Disclaimer: See chapter one.
Harry Potter and the Orange Alien
Chapter Four: In Which a Conclusion is Reached
Upon reflection, Harry identified two main differences between his trip across the kitchen and his trip across approximately half of London. The first difference was that the feeling of being pulled through several rubber tubes going in several different directions had escalated into a feeling which he quickly identified as the way one felt while being squeezed through a rubber tube and torn limb from limb simultaneously.
The second difference was that there had been no craters in Harry's kitchen, whereas Baker Street was simply full of them. As they arrived near the intersection, he had a brief glimpse of Ron and Hermione disappearing into one just before he tripped on a chunk of concrete and fell backwards into a particularly large crater of his own. Naruto fell in after him with a panicked yell, and Harry had time to register the sound of Ron and Hermione's voices raised in similar tones before he hit the bottom. Then Naruto landed on top of him, driving the breath out of him and cutting off his reflections abruptly.
After a few moments Harry came back to himself enough to wonder why he had not noticed before what a peculiar sort of terrain Baker Street had.
After another moment, it occurred to him that Abbott had said something about Baker Street being blown up earlier; he simply had not realised that when Abbott had said "blown up", he had really meant BLOWN UP.
Around this time he became aware that Naruto was poking him in the ribs and shouting at him in a concerned sort of way. He tried to say that he was all right, but his words came out sounding like a combination of a pained groan and a death rattle, and seemed to worry the alien more than they assured him. Harry gathered that he was worried because Naruto grabbed him by the shoulders, pulled him into a sitting position, and began shaking him violently back and forth, apparently in an attempt to jolt him into health.
Just when Harry was beginning to think that being unconscious sounded like a good idea, the shaking stopped and Ron came into view, looking as if he was not sure whether or not he should laugh.
"Blimey, Harry," he said. "Never thought aliens would be more trouble than You-Know-Who. Did you break anything?"
"Guh," said Harry. He got to his feet, a little unsteadily, and shut his eyes against the glare of the sun, which seemed to be circling around his head. "I'm fine," he said. "Just got the wind knocked out of me."
"You're getting a black eye, too," said Hermione, from the rim of the crater.
"Naruto put his elbow in it," explained Harry. "Am I Splinched?"
"Limbs all present and accounted for," said Ron, cheerfully. "But take a look at the street!"
"I don't think I want to," grumbled Harry, but he scrambled up the side of the crater and looked out anyway.
The crater Harry and Naruto had tumbled into was only a few yards away from the intersection with Eighth, and was one of the first in a cluster of craters that extended almost to the end of the block. It was a very thick cluster: from where Harry was standing to the halfway point between intersections, it was not so much that the street was dotted with craters as it was that the craters were occasionally interrupted by bits of street and sidewalk.
Considering the state of the street, the buildings had got off relatively unscathed. Aside from a few broken windows and marks that Harry thought might have been caused by a Stunning Spell gone awry, the only damage of note was a front door reduced to splinters of plywood and paint, and a large chunk carved off the corner of an apartment building. As for the intersection, there was only one middle-sized crater very nearly in the exact middle of it. A Muggle policeman was directing traffic around it, and Harry noted, with relief, that none of the passers-by were paying any attention at all to the damage just beyond the intersection. Creevey's work, no doubt. And speaking (or thinking, rather) of Creevey, there he was, dodging around craters towards them. And there was Naruto, looking suspicious and pugnacious, and with his hands full of sharp metal objects again.
"No, Naruto," said Harry, waving his arms about. "That's Dennis Creevey. He's good. He's a friend. You don't stab friends. Hullo, Dennis," he added.
"Morning, Harry." Dennis skidded to a stop beside them. "Sorry about that. I should have owled you about all the holes. I patched up the buildings – mostly – and I've been collecting bits of pavement all morning, but I think it was mostly blown to dust. Is this the alien, then?"
"His name's Naruto," said Harry. "Naruto, Dennis. Dennis, Naruto." And then, as Dennis held his hand out to the boy, "No, Naruto. You don't poke it, you shake it. Like this."
He demonstrated, and Naruto made an understanding sort of noise and began shaking Dennis' outstretched hand so vigorously that Harry was afraid it would come off. Just as he had decided to step in and rescue the younger Auror, Naruto left off shaking and began to sign something about hopscotch.
"Hold on, Naruto," said Harry, with a negative gesture. "Dennis, what did you—"
"Just a mo', Harry," interrupted Ron. "You didn't say anything about Naruto blowing a block of Baker Street to kingdom come!"
"I didn't know he had," admitted Harry. "Abbott said he blew it up, but I thought he was exaggerating."
"Blimey," said Ron. "Ask him what happened."
Harry retreated into a conference with Naruto, and after a quick exchange of signs that mostly consisted of pointing and raising eyebrows, emerged to report that Naruto said he had been doing something swirly with raisins, and then he'd jumped through the sky and had accidentally blown that hole in the intersection with the swirly thing, and the rest had mostly happened while he was resisting arrest, except for the windows. And, furthermore, Abbott was a mouse, his father was a pig who hadn't had the common decency to marry his mother, and as for his grandparents—
"That's quite enough, thank you," said Hermione, primly. "What did you want to ask Dennis, Harry?"
"Er," said Harry. "Oh, right. How are you keeping them—" with a nod towards the policeman and cars visible at the intersection "—from seeing this?"
"There's a pretty heavy Muggle-Repelling Charm over the entire block," said Dennis. "I think Thomas must have put it up, but I've been having to re-cast it every couple of hours because something's making the magic go all wonky. And I firecalled Emma Dobbs just before I came out here – you know she's in the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee now – and she pulled a few strings and got that crater out there put down to an explosion caused by a gas leak. We've got all of the Muggles evacuated, too, but I don't know what we're going to do about them if we can't fix the rip."
"Speaking of the rip," said Harry, "where is it?"
"Right up there."
Dennis pointed to a spot almost directly over Harry's head, and Harry backed up a few steps, teetering on the edge of another crater, and craned his neck to look at it.
They had called it a rip, and that was what it looked like – a jagged, black, tear-shaped tear that showed stark and awful against the grey-blue of the sky; except that he could tell, somehow, that it was not the sky it had torn through but the very fabric of the world, the air rent and ragged just a few feet away. Harry suddenly feared that the frayed edges would peel back, the air rend into pieces and the world disappear into the terrible nothingness beyond it....
"That's not good, is it?" said Ron, suddenly serious. And then: "Hey, don't—"
Harry turned around just in time to see Naruto springing into action. The boy vaulted over Ron's head and leapt – higher than anyone should have been able to leap – over Harry and Dennis, right towards the center of the hole—
—and then passed through it as if it were not even really there, disappearing into a crater with a crash and a yell of outrage.
"I guess Abbott was right about it not working," said Harry.
Naruto appeared on the edge of the crater, red-faced and dirty, and began swearing at the hole loudly. Some of the curses were in English. Harry looked over his shoulder at Ron, who stared back at him with a look of studied innocence on his face.
"Did you—" began Hermione, her tone accusing, and stopped, staring upwards at the rip.
Harry turned and saw Naruto leap away onto the side of a building, where he clung somehow, silent for once, and gazed at the rent with wide eyes. The black color had gone. Now the rent was a medley of green and brown and piercing electric blue, a glimpse of white clouds and blue sky, and a flash of red.
Without giving himself time to think, Harry whirled and drew his wand in the same instant, shouting out the words of a spell, and the concrete road between them and the intersection flowed upwards and froze into a wall just inside the Muggle-Repelling Charm. An instant later Ron and Dennis hit it with strengthening charms, and on top of that Hermione laid a Cushioning Charm so thick Harry could feel it from where he stood.
And not a moment too soon, for the next instant something blurred red and white shot out of the rip, richoted off the Cushioning Charm, and nearly ended up in a crater. The man – for it was a man – skidded to a stop on the very edge of the hole, teetered for a moment, and then steadied himself with a grunt.
There was a brief moment of silence, wherein the rip resumed its black color, and then Naruto dropped to the ground, pointed at the newcomer, and began shouting again.
Harry relaxed. The yelling was loud, accusatory, and apparently on a subject which required vast amounts of profanity to expound properly, but Naruto didn't sound threatened, and the newcomer started yelling back without missing a beat. It sounded to him as if it was something they did fairly often.
By the time he had registered this, Harry was halfway across the distance that separated him from Naruto. Only a few feet were left when the stranger gave a great leap and landed not a foot away from Naruto. He leaned down until their noses were practically touching, and the shouting intensified.
"That his dad, you think?" asked Ron, drawing level with Harry.
"Granddad, more like," said Harry, doubtfully.
Belying his agility, the man's face and hands were lined, and his hair was long and white (and even spikier than Naruto's. Harry had not thought this possible) although his outfit was not quite as garish, being red and grey rather than orange, and having a kind of Oriental look about it. On his forehead, where Naruto wore his city's symbol, the man had a strange kind of helmet with a completely different symbol on it. Aside from the exuberant shouting and the hair, however, Harry couldn't see any family resemblance.
He was just wondering if he should try to get them to stop arguing and start explaining – because apparently the newcomer knew how to make the rip work – when Naruto, apparently thoroughly exasperated, aimed a punch at the old man. That was okay, because the old man blocked easily. Then he sent Naruto flying, which wasn't so okay.
Dennis gave a faint moan of despair as Naruto smashed into a building, sending concrete and wood flying everywhere. "Why didn't they just drop an atom bomb?"
"There, there," said Ron cheerfully, thumping him on the back.
"Hey!" said Harry, reaching out to grab the man.
There were a lot of things he wanted to ask; for example, "Would you please not throw my charge into buildings?" and "Do you know how to make that thing work?" and "Could you please take Naruto home now because I don't think there's enough ramen in London to feed him?" and "How do you make your hair spike like that?" but before Harry had time to organize his thoughts the man turned around, stared down at him for a brief moment, and then said something completely incomprehensible in an inquiring sort of way.
"Er," said Harry, "I don't—"
The man's gaze flickered over his shoulder, and he ignored him, brushing him aside to address the three behind him. At least, Harry thought it was possible that he was addressing all three of them, although his eyes were fixed on Hermione, and his face had suddenly taken on a rather frightening leer.
"Is he saying what I think he's saying?" asked Hermione.
Ron's ears turned pink, and something unfortunate might have happened had not Naruto suddenly reappeared, shaking concrete dust out of his hair. He interrupted the old man's speech to point at Hermione, then at Ron, and then to shake two fingers emphatically under the man's nose, shouting energetically the while. Then he turned to Harry.
"Is Jiraiya," he explained. "Is teacher. Very—" he went through a series of gestures and expressions, which Harry could make neither head nor tail of, and then added something about a chicken. "Very bad Jiraiya – very good teach."
"Teacher," said Harry, and was suddenly struck by inspiration. He dug frantically in his pockets, and at last came out with the translation charm he'd put there the night before. "Get him to put this on," he said, demonstrating as he spoke.
Naruto frowned, but he took the charm and turned to Jiraiya with it. A shouting match ensued, but it only lasted for about ten minutes (during which Naruto apparently had to vouch for Harry's character by telling the old man everything that had passed since he had arrived, with frequent mention of ramen, explosions, and ballet) and then he put the charm on, still grumbling loudly.
"—ever pull that again you'll be sorry," he growled, and then appeared to register the fact that he was speaking in a different language. "Woah."
"Excuse me—" began Harry.
"This some kind of technique?" inquired Jiraiya. "I've never heard of anything like this."
"It's a translation charm," said Harry. "Could you—"
"So you're Harry, are you?" said Jiraiya, loudly, bending down until their eyes were level. "My stupid pupil's been telling me about you looking after him."
"Er – well, I was just—"
"Hope he didn't annoy you too much," grinned the old man, straightening. He patted Harry on the head in an affectionate sort of way (Ron snickered, but shut up when Harry glared at him) and then turned to Naruto, who had removed his sandals and was shaking bits of rubble out of them. "Come on, kid, let's go."
"Excuse me!" said Hermione.
Jiraiya turned so quickly that all four of them backed up automatically, but the old man merely leered a little. "Yeah?"
"Before you go," said Hermione, coolly, "I'd like to discuss the rip. Do you think it's a natural occurrence?"
"Guess so," said Jiraiya. "I've never heard of any techniques that open doors into other worlds. When we get back I think I'll slap a couple of seals on it to keep more idiots from falling through."
"Please do," said Hermione. "I was also wondering...."
Around that time was when Harry stopped understanding what they were talking about. He was fairly sure that they were talking about the rip, but at one point Hermione seemed to be explaining the mechanics of the translation charm, and at another she and Jiraiya both got down on her hands and knees and started scratching out mathematical formulae on the sidewalk with lumps of concrete.
Eventually Dennis moved away and began repairing the building Naruto had smashed, but Ron and Harry stayed near, and after a while Naruto put his sandals back on and came over to stand with them, favouring the two with a running commentary in a loud, annoyed voice. Jiraiya would occasionally break off from his conversation with Hermione to say "Shut up, kid," or "Beat it, stupid," but the only result of these commands was that Naruto would make faces and go on a little louder than before.
After more than fifteen minutes Hermione got to her feet, brushed some dust off of her knees, and said, "That's a weight off my mind."
"What is?" asked Harry.
"Honestly," said Hermione. "Weren't you paying any attention?"
"I was until you stopped speaking English."
"We were speaking English the whole time!"
"Not any kind of English we know," said Ron. "Can you give it to us in layman's terms?"
"In layman's terms," said Hermione, "it's quite easy for them to go back. It's just that for the rip to actually go anywhere there has to be a balance of inactive energy and active energy around the rent. Jiraiya has already calculated the amount he needs to generate to get back from here."
Ron stared. "That's it?"
"No rituals?" said Harry. "No bloody sacrifices? Just do some magic and you're good to go?"
"It's not quite that simple," said Hermione, "but yes. That's it."
"But that's great," said Harry, relief flooding him as he turned to Jiraiya. "You have no idea – not that I don't mind the excitement, not when it's been so quiet – but I don't think the Ministry would be happy about aliens coming out of nowhere and not being able to go back again."
"Bureaucracies," grunted Jiraiya. "They're the same everywhere. Well, we'll be taking our leave of you. Oy, Naruto."
Naruto said something that sounded uncomplimentary, but when Jiraiya snapped at him in their language he moved over to stand next to him, tugging at the ends of his sleeves and tightening the strap around his leg. Then he straightened. "Jah, Harry," he said. "I have very good – fun, here. Be good."
"Yeah," said Harry, feeling uncommonly sentimental. He stuck out his hand and gripped Naruto's. "Yeah, I had fun too. Well ... bye."
"Bye," repeated Naruto, shaking Harry's arm enthusiastically. "Bye, Hermynonee. Bye, Ron." Then, loudly: "Bye, Dennis!"
Dennis Creevey looked up from his work. "Uh – goodbye, then."
Naruto grinned at the Auror as he pocketed his wand and moved towards them, and then released Harry's aching hand to wave to his teacher: "Bye!"
"Oh no," said Jiraiya, catching hold of the boy by the back of his shirt as he started off towards the rip. "I don't think so. I don't know how you put up with him," he added, "but thanks. And if you ever get bored" (this to Hermione) "come visit and I'll show you a good time."
Ron's ears turned pink again, and he opened his mouth, but Hermione cut him off firmly. "Thank you," she said. "But I doubt I'll get bored. I have a feeling this is going to keep us busy for a while."
The old man grinned and pulled the translation charm off, handing it to Harry before engaging Naruto in an animated discussion that ended with Naruto being pulled off his feet and tucked under Jiraiya's arm, despite the boy's loudly-expressed distaste for the arrangement. Then he leapt, landing on the wall Harry had transfigured and sticking there, an improbable sideways figure, while Naruto squirmed and yelled in his grasp. With his free hand he made a swift series of movements, and suddenly the air was filled with a hissing, crackling hum as raw magic – no, chakra, Harry reminded himself – blossomed outwards from his palm.
Then he was in the air again, hand stretched out towards the rip, which had once again become a swirl of colour and light – and they were gone, with a sound like thunder and a blast of wind that nearly knocked Harry off his feet.
And then there was silence.
"Blimey," said Ron, after a moment. "It worked."
"Of course it worked," said Hermione, and turned to Harry. "Now. I believe you mentioned something about 'telling them everything'?"
"Er," said Harry, shuffling his feet and looking shifty. "Do I really have to?"
Hermione gave him a look that made him feel about four years old.
"I was only joking!" he said hastily. "I'm going, I'm going."
"Not by yourself, though," said Dennis.
"'Course not," said Ron. "We're coming too. Right, Hermione?"
Hermione sighed. "We're going to be in so much trouble."
An hour later, as he stood in the Minister's office in front of Kingsley's desk, Harry was very glad that they had come. Somehow it was easier to bear the Minister's steady gaze with the three of them at his back.
"And that's what happened, is it?" said Kingsley.
"Yes sir," said Harry.
Kingsley gave him another look and then sighed. "Very well. Wait outside for a few minutes, if you would."
"Well," said Ron, nervously, as they settled into the uncomfortable chairs outside the Minister's office, "he didn't seem too upset. Not upset at all for someone who's just been told that the universe got torn and aliens keep on falling out of the rip." He paused. "D'you think aliens have Dark Lords too?"
"I hope not," muttered Harry. "Once was enough."
"Do you suppose he's writing an official reprimand?" said Hermione, glancing at the door.
"You can't reprimand people for doing their job," said Dennis. "Aurors are supposed to deal with potential threats."
"Yes, but," said Hermione, "well – I suppose there wasn't really anything else to do. Bringing in a dozen committees to deliberate the situation wouldn't have done any good."
"That's the spirit," said Ron.
Ten minutes later, when they were finally called back into Kingsley's office, the prevailing spirit was one of trepidation, more than a little reminiscent of the feeling Harry had experienced just before detention with his least favourite teacher. However, the smile on Kingsley's face made Harry feel slightly less nervous, and when the Minister merely handed him a thick stack of forms and told him to fill them out and turn them in, he felt almost happy. Forms were fine. He could deal with forms. They were annoying, but not—
"You'll need to file them in the Department of Interdimensional Cooperation, in the Records Room," Kingsley was saying. "It's on Level 5, just past the International Magical Office of Law. The door's new. You can't miss it."
Alarm bells went off in Harry's head. "Since when do we have a department of interdimensional whatsit?" he demanded, flipping through the forms.
"Since about five minutes ago, Mr Potter," returned Kingsley, gravely. "I've been hard put to find enough staff to accommodate you on such short notice."
Harry looked up from the forms, vague horror beginning to seep into his brain.
"As it is, we've only got a Department Head and three – possibly four – others. However," said Kingsley, his mouth turning up in a smile that changed vague horror into horrified certainty, "the Department Head should be quite competent. He has more experience in communicating with extradimensional beings than anyone else I know. And his friends are almost equally experienced."
"Oh, no," said Harry.
"Oh, yes," said Kingsley. "You'd better go on and start working on those papers, Department Head Potter. There are ten times as many waiting in your new office."
They filed out of the room in stunned silence. Then, as the door closed behind them, Hermione spoke:
"I told you we'd get in trouble."
A/N: Well, that's the last chapter. I hope it was worth the wait! For your reading pleasure, here's a little clip that didn't make it into the story somehow.
Naruto seemed to like drawing. He drew a picture of a platypus wearing a dress and a headless duck sitting on a tree, and indicated that the platypus was likeable, whereas the duck – or perhaps the tree – was the lowest of the low, except on his List of People to Beat Up, where it ranked first. He drew a squiggle and some dots, and then told them that he didn't like squiggles. (He told them by tossing the paper into the air and throwing sharp things at it.) Then he drew a hump-backed porcupine, made hideous faces, and pointed at Hermione's purple robes a lot.
"I don't understand," said Hermione.
"He says his pet hedgehog gets indigestion when it eats plums," said Ron sagely.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this, and also to everyone who took the time to review. :) It's been fun - I've always wanted to do a crossover. Maybe I'll do it again sometime. :D