Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling. I make no money off of it. You all know that. Good. Moving on.
AN: Hello! There's not much to say, seeing that this is the first chapter and you're probably more eager to read it than the author's notes, but well, just wanted to greet everybody. Welcome!
Oh, one thing. Harry and Draco here are, as mentioned in the summary, from an alternate universe, where magic has been revealed to muggles. And where technology hasn't really happened at the same scale.
Prologue: A Conqueror and a Knight
New York, 2007
The crowd cheered and applauded madly. It was as if the sky were turning orange with victory instead of sunset, as if the two men were responsible for the summer, for the beauty of that year or for that single perfect moment that everybody present would tell their grandchildren about, even if the grandchildren would, by that time, consider them old annoying beans who couldn't shut up about their youth and go along with the times. No matter what you've been a part of, eventually you will be boring to some young shmuck with tattooed fish that swim around your body.
In some ways, the enthusiasm and adulation weren't completely off, seeing that the two men who would climb on the scene any moment now had made history, were making history and would continue to make history for their entire lives. On this occasion, they were instating the new, co-operative, collaborative, international association that would strengthen world ties and prevent a new Voldemort. Magicians of the world, unite! Indeed, the crowd, composed both of magic practitioners and non-practitioners, felt fraternal ties that had not been there in the time of their parents. They felt that finally, through the action of Britannia, more precisely of its splendid Hogwarts group and especially of these two amazing men and their group of close friends, the world was becoming what God Himself had intended it to be.
Harry Potter, tall, lean, dark-haired and surprisingly green eyed, not that you could see the latter, but they all knew it from the papers, climbed the stairs to the scene and rose his hands in an exuberant, young, powerful gesture. His long coat seemed thrown on him haphazardly in an image of sexy carelessness. He seemed ruffled, just coming from doing something fun and cool, and happy to be there. He grabbed one of the two microphones and shouted, at a decent enough distance from it as not to render everybody deaf:
The crowd roared wildly, as if the entire continent were, indeed, gathered there in front of the Conqueror. The title was a nickname, not a literal title, but when he beamed charismatically, he proved it to speak the truth in the case of some young ladies in the front, and back, and middle of the crowd fainted with joy.
Another man skipped up the stairs and planted himself in front of his own microphone. He was about the same height as Harry Potter, but from there on things differed. His hair was so light blond that it was almost white. His clothes were prim and proper, his hat elegant, his gestures the result of hundreds of years of chiselling of manners. He seemed to be always in control, always smooth no matter what.
"What my friend here would like to say, but apparently got too carried away to express, is that we greet thee, America!"
More cheers from the crowd as the British accent rolled over them, bathing them in nuances from the Old World. Here they stood, in this historic moment, the Conqueror of the World and his Silver Knight, Harry Potter, the Bane of Voldemort, the Ambassador of Magic Everywhere, the Uniter of the 16 Kingdoms, the Boy Who Lived On and On and On, and Draco Malfoy, Defender of Hogwarts, Prince of Magical Nobility and Keeper of the London Library. Both had the Order of Merlin, First Class, and had been offered honorary membership into many Academic groups all over the world. In their own words, they were declared to know a lot of things without ever actually studying them. The benefits of popularity.
The crowd finally calmed down enough to actually listen to what the two wanted to say.
"We're proud to say that the International House of Slytherin will open its gates here starting next month," Harry said. "It's really funny, we never expected to go international, especially not when we started it as a sort of club for old Hogwarts Slytherins, but then Mr. Malfoy asked me why we shouldn't combine the efforts for this enterprise with those of our other enterprises and bring not only magical, international co-operation, but also more money in our pockets?"
The crowd laughed, familiar with the dark haired man's sense of humour. A flash went off from a camera as some journalist took a picture that could possibly, he hoped, enter history manuals, dragging his own name with it into the future.
"And then Mr. Potter said," Draco took the word, "Why, my dear friend, I do say it's about time we increase our exploitations world-wide. Today, Britannia, tomorrow, the world.... Why is everybody cheering? We've just announced ourselves to be your next tyrants. Oi! Hey! Pay attention. Or would you like that?"
Before he was nearly done with the last question, some woman in the front row squeaked a very loud and high-pitched "YES!" that made Draco grin at her in such a seductive manner that a hundred other girls wanted to be in her place right then and there. The Beatles madness probably melted away with shame in front of the fact of these two even existing.
"Luckily, we have our dear friends to hold us back from that," Harry said, pushing Draco slightly away from being charming to the audience. "Well, I don't think there's much more to say, we've answered interviews on our boat ride here enough for everybody to know the details. But, since there's always questions to be asked, you may go ahead now. We've got a short while for them and would love to chat more, but there's some pressure on our heads from the President."
"Mr. Potter!" a journalist jumped at the occasion. "It has been rumoured that you are now an honorary Slytherin of Hogwarts School!"
"Yes, I am, thanks to Mr. Malfoy's influence. I'm surprised it was just a rumour, I was sure it had been declared officially. Well, it has been said that the founders of the International House of Slytherin should both, in fact, be part of the Slytherin House and my Gryffindor status was less than satisfactory. Well, we could also have changed the name of our International House, so as to make it less confusing, but, we did it the difficult way round. So, after I chatted with the Sorting Hat and with the Board of Governors, who came to see reason, I have been re-named a Slytherin. I did it less for the International House, and more for support of the actual Slytherins in Hogwarts, since Voldemort did them a lot of bad publicity which needed to be cleared."
"But the Sorting Hat wanted to make a Slytherin out of him from the very beginning." Draco grinned. "So all that actually happened is that he came back to where he actually belonged."
The crowd broke into a sort of noise that happens whenever everybody starts talking to their neighbour all of a sudden, even if the neighbour is also talking at the same time. The noise can be called a susurrus, or a murmur, depending on how loud it is and that feels strange, since few languages actually use 'u' a lot in their speech, but an agitated crowd seems to give off the sound anyway. Harry pulled back and put a hand over the dark, rounded side of his microphone. He leaned against his friend and whispered, "I think that what you did just now was create what Shakespeare would call divers alarum."
"Diverse alarms?" came the whispered reply.
"Lots of noise."
"What does he mean by that, Mr. Potter?" a journalist cried out, waving his hat to gain attention.
"Well, you see, it's a funny story. When I was 11, barely a kid who had barely found out he was a magician, the first thing I did was run into Mr. Malfoy in a Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. And among the things we talked about was the Houses of Hogwarts – and he told me that Slytherins are known to be sly, cunning, trickster creatures who know how to succeed in their goals and Gryffindors are brave heroes. And when I was under the Sorting Hat and it asked me how I felt about being a Slytherin, all I could consider was, what's the point of being hidden in the shadows, if everybody knows you are there? So I asked it to put me in Gryffindor."
The crowd cheered. Harry smiled a winning smile. He loved doing speeches and question sessions in front of crowds. It wasn't about the popularity, as Snape, and even he himself, had thought at first. It wasn't about being adored. It was about making all those people laugh and enjoy themselves and feel a bit better for that one day. He had announced early on that he was willing to share details of his life with the world, if they wanted it, but he would rather prefer it if he weren't pestered, followed about, photographed in weird postures and having weird rumours spread about himself, thankyouverymuch.
He'd reached an agreement with the Daily Prophet to have an entirely novel idea done: he'd occasionally write things for the world to see, about his life, the world and everything, and they would print it and send it to subscribers who wanted that supplement along with the paper. Like a journal to the world, of sorts. They'd called it a mainal, short for "mail journal" and soon enough, Harry had discovered he enjoyed writing that, too. He had control over what went out and he would sometimes spend half a page in a rant about a subject, such as accio not working on missing socks for some reason or another and wondering if there really was a sock eating monster. And then he'd get a reply, such as his readership sending him owls saying that, yes, apparently that was correct, they had encountered the same problem also. And then a Croatian magician had sent a letter that announced he had never considered the problem before, because it had never occurred to him that the problem of not being able to accio socks was due to anything but having lost them in some strange place, but he would look into it and try to find an answer. He was still working on it, to the present day.
And the rest was a story about revolutionizing magic and people trying to find a better way to deal with his mainal, since its size varied too much – and finally them coming up with charmed notebooks that would mirror an original, master notebook, in which he could write, double-check his words, spelling, correct them and send things out when he said a certain spell.
...And so it went, the Prophet running the side-business of the mainal notebooks originally, until somebody else took it over and now the idea was spreading about and other people started creating their own mainals.
"Other questions?" the American host asked of the audience.
"What do you intend to do about the Bulgarian warlocks, Mr. Potter?" asked a female journalist.
"Do?" Harry asked. "Why, my dear lady, I don't intend to do anything! My purpose here is to promote international co-operation, not jump into the field and fight every problem in the world. The Bulgarian Government has declared that the situation is under control and shall be solved soon enough, as I am sure all of us have read in the papers just this morning."
"But what if they turn out to be a new Voldemort?"
"I'll answer that," Draco said. "They won't. Voldemort is, for once and for all, dead and gone. A problem of that magnitude is highly unlikely to appear again very soon and it is a disgrace that whenever trouble pops up, people start crying out that the new Voldemort is here. The Bulgarian government is more than competent and we shall not be dragged into fights for public opinion. Officials are very good at what they do, believe it or not. We are simply public figures. It is about time that this is understood. We appreciate the attention and like to please the fans, but really, we are quite tired of being considered the solution for every evil in the world."
"What about your titles, then? Of the Conqueror of the World and his Silver Knight?"
"Those are titles you gave us in your papers, my dear journalists. If you find them unfitting, by all means, take them away."
"One final question."
"Mr. Potter! Mr. Malfoy!"
"The lady in red, please, go ahead."
"Can you pose for an erotic photo session for the Yaoi Fanwoman Club?"
There was a sudden stunned silence crawling over the audience, then some outraged cries as various people realized exactly what the woman had said and what she was asking. The two young men looked at each other, then got two very similar suppressed smiles on their faces, as they tried very hard not to burst out laughing.
"Silence, please," Draco demanded of the overenthusiasts who were screaming bloody murder at the woman who'd asked. "We'll answer that question. And then another one, because the rest of you seem to be disappointed in the track the conversation has taken. Erm. No, madam, we would not like to pose for an erotic photo session for the Yaoi Fanwoman Club. Our relationship is, alas, platonic."
Harry leaned towards the microphone.
"And besides, a certain somebody might strangle him," the green-eyed man said. "Because, as it happens, my dear friend Mr. Malfoy is, of the past week, engaged to my splendid, amazing adoptive sister, Miss Ginevra Weasley, the young lady in the front row over there who seems to glow enough to shame the sun. And now she's glowing red to shame the sunset."
The audience gasped and laughed and cheered and applauded, as Miss Ginevra Weasley was pulled onto the stage by her strong, charming fiancée, who proceeded to give her a kiss that made the crowd cheer. Even his own fangirls. And even the Yaoi Fanwoman Club representative.
"Any last questions?" Harry asked. "Non-fetish related, please."
"Are you still single, Mr. Potter?"
Harry grinned. "Oi. Should've mentioned non-romance related, too. Is everybody else pleased with this question? Oh, fine, fine, yes, I'll answer it. Yes. Yes, I am. If there's any groupie that can find us tonight, she can still have me."
There was a squee of happiness from about 200 female members of the audience who had just decided that they would be the one to find them. 'Well, tough luck,' thought Harry. 'Nobody ever did. But if she did, she'd be as bright as Hermione and worth a chat.'
Draco and Harry were walking about in a small wood after they had gotten away from all the official things. Ginny had made her excuses by claiming she had to talk to her mother and be checked up on. Molly Weasley wanted to make sure Draco wasn't taking advantage of her before the wedding – and somehow she thought that calling every night and leaving her with her older, more responsible brother would save her from going through anything indecent before the marriage. She probably never considered the idea that Ginny loved being, hem, taken advantage of, that she could make her way around the calls from her mother easily and that Harry took his role as a chaperone to mean that he'd chaperone all possible interruptions away. He loved his sister and was very protective of her. It didn't mean he was about to interrupt her from doing something he really enjoyed doing himself, though. (Except, in his case, Molly didn't want to know. She lived by the old mentality that men were allowed to sleep with women before marriage, since they had.... needs. She also thought that cheating on one's husband was wrong and prostitutes were awful creatures, while widows should keep to themselves, so that left the question of whom exactly men were supposed to sleep with, anyway, if they weren't into much weirder stuff than her old-fashioned type of thinking allowed for.)
"That running away of hers has nothing to do with her mother," Draco said with a smile. "She just wants to shut herself into our room and listen to music and fool around before we come back and she's too embarrassed to do it in front of us, right?"
"Right," Harry chuckled. "I think she likes your estate the better for all the hidden nooks where she can disappear to just have time with herself. I think it's growing up in the same house with all her brothers."
"How did you bare it? You're a private person, yourself."
"It was only three summers after they got me from the Dursleys, and the little wood next to the Borrow was private enough. When Ginny wasn't there, that is. We had to split territory to actually be solitary on our own. My, did Molly nearly behead me when the twins came up with the idea that we might have been ... 'doing things' in the forest for all that time."
"And, of course, you weren't."
Harry seemed very amused, all of a sudden. Draco nearly feared knowing why. "She's my sister and, besides, you'd have known. But I later found out, and never revealed, that it was actually the twins who were ... experimenting."
"Oh, gods, you're kidding."
"Well, they didn't experiment too far – and I don't doubt their word, they were drunk when they told me about it and didn't seem to be holding anything back. Apparently, they practised kissing with each other this one time, because it was just too easy to see what the fuss was all about and then to make sure they were doing it right. They never got too carried away, though. Just enough to frighten me out of my wits when they told me about it. And then to get me on the floor laughing."
"What? How, for Chrissakes?"
"They were had reading about kissing and were quite uncertain what the "tongues battling" thing meant. Apparently they took it a bit too literally and nearly bit each other to blood."
"And that's why one should always do sexual education with their kids. Wear protection. Always remember that you should be in love with the other person. Don't bite people's lips and tongue off."
"Don't ever encourage a fangirl/groupie/whatever too much," Draco added. "Jeez, did you see the way they were watching us?"
"You liked it."
"Hey, any man likes feeling appreciated! Anyway, they dug the whole act. I told you the Britishism was a good idea."
"Long live Britannia, the mother of Americans' accent fetishes. Hey, what's that?"
Ahead of them, in the forest, some things were going really fast, making a weird, humming noise. They ran forward, wands drawn and ran into.... Well, into something weird. It was an asphalt road, best quality of asphalt they had ever seen, with really, really fast carriages zipping past them. They had all sorts of weird colours, blue, red, green, most of all the same shape, with slight differences. It was something that they'd experimented with too, for amusement, for Transfiguration practice, but they'd been more creative about the shapes and sizes.
"What the hell?" Harry asked watching the people inside the things, as much as he could. They seemed to be pretty much like every other person he'd ever known and didn't appear to know they were doing something unusual. "Who did this? Magic at this scale...."
"Somebody must've been pretty bored."
"Damned Americans. Trying to beat us to it, I guess. Good roads. Magic, possibly. Don't their magicians have a life?"
"Maybe they wanna impress us."
"Nah, they'd have done it more officially, I don't think they know we can see this. I wonder what it's all about. Sheesh. Let's go back and talk to Gin, then we'll contact our man here and find out what this is about."
"Good plan. Of course, we could also stop somebody and ask."
"I think I'd rather have an official version."
"Aw, fine. Spoilsport."
So they went back the way they came. And they went. And went. And went. It was much walking and many charms later that they realized they couldn't find their way back to Ginny. Or to the place where they'd performed. Or anywhere, for that matter. And slowly, slowly, realization came through that something had happened. God only knew what. But something had.
AN: Enough for the prologue. Of course there will be more about both worlds as chapters progress, don't worry, mysteries shall be elucidated. Please, don't forget to drop a review. They make me happy ;)