Sir Harry Potter, Knight of the Thistle, member of the Traditional Royal Household of Great Britain, contemplated current circumstances. He was on the bridge of his diplomatic yacht, the BSS Bruce, with the BSS Griffon, another ship he owned, carrying the captured Jem'Hadar fighters that had been captured during the invasion of New Bajor in the Gamma Quadrant.
The Griffon would soon be on its way back to Sol carrying the two ships and the Bruce on top. With the trip limited in speed due to the extra ships attached, they were limited to a slower speed, Warp 8, and the 55 light years would take 19 days.
With Odyssey no longer on a mission, Harry retrieved the imaging unit which would allow his ships to be seen. He installed it on the Bruce, to allow him to see Griffon despite the wards.
Benjamin Sisko was scheduled to travel to Sol on Griffon to deliver the ships and coordinate preparations for an incursion through the wormhole. During the trip, he would check in regularly with his crew and also have some meetings with Federation personnel via mirror relay. The mirror he had enchanted for Odyssey had been transported to Deep Space 9 and a mirror relay was being set up.
The Federation had been forced to admit, by King Charles, that Sir Harry Potter was owed a bill which kept rising. His retrieval of the Jem'Hadar ships and his insistence on turning them over to the Federation and not the Empires as well as his mirror system which allowed instant and secure communications within the quadrant had a value that was hard to determine but significant.
Initial talks regarding the success of the Griffon had led to a the Federation deciding to build at least two Griffon-class ships. They would require the dual-drive system. As a result, Selene Lovegwood was being paid a significant amount for her work. The Royal Engineers would receive material support for having perfected the rail-gun mechanisms as well. Harry and Lars would receive compensation for the neutronium slugs that would be produced for them.
King Charles was amused that the Federation was seriously considering giving him a planet as compensation because they did not want the repayment of the debts owed to him to cause a restart of a money-based economy. Harry wasn't sure he wanted to own and run a planet – two ships already required too much record keeping.
If he ever found a planet that had a magical field, he would change his mind. Thinking about the idea of ley lines and magical environments gave him an idea. "Dobby!"
The elf popped in almost immediately. "Master Harry called?" Dobby asked almost sardonically.
Harry grinned. "Yes, Master Harry did. I want to ask something. Elves sense magic better than us wizards. How magical is the garden on Griffon?"
Dobby considered the question. "Magic does seem to grow stronger day by day on Griffon, better than Bruce. Maybe because of wards. Perhaps garden is more magical."
"If it's more magical, try taking those seeds that didn't grow on the Bruce and planting them on the Griffon. Just make sure we make arrangements through the ship's botanist.
"Yes, Master Harry."
They were not in a rush and so Harry left Dobby to work on that.
Harry took time to meet Griffon's crew. This included many Humans and would also now include quite a number of survivors from New Bajor. Krim had brought many on board who wanted to serve on the ship that had saved their people. Each signed or would sign the contract.
Griffon's departure had been delayed four days. Harry finally received the Bajoran award for Valor, only outranked by the Star of Bajor. Only Bajoran citizens could win that and despite his receiving citizenship, he was not a citizen during the rescue of New Bajor. Krim received an award slightly less important but not by much.
Harry did have an interesting conversation before the Galor-class Cardassian ship left. Gul Lumek made it a point to come and see him.
"Sir Harry Potter. Perhaps I could prevail upon you to have a discussion."
Harry considered that. "Certainly. How about we use my quarters? I no longer use them regularly but I do maintain them and they are checked regularly for interference so I am reasonably certain of their security."
Lumek replied, "That will be acceptable."
As they walked Harry asked, "What would you like to drink?"
Lumek answered, "Kanar if you have it, but anything will be fine."
Harry nodded. "Dobby."
Lumek was startled by a voice almost tripped when he looked back and saw the short being walking behind them. "Master Harry called?"
"Please set up kanar for my guest and kanar and guava juice for myself in my quarters here."
"Of course, Master Harry."
Lumek looked at Harry, looked away a moment to gather himself, and then looked back. He stopped. "Where did he go?"
Harry said casually, "He's preparing our drinks of course. This way." He started walking again.
"How did he come and go?" Lumek asked.
"Magic?" Harry replied as though it were obvious.
The Cardassian considered that. "When I saw you do that, you made a small sound."
Harry chuckled. "Dobby is more powerful than I, and better at some magic. He's also proud of that ability and so likes to show off."
"He's more powerful? And yet he calls you Master," Lumek observed.
"I saved his life. House Elves are symbiotic to my people, though I have given Dobby and Winky, his wife, more freedom than any other House Elf in history has enjoyed since that relationship started. The two are very loyal to me, almost embarrassingly so."
The two arrived outside Harry's door. Lumek asked, "And how do you view them?"
Harry looked at Lumek intently and said, "I've given them my name – they are known as Dobby and Winky Potter." The door opened. "Please come in."
The two men did not sit down. Harry served the kanar, mixing his own with juice, and Lumek accepted it. "What are these paintings?"
Harry replied, "Most are historical recreations using a replicator. Two were commissioned by me. Feel free."
There are two sets of paintings, both leading to the middle. "This one?" the Cardassian asked, pointing the the painting in question.
"Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and her other realms and territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. It was she who awarded me my knighthood. This was as she was when she knighted me." He raised his glass to the painting. "God save the Queen." He took a drink
Lumek looked at his host a long moment. He walked to another painting. "James VII?"
"He officially established the Order of the Thistle, a Knighthood of Scotland. That is a part of Great Britain. James VII of Scotland, James II of England, James, Lord of Ireland; he was one of the final holders of three crowns before they were legally joined into one by the Acts of Union. When he created the Order of the Thistle, which is the order I belong to, he claimed he was recreating an ancient order, commissioned by Achaius, according to the fragmented history, King of Scotland from a thousand years earlier than his rule, and near 1800 years ago from now. That's a rendition of what he might have looked like. Another story said that Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland about 1000 years ago right now, created the order on the battlefield of the Battle of Bannockburn. That painting is the one next to Achaius. Both are fanciful tails but appeal to my vanity."
"And the other set of paintings?"
"Kings of England from the same time periods." Harry had a small smile as he said, "I remain an Englishman. Edward I, from Robert the Bruce's time, King Offa is from the time of Achaius. Scotland's Historical Kings go back a thousand years before, Coinneach mac Ailpein – or Kenneth the First – who is the first King of Scotland that could be proven by records. He actually is an ancestor of all Kings of England and Scotland, each a part of greater Britain. That's his picture. He ruled almost 1400 years ago now."
Harry looked around. "I mostly live on the Bruce now. These are my former sleeping quarters and I set them up for diplomatic and business meetings. And this seems one of those. " He turned to speak to the man directly. "What would you like to speak of, Gul Lumek of the Cardassian Third Order?"
Lumek took a sip of his drink and then carefully placed it on a convenient table. "During my report to the Central Command, a few items were noted as regards you and your abilities. I was asked to talk to you as regards those matters."
"And those matters are …?" Harry asked conversationally.
"At two different times since you took ownership of BSS Bruce …" he turned and looked at the painting. "Named after this man?" He pointed toward the painting of Robert giving an award surrounded by the chaos and muck to be found in the aftermath of a battle.
"Yes. Good catch."
"Yes. Well. Since your ship arrived to this space, twice prisoners of the Cardassian Empire have disappeared. The first time was the Hutet labor camp, which was an unfortunate oversight by the Empire. It should have been shut down per the agreements made when we left Bajor. But a second incident also occurred: Four prisoners disappeared from a prison facility. All were Bajoran. We have no information as to their location, but a report from a citizen nearby who was subjected to some form of attack set us in mind of your demonstrated abilities."
"Is that all?" Harry asked in an almost bored tone.
"It was also noted that your wording as regards the infiltration of the various governments was telling. I believe your words were: I will support the Federation and Bajor and, with their blessing, the Klingon and Romulan Empires. You said nothing about the Cardassian Empire, despite us being just as threatened and, according to the interrogation, just as subject to infiltration. My superiors were startled at your seeming disdain, or even lack of concern, for our people."
Harry nodded. He took a sip of his drink. He then looked at his glass. "Kanar is an interesting drink. Most non-Cardassians find it too thick and cloying, and so have a hard time stomaching it. It's a deceptive drink – it has a lot more kick than it appears to have on the surface. Commander Sisko actually taught me how to enjoy it: Guava juice, an Earth juice and one that is slightly exotic but also somewhat familiar to our palate, can cut the sticky sweetness to a palatable level."
Harry took a large drink and set his own cup down. "I'm sure there's a metaphor somewhere in there. Cardassians seem to love their metaphors when they don't want to be direct. Since you won't ask directly, I won't answer directly or refuse as you have no right to demand such answers." He smirked. "But I might offer supposition?"
The Cardassian considered that and nodded that such would be acceptable.
Harry considered his words. "The first disappearance of your prisoners was, I am told, instigated by someone – likely a Cardassian – sending a token back to Bajor as regards the existence of the camp in contravention to the earlier agreement. Once the Cardassian Empire admitted to that mistake and assured the Bajorans that no more such camps existed, that matter was settled.
"The second disappearance … well, I don't know." Harry decided to stop dissembling. "Gul Dukat had some knowledge of certain a certain prisoner that he was abusing though he isn't aware that he told anyone about her. She had been made to look Bajoran by the Obsidian Order as a spy but was actually Cardassian.
"Now, during that whole Maquis matter, I was forced to save Gul Dukat. Commander Sisko wanted him alive because subversives in the Cardassian government wanted him dead. And my King had ordered me to assist Sisko if asked. I had to save him despite personal animus. I did my duty."
Lumek asked, "What reason would you have for personal animus against Gul Dukat?"
Harry replied, "According to rumors, he was the one who tried to get Lursa and B'etor of the Klingon House of Duras to kidnap my elves. Those making that request changed their mind when it failed, but Dukat is still owed payback."
Lumek asked, "What kind of payback?"
Harry said calmly, "He will die. When the Cardassian Empire no longer finds him useful and marks him a traitor, when he knows that everyone who might have supported him or whom he could turn to has turned away in disgust, when he is at the deepest part of despair and searching fruitlessly for hope, he will die in a way that will cause his spirit to cry out in suffering in the afterlife. I am a Knight of the Thistle. No one provokes me with impunity."
Lumek seemed shocked at Harry's implacable tone. He stared for a long moment, much in the same way a snake stared at a stalking mongoose. Finally he asked, "And so the four prisoners …"
"Yes. The five prisoners were likely rescued as payback. The target was just the one he was abusing, the Cardassian woman. There is talk that she is currently receiving care and treatment and will be returned to her people when she is healthy. But assistance was needed from others and the price was saving the other four. There is a reason I had ready access to truth serum: Once it was verified they weren't in prison for murdering Cardassians or Bajoran civilians and were only political prisoners, the other four were retrieved as well."
Lumek nodded. He then asked curiously, "And if their crime was murdering a Cardassian?"
Harry replied, "An innocent Cardassian? Not killed in conflict?" Lumek nodded. "They would have been left to rot. Murder is murder, whether the victim is an ally or enemy. If the colony I saved had been New Cardassia, I would have acted the same way as I did to save New Bajor. Rapists and baby killers receive no quarter from me or mine ... even if the babies are Cardassian."
"I see." Lumek looked thoughtful for a long moment. "I should return to my ship. My government is waiting for my report." He walked over to the door. Before he left he turned. "Would you consider the Cardassian government more positively if we served up Gul Dukat to you?"
Harry chuckled. "No. I will do unto him when it's appropriate. If you wish my good will, ensure he is not warned of my attitude. But assure you superiors that I will only act when I know that the Cardassian Empire declared him traitor."
Lumek asked, "And what if he remains in good standing?"
"He won't. He's a scorpion." Harry's tone was certain.
"I'm not familiar with that term. The translation comes through as poisonous relations to spiders?"
Harry replied, "Ask Commander Sisko to tell you the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog. I think he'd likely enjoy telling it as Ben seems to like teaching people things."
Lumek asked with a slightly amused tone, "A fable?"
Harry smirked. "Just as Cardassians love metaphors, Humans love parables and fables. Our holy books are full of parables but the things our parents teach us are usually fables. The Scorpion and the Frog has many variations – the one I'm referring to is the Russian version. The Indian, Babylonian, and Sufi parables and fables with the Scorpion all teach different truths. The Indian is closest. Aesop, I think, told his own version."
Lumek asked, "Who is Aesop?"
Harry considered how to answer that. "A storyteller and slave from Ancient Greece, about three thousand years ago. His tales have been used to teach Human morality since that time."
Harry went to the back room and transferred the collected Aesop's Fables from his timeline and the current one. He put this on a data chip. He brought that back out. "Something to help you understand Humans. But still: Ask Sisko about the Scorpion and the Frog."
Lumek accepted the chip and left. Harry hoped that getting the Cardassians to understand Humans better might cause the Maquis issue to become less poisonous. It was unlikely, but Harry had hope.
Harry vanished the glasses and left the remaining kanar for the elves to gather. Harry decided to talk to his Vulcan counselor and ask for a collection of Vulcan parables and fables if they had a comparable collection. He would also ask for a Vulcan's take on the morals demonstrated in Aesop's stories.
Harry was amused as he considered giving the same tales to a Klingon and a Romulan as well as a Bajoran. It would be interesting to correlate the morals each race took from those tales. In fact, it would be an amusing diversion for Harry to work on outside of magical and logistical matters.
Harry amused himself with the idea of writing a book: The Comparative Morality of Sentient Species based on Aesop's Fables.
In due time, Harry endured the awards ceremony and, once he verified details, visightd the Paqu to go over the change in pricing due to Harry's new tax-free status.
It would make butterbeer cheaper but Harry still planned on paying some duties to the Bajoran government. He didn't need people getting annoyed and lost revenue eventually annoyed a government.
Finally, the Griffon took on the BSS Bruce and, with the Jem'Hadar vessels attached at the bottom, transitioned into unplottability and then into warp.