Sorry this took so long everyone – just got back from surprise vacation in
the mountains. Apparently there are still some places in the world not
plugged in. I'm going to try to get some extra chapters done to make it up
to you guys and should be caught up by this weekend. For now, just hope you
enjoy.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

Chapter 5 - The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts

"Messrs. Weasley, what a pleasant surprise."

The Weasley brothers didn't appear to agree with that assessment. Or at least not with the 'pleasant' part. The two older boys, who had to be
twins, were left gaping in horrified silence as if their most terrible
nightmare had suddenly come to life. Knowing the professor, that may have
very well been the case. The younger brother was sitting in the driver's
seat – Ron, if he remembered correctly – and seemed to be struggling with
an instinctive 'fight or flight' response, emphasis on flight. All the
blood had rushed out of his face leaving him as white as a corpse. Even his
fiery red hair paled at the sight of the Potions Master, bane of every
Gryffindor that ever attended Hogwarts.

Potter, who was caught off guard by his friends' arrival, spoke quickly to
reassure them.

"Don't worry, he isn't Snape. I mean, he is Snape, obviously, just not
. . . our Snape. He came to check on me, the ten year old me that is. And I
– he has this book. Harry thought it was a Bible, but it wasn't. It was
magical, and it sucked them into this vortex where they keep on jumping
realities which is how they ended up here. Which is rather odd, because they keep on changing location, too. And unfortunate; because when they arrived
this house elf dropped a cake on Snape . . ."

The professor raised a single eyebrow and Potter decided to quit while he was
behind. His life had become far too complicated in the last couple of hours
and if he could barely understand it, there was no chance that he would be able to
explain it anytime soon. He turned to Harry.

"You should probably explain it."

The professor interrupted before Harry could go through the story again.

"It would also be an excellent idea to land that piece of scrap metal
before the headmaster arrives. While I am sure my counterpart would be eternally
grateful if you three were to be expelled from Hogwarts, I, for one, do not
feel like adding the reason why three minors were breaking dozens of Statute
of Secrecy bylaws onto our explanation."

Harry looked up at him in consternation.

"You could have just said 'park the car'."

"Yes. I could have."

Potter attempted to stifle a small smile. Snape's insults were actually
rather funny (not to mention creative). He was finding this fact easier to
appreciate as, for once in his life, the professor's ire was not aimed
directly at him. Strangely, he found himself identifying with Draco. No
wonder the blonde always enjoyed Potions class so much.

The Weasleys nodded and Ron, who was regaining some of his color, shifted
the wheel. The Anglia floated away from the wall, arching gracefully over a
patch of carefully pruned azaleas, and came to land right behind Uncle
Vernon's car. The three boys got out of the car and slowly made their way
up the front path. Their heads were hung low and their shoulders set in defeat as
if walking to their execution. Upon finding the front door unlocked, they
entered.

Since Potter hadn't had much to pack the job was finished about the same
time that Ron and his brothers entered the house. Potter immediately
ran down to meet them and Snape followed sedately after. Judging from the
quiet, sibilant sounds emanating from the living room, he was tearing into the
Weasleys.

Harry was left to lug the trunk down the stairs. It was large and unwieldy
but not completely unmanageable thanks to the added benefit of gravity. He
almost lost control of it a couple of times but with his quick reflexes and a
bit of luck he got the luggage (and himself) to the bottom in one piece. He
arrived just as Snape was rounding off his lecture on 'the misuse of muggle
artifacts' so he decided to make himself known.

"That reminds me. What are we going to do with the Dursleys?

The professor turned to him.

"I mean if we want to make a good impression on this headmaster we should
probably untie them."

Both Potter and the professor started, as if they had forgotten that they had
knocked out the owners of the house and tied them to chairs in the kitchen.
It wasn't exactly the easiest thing to forget, but it was understandable; no
one really liked to think about the Dursleys if they could help it.

"You kidnapped -"

"- Harry's relatives?" asked the twins, now looking at the professor
with something akin to hero worship.

"Depends on the definition of 'kidnap'. We haven't actually taken
them anywhere," said Harry.

"And we're not demanding ransom either," added Potter.

Ron snorted. "Yeah. As if anyone would pay it."

Harry thought about that one for a minute. The only person that came to mind
was Aunt Marge who, aside from being the most horrible woman on the planet,
seemed to hold a certain fondness for her nephew Dudley. But he even had to
admit that if it came down to a choice – the Dursleys or money – there
wasn't really a question about which one she would choose.

Come to think of it, the professor could probably get away with leaving them
in the chairs over the weekend. No one would really notice (or care) until
Uncle Vernon failed to turn up for work. It was sad in a way. They spent
their entire lives trying to be normal, trying to fit in, and were so busy
covering up anything different (i.e. Harry) that they missed the fact that the
differences made them human. A family without imperfection was unnatural.

"No one's ransoming anyone," groused Snape. "There is just a finite
amount of idiocy I'm willing to deal with in one sitting."

"With the addition of the twins, you would think you'd have hit your
quota," muttered Ron.

"An excellent point. Potter, is there any duct tape left?"

"Oi!" shouted one of the twins.

"Don't encourage him!" finished the other, hitting his little brother
over the head for good measure.Potter glanced quickly at Harry and made an abortive gesture with his hands.

"Nope; fresh out. Took half the role to cover uncle Vernon," Harry lied
through his teeth.

"How unfortunate."
"Er, sir? The headmaster should be arriving any minute now. Shouldn't
we be untying the, er, hostages?" ventured Ron.

The professor just glared.

"Maybe we could -"

That was as far as Harry got before he was cut off by a loud screeching
sound, like twisting metal, emanating from the kitchen.

The lights above their heads dimmed, flickered, and then went out. Through a
crack under the kitchen door they could make out a faint and erratic strobe of
faint white light, as if it was being cast by a sparking outlet.

Potter, alarmed, whispered, "There's something in the kitchen."

"Congratulations Potter. You have just proved that you have at least the
intellectual capacity of a flea," sneered Snape, slipping his wand into his
hand.

The Weasleys retreated behind the couch. Potter, grabbing Harry by the back
of his shirt, took refuge with his younger self behind an armchair on the other side of the room.

Snape crept silently to the door and pushed it open slowly. The kitchen was
as dark as pitch and the living room, now illuminated only by the streetlamp
outside, was rapidly becoming uncomfortably eerie.

The sparking effect had disappeared and the house was silent as the
grave.

"Look Out!"

Out of the void flew a twisted form of metal and machinery. Snape quickly
raised a shield and deflected the monster to the side where in landed in a
pool of shadows under the stairs. All that was visible was a band of gleaming
steel and two small glowing red dots. They looked like eyes possessed with
the burning fires of hell.

"What is that?" Fred exclaimed.

"Demon?" George offered.

Fred shook his head. "No way. Those things take years of complex rituals to summon."

Ron looked at his brothers suspiciously. "How would you know?"

Fred instantly looked sheepish while George affected an innocent expression.

"Never mind. Don't want to know."

"He is wiser than he appears," one of the twins whispered to the other.

"Shut up you guys. It's coming around for a second attack," whispered
Potter, holding tightly to his younger self.

Harry was leaning forward trying to get a better look.

"It looks familiar."

Snape tensed; right before the thing sprang. This time he was ready with a
containment spell. As the professor trapped the creature in a sparkling blue
bubble of magic, the terrified victims got their first good look at their
assailant.

"Is that . . . the microwave?" Harry said.

He knew it looked familiar. He had spent his childhood in the kitchen
cooking and cleaning; he knew every appliance inside and out. The microwave
had always been one of his favorites simply because it was the easiest to
clean. But looking at it now was like looking at a stranger with a familiar
face. The white enamel had peeled off to expose a scratched metal surface.
The stainless steel sides had taken on a vicious gleam, if such a thing was
even possible. The electrical cord whipped back and forth impatiently, sparks
flying out the end in agitation. Even more troubling, there was a steady
pulsing glow emanating from inside where, clearly visible through the little
window in the front, the black book rested on the heating tray.

"This is exactly why mixing muggle technology and magic is a bad idea,"
Snape re-iterated, harking back to his earlier lecture. "Sooner or later,
it takes on a life of its own."

The Weasley twins, getting up from behind the couch, nodded dumbly.

"Don't mix."

"Got it."

The microwave snapped at them from inside the bubble. That it had no
discernable mouth did not appear to be an issue. The two ready lights on the
side glowed a malevolent red. If Harry hadn't known any better, he would have sworn that the microwave was glaring at him.

Lakhesis stared at the sphere, trying to decipher the strange markings.
There was a small square of blue stars within a sea-foam green chariot. The
stars she knew were the symbol for the Gemini twins. Could it be indicating
the month they jumped to? Then the newborn phoenix – that symbolized new
life. What was that supposed to mean? And there on the side; if she was
reading this right it was a warning: 'beware of metal boxes'. It didn't
make any sense!

And here, around the top, two white lights had lit up. That meant that they
had traveled to two worlds so far. Hopefully they would have enough sense to
stay in one place long enough to be found.

Lakhesis, however, was nothing if not realistic. She knew counting on any
human to have enough sense to do the right thing was a waste of time.
Sometimes it seemed like the nature of Free Will meant that nothing anyone did
really made sense, including this ridiculous contraption. If only there was
some sort of manual. But Acies, the designer, had created it by accident and
probably had less of an idea of how to work the thing than Lakhesis did and all Lakhesis knew was that Acies's vision had indicated that the Universal Adapter
would be an instrument used to direct people in the preservation of the
multi-verse.

This meant that the Universal Adapter would only reveal what Lakhesis needed to know only when she was meant to know it. That way she would act as she must act to save everything from going to hell in a hand-basket. If she knew too soon, she might misstep. Too late and it would be TOO LATE.

Lakhesis let out a dejected sigh. She was starting to realize why so many
mortals cursed fate.

Headmaster Dumbledore arrived to find not only his student and his Potions
Professor (whom he could have sworn was on sabbatical in Germany), but three
members of the Weasley clan and a younger duplicate of Harry Potter, who were all
engaged in a staring contest with a metal box hovering inside a class five
containment field.

"Severus! What on earth is going on?"

"The brat will explain. I have to go check on . . . something. In the kitchen."

The professor shot a quick glance at the two Potters and went to make sure
the Dursleys stayed quiet. Obliviation was relatively easy when one was a
world class Legilimens.

Harry, who was now practiced in the art of telling their strange story,
proceeded to outline the last couple of days, starting with the professor's
unlikely visit to number four Privet Drive. He included all the information
he had on the book that had caused so much trouble on the off chance that the
wizened old headmaster might know how to work it, or at least counteract
its effects. Unfortunately the man had no more idea than his counterpart
had had in the last dimension. He offered a lemon drop in consolation.

"This is a most unfortunate situation. I am, however, somewhat heartened
to know that you have a qualified member of the staff to look after you."
Harry decided not to point out that this particular 'qualified member of the
staff' was currently covering up the fact that he had attacked the Dursleys in
the next room over. "Would you like to live at Hogwarts during your stay?
The school library is certainly more comprehensive than Professor Snape's
personal collection."

There was a muffled clang from the kitchen and the sound of a heavily laden
chair being dragged slowly across the floor. Dumbledore looked at the door
and frowned.

"What on earth is that man doing?"

The five boys were silent for a moment, each frantically composing a
plausible cover story.

"Soup!" burst out Potter suddenly. The other occupants of the room jumped at
the exclamation and stared at the boy in varying measures of surprise and
confusion.

"Soup?" enquired the Headmaster.

"Left the soup on . . . boiling. It's a heavy pot you see," Potter
hedged, now committed to an absolutely ridiculous explanation. "You have to
sort of drag it along. Very hard work." He shut his mouth before he could
dig himself a deeper hole. It seemed to be a theme tonight.

Harry sighed and hung his head. He could have sworn he was a better liar
than this. Fortunately the twins came to the rescue.

"Um. I don't think that thing -" said Fred, gesturing towards the
containment field.

"- is going to hold," finished George, nervously backing away.

The twins appeared to be right. The field was starting to shudder and crack
as the . . . microwave beat against the sides in agitation. It wanted out.

The Headmaster's eyebrows lifted over the rim of his half-moon glasses.
"Oh dear."

Snape took the opportunity to re-enter the living room. It was a good thing
the older man was distracted; Harry managed to catch another glimpse of his
family, who were now re-secured with a coil of thick rope, before the kitchen
door swung shut again.

Dumbledore addressed the professor without turning away from the creature as
the shield continued to weaken. "Severus, the field is collapsing. Whatever
signature that book is giving off, it is too strong to be contained within a
simple four dimensional barrier ward. We need to get the book then re-seal
it."

That didn't sound good. Getting the book meant getting it out from inside
the mutant microwave. More specifically, in meant releasing said microwave.
Without prompting, Harry backed up behind the armchair. This time he was the
one to reach up and pull Potter back to safety.

"On the count of three. One, two -"

CRACK!

The barrier came down a second before they planned to release it and the
microwave, spurred on with maddening purpose, sailed straight into the face of
the man who had trapped it. A great deal of muffled cursing ensued as Snape
held the sides and tried to pry the metallic monster off of him.
Unfortunately, the electrical cord had wrapped around his neck and was
tenaciously trying to choke the life out of him. As the professor grappled
with the microwave the Headmaster was reaching around the back (at an
extremely awkward angle since he was a head shorter than the potions
professor) and wedging the door open to get to the book, using his wand as a
sort of crowbar.

Many years later (and comfortably removed from the unspeakable terror that he
would be eaten by his own microwave) Potter would look back on this as the
single funniest moment of his life. For Harry, it was just another in a long
line of ridiculous situations.

Dumbledore finally pried the door open with a loud pop and quickly snatched
the book before it could close back on his hand with a vengeful snap. It was
around this time that Snape, largely unsuccessful in fighting off the
microwave with his hands alone, gathered enough willpower (and breath) to
exhale a forceful, "Sectumsempra". The spell, usually debilitating in its
ability to cut through skin and bone, met its match in the stainless steel
armor of the Black&Decker. It did not manage to slice any deeper than a
couple of centimeters into the metal, but luckily it severed the electrical
cord so as it was blasted back against the far wall by the force of the spell,
the professor was not dragged along by the neck.

The microwave, apparently deciding that it, too, had had enough, recovered,
dodged the three containment spells sent its way, and hurled itself out the
nearest window, flying off into the night like a vengeful, if somewhat boxy,
poltergeist.

"Well. I suppose I'd better contact Arthur," sighed Dumbledore. "And
warn him to bring backup," he added, staring out the rectangle shaped hole
in the glass. "This has to be the most extreme case of muggle appliance
tampering since the infamous 'toaster of doom' back in '54. Left three
Aurors in St. Mungos." At Ron's stricken look he added in a comforting
tone, "Don't worry my boy, they managed to reattach the poor man's
nose."

Ron swallowed thickly.

Snape stood off to the side, glaring a hole in anything dumb enough to come
within his line of vision. His mood had been steadily worsening over the past
couple of days and being repeatedly assaulted by a kitchen appliance had not
improved his disposition. Harry emerged from behind the armchair to pick up
the book and then wandered over to the professor.

"Is your neck all right, sir?"

Snape swung his head to glare at Harry, but did not erupt into another rant which Harry took as a good sign. After a moment the man's face relaxed into a mild
frown which Harry identified as a standard scowl, a default expression for the
cantankerous professor.

"Is it possible that the boy and I might move ahead to the school?" Snape
asked, addressing the Headmaster. "I, for one, am anxious to put this day
behind me."

Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, yes, by all means. I just need to contact Arthur
- and Molly to retrieve the boys. I'll be along shortly."

The professor nodded tersely and signaled for Harry to follow him. Potter
waved goodbye to his counterpart and smiled.

"Nice meeting you Harry," Potter said. "It's been . . . eventful."

Harry grinned back, suppressing a laugh. "That's one word for it," he
called as he walked out the door, trailing after the professor.

After breaking several finger nails trying to get the hang of working guitar
strings, Atropos decided that she had really always wanted to learn to play
the drums instead. She wasn't half bad either. Apparently she was a
natural percussionist. There wasn't much to it, just hit the drumhead as
hard as you could as fast as you could. Nodding your head up and down helped
for some reason. It was certainly much easier than scouring the multi-verse
for two wizards and a particularly troublesome diary before the very fabric of
existence unwove itself. Much less pressure as well.

As least theoretically.

There was this whole thing about getting up on stage and performing for a
bunch of strangers in a strange dimension with Percy Weasley constantly
reminding her that the fate of the British Ministry of Magic rested on her
slender shoulders that had her a little freaked out. The fact that she
didn't really know (or even understand) what she was doing was no help
whatsoever.

So the biggest question in her mind was not 'where is the book?' or
'how do I fix this?' but rather 'does this dress make me look fat?'

"So are we going back to Hogwarts, now?"

"Yes. There are several theories I did not have an opportunity to try out
and, if the last world was any indication, the school library should remain
relatively unchanged. If we can manage to avoid any more of these idiotic
accidents for the next week or so, there is a good chance that we will be able
to get ourselves home," said Snape wistfully. Harry, who was in no hurry to
return to life at the Dursleys (trolls and possessed microwaves aside), was
less enthusiastic. There wasn't any arguing with the professor though. The
man had been dragged through two dimensions already and was starting to look a
little frayed around the edges. It didn't help that he still had not yet
managed to get all of the chocolate frosting out of his hair.

"What should I do with the book?"

"First and foremost: Do not open it again. In fact, it would be a good
idea to seal it shut. Hand it over."

Harry passed him the thick leather volume carefully. With his luck he'd
end up dropping it and they would both be back at square one.

Snape grabbed the book with his right hand and gathered his wand in the
other, poised to cast a spell.

"Er, sir?"

"Yes Mr. Potter?"

"Should we really be doing magic with that thing? It reacts negatively
with pretty much everything it comes in contact with."

The professor frowned in thought then granted the point with a small nod.

"We'll tie it shut for now then figure out a better alternative once we
reach the castle." He handed the book back and began to unbutton his
overcoat.

"S-Sir?" stammered Harry, alarmed at Snape's bizarre behavior. He was
graced with a brief look, one that clearly stated he was an idiot, and the
professor stripped off his belt and, after winding it around the book, snapped
the buckle tightly into place.

"Why not just conjure up another rope?" asked Harry as he handed the book
back to the professor, his curiosity overriding his embarrassment.

"Wizards are capable of using non-magic solutions. When the occasion
merits, I prefer the simple solutions. Too many become dependent on their
wands to the point where they are essentially helpless without them." At
this his lips curled into a disdainful sneer. "I do not wish to count
myself among them."

Harry could understand that. It was too easy to break a skinny stick of wood.
Or a pair of glasses, he reflected ruefully. There wasn't much he could do
about that; he was half-blind without them. But given the professor's
choice, it was only sensible; even if he could never in a million years
picture the tall, dark, intimidating man being anything close to helpless.

"That makes sense. Are there a lot of things like this, that magic can't fix?"

Snape looked at him oddly then. There was a haunted look in the dark
recesses of his eyes for a moment before he turned to face ahead again.

"Yes. Some would argue the most important things," Snape trailed off for
a second before resuming his usual lecturing tone. "Magic itself is an
embodiment of chaos. It is specifically designed to defy all natural law.
The spells and potions designed to harness it must follow the same pattern of
unpredictability, which is why it is so hard to create a new formula or
solution. I myself am one of the youngest Potions Masters and inventors to
ever be registered, but still did not finish the necessary training for such a
field until my late twenties. The solution to our problem, for example, is
not as easy as waving a wand and shouting 'there's no place like home.'
The book that brought us here seems to be some sort of powerful magical
artifact, no doubt a nexus of wild magic. We need to find a way to harness
this chaos to our advantage and use it to create a very specific path through
space time. And since I am by no means a genius at Arithmancy, we will need
the help of someone experienced in the field to plot our course as well."

"Is there someone like that at the school?"

"I'm not sure. Possibly; if Professor Vector didn't go on that
exchange program to Brazil as did the one in our world. Though even if she
still went to Rio there are a few others we can contact," the professor
answered, holding out his wand at arms length. "Stand back."

Harry would have enquired further, but all of a sudden there was a great clap
like the sound of compressed air being released all at once, and a great big
purple double-decker bus shot out before them. He fell over backwards in
surprise.

"What the . . .?"

"The Knight Bus," said Snape, by way of explanation. "Horrible way to
travel but relatively cheap when compared to the cost of floo powder."

"What's a Floo?"

The professor just snorted and retrieved a small bag of coins from his
pocket, counting out several of the small silver coins into the palm of his
hand. Harry, annoyed at being ignored, allowed his attention to wander. He
gazed through the windows of the peculiar looking bus. Were those beds?

His speculation was cut short, however, when he glimpsed a metallic flash in
the corner of his eye.

"DUCK!"

Snape reacted with startling speed, whipping around to face their assailant,
wand already in hand.

The microwave, instead of fleeing, had apparently just made a strategic
retreat. It flew out of the overcast night sky, door snapping like the jaws
of death. With painful clarity Harry watched as the steel monster, as if in slow motion, fell from the sky and the book, which had been clutched underneath the professor's arm, fell to the ground.

The air around them was strangely silent as the buckle on Snape's old belt
clicked and released and swirling light surrounded the three combatants.

The world went white.