I do not own, or receive any benefit from the Harry Potter properties.
Out of the West
By Larry Huss
July 9, 1996 through November 8, 1996 -London, Britain.
With the defeat of Voldemort, Minister for Magic Fudge called for an election, hoping to secure an extended term of office as Wizarding Britain's successful guardian. As they have so many times in the past, the British exhibited their complete ingratitude (Churchill in 1945, Pitt the Younger) and a bewildered sure-victor found himself looking at a headline in The Daily Prophet: "We Have Left The Age Of Fudge!"
No longer in power, without all the influence and patronage at his fingertips, his web of bribery and corruption began to unravel. First some hints he couldn't stifle, then a story that the newspapers and Wizarding Wireless didn't suppress, and finally Minister Scrimgeour appointing a Special Investigator. Cornelius Fudge managed to evade process servers, and was last seen taking a random international Floo connection, carrying a satchel rumored to contain millions in negotiable securities.
Minister Scrimgeour, on the advice of his Head of Magical Law Enforcement, Amelia Bones, concluded an Agreement with the Men from Cathay for cooperation and mutual non-interference. What she had been able to piece together indicated that they were some intermediary state between Muggle and Wizard, but had no desire to either be accorded the benefits of entry into Magical Britain, or to do other than live their own life of shadows and secrets. An effective ally (that much was clear from Shacklebolt's contacts with them) that wasn't already begging for offices or government contracts; what wasn't to love?
Hogwarts started its term on September 1st as usual. Headmistress McGonagall had made some changes in the curriculum, and had managed to get at least temporary replacements for the teacher's who had left (Snape, for example) or been killed (Trelawney, etc). DADA Professor Lupin was a welcome returnee, as was Horace Slughorn for Potions. Many of the students who had left the school due to the unsettled conditions in Wizarding Britain returned, and one of the first things, before even the Sorting, that was done on starting day was the honoring of those who had served their school with particular effectiveness. Among those honored were the Potter Clique, Millicent Bulstrode, and Draco Malfoy. Some say that the start of Lord Malfoy's political career truly began on that day.
As he was not an enrolled student ,Lord Longbottom was not in that roll; he had returned to his school across the Atlantic, and to the despair of many a maid of impeccable lineage and romantic nature it was well known that he had an understanding with some title-hunting American harpy.
July 1, 1999-Shinseisaru Temple, Japan
She showed up, knowing less than a dozen words of Japanese, at the gates of the Temple. Sun hair and Moon eyes, walking with perfect assurance through gates and up stairways she had never seen before, up to the private quarters of the Priestess, who had tea and slices of fruitcake and imported shortbread biscuits waiting for her. The servants of the Temple had wondered why they were preparing a special afternoon tea for the Priestess when no Cabinet Ministers or major ecclesiastical politicians were on the schedule. In fact, Miura-sama had pretty much cleared her schedule for the month, except for visits to her daughter, and a Fire Reading for an Incredibly Important Person.
It was rumored after Moon Girl had left that she had fought in a battle with the Devils Between, and that she would soon return for more spiritual training, and perhaps even a meeting with the Ancestor! When asked if that would happen the Priestess only said, "My friends are always welcome… and Grandfather thinks she's cute."
September 14, 1999- Chihuahua, Mexico
Harry looked over at Ron holding Luna in his arms as if he was afraid that she would come apart if he let go. Somehow she had held out during the battle, pointing at weaknesses, and finally giving them the information of the critical point and time to do their ultimate strike. It must have been even worse for her than for the telepaths. They had had powerful thoughts smashing at their wills, like breakers on a lee shore. She had been submerged in images of insane alieness and cosmic wrongness that none of the rest of them could even imagine.
Moody was sitting on a rock holding his head in his hands, tired beyond being tired. He had thought the Cathayans had been exaggerating what they had said what they were expecting to meet down here. Instead it had been worse, and all the equipment they had brought with them had been barely enough to hold up their end. His mind was slowly cycling through his memories: was that cave he had seen thirty years ago really like the one now being sealed by Granger with strange, star-shaped rune stones? If so, he'd be heading back to North Africa soon, to make sure that nothing there had been disturbed, and to lay some powerful aversion wards to prevent ignorant meddling by locals or tourists.
Tom DeMarco came over to Harry from where he had finished packing up the missile launcher and remaining ammunition. He glanced down into the shallow valley, and the sixty-five yards of calcifying abomination lying in twisted loops and frozen curves. DeMarco gave a respectful nod to the wizard.
"Well… thanks. If it hadn't been for your guys I don't know if I could have held the rest of the team in place. Seeing you standing there and opening up the outer layer gave us some hope. Having the cut you made as an aiming point didn't hurt either.
"We'll be finished here in another half hour. A forensics team is already on its way, so just relax. They'll do the casualty recovery, and secure the specimen and samples. They'll take care of getting the bodies back home also."
The man then went back to help the few of his team still fully functional make the sedated ones as comfortable as possible.
Hermione came over to Harry, and sat down with a groan. She wasn't yet twenty, and already she felt like saying that she was too old for this type of stuff.
"Nothing living down there, not as we can understand it, anyway. I followed Luna's instructions; the stones she and Miura made seem to be closing up the hole. What's on the other side…I just got a glimpse of it. We're lucky; what came through had to simplify itself to exist here. Pretty confusing on the other side."
This was from the woman who had recently spent a happy afternoon arguing with Liz Green over whether or not they were living in an eleven or a seventeen dimension universe.
"Nothing living?" Harry asked. He'd still had some hope. Jonah and the whale, after all.
"No, which leaves us with an interesting question. Who's going to tell Liz?"
Seven miles away
Albert Fermi completed inputting the codes into the detonator box. Now there was no way to set off the Medium Atomic Demolition Munition (Mark 5). The US government had never realized it had actually been built, the big 25-kiloton one. They had thought it had only been a theoretical study the bomb geeks up at Las Alamos had been speculating about. He'd thought that Leo had been excessively paranoid, when he begged his superior to put it in place on the route out of the valley at the mouth of the cave, just in case.
Now Fermi saw that Leo had just been prudently cautious. He'd have to apologize to the boy when he saw him in a day or so. If the kid hadn't also somehow wrangled the Wizards into doing whatever stuff they did that had held the thing that had emerged from the cave in place, until the TOWs had managed to crack its shell… it was hard to see what else could have stopped it until the Air Force could get permission to violate Mexican airspace and get something heavy down here. By then, according to the best analysis that AGER could generate, it would have reported back to wherever it came from that it was free lunch day. Not something good for the human race, which would have been the appetizers.
Fermi decided he would order Leo to go back to college, get his degree. And also start working on him to marry Luci. It wouldn't be a love match (at least on the boy's side, though he liked her well enough), but it was time he settled down and started raising a public family; his genes were too valuable to continue to risk in field operations. And Luci had had a crush on him since he had babysat her over a decade ago. Being an indulgent father was no crime, even if you were head of AGER US.
June 4, 1999-Port de Dives-sur-Mer, Normandie
The black-haired girl played on the steps outside of the run-down, fake-Norman style apartment building a block away from the promenade along the harbor. She threw the blue rubber ball from her hand against one of the three steps leading up into the building and caught it on the rebound. Again and again. She knew she would be here for a while, and all of her books and dolls were upstairs. Father was up in their one bedroom rental, with another of his girlfriends. Sometimes, rarely, the women tried to be friendly, and if they lasted for a few weeks or months pretended that they were going to become her new mother. Mostly they were only for a few nights, going in with oddly unfocused eyes and leaving confused and lost looking. When he had a girlfriend over Father made Aster sleep on a cot in the kitchen.
Today there was a fresh and unexpected one, and the child hadn't had a chance to grab her backpack filled with books and toys before she had been hustled out of the room so her eager Father could slip the poor bitch another potion and get her going. Aster wished that they would stay in one place long enough for her to go to school; then she wouldn't have to spend so much time alone while all the other children were busy. She didn't feel frightened; this had happened so often before; being alone outside while Father played. They had been in this town for over a month now, and the local shopkeepers kept a half-eye on the little foreign girl. One had even rummaged into their child's things and handed her the ball when they saw that she had nothing to do. This was a good place, not like last year when they had been flush and spent time at one of the Riviera resort towns. Sometimes she had been sent down on the beach by herself. Then she had felt eyes on her; she could always tell when she was being watched the wrong way, and she had wanted for Father to get finished with whatever he had been doing and come back so she wouldn't have to defend herself and get punished for attracting attention.
She liked this place better. They weren't very well off right now, but the town was nice and she liked the people and the birds fighting over the scraps of food down by the fishing boat docks. She knew they wouldn't stay here long though; good things were always used up fast, and good places were the ones they seemed to leave the soonest. She knew she was being watched (she always knew that, it was part of her), but it didn't feel like the bad kind, just… intense.
Two people turned onto the street, a middle-aged woman and a young man. Aster thought they were very beautiful; tall and blond and with elegant clothing. They stopped at the entrance to her building, the woman gave a small nod to the young man, and he went inside. Aster supposed they must be doing business with someone who lived there. They were obviously much too well off to have to rent for the summer in a place like that. In a moment the sound of a loud argument started coming through the open windows of a fourth floor bedroom. It sounded like Father's voice, and then a woman yelling…
The foreign woman knelt down facing the child. She seemed a bit stiff, but friendly enough. She began to speak in English.
"Hello Lyra, I am your aunt, Narcissa…"
May 4, 2015- Lake Biwa, Japan
Masatane Tomoko glanced down from the view across the lake. There it was, on her laptop: the payment for the rights for the live action movie series had finally shown up in her account. She was now officially the wealthiest author in Japan. It really wasn't what she had expected, when she had started writing a fictionalized version of her time at the temple. But first the children's novels went so well, then the manga, the anime, and now the four-picture deal was confirmed.
The Priestess thought it was hilarious, for some reason. She did expect to see the manuscript of each new work, but she hardly ever requested any changes, and even those were usually improvements. As Masatane had progressed in creating the complicated (but strangely un-tangled) world of The Talented Ones the Priestess had been helpful in suggesting new characters, new plot twists, new villains and new locations. She had demanded to be a Beta tester of the Mighty Miko video combat game, however.
What no one suspected that if all the trappings of conventional novelistic fantasy were stripped away, ninety percent of the basic plot structure (and as far as Masatane could figure, characters) were real. She had seen the Moon Girl (and her red-headed husband and children) at the temple. She had seen the Queen of Lightening smiling as her husband (the Green Mage) had landscaped the surroundings of the temple into something both wild and inviting. They were real… real as the Priestess' Ancestor. As real as her own family. Every day was a walk in an age of wonders.
October 15, 2015- London
Hermione Granger-Potter looked with satisfaction at her work. Well, Rudolph Tomkins had done excellent stuff on figuring out the needed protective runes, so she gave him mental credit as well.
The Veil, the damned Veil, the murderous and child-stealing Veil, was sealed up so that a month's worth of wizardry would be needed to open it up again from this side. From the other side? As far as Magic could do, any soul-sucking, kidnapping pseudopod that tried to break into this world would be hit by enough firepower to simultaneously fry, freeze, electrocute, and dissolve it to nothingness. If anything actually got through that, there was a battery of WizTech automated megawatt lasers permanently on-line. She might be one of the few Witches that could appreciate what the numbers meant, but for most magical folk it was enough that Lord Longbottom was seriously pissed that one of his wife's relatives had been abducted, and had used his connections with the mysterious Cathayans to ensure such offenses never recurred.
Hermione had taken it as a personal insult that the attack had occurred on her watch. That was her professional pride. The blow to her heart had been realizing what the boy's mother must be going through. Well, when Luna got back from her work in Bolivia she'd add the last possible layer of protection on this hole in the world, and they would have to hope it would be enough. The thought of a major rift to the Place Between appearing in the middle of London was terrifying.
October 8, 2032- Wilson's Pub and Grill, Boston, MA.
After the speakers finished their part of the Roast of the retiring Department Head for IT for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he rose to give the traditional obscene rebuttal and counter attack.
Unfortunately, having sipped a bit too much of the amber brew, he spent the next twenty minutes insulting them in the latest of the Green-Surokawa programming language variants. He was driven home from the event by his eldest daughter, so it all turned out well enough.
Two days later, Nate Duggan left for a stint as a teacher at some special school in the South-west; some sort of college prep place, or something like that.
November 8, 2040- Longbottom Manor, England
Lord Longbottom sat by the bed of the dying woman and held her hand. Their divorce had become official two weeks ago, her final strange gift of love to him.
She had assured him that no one in the Wizarding world would expect him to be faithful to the memory of the Muggle (or rather, Cathayan) that had divorced him. It wouldn't be like he was a widower of a forty year marriage. By her calculation he would be besieged by interesting women within the month. She didn't want him to be lonely and mope around in the gardens and greenhouses of the Manor. At sixty he was barely middle aged for a wizard.
At sixty she was dying, of conditions that medicine, magic, and the powers of Dr. Lou-Ann Green couldn't cure. A little young to die, but not exceptionally so, for an Emergent. Of course her elder brother had died before he had reached twenty-one, but after all he had been a casualty of an endless war. Her children and grandchildren should live long, full lives. Longbottoms tended to. Her Nev might have up to a good eighty years to go; she didn't want him to be lonely all that time, he deserved better.
Lord Longbottom looked at his wife (to him the paperwork was meaningless; there had never been an estrangement between them) and tried to persuade her not to complete her final, glorious, crimes against the laws of nature. She lay there in a hospital bed with wires connecting her to the world's best computer (via secure channels), and more tubes and drains than he could count. Her body would die, but everything about her mind would be stored in the logic core for the Priore Ceta expedition, the first attempt to plant a self-sustaining manned research station on an extra-solar planet. Hidden deep in the software she would watch, and make sure that the computer programs didn't "Go all HAL on them" as the ship spent its fifty seven year voyage, with the crew in Cold Sleep. Having the hibernation technique named that had been one of her little tributes to her dead brother, fond of science fiction and its descriptive clichés.
He wondered what would happen when she finally allowed herself to die. There were, he knew, souls and destinations for them. When her work was done, where would she be; would he ever come again to be with her? Currently he knew she felt she had only two things to do before she left a body that had been filled with pain for the last two years. Preparing to protect the expedition was one; the other was an insane and brilliant act of love. Preparations started over forty years ago would download Leo Green's mind (as far as the primitive technology of the time could analysis and store it) into an adolescent cloned version of his body. Hopefully holographic brain architecture would fill in the missing parts from the reflexes and memories available. Maybe. Hopefully.
Would he be a person, or a soul-less creature of appetites and primal drives? Would he be Leo, or just a mass of skills and Talents? At Leo's funeral Sirius had said that Leo could have been more dangerous than Riddle, if he hadn't been trying not to disappoint his sister and brother. Liz would soon be gone, one way or the other. Aaron was, of course, a picture of robust health, but he was still one of the ephemeral Emergents. The new Leo would have decades to live, without being constrained by prior bonds of love or family. When he was reborn, and it would be soon, would he even have a soul, or care about anyone in all the world?
May 8, 2042 - Shinseisaru Temple, Japan
The Priestess danced through the garden, playing with something only a few of her attendants (and her children, of course) could see. She said it was a Rui Shi, a Chinthe, a guardian spirit. Most only saw an elderly, but still somehow beautiful, woman performing incredible acrobatics by herself. Others saw a huge shadowy ball of green light playing tag with her. Those who saw the Other Side properly saw that she was (as usual) just being honest. A huge, very odd looking lion cub danced and played with her, joyously, until the time it would have to stand guard at the gates of the world, again.