Chapter 5: Aftermath

Mai sit up and gets to her feet. She shakes herself out and signals for her people to follow as she head for the door to leave. Suddenly there is a crack of sound and standing there in my office is two strange men.

One is dressed in some kind of outlandish robes, has a snowy white beard that reaches his chest and a pointed hat on his head. Beside him is a lean, sour faced man with stringy black hair and wearing black robes, brandishing a wand in his long fingered hand.

Everyone freezes. Then the Hogwarts children race forward in obvious recognition of the visitors.

"Headmaster Dumbledore!" They shout as one.

"Ah, children. So glad to see you are unharmed." The older gentleman said warmly to them. He looks past them, his blue eyes twinkling. "So good to see you again Mai."

"Albus. It's been a very long time." Mai said politely.

I was shocked. Who the heck was this? I can already guess they are from Hogwarts but how does Mai know them?

"We became quite concerned when the children didn't return after accidentally falling into the travel portrait when the three hour time limit passed. Professor Snape and I came to see if something had happen to them." Dumbledore explained their appearance.

"I'm sorry, we had some....difficulties....here that have just been taken care of." Mai said simply.

"Ahh, I see. Well then I'm glad no one was harmed." The old wizard said.

"We did have two fatalities." Mai said demurely.

"My condolences on your loss. It is never an easy thing to lose people you know." He said in sympathy.

Mai just bowed her head in acknowledgment.

"Perhaps we might have a cup of tea sometime soon to catch up on old times?" Dumbledore suggested.

"I'd like that. A safe journey, Albus. Good to see you again." Mai said, smiling briefly.

That just shocked the hell out of me. Mai never smiled like that. Wow! I wonder what they had between them? Guess I'll never know.

"Thank you! Well you three, are you ready to go home?" Dumbledore asks the children.

"Oh yes! Please, this has been exciting but I'm tired and want to go home." Hermione said happily.

"Yeah, exciting but I've had enough of this kind of excitement." Ron mutters.

"Oh yeah, you can say that again." Harry agreed, then turned to walk over to me. He takes my hand and shakes it solemnly. "Sorry we dropped in on you but it was nice meeting you." He said sincerely.

"It was nice meeting you too, Harry. Be careful and good luck to you. Thanks for your help." I tell him.

"Thanks and you're welcome. You take care too." He said with a bright smile and a gleam from those old looking emerald eyes.

He and I understood one another very well. He returned to Dumbledore's side.

"I'm sorry as well." Hermione said, blushing a little in embarrassment. Ron just nods at me.

"Thank you for taking care of them Mr. Dresden. Good fortune to you." Dumbledore said to me before they all suddenly disappeared in a crack of sound once more.

"Wow! What a way to travel!" I comment aloud then turn to Ancient Mai only to find she and the rest nearly leaving by my front door.

"Wait!" I shout to make her halt. "Why did you trap us like that?" I demand.

"To keep her from escaping." Mai said bluntly.

"But we all could have died." I objected.

"Then we would have died but she would not have escaped and that was all that mattered."

I had nothing to say to that. I eyed her carefully. "You know, dragons live a long time and take many forms and you have lived a long time and changed your form......" I say without really coming out with what I was getting at.

"Yes. You've learned to not say what you shouldn't and not reveal what you know. That's why you are still alive." She said with a cold smirk.

I shivered at that. To my consternation, coming to my door was the real Murphy.

She looks at the people standing in my doorway then at me. "Dresden, I need to speak with you about an explosion. Are you going to introduce me?" She asks.

I look at the others as they begin to move through the door and leave.

"No, they are leaving." I say with a shrug.

"Oh, well about the explosion......." She persists.

"Don't worry about it, Murphy. It's been taken care of."

"It's one of those things I shouldn't ask about, isn't it?" She asks in disgust.

"You could say that." I sigh. "Let's go to lunch!"

"Lunch? Well, okay. I'm kinda hankering for Chinese!"

I wince, no way I want Chinese not after dealing with Mai. "No, how about Greek!"

"Uh....Greek?.....Well, Okay...Greek it is!"

We leave my office and go out into the sunshine. 'Gods! What a day this has been.' I muse. I hope Harry and the others don't get into too much trouble.


They all reappear in Dumbledore's office.

"I am so glad to be back!" Ron said in heartfelt relief.

Dumbledore smiles. "Then I'm certain you will never go venturing where you shouldn't again, Mr. Weasley."

"Definitely, sir."

"I understand this was an accident but you three were up past curfew. Twenty points each from Gryffindor for breaking the rules." He said sternly.

The three muttered disheartened acknowledgment at the demerits.

"I think they deserve detention as well Headmaster!" Snape spoke for the first time.

The shuffled their feet and wouldn't look at him.

"Hmm, perhaps you're right, Severus. What would you suggest?" Dumbledore asked lightly.

"A weeks detention cleaning the potions caldrons." He stated formally.

"Very well. Mr. Weasley, Ms. Granger, Mr. Potter. You will report to Professor Snape's potion's classroom tomorrow evening to begin your punishment. Off to bed now. Unfortunately, you will not have much time for a very restful sleep." Dumbledore told them.

"Yes sir!" They said in unison and ran out of the office for their dorm.

Reaching the Gryffindor common room they paused a moment before going to their rooms.

"That was the most incredible adventure ever." Ron said, shaking his head. "I can't believe we actually saw a dragon."

"Yeah that was something alright. I wish I had more time to talk with Mr. Dresden though. He and I had a lot in common." Harry said thoughtfully.

"It was interesting but I'm just glad to be back in our own world. The American wizards are just too different." Hermione said with a shiver.

"That just made them more interesting. If we didn't have to worry about an attack by a dragon we might have learned something new." Harry insisted.

"Possibly. Anyway, enough of this. I'm exhausted and like Professor Dumbledore said, we don't have much time for sleep. Good night." She said and hurried up the stairs to the girl's dorm.

Ron and Harry yawned and went up to the boy's dorm. Harry had a hard time going to sleep despite being very tired. He wished he had the time to speak more with Dresden. Somehow he was certain, the American wizard might have been able to help him with his fight against Voldemort. He sighed and finally fell asleep.