Petunia stared at the group suspiciously; she was expecting the wizards to seem a bit less, normal. One of the men who was wearing glasses stepped forward and introduced himself.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Jackson. We are looking for a man who goes by the name of Howard Carter."
"I believe you have the wrong address; no one by that name lives here," she replied, confused.
Dr. Jackson frowned and turned to the woman (who's figure Petunia was quite envious of) standing with him. "Sam, are you sure this is the place?"
The blond woman nodded. "The paper trail leads directly to the post office and then here. There was no mistake."
Turning back to Petunia, Dr. Jackson asked, "May we come in? We appear to have something of a mystery on our hands."
Petunia nodded and let the group into her house. Dudley was home, but Vernon was at work. Still, these people didn't seem particularly dangerous, with the exception of the body-builder lookalike.
As they sat down, Dr. Jackson introduced his companions as Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, and Murray. Petunia thought it was strange for Murray not to have a last name, but let it go. Dr. Jackson then explained how he had been corresponding by mail with a man who went by the alias Howard Carter (the colonel snickered softly as Major Carter winced at the name) who had been helping him on a translation project.
Deciding to meet with the man directly in a hope to hire him as a consultant, they tracked one of the packages they send him to the post office in Surrey. From there, it was easy to learn that a young boy picked up the packages from the post office, and between his name and general description, they were able to find his address.
Confused, Petunia asked what the description of the boy was. Colonel O'Neill showed her a photo of Harry.
Petunia paled. "That's my nephew." The four exchanged meaningful glances. They knew they were in the right place. "You mean he has been getting packages from the U.S.? Why?"
The body-builder lookalike Murray answered. "Perhaps this Howard Carter hired your nephew to pick up his mail so as to avoid exactly what we are attempting."
Petunia stared at the man for a moment. His accent was certainly not American, and his speech seemed almost ridiculously formal.
Dr. Jackson put his head in his hands as Colonel O'Neill said "So basically we're back to square one."
Petunia hesitated for a moment. She remembered seeing Harry bring packages home, but she never paid it much attention. Now she wished she had.
There was a loud series of bangs outside on the street. The four members of SG1 tensed, and then the door flew open. Petunia was halfway to her feet as Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape and Professor McGonagall (Petunia never learned her first name) stormed into the house.
"I'm going to kill the brat and pickle his bloody eyes!" Snape was screaming as he entered. Addressing Petunia he screamed "Where is the brat? I'll teach him to insult me!"
"Severus!" Dumbledore admonished. Turning to Petunia he asked "Where is your nephew Petunia, we need to bring him to…." He trailed off as he noticed the four other people in the room.
Petunia didn't bother to look behind her, but if she had, she would have seen both military officers put one hand behind their backs. "I'm afraid you're too late Dumbledore," Petunia said with relish. "By now he is safely out of the country and beyond your reach."
McGonagall's eyes widened. "How could you…." She was interrupted by Dumbledore.
"No matter. With a request from his guardian asking for him to be returned home, I will have the authority to find him and return him to safety." So saying he pulled out a form and placed it on the table.
Petunia only glared at him. "I am no longer the boy's guardian, and even if I was, I would never sign that."
Dumbledore stared at her blankly.
"He's gone Dumbledore, you're too late, he's safe from the likes of you. Now get out of my house."
Without a word, Dumbledore and his lackeys stormed out as quickly as they had entered, and shortly after that a series of sharp cracks were heard.
"It seems we're not the only ones interested in your nephew Mrs. Dursley." Dr. Jackson said quietly. Petunia nodded weakly.
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After the first night, the Grangers (plus Harry) were able to establish themselves rather quickly. A good sized house was bought within a few days, in a nice upper middle class area. Harry loved his new room, filled with bookshelves and a large bed. Compared to his bedroom at the Dursley's the room was huge. There was even a "secret" compartment in the closet for his to store his texts.
Harry had not gotten around to changing the address on his Howard Carter correspondence, but he figured that he would be a bit too busy to do any of the in depth translation work he was (mildly) famous for anyway. Harry and Hermione were sending a number of letters back to Britain (via owl) for Lisa, but they were always careful never to mention exactly where they were (even though Lisa already knew the general location).
The adult Grangers spent a few weeks getting a new dental practice going, and almost every night the children heard Mr. Granger complaining about the ridiculously long and complex forms they had to fill out. Later, after the forms were filled out (to the not so quiet relief of Mr. Granger) their business began to slowly pick up as they made contacts in the area. Still, even with those hurdles, the summer flew by as Harry and Hermione got used to the States.
They visited a number of museums, libraries, tourist traps (ahem, "destinations") and magical enclaves. Later, they visited the magical shopping district in Boston, and Hermione went wild in the bookstore. Many fields of magic that were ignored or banned in Britain were not only acceptable, but publicly available here. Blood magic, Ritual magic (largely Native American or shamanistic based, though there were some druidic rituals as well), Enchantment, Elemental magic, even Alchemy was at least touch upon in Salem, if not taught outright as a class.
Unfortunately, Herbology was not a subject at Salem (thus their grades in the subject were useless, something Hermione complained bitterly about) and Divination was not offered, but on the whole, Harry and Hermione were thrilled at the new subjects that had opened up to them.
As the summer drew to a close, the children were enrolled at Salem academy and Harry and Hermione were exited to go to their new school. After attending Hogwarts, Harry and Hermione were not sure what to expect. What they found was a modern (within fifty years) building with many of the amenities of a muggle school.
Being a day school instead of a boarding school like Hogwarts, the classes were much closer together, and they had more of them. At Hogwarts they had Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Herbology, Astronomy, History (of Magic), and four electives that they had not had a chance to take yet.
Salem offered Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, History, English, Math (including Arithmacy), Science (which included astronomy), and the electives of Enchantment, Runes, Ritual magic, Basic Alchemy, and Computer Science.
Certain electives were only available at certain times for specific students, (for example Alchemy could only be taken by students who had completed four years of both Transfiguration and Potions, with a year of Ritual magic as well), while others could be taken at any time (Runes). Harry and Hermione were thrilled with the new classes they were taking, and continued to excel in their academics.
That's not to say everything was perfect, far from it. After the start of term where the social order was reestablished, there was a temporary surge of interest in the two foreign students. After a few weeks however, the interest dissipated, leaving Harry and Hermione largely on their own once again.
With only the two of them, study sessions were quieter, and more academic than ever. Lisa had brought some much needed casualness to the trio's study habits (in addition to humor) and without her, Harry and Hermione threw themselves wholesale into their academics, ignoring many of the tentative offers of friendship displayed by various groups.
They didn't ignore everyone, but they focused only on academics, not bothering to try and socialize outside of each other. For this reason, less than a month into the term, both Harry and Hermione had gotten a reputation of cold, shy, socially disinterested, and absolutely brilliant.
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Albus Dumbledore placed his instruments in his new office. After the letter Harry Potter had sent to everyone who mattered in the wizarding world, he had foolishly tried to confront him at the train station. The confrontation was an absolute disaster. The press and the Board of Governors confronted him and his staff at the worst possible time, and the boy escaped while they were fending off pointed questions from all sides.
The next few weeks were brutal. The Board of Governors actually took up their power for once (instead of acting as the rubber stamp he was used to) and fired Severus over his strenuous objections. After Severus, he and Minerva quickly followed.
With the board made up of so many Purebloods, it was hardly a surprise when Robert Longfellow was hired as the new headmaster. An old friend of Lucius Malfoy, and other prominent (rich) Purebloods, the man was nominated on the basis of his obscene contributions to the Hogwarts accounts. The board decided anyone with the will to spend thousands on improving the school would do as the next headmaster.
He, meanwhile, was lambasted in the press for driving away The-Boy-Who-Lived, and for allowing Minerva and Severus to abuse the boy. There was no proof, but the boy's word was taken as gospel truth by the masses. He was most frustrated by the fact that all of his clever misdirection's and legal loopholes had been completely bypassed by the boy simply saying who he blamed. It didn't matter that he had made sure everything he did was either legal (he changed laws to suit him) or the illegal acts couldn't be traced to him. Unfortunately, Potter said he blamed Dumbledore, and the press and sheep ran with it.
Still, even then, he had enough political clout to keep his positions as Chief Warlock and Supreme Mugwump, although he spent nearly all of his remaining political capital doing so. Now he had to find a way of not only regaining the power and respect (and political clout) he had lost, he also needed to regain control of both Hogwarts and The-Boy-Who-Lived. Something that was maddeningly difficult because the Minister refused to mount a search for the boy, claiming that there was no reason his guardians couldn't take him out of the country for his education.
Dumbledore wanted to scream when he heard that. If the boy was out of the country, that meant a number of bad things, for him, and Britain. First, he would not kill Voldemort until either A) Voldemort reached his new country, or B) the British Ministry of Magic had fallen. This was unacceptable in either case.
Second, his absence meant that he could no longer draw upon the political clout or money of the Potter family as he had in the past decade. This would make recovering his positions and influence much harder, because he would have less bribe money, and could no longer claim to be acting in the best interests of The-Boy-Who-Lived. Worse, he would likely be stripped of the Potter proxy seat in the next session, reducing his personal vote to a mere four votes.
Harry Potter leaving the country was bad for Albus Dumbledore all around, and he was determined to get him back where he belonged.
It was time to reactivate the Order of the Phoenix.
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Lisa's return to Hogwarts was incredibly disappointing. McGonagall was gone, Dumbledore was gone, Binns was still there, and the new Headmaster seemed indifferent to the needs of the students and staff. In fact, his standard solution to every problem seemed to be to throw money at a problem and hope it went away. No doubt this tactic had served Longfellow well in the past when dealing with the Ministry, but it only made things worse in a school like Hogwarts.
The new transfiguration teacher was a short man by the name of Professor Davies, (apparently related to the Ravenclaw quidditch player) and while competent, he had no flair for teaching. He was at best a boring, but somewhat effective teacher.
The new potions mistress on the other hand was a tall and (according to the upper year boys) attractive young woman who taught in a very fluid and adaptable style. You never really knew what you were going to be doing from day to day, sometimes you were brewing, other times you were gathering ingredients from various areas across the grounds. She wasn't a bad teacher, they were learning a ton (and anyone was better than Snape) but Lisa had a funny feeling that what they were learning would be useful for life, and useless on the OWL and NEWT tests. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but Lisa knew she needed to put more effort into studying potions outside of class.
On the social front, Lisa had made a few new friends, a couple of second year girls in her year, and a first year Ravenclaw named Luna Lovegood, who had rather forcefully placed herself under her wing. Lisa didn't particularly mind, but she did find it amusing, especially after Luna started going off about strange creatures. Still, even with some minor harassment from the Slytherins, Lisa hoped for a better, more stable year than last year. She missed her brilliant friends.
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Daniel was getting frustrated, no matter how many times he tried to translate the hieroglyphics, he never had time. Yes, they were difficult, but if he had a few weeks of solid time to put into the translation there would be no problem. The trouble was that no sooner did he sit down to seriously work on them, than some emergency happened to call him away. Every! Single! Time! It was maddening!
He needed an assistant, or better yet, a series of experts to help offload the work, but so far the only candidate who seemed to have the expertise and skill was virtually impossible to find! Howard Carter (and they knew it was not his real name) seemed to have worked remotely on dozens of different projects, but no one had ever seen him. Every time they tried to track him down ended in failure.
The closest they had ever gotten was finding the former address of his mail boy. His mail boy! And they couldn't even question him because he had left the country they tracked him to!
That alone was a strange encounter, apparently a cult of some kind was also after either the mail boy, or Howard Carter himself, and whoever they were they could be violent when it suited them (Daniel still remembered the screams of the man in black). After the confrontation with the cultists, the woman they were questioning clammed up completely on the subject of Howard Carter and her nephew.
It was like the man didn't even exist, no records, no tickets, nothing to connect him with anything at all. Worse, anyone connected to him either knew nothing, or vanished whenever they got close. The man was driving both him and Sam up the wall trying to figure out how he was doing it. In this day and age going "off the grid" should be nearly impossible, but this Howard Carter seemed to have mastered it with annoying ease. Someday, Daniel would ask the man just what he thought he was doing, hiding from his own clients. Until then, he would continue to try and decipher the hieroglyphics.
Oh look, another off world activation, how predictable. Daniel sighed.
Ok, just like to state this for the record. I HAVE NO INTENTION OF ABANDONING THIS STORY! I know I take a long time to update, but seriously, if by chance I am ever forced to put the story on hiatus I will let you know. I will not simply stop writing and let this sit for years if I can possibly avoid it.
So, please stop asking if the story is abandoned via reviews and PM's, IT'S NOT!
With that being said, sometime in late September I may have to place my stories of hiatus (I'm not sure yet, I'm just giving you the heads up) and if I do I will put that on my profile.
Now, for anyone who wants to see a picture of theAhnlehit is my profile picture, so see if any of you can guess now.