Harry Potter looked across the field before his Care for Magical Creatures class. When his name came out of the Goblet of Fire, he had expected the school to turn against him. Even Ron's betrayal felt inevitable. Only Hermione stood beside him and even then, he wasn't about to ask her to stick around for his death. For now though, Hermione leaned against him, needing the warmth of his body in the November wind.
Hermione picked up on his tense standing at once but didn't pry. She knew that if it ever got serious, Harry would let her know, as he always had before. She had been especially hurt by the response from the school about the whole thing. She had expected the students to turn against him, but that was never in question. But it was the teachers who disappointed her. Most, if not all, of them, looked at them as if they were guilty of lying and cheating. Just once, she wished, they could have a quiet year, just once they wouldn't be called on to do the impossible or dangerous. But she knew that would never happen, not least of which because the universe seemed hell-bent on making Harry's life miserable. Hermione would sometimes idly wonder what Harry had done in a previous life to warrant such disdain from the higher powers of the universe.
Perhaps the idle wonder prodded Mother Magic into doing something. No one was quite sure why it happened, just that one minute, Harry and Hermione were standing in the back of the class, the next, they were gone. However, the disappearance of the teens would go unnoticed for a while as the more pressing matter of Professor Minerva McGonagall disappearing in the middle of a lecture was the focus of the minds of the wizarding world.
Harry and Hermione had done what they could to protect their eyes from the blinding flash that had appeared in front of them, but it still took many minutes to clear the spots in their eyes. When they did, they noticed a number of things: it was warm, the forest was greener than what they were used to, and Professor McGonagall was standing in front of them. "I don't suppose either of you knows what just occurred? Do you?" she asked.
Vaguely, Harry recognized that it was a genuine question rather than a stern scolding. "I'm afraid that at this point, Professor, I'd chalk it up to the Potter Effect: who knows," Hermione replied.
Harry then furrowed his brow. "Hermione?" he asked. "Why are the three of us in Muggle Clothing? And muggle clothing that went out of date after the War?"
Professor McGonagall and Hermione blinked and then examined themselves and Harry. The women were in dresses of pastel blues and whites while Harry had a puffy white shirt under a brown woollen jacket and rugged trousers. They patted themselves down and, with relief, they found their wands and, with a quick Lumos, confirmed their magic and wands were in order. However, Professor McGonagall quickly put hers' up her sleeve, "For now," she said, "keep the fact that we are wizards hidden. We have no idea where we are and who is around."
Harry and Hermione nodded and concealed their wands. It was then that they looked closely at their surroundings. "The forest seems thinner that way," Harry remarked, pointing in a direction behind the Professor. "We should be able to find a road and, from there, a town."
Professor McGonagall turned to see the parting of trees that Harry had indicated and nodded. "I agree," she replied before thinking of something. "If we should be asked what we are doing, you two are taking me home after I got lost in the forest. But let me do much of the talking."
Harry and Hermione saw the sense in that and began following the Professor. They only had to walk a short way before they encountered a group of people. The blue helmets with placards stating "Town Watch" were enough to get their attention, as were the rifles that three of the five pointed at them. "Who are you?" the woman asked.
Professor McGonagall raised her hands in a placating manner. "Minerva McGonagall, I got a wee bit lost in the forest but my grandson and his girlfriend managed to find me and are taking me home," she replied, layering her Scottish accent and doing her best to appear flustered.
It worked rather well, as the ones with rifles lowered them and the woman spoke again, giving them some information they needed. "Well, you better hurry and evacuate. The Empire's sweeping through this part of Gallia and the Army seems to be letting them."
As Harry and Hermione looked at each other, letting all the information wash over them, the man without a rifle spoke up. "Once General Order One goes out to reform the Gallian Militia, all of us will probably get drafted. Then the real fight will begin."
Before Minerva could reply, five sharp cracks sounded and the two men holding rifles fell to the ground. The three unknowns knelt to the ground, but Harry and Hermione reacted instinctively. Thanks in no small part to Professor Moody's instruction, and the terror of the Quidditch World Cup, they spun around to face where the noise had come from, spotted the three armoured soldiers shooting at them and a group of dead people between them, and shouted: "Lancea!" thrice each. Harry was accurate enough to hit each soldier in the heart, while Hermione hit them in their chest. The end result was the same regardless though, as the area went quiet as no further combat was begun.
A beat of silence was had, then the remaining man remarked: "Well… you're not from around here…" in a deadpan voice.
"Indeed," Minerva replied in a drawl that would have made Snape proud. She pierced her students with a tired look before sighing, "Nothing for it I suppose." she finally said, "We have no idea where we are, how we got here or how to go home."
The man rubbed his chin. "Well… let's get everyone buried, then the three of you can come with me and, while Isara is packing, we can figure things out."
The blue-haired girl beside him smirked. "We're nearly all packed anyhow, shouldn't take too much longer."
The woman with the gun smirked, "Just keep him from getting distracted again, you never know who will be watching."
The blue-haired woman giggled while the man looked abashed, but Minerva simply raised an eyebrow. "I am a Professor ma'am. That will hardly be a problem for me."
With that, the group split. Harry, Hermione and Professor McGonagall walked in relative silence compared to their companions, whom Harry suspected had only just reunited after a long separation. They soon came upon a grand manor house and their guides entered, leaving them to follow. The man motioned for them to follow him. "We can go over our maps and find where you're supposed to be from in the kitchen. Isara? Can you handle the packing?" he asked.
Before the blue-haired girl could speak, Harry interrupted. "Hermione and Professor McGonagall would be of more use than I ever could be. I'll lend a hand with packing."
The man cocked his head and shrugged. "Couldn't hurt, I guess." he finally replied.
The girl nodded and took his hand. "Come on!" she said, pulling him along. "The sooner we get done, the sooner we can get to the capital."
Despite the circumstances, Harry couldn't help but let a small smile grace his face. The girl led him through the house to the upper floor. "We're mostly packed already, we just need to get the important documents downstairs so they don't fall into the hands of the Empire," she said.
Harry nodded. "That makes sense, even if I don't know the why or who," he remarked before suddenly coming to a realization. "Speaking of which, We don't even know each other's names," he remarked. "I'm Harry Potter," he said, sticking out his hand.
"Isara Gunther," she replied, taking his hand and shaking it.
For a moment, Harry allowed himself to forget about the dangers approaching them, about the problems he had left behind in Britain, and just to imagine a perfectly normal life. But that moment was soon shattered by a loud rumbling and the house shaking. Isara grabbed a dozen books before gesturing to a stack of documents on the desk. "Grab those and get to the garage! We need to get out of here!"
Harry nodded, grabbed the whole stack, and ran after her, his years of running from and to threats at Hogwarts coming in handy to keep pace with her. They soon reached the door to the garage and found Hermione and Professor McGonagall waiting for them. "The woman whom you were with came by and your brother went and walked her back to town," Hermione said. "It's just us here."
Isara nodded. "Those shells sound to be coming from the town." she mused before kicking open the garage door and rushing in. "We must rush to help."
The three followed, but Professor McGonagall spoke up. "We should retreat now, while we still have the chance."
Isara leapt up, and the three non-Gallians were shocked to see a tank in the garage. "Edelweiss will see to our safety," she said. "I am not abandoning my brother."
McGonagall shook her head. "That may not be a decision you may take," she replied. "You said yourself that the shelling seemed to be coming from the town, that means artillery and armour."
Harry spun to face McGonagall. "We rescue as many as we can." He snapped. "I trust Isara's judgement."
With that, he jumped down the turret hatch after Isara. A moment later, while he was looking over the controls in the turret after Isara gave him the basics, Hermione and McGonagall jumped in. "Was worried you weren't coming," he remarked.
Hermione snorted. "As if I would let you ride into a war without taking me along. I'd sooner kill you myself," she replied before glaring at him. "You owe me for this, and not for going to save your arse for the seventh time."
Harry huffed, "Eighth time. I told you, your slip of paper about the Basilisk counts." he replied as he peered through the sights of the gun. "Though I'll always appreciate your help, Hermione."
Hermione squeezed his shoulder as she took up the seat behind him. "Save the appreciation until after the battle, Harry. Then maybe my heart can stop beating a mile a minute."
Minerva settled in a position where she was out of the way, but still able to help if needed as they roared out of the garage. "Are all of your adventures this hectic, Mister Potter?" she asked, semi-seriously.
Harry laughed. "This is rather tame all things considered!" he replied. Then he saw a red tank in front of them. "That's not one of ours is it?" he shouted.
Isara shook her head. "No, our tanks and infantry wear blue!" she shouted back.
Harry quickly aligned the gun and pulled his trigger, the resulting explosion surprised him, no more than Isara's yip of joy and her rapid manoeuvrings. "You're a natural!" she shouted. "Are you sure you've not fired a tank gun before?"
Harry shook his head clear and continued to keep his eyes open. "Nope! First time touching a gun of any kind!" He shouted back. "But I'm told I'm a fast learner, more so if my life depends on it!"
Harry didn't hear her reply as he sent another shell into another tank, sending jets of flame out of the holes as Harry supposed he hit something important. A quick wall demolition later, and Edelweiss and her crew were in the central square of the town. Importantly, behind a squad of Imperial infantry and their tank as they formed the meat of a Gallian sandwich. "Target that tank, Harry! I'm on the infantry!" Isara shouted. "The blue glowing area is a weak point!"
Harry nodded. "Blue spot! Got it!" he shouted as he aimed for the mentioned weak spot and sent a shell at it. It was clearly an important thing too, as bits of the tank went every which way, Harry idly wondered if some of them reached orbit. It had the added benefit of clearing the infantry, letting Isara drive forward and meet her brother and their quickly becoming familiar face. "Welkin!" Isara shouted as she leapt out of the tank and into her brother's arms. "Oh, thank goodness you're alright!"
Welkin chuckled. "Thanks to you Is." He replied. "We weren't sure how to handle the tank, then you showed up and removed the entire problem."
Isara smiled then turned back to Edelweiss, "Well, our new friends were a big help." she replied.
She was looking directly at Harry when she said that, and, as such, Harry felt a little warm-cheeked at the praise. Beside him, Hermione smirked at his discomfort and decided to increase it. "Most of us did very little Mister Gunther, it was your sister and Harry who did all the work," she replied.
Now Harry actually did turn red out of embarrassment. But fortunately for him, he was saved by the timely intervention of Minerva. "We best get moving. I doubt that this is all the enemy in the area."
The other woman nodded. "Agreed, mind if I hitch a ride Welkin?" she asked.
Welkin nodded. "Of course, you can Alicia. We're all in the same boat after all," he replied.
As Welkin and Alicia boarded Edelweiss and Isara began the drive to the Capital, Harry looked back on the small town they were leaving behind. Somehow, he knew that not only had the lives of himself, Hermione and Professor McGonagall changed, but so had the lives of the Gallians. He prayed it was for the better, but feared the worst, unsure if the Potter Effect would be strong here.
Only Mother Magic knew, and she wasn't telling, at least, not yet…