Harry and the Magic Factory
A/N: I seemed to have lost my way for a time with this story. Hopefully I'm back on track.
On another topic, I enjoyed the Order of the Phoenix movie. I disliked much of the 5th book so I hadn't expected much from the companion movie. I was pleasantly surprised (although the scenes at the Ministry could have been done differently, e.g. better). Good casting for Bellatrix, though! I would have liked to have seen more McGonagall (her and Umbridge tussling over Harry's career!) and perhaps the scene where Harry was thrown off the Quidditch team. But, the scenes with Filch hanging up the vast and petty proclamations were funny and enjoyable – as were the montages that sped along the plot. A better movie than a book, in my (perhaps controversial) opinion.
Anyway. Enjoy the new chapter!
January 11, 1997
Dolores Umbridge was wheezing a bit as her fat little legs carried her down Diagon Alley. She hadn't looked forward to anything this much since she personally executed a rabid hippogriff seventeen years ago. A little blood was a good thing to get one's own blood flowing! Yes, indeed.
She tugged on her pink cardigan once more just before she walked inside the store. It was early in the morning, the perfect time to end the existence of this ridiculous store.
She had a full complement of twelve aurors behind her. Dolores didn't kid herself that she wasn't a terribly gifted witch – when it came to the magical side of the equation – but she was gifted with people and politics. Oh, yes. Very gifted.
And it was Albus Dumbledore who'd gotten this little action started. Such an odd man, the headmaster of her youth. Sometimes he appeared so innocent, so good; other times, Dolores wondered where his mind came up with the things he spouted off. However, for all his oddity, his current idea about closing down the Potter Emporiums was an excellent one.
So, with a dozen wands at her back, she strode into the store to find it surprisingly full for such an early hour.
"This store is closed. Anyone still here in five minutes will be fined for shopping in a business unapproved by the Ministry of Magic."
Most of the people inside just glared at the rotund woman and continued on with their shopping.
"Well, I never…"
She was getting ready for a full tantrum when one of the beastly little house elves wandered over to her.
"May I be helping you, Miss?"
"I am Madam Umbridge, you foul creation. And you can fetch me a proper witch or wizard. My people have business with this store, you understand. We're closing it down for good."
The green monstrosity's eyes just got wide. Then it blinked a half dozen times before it bowed and then said, "I will be fetching someone. Just one moment, Miss."
Umbridge grunted in frustration. She turned around and caught more than one of the Aurors pickpocketing some of the merchandise from the store. She scowled that they would even want such filth – it had been merchanted by house elves, for Merlin's sake.
"Don't touch any of that filth," she whispered. "It's not fit for proper wizards. It's unnatural, freakish…" Her brain was a veritable thesaurus for unpleasant words. "Proper wizards pay for other wizards to make their goods, not for these abominations."
None of the Aurors wanted to argue with her, even if the quality was better and the prices lower than in the other stores. In fact, it was basically purebloods like herself who were keeping the noncompetitive stores open in the face of the Potter Emporiums. But the Aurors all liked their jobs and the various unofficial perks that came with them.
Dolores looked around the store and observed that next to no one had left. People were still peaceably doing their marketing. This wouldn't stand.
"Start ushering them out, gentlemen. No need to be gentle, either, as they already had a warning."
The Aurors each managed to take about five steps before they all seemed to freeze into place. Umbridge began to scream at them before she noticed a house elf behind a desk at the side of the store. It had obviously done something.
"Release them, you foul beast."
The house elf shook his head.
Umbridge smirked and drew her wand.
"What is your name, elf? I'll need it for the report." The Ministry was nothing if not thorough in its paperwork. For the destruction of a worthless house elf, she would need at least its name and a reason for its death.
The confused elf answered her question. "Dobby, Miss."
"I am a Madam, you inbred monster." She leveled her wand at the creature and said, "Reducto."
Oliver Wood blinked a few times rapidly. He was definitely nervous. He'd been finished with school for a good deal of time, just working toward completing three masteries. He wanted to get a Transfiguration mastery under his belt before he petitioned to have "Magical and Non-Magical Games and Sports" made into a Mastery option. He'd already written up his full proposal.
But the problem had been completing his animagus transformation, that had stalled him for two-plus solid years when he was trapped and prevented from moving forward to taking the first-level mastery testing. Had it been worth it? Hell, the transformation was more painful than getting hit by a half dozen bludgers. But, after the years of work, Oliver was now a pit bull. After all, as the official reasoning went, one couldn't adequately teach human self-transfiguration unless one was an animagus himself.
And he could finally complete the last stage of the Mastery: the demonstration and proving before the other Transfiguration masters.
What he was about to do was some terribly clever transfiguration, highly advanced and surprisingly different from much of the spell research that had ever been done before – but it was also the basis for Oliver Wood to begin making his case for allowing a Mastery in Games and Sports.
Oliver Wood walked out to the spot behind the Potter School and saw that the twenty or so observers he'd expected were all present, even his friend Harry. It was, of course, actually Harry that one had to impress. And Harry was sure to enjoy this presentation and also to ask the most challenging of questions, too, as a reward.
Oliver bowed to the audience and spoke in a loud clear voice the formulaic language. "My brothers and sisters in knowledge, I thank you for your time and forbearance as I have struggled to become adept in the discipline of magical transfiguration. Now, today, I would like to demonstrate a bit of that knowledge synthesized and made new and vital. Then I would gladly accept your questions to prove my mastery of this most important of subjects."
All the audience members inclined their heads for a second and Oliver relaxed a bit. He wasn't great with memorized speeches, but he'd practiced his demonstration many, many times and could deliver it without conscious thought.
"I would like to say one thing about why we're meeting outside in the middle of January. My demonstration and proving – in its current form – is rather connected to the earth, as you shall all see."
As Oliver walked around the Quidditch pitch behind the school, laying out the objects needed for his transfiguration mastery, he pondered over the path that had brought him here. He'd spent more than fifteen years acquiring the knowledge of the world – and of magic to get this far. Then nine years specifically studying various aspects of transfiguration. Then that horrifying test. He'd been given a practical examination on his ability to transfigure in all situations: academic, domestic, practical, battle; under water, in a desert, inside a forest; conjuring food and living off it for two days while conjuring an entire small house and all the required belongings, from teacups to china cabinets, so that he could host a dinner party for seven, serving only conjured delicacies; then a series of duels that relied solely upon battle transfiguration and conjuration.
And all that had qualified him merely to begin specific work into his chosen research area: autonomous transfiguration or objects enchanted to transfigure themselves when specified conditions were met, the expiration of a timing charm or the use of a codeword or exposure to fire or any other unique condition. It required mastery over enchanting and transfiguration; it required the integration of safety charms and other varieties of magic to make everything work properly. It was serious magic.
Oliver walked back over to where his observers were seated. Then he spoke a single, clear word into the cold morning air. "Games."
At that, the tiny toys and trinkets Oliver had spread across the pitch began to release their stored, enchanted magic. A few dozen of them began turning into massive hedgerows, a virtual maze that could delight a dozen children, as the plants seemed to be growing together in bizarre ways. It wasn't a maze in two dimensions; no, it was a maze in three dimensions. The hedgerows would force children to climb and descend; to move through layers and tunnels cut through the hedgerows. Inside, children's slides, a merry-go-round, and a series of Quidditch hoops formed up as well.
There were even more surprises in store for those who ventured inside. And, because of a variety of charms he'd devised to work with his autonomous transfiguration, every time these tokens were activated, the maze and its contents would vary.
"Toys that entertain; some that teach; some that inspire. A portable playground, one that is made of magic, one that teaches magic at an age appropriate level, one that tells the stories of magic. I call it the Everchanted Maze. This is my first practical example of autonomous transfiguration which has been combined with enchanting, safety charms, and a variety of other disciplines…"
Harry Potter was the first one out of the stands and the first to enter inside the maze. He had a wicked smile on his face as he pushed his way inside.
Inside the Potter Emporium, a surprisingly small wave of red energy lashed out of Dolore Umbridge's wand and headed toward the small, concerned house elf. It cried with a real terror when it was struck in its upper arm and a deep red gash appeared there.
Instantly, three elves appeared alongside of Dobby and began to fuss over him. And two more of the foul creatures arrived near Dolores. She was ready to blast away again, when one of the new creatures snapped its fingers and her wand split right up its length. The destroyed pieces just fell from her hand.
"What did you do, you ridiculous creature. I'm the Undersecretary – the Senior Undersecretary, at that, for Justice and Peace and Eternal Prosperity – to the Minister of Magic himself. I'm an important personage and you, creature, have just signed your own death warrant… Aurors, kill them all. Kill every elf in here…. NOW!"
Of course, the woman seemed to have forgotten that all her Aurors seemed to be perfectly incapable of moving at all.
But the Oompahs staring at the lump of a degenerate human didn't. No, the pair of them advanced on her. One bound her with ropes. The other bound her magic so tightly it would take months to unloosen. From near-squib like powers, the woman now literally was less than a squib.
"What did you do to me," she shrieked. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that the elf she had tried to kill had now stopped bleeding. But he wasn't dead. No, he was pissed off.
The mad little creature stomped up to Dolores Umbridge, ripped the papers she was carrying out of her left hand, and then left her gasping like a fish out of water.
Her eyes followed the mad little critter as he stomped over to a wizard who had just seemingly appeared from nowhere. He looked vaguely familiar. And – what's more – he looked like a werewolf. Dolores sniffed at the air. There was a wildness here that hadn't been present before.
"Filthy half breed," she shouted.
The werewolf looked at the bandaged house elf and nodded toward Dolores. "Take her away to justice. To the elf courts, Dobby. You may ask of her what you will."
The small, excitable creature clapped his hands in joy. Then he scampered back toward Dolores, grasped her arm, and – with a final, agonizing shriek from the rotund female – disappeared.
Remus Lupin then walked over to the immobilized Aurors and surveyed them. "Your 'leader' won't be returning, I'm afraid. It's a capital offense to kill an Oompah. Since Dobby survived, the punishment is reduced, but it will still mean at least a lifetime of servitude…"
He turned to observe the customers still inside the store. "If everyone could please wrap up your shopping, we seem to have a matter of Ministry interference to deal with. I wouldn't like for anyone of you to be caught up inside this obviously political farce. The Oompahs will be glad to help all of you with your needs. And don't forget that we do have an owl catalogue available."
With that, Remus Lupin examined the documents that Dobby had taken from Dolores Umbridge's hand.
"An order of seizure. Without any documentary evidence or stated rationale, I'd also note. No one in their right mind would sign off on something with such flimsy claims. Of course, that's assuming that the someone was in her right mind, as that woman certainly wasn't. Still, someone bothered to draw up papers and put them on Ministry parchment. Yet they don't seem to be fully thought out. Hmm…I wonder."
He pulled out his wand. "Reveal your authority."
A grayish spell flew from his wand and surrounded the legal documents. But the magical orders did not respond in kind with either an aura or a magical voice or any kind of answer to the demand.
"They're false, papers, then," Remus said. "The Ministry hasn't gone through its own procedures to make these legal."
One of the Aurors, named Dawlish, finally woke up enough to realize what was happening.
"You foolish… Gah." Remus filled the man's insulting mouth with a burst of soap suds. "Albus Dumbledore, head of the Wizengamot, suggested all this. Of course it's perfectly legal. He can make anything legal."
He spat soap suds as the shoppers inside the store made their way past the Aurors. Most were laughing. A few who had been roughed up by these 'law enforcement officers' took a moment or two to repay certain favors. All of the Aurors found their wands snapped by suddenly happy patrons of the Potter Emporium.
Remus watched the whole procession with a guarded face. He was also trying to make some sense of these blasted papers that the toad-like woman had been carrying. He could get the gist of what they said on the first reading, but further scrutiny showed them to be almost insensible. Well, insensible and filled with only half truths.
Remus looked closely at each of the Aurors once the store was emptied of its customers.
"Are you clowns even legitimate Aurors?"
He shot the same grayish spell toward the badge of the lead Auror. It didn't react at all, either.
Then Remus shot the spell – apparently concerned that it wasn't working – toward the enchanted cash drawer guarded over by two Oompahs. It spat back that it was a proper receptacle of money, as ordered by the Potter Emporium.
"Hmm, so my spell still works. But your paperwork, even your badges, are just for show. Interesting. I wonder what that means exactly." It was then a wolfish smile creased his face. "Perhaps it means that your Ministry isn't legitimate at all. Perhaps it means that the magical contract that established the Ministry was ended – and your Fudge and his cronies never let anyone know about it, just to hang onto power. Perhaps it was ended, oh maybe, nine years ago or so. You may not know, but the Blacks, the Potters, the Diggory's, the Woods, the Malfoys, Lestranges, Notts, Carrows, Goyles, and many other families were among the initial forty-nine signatories. And that magical contract binding a good deal of the free magic within Britain was designed to be ended should the Ministry fall to corruption and incompetence…"
The Aurors were now all free enough to move their faces. They were considering the story with disbelief and, a few, with mounting horror.
"You've all been acting without a basis in law for almost a decade. Every law passed since then was illegal and many of you committed crimes in the name of those laws. Some of you 'confiscated' assets – that is no different than theft. Some of you 'put down' werewolves – that's plain old murder, my fine feathered friends. Your reign of terror has just ended, I'd say. Should be fun to see what happens, I think…"
Dawlish had enough sanity left in his skull to shout something out.
"Dumbledore will stop you. Fudge is a moron, true, but Dumbledore can outthink any five wizards…"
Remus smiled. "I don't think Dumbledore will be doing much of anything for the next few days at least. He's rather tied up at the moment, indisposed you might say. And, after he frees up some time, I doubt anyone will bother to give him the time of day. I'd suggest you read your newspapers tomorrow and the day after, but none of you will have that privilege… There's going to be quite an outcry concerning the old man in the coming days, weeks, and months."
"Oliver, my compliments," Harry Potter said after making his way through Oliver's maze. "A truly inspiring piece of magic. I particularly loved the puzzles inside, quizzing me on Merlin's favorite breakfast foods and the best way to make an angry Centaur happy. Wonderful bit of educational theory thrown in there, I'd say…"
The two chatted happily until the other Transfiguration masters made it back out into the open. Most of them had wide smiles on their faces; a few looked dour at having messed up their robes after climbing around like a child. But Oliver knew their votes didn't count.
"Well, Oliver," Harry said, more for the benefit of the group than anyone else's, "perhaps you might consent to answer some of our lingering questions?"
He smiled. It seemed he'd passed the demonstration portion of his proving and was now moving onto the final oral examination. If he was made a mastery, he'd have to swear his oath before the Board of Mastery when it next met. Oliver could just himself saying, "I swear, on penalty of severe punishments, up to and including the loss of my own magic, to continue the development and advancement of my field and to practice, hone, and share my skills throughout the magical world."
Oliver smiled when he started fielding the questions. The technical types started off. "How did you mix delayed transfiguration with charms work?" "Explain the animation spells you utilized to make the miniature Merlin ask us what type of breakfast he liked." "You seemed to randomly place the objects onto the open field, Mr. Wood, but how did everything come together so neatly in the end?" "Have you considered using runic practices – or wards – to increase the range and flexibility of your system?"
The visionaries started interrupting the questioning then. Harry was the leader of this subgroup, it seemed. They weren't focused on the details – no, they were interested in the realm of possibility. "How can these 'autonomous transfigurations' be used in a battle environment?" "I wonder if we could take some of your expertise in merging incompatible spells to improve the way that other disciplines work? I'm thinking specifically right now about better enchanted cooking equipment. Safety spells and fire spells don't work well together, generally." "Explain your thoughts for further developing this subbranch of transfiguration. I personally can see a number of places where I might take this, but I'm interested in your thoughts," Harry asked at one point.
And then the third group joined in. The dismissers; the rather sour grapes of the lot. "That barely used any techniques of transfiguration, Mr. Wood. Why should this be considered for a Transfiguration mastery?" "I'd hate to think a children's game is a valuable contribution to the expansion of magic."
But, in the end, Oliver got his final smile from Harry Potter. He'd have an interesting final evaluation before the Board of Mastery.
"On the 20th, Oliver. I'll see you bright and early, then…" With that Harry nodded to the others and got up. He walked over to the still erected Everchanted Maze. "Ollie, how long will this last for? I forgot to ask."
"I've tested it out to a month. It doesn't degrade or anything."
"Amazing bit of work."
That was all the recommendation he really needed.
The people who were walking along Diagon Alley in the mid-morning on January 11 were shocked to suddenly see a massive marble wall rise up in front of the storefront that housed the Potter Emporium.
Just a few moments later, massive black letters seemed to cut themselves into the thick marble covering the storefront. "The Ministry of Magic has illegally attempted to close this store. However, the warrant presented does not possess the official magic of a magical government. The documents below demonstrate that the Ministry of Magic – and the original compact establishing it – was ended nearly ten years ago, but no one informed the public. An illegal government has operated inside Britain since then. We, the Potter Emporium, refuse to allow an illegal, vigilante group calling itself the Ministry of Magic to attempt to control our activities. Read, become educated, and protect yourselves from these would-be dictators. We will return when the people control the magic of Britain again."
A thick basket filled with cogently written explanations appeared at the bottom edge of the marble sheet. More out of curiosity than anything else, many people picked up the pamphlets. When people started reading them, some had to wonder if they were reading truth or a well-written article cribbed from the Quibbler.
And some actually believed. And most didn't.
Within the hour, Ministry officials were attempting to blast the words from the marble – and to penetrate inside the place of business. Others were attempting to burn or otherwise destroy the pamphlets. Or to collect them from the people who picked them up. But the charmed sheaves of paper wouldn't burn, wouldn't be cut into ribbons, and wouldn't leave those who had claimed them.
Powerful magic, well beyond anything the Ministry could conceive.
So it was immediately labeled seditious and Dark Magic.
Very few noticed, but the goblin-run bank called Gringotts became a flurry of activity once the marble shield went up over the Potter Emporium. And, for the first time in 572 years, Gringotts closed its doors and erected its own form of shielding.
An elegant script danced magically over the clear, but palpable shield. "Gringotts has known for nine and a half years that the magical compact that created the Ministry of Magic was ended. However, no one would believe a goblin making such claims, so we merely waited. We will reopen once a new form of government is in place and effective. Perhaps this will speed up your thinking processes, wizards and witches."
The only thing the first few witches and wizards who noticed the change to Gringotts could make out was the sound of goblin laughter erupting from inside the sealed building. They'd never played a better prank in their many long years of dealing with rude, horrible humans. Perhaps now people might pay attention to goblins. Perhaps.