Chapter 5: Setbacks
Unable to escape the building collapsing around him, Harry took pleasure in watching as the falling rubble from the upper floors crashed down upon the sentinels, crushing them. Only when both of the large robots were buried under twisted steel and concrete did he realize that he was completely unaffected by the event. The room reverted to the empty dull grey that he'd entered and after regaining his bearings, Harry stumbled to the exit where Jean ordered him to the medical lab.
Once they arrived, Jean ordered Harry onto one of the medical beds and began looking over him, cataloging his injuries. She was almost frustrated that by the time she finished, most of them had already healed; leaving him with what she suspected was a broken collarbone and a few cracked ribs.
"Can you reign in your power while I x-ray you," she asked, the only spoken communication between them since arriving as her relationship with the boy was still strained.
"I can try," Harry answered and concentrated on doing so as she prepared the machine. Her work was interrupted by the arrival of Logan escorting an unfamiliar man and a large black dog into the lab.
"No animals in the medical lab Logan," Jean screeched as the enormous dog bounded across the room to Harry only to turn into a man.
Sirius pulled him into a tight hug, "what the hell were you thinking out there Harry!" the man demanded.
"Umm, Sirius," Harry replied with a smile.
"Don't 'umm Sirius' me! Did James drop you off a broom or something?" Sirius ranted.
"Sirius," Harry tried again to get the man's attention.
"This is Snape's fault somehow, probably invented a foolhardy draught and tested it on you," the Animagus continued, "I'll bloody tear his head off."
"Excuse me, Mr. Black," Jean successfully interrupted, "but there are two things I'd like to make you aware of."
"What's that?" Sirius replied.
"First, you're squeezing your godson who recently broke a couple of ribs and I suspect his collar bone," this information caused the man to drop Harry and jump away as if burned, "and second, you were touching his skin without being electrocuted."
Walking across the room, Logan grabbed his grandsons hand in his own and shook it, "only a slight tingle, like static electricity. What'd you do different?"
"Oh, well, Dr. Grey asked me to try to reign in my power so she could run some medical tests," Harry answered.
"Can you maintain this indefinitely," Jean asked, "or does it require effort?"
"I have to think about it, or be aware of it, I think," Harry replied, "but it doesn't take any effort to stay this way."
"If it's alright with you, I'd like to sedate you to test if you can maintain control while you are unconscious," Dr. Grey pushed.
"If it's all the same, rather than drugs, can Sirius or Remus just cast a sleeping spell or stun me instead?" Harry asked.
"I'm not sure how magic might interact," Jean began.
"A stunning spell renders the victim unconsciousness, a sleeping spell would simply put him in a light natural slumber provided he doesn't fight it," Remus offered.
"Would it be alright to try both," Jean asked thoughtfully.
Harry nodded and lay down, commenting, "I think this is the first time I've willingly consented to being stunned."
"You ready?" Sirius asked, wand out and smirk firmly set on his face, not waiting for an answer, a red beam of magic flew towards Harry, splashing against his skin. For several seconds, Harry's vision grayed and his senses dulled before the feeling faded.
"Can I take it that's not supposed to happen," Jean asked, as all three wizards seemed stunned, figuratively, with the results.
"I should say so," Remus answered, "that spell should have put him out in an instant. Had it worked properly, he wouldn't have woken on his own for hours."
"How're you feeling Harry," Logan questioned his grandson.
"Fine, actually," the teen replied, "it took a few seconds to absorb the energy, but once I had, the effects of the spell are completely gone."
"Did you mean to do that," Sirius pressed.
"No," Harry replied, "I mean, not intentionally. I'm concentrating on dulling my power output, and that's kind of like absorbing the energy from my exterior deeper inside of me."
"Your mutation appears to allow you to negate magic," Jean stated, "now that you know that, do you think you could control the ability to any degree?"
Harry nodded, "I'm sure I can, now that I know what it feels like."
"Before we do that, is there a measurable scale of power with magic so that we can determine the limits of this phenomenon," Jean asked after turning and facing the Marauders.
Sirius shrugged and looked to Remus who answered, "There's not a scale as such, as the same spell cast by two different wizards will have varying degrees of power behind them. A stunner cast by Dumbledore, for instance, would have significantly more power than one I cast; further, it is dependant upon the focus and desire powering the spell. If I were to really focus and push my will into my spell, it would be more powerful than one I cast more casually."
Remus paused, looking lost in thought before offering a solution, "I believe that if we should use Sirius as our control caster; he is an above average powered wizard, a bit more powerful than I am. He can start by casting first year spells on Harry and gradually build up to more complex and powerful ones."
"Yippee, I get to be a test dummy," Harry said sarcastically, preparing for the test regardless.
"Before we begin, might I suggest we distance ourselves from any electronics you don't wish to destroy, as magic has a tendency to do so," Remus suggested.
"I'd like to treat Harry for his injuries before begin that test," Jean stated, "and there is still the matter of testing if his control extends to his subconscious mind."
"Actually, I'm feeling much better," the young wizard offered heading for the door.
"Not so fast, Mr. Potter," Jean called, "let me at least give you another examination." She'd fought this same losing battle with Logan enough times that she didn't hold out hope that the teen would listen any better than his grandfather would. She was privately grateful, however, that his behavior towards her seemed to be thawing somewhat.
"We'll come up with a scale of spells while you do that," Sirius offered. He hated hospital wings as much as his godson and he wasn't above throwing the teen under the bus if it meant he could escape. Grabbing Remus, he turned to Logan and requested the mutant lead the way to where they could test. Logan shrugged and complied, leading the elder wizards from the room.
"For what it's worth," Jean began as she commenced with her examination, "I'm sorry about before; it was arrogant of me to think my judgment superior to yours in regards to your past."
"Don't let it happen again," Harry answered in reply, "and you're forgiven," he added. The rest of her short examination passed in a more comfortable silence before she pronounced him well. He still had several minor injuries, but with the rate at which he healed, she wasn't concerned especially as she would be involved with his upcoming magical resistance testing and could check him over again when they were completed.
Meeting up with the group where Logan held combat classes, Harry mentally prepared himself for the onslaught of magic he expected. "Alright, how are we doing this?" he asked.
"We're going to start with low powered jinxes and work up to some moderate hexes, but we'll try to avoid anything painful or difficult to reverse," Remus explained acting as the spokesman. "While we were coming up with a list of spells, it occurred to us that counter curses may not be any more effective on you than any other magic."
The marauder in Sirius couldn't abide longwinded explanations, so in an effort to kick-start the action, he hit Harry in the back with a mild stinging hex. When Harry didn't react at all, he sent another, more powerful stinger. This time, his godson reached back and scratched where the spell had struck, but otherwise continued listening to Remus as they went over the list of spells. A third hex, the most powerful one, flew from his wand, only this time, Harry turned and slapped the spell out of the air.
"Ok, chalk up another new ability for Fusion," Wolverine commented having observed the byplay.
"That was amazing Harry," Remus gushed, "How'd you do that?"
"Sirius hit me with whatever spell that was a couple of times; once I had a handle on the feel of the energy it was easy to manipulate it the same way I can electricity," Harry replied.
Given the evolving nature of Harry's abilities, they modified the test to where each spell was cast at Harry multiple times to see if he could first absorb the energy and then control it. Despite the vast array of jinxes Sirius knew, there were none that Harry couldn't deal with. He was able to absorb and eventually manipulate them all in some way. The same was true of all of the low powered hexes they tested. Moving on to moderately powered hexes, Harry was able to absorb them, though initially more slowly, once he learned the feel of the energy, it was no different for him; though he found himself unable to alter or control the spells in flight.
Powerful hexes and schoolyard curses proved more challenging for him to absorb; the effects of which would occasionally manifest for several seconds before he completely absorbed the energies powering them.
"I think we're going to have to try some more powerful curses, Harry," Remus explained once they'd exhausted all of the magic they could use on him without injuring him. "With jinxes and hexes the effects are all temporary; the same is true of the curses we've used. The next class of spells I'd like to try doesn't work that way. Instead, they cause an instant physical effect and are finished. Things like bludgeoning curses and bone breakers."
Harry sighed and mentally consigned himself to more pain, "you people, and pushing my limits," he complained. "I want you to miss me the first couple of times you cast it, so I can adjust to the feel of the magic before I have to experience it."
"Alright Harry," Sirius agreed as he loosed a bludgeoning curse into the ground near his godson's feet.
"Another," the teen requested, "and can you hit something further away?"
Sirius picked a tree twenty yards away and sent another bludgeoner at it. "Better?" He asked once it had struck the trunk of the maple. Harry nodded, prompting the marauder to cast a third curse.
"Alright," Harry called taking a position about 15 yards from Sirius and bracing himself, "hit me."
Sirius nodded, his face set with a grim expression. Flicking his wand at Harry, the pale orange light of the bludgeoning curse erupted from the tip, streaked through the air, and slammed into his godson's torso.
Harry folded nearly in half from the impact and felt as if he'd been punched in the stomach. He felt the energy of the spell crackling through the air and he'd siphoned as much of it away he could before it struck him; but it wasn't enough. Thankful for his enhanced healing, he felt the ache in his stomach quickly ebbing and stood up to take a deep breath.
"You alright kid?" Logan called, walking towards him.
"Yeah, but let's not try that again," Harry answered.
"You did great Harry; you're all but immune to more than half of the common dueling spells," Remus offered, slapping him on the back. "And since you can feel all the others coming, you should be able to shield or move out of the way."
"I suppose," Harry replied.
"Buck up, kiddo," Sirius stated, "it'll be almost impossible to prank you now," Harry cracked a smile at that.
"I think we're done," Remus called out, "I don't think it'll be safe or healthy to try any higher level magic on Harry. We have a good baseline."
"I'm wondering if we can create a scale to measure the power of magic," Jean questioned as she fell into step next to the werewolf while the entire group headed back into the mansion.
As they walked, Harry absently conjured some electricity; idly amusing himself by making it dance between his palms.
"When did you figured out how to do that," Jean asked, breaking off her conversation with Remus upon seeing the dancing electricity.
"The other day," he answered, "after…" he trailed off.
"Ah," Jean said, understanding he was talking about her mental intrusion, "I hadn't seen you do that before."
"It's pretty easy, actually," Harry stated, "like I told Logan, now that I'm sort of used to it; it's pretty easy to control the energy."
"Could you change it," Sirius asked, receiving a blank stare from Harry in return. "Could you alter the energy in your palms to feel like magic; like a spell?"
"Padfoot, that's brilliant," Remus stated then frowned, "why did you think of it?"
"What," the dog Animagus complained; "I can't have good ideas?"
"I'm not sure," Harry interrupted the bantering Marauders, "I've got a good idea how the energy feels." Taking several moments to center and calm his energy, Harry conjured a small ball of electricity in the palm of his hand. Concentrating on the feeling of the energy, he focused on changing how it felt. Slowly, the glowing ball in his hands began changing color, yellow streaks running through the whitish blue hue. Try as he might, though, he couldn't change the energy. Throwing the ball into the air, it quickly fizzled out.
"That's a good try," Sirius stated, "I thought you had it."
"It's hard to describe," Harry informed the group, "I could feel the energy and it was like I was infusing it with the feeling of the itching spell, but there was a barrier there that wouldn't let it change completely. I'm fairly sure that if that'd hit somebody; the bolt would have been a little bit itchy."
"Your powers are evolving quickly, Harry," Jean offered, "That you can affect magical energy at all is amazing in and of itself."
Testing officially completed for the day, Jean and Remus restarted their conversation about measuring magic more accurately as the group continued the walk back to the school.
After entering the school, Wolverine went one way and Remus followed Jean in a different direction. Sirius, after a moment of deliberation, followed along as well, leaving Harry to enter the TV room on his own.
"They deserved it!" Pyro yelled as Harry entered the room.
Looking over his shoulder then back at the obviously enraged mutant, the wizard replied the only way he could think to, "What?"
Glaring at Harry, the fiery mutant growled, "stay out of this Fusion, you haven't been a mutant long enough to get what it's like!"
Still unsure of what he was being yelled at for, he turned to Sunspot, Pixie, and Kitty. The latter explaining, "since Danger room was cancelled today some of us talked the Professor into letting us go out for the day," the girl paused to glare at Pyro, "we were at the mall and he decided it was a good idea to call a group wearing Friends of Humanity badges a bunch of flatscans."
"They had it coming," Pyro defended himself; "they were laughing about how they'd hospitalized one of their friends who turned out to be a mutant."
"And that makes it right to pick a fight with them and set them on fire," Kitty challenged him, "good job picking on a bunch of unarmed bigots. Now they'll come of as heroes and mutants will look like villains looking to pick fights."
"They started it; I just finished it," the boy shouted, "it's not my fault that they bit off more than they could chew!" Turning to Harry again, he implored, "back me up on this Fusion; that kid they hospitalized could have been you, or me, or Pixie or some normal kid. Somebody's got to stand up for them!"
Harry took a few moments to think up his response; "so these guys were talking about hospitalizing some kid and you wanted revenge?"
Pyro nodded, "yeah, they need to know not to mess with mutants!"
"Did you want revenge for that kid, or for all mutants?" Harry questioned calmly.
"Does it matter?" Pyro shot back.
Ignoring the teen's reply, Harry couldn't help but draw comparisons between Pyro's actions and those of the Death Eaters. While perhaps an unfair evaluation, these actions added in with the boy's generally militant attitude painted an all too familiar picture. "Did it feel good hurting them? Were they scared when you showed them that you had more power than they did? Did you draw it out so you could enjoy it?"
"What," Pryo questioned, "I thought you were on my side."
"You're just like them and you don't even realize it," Harry disagreed, his voice low and angry, "looking at them like they're below you; like you're entitled to do whatever you want to them. I get it; they're scum! What you did though, it was exactly what would be done to you and using the same reasons to justify it."
"Shut up, you can't understand! You're practically one of them!" Pyro shouted angrily.
"I can't understand bigotry," Harry laughed hollowly; "I don't know anything about growing up thinking my name was Boy or Freak until I was 5. I don't know what it's like for my parents to be murdered and my face disfigured because of my blood!" Harry hissed, pulling his bangs back and exposing his lightning bold scar.
"I've experienced bigotry my entire life; always looking over my shoulder for somebody trying to kill me because of what I am," the wizard continued. "And you use the tools of oppression; fear, terror, humiliation, and violence like you're entitled to them. Just because somebody did it to you doesn't make what you did right; it just makes you a coward."
Disgusted by the conversation and no longer desiring to spend any time in the TV room, Harry turned to leave when he felt a fireball flying towards his back. Too close to its source to dodge, all he could do was brace himself before the searing heat struck him. Dropping to his knees, Harry screamed as his flesh melted under the onslaught. He vaguely heard Pixie's scream as he further crumpled to the ground.
A black film dimmed his vision, the rushing of blood thundered in his ears, the scent of his burnt flesh filled his nostrils, his entire body shook with spasms of pain, and through it all, he was able to feel another fireball building. Pushing himself back to his knees, he blearily looked at his attacker who was standing off with Sunspot and Shadowcat, a fireball in both hands as he backed away from them. "My turn," he spat through clenched teeth. With that, Harry firmly took hold of the fire mutant's bio-energy and tore it from his body. The thump of Pyro's body hitting the floor was the last thing Harry heard before his body finally went into shock and he lost consciousness.
"…can't stabilize…resistant to…infected tissue..."
"…London and…she'll know…dragons and…"
"Hurry Remus…not going…whatever you…Snape know…"
"…kill that…he did…"
"…transferred to…flat lining…not able…"
The snippets of conversation he was hearing faded away and there was only silence and darkness.
"Professor Dumbledore?" Remus yelled after arriving in the kitchen at 12 Grimmauld place.
"Remus," Mrs. Weasley admonished running into the room, "what ever is the matter?"
"Is Dumbledore here," the werewolf questioned frantically, ignoring her inquiry.
"No, I thought he was with you," the plump woman asked, "what's going on?" she demanded.
"Harry's in trouble," Remus snapped.
"What is the matter with Mr. Potter," Dumbledore posed, having just silently Apparated into the room.
"He was attacked by one of his peers; we need Madam Pomfrey to," Remus trailed off after glancing at Mrs. Weasley.
"What is the nature of his injuries?" the aged wizard asked.
"Severe burns over most of his body," Moony quickly answered. Without further discussion, Dumbledore grabbed a small bag of Floo powder from the mantle, tossed it into the fire, and stuck his head into the green flames.
With the situation under control for the moment, Mrs. Weasley resumed her questioning, "When did you find Harry? Why didn't you bring him with you? What kind of a school…"
"We don't have time for this Molly," Remus barked, "when we get back; I'll fill everybody in, but for now, drop it." Mrs. Weasley scowled at the man, but dropped the line of questioning. "Please don't tell anyone that Harry has been found," the Marauder asked more gently. Only a moment later Remus and the newly arrived Poppy disappeared in a swirl of wind and light.
"Albus," Mrs. Weasley called questioningly.
"All will be explained soon, Molly; just as soon as Remus and Poppy return." Albus offered to soothe the matronly woman.
"Where are we, Mr. Lupin," Poppy Pomfrey questioned upon their arrival, noticing that instead of late evening it was midday.
"We're in the North American Magical Collective," Remus supplied in clipped tones, "specifically, somewhere in the New England region." He led the woman into the large manner house where they were greeted by Charles and Logan and led to the elevator to the lower levels.
"The statute of secrecy," Poppy began.
"Doesn't apply; they're aware," Remus preempted. "This is Logan, Harry's maternal grandfather, and Charles Xavier, the headmaster of this school," Remus introduced as they waited for the lift to arrive at their destination.
"I suspect that I'll have quite a number of questions once Mr. Potter has been tended to," Madam Pomfrey stated, "can you please tell me what happened?"
"Do you know what a mutant is?" Remus started.
"Of course," the healer stated, "it was not so long ago that it was difficult to differentiate between magic and mutation. The Ministry wanted any magical mutants documented and so I was put through a course at St. Mungo's over the summer about identifying mutants and their mutations."
"Good, this is easier to explain then," Remus said relieved. "Harry and another student here got into an argument, when Harry turned his back to leave, the other student, who has an affinity for fire burned him severely. He looks like a dragon got to him."
"May I assume, since Mr. Potter is here, and none of you are surprised by the talk of either magic or mutation that he is both magical and a mutant," Poppy questioned.
"Indeed," Charles replied, taking a liking to the woman, "his mutation has to do with power absorption and manipulation; primarily electricity and bio-energy, but earlier today he showed an affinity towards absorbing and negating magic."
"Active or passive magics," the woman posed.
"We've only tested active magic; specifically jinxes, hexes and curses," Remus began.
"Of course," the woman sniffed derisively, "why bother with anything practical."
Ignoring this, Remus continued, "So far as we're aware, active magics are the main concern, however, he has some resistance to Muggle drugs."
"Is there anything else I should know before treating him," the woman asked as she was finally led into what she recognized as a Muggle medical room.
"He has an accelerated healing factor, and it is dangerous to touch his bare skin as it is electrified; I'm Dr. Jean Grey," the woman stated in greeting.
"Poppy Pomfrey," the witch replied and the pair of women set to work on the red and black lump of charred flesh that was Harry Potter.
"How is he," Sirius demanded as soon as Jean and Poppy exited the medical bay.
"He is responding abnormally well to the treatment," Poppy answered waving to Jean to go about her business. "It appears the healing portion of his mutation is fed by both active and passive energy. With the Dragon Burn Salve and Dr. Grey hooking him up to a source of electricity, I estimate he will be fully recovered within a few hours."
Sirius released an explosive, relieved breath, "Thank you Madam Pomfrey," he offered.
"The other young man was another story," the healer continued, "he was comatose after Dr. Grey was able to restore his heartbeat. As he is not magical, potions were not an option for treatment, but I was able to stabilize him with a number of…"
"I don't care about the wanker who attacked Harry from behind," Sirius growled, "you could have let him die and I wouldn't be sorry for him; he got what he deserved."
"Do you think Harry would see it that way?" Poppy countered sternly, "I dare say I know him better than you, having spent a considerable amount of time with him, and I don't believe he would want the boy's death on his hands if it could be avoided." Her piece said the witch directed Sirius that Harry wasn't to have visitors to avoid infections. Finished with her conversation, she turned to find Remus and return to Hogwarts, firm in her belief that both patients were safe with Dr. Grey.
The kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place was crowded with the core members of the Order of the Phoenix. Gathered in one corner around their mentor and sponsor Mad Eye Moody was the Auror contingent of the clandestine group, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks, and Hestia Jones. While Molly Weasley bustled about making sure everyone was fed and watered, Bill and Arthur Weasley sat at the table across from Remus Lupin, Minerva McGonagall, and Severus Snape.
At the head of the table sat their leader, Albus Dumbledore, who stood and called the meeting to order. "Let me begin without preamble by stating that we have located Harry Potter," the man stated, "or rather, he found us." Waiting out the inevitable outbursts, the now officially former Headmaster continued, "However, when trying to contact us, he inadvertently tipped the Ministry and very likely Voldemort to his whereabouts."
"Where is he," Mad Eye asked gruffly.
"He is in the New England region of the North American Magical Collective," Dumbledore answered.
"How did he manage to leave the country," Kingsley questioned, "Muggle and magical means, one way or another, would have left a trail."
"The information in the original forensics report was accurate," Albus stated, "he was taken against his will by a group of Muggles."
"For what purpose?" Hestia Jones queried; "why would Muggles on the other side of the planet take Potter?"
Before Dumbledore could answer, Remus spoke, "for the time being, that information is not something that we will be discussing," he shot a none too subtle look at Snape. The greasy Potions Master wasn't the only reason however; as the details would inevitably lead to Harry's outing as a mutant. After what he'd learned from Poppy had about the Ministry's response to magical mutants; in addition to the Ministers current stance on Harry, he wasn't keen to let that happen just yet.
"When will he be returning to Hogwarts," McGonagall questioned.
"With Delores in place as High Inquisitor and the Ministry's persecution, he will not be returning in the foreseeable future," Dumbledore answered.
Snape snorted in derision, "I'm sure your decision on the matter went over well with the spoiled brat." Looking at Remus, he smirked and continued, "Did he throw a tantrum when he was not afforded special treatment? He was confused when the werewolf simply smiled placidly back at him.
"In fact, it was Mr. Potter who pointed out to me that it would not be in his best interests to return at this time," Dumbledore admitted, "from the reports I have been given, he is doing well where he is."
"Is he okay," Molly finally broke down and asked, "was Madam Pomfrey able to heal him?" This, of course, caused a cacophony of commentary to erupt in the room.
"He is healing splendidly," Dumbledore answered; then turning his attention to the group at large, he explained, "Harry had a run in with a peer that ended in a duel of sorts and he was gravely injured. The fast actions on the part of Remus and Sirius and the excellent work of Poppy have him on the mend."
"What happened to the kid who attacked Harry?" Tonks asked in curiosity. She'd wanted to meet the Boy-Who-Lived for a long while, having graduated the year before he started Hogwarts. With rumors, she'd heard about him growing up and the stories Remus and Sirius told about him, she was somewhat protective of the stranger.
"He'll live," Remus answered, "He had to be resuscitated multiple times, however."
"Aren't there underage magic rules on the other side of the pond?" Hestia questioned.
"They do not apply to this situation," Dumbledore answered cryptically.
"Was there any legitimate reason for me to be here Headmaster," Snape sniped, "if all we are meeting for is to discuss Potter, I have better things to do."
"There is more, Severus," Dumbledore placated, "the North American Magical Collective is run by an oath-bound government; a part of their oath is to see that justice is done. As they are aware of Harry's persecution by the British Ministry and are conversely aware that he cannot be guilty of what he is charged as he had in their territory for weeks before he was accused; they have raised the issue with the ICW."
"What will happen, Albus," McGonagall asked.
"I have had only scant contact with their government since they became aware of the situation," Dumbledore answered, "I get the impression that they will seek Harry's support in their actions. Their true aim is unknown and the potential results of their machinations are unpredictable."
"What do you think they want," Moody questioned, "there is no chance you're as unaware of their goals as you are letting on."
"My theory is that they will push the issue in the ICW to pressure the British Ministry into once again becoming an oath-bound nation," Dumbledore answered, "it's an idealistic goal, but if that is their aim, I fear it will tear our nation apart."
"But being oath-bound wouldn't be so bad," Tonks objected, "Us Aurors already are, to an extent."
"Remember, Nymphadora, that a fair number of the prominent wizards in our society either lived through or were directly impacted by the Ministry massacre of 1878, this is particularly true of members of the Ministry and Wizengamot," Dumbledore countered, "and they will fight against such a measure with everything they have. The last thing the Ministry needs right now is to have to fight on two fronts."
"Perhaps what we really need is a new ministry given how corrupt our current government is," Remus stated firmly. "I'm already considering leaving the country…"
"Good riddance, werewolf," Snape interrupted.
"Fuck you Snivellus," Remus retorted with a growl, surprising everyone, as he was normally a very placid and reserved man.
Before the greasy man could respond, Dumbledore stepped in, "must you constantly bring things to this level, Severus," the former headmaster admonished, "I'm beginning to lose hope that you will one day grow out of such childish remarks." Exhausted after two international Portkey trips and numerous meetings with North American officials, he was not in a mind to humor his young friend. "Your presence at Order meetings is often detrimental to morale; I believe it will behoove us all if you report to me privately from now on."
A slight flush of anger at being publicly reprimanded colored his cheeks and through gritted teeth the Potions Master responded, "if you think that is best, Headmaster." Sending a scathing glare at everyone in the room, he stood and swept from the room.
He was not so quick to leave as to miss hearing Alastor Moody bark, "about time, Albus." He was only thankful that neither the mongrel Black nor Potter had attended.
At the same time on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Xavier was sitting down with the staff of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, better known as the X-men to decide the fates of Fusion and Pyro once the boy's had time to heal.
"While it has not happened often in the history of this institution, this is not the first time that tempers have run over and powers have wreaked destruction heedless of consequence," Xavier began gravely, "each case, however, has been handled differently, so there is no set precedent on what is to be done. Do you all know the details of the incident between Misters Allerdyce and Potter?"
"Storm briefed us on what she witnessed and we've all heard Ms. Pride's account," Cyclops answered for the group.
"Well then, Scott, what do you think should be done?" Xavier questioned.
"I think it's a difficult situation what with Fusion having only been here a few weeks while Pyro has been here for years," Cyclops started. "Clearly Pyro instigated the confrontation and lashed out violently, however, some of the students may feel he was provoked by Fusion's outburst."
"Tenure should not mean that he's allowed to get away with attacking another student, particularly after his actions against the humans earlier today," Storm argued. "He is unstable and has proven himself a danger to any student who would disagree with him. His continued presence here undermines the very spirit in which the school was founded."
"I feel I must present the most obvious of possible solutions, if only to play Devils Advocate," Beast interjected, "removing both of the young men from the school would serve as both a start lesson for the remaining students and remove any underlying tensions if one or both of them were to remain."
"Harry was defending himself," Logan growled, not liking the direction of the conversation, "punishing him just tells the kiddies it's not alright to fight back. If he leaves, I'm goin' with him; and I suspect a number of the remaining students will follow me."
"There is no call for threats of mutiny," Scott countered, "whatever your relationship to Mr. Potter, you need to be objective."
"If it'd been Jeanie he'd attacked, or Colossus or Rogue, or anyone who'd been here for more than a few weeks, there wouldn't be a discussion," Wolverine shouted, "Pyro's dangerous."
"Don't you often say that you're dangerous as well," Jean replied, "I can recall you saying that on multiple occasions, in fact."
"The question is, are either of these young men irredeemable," Xavier stated, taking control of the meeting. "There can be no doubt that both of them will face repercussions for their actions, but I do see Logan's point, and might I add, had Mr. Potter not had an enhanced healing factor and outside assistance, he would likely be dead."
"So would Pyro," Scott responded heatedly, "his first reaction upon being attacked was to use deadly force! You've all seen him in the Danger Room; if he were to lose control," he trailed off, feeling his point was made.
"He reacted to a mortal wound with deadly force," Storm said, "hardly something we can condemn him for. And as for losing control, should your glasses ever be removed, are you any less dangerous than he is?"
"Yes," Scott all but yelled, "I know how to control myself."
"And you learned how to under Professor Xavier's guidance," Storm interrupted, "would you deny Mr. Potter the chance for the same?"
"I never almost killed one of my peers," Scott argued.
"You were never attacked from behind by one of your peers," Ororo countered, "can you honestly say that as a 15 year old, had I hit you with a bolt of lightning from behind, that as you laid, dying, you would not have found a way to blast me in retaliation? I find that highly unlikely."
"I do believe we are getting off track here," Beast offered, "it is clear that you disagree about Mr. Potter's disposition; what of Pyro's?"
Silence reigned for several minutes and Scott visibly calmed himself; he couldn't rationally explain his reaction to the incident. Much as he didn't like it Logan was right; logically, if it had been anybody else, his reaction would be clear-cut, expulsion for the aggressor. Taking a steadying breath, he said, "Pyro's actions cannot be condoned in any way. While I do not believe him irredeemable, his actions today, as well as his general attitude towards humans make his continued presence detrimental to the school."
Forcing himself to voice his underlying concern, Cyclops continued, "At the same time, expelling him will inevitably lead him to joining Magneto's Brotherhood. Are we prepared for the possibility that we one day may find ourselves facing him as an enemy?"
"It doesn't have to be that bad," Jean disagreed, "there are other schools; safe houses; even normal schools where he could blend in if we don't abandon him."
"While I am loath to condemn him at such a young age, I'm afraid that should we remove him from the Mansion, no matter what options we offer him, it will not be enough," Beast lamented. "I do not know that even were we to remove Mr. Potter and pretend that his actions never occurred, if it would be enough to prevent him from eventually following his ideals straight into Magneto's camp."
"While the decision falls to you, Professor, I believe it would be prudent to put it to a vote," Storm stated, "all in favor of Mr. Allerdyce's expulsion?" Beast, Logan, Cyclops, and her own hands were raised with varying degrees of reluctance.
"Professor," Jean cried the lone dissenting vote.
"I'm afraid I agree," Charles stated, "I shall offer him the alternative's you suggested," the man soothed his distraught protégé. "I'm relieved that there was no call for involving the authorities in this matter."
"That might well become something we come to regret," Beast offered ominously. Though no one replied to the statement, they all feared that Hank was correct.
"As to Mr. Potter, I'm inclined to wait to determine his fate until I am able to speak with him about the incident," Xavier stated.
"My Lord, I have news," Severus said as he knelt before Voldemort.
"Proceed," The Dark Lord hissed.
Snape rose to his feet, "I have just come from a meeting of the Order, My Lord, and though Dumbledore believes you already have this information, I would be remiss in my duties to you not to inform you that Potter has been found."
"Lucius has informed me," Voldemort agreed, "do you bring further news; his location perhaps?"
"The boy is in the New England region of the North American Magical Collective, My Lord, he was also recently injured and will be weak for some time to come," Snape answered.
"That is more information than was reported to Lucius," The Dark Lord offered in praise, "Do you bring news of when he will be returning to Britain?"
"It is yet undecided, My Lord," Snape answered, "with the charges levied at him and the Ministry interference at Hogwarts, Dumbledore is hesitant to remove him from whatever safe haven in which he currently resides." The Potions Master paused to allow his master time to formulate a response; when none came, he pressed onwards, "Albus informed me that the North American Ministry has evidence that Potter can not have performed any crime he is accused of this summer and are pressing the issue with the International. Their actions only partly play into his hands; however, as he believes their end goal is to force the Ministry to become oath-bound once more."
"You have given me much to consider, Severus," The Dark Lord replied, the serpentine wizard's voice hardened as he asked, "Are you expected anywhere?"
There was only one acceptable answer and Snape knew what it was, "No My Lord, what is your bidding?"
"I believe a punishment for Potter is in order," Voldemort answered, "there is a group preparing now to attack the Granger girl's parents; I want you to lead them. Make it look like an accident."
The Potions Master knew a dismissal when he heard it and quickly walked through the halls of Malfoy Manor to where he knew the attack party would be gathered. He also knew that Voldemort sent him to lead an occasional mission like this as a measure of his loyalty and he would be watched carefully the entire time. He had no way to contact the Order to warn them; still, Snape thought, if he was obligated to participate, there was no reason not to enjoy it.