Chapter 12: Headache
A headache was the least of Harry's worries, but he rather enjoyed it. It was somewhat comforting to know that it wasn't the result of a blow to head, drugging, or magical exhaustion. He felt rather normal, or perhaps as normal as one can feel when you're miles underground in a hidden bunker.
"Sure you don't want some of my breakfast?" Sirius offered with a grin.
Harry cringed and his stomach gave an uncomfortable lurch when his gaze once again dropped to his godfather's plate, "I'll pass, thanks. It's past lunch in London anyway."
Sirius shook his head, "You do get in trouble don't you. Why didn't you just leave as soon as you dropped them at Charring Cross? It's their mission."
"I know," Harry said rubbing his forehead. "It made sense at the time."
"Face it kid, you're just too nice."
"Nice? Me?" Harry raised an eyebrow and didn't bother to mention the various crimes he'd committed before breakfast today.
"When it comes to these little heroics, you just can't sit back and let other people have all the fun. James was the same way." Sirius smiled nostalgically at the comment, and his gaze seemed to drift away for a moment.
Harry nodded, fighting the familiar smile.
"Still, these Rats sound like dodgy characters," Sirius said, taking a bite of his food with a frown.
"That's why I need you back on your feet, need someone to watch my back." Harry smiled and his tone was jocular, but his eyes couldn't pull off the emotion.
Sirius still looked very tired and pale.
His godfather caught the glance and rolled his eyes, "I'm fine."
"Jean told me about the radiation," Harry said bluntly.
"Oh, yeah, she mentioned that to me too," Sirius said absently, stroking his leg through a blanket. Harry watched the gesture, and it made him nervous although he didn't know why.
"Don't worry, Pup, it will take more than some muggle science to do me in."
"It's not just science, Sirius," Harry said with some exasperation. "You know what caused this."
Sirius shook his head, "Look kid, when you're as old as me-"
"So ancient then," Harry teased.
"Watch it," Sirius joked back, taking a swing, "Well, you learn that the universe-and this sounds like muggle hokum but bear with me-well, it's all about balance, you have to give some to get some. The way I see it, I traveled between worlds in a way that not many people before me have…now that's something alright. Always knew I was destined for greatness." He offered his godson a cheeky grin.
The amusement vanished and Sirius's face grew stony, "But it's got to cost."
"You sound like Moony," Harry said tilting his head and feeling a little surprised at this more thoughtful side to Sirius.
"Yeah, yeah, he got all the credit for being the deep one."
Sirius took another bite, but pushed his tray away half full. He stared around the room for a moment before turning to look at Harry with a stern expression, "You know, I'd really like to send you to your room, ground you…maybe take away flying privileges or something."
Harry laughed, he couldn't picture Sirius acting so fatherly.
"Yeah, yeah," Sirius agreed, "You're a little old for it now."
"I've been grounded enough for a lifetime," Harry said with a grin, thinking of his summers with the Dursleys and how they would lock him in his room.
"You didn't have it that bad," Sirius said rolling his eyes, "My mum used to magically lock my door so that I couldn't floo to James's house. One time I made her so mad, she even chained me to my bed post." Sirius chuckled, but it wasn't really that funny. "I'm sure there is a dirty joke in there somewhere, but well…you've met my mother."
Harry chuckled, remembering the woman's hideous portrait and wondering at what an awkward family they made.
"I know why you're doing it, Harry," Sirius said.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Helping them, taking on this new mission. It's not even your world, but I know why you're doing it."
"I'm not-I didn't want to get involved in all this."
Sirius looked at him closely, "Didn't you? Let's face it, you've got the upper hand in this world. There is no denying that…You wouldn't be here unless you chose to be."
Harry turned away. It didn't do any good to lie to Sirius, Merlin, it didn't even do any good to lie to himself. His godfather always seemed to know. Harry had turned to him, trusted him with things that he had never been able to with any other adult. Sometimes Harry wished they would have had more time, he thought he'd be a better person if they had. But he'd given up that fantasy a long time ago, now he was just glad that they could be together.
"By the way, that wheelchair guy has been around, wondering about you."
Harry sighed, "I've got enough people wanting me to join their teams at the moment, he'll have to take a number."
Sirius gave a short bark of laughter, "I won't be in this bed forever, then we can form our own team."
Harry liked that idea, and he nodded, at least until the gesture made his head ache too much.
"You know if I could do this one thing, leave England a little better then when I found it…that wouldn't be so bad, would it?"
Sirius seemed thoughtful, "I'd just leave," he said bluntly. "I've done it before, there are too many problems in this universe, Harry. We can't fix them all. And this isn't some little problem."
Harry nodded, he could understand that argument. Sirius was probably right, there was probably nothing he could do here, and why bother?
Sirius laughed, "But that's not you, and I know it."
For a moment his godfather looked like someone else, someone happy and carefree, like he had been in that wedding photo all those years ago. Harry began to have some hope that with a little time, maybe Sirius would be just fine. Jean couldn't know everything after all.
"So how about we make a deal," Sirius said. "I'll take some time here, I could use a break after all that dimension hopping. I'll listen to the nice lady healer, those tight tops she wears don't hurt anything, and I'll give you up to whatever mission you've taken on this week…and we'll see how things go."
Harry nodded with a weak chuckle.
"But in return, you've got to be safe." Sirius said, living up to his name. "I mean it, pup, no crazy risks. And no more going off drinking with criminals, I'll start to think I did a bad job raising you."
Harry laughed loudly at that, "Deal," he allowed with a smile.
"Yeah, yeah," Sirius said as he lied back against his pillow, "I know you'll do what you do, not to get in trouble…but just remember you've got your old godfather's piece of mind to worry about. And I reserve the right to kick your arse and drag you home kicking and screaming." Sirius yawned, and looked up to Harry. "And I just might do that pup, so keep that in mind."
Harry nodded, he sat there for a moment as he watched Sirius fall back asleep. He wished he could ask Jane how much longer it would take for Sirius to get better. But he knew he probably shouldn't try and track down any X-men right now…although he kinda thought Wolverine might fit in just fine among the Rats. He shared their propensity for rule breaking.
Harry rose to his feet and opened the curtain, stepping out he met a familiar face.
"Hello there," Harry said, meeting the intelligent eyes of Thomas Winters. The leader of The Haven still looked a little banged up as well, and his throat was still heavily bandaged.
"I guess you probably heard about the others…you shouldn't blame them really, they needed to balance the scales. You can understand that right?"
Winters's eyes looked sad but he nodded.
"And no offence, but I'd rather them not know I came around here for a bit…sorry."
Thomas Winters blinked for a moment before staring into space blankly. Harry's memory modification led Winters to believe had had spent the last 20 minutes napping, he was startled awake only for a moment when a loud pop had sounded. But when he had looked around, there was no one there.
"Uggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" Pyro moaned loudly when Harry prodded him for the third time.
Harry grinned, his friends had overindulged a little more than he had. Justin had currently locked himself in the small room that acted as a WC, and Pyro refused to move from the small cot he'd collapsed on, half dressed.
"Say what you want," Pyro said, his words muffled behind his arm, "But those Rats can throw a bash."
Harry hadn't spent much time underground but he nodded, he was actually a little fuzzy about what he has done the previous evening. He remembered something rather funny, but for the life of him he couldn't remember what it was.
He relaxed back against a broken sofa and grew a little nervous when it gave a squeak that sounded biological. They were called Rats for a reason right?
While his friends and cohorts gathered themselves together, Harry surveyed the place where many of the newest sewer inhabitants had spent their evening. It wasn't quite as clean and organized as the space Professor Xavier had provided at Mutant High. The area was littered with broken couches and cots. All and all, it amounted to some rather poor looking living conditions. Harry wondered how the Haven mutants were handling their new accommodations.
Harry found he missed his comfortable bed at Mutant High…otherwise he really couldn't complain. Heck, with Magic he could easily achieve such a bed here if he really wanted, so ultimately being in a sewer underground wasn't that much different than being anywhere else.
He shook his head. There is something wrong with you old boy, he thought to himself.
"I'm never doing that again," Justin said weakly as he joined Harry on the couch.
"Yeah, well, everyone has their times of overindulgence," Harry said sounding very much like Dumbledore. The old coot had caught him like this a time or two, back in those early days when he had still been trying to find his place among all the lessons and tutors and destiny.
Justin squinted at him weakly but nodded, "Guess we need to let loose some." He sighed. "What are we going to do about the plan…I mean I hate to say it but without Black Box we're a little limited with computers…I know some things but…" Justin trailed off and shrugged.
"Black Box is in," Harry stated. "We're on for tonight; I'd wager that neighborhood will empty out around eight o'clock, cleaning crews sometime after midnight. Somewhere around 2 AM should be our best bet."
"Did Black Box change his mind?" Justin said sounding confused.
Harry paused for a moment, "Not exactly." He quickly decided that what Justin didn't know wouldn't hurt him. "The way I see it, the main goal is for us to get Black Box in there safely, let him do what he has to do. During that time it's our jobs to act as lookouts, Xray you'll be the best at that, also we can provide firepower if anyone shows up."
"Firepower is a good way to say it," Pyro said, clicking his lighter and letting a fireball burn in his hand.
"Wait, I'm confused, what do you mean by 'Not Exactly', he either did or he didn't." Justin looked like he knew exactly what had happened.
"I settled the matter," Harry stated simply.
"You mean you broke into that computer development place and stole what he wanted," X-ray said sounding very disapproving.
"It was what needed to be done," Harry said with smile. Once again he had some feeling that there was humor behind that story somehow…but he couldn't remember why.
"I'm not certain about this," Justin said, standing from the couch and gesturing heavily with his hands. "We left the Haven and Mutant High because they weren't doing anything, SOMETHING had to be done. That's why we did this. But this-" Justin gestured.
"What?" Pyro asked, "It's not that bad."
Justin rolled his eyes, "Yeah, so it's not that bad. THIS TIME. But don't you see that's how it all gets going, first a little then a little more. That's the steps to total complacency. You can't do the right thing the wrong way."
Harry would hazard to guess that actually you could do the right thing the wrong way, but what did he know.
"This isn't about some distant future," Pyro argued. "It's NOW, We only have a week before they're going to kill this prime minster chick."
"She's the Speaker of the House," Justin said crossly.
"Same thing isn't it," Pyro said with a grin.
Justin, oddly enough, laughed at that, he settled back on the couch, "Maybe it is better. If we find out this information, well we could save a life and keep all the people from The Haven from having to kill her…"
He stopped and looked at Harry.
"You understand though, right. This isn't the right thing to do."
Harry sighed. "Justin, I'll be honest with you mate. I've lived through enough lectures on good and evil, right and wrong…it's a diatribe that I'll never get out of my head. Sometimes you have to look for the greater good."
Harry mentally cringed as the words came out of his mouth, he didn't want to focus only on the big picture, on the 'greater good'. He'd seen Dumbledore try it, and it had resulted in some terrible things. He still bore the scars of some of those things, but better or worse, it had made him the man he was.
Justin nodded, and leaned his head against the dirty couch staring up at the dark ceiling that towered above them somewhere.
"What do you think of this Watt's fellow?" Justin asked suddenly.
"Yeah, seems charming," Pyro offered with a snooty voice.
Harry laughed, "He's the guy in charge down here, that's all we need to know. He's not the mission."
"But we don't want a guy like him in charge…I mean…you don't suppose the blonde with him was the girl Black Box was talking about…do you? I mean she looked younger than me."
Harry shrugged, he really hadn't noticed her.
"Talk about Heroin Hot, I mean maybe a little too skinny but…" Pyro smiled and raised his eyebrows.
"That's gross," Justin said, "She's probably some street kid that Watts just picked up."
"Doesn't change the fact that she's hot…though I like women with boobs, that one is as flat as an ironing board."
Harry smiled at that comment.
"See, he knows what I'm talking about," Pyro said slinging an arm around Harry's shoulder. "You've got to have something to grab onto."
Harry couldn't help that for a moment his thoughts drifted to Storm in her leather X-men suit. That ship might have sailed…but it was still nice to think about sometimes.
"Well you caused a right mess," a voice said startling Harry from his thoughts.
"Hmm?" Harry asked.
"It's been on the news all morning," Black Box said with a frown.
"What?" Harry asked, he glanced at the others. "Do you see any televisions down here?" Harry said wondering what had gotten the computer minded mutant into such a bad mood. The man had been very pleasantly surprised earlier this morning when he'd come in to find his precious computer gadget.
"I was thinking you'd be more subtle," Black Box continued pacing above him. "Thankfully they think the whole thing is a joke. Still I was thinking this was would be significantly less publicized."
"I still don't know what you're talking about."
Black Box rolled his eyes and pulled out a small rectangle shaped device, a cell phone or blackberry, perhaps. The man tapped the screen for a moment before turning the screen to face Harry.
The screen was displaying a newscast of some sort, a handsome man with a blazer and black tie was sitting behind a desk finishing up a story on a strike near Newcastle.
"And in the bizarre news this morning," the man said with a chuckle, "A computer development firm in London reported a break in, but with a very unusual suspect. Surveillance cameras captured the entire incident, -the video of which was leaked online early this morning. Take a look."
The clean looking newsroom was replaced by a grayscale office building, and a shadowy figure was seen on the screen, it opened locked doors with apparently no effort at all…but it wasn't until the figure came into the light that the new caster's genial attitude was made apparent. The face illuminated was one that present company was very familiar with.
Harry chuckled, "Oh yeah, I forgot about that."
It seemed, at least according to the surveillance cameras, that the burglar, who made no attempt to hide her face…was none other than Speaker Chand. Her well publicized face lit up the screen and she was even dressed in her standard skirt suit and well groomed hair…which looked distinctly out of place sneaking into a well locked computer company. Although sneaking might not have been the best word considering the figure had a tendency to stumble a bit, and couldn't seem to walk a straight line. Indeed, while there was no audio to confirm this, the dignified politician seemed to pause at one point and let out a belch.
Justin and Pyro looked at Harry with wide eyes.
The newscaster returned to the screen with a smile, "The theft was reported early this morning, and despite what looks to be our esteemed Speaker of the House, her whereabouts were confirmed by her staff this morning, so one less suspect for the police to question. Let's wish them luck. This is Timothy Dalton, hoping you have a pleasant day."
"That newscaster looked awfully familiar," Harry said looking away with a shrug. "What is that thing anyway, how do you get television on it when you're underground?"
Black Box seemed unsure how to handle Harry's blasé attitude and was stuck staring, rather gobsmacked, for a moment.
"Harry?" Justin said looking confused, "How exactly did you…"
"That was AWESOME!" Pyro chimed in. "Let's watch it again."
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Harry said, "Of course I was rather drunk at the time." He seemed thoughtful.
"You broke into a high security developmental research lab, drunk, dressed like the Speaker of the House?"
"That's not a bad idea really…" Harry mused thoughtfully, "I mean if we can't get any dirt on Chand, maybe we could make some up. We could have her be caught with a prostitute, drunkenly riding the lions in Trafalgar square, taking a piss in the Thames."
"Prostitute?" Pyro said curiously. "So like some buff dude?" He snickered softly.
"Have to be a female prostitute, obviously." Harry stated with a raised eyebrow, "Which just makes it a better scandal."
"More plans should involve prostitutes," Pyro agreed.
"You're both as mad as hatters," X-ray added.
"It's not a bad plan actually, making up dirt might be easier than finding the real thing," Black Box said.
"Honesty is always better in the long run," Harry argued, "Then it can't be disproved later. "
"Ah, but politics is a game of posturing. If you can muddy up the front page, no one reads the retraction."
Harry nodded, "It is something to keep in mind."
Black Box seemed to be in a better mood then when he walked in, and settled into a broken armchair. He looked out of place, pressed suit and tie amongst all the dirt and grim in the tunnels, but oddly enough he didn't seem uncomfortable at all.
"More good news, the Forum we were talked about seems to be very favorable of our mission. I've already received some offers of assistance from local mutants, including one who lives in the area we're looking into as well as another whose father is a party member."
"Well… that is looking good too then." Harry himself wasn't certain how he was going to use this 'forum' (whatever that was) but he wasn't fool enough to deny possible allies.
Justin still rolled his eyes at the concept of Home Kids, as he called them, but he seemed to have decided to remain silent about his objections.
"On the bad news end, " Black Box added, "Was looking over the forum today, there are a lot more Missing Person posts. Looks like they're being picked off."
"Then they'll be more motivated to help us, I suppose," Pyro suggested.
Black Box fiddled around with the small electronic device he had and handed the thing to Harry, who held it gingerly as if it might decide to blow up in his face.
What he saw on the screen wasn't a video this time, but instead a webpage that looked like an online bulletin board. Harry had never seen anything like it before, but he was able to read the bold font that seemed to title many of the messages.
HAVE YOU SEEN DRAKE SPENCER/MACHINE
LOOKING FOR WES DAWKINS/PORTHOLE
WHEN DID OPTIC-EYE LAST POST?/ AKA CREEVY?
The last name caught Harry's eye and he frowned. Creevy? The name brought a spark of recognition to him, but he looked away and nodded.
"There are more people missing then those that were at the Northern Facility," he said.
Justine paled, "Then…where are they?"
Harry shook his head. "Maybe Chand knows, that's something else we can look into tonight."
The four men shared a glance, a lot was riding on this evening. And it was riding on the shoulders of two teenage mutants, one talented capitalist, and a war hardened wizard. Harry might have liked to add a few more assets to that list, some people he could really trust. Justin was weak when it came to battle, and Pyro was too hotheaded, Black Box was a survivalist he'd ditch them at the first sign of trouble to save his own skin. And Harry…what was his weakness? He knew he brought one to this party too…but he didn't know yet quite what it would be.
It made Harry a little sick to think that his mind drifted to Ron and Hermione. He had abandoned them without thought back on his home world, and they had grown apart in the last few years before Voldemort's defeat. Harry had been too wrapped up in private lessons and tutors to really spend much time with them.
Yet, why was it, now, he couldn't help but wish they had his back.
Harry shook his head, there was no good wishing on things that could never be. Beside's he'd accomplished things with worse odds.
"Tonight's the night," Harry said softly.
You can't see the stars at night, not in a place like London. Harry had always thought the stars at Hogwarts seemed so blindingly bright that it would be impossible not to see them up there, glowing like mad, all from billions and billions of kilometers away. But in the city, even so late at night, the sky only looked like it had a soft orange glow. No stars.
The street lights weren't a problem for Harry and his friends as they moved through the night, they had been disillusioned to blend in with their surroundings. Their bodies would slip into shadows and almost disappear.
Not that there was much need, the streets were hardly well trafficked at this time of night. A few aides leaving work late, a cleaning crew pulling away from one building, and the small pub they had visited early was just now closing up.
A city like London was never quiet or empty, but this was about as close as it would ever manage.
The door to Speaker Chand's office slipped open silently, and the couple smoking silently a little down the sidewalk didn't notice as four nearly invisible figures disappeared into the darkness inside.
"Shouldn't we, I don't know…have staked out the place, maybe?" Justin asked from the dark entryway. "How do we know she doesn't have a live-in-maid or something?"
"It's an office, not a house," Black Box stated. "No one is going to foot the bill for someone to live here. "
"And we didn't have time," Harry added.
"Shh," Pyro said, "Let's at least get what we came for before we get caught."
Harry nodded, a little surprised at Pyro's clear-headedness. He gestured toward the staircase that rose to the left. The group followed his lead and they quietly moved upward, at the top of the stairs they spotted an ornate looking door with a brass plaque.
MADAM SPEAKER CHAND
The door to the office was locked, and the lock was fairly sophisticated, for muggle design anyway. But Harry's unlocking charm cut through the complexity in a second, and the door swung open.
Harry had seen horror, he had lived through darkness and witnessed the vile underbellies of evil, he had dived into the fathoms created by demented minds…but as far as offices went, eh, Speaker Chand's was fairly normal and unassuming. Honestly Professor Umbridge's office had evoked more feelings of discontent. It was a nice normal looking office, and since it belonged to a person who had brought about a genocide perhaps that was what made it so very disturbing.
"Very tidy," Black Box said with a trace of disgust in his tone.
But their techno mutant quickly became absorbed in an innocent looking box that had a green flickering light. Harry supposed that such a device must be what they had come for, and so he settled into the dark room to do nothing while their new friend went about doing whatever it was that he did.
X-ray was scanning the walls, and Harry knew he wasn't examining the interior decorating.
The office faced out the front and had three good sized windows which allowed the glow from the street lamps to give them a little more light to see by. Another dimmer light seeped in from what appeared to be an attached bathroom. Harry supposed it was really a rather fancy looking office, and he wondered if Ten Downing was as well situated.
"Well this is rather dull," Pyro stated tiredly.
Harry couldn't help but agree, but considering all and all, he would settle for dull and he wasn't about to jinx what would hopefully be an informative mission.
"Guys…there is something here," X-ray said softly.
Harry could have hit Pyro, why had the boy said anything? He raised an eyebrow at the fire mutant who shrugged.
"What do you mean something?"
"It's…" X-ray trailed off, his eyes squinting as he twisted his head to get a better look at something.
"This is going to sound crazy…but I think it's a monkey of some sort."
"A monkey? Like a pet of some kind?" Harry looked around wondering what exactly Justin was seeing.
"I don't…I don't think it's a monkey…"
"You just said it was a monkey," Pyro said.
"Got it," Black Box said, "Her entire hardrive, thankfully she seems like an organized sort."
Harry turned to Black Box, "You got it already?"
"I told you it wouldn't take long once I was in the room," he replied with a blank expression.
"If you say so," Harry shrugged, he still had no idea how this strange mutation worked.
"Anything useful?" Pyro asked, "Tell me she used to be a man or something. Cause I could see that."
"I'll have to meditate and cipher though it, I can do that back at home."
"Is you brain like some sort of sponge for computers?" Apparently Harry wasn't the only one who didn't understand how this all worked.
"I can explain it here or later, at a place where we won't be shot on sight." Black Box smiled, again those strangely bright white teeth catching the little light in the room and looking somewhat eerie.
"Guys," X-Ray said soundly slightly unsure.
Harry turned to see Justin staring nervously at the door, or rather the upward right corner of the door with a very hesitant expression on his face.
"I think there is a really big monkey out there," he said sounding as if he doubted his own words.
"Yeah you said that, so is it a monkey or not?" Pyro said tilting his head and looking at the teenager as if he'd gone mad.
"Yeah, well no…it's crouched…on the ceiling..." Once again Justin sounded unclear.
And then the alarm went off. Although alarm might not be the right word for the noise that suddenly echoed with an ear drum penetrating precision through the room. It reminded Harry somewhat of the high pitched screech that Syren had been able to produce…except it wasn't as gentle. The noise sounded sharp and metallic and left his head aching as he covered his ears pathetically for a moment trying to get his bearings.
When he was able to look up he saw the other members of his team similarly disoriented, all of them clutching their ears and grimacing in pain as the blaring noise continued.
Harry had heard of deafening charms, but had never used one, had never been taught one. He found himself thinking back to Professor Sprouts ugly fluffy earmuffs that had so entirely blocked out any sound and with his hands clamped down over his ears he hoped his magic would be able to reproduce those effects.
The noise continued, and then blissfully all noise of any kind disappeared.
His head still hurt, worse than it had since his days of scar headaches, and Harry had lost all sense of time. How long had they been standing there? He looked to Black Box and the others and knew that they had to get out of there.
He was debating the merits of deafening his friends, with his dangerous-new-non-safe-charm-that-didn't-have-a-countercharm…when he saw the flashing lights. He dashed to the window and looked down to see three cars pull up with flashing lights, as well a fourth black car that sat ominously next to the other three.
Harry looked around, and as the flashing lights threw the room into dark shadows, he noticed that the office door was moving. Perhaps if he hadn't deafened his ears, he might have heard the thumping sound but all he could do watch with some surprise as the door buckled and shook as some force crashed against it.
It looked like Justin's monkey wanted to come in.
Harry looked around and felt very trapped, his mind flashed methods of transportation. Portkey? Apparition?
But when the door came crashing in Harry's mind went blank and instead he summoned his partners in crime and flung them into the attached bathroom and slammed the door shut.
Perhaps the alarm was less severe in here as Justin, Pyro and Black Box regained some focus and appeared to be talking, but Harry still couldn't hear them and his mind was focused on getting them as far away from this place as he could.
The door to the bathroom was banging now it would only be a matter of time…. Harry shrugged and looked at his friends in a pitying way.
They really weren't going to like this.
Apparition is not a comfortable form of travel. Even in the wizarding world that Harry had come from, some fully capable wizards didn't enjoy the process and were much more likely to use the floo, a portkey or even the Knight Bus. Indeed, with such well established (and much more comfortable) forms of travel many wizards could go their entire life and never need to use it. Hermoine had once said it was like Parallel Parking in the muggle world, Ron hadn't understood the reference; but Harry, who had often walked an extra block with his Aunt Petunia to avoid that very thing, understood quite well.
Slide-Along Apparition was noticeable more difficult and for even powerful wizards like Albus Dumbledore, taking more than two individuals was demonstrably difficult. One's ability to control the apparition grew less and less as the factors grew.
Appariting three very disoriented people, from a room that was being invaded by a very large monkey, while surround by the police-It was almost doomed to be bad from the start, but without time for a portkey there was simply no other choice.
Harry's mind was trying to think back the Rat's little hidey hole but he didn't have much time to focus, and his grip of three people was tenuous as best. He felt the magic start to disintegrate rather quickly and the pressure of apparition seemed stronger and more painful than usual. Instead of the sensation of being pressed through a small tube, it felt more he was being squeezed through a meat grinder, coming out in too many pieces to keep straight.
He did his best to hold the magic together but with a painful lurch he felt it snap, followed by the uncomfortable feeling of face planting into the pavement.
Harry stayed very still for a moment, and found himself staring at his hands as they rested on black pavement. Every bone in his body ached, and he dreaded that this is what it felt like when you splinched yourself. He had never had that issue, and, compared to others, had always been fairly good at apparition.
He didn't hear a sound, but he did slowly start to realize that a light was growing closer. He looked up just in time to see the wide fender of a lorry barreling down on top of him.
He didn't have time to move, so he rolled into alignment and held very still as the vehicle thundered over him.
Above him he could see the rusty undercarriage, but only for a moment, and then the dull light of a half broken street lamp was all he faced.
Harry breathed. He felt his body slowly; he was still intact. Honestly, he didn't think that worked except for in the movies.
It was time to get out of the street he decided, and he managed to force his body upright. As he staggered to his feet and began limping toward the sidewalk, he glanced around looking for any sign of Black Box, Pyro or X-ray.
They were nowhere to be seen.
Harry swallowed uncomfortably, noting that he could still see a lot of flashing lights, like the kind produced from three police cars, blinking between two side streets. He obviously hadn't managed to get them very far away, and based on his current condition, he needed to find someplace safe to hide, rest clear his head-and oh yeah, hearing would be good to have too.
Running away from a crime scene wasn't a good idea so he tried to dust himself off and stroll down the London street as if he didn't have a care in the world. But he allowed himself to lift his hands to his ears, and began to rub them while concentrating on regaining that particular sense.
It started coming back, but it sounded like a fuzzy broken radio and he cringed at the pain that it brought with it.
He'd like to find a quiet place to sit down and get this mess settled, however all that currently surrounded him were residential dwellings, newer flats mixed in with older brownstones. It was a very dead looking place at around three in the morning; all its inhabitants were asleep. Something Harry wouldn't mind doing. He thought back to his comfortable bed at Mutant High, or even the lumpy couch at Black Box's office, the slab of cement from his prison cell in Voldemort's fortress, his cramped little bed in the cupboard under the stairs.
They all sounded rather good.
But ultimately his thoughts were drawn back to his four-poster in the Gryffindor dorm room, for the first time-and only for a the briefest of moments, he really dreaded the choice he had made in coming here.
It was a very brief moment of self pity, and one he'd never claim.
It was so brutally brief because in a moment after he had it, Harry was struck in the back of head by what felt like a meaty club.
His knees hit the pavement first and the impact shook his body, maybe he might have yelled out at the pain of it; he couldn't tell since his ear still made everything sound like it was banging around in a tin can.
His vision wasn't so good anymore either and forced himself to hold onto consciousness as world around him was vibrating.
He took a breath, that hurt too.
Glancing out of the side of his vision he found the shadow of his attacker. He moved out of the way, tossing himself toward a wrought iron fence and pulling himself upright by his hands, spinning around he allowed some of his bodyweight to rest on the fence as he surveyed what had attacked him.
Maybe he had been expecting a billy club, or even the fist of some hulking police officer. Instead he thought-well he thought he might have found X-ray's monkey.
Monkey was a bad word to use, Gorilla was only slightly better. Whatever it was, it was big, angry and looked like it had a sledgehammer for a hand. But whatever it was, it met Harry's gaze with intelligent eyes, human eyes.
It was a mutant.
But that couldn't be? What mutant would be in Chand's office, other than mutants like his friends who were trying to bring the she-bitch down?
The scenarios flashed though his mind, but Harry couldn't get them to line up in a coherent manner. He was also beginning to wonder what he had done to himself.
This would have to be a standing battle he decided very quickly. He steadied his hands before himself, watching the creature cautiously. His own way out was to overpower his opponent, and he couldn't let him get too close. A Stunning charm would be ideal, excepting that the bolt of red light that followed it would give the Gorilla chance to move out of the way.
Harry knew he couldn't risk a physical fight at this moment, he'd have to make very spell count.
The Mutant's mouth moved, his strange monkey-like-face seemed to be saying something. It was a noise, Harry knew that. But the words were too fast and seemed jumbled.
Harry reached out to try and use the one sense he had left: His Mind. True the mind wasn't usually considered a sense, but when legilimency made it possible for his mind to reach out and brush the thoughts of another, it actually did feel like another tool for sensing the world.
Protect Chand, the monkey man was thinking with somewhat simpleminded clearness.
Keep him till the others come.
Kill him if need be.
Harry saw flashes of other mutants, their powers and faces flashing like a blur. He found himself fixated on a strange image of Chand, she was surrounded by a strange sort of dust that swirled around her. But threads of those thoughts disappeared and Harry was left with unanswered questions.
Why would you work for Chand? He thought, but then he must have said it aloud because the creature snarled somewhat. Or maybe that was just coincidence.
It moved it's lips again and Harry wished he could hear what it said, but he didn't dare lose his concentration.
" -strong will make a Better World" Those words broke through the chaos and Harry was left to wonder what they meant.
Things shifted, the man's muscles tensed, his eyes narrowed-
"Stupefy" Harry hissed as loudly as he could bear, throwing a bolt of red light at the monkey man who had poised to leap towards him. The magic hit him in the chest and his face flickered surprise, but only for a moment and then his eyes slid shut.
He would have dropped to the ground.
Would have, except that the light post that had been standing next to him twisted down and caught him, then coiled itself around the bulky body like an anaconda.
Yeah…that had happened.
A street lamp had come to life and decided to imprison his attacker. It left Harry wondering if he'd hit his head harder then he thought. He raised a palm to the large bump that was swelling at the back of his skull. He'd had worse he supposed.
A quiet noise broke through the fuzziness in Harry's head. It might have been a human voice, softly spoken in the night. He turned to look for the source and found a pair of nice legs clad in tight jeans and a bulky leather jacket.
"Are you one of the ones? I read about you on S.C. for U.M, been listening for sirens all night." It was young woman's voice, but with a rough edge to it.
"Black Box wrote about this?" Harry said aloud, he'd really have to have some words with that man regarding security.
"He sent me a message, since I lived close by," the leather jacket replied.
"Oh well, that would be ideal really," Harry glanced around. "I need to get off the street."
The fence he had been leaning on suddenly wrapped around his wrists and held him firmly in place.
"Just who are you?" the voice said sharply, and it was a tone that Harry thought sounded familiar.
Harry didn't really care at this point, he was tired and regardless of whether his hands were bound or not, he had the power in this situation. The girl in the leather jacket just didn't know it yet.
"Look," he said with a sigh. "My name is Harry, I've probably been splinched, my hearing is in shambles, I've got a bleeding seventy-six trombone parade doing the polka on my temples-And I'm very tired. So you can help me or not, cause frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
He was quoting old movies, he really might have a concussion.
The leather jacket chuckled.
"You're a little bit of a git, aren't you Harry."
"I've been told that a time or two," he said with a weary grin.
The tightness on his wrists disappeared, and the leather Jacket moved into the light to reveal a head of short frizzy hair, of a very boring shade of brown. It had been cut to line up with her jaw line, and somehow this made her hair stick up even more, as if it floated around her face.
Harry had known it would be her, had sensed it from the first muffled voice.
"Hello Hermione," he said softly.
A/N: Hope you enjoy this chapter, lost some pages at one point and that forced me rework the structure of the story, since I hate writing what I'd already written. Think I like this way better, anyway. I noted that this chapter is filled with illusions to other works-have a theory we live in a culture that is obsessed with referencing itself and thus creating subcultures of cognoscenti. See if you spot the ones I did.