never put much stock in the theory of the multiverse, but this doesn't feel like an alien planet either. Honestly, I don't understand how we're alive."

"His name," the Ancient One insisted.

"Dormammu. He called himself Dormammu."

Allmother's tits. This was bad. This was quite bad.

Between them, the prone figure of the new Phoenix Host, Harry Potter, stirred. The visible aura around him had dissipated, but the Ancient One could feel him. His presence in her third eye's sight was like a dying campfire, but she knew better than to think it would stay that way. The power of the Phoenix Force was the very essence of fire; under the right conditions, the smallest spark could and would expand into an inferno. That would take time, though. Right now, the man was as raw and wild as a novice attempting to conjure the Flames of the Faltine.

"What is going on here?" the witch demanded. What was her name? A— Tonks? Andromeda Tonks, that was it.

"You have been transported across the multiverse to an alternate version of Earth, a distorted reflection of the world you called home," the Ancient One explained, taking a slow step forward despite Andromeda's earlier admonition to keep her distance.

Andromeda raised her wand, and the Ancient One paused, half expecting a curse to erupt from the tip at any moment. "I can't dispute that, given the evidence. Keep talking."

The Ancient One suppressed a sigh. "We are safe for the moment because I have moved us all into the Mirror Dimension. No one outside will be able to perceive us, and our actions will not affect the real world."

Andromeda raised an eyebrow, clearly impressed against her will. "Handy trick. And who are you who possesses the power to accomplish this?"

"My title is Sorceress Supreme, for I am the leader of the most eminent organization of magic practitioners on this earth. I am called the Ancient One by my disciples. I answer to the name because my thoughts are orders of magnitude older than my body, and because my true name has been lost to the ages."

Andromeda's eyebrow climbed higher. "Interesting. How did you manage that? Philosopher's Stone? Body regenerating potion? Chugging phoenix tears?"

It was the Ancient One's turn to look dubious. "The only true phoenix I am familiar with is a cosmic entity of near-incomprehensible power with a volatile disposition and an affinity for psionics. An entity which has bonded itself to your friend there on the ground."

Andromeda's face hardened. "Do you think this is a joke, Ancient One?" she demanded in a voice like acid, making the epithet sound like an insult.

"She's not joking," a weak male voice croaked. Both women looked down at the space between them. Harry Potter's eyes had slid halfway open, and golden flames were dancing feebly around his splayed hands.


Harry forced his eyes to blink open and shut, trying to clear the haze across his vision. It had taken far too much of his strength to speak, which meant that Andy was on her own against the strange woman who called herself the Ancient One. He forced himself to ignore the stab of guilt that brought him and focused on performing the checks that Moody—the real Moody, rather than the fake from his fourth year—had taught him to perform after coming into contact with unknown enchantments or magical substances.

He felt no nausea or pain or cold emptiness in his stomach, no itching or numbness or odd heat or cold in his skin, no tingling of the lips or strange tastes in his mouth. His muscles felt weak, but there was no pain or sensation of distended or contracted tissue, and his head…

Harry detected no surges of emotions he didn't recognize, heard no strange voices in his mind's ear. His thoughts were clear, unobstructed by the echoey floatiness of the Imperius Curse or the disorientation of a Confundus Charm, but something had changed. In the back of his mind, where he could barely sense its presence, was a new fire, little more than an ember.

It took him a moment to remember exactly what had happened, and when he did, a wave of grief and fear propelled him to his feet. The ember had grown into a fireball, sending surges of strength down his limbs, and his wand leaped from its sleeve holster into his hand.

The strange sorceress, this "Ancient One," was rather androgynous in appearance; tall for a woman, with pale skin, a shaved head, thin eyebrows, a narrow nose, and gray-green eyes. She wore a rather extravagant set of gold robes cut to reveal her black leggings and boots, a modification likely meant to allow for easy acrobatic movement. A heavy bronze-gold amulet hung around her neck, opened to reveal a brilliant green glow at its center, like a magical third eye. On her right hand glinted a strange two-fingered ring.

Her eyes immediately fixed on him, as if he posed a threat. That was fine. Better him than Andromeda, in case a fight broke out.

Harry pointed his wand at the Ancient One's stomach, uncertain whether any curses he fired would be affected by her amulet. Despite the burning energies flooding his body, he doubted his chances of victory here. Something fundamental had changed inside him. His magic had changed; it had been elevated too much, too quickly. Where before its flow had been too steady and too deep for him to feel it except under very specific conditions, like when he'd used the Imperius Curse, now it flickered just beneath his skin, as volatile and intense as a bonfire. His wand felt cold in his hand.

His phoenix feather wand. Felt. Cold. No, not cold—its warmth was being drowned out by the heat he carried within.

There was a look in the Ancient One's eye that told Harry she knew exactly what was going on in his head, no Legilimency necessary.

"Harry," Andromeda said from somewhere behind him and to his right, her voice echoing strangely, "what are you talking about? What have you done?"

He wasn't sure he knew himself. "I made a bargain," he said faintly. His own voice echoed as well. Was that a side effect of being in the Mirror Dimension?

"What bargain?!"

"Your magic has been altered by something whose nature is beyond human comprehension," the Ancient One interrupted. "But right now you have no control, which makes that power more danger than asset. Try casting a spell you consider simple if you don't believe me."

Harry hesitated. She hadn't made any threatening moves, and she seemed sincere, but that meant little. After all, there was a chance she just wanted him to lower his guard. On the other hand, she knew about his transformation or fusion or whatever it was, which should have been impossible, yet she hadn't attacked while he was still helplessly splayed on the ground. His magic had changed….

He pointed his wand carefully at a tree behind the Ancient One's left flank, a line of fire that wasn't near her, but which wasn't far either. He had heard her description of the Mirror Dimension while he'd been struggling back towards consciousness, so he ignored the strangely distorted images of approaching muggle vehicles. "Incendio," he said, giving his wand a wave.

He intended to ignite the branches of that single tree. Instead, a surge of energy raced down his arm and through his wand, instantly heating it until it was almost unbearable to touch, and a dozen snow-caked evergreens burst into flames. He yelled in surprise as his wand bucked in his hand, nearly dropping it. The holly was smoking.

For a long moment, no one spoke, the only sound, the crackling of the flames and the splintering of wood as the sap within the burning tree trunks vaporized. The Ancient One looked straight at Harry, a knowing if sympathetic look in her eyes. Harry avoided her gaze by looking back at Andromeda.

Andy's face, so similar yet so unlike her sister's, was stricken. "That wasn't supposed to happen," she said. It wasn't a question.


Well, that's all folks. See you on the other side.