The Source of Magic
Disclaimer: Not mine, never was, and never will be.
A/N: This came about as a result of an extended email conversation between Vern (aka Herman Tumbleweed) and me. During this exchange, a mild and shy little bunny came my way with an idea. By the time this idea went back and forth a couple of more times, Vern somehow convinced me to give it a try. At that exact moment, one of his vicious plot 'roos Apparated into my family room and er, well, did unspeakable things to that poor little bunny. Be assured that no bunnies or 'roos were harmed during the writing of this story (as evidenced by the shit-eating grin on the bunny's face).
This is actually the first fic I ever attempted to write. It was about a year ago and even though I received quite a bit of encouragement from Vern and the members of the HermansTumbledweeds Yahoo! Group, I really didn't feel like I was ready to attempt this, so it sat in its own dusty corner of my hard drive, forgotten. I ran across it recently and that damned afore-mentioned 'roo showed back up again, so now I've got another damned story going. This one, however, will be taking a back seat to the other two.
Thanks again, as always, to Vern for his excellent suggestions and betaing skills. Make certain to read his stories if you haven't already.
Harry pulled the rented jeep off the side of the highway and watched the sun set across the desert while he waited. So much had changed for him in the time since he and Hermione had left (or was it escaped) merry olde England to travel. "Has it really been two years since we eradicated Snakeface?" He thought. "Hermione was right, I needed to get away. I needed to go somewhere, anywhere away from all that bullshite, where I could not think. So why am I still thinking?" he added with an internal chuckle, in spite of the fact that remembering his friend caused a pain in his heart. He mused, "I wonder how she's doing in Australia?" The contemplative wizard's thoughts drifted back to the last time he saw the bushy-haired genius.
They sat together in silence in the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport waiting for Hermione's first flight on what they'd been calling her 'scenic route' trip to Australia. Emotions were running high as they realized that this may be the last time they were together for an incredibly long time.
Harry finally broke the silence, "Are you sure you don't want some company? At least as far as Hawai'i?"
"No, Harry," she replied sadly, "I have to, no, I need to do this by myself. As much as I would love to have you with me for the whole thing," she sighed sadly, "I think that they're going to be angry enough with me as it is. Having another magical person around is likely to make matters worse." She turned and held him tightly as tears began to flow freely, "I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't want anything to do with me at all after what I've done to them."
Harry said nothing as he held her while slowly stroking her soft, brown hair.
A few minutes later her flight was announced, and she looked up at him with tearful sadness in her eyes as they rose to their feet. "I didn't think that this would be so hard. I'm glad to be going to see mum and dad, but I'm afraid that I'm going to lose my best friend. I love you, Harry, and I'm going to miss you. Promise me we'll see each other again? Please?"
Harry held back a few tears of his own as he whispered, "As often as we can. Call me when you get to Sydney; before you go to see your parents. If you decide you need me to be there with you, I will. In fact, if at any point you need me, just call; I'm just an international Portkey away. I love you, too, and as long as you want me in your life, I will be." He then added with a twinkle in his eyes, "And maybe even if you don't."
Hermione pulled back a little to look at him with a sad, lop-sided grin similar to her best friend's. "I gotta go."
She reached her arms up around his neck and kissed him deeply. Then she was gone.
Harry shook his head to clear the memories away. Hermione was happy and healthy. What might have been didn't matter anymore and he was thrilled to have a sister of sorts. The Weasleys, however, were another story. To this day he couldn't believe the way that he and Hermione had been treated. Yes, the actions of the Wizarding World toward them were just as they had expected. Ron's (and to a lesser extent, Ginny's) response to those actions was not terribly surprising, either. "But the way we were treated by those we thought of as family? How could we have been so stupid?" Harry questioned for the umpteenth time. Unbidden, his reflections returned to that time as well.
Ron just basked in the glory of all the parties and award ceremonies. In spite of promising each other to keep the details quiet (as Harry really wanted to fade into anonymity), somehow the story leaked out. Orders of Merlin, awards from other European ministries, and cash awards flowed like water for the Trio, and Ron just sucked it up. After years of being "the youngest Weasley boy", not to mention "Harry's sidekick," he felt that he was owed the public adulation. And Ginny wasn't any better; in fact she was even worse in some ways. Her years of idolizing the "Boy-Who-Lived" came back with a vengeance. She somehow became the simpering eye-candy fan-girl type that she knew Harry hated. Then it got bad.
Upon their arrival at the Burrow after the battle, Ginny was prepared to re-establish her claim on Harry. She was more than ready to pick up where they left off after Dumbledore's funeral. Harry half-heartedly went along with it, but secretly had reservations which mysteriously vanished as time passed.
Party after party, ceremony after ceremony, it never seemed to end. Harry was at first hesitant to attend, but went along with his girlfriend as Ginny had never experienced such things before and she seemed to enjoy the attention. Ron, of course just basked in it.
Ron. His erstwhile best mate. He thought, "I'd better never run into that bastard ever again! How could he have done that to Hermione? Never mind what he did to me, but he did it to her." He growled out loud. In the name of "One Big Happy Weasley Family" Ron had given both Harry and Hermione a long acting love potion. "I wonder who made it for him. His potions skills are shite." It had turned out to be a good thing that Ron had left him and Hermione for so long during the Horcrux hunt as it had given them a chance to throw off the effects of the potion. Of course, that led to other things; things that, while very enjoyable, proved to both of them that they weren't meant to be more than they were - the best kind of friends: the kind of friends that only two only children can be who grew up and fought a war together. "Of course," he considered, "who knows what the future may hold?"
After a couple months of this, Hermione came up to him one night while at one of the many parties that Ron and Ginny were always dragging them to. "Harry, can we get away from them later and talk alone?" she whispered in his ear.
"Sure, but how? You know that either they or Molly are always around," Harry replied.
"I have that all under control. Slip this into Ginny's drink right before we leave. An hour later, they'll sleep for 10 hours and think that they just had too good of a time here tonight." A small vial of potion was discretely slipped into his pocket.
"Out by the pond, then?"
"See you there."
Later that night, Harry was sitting under a tree near the pond on the edge of the Weasley's property. He heard Hermione approach. "Harry?" she called softly.
"Over here." he replied, just as quietly.
In the near total darkness he felt, rather than saw, her sit down and cuddle next to him. His arms automatically went around her. After a few minutes, she commented, "This is nice. How long has it been since we've been alone together?"
"Not since Ron came back during the hunt, now that I think of it," Harry answered. "I kinda miss just sitting with you. It's so much more peaceful. I wonder why we haven't made the time lately."
"I don't know," she replied. She hesitated, before asking a sensitive question. "Harry, how have you and Ginny been getting along? Honestly, now," she implored.
"Fine, I guess. It's just…" He trailed off. "It's just that things seem almost… I don't know, too easy."
"And too fast?"
"And much too fast. Hermione, what's wrong? You wouldn't have gone to all of this effort, right under Molly's nose, just to cuddle. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I was serious when I said that I miss it."
She sighed deeply, "I don't know, Harry. I really don't know. I mean; why are we here at the Burrow when we swore to ourselves that we weren't going to subject ourselves to this... this... whatever it is? I mean really, why are we here with the people who tried to take our choices from us; doing what we're doing and looking like bloody fools? I didn't want this; you've never wanted this! And I," she stopped suddenly. Her voice had been getting louder, but now dropped to a whisper as her eyes got bright with unshed tears, barely visible in the almost total darkness. "I miss my parents. I want to go get them and bring them home. But I can't seem to."
Harry sat in silence waiting for her to continue.
"I tried to talk to Ron about it earlier today. All he said about it was that they were okay, so why bother? 'They're just Muggles,' he said. Just Muggles! They're my parents!" Her voice rose again.
"Shhh," Harry whispered, taking the distressed girl into a deep, comforting hug. He held her for a few minutes, whispering soothing nonsense as she got her emotions under control.
When she'd calmed a bit she went on, "Then he just reached over and pulled me down for a snog. I swear, Harry, that boy thinks the world revolves around eating and sex. Of course, his hands, as usual, started roaming farther than I wanted and I almost had to hex him to get him to stop. I am beginning to think that all he wants from me is to have a regular shag buddy. Normally, I would have just left by now, even not being sure where to go, but I find myself… almost… oh, I don't know, but it's as if I'm too lazy to.
"And then there's his obsession with sex. I can't seem to get him to understand that it's just too soon for me. Yes, we've known each other for seven years, but we've only been a couple for a few months." She suddenly blushed deeply, "Not to mention that I'm not too sure how to explain why I have no hymen." She glanced at Harry, who also blushed and briefly held her tighter as they both remembered the nights spent together after Ron abandoned them.
At first, they had just held each other at night for comfort after the betrayal of their so-called best friend. Then, as they'd accepted Ron's absence, the combination of normal teenage hormones, their justifiable fear of death, and their honest feelings for each other had brought them together. Slowly and passionately, they'd made love each night, driving each other's fears and nightmares away, until they collapsed from exhaustion.
After Ron returned, they'd had an automatic unspoken agreement to not say anything about their time together so as to not chase him away again. That agreement, and the fact that they had been able to step back so easily, is what convinced them that they were only loving friends and nothing more.
Hermione gathered her courage and continued, "I'm scared, Harry. What if that potion is still affecting us? What if it's permanent?"
Harry took a deep breath. "It appears," he started slowly, "that the Weasleys are sex-crazed fiends by nature. Ginny's been the same way. Not to mention that she's changed, really changed. I feel like she's back to being the fan-girl with a crush on the Boy-Who-Lived, but this time, she's got him and is now the queen of the bloody world. I swear I've spent enough on her wardrobe in the last couple of months to buy a nice house. You know that I don't really care about the money, but now that I think about it…."
"I wonder if she was in on it, too. She's better at potions than Ron is."
"True, but even she's not that good. In fact the only ones in the family that could even attempt something like this would be the twins, or…"
"Or Molly," they exclaimed together, suddenly looking at each other in realization.
They sat together for a time in silence, staring across the pond. Harry started speaking softly again, "It all makes sense. All I wanted since I learned of the prophecy was to deal with Tom, and then live peacefully and quietly. I wanted to go to Godric's Hollow and rebuild the house there. All Ginny wanted to do was find Potter Castle. She believed that as the Saviour of the Wizarding World," he grimaced, "it was my due. It was just like you said about Ron and going to find your parents: I just felt too lazy to do anything about it." Harry continued to stare off into the dark. "Even now, when we know that something's wrong, I simply can't bring myself to do anything about it!"
Harry stood suddenly, startling his contemplative friend. She looked up at him curiously as he took her hand and pulled her to her feet. "Let's go."
"What?" she asked."Where? What are you talking about, Harry?"
"Let's just leave. Now, when they can't do anything to stop us." Harry closed his eyes for a long moment, then looked directly at Hermione with determination, "We're just being used here. Ron has always hated being poor and not having what he wants. Ginny's really not much different. She grew up with this whole Boy-Who-Lived bullshite and has never grown out of it. Then there's Molly with her 'One Big Happy Weasley Family' crap." He shuddered at the thought. "No, I won't let them do that to me. To us. I love you, Hermione. You're the only one I seem to be able to trust and you're the only one I consider family. Please, come with me."
It was Hermione's turn to stare off into the waning night. For several minutes her mind raced, considering all that Harry had said. Finally, she turned to him and spoke, "You know, I think I'm beginning to understand just how you've felt these past years." Harry raised an eyebrow in question. "Manipulated, I mean. As much as I hate to say it, in many ways Ron, Ginny, and Molly aren't that much different than the other Pureblood prats that we've had to put up with. In some ways even the Malfoys were better than they are; at least they were open about how they felt. Here, our so-called friends sneak around and plot and plan and take advantage of whoever falls into their traps. Maybe the hat's not infallible, after all," she added with a chuckle. Her demeanour turned serious again, "Okay, I'm in."
"How long will it take you to pack up everything?" Harry asked. "I haven't taken the time to really unpack, so I'll only be about 20 minutes."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Harry, how many times am I going to have to ask you this: are you, or are you not, a wizard?"
"How about we meet back here in about 15 minutes? It's going to be daylight soon and if we're going to do this, we definitely need to avoid Molly," Hermione continued, shaking her head in amusement. "From here we can go through the woods towards the Lovegood's until we get to the edge of the anti-Apparition charms so we can Apparate. But then, Harry, where could we go?"
Harry smiled broadly as he held up his right hand with the now visible Potter Family ring. "Potter Castle, of course. I, uh, just... kinda... happened to forget to tell Ginny I'd found it."
A short time later, they were walking hand in hand through the woods. The silence between them might have been unnerving to some people, but for them, it was comforting. They were taking the first steps to regaining control of their lives; a control that they hadn't had for several years. A tingle went through them as they passed the enchantment boundaries. Harry stopped and looked at the girl, no, young woman he'd been through so much with and said, "This should be far enough. Hang on tight." He wrapped his arm around her, raised his right hand, touched his wand to the ring as he gazed into Hermione's deep, brown eyes and said, "Time to go home." A swirl of magic later and they were gone.
They appeared at the gates of a magnificent 15th century castle as the sun started to rise behind it; giving it an ethereal quality. Harry, not releasing Hermione's hand, touched the gate and declared, "Hermione Jean Granger has unlimited access to Potter Castle indefinitely." The raven-haired wizard pushed the gates open and led his best friend onto the property. "Welcome to Potter Castle," he added with a cheeky grin.
"Harry, this is… this is magnificent," Hermione whispered in awe. Though it was much smaller, it was even more beautiful and every bit as imposing as Hogwarts itself.
Harry chuckled softly as he put his arm around her. "Yeah, it's pretty cool. When I first came here a few weeks ago, it had the same effect on me. But now it just feels like I belong here… like it's holding me safe." He turned and said seriously, "One thing, though, Hermione," he hesitated, "I have to tell you one thing. Myfamilyhadelvesandsomeofthemarestillhere." He cringed, expecting the worst.
Hermione started to object, but caught herself and asked gravely, "Are they happy, Harry?"
The young wizard reluctantly answered, "They seem to be. You know that I agree with you on how house-elves should be treated, but they've stayed all of these years. They made it clear to me that they wanted nothing more than to see the return of the 'Master of the House' and for the Castle to become a home again." Harry looked down at his shoes as he shifted his weight back and forth uncomfortably.
After a moment, he looked up at Hermione with puppy dog eyes as he continued, "I couldn't do it, Hermione. I couldn't insult their dedication by coming in here and offering to free them, and then pay them. In most cases, their whole lives have been dedicated to serving my family. I'm sorry, but I couldn't do it" he tapered off.
Hermione yawned loudly. "Harry, I'm not that worried about house-elves tonight; especially any that you might have as I know that you'll take care of them. I'm just too tired right now. Can I berate you for it later?" she added with a smile.
The relief from Harry was almost a physical thing. "Nori," he called. A small, well-dressed elf in a colourful maid's uniform appeared. "Master Harry," she cried, "you're back! And you brought company!"
"Yes, Nori, I'm back. This is Hermione; she'll be staying with us for a little while. Are any of the bedrooms ready, or will you need a few minutes? We've not slept in a while and have had a rather stressful few hours."
"Rather stressful couple of years," muttered Hermione darkly.
"The master suite is ready, Master Harry, and we can have any of the guest rooms on the same floor ready in about 15 minutes. Perhaps you and the Mistress would like to have some tea in the meantime?" Nori's excitement was almost palpable.
Harry glanced at his sleepy best friend. "That would be, mmmfff…" he was abruptly cut off as Hermione placed a finger across his lips.
"That won't be necessary, Nori. I think that we can make do with the one room for now," Hermione looked carefully at Harry's questioning face before turning back to Nori. "It's been a long day, and I think we'd just like to get some rest." She glanced again at Harry from the corner of her eye.
"Yes, Mistress," Nori said happily. "If you'll just leave your things here, I'll lead you up, and then take care of your belongings for you." The ecstatic elf turned and headed up the grand staircase to the right.
Hermione took the still curious Harry's hand in hers and followed Nori's bouncing form. After the elf showed them the suite with its luxurious amenities and disappeared, Hermione turned to Harry with a strange mixture of sadness and something else in her eyes. "For the last few months, we've been lied to, controlled, and deceived. Again. I just want to be able to feel. I want to feel something from me. Do you understand that, Harry?"
Taking her hands in his own, he softly responded, "I do. I really do."
She stepped even closer, placing both of her hands on his chest, caressing gently. "Love me, Harry. Make me feel loved for me again."
"Always," he whispered as he brought his lips down to hers. After a few moments, they broke apart; breathing heavily and their eyes were dark with love, wonder, and more than a little bit of lust.
"Take me, Harry. Make love to me. I need… we both need this."
He swung her into his arms, kicked the door shut, and carried her to the bed.
Harry sighed deeply as he pulled himself out of his memories, gazing over the harsh, yet still beautiful landscape, as its jagged edges softened in the gathering twilight. His life had changed in so many ways since that night, and sitting here on a boulder atop a ridge in the vast desolation of southern Nevada was relaxing. He chuckled to himself as he gazed at that part of the desert known to Muggles as Area 51. "Aliens," he thought. "Really, now; the things these Muggles come up with." It wasn't as if Harry doubted the existence of extraterrestrial life, he just didn't think that the American Muggle government had any in their possession. If the US Department of Magic was anything like their British counterpart, they probably wouldn't care, either, as the aliens, of course, weren't Purebloods.
He leaned back and closed his eyes. "I could get used to this." A moment later he sat back up and gazed once again at the dry lake bed in the distance in curiosity. "What is it that's so fascinating about that place? It's almost as if I'm… magically drawn to the place." He shook his head. "Ridiculous!" The argument continued in his head on that topic as he slid down the side of the boulder and leaned sideways against it, still gazing, mostly unseeing, across the darkening vista below.
The young wizard was pulled from his musings by strong, slender arms coming around his waist from behind. Harry straightened up from the boulder and relaxed instantly into the embrace, as there was only one person who could sneak up on him like that. "Well, two, if I'm honest with myself." He turned slowly about and returned the embrace while delivering a passionate kiss.
"How is it you can always sneak up on me like this?" he asked the slender, blonde-haired young woman he had just been so fervently kissing.
"Are you complaining?" she asked with a sultry grin.
"No, of course not."
"Maybe I'm just sneaky." She punctuated this with another deep kiss, causing Harry to not really care anymore.
After several more minutes of intense snogging, Harry pulled slightly back and took a deep breath. "As much fun as this is, your message was rather urgent. Why, exactly, did we need to meet here and why now?" He rested his forehead against hers and continued, "I'm not complaining, just curious."
Talia slowly closed her eyes with a soft sigh. "I do have a reason for here, and especially now. There's something I need to tell you, but I'm… uncertain how you'll react. It's nothing bad," she hurriedly reassured her raven-haired companion, "but it is outside anything you've ever experienced. And now that the time has come, I'm finding myself afraid."
At Harry's perplexed expression, she quickly continued. "I'm afraid that this may change things between us. I never thought that I'd ever become so involved with someone. I'm not talking about just the sex. I never really believed that I could care so much, even love someone so much, that I'd have to do this…" Her voice, which was soft to begin with, had slowly faded to a whisper.
"Talia, what…?" She placed a gentle finger on his lips.
"Please, Harry. Just listen." He nodded his assent. She sat him down on the ground at the foot of the boulder and nestled herself between his outstretched legs, pulling his arms around her, and snuggling back against his chest.
"You're right," she finally said. There is a very good reason for right here and a very big one for right now. Two reasons, actually. The first is rather selfish: this place holds a special place in my heart. We first... ah... came together here." She chucked at her own euphemism and unintended double entendre. "See what you've done to me? You've made me a hopeless romantic. The other reason is down in that valley. I saw you looking there earlier. Haven't you wondered why that little place has an almost magical attraction?" She didn't give him a chance to respond as she continued. "That's because it does. I know what the Muggles say about it. Area 51. Secret government installation with dead aliens and alien technology. Death to try and enter. Yadda, yadda. The thing is," she took a deep breath; "both of those statements are at least partially true." She turned and looked directly into Harry's emerald green eyes. "I know because I live there. I'm an alien."
Harry was gobsmacked. "No, she did not say what I think she just said!" But what came out of his mouth was, "Huh? Wha…?"
Talia turned in his arms and grabbed the stunned man in a panicky hug, not letting go. "Please, Harry," she begged with fear bordering on hysteria in her voice, "let me explain. I want, no, I need you to understand this. I can't lose you and I need you to let me explain. In just a little bit, I can even prove part of it, but I'm asking you, I'm begging you to let me explain everything." She gazed into his eyes, locking them together, "I love you, Harry. I can't lose you. But I have to share this with you." Taking her stunned lover's silence as acquiescence, the woman gave Harry a brief, but loving kiss and assumed her previous position as she continued her story.
"First of all, I have to start with a little history. Haven't you ever wondered where magic came from? Well, it's not native to this world. My people come from a planet several hundred light-years from here and had existed for millennia before humans developed any kind of culture. We always were, and still are, explorers. We'd met and studied life forms all over the galaxy and had learned to harness elu, the force of life itself, when eventually we found this little planet around an otherwise insignificant star. It was an incredibly beautiful place that reminded us of our Homeworld. Some of us decided to colonize a small portion of the planet and create a research station here, hoping to learn something of our own roots as it seemed to be following a similar development. But things didn't go as planned.
"A freak, well, I guess ion storm would be the best term, ravaged the ship as it was in orbit preparing to land the colony. They managed to get the colony ship down, more or less where they had planned, but many systems, including long-range communications, were severely damaged." Talia had been taking occasional glances at Harry during this time, and reassured that he wasn't going anywhere, continued her story with more confidence.
"Anyhow, the colonists set up their new home as best they could. Yes, much of their equipment had been ruined by either the storm or the rough landing, but their use of elu made survival possible. The colonists accepted that they would be stuck here for years without the usual support from the Homeworld. They were able, eventually, to establish satellite colonies all over the planet and continue their research. At one point, they even were able to boost a light speed communications signal to the Homeworld, but that was a long term solution as it would take hundreds of years for the message to arrive.
"To make a long story short, or at least a bit less long, after a few decades of isolation, the colonists started mingling with the resident humans. Friendships and relationships formed, and the first hybrid children were soon born. Much to the amazement of all, the ability to manipulate elu bred true. What you would call the ability to use magic."
Talia looked at her watch. She then stood up and took Harry's hand in hers and pulled him to his feet, leading him to the edge of the ridge. "Now, in a couple of minutes, I can prove at least part of the story," and she started to watch the sky.
Harry, after following her lead, just stood there, dumbfounded. "Shite, this sounds like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. It's impossible to believe, but… why, if she were going to lie to me, would she come up with something so ridicu…" Harry's mouth dropped in shock once again as he saw… it. "What the hell is that?" he cried.
The beautiful young alien grinned as she watched her lover's reaction to the sight before him. "That, my love, is a suborbital shuttle." Her expression grew more serious as she said, "Harry, I know that you doubted my story, and I don't blame you. It is pretty weird from your point of view. But I needed you to know. Most of my people don't bother to tell their partners because, at this point, we're as human as you are. We've been on this planet a long time. But there are some things happening that you and some few others need to know. But even without that, I needed you to know. For myself. For us."
This started the strangest night of Harry Potter's young life. After watching the shuttle land and disappear, he and Talia went back to the boulder and talked for hours. She told him all that she knew about the Homeworld and the history of her people on this planet. He discovered that most of the magical beasts he'd learned about from Hagrid were hybrids themselves. The original settlers had brought their pets and some livestock along with their families, and those creatures had eventually bred with compatible Earth species. The only exception was the phoenix. They were the only ones who did not have a counterpart on this strange new world, but they had adapted and thrived as well.
Of course, Talia needed some reassurance from Harry that he wasn't going to leave her over this. The site of their first tryst became a place of Patronus-worthy memories as they made slow passionate love over and over until, exhausted, they fell asleep in each other's arms between the warm, soft blankets Harry had conjured, under the stars.