Stronger Than Magic
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't own Transformers (property of Hasbro) or Harry Potter (property of J.K. Rowling).
You hold on your screen the fourth and final Transformers/Harry Potter crossover... okay, enough with trying to be dramatic. This fic takes place during the events of "Half-Blood Prince" and "Deathly Hallows," and it does roughly coincide with key events in both books. (So spoilers do exist within.) I did skip a few chunks of the action, but I figured that people would already know what happened via the book, so going into point-by-point detail would just bore people.
It is recommended that you read "Four's A Crowd," "Double the Fun," and "For Love of the Game" before reading this.
I've taken liberties with the "Muggle tech doesn't work on Hogwarts grounds" rule -- I figure that Transformer tech must be pretty different from Muggle tech, so it probably wouldn't be affected as much or in the same way. Also, having all the TFs drop dead upon setting foot on Hogwarts grounds would be kinda anticlimactic. Also, J.K. Rowling has never said what Fred's Patronus is, so I didn't feel guilty taking liberties there.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
Even in broad daylight it was always dark in the ForbiddenForest, the close-grouped trees choking out the sunlight except in eerie shafts that managed to pierce through gaps in the foliage. At night, however, the darkness wasn't just a lack of light -- it was almost a tangible thing, clinging to the tree trunks and bracken like swirls of fog and seeming to smother out sound as well as sight. Shadows conspired with each other to create terrifying specters in the night, and the merest rustle of a branch became the breath of a predator. It wasn't just the fear of the very real dangers of the forest -- werewolves, acromantulas, territorial centaurs, the feral enchanted car of Weasley legend -- that kept students from entering its depths, but the darkness that wreaked havoc with their imaginations, conjuring far more fearsome threats in their minds.
Optimus Prime faced a far different threat than anything the darkness could offer, and yet he showed no fear as he strode through the trees, carefully pushing aside the ancient trunks only as much as necessary for him to pass through. He progressed slowly, part of his processor on the journey and part on his diagnostic display, watching for any glitches or alerts.
At last he reached his destination -- a clearing stomped flat by massive feet, uprooted trees and trampled earth marking the activity of an organic creature far larger than anything he had ever come across before. Seated on a length of log was a white-haired, purple-robed wizard, his glasses shining in the light of the almost-full moon and his hands -- one healthy-looking, the other shriveled and blackened -- folded neatly in his lap. Despite the chill of night that even the near-summer season couldn't entirely dispel, he showed no sign of feeling the cold. He only smiled up at the Autobot commander and gestured with his good hand for him to have a seat.
"I see my theory proved correct," he said with a trace of satisfaction in his voice. "The ambient magic of Hogwarts is not enough to cause harm to your kind."
"Not to the vital systems, at least," Prime replied, tapping his chest with one azure hand. "My transformation cog stopped functioning at the edge of the forest, however. It would seem it affects some of our technology, but not all." He settled down on the ground across from the Headmaster, crossing his legs in what the humans called "Indian style," and nodded in greeting. "I trust you're doing well, Mr. Dumbledore?"
"Delightful considering the circumstances," Dumbledore replied. "Yourself?"
"Well enough." His optics rested on Dumbledore's withered hand. "My apologies for your injury. How did it occur?"
Dumbledore waved the question away. "It's a trivial matter, Prime. A trifle compared to the current state of affairs for both our peoples. War is never pleasant, though I'm sure you're far more aware of that than I can imagine."
Prime nodded, this time in agreement. "Have the Decepticons attempted any treachery against the wizards?"
"Thankfully, no. They keep their distance from us. And now I turn your question around -- has there been any attempt made against the lives of your own troops or people by magical means?"
"This dark wizard of yours -- Voldemort -- has not launched an attack against the Autobots -- nor, to our knowledge, the Decepticons," Prime replied. "We have continued to keep up our vigilance, however..."
"And understandably so, though I feel that attacking the Cybertronians is low on his list of priorities. I am thankful for the continued safety of your people, even if it is not the reason I requested this meeting" He clasped his hands, wincing just slightly as he touched the blackened fingers of his bad hand. "I will be frank -- the Order of the Phoenix wishes to seek the aid of the Autobots in our fight against Voldemort."
Prime arched an optic ridge. "Your war is fought on a magical front, Dumbledore -- and magic is, I'm sorry to say, not a field Cybertronians are adept at. In fact, we are quite susceptible to magical attacks and have yet to develop any sort of defenses against them -- though Primus knows Wheeljack keeps trying."
"The reason the Ministry has not requested your aid earlier, of course," Dumbledore replied. "I appreciate your concerns, Prime, and have no desire to see your troops come to harm. Do know that if I saw some other recourse, I would not involve you in this conflict at all. But due to the nature of Voldemort's new partnership, I see no alternative."
"So Voldemort has made allies with someone powerful, then?" Prime inquired. "The Decepticons?"
"Not the Decepticons -- the giants. A race of organics, as you call them, that grow to immense size and claim the more desolate areas of this world as their home. If you need evidence of their destructive capabilities... well, look around you." He gestured about the clearing, indicating its torn-up trees and flattened earth. "Caused by one of the smaller specimens of their kind. They are powerful fighters and delight in tormenting smaller creatures -- however, they have the disadvantage of being unable to use magic."
"So you feel that recruiting some 'larger help,' as it were, would help you combat these giants?" asked Prime.
"Exactly," answered Dumbledore. "I'm afraid I have nothing to offer you in return for your help, save the assurance that once we make our final stand against Voldemort -- and that day will come very soon, I feel -- and if we overthrow him, your people will be safe from magical attack. I can only plead my case before you and let you make the decision. However, I will stand by whatever you decide." He drew in a deep breath, as if filling his lungs before taking a risky dive into deep waters. "Optimus Prime, can the Order of the Phoenix depend on the Autobots to come to our aid when the final battle begins?"
Prime considered, his masked face and glowing optics revealing nothing of his emotions or thoughts as his CPU processed the request. Dumbledore waited patiently, occasionally glancing skyward as if he were there merely to stargaze.
"Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, the Autobots will come to your aid at your request," Prime said at last. "I have long maintained that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. And if Voldemort sees fit to threaten the wizarding worlds' right to freedom... then I see fit to oppose him. We can do no less."
"Thank you, Prime," Dumbledore said with a smile, his tone completely even as if he had expected that answer all along. "We will, of course, send an alert when the appropriate time comes. I trust you have the means to reach Hogwarts in a timely manner?"
"Omega Supreme can deliver us to Hogwarts within half an hour of receiving notice," Prime replied. "Is that timely enough?"
"It will do." Dumbledore rose to his feet and extended his good left hand toward Prime. "It has been a pleasure and an honor knowing you and your troops, Optimus Prime. I pray that an alliance will continue to flourish between our peoples."
Prime gingerly took the hand between his thumb and forefinger and shook it carefully. "It has been a pleasure and an honor knowing you, Dumbledore, and I too hope for a continued alliance. I look forward to our next meeting."
Dumbledore's eyes, almost the same intense blue as Prime's optics, dimmed slightly. "If there is a next meeting," he murmured. Then his eyes regained their usual light. "Godspeed, my friend. Safe journey home."
"And safety to you in all your ventures, my friend. Until all are one." And he rose to his feet and departed.
During the long trip home aboard Skyfire he couldn't help but feel that there had been an odd sense of finality to their meeting, as if Dumbledore had known something Prime hadn't. Eventually he dismissed it -- both their worlds were at war, and perhaps his final remark about their not being a next meeting was simply his worry that one or both of them might be terminated before they could meet again.
Sadly, Dumbledore's words proved prophetic -- the Headmaster would be murdered by Severus Snape before Skyfire reached the American continent, and Prime would arrive at a base deep in mourning from the news.AUTOBOT BASE
MOUNT ST.HILARY, OREGON, UNITED STATES
ONE YEAR LATER...
"Code red, code red! Intruder alert, repeat, intruder alert! Decepticon Breakdown spotted in corridor 12C, northwest quadrant! All available units deploy, repeat, all available units deploy!"
At Red Alert's exclamation over the PA system, every Autobot in the Ark sprang into action. A collection of mechs who had been discussing sports with Sparkplug in the lounge abandoned their energon cubes and vacated the table, completely forgetting about the human and leaving him stranded and frustrated atop the table. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, who up until that point had been deeply engrossed in Resident Evil 4, dropped their controllers and charged out into the hallway. The Dinobots left off their sparring and thundered toward the northwest quadrant with gleeful whoops -- except Swoop, who bolted for medbay to report for duty in case his services were needed. It was as if someone had poured water on an anthill -- what had once been a rather lazy day on the Ark became a hotbed of activity.
The silvery-white Lamborghini that was the subject of all this attention turned a corner so tightly it reared up on two wheels, tilting dangerously to one side before falling back on all fours. Hot on its heels roared a growing caravan of Autobots, their tires squealing against the floor. Prowl led the charge, his sirens blaring, and Jazz and Ironhide were right on his rear bumper.
"He's headed for Prime's office!" Jazz barked, his usual easy manner gone. "Think it's an assassination?"
"He wouldn't be here alone if that were the case," Prowl replied. "There's no sign of the other Stunticons."
"Don't mean they ain't prowlin' 'round somewhere," Ironhide pointed out, surging forward to keep pace with the other officers. "Fraggit, let's send some'a these folks out ta patrol th' halls or somethin', th' 'ntire base chasin' one Stunt's plain overkill..."
The blaring bugle of a bigrig's horn drowned out the last of his complaint, and Optimus Prime roared around the bend, blocking the Lamborghini's path. The white vehicle screeched to a halt, and Jazz, Prowl, and Ironhide barely halted in time to avoid smashing into the vehicle's bumper. Racket filled the corridor as the Autobots piled up behind the three officers, the screech of brakes and the smash of metal against metal and a variety of creative curse words ringing from the metallic walls.
Prime ignored the bedlam, transforming with a mechanical whirring and clanking of parts. Jazz, Prowl, and Ironhide followed suit, drawing their guns... then stared, puzzled, at Prime as he made no move to pull out his own weapon. Prime only gazed at the white Lamborghini with a strange expression, as if he'd expected it's arrival but wasn't looking forward to what said arrival meant.
When the vehicle transformed, it did so silently, to the astonishment of the gathered Autobots. The mech who emerged from the Lamborghini form was not Breakdown -- rather, he appeared to be a fusion of Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, sleekly built and with two tapered, curving protrusions emerging from the sides of his helmet that were a combination of Sideswipe's horns and Sunstreaker's head-fins. Most startlingly of all, he was solid silver-white, down to the last joint and servo. Even his optics glowed with a hot white light as he regarded Prime solemnly.
As the Autobots stared in shock, the white mech spoke, his voice possessing an odd pre-recorded quality and sounding remarkably like a certain young wizard:
"Optimus Prime, we just got the word from You-Know-Who! He's going to launch his attack at midnight our time unless we turn Harry Potter over to him. If you're not terribly busy over on your side of the water, we could really use your help."
Prime nodded, and Fred Weasley's Patronus gave a jaunty salute before dissolving into silvery vapor.
"What. The. Slag."
Prime glanced up to see almost his entire company of Autobots gaping at the spot where the Patronus had vanished, with Prowl, Jazz, and Ironhide at the head of the pack. Prowl looked as if his logic circuits were about to fritz again, and Ironhide's mouth still hung open from his stunned expletive moments earlier. Jazz merely wore an amused smile, though Primus knew what the saboteur could find amusing about this situation.
"To answer your question, Ironhide, that was the signal we agreed upon," Prime told the van. "The signal that Hogwarts faced attack and the Order of the Phoenix required Autobot aid."
"Well, we heard th' kid," Jazz noted. "Or at least his Patronus. So what're we still standin' 'round here for? Let's go kick a lil' Death Eater aft!"
Prime nodded. "Those soldiers who were selected for the Hogwarts mission will report to Omega Supreme immediately. The rest of you will guard the base." Over the comm he radioed the medical team. First Aid and Perceptor, prepare medbay for possible incoming casualties. Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Swoop, report to Omega Supreme. It's beginning.
Yes, sir, First Aid replied.
Roger, Prime, Wheeljack barked.
As the Autobots scattered to their posts, Prime returned to truck mode and thundered down the corridor. Primus have mercy on us. I fear this won't end well.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
Omega Supreme swooped low over Hogwarts grounds, trees shuddering in his wake as he quickly searched for a decent landing spot. Aboard the massive Guardian ship, the mechs chosen for this mission shifted restlessly, cradling weapons and flexing limbs, at once eager and apprehensive. Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Bluestreak, Tracks, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Mirage, Hound, Bumblebee, Brawn, Windcharger, and the Dinobots had been hand-selected by Prime to accompany him to Hogwarts, and now they listened closely as he briefed them on what to possibly expect upon landing.
"The ambient magical field around Hogwarts interferes with electrical equipment," he informed them. "We were never able to study this field before Dumbledore's death, unfortunately, but we do know a few things regarding it that you must keep in mind. Thankfully, this interference does not extend to a Cybertronian's vital systems -- though if you sense ANY glitches in your life-support systems, inform myself, Jazz, or Ratchet immediately. Also, motor systems should not be in any way inhibited, though again, report any malfunctions to whichever officer is closest.
"Our technology is not wholly immune to the magical field, however. Your transformation cog will become disabled the moment you set foot on Hogwarts grounds, so you will not be able to use your alt form during the fighting. Take this into account. Also, there will be no possibility of radio contact, as this field disables our communications devices. Keep at least one of your comrades in sight at all times during the battle, and keep track of your location as best as you can. Those of you with special abilities or technology -- Mirage and Hound, for example -- I advise you to use extreme caution when activating said abilities or technology. We don't know how magic will affect them, but for now I'd prefer to err on the side of caution.
"Let me be perfectly clear on one more point -- unless they attack you first, do NOT engage a witch or wizard! We have yet to develop effective shielding against magic. You've all seen firsthand how susceptible Cybertronians are to even simple spells, and I highly doubt these Death Eaters will be interested in casting a simple Color-Changing Charm or Hurling Hex upon you if given the chance. We are here to drive away, or at the very least distract, the giants that Voldemort commands. Stay as far away from the actual Death Eaters as possible, and if they attack you get away as soon as you're able." He let his gaze sweep the Autobots. "Any questions?"
"What if we see Death Eaters attacking students?" asked Bluestreak, raising a hand and waving it in the air. "We can't just sit back and let them do an Abra Cadabra or whatever that death spell's called on them, can we? If we can do something to stop it..."
"Students are being evacuated from the school," Prime replied, "and the wizards remaining behind are capable of defending themselves. Yes, it sounds callous, but keep in mind that we have no proof that the Avada Kedavra curse will not affect Cybertronians as well as humans... though seeing as none of their spells were intended for use against our kind and yet work on us perfectly well, we can only assume Avada Kedavra will work just as effectively."
Bluestreak made a grinding noise in his throat, the equivalent of a nervous gulp.
"Omega Supreme, have you found a satisfactory landing site yet?" Prime inquired.
There was a moment's hesitation before the Guardian answered. "Site: located. But landing sequence programming: malfunctioning. Landing: impossible."
"Slaggit!" hissed Ratchet. "Of all times..."
"Must be the magic field," Wheeljack theorized. "Didn't realize it affected airgoing mechanics as well... but then we are flying pretty low."
"Can you open your doors, Omega?" asked Prime.
"Doors: opening," came the reply.
"Fly as low as you safely can," Prime ordered. "Autobots, to the doors. We'll have to jump."
It must have been an incredible sight for the wizards gathered at Hogwarts, Order of the Phoenix members and Death Eaters alike, to see the enormous orange rocket hurtling overhead, Autobots dropping from its open hatches and landing with bone-shaking THUDs on the grounds of the school. Several wizards backed nervously away, and a few outright fled in terror. Omega Supreme made one more pass over the school, ensuring that all his passengers had disembarked safely and frightening a few Death Eaters in the process, then roared away to find a safe place outside of Hogwarts' magical field to land and await the end of the battle.
"There they are!" shouted Tracks, pulling his gun. "And they're even more disgusting than the pictures let on!"
The giants were storming toward Hogwarts with great ground-eating strides, howling and laughing with barbaric glee. Easily twenty feet tall, with thick horny skin like rhinoceros hide and brutish, leering faces with shreds of food still caught in their matted beards, they were some of the ugliest organic creatures Prime had ever laid optics on. The smell wafting off of them -- a fuel-tank-turning blend of rancid sweat and old meat -- was enough to make even the Dinobots flinch. At the sight of the Autobots they slowed a little, but at a bellow from what appeared to be the leader of the pack, they raised callused fists and heavy clubs and axes and continued their advance, beady eyes gleaming in battle-lust.
Prime raised his gun and squeezed off a round at the lead giant... or tried to, at any rate. His weapon only gave a weak click in response. Startled mutterings and curses from the other Autobots indicated he wasn't the only mech suffering from a malfunctioning weapon.
"The magic field affects our weaponry too," noted Hound, scowling at his rifle.
"Then we go hand-to-hand," Prime replied. "We have no choice. Autobots, attack!"
Not surprisingly, the twins and the Dinobots were the first mechs to charge, whooping and howling with enthusiasm. They collided with the opposing forces with enough force to bowl the first few giants over, then began swinging fists with glee. The rest of the Autobots were only just behind.
Prime found himself facing the giant leader, a thirty-foot-tall specimen with one piercing black eye and the other a milky gray from an old injury. His good eye flashed in fury, and his face split in a crazed parody of a smile as he raised the heavy axe he wielded and brought it down with the force of a speeding train. Prime raised his gun, but not to aim -- the heavy barrel took the blow and deflected the blade that otherwise would have cleaved him open from shoulder to abdominal plate. The giant bellowed at being denied a strike, shaking the axe once to dislodge the mangled gun from his weapon, then grunted as a blue fist impacted against his torso. A second punch broke his jaw with a dry crack and sent him staggering.
Ironhide charged forward with a whoop, knocking one giant out cold with a powerful roundhouse and felling another with a well-placed kick to the knee. Jazz wasn't as lucky -- he only managed to get in a blow to his opponent's shoulder before he was hit from behind with a heavy club. He collapsed to the ground, offline, his visor sputtering with blue light before blinking out.
"Jazz!" Prime gave his foe one last punch, toppling him, before bolting to stand over Jazz's prone form, just in time to ward off another giant who had raised his club to finish the Porsche off. The club glanced off of Prime's shoulder, bending his smokestack at a crazy angle and stripping off paint but otherwise not doing much damage. In return, Prime dealt a punch that left the attacker shrieking incoherently in pain, broken teeth falling from his mouth like grotesque hailstones before he clamped his hands to his bleeding mouth.
The grounds of Hogwarts seethed with pitched battle, both the titanic struggles between Autobot and giant and the smaller but no less pivotal conflict between the wizards. A handful of Order members had taken it upon themselves to defend the Autobots, sending their Patronuses in their midst to keep dementors at bay. In return, the Autobots focused not on killing the giants or knocking them out, but on diverting their attention away from the castle and the fighting wizards. Metal boomed and squealed in protest at the strike of fists and clubs and axes, while screams and sickening crunches marked where the fists of the Autobots found their marks on the giants. The giants may have been flesh and bone compared to the steel and iron of their opponents, but they had the advantage of numbers and pure brute savagery... as well as reckless disregard for the humans underfoot.
Prime ceased to mark the passing of time as he continued to fight, knowing only the impact of fists and the stinging blow of clubs making contact with his chassis from time to time. A punch to the jaw here, a kick to the leg there, pausing briefly to help someone lift Jazz's body for transport off the battlefield... fire across his shin as a curse streaked past, close enough to scorch a black line through his paint... his windshield shattering from a blow to the chest, one optic cracking from another blow and spider-webbing his sight...
Brawn shrieked in startled terror as a giant picked him up and flung him toward the castle, a shriek that was cut off abruptly as he smashed into the Astronomy tower with a horrific crunch of broken metal and crumbling rock. In retaliation, Grimlock grabbed Brawn's attacker from behind and lifted him up, bellowing his fury as he hurled him at a cluster of giants that were menacing Bluestreak, felling them like bowling pins. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker stood back to back, crouched like wrestlers, their hands darting forward to punch and jab at the giants surrounding them. Mirage darted through the bedlam like a metallic shadow, hands and knife finding targets and causing well-placed distractions -- he wasn't risking using his cloaking device, but as a spy he knew how to use his surroundings to conceal himself. Further away, by the shore of the lake, Tracks and Wheeljack had taken it upon themselves to guard Ratchet and Swoop as they frantically worked to staunch the leaking energon that was pouring from a long, ugly slash in Snarl's abdominal plate and pooling beneath him.
Prime slammed his shoulder into the chest of yet another giant, shoving him aside. As the brute fell to the ground, grunting with pain, the Autobot leader caught sight of a familiar young man hurrying out of the castle, an intent expression on his face as he ran...
"Bumblebee! Windcharger! Escort Harry Potter!"
"Yes, Prime!" Bumblebee shouted, ducking between a giant's legs to reach Harry and his companions. Windcharger joined him quickly, and the two minibots followed the young wizards closely as they ran for a decrepit-looking shack some distance away. Prime did not question what they were up to, only turned his focus back to the battle.
Stars danced across Prime's optics as a heavy blow across his shoulders drove him to his knees. Behind him came a brutal laugh, and he didn't need to turn to know that a giant was back there, weapon raised, ready to finish him off.
Then a pained scream replaced the laugh, and hands lifted him to his feet.
"Now we're even, boss," Jazz grinned.
"Thank you, Jazz," Prime told him, and the two of them waded back into the thick of the battle.
Then, what seemed an eternity later, a high cold voice rang through the air, bringing all movement to a halt, causing even the giants to pause in their activity:
"You have fought valiantly. Lord Voldemort knows how to value bravery. Yet you have sustained heavy losses. If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one. I do not wish this to happen. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a loss and a waste.
"Lord Voldemort is merciful. I command my forces to retreat immediately. You have one hour. Dispose of your dead with dignity. Treat your injured.
"I speak now, Harry Potter, directly to you. You have permitted your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have not come to me, have not given yourself up, then battle recommences. This time, I shall enter the fray myself, Harry Potter, and I shall find you, and I shall punish every last man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me. One hour."
A pause, then the voice resumed.
"And now, Optimus Prime, I address you. You and your... soldiers have fought bravely. And despite you being abominations against nature, I can appreciate your valiance as well. However, this is not your war, and these are not your people. I offer you this opportunity to withdraw your forces. Retreat now, and the Autobots will no longer need to fear attack at the hands of wizardkind. Stay on, and your people will forever suffer. The choice is yours."
Silence reigned as the implication of Voldemort's words sank in. Then the giants began to withdraw, some limping, others dragging themselves on all fours. None stopped to help their wounded. In contrast, the Autobots retreated to the lakeshore, supporting and carrying one another where necessary.
"Ratchet, Wheeljack, damage report," Prime requested.
"Mostly dents and minor line ruptures," Ratchet replied, not looking up from his work on Brawn's chassis. "Four major injuries, Bluestreak, Brawn, Snarl, and Sideswipe."
"I'm just fine, let me up!" howled Sideswipe, struggling to sit up though Swoop was working valiantly to push him back down. Both his legs had been chopped off mid-thigh, strongly hinting that he wasn't as "just fine" as he insisted he was.
"Hold still or I'll have Grimlock sit on you!" barked Ratchet, finally prying off Brawn's chestplate, which had been beaten concave by his impact with the tower. Removing the armor revealed embedded chunks of stone and badly crushed internal systems, and Ratchet set about patching what he could and picking out stone fragments.
"Thank Primus we stopped Snarl's leaking, but he still needs a lot of patching up," Wheeljack filled in. "Sideswipe and Brawn will have to wait until we get back to the Ark, and Bluestreak... we'll have to determine the extent of his damage when he comes to." He gestured toward the offline gunner, whose helm was badly dented and both optics shattered. His body was unmarked, but Prime knew that the medics feared CPU damage.
"Prime, yer orders?" This was Ironhide, coming to stand beside his commander. "We stayin' on?" His voice was gravely neutral, but Prime knew that nothing short of being offlined himself and dragged back to Omega Supreme would get him off the battlefield.
That wouldn't be necessary, however. "We stay on, Ironhide. I made a promise to Dumbledore. To abandon the battlefield now would be an insult to his memory." He turned and scanned his troops. "Grimlock, take Slag and Sludge and guard the castle in case any of the giants decide to violate the cease-fire. Ironhide, go with them. Hound, Mirage, Tracks, stay here and guard the injured. Sunstreaker, I need you to go to the castle and assess the situation there, and see if there are any injured that need transported to better medical facilities."
"What?" protested Sunstreaker, looking up from where he was standing over his prone brother. "Why me?"
"You and your brother have had the most experience in dealing with wizards," Prime explained. "Go. Jazz, Swoop, accompany him."
"C'mon, Sunshine, we got our orders," Jazz told the yellow Lambo, and began walking in the direction of the castle. Sunstreaker followed behind, grumbling, and Swoop hurried along after one last checkover of Bluestreak's body. Prime watched them go, hoping beyond hope that they would not find Hogwarts had become a slaughterhouse in the wake of the battle.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
Sunstreaker's trademark scowl was still plastered across his face as he, that fragged jolly Porsche, and the galumphing Dinobot crossed the slashed and scorched turf that remained of Hogwarts' grounds, chunks of sod ripped away and stains of giant blood and Autobot fluids spattering the grass here and there. He didn't want to do this. He should be watching over his brother, making sure no giants returned to finish the idiot off (and that one that had hacked off his legs -- and LAUGHED all the while -- would pay for his crime...). Not trotting off to check on the humans, who were wizards and could fully well take care of themselves, couldn't they? So what if he and Sideswipe happened to be friendly with a couple of them? That didn't make them ideal diplomats, did it?
He still wore his scowl as he and Jazz ducked through the massive doors leading into the Great Hall, though said scowl gave way a little into a smirk as Swoop had to contort himself to fit through the doorway. Both scowl and smirk were wiped clean away, though, by the sight that met his optics upon straightening and scanning the Hall.
It was like the refugee camps the Autobots had encountered on disaster relief missions... or perhaps, more appropriately, the wake of Decepticon attacks on Autobot cities back on Cybertron. The fact that this was on a somewhat smaller scale compared to those encounters did nothing to lessen the blow of the sight. Survivors congregated about the hall in knots, arms over each others shoulders, seeking solace in the company of their comrades. On a raised platform that must have been used for the teachers' table, healers worked feverishly to save the wounded -- among them a trembling centaur that earned the briefest double-take from the yellow warrior. The dead... they were laid out in a neat row, with mourners bent sobbing over the bodies or standing close by with the blank expressions of those too shocked to comprehend that a loved one was gone. For a moment Sunstreaker felt his spark, the spark many Autobots considered cold and iron, flicker at the sight...
Then Jazz nudged him with an elbow to jolt him back to reality, and he glowered at the saboteur before moving on, stepping gingerly around the clusters of people. Jazz knelt to console a hysterical young witch while Swoop picked his way through the crowd to talk to the healers and examine the injured. Sunstreaker took one more look around the room before leaving -- after all, Prime just asked him to assess the situation, and it seemed Jazz and Swoop had everything else under control...
A group of familiar red-haired wizards caught his optic, and his spark lurched in its chamber. He forced his systems to settle and stepped carefully closer. The Weasleys had a brother they described as a prat -- Percy, if his memory banks were correct. It was probably him that had fallen in battle, or maybe that obnoxious younger brother of theirs... no way in the Pit could it be...
George Weasley looked up, his freckled face marred with grimy streaks where dust had adhered to his tears. "Sunny?"
"What happened to your ear?" Sunstreaker blurted before he could stop himself.
George gave a hysterical little laugh that dissolved into fresh sobs. "Nothing, nothing, just a stupid git of a Death Eater named Snape with his sadistic little homemade charm... doesn't matter now, nothing matters now, Fred's gone and nothing matters now..."
"Fred?" Sunstreaker knelt and leaned over the Weasley family for a better look at the body. When his shadow fell over them they looked up instinctively, almost fearfully... and revealed Fred Weasley's dusty, bloody body.
Sunstreaker's optics darkened, then flared as he regarded the body. His face remained an unreadable mask... but his systems seethed with rage. "What Death Eater did this?" he asked, voice deadly calm. Already he was calculating how best to twist his foot to cause maximum pain when he stepped on Fred's killer and ground him into the cobblestones of the Hogwarts courtyard...
"It was a wall," Ron replied, voice thick with his efforts to keep from crying. "Wall collapsed on him. Dunno who blew it up."
Sunstreaker remained still, staring at Fred for a long time. Then he reached out and gently touched the young man's chest, careful not to do any more damage to the body. He was still warm to the touch...
Then, as if coming to a decision, he slid his fingers beneath the body and lifted it, cupping it in his hands like a child would cradle a baby chick.
"What are you doing?" exclaimed Mrs. Weasley, shocked at the treatment of her son's body. "Where are you taking him?"
He looked down at the witch and spoke one word: "Ratchet."
"Ratchet?" she repeated, in her grief and distress not comprehending.
"He's their medic," George explained. "But Sunny, he's dead!"
Sunstreaker didn't appear to hear. He only cupped Fred close to his chest as if to keep it warm, making his way out of the Great Hall with extreme caution so as not to jar the body. Jazz shouted something at his back, but he ignored him and kept going. A babble of confused voices indicated the rest of the Weasleys were close on his heels. Those he ignored too, keeping his CPU focused on his goal.
Prime was helping Tracks, Mirage, and Hound look over their injured, and he turned with a puzzled frown in his optics when he heard Sunstreaker approach. Said optics widened when he glimpsed what he held in his hands.
"Sunstreaker... I'm sorry," he said softly.
"Sorry doesn't fix it," Sunstreaker replied just as quietly, then brushed past Prime and stood over Ratchet, who was trying to calm Bluestreak down -- the kid must have onlined while Sunstreaker was gone and was now a nervous wreck, babbling gibberish and twitching his doorwings in fright.
"Fraggit, I'm busy!" snapped Ratchet, looking up from his patient with an expression of rage. The rage died as swiftly as a snuffed candle when he glimpsed Fred's body. "Primus..."
"What the slag?" demanded Sideswipe, shoving Wheeljack off and pushing himself into a sitting-up position. His optics went wide. "Primus no! Is that..."
Sunstreaker just nodded at his twin. Sideswipe seemed to deflate on the spot, and he collapsed backward and pressed the heels of his hands to his optics, shuddering. He didn't resist as Wheeljack returned to work on his legs to seal off the severed fluid lines and wires. Nor did he seem to notice George as the young wizard went to the red Lamborghini's side and leaned against him, taking some solace from his friend's presence.
Without a word, Sunstreaker extended his hands toward Ratchet. The ambulance looked down at Fred's body, then back up at the yellow Lamborghini with an expression of confusion.
"Take him," Sunstreaker ordered coldly. "Do something."
Understanding dawned in Ratchet's optics... and was quickly replaced with sadness. "Sunstreaker, there's nothing I can do. I can't fix organics..."
"Take him," hissed Sunstreaker, lips curling back in a snarl. "You can do something." There was no doubt in his voice, not even a waver. Even now the motto he and Sideswipe had lived by all their lives pounded across his CPU like a mantra -- Ratchet will fix it. He can fix anything, he can make this better.
"Sunstreaker," Ratchet growled. "There. Is. Nothing. I. Can. Do. I'm sorry. I can't work miracles."
He wouldn't be moved. He thrust Fred's body at him again, glowering, determined to win this battle of wills.
Ratchet returned the glower for a few moments, then sighed and hung his head in defeat. Then he held out his hand. "Let me see him," he requested, voice low in an effort to disguise his emotion.
Yellow hands gently transferred the body to Ratchet's scarlet fingers. He carefully cupped the body in his hands and touched the pad of one finger to his chest, delicate sensors embedded in the fingertip scanning for a temperature, a flutter of movement, any sign of life. Sunstreaker only watched, as still as if he'd been Petrified, the Weasleys clustered about his legs and also watching Ratchet with the slightest shred of hope in their eyes...
Mrs. Weasley collapsed, sobbing with relief, against her husband, nearly toppling him over.
"Alive?" Prime came to stand behind Sunstreaker.
"His pulse is faint, but it's there," Ratchet replied. "His breathing's incredibly shallow, though. My sensors and diagnostic systems aren't built to scan organics, but I suspect massive brain and internal organ damage as well." He looked up at Mr. Weasley. "We have to get him to a hospital NOW. Where's the closest medical facility, and I don't care if it's Muggle..."
Mr. Weasley's face fell, and Sunstreaker knew the answer. Hogwarts was incredibly remote; there wasn't a hospital equipped to treat Fred, magical or otherwise, for hundreds of miles. He would die before they could get him to the proper facility... and even if they could save him, what kind of life would there be left for him? His body was so badly damaged, and organics couldn't just replace ruined parts or systems. There was a great chance he would be crippled or mentally damaged for the rest of his life...
Then it hit him. "Autobot X."
"Autobot who?" demanded Charlie.
"Autobot X?" Ratchet echoed. "Oh no! Not on your spark, Sunstreaker! That project was a failure..."
"It kept Spike alive, didn't it?"
"That was a temporary fix until human doctors could repair his body," Ratchet retorted. "This... I don't know if it can even be fixed. You're asking me to throw away Fred's life with a procedure we KNOW won't work?"
"Ratchet," Wheeljack cut in, "our technology has improved since then. The mistakes we made with the Autobot X project were fixed." He finished sealing up the last of Brawn's ruptured lines and closed his chestplate. "Fred Weasley's a friend of the Autobots. Has been for awhile now. We owe it to him to do all that we can to keep him alive."
"Who's Autobot X?" asked Mr. Weasley, his voice quavering.
Ratchet was about to answer when Prime's head jerked in the direction of the Forbidden Forest, as if responding to the chime of a clock only he could hear. "We'll have to explain later, Mr. Weasley. The hour Voldemort allowed us has just passed. Ratchet, take Fred to the edge of Hogwarts grounds and, as soon as you are able, transform. Your life-support systems should keep him alive until we get back to the Ark. Sunstreaker, accompany Ratchet and protect him, and be prepared to help load Fred into Ratchet's transport bay. Grimlock, you and the Dinobots have the task of guarding the injured. Everyone else, remain with me and prepare to engage the giants again."
Sunstreaker didn't protest the order, only nodded and turned to follow Ratchet away from the lakeside. Now that matters were in the medic's scarlet hands, he felt no fear. He had absolute faith in the CMO's abilities, absolute faith that it would only be a matter of time before Fred was out of danger. Ratchet couldn't fail... could he?
MOUNT ST. HILARY, OREGON, UNITED STATES
As soon as the battle was over, as soon as Voldemort had fallen at the hands of Harry Potter and Hogwarts left to enjoy a victory feast, Omega Supreme was airborne, his engines screaming as he pressed them to their limit to reach the Ark. Aboard the Guardian, the Autobots had been joined by the entire Weasley family... and Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, who couldn't bear to let their friends go through this ordeal alone. Sunstreaker refused to sit down, instead standing over Ratchet's alt mode as if he felt he hadn't been released from his duty to guard the CMO and his patient. Sideswipe had demanded to be placed as close to Ratchet as possible, and even now he rested a hand atop the ambulance as if trying to maintain some contact with the young wizard inside.
The moment Omega Supreme touched down, Ratchet tore down the loading ramp and sped into repair bay as fast as he safely could, Fred still cradled inside him. The rest of the Autobots followed, carrying their own wounded. First Aid and Swoop immediately set to work on their injured troops while Spike and Sparkplug carefully unloaded Fred from Ratchet's bay. Once Fred was clear of his interior, Ratchet transformed, and he, Wheeljack, and Perceptor set to work connecting the young wizard to life-support systems and monitoring equipment.
"What are you doing?" demanded Mrs. Weasley, trying to push past Sparkplug to get at her son. "What's this X project and why won't anyone tell us what it is?"
"Calm down, ma'am," Sparkplug said soothingly. "Autobot X was a Transformer my son and I constructed out of spare parts... and when Spike was injured we saved his life by transferring his mind to Autobot X's body. Unfortunately, Autobot X wasn't very well constructed... and he, well, went berserk. Caused a lot of mayhem before we could get Spike's mind back into his body. But don't you worry," he assured when he saw Mrs. Weasley draw a breath for a hysterical rant. "This time around it'll be Ratchet, 'Jack, and Perceptor that handle things. They're a lot better at this kind of thing than I am. Your son's in good hands -- the best on this planet."
She blew out her breath in a noisy gust. "You mean to say... Fred'll be one of them?"
"Yes," Sparkplug replied softly. "But he'll be alive. That's better than letting him go, isn't it?"
Mrs. Weasley nodded, then pressed a handkerchief over her nose and mouth as she watched the Autobot CMO and scientists inspecting Fred's vital signs, conversing in low tones. Sparkplug searched for something to say to comfort her, but all he could say was "It's rough being a parent in wartime. We both know that, don't we?"
She only nodded.
"Molly?" Prowl knelt and offered his hand to Mrs. Weasley. "It's time to go. Our medical team will need room to work." His voice was strangely soft, without the cool logical tone that normally overlaid it. "Sparkplug, you're welcome to come with us."
"It's fine," Sparkplug replied. "I'll see what I can do here."
Prowl nodded, and once Molly had climbed into his hand he stood and carried her away. Sparkplug watched them go, marveling briefly, then went to offer his services to Ratchet.
Across the repair bay from where Ratchet worked, Sideswipe sat up in a berth of his own while First Aid double-checked the connections and weld seams on his reattached legs, Sunstreaker by his side and the rest of the Weasley family perched on the berth with him. No one spoke... but then, no words were needed. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker had been friends with Fred and George for so long that they were almost regarded as members of the family, and for now their presence was enough to offer some comfort. Spike ventured close to offer hot drinks to the Weasleys, which they accepted gratefully but didn't drink much of.
Hermione had somehow managed to wrangle herself a perch on Perceptor, and now sat on the shoulder opposite his lens barrel and watched the in fascination as Ratchet tended to Fred's human body and Wheeljack and Perceptor readied his new Cybertronian body. Ratchet had attempted to chase her out, snapping angrily that if he'd wanted to turn this into a sideshow he would have slagging well sold tickets, but she had given him such a fierce glare that he had relented with a grumble. Now she simply ventured quiet questions, and frankly, Wheeljack was impressed that she was even understanding the answers Perceptor was offering her in his usual verbose manner.
It was Optimus Prime who found Harry, in the meantime, sitting against a wall in a corner of the medbay, knees drawn to his chest and the expression of one who was deep in thought on his face.
"Are you all right?" Prime ventured, kneeling down before the young wizard.
Harry looked up into the blue optics overhead. "You're joking, right?"
"Harry, I know very well that it's impossible to be entirely 'all right' in any situation involving a war," Prime replied gently. "Let me rephrase that, then -- how are you faring?"
Harry pondered the question a moment, then shrugged. "Dunno. It's strange... I always thought I'd be happy to see Voldemort gone. Happy that the wizard who killed my parents was gone forever. But right now... I just feel kind of empty."
Prime considered that answer. "You've focused so much of your life, so much of your time and energy, on the goal of destroying Voldemort that now that he is gone, you feel as if your life has no purpose."
"Not really," Harry countered, then hesitated. "Well... a bit. I know there's still a lot to do -- Voldemort and his Death Eaters wrecked the wizarding world good and proper before we could stop them. I have to help fix it -- people look up to me, you know. They think I'm some kind of Chosen One. They're going to expect me to wave my wand and make everything better. And I can't. I mean... I always had Dumbledore there to help me... even after he died he left a trail of clues for me and Ron and Hermione to follow. I'm not going to have that anymore, not for this job. I'm at it alone."
Prime moved to sit against the wall by Harry, careful to sit close but not close enough to do damage by accident. "Dumbledore always spoke very highly of you, Harry."
"You talked to him?" Harry asked, surprised.
Prime nodded. "We were friends for awhile... before his passing." His optics flickered as he recalled the old Headmaster. "His death was a great loss for us as well as for your world -- for without him there would be no truce between your people and ours. And I can't tell you how enraged many of us were when certain parties felt it necessary to slander his name after his death. We practically had to lock the base down for awhile to keep mechs from going hunting for Rita Skeeter."
Harry cracked a slight smile at that. "Heh... that would've been wicked! Headline of the Daily Prophet, 'Mad Cow News Reporter Run Over By Killer Alien Car.'"
"Or truck," Prime added with a chuckle, earning an odd look from Harry. "In all seriousness, Dumbledore had great faith in you. He may not have been perfect -- and believe me, Harry, no one is perfect -- but I would trust his instincts on this. Chosen One or not, he would not have trusted you to take on and defeat Voldemort if he didn't have faith in your abilities." He gazed at a random spot on the wall, quiet a moment as he phrased his next words. "I know how it feels to have an entire world looking upon you for an answer to their problems. I know how it feels to be expected to wave my hand and make it all better. It's overwhelming at times. But I know that my own mentors -- Alpha Trion and the Matrix -- would not have chosen me for the task of being Prime had they not had faith in me. To know they considered me worthy... it is a bit daunting. But I will honor them -- and my people -- by doing all that I can to live up to their faith."
Harry sighed. "You've been through this, Prime. Tell me it gets better with time."
"Yes and no," Prime replied. "It will get better, much better... and it will get infinitely worse. There will be days you feel you can take on the universe... and days that seem so hopeless you want to give up the fight. But eventually, it's worth it."
Harry offered a tentative smile. "Thanks, sir."
"You're very welcome, Harry. And know that you and your friends are welcome at the Autobot base anytime."
Harry nodded, then resumed his thoughtful pose. Prime remained by him for a time, then departed to take care of other matters, though he continued to keep an optic on the young man.
Hours passed, and Ratchet, Wheeljack, Perceptor, and Sparkplug continued to work nonstop on the mechanical body that would house Fred's consciousness if all went well. Spike and Carly brought food and drinks for the Weasleys, but no one ate or drank much. They continued to wait for any news on Fred's progress, any sign that he was going to make it in one way or another. First Aid finished Sideswipe's repairs but didn't have the spark to drive him out of repair -- instead, he just directed the twins and Weasleys to another corner of the room, where they wouldn't be in the way but could still keep an eye on things. Bluestreak, Brawn, and Snarl were chased out pretty quickly once their repairs were through, but instead of going back to their quarters they joined the gathering throng in the hallway outside repair, awaiting the news.
At long last Wheeljack soldered a final circuit and closed the last panel. "We're ready."
Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, and the Weasleys bolted across repair bay at those words, the twins almost bowling Wheeljack and Perceptor over in their haste.
"Fraggit, everyone, stand back a bit," growled Ratchet testily, optics dimmed slightly with exhaustion. "This is a delicate operation; one wrong move and all this is for nothing."
"What if it doesn't work?" asked Ron nervously.
"It has to work," Ratchet replied, not turning to face him but instead focusing on connecting wires to small ports on the mechanical body's neck. "Fred's fading fast -- we have one shot at this, and only one. So pray, cross your fingers, cast a good-luck charm, whatever helps."
Mrs. Weasley grabbed her husband's hands so tightly he grimaced in pain. Fleur turned to Bill and buried her face in his chest while he pulled her close, though his eyes remained fixed on his comatose brother. Charlie edged as close as he dared and also looked on closely, while Ron, Ginny, Harry, and Hermione formed a tight little knot together as if hoping to draw strength from their numbers. George stood between Sideswipe and Sunstreaker and watched the proceedings, a look of desperate hope on his face that was mirrored in Sideswipe's. Sunstreaker was expressionless, though his optics never wavered from the tiny body.
Wheeljack made a final connection to the mech body on the berth before him. Like Autobot X, this body had been pieced together from the spare parts they had on hand. Unlike that project, however, this was a minibot's body, and since there was a smaller variety of minibot styles than of the larger mechs, the pieces at least fit together in a somewhat logical manner and not in the patchwork look of Autobot X. The chassis was unpainted and so gleamed a dark gunmetal in the repair bay lights, and the optics were a flat gray in the expressionless silver face. It didn't look like much... but they could worry about an upgrade later.
"All systems are at optimal performance," Perceptor reported.
"Fred's hooked up," Ratchet chimed in. "His blood pressure and pulse are dropping. Do it now!"
Wheeljack sucked in a hissing cycle of air. "Primus, let this work." He gripped the switch and shoved it down.
The air hummed with electricity, a hum interspersed with the sudden beeping and whirring of machinery. The humans stared in anticipation, no doubt expecting a ghostly light or something else dramatic to signal the successful transfer of Fred's mind to the Autobot body that lay next to him. There were no such special effects -- only the continued humming that ended in the baleful, drawn-out BEEP of the monitors on Fred's body flatlining as his body finally gave out.
"FRED!" screamed Mrs. Weasley, and lunged toward her son, barely stayed by Ratchet's hand.
"Molly, please, wait a minute..." Mr. Weasley begged.
"Don't tell me to wait a minute, Arthur!" she raged. "I want my son!"
Ratchet held Mrs. Weasley back until he was sure her family had her under control, then straightened and turned to the mech body. He inspected each monitor in turn, then checked the body itself. "It's online. All systems running optimally. The question is -- did Fred make it in all right?"
"We cannot determine that until he regains consciousness," Perceptor replied.
George nudged Sideswipe's leg. "Gimmie a boost, mate?"
Sideswipe immediately stooped and held a hand flat for George, and he climbed aboard and hung on as Sideswipe lifted him and set him gently on the berth next to his brother's head. Despite being a minibot, Fred's new body was still almost twice George's height, but George didn't seem to care. He laid his head against the metallic chest a moment, as if listening for a heartbeat, then straightened to look into the dim optics.
"Fred?" he asked quietly, nudging the side of his head gently. "Fred, you hear me? It's George."
All eyes and optics in the room were locked on the gray mech as the optics flickered online, brilliantly blue with life. The face took on a considering expression as the optics flickered a few times as if blinking, taking in the new surroundings. Then the expression became one of amused surprise as said optics rested on the red-headed wizard beside him.
"George, how many times do I have to tell you to stay out of the dryer?" he asked, voice as casual as ever.
George burst out laughing and flung his arms around Fred as far as they could go. "It IS you!"
"'Course it's me, you silly git." Fred raised a hand and carefully patted his twin's back. "Did you honestly expect a Weasley to settle for such a lame death? I mean, come on, death by wall? That's just not right."
George let go and gave his brother an appraising look. "Least Mum won't have any trouble telling us apart now, right?"
"Really?" Fred looked a bit crestfallen. "That stinks. No more switching games. But I guess I can live with that."
Sideswipe whooped and slapped Sunstreaker between the shoulders with enough force to nearly topple the yellow Lambo. "Fred's back! Fred's back! Hah! I knew he'd make it! Whoo!" He charged for the medbay doors, stuck his head out, and bellowed "It worked! Fred's back! He's alive!"
While the corridor outside exploded with applause, repair bay rang similarly with excitement as Fred carefully sat up on his berth, extending each arm and leg in turn to inspect it and patting his body down as if to make sure everything was still in its proper place. Despite being the cause of all the excitement, he was remarkably calm.
"How do you feel, kid?" asked Wheeljack.
"Bit stiff in the joints," Fred replied. "And rather dull, too. What kind of a color is this, anyhow? I look like a raincloud."
"Your joints should limber up with further activity," Ratchet informed him, a relieved smile on his face. "As for your color, we can see Hoist and Grapple about that. We were focused on saving your life -- color was pretty trivial."
"Yeah, point," Fred replied, sliding off the berth and taking a few test steps. His optics rested on his family, and he waved down at them with a cheery smile. "Hello, Mum, Dad, everyone!"
Mrs. Weasley stormed forward and promptly kicked him in the shin.
"Ow!" Fred danced backward, favoring the leg she'd attacked as if she'd shot him. "What was that for?"
"Don't you EVER do that to me again!" she raged. "Do you have ANY idea how worried I've been about you? You could have died! You very nearly did die! You..." And she burst into tears and wrapped her arms around his legs, sobbing. "I thought I'd lost you, Freddy... I thought I'd lost you..."
"Aw, Mum," Fred replied, a little embarrassed at her display, as he reached down and patted her back. "Didn't mean to upset you. But it's all right now, really."
As the Weasleys crowded around Fred, laughing and crying and hugging in their joy and relief, Sideswipe pulled his brother to the side and whispered in his audial. "You know, now that Fred's a mech like us, it probably means he's going to be hanging out here a lot more often."
"Probably even permanently."
"And someone's got to show him the ropes around here."
"What the frag are you getting at, Sides?"
"Well, I was just thinking that once his family's done mobbing him, we need to give Fred a decent tour here -- not just the wimpy little tourist tour most of the visiting humans get, but the mech's-eye-view of the place. Including all the decent hiding spots, all the right places to set a trap where Red Alert's cameras won't catch them, where we stash the homebrew and prank stuff... you know, the REAL tour."
Sunstreaker grinned. "I like the way you think."
MOUNT ST. HILARY, OREGON, UNITED STATES
"Prime, call from Megatron," Blaster reported over the comm unit.
"Put it through," replied Prime, turning away from his assembled officers and toward the viewscreen.
Megatron's visage appeared on the viewscreen, the slightest hint of a smirk on the Decepticon warlord's lips. "Optimus," he sneered. "If Laserbeak's report is to be believed, you took it upon yourself to get involved in the wizard's war."
Prime arched an optic ridge. "Laserbeak was there?"
That smirk was more than a hint now. "Your troops leave something to be desired if they cannot detect a spy on the battlefield. Even if they are busy interfering in the fleshlings' affairs, they should keep their vigilance up."
"My troops were otherwise occupied," Prime replied tactfully.
Ironhide put in his two credits' worth with somewhat less tact. "That Vold'mort character woulda declared war on us next!" he snapped. "An' ah don' recall YOU riskin' yer aft out there in th' name of Cybertron!"
"I fear no fleshling," Megatron snarled. "Even a supposed wizard."
Jazz snorted and clapped his hands over his mouth to keep from bursting into laughter. Megatron ignored him.
"Laserbeak claims he was unable to record the battle," Megatron continued. "Yet his report was most interesting. Am I to understand that those insufferable Weasley twins are dead?"
"Your intelligence is flawed," Prime reported. "George Weasley is perfectly fine. Fred Weasley, however, suffered fatal injuries during the battle."
Megatron made no effort to hide a triumphant smile. "Such a pity," he replied, his voice ringing with mirth and mock sincerity.
"Aw, didn't know you cared that much about me, Megs," Fred grinned, stepping forward so that Megatron could get a clear view of him.
Prime moved to the side so the Decepticon leader could get an unobstructed view of Fred Weasley. In the days that had passed since the Battle of Hogwarts Fred had taken to mech life quite well indeed. His body had been reformatted and repainted, so he no longer had the unfinished look of before. His chassis gleamed glossy black and chrome instead of gunmetal, and the wheels on his shoulders marked his chosen alt mode of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. His helm, sleek and domed like a motorcycle helmet save for a small set of horns similar to Sideswipe's, was a bright red that matched his old hair color but clashed horribly with the rest of his paint job. An Autobot sigil was displayed proudly on his chest, its trademark scowl at complete odds with his cheery expression. A casual observer might not connect the minibot with Fred Weasley... but the grin on his face and the jaunty wave he offered the viewscreen could belong to no one else, wizard or mech.
Megatron's mouth fell open as he offered an expression of complete and utter shock.
"Despite his injuries, however, we were able to find a way to save him," Prime continued, smiling a little behind his mask as he enjoyed Megatron's incredulity a moment. "Quite successfully, I might add."
Skywarp chose that moment to stick his head into view, blocking the sight of Megatron for a moment. "Hey George, you there? Congrats on your brother not biting it!"
"Thanks, 'Warp!" George replied, waving from his perch on Jazz's shoulder. "Oh, by the way, your shipment should be there in a couple of days. Sorry for the delay, all orders were postponed a bit during the war."
"Skywarp, get out!" A swipe of Megatron's arm knocked Skywarp out of view. He glowered at Prime and Fred with all the venom he could muster. "Fred Weasley, know this now -- your new status as an Autobot changes nothing! Do you hear me? Nothing!"
"Nope, you can still expect presents left for you in your base," grinned Fred. "Cheers, Megsy."
Prime, Jazz, and Ironhide chuckled as the screen went dark, and Prowl quirked a grin.
"That was entertaining," noted Prime. "But back to business. Mr. Ollivander, you had something for our newest recruit?"
"Certainly the largest piece I've ever had commissioned," the elderly wandmaker replied from his perch on Prime's desk, extending a long, carefully wrapped felt package toward Fred. "Three and a quarter feet, hickory, nice and springy, core of unicorn hair, poor thing probably thought we were going to clip him bald to make this..."
Fred eagerly unwrapped the package to reveal a long slender rod -- a wand built to the scale of a Transformer. "Wicked! Thanks!"
"Don't thank him yet," Prowl advised. "Best test it out first. That's the reason for this demonstration, after all -- to determine if your wizard powers survived along with you."
The room went still in anticipation as Fred raised the wand like a conductor's baton, his optics offlining and his face taking on a studious air. George and Mr. Ollivander leaned forward eagerly to see, which almost resulted in disaster as George nearly fell face-forward off of Jazz's shoulder as a result.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" intoned Fred, and swiped his wand through the air with a swish and a flick.
Prime waited for a reaction... but saw none. Disappointment welled up in him, and he reached out to pat Fred's shoulder comfortingly... only to realize Fred looked a lot shorter than the last time he'd studied him...
"Hey Prime, didn't know y' could fly!" Jazz exclaimed with a laugh.
Prime glanced down to find himself hanging about ten feet off the floor, his helm almost brushing the ceiling of his office. Fred stared up at him, bemused, then laughed and pumped a fist in the air in triumph. The room broke into applause, and even Prime, despite his awkward position at the moment, had the good grace to join in.
"Well, whaddaya know," Ironhide drawled with a grin as Fred gently set Prime down with a countercharm. "We got us an Autobot wizard. First ever."
"And possibly the only ever," Prowl replied. "Magic has never manifested itself in Cybertronians before -- it's highly unlikely that there will ever be another Transformer wizard."
"And perhaps that's a good thing," Ratchet cut in, poking his head into Prime's office at that moment. "I want a word with our new so-called magic engineer."
"You rang?" Fred asked innocently, turning toward the CMO.
"Explain how Blaster's cassettes came to be stuck to the ceiling of the Rec Room without glue or welding tools, if you will," Ratchet replied scathingly.
"Really, Ratchet, you wound me," Fred said in a hurt voice. "Us Weasleys would NEVER pick on innocent cassettes!"
"Offer the Lambos the supplies necessary to pick on cassettes, yes, but actually commit the crime?" George added. "We have our standards, you know."
"Ha ha," Ratchet snapped. "Get your afts out here and fix it, you little slaggers."
George slid down from Jazz's shoulder, and Fred caught him and set him down gently. Then they ambled out of Prime's office as casually as if they were taking a pleasure stroll.
Jazz laughed. "So they're stayin' on?"
Prime nodded. "They've made arrangements to run their joke shop from the Ark and continue a mail-order service. But they will remain aboard the Ark as crew members and magic engineers."
"Heh, well, least life won't be dull with those two around," Jazz said brightly. "Kinda lookin' forward to it, actually."
"Oh really?" asked Prowl, arching an optic ridge. "Even when I inform you that it's been raining in your quarters for the past forty-five minutes?"
"What? FRAG!" Jazz bolted out the door.
"That was cruel, Prowl," Prime informed the tactician.
Prowl looked back unapologetically. "The Weasleys and Lamborghinis are hardly the only pranksters aboard the Ark. Jazz has perpetrated his share of pranks, and I figured it was time he got his comeuppance."
"R'mind me not t' get on yer bad side, Prowl," Ironhide said with a chuckle. He gave Prime a leisurely salute as he left the office. Prowl paused to retrieve Mr. Ollivander before following close behind.
Prime watched them go, then went ahead and shut and locked the door of his office.
"I told you all would work out right in the end."
"I never said I didn't believe you, Dumbledore," Prime replied, turning around to face the speaker.
The former Headmaster smiled back at Prime from the portrait that hung behind his desk. The painting had been a gift from the Order of the Phoenix, and it had come as a genuine shock to Prime at first when he discovered that it wasn't just a sentimental sort of gift -- it had been a means to continue discussion with his friend, or at least a reasonable likeness of him.
"The Weasleys have always shared a special bond with your Lamborghini twins," Dumbledore went on. "Perhaps it has something to do with understanding one another, for that inexplicable bond twins share can only be fully comprehended by another who is a twin. And it was that bond that did as much to safe Fred Weasley as Ratchet and Wheeljack's efforts -- not to slight their accomplishments, not at all. But it played its own part."
Prime nodded. "Twins are an incredibly rare phenomenon among our people, and we know so little about the connection between them. And I get the feeling that, despite twins being more common among humans, that bond is equally inexplicable to you."
"Indeed," Dumbledore replied. "It is a bond stronger than any magic... for it is a bond of love, the most powerful force in existence. And that is why no dark wizard, no matter his power, no matter his cunning, can hope to succeed against such a force, for evil cannot tolerate it's presence."
Prime smirked a little beneath his mask. "You're rather philosophical this afternoon, my friend."
"One does get tired of traipsing back and forth between here and my other portrait at Hogwarts," Dumbledore replied. "Philosophy does fill the dull times so nicely. Well, that and a good round of solitaire."
Prime chuckled. "I have work to do. But I'll be back later."
"Very well. Farewell for now, and good luck with your newest recruits to the Autobot cause."
"Thank you, my friend. I have a feeling we'll need all the luck we can get. 'Til all are one."