Harry Potter and the Oriental Philosophy

Based on the concept by Tellemicus Sundance

Chapter Eight: Mages vs. Ninjas (Sorta)

"Hit it. Whatever it is, just hit it. If that doesn't work, hit it again, but harder this time. If violence isn't solving the problem you simply aren't using enough of it." ~ the questionable wisdom of not only Song Si, but also several of the Adepts currently in London.

X- Hidden entrance to the Ministry of Magic, Whitehall, London, September 20th, 9:27 p.m.

"Are you sure this is the right place, Ashley?" Dudley asked skeptically as he, Harry, and Ashley gazed upon the entrance to the Ministry of Magic.

"Positive, I may not have ever gone into the place, but I know for a fact that we're standing right on top of it. And I'm fairly certain that that," she said, gesturing to the object that Dudley was scrutinizing skeptically, "is the way to get inside."

"Well, if you say so, but I've got to agree with Dud on this. That has got to be the stupidest way to hide the entrance." Harry said with a small scowl as he too gazed upon the entrance.

"Well what's the matter with it?" Ashley asked in confusion.

"It's a fuckin' phone booth," Dudley offered.

"It's like they're begging for a Mundane to stumble onto them," Harry added.

"Oh, come off it you two, the thing is warded to keep people from noticing it, so there's no way that anyone can just stumble onto it." Ashley argued as she started towards the aforementioned phone booth.

"Yeah, but that's just the thing, the only wards on this piece'a junk are those, what'cha call'em, 'notice me not's, and muggle repelling charms, right?" Dudley questioned the exact nature of the wards, receiving a nod from both his companions, "Well see, those things ain't much good." He finished.

"How so? They've kept the magical world secret so far." Ashley wondered.

"Yeah but how many people with photographic memories have they had to lobotomize?" Harry questioned as they stopped in front of the booth.

"Huh?"

"It's like this, the notice-me-not wards up here may be scribed just to keep Mundanes from noticing anything off. But even the spell in general can be bypassed. All it really takes is a well ordered mind." Harry explained.

"Well ordered mind?" Ashley asked in confusion.

"I'm a perfect example," Dudley explained. "I don't have any magic whatsoever. But I can still see this fuckin' thing. I can do that cause my mind is controlled enough that when the magic tries to make the thing slide past my senses, my mind notices my senses trying to do stuff they shouldn't, and corrects for it. Thus making the wards useless."

"Really now?" Ashley asked in wonder, not quite sure how to take the realization.

"Yeah, that's pretty much how a lot of Ki Adepts find out about magic. With their minds so well structured from meditation, the usual methods of keeping a Mundane out of the Mages world fails completely and magic is no longer so big of a secret." Harry explained with a wry smile.

"Damn, that's actually pretty neat. But that still doesn't explain what you meant about people with photographic memory being lobotomized." Ashley pointed out as she slid the booth's door open and stepped inside.

"Well, you see all that meditation that an Adept goes through pretty much givesthem a photographic memory along with all their Ki abilities. But what about all the people out there who are naturally born with photographic memories? When it's an Adept, they can usually just get out of there before they're hit with anything too bad. That or they're odd enough that no one notices they shouldn't be there. But a Mundane with none of our martial training, they're just sitting ducks. They've got no way to defend themselves when they stumble upon magic, and you can't just erase part of their memory. They'll notice the inconsistencies and holes in their memories that just shouldn't be there. So to try and fill in the whole, they'd retrace their steps leading up to the blank spot. And low and behold the same thing will happen again, and again, and again. Until the person's been memory charmed at least a dozen times over and yet they still try and fill in the ever-widening hole in their memory. It just becomes simpler to erase their entire memories, leaving them with complete and total amnesia." Harry explained to Ashley's horror.

"Th-That's just an extreme case, right?" she asked hopefully.

"I wish," both boys muttered darkly as they too stepped into the phone booth.

"Sad truth is that I've heard of three cases where that's what happened. The end result, well, it's never pretty." Harry said solemnly.

"Heh, only three, I've heard about it over half a dozen times. And I actually met one of the head cases. I got the story from her parents, and then from the Mages that I beat the truth out of. She was a twelve-year-old girl who got curious about a shop people kept passin' in the street without noticin' it. Its window was filled with all kinds of wondrous things that she had always thought were the stuff'a dreams. One day she wandered away from her parents to take a closer look, and then woke up at home, missin' an entire week's worth'a memories. The cycle repeated itself seven times before the Mage runnin' the store got tired'a the same kid wanderin' into his shop every other week, and just erased everythin'." Dudley growled.

"Shit." Ashley gasped at the intense aura that seemed to surround both teens.

"That's kinda why we're doing this, Ashley. Mages, especially the ones in Europe, don't have the best reputation amongst Adepts when it comes to solving problems. We try to let them solve their problems on their own, but sometimes we have to step in. Especially when whatever the problem is threatens more than just the Mages' own little slice of Gaia, and Redsun has already traipsed in our world. We're here to make sure that the Mages actually deal with Redsun in an appropriate manner. If they are, great, not our problem and this was all just needless paranoia. But I for one would rather be paranoid and wrong, than in danger and right." Harry said calmly as he examined the booth in askance, as if waiting for something. "So how does this thing work?" He finally asked.

"Umm, I think there's some kinda code. Though I'm not quite sure what it is." Ashley admitted sheepishly.

"Here let me have a whack at it." Dudley declared as he positioned himself in front of the phone and began entering numbers, seemingly at random.

"Are you sure we should let him be doing that?" Ashley asked skeptically as he dialed.

"Actually it's probably for the best. Dudley always did have good luck." Harry replied with a smile, even as Dudley started talking with someone on the other end of the line.

"What do you-" Ashley found herself cut off from her question when the booth started to descend, much like an elevator.

"Ha. Stupid Mages, teach them ta make the code so obvious." Dudley barked in laughter.

"What the hell?" Ashley questioned in shock. Not quite sure if she should believe their good fortune. On one hand, they were another step closer to their goal. On the other hand, the fact that randomly pushing numbers had actually paid off was slightly worrying.

"So what was the code?" Harry asked curiously.

"64224 or 'magic' if you're gonna go by the word you could spell with it. Man I knew mages were lazy, but the ones here are also predictable. Least in Asia they were a bit cleverer in the way they hid stuff." Dudley chuckled.

"Yeah, kinda makes me glad I ran off. It makes me cringe to think about how I might've turned out if I was brought into their society." Harry nodded as the booth stopped and opened out into a large atrium. Looking around the teens noted several lifts that looked to go further down, as well as a rather large golden fountain depicting a male and female Mage, a goblin, a centaur, as well as some other small humanoid thing neither Harry nor Dudley had ever seen before. However it wasn't the scene being depicted that Harry or Dudley focused in on, rather it was what the fountain was made out of that drew their focus.

"Is that gold?" Dudley asked, a hungry look in his eyes as he took the fountain in.

"I do believe it is." Harry replied, his gaze mirroring his cousin perfectly.

"Okay then, addition to the plan." Dudley started.

"Ensure Redsun's continued imprisonment, and then take part of the fountain home with us?" Harry guessed with a smirk.

"Hell yeah!" Dudley smiled.

"Are you two crazy?" Ashley asked incredulously, now starting to doubt her newfound friends. While it was true that it was far too late for her to break any ties of friendship with them, the fact that they were planning on robbing the ministry in addition to breaking in to it was… well, it was insane.

"Hey, you should know how it is by now. Adepts can't exactly get normal jobs in the modern world, but we do need money to survive. Gold just happens to be something that we can turn into money no matter what country we find ourselves in." Dudley argued while Harry nodded.

"And besides if they can afford to use gold for something like that, as well as their currency, it's not like it would hurt anyone to take a little for ourselves now, would it? After all, we do need to eat." Harry persuaded.

"Well…when you put it like that." Ashley reasoned while looking at the golden fountain in a new light. It took her several minutes of observing the fountain before she reached her final conclusion, "We take the goblin and split the money three ways."

"Deal, now let's go find us an ass-hat." Dudley smiled as he and his cousin began moving towards the lifts, followed quickly by Ashley.

"So, how exactly do we find him? None of us know where anything is here; let alone where they'd keep someone like Redsun. Hell, I don't even know what half the departments here are even called. I really only paid attention to the law office and the department that handles magical beasties." Ashley asked as they stepped into a vacant lift.

"Well now that we're here, I can kinda sense the ass-hat." Harry replied, drawing a raised eyebrow from Ashley.

"Sense him? Is this one of those fancy Adept tricks?" her curiosity piqued.

"Pretty much, both me and Harry can sense the energy people give off. It's how we managed to track you down earlier. Though Harry is better at it than me, partly cause he cheats." Dudley explained, though he took the time to make a verbal jab at Harry.

"Not my fault I was born with more skill than you," Harry responded in kind.

"That so, then why'd you need me to find this place if you can just sense him out?" she asked, partly out of genuine curiosity. And partly to keep the two of them from degenerating into an argument they'd likely try to solve through violence.

"Interference, too many magical hidey-holes around London to get an exact read on anything like an individual aura. Now that we're here however, I can find him." Harry explained.

"So where is he Harry?" Dudley asked.

"Down." Harry replied resolutely as he pressed one of the buttons on the panel, level five from what she could see.

"You sure that's the right floor?" Dudley asked.

"Nope," Harry smiled.

"Then why the hell did you push it?"

"I'm guessing." Harry admitted.

"And this is helpful how?" Ashley asked with a growl.

"Well, either we overshoot, we don't go far enough, or we get the right floor. None of us know exactly where he is, so might as well see where luck manages to take us." Harry smiled.

"That's…"Ashley was at a loss for words, she knew she should say that it was something along the lines of 'reckless', 'stupid', 'dangerous', or 'crazy' even. But somehow when they came out of Harry's mouth, they seemed assured, wise, and full of confidence. Part of her knew it was stupid not to call him on how much he was leaving up to chance, something that had always been a fickle mistress. But she reasoned Dudley would probably call him on it.

'After all Dudley's known him longer and is also an Adept so he can probably cut through whatever aura driven confidence thing Harry was doing' She reasoned.

"That sounds like a good idea." Dudley nodded, destroying Ashley's fragile hopes that someone had a logical plan.

"Do either of you have even the slightest clue as to what we are going to be doing?" she asked hopefully as the lift came to a stop. And the door started to open, only for Harry to push another button, the seven this time.

"We told you the plan while we were up top." Dudley pointed out.

"Yes, but that plan was very, very simple," She reasoned.

"True, but simple plans are often the best. I may be able to make a complex plan up when the need arises. But in the end I like things simple, easier to improvise when things start to go wrong." Harry explained to her sheepishly.

"So, this whole 'break into the ministry' plan?" she asked, while trying to understand. It's not that she was worried (much) but she wanted to be totally sure of what she would be getting into.

"Well to be honest we're kinda flying by the seat of our pants here." Dudley admitted as Harry yet again pressed a button as the lift came to a stop. Level nine this time.

'…At least, they're being honest,' she thought ruefully.

"So wait, do you guys even have a plan for if we get caught?" She asked, dreading the answer, yet some morbid part of her desired the answer.

"Refer to each other by our titles and hope for the best. You're called Valkyrie by the guys on the street now, right?" Harry smiled.

"Yeah. But seriously, what's the plan?" she asked while nodding.

"We just told you, didn't we?" Dudley asked incredulously.

"That was it?" She nearly shouted.

"Yup," They both nodded.

"That's…good to know," she settled on. 'They're both completely bat-shit insane.'

"This is it." Harry commented, drawing Ashley away from her worry.

"Well then, let's go see if he's being well cared for." Dudley said as he stepped out of the lift and into the corridor, a long hallway painted entirely black stretching for a bit before coming to an end. Quickly and quietly the three teens made their way down the hall in absolute silence. They may have been able to talk in the lift, but now was not the time for such things. If any words were to be had now, it would only be words pertaining to what to do next.

As they stepped through the door at the end, the group found themselves walking into a large circular room, the walls of which were lined with doors. Ashley was on the verge of asking which one to take when the walls started to spin. She would admit later that it was slightly disconcerting to watch, knowing that it was some sort of magical defense. Yet even when the room stopped, Harry didn't look the least bit confused. Instead he walked towards one of the doors with a purpose that only a man who knew exactly what they were doing could have, and right beside him was Dudley.

Trusting Harry to know what he was doing, Ashley followed after them as they walked through a door, though she had to ask.

"How're we getting out?"

"The spinning wasn't real, just an illusion, a powerful one by Europe's standards, but still just an illusion. It won't stop us from finding our way." Dudley replied confidently. Ashley nodded at that, since in a way it did make more sense than the entire level shifting as she had at first thought. Not that she wouldn't put it past the abilities of magic to be able to shift the entire level they were on. It's just that such an act would take a lot more effort than what she had come to expect of mages in general.

"So, how much longer?" she asked quietly,

"We're close, but there's someone else nearby." Harry replied.

"How close?" Dudley questioned.

"To us or to the ass-hat?"

"Both."

"Whoever it is, is getting close to Redsun, and that means they're about as far away as he is." Harry replied as he moved forward. It was as they moved forward that they began to make out voices coming from ahead.

"So…holding… quite… effective prison," an unfamiliar voice spoke, it was a calm, and taunting voice, yet there was no warmth to it, only bitter ice.

"Silence…you speak… what… want?" the second voice was doubtlessly Redsun's, all arrogance, rage, and pride. Even imprisoned he still maintained all of the bluster Harry and Dudley had come to expect from him.

It was as they rounded a corner that they came within hearing and viewing range of the speakers. While one of them was most assuredly Redsun, he was not as any of them remembered. Gone were his regal vestments, replaced by tattered robes of a dull grey and lined with glowing runes. The Artificial-Adept sat cross-legged in the exact center of a circle of pure white light, and while none of the teens knew exactly what it was, they could guess to its purpose. However, it was the other figure that drew their attention.

The man bore a slight resemblance to Harry. His hair a deep ebon color and his build was roughly the same. Though his hair was fair more tame than Harry ever had hopes of making his own. He also had far less muscle mass than Harry. He wore robes that marked him as an Unspeakable (not that any of them knew this) and he stood with a regal air to him that was far more refined than Redsun's. They could not see his face, so they could not make out his eye color, but when he spoke it was with the same cold, taunting voice as before.

"Now, how can I tell you what I want if I am to be silent in the presence of Merlin reborn? Really now, you should decide what you want before making such demands." the mysterious Mage taunted.

"Grr, speak! Tell me, what purpose you could have to mock me?" Redsun demanded angrily from his prison.

"Mock you? Hmm, yes, I could see how you might take this as some form of mockery. Though it is only an unintentional side effect of the exact predicament we find ourselves in. But no, my dear boy, I did not come here merely to taunt you. To do such a thing is a waste of both our time. What I am in fact here to speak with you about is your research. Which, might I say, was quite the curious read," the other man spoke.

"Curious! You call the greatest discovery since the creation of the Philosopher's Stone a mere curiosity?" Redsun growled angrily.

"Hehehe, you have quite the temper, Damien Starbright. You should learn to control it before you annoy the wrong people." The free Mage spoke with condescendence dripping from each word.

"How do you know that name?" Redsun hissed angrily.

"You will find that there is little about this department that I don't not know. After all, I run it." The dark hair man answered calmly.

"You lie. You cannot be the Head Unspeakable. You are far too young." Redsun replied coldly.

"Young, am I? I suppose you would think so based on my appearance alone, but it is no matter. Sufficed to say, my dear boy, that I am far older than you." was the man's response.

"You also do not sound like the Head Unspeakable." Redsun added.

"Ah, I am guessing you are referring to the man that swore you in several years ago when you first became an Unspeakable. Well it is my grave duty to inform you that, that man suffered a rather unfortunate accident last year." The dark haired mage supplied.

"You killed him?" Redsun asked with a raised brow, now curious to this strange and cold man

"Perhaps. But that does not matter right now, my dear boy. I am quite curious to this energy you have found. This 'Ki' I believe you referred to it as, is quite remarkable. By itself, it grants the wielder great power, but when mixed with magic it increases the ability ten-fold, it even allowed you to bypass the need of a wand to cast your spells. And according to your research, this power is present in every single living being on the planet." The dark Unspeakable continued lightly.

"Yes, I did find evidence that all life possesses Ki, but it is only a rare few that learn to utilize it." Redsun replied his interest visibly piqued.

"Yes, the ones you referred to as Adepts. To think that muggles were capable of such power. It is both disgusting and intriguing." The man hissed the word 'muggle' like it was something foul. Like he had tasted bile and rotting meat with a dash of fresh feces when the word passed through his lips.

"Not all of them were Muggles. I know of at least two who were once wizards, yet they are much the same now as any other Adept running about." Redsun replied.

"Oh, and who might these wizards be? I'm quite curious to gaze upon those who have forsaken our ways completely, yet have grown powerful through this strange ability," the man asked, causing the three observers to tense.

"First tell me who you are, exactly, and what is it you want from me?" Redsun asked.

"Hmm, I suppose that is a fair trade. My name is Thomas Marvolo Riddle the 3rd. Though that is only the name anyone here might have on record. No, my real name, which I suppose is what you surely want. Well I believe the world at large still refers to me as You-Know-Who." The dark haired man replied, confusing his observers. None of them had spent much time in mainstream magical Britain, so they were truly unaware of who exactly the Riddle guy was referring to. However, Redsun's eyes widened in shock at the revelation and he grew visibly afraid of the man before him, much in the same manner as he had when confronted with Li and Song.

"You're supposed to be dead," he said hollowly.

"Yes, I suppose I am. Though, I am happy to say that Death and I shall not be meeting for a rather long time, not if I have any say in the matter. Now, I believe you wanted to know what I desire from you. I desire you draining ritual. Such power in the hands of muggles is blasphemy. It is an outrage to our race, and I will not stand for such a thing to continue! What I want is for you to continue your research on the Adepts, and improve on it." Riddle continued darkly, causing the three teens observing the event to glower darkly.

"And how am I to do that from a cell in Azkaban? For that is the best I can hope for. The evidence against me is rather… damning. I will be incredibly lucky not to receive the Kiss for my crimes." Redsun replied sardonically, his fear forgotten in light of the revelations Riddle brought to bear.

"Hehehe. You think yourself such a threat to our world? No, with the evidence of Chang's return and the 'army' he supposedly leads. You will find that the Ministry will be quite willing to forgive your transgressions in return for your services against the menace of the 'Dark Lord Chang'." Riddle chuckled.

"And my part in breaking the Stature of Secrecy? Even if I agree to help the Ministry, my part in that scuffle has doubtlessly put quite a few people in a tizzy." Redsun asked.

"Well, you will find that with the right amount of gold, delivered to the correct people, will overturn any evidence," the teens could hear the cold smile in Riddle's voice, chilling them ever so slightly.

"So I am to be a free man?" As an afterthought, Redsun added. "That is pleasant to know, my lord."

"So you do learn to mind your betters?" Riddle spoke in mock surprise.

"I am in no position to think of you otherwise," Redsun replied.

"Good, you have sense. Now tell me, who were the two wizards who became Adepts?" Riddle demanded.

"You probably already know of one. Chang is quite hard to miss." Redsun answered.

"I had suspected as much, but who could the other one be?"

"The-Boy-Who-Lived," Redsun replied, catching Riddles full attention.

"He lives!" Riddle hissed in shock.

"Yes, he does. I believe him to be Chang's apprentice. He is quite skilled, and already he is very powerful." Redsun supplied.

"This changes things." Riddle said coldly.

"How so, my lord?"

"I thought Potter to be dead, or at the very least gone for good. But if he truly is alive and in London, we need to find him: find him and end his pathetic existence." Riddle spat in anger.

It was at this point that Dudley looked to his cousin in a minor bit of fear. He could still hear Redsun and Riddle talk, discussing the most effective ways to end Harry's life. Dudley would never admit it out loud, but Harry was one of the few people he was close to. That these two were so casually discussing the murder of his cousin enraged him. If he was in any other position, he would have attacked already. Yet here, in the Mages' seat of power, he could do nothing but observe. To do anything else had the potential to draw an untold amount of mages on their heads. Besides, it wasn't part of the plan, they needed to be in and out, with no one the wiser to their presence. Already they were risking things by staying in the same place for so long.

Harry apparently was of the same mind, as it was quite abruptly that he turned on his heel and started to leave. Headed back the way they had come with more haste then when they had entered. Some might have said that it was because he now knew the route so being cautious wasn't as necessary. Dudley knew better than that. Harry was visibly shaken by the two casually talking about his death the way they had. Not the supposed death he had suffered when Chang took him in, but rather it was the fact that two individuals were discussing the best way to murder him while he listened in. For all the random logic and distorted reasoning that came with being an Adept, even they could be disturbed by their own mortality.

And Harry was no different.

"We need to find where they're keeping the evidence," he heard his cousin mutter.

Ashley heard it too, for she questioned him on the destination, "Why there?"

"We need to make sure that the evidence is so damning that even with the bribes, Redsun has no hope of getting off. Isn't that what Song said?" Harry asked him.

"Yeah, but do you really think it could work?" Dudley asked skeptically.

"Maybe, we have to try though." Harry admitted as they stepped back into the circular room. This time Harry didn't even wait for the room to stop spinning before walking forward and grabbing the handle that lead to the corridor they had entered from, completely ignoring and dispelling the illusionary spinning.

"Umm, guys, there is another option," Ashley spoke tentatively.

"And that would be?" Harry asked calmly.

"Well, those guys didn't even notice us. Couldn't we just take'em out now?" she asked calmly. Harry and Dudley paused at the question, stiffening before continuing onward.

"That ain't an option, Ash," Dudley sighed.

"Why not? They were planning on killing Harry. Why should we give them any leeway?" she demanded fiercely. Neither boy said anything as she revealed that she now knew the full truth of Harry's identity, they didn't really care that much at this point.

"Ash, we just ain't killers," Dudley replied coldly. He knew why she was suggesting the option. Two men were planning on killing the person she had tentatively allowed to become her friend. There were very few people who could hear about such a thing and not react as strongly as she now was.

"That's it? That's your only defense? You guys are just going to let them plan out how to kill Harry, to plan out a war against the other Adepts? We could end things before it even started, and you're just going to walk away?" she asked incredulously.

"Killing them now wouldn't stop the war, it would just get it stared that much faster," Harry replied as he entered the lift, studying the buttons this time, trying to determine which floor would hold the evidence presented at a trial.

"And what do you mean by that?" Ashley asked skeptically.

"Think about what would happen if we attacked them here. I don't know if either of you could sense it, but that Riddle guy, he was powerful. And Redsun is too, even without Chi. They wouldn't have gone down quickly or quietly, even if we had got the drop on them. We'd have made a lot of noise taking them down, enough to draw more people to the scene. What do you think they'd have seen? Would they see three teens trying to prevent a war, or would they have seen the two apprentices of a dark lord and their pet lycanthrope attacking ministry personnel? Right now, that Riddle guy is an underground faction; he has pull, but I doubt he can get the whole of their world to go to war. However, if we made him a martyr, then there would be a long and bloody battle that I want no part in starting." Harry explained calmly as he finally decided on a floor, hitting the five.

"So we just walk away?" Ashley bristled.

"Unfortunately, that's how we've got to do things. It's not the easiest path to take, but then again, the high-road never is." Dudley said solemnly.

"Damn it!" Ashley cursed as she took in their words.

"That pretty much sums things up." Harry agreed.

"So, what now?" She asked bitterly.

"Now, now we gotta make sure that Riddle fails," Dudley nodded.

"Right, so let's- oh shit." Harry cursed as the lift open, revealing that their evening had taken yet another turn for the worse, for there in front of them stood two mages.

"Um, don't suppose you could just pretend you never saw us?" Harry asked hopefully.

333

X-Department of Magical Law enforcement, thirty minutes ago.

While Tonks may have loved her job as an Auror and feeling a sense of fulfillment whenever she completed an assignment, there was one aspect of her job that, had she known about it earlier, might have made her rethink her career choice. It wasn't the aspect where she risked life and limb to stop some dark wizard (though this didn't happen often). Nor was it the bits about raiding the homes of families suspected to be housing a number of illegal artifacts. Those had been advertised and dramatized, so as to draw in more recruits, and while she didn't get quite as much heart-pounding action in as she had dreamed about, she still found her fill. No, the part of her job that she truly hated and despised came after all the field work was set and done.

Paperwork.

Like their muggle counterparts, Aurors were required to write up a report after any time spent in the field or after any major incident. The fact that the forms were enchanted to force the writer to print the truth as they saw it was also a bit embarrassing when one first starts out. Once she had been forced to write out how she had fallen down a flight of stairs after being startled by a mouse. The noise caused by this alerted the target to the Aurors presence and allowed for them to make an escape. Needless to say, such a thing being permanently recorded, by her own hand no less, was a sour point for the young Metamorphmagus.

However it wasn't that she found having the truth extracted from her that she found annoying. She had quickly learned that everyone has some such embarrassing statement written down somewhere from their days as a rookie. No, what she found harrowing was the mind-numbing boredom that came from filing report after report. Sure, reading a report could be amusing but writing about events that had happened a little under an hour ago wasn't the best way to spend an evening. And nowadays the reports had begun to grow… scary.

Like this particular report she found herself writing. Tonks had had to deal with a troll, in London. Such a thing hadn't happened in over a century and a half. Yet this had been the fifth such incident in as many months. This one had been found living under a bridge, and had begun reverting to type, grabbing anything that it could as it crossed above. Luckily they had gotten to it before anyone had died, but the fact that the troll had been there in the first place was worrying.

Such a report should be unique, a thing to be talked about in a quiet wonder, maybe even something to brag about in order to score a few free drinks. But with the way things were headed, it wasn't the worst or even most impressive of stories. She personally didn't want to think about the numerous pale and shaken Aurors who had started to drink more and more with each passing month.

Plus with the recent addition of the London Melee, it had become rare for the Department of Law Enforcement to not have at least twenty people working at all hours. Some might have commented fearfully that it was reminiscent of the war fifteen years ago. Others would be exasperated by the workload. Tonks found herself in the latter category.

"Hey, Tonks," her partner's voice called her from her grim thoughts. Looking up she saw Cedric standing before her, a tired look on his face.

"Wotcher, rook. You finish up your report already?" she asked curiously.

"Yeah, I didn't have much to actually report, you and the guy from the Department of Regulation of Magical Beasts did all the work. All I did was get nauseous from the smell." Cedric said sheepishly.

"Yeah, can't blame you from that, rotten meat combined with troll scent can overpower someone unfamiliar to it. We're just lucky none of the remains there were human." Tonks replied as she set back into her work.

"Yeah, hey, listen you gonna be done any time soon?" he asked with a sigh.

"Huh, yeah, almost through with it. Why?" the currently pinkette asked.

"Well, our shift is almost up, and me and some of the boys were looking to go for some drinks, and well you looked like you could use a few drinks yourself." Cedric explained.

"Diggory, you remember what I told about drinking, right?" she asked probingly, earning a blush from her partner.

"Only to partake every once and a while, and never get so soused that I think tangling with dark lords is a good idea." Cedric repeated perfectly.

"Exactly, so why are you going to a pub again?" she pointed out.

"Well, actually, I'm more or less trying to get you to the pub." Cedric admitted.

"Oh? Gotten tired of that girl of yours still in Hogwarts already? So what, you decided to try a more mature flavor now?" she teased, enjoying as the blush built up upon Cedric's face. For a popular pretty boy, he was surprisingly shy when it came to matters such as sex.

"No, nothing like that at all! I would never cheat on Cho!" he hastily defended himself.

"Hahaha, ah, I needed that. And don't worry, rook, I was only teasing. But really, why so eager to get me drunk? You're not playing wing man for someone, are you?" she asked cautiously, remembering the few times one of her partners tried to help a friend get a date out of her. She usually requested a new partner after that.

"Again, nothing of the sort. I just figured you could use some time to relax. I mean you've been stressed out a lot recently, what with the whole melee thing and Potter. I just thought maybe a night out with some friends could do you some good." Cedric replied honestly.

"Maybe, but are you sure getting drunk is the answer?" She asked with a sigh.

"Well maybe not drunk but maybe a little loose. I mean a few drinks can't hurt anything right? And besides there are other things to do besides drink." He offered.

"Oh, like what?"

"Unwinding with a couple other people who need to cut loose. Remember what you told me before my first big mission? The one where we raided that black market outpost?" he asked suddenly, allowing Tonks to remember the particular incident.

"'Don't work yourself up too much, otherwise you'll snap like a flimsy contraband wand. And then you're just dead weight trying to get your partners killed. Or worse, a threat to be put down like a dog.' Yeah I remember." Tonks replied.

"So, do I need to say the same to you Tonks?" Cedric asked with a grin.

"No, no, no. You win." Tonks smiled as she added the finishing touches to her incident report.

"Great, so hurry it up." Cedric said with a smug smile, proud that he'd managed to actually win against his stubborn partner.

"I'm coming, just keep your pants on. Oi, boss! I'm headed out!" Tonks called as she charmed her report to find its way to the proper place.

"Don't get hung over!" was the shouted reply, a customary one for any Auror about to leave, whether they went to a pub or not.

"Right. So, come on, rook, you wanted to show me a good time." Tonks said with a suggestive wink, once more indulging in causing the younger man to blush.

"H-Hey!" He shouted indignantly, drawing laughter from several sources.

"Oh, come off it, Diggory, I don't pouch other women's… trophies," she finished in shock as the lift opened.

"Oh shit," cursed the dark haired teen that had captured her thoughts as he looked back into her eyes. "Um, don't suppose you could just pretend you never saw us?" he asked hopefully. The question had caught her so off guard that she actually found herself shaking her head in response.

"Damn, you sure about that? I mean, we don't really want any trouble. Right, guys?" The Hermit asked with an almost hopeful tone.

"Bah, if they're dumb enough to attack us, I say let them. It'll do some good to work out some frustration." The Berserker stated ominously as he gazed at the two of them.

"Oh, don't be like that, Berserker. You know that that won't end well. These guys just don't make for good punching bags. Help me out here, Valkyrie!" Hermit pleaded to the lone female in the lift with them.

"Hermit's right, 'sides this gets in the way of our plan," the brunette spoke plainly as she looked between the Tonks and Cedric.

The scene was so very surreal that Tonks almost didn't go for her wand. 'Almost' being the operative word. Her teacher had long ago drilled it into her that when potential hostiles are in front of you, go for your wand. Even if they didn't make any overtly threatening gestures, you palm your wand. Moody would then go on to say something about how everyone was a threat and the only person you could trust was yourself, so always palm your wand.

Tonks usually stopped paying attention by that point, but she at last took the first two parts to heart. So, even before Hermit had asked his companions to not do anything, Tonks had already drawn her wand, and placed it at a subtle ready position. She now focused on all three individuals, trying to gauge them for any tells that would indicate if they were about to attack. As far as she could tell only Berserker seemed ready to move, Valkyrie seemed to at least be weary of her and those behind her,

Hermit, however, seemed completely calm, or as calm as one can be when a wand is pointed at them. She could tell that something was grating on all three of them, but whether that was their presence in front of Aurors or something else she couldn't tell. Either way it was time to start taking control of the situation.

'Who knows, this might actually be fortune smiling upon me,' she thought as she realized that Harry Potter stood before her, of his own free will.

"Stay right were you- oomph!" she grunted.

One moment, Hermit had just been standing there, as still as the other three. And then with only a brief widening of the eyes, he had moved. Rushing forward faster than anything she had seen. Even the recorded fight he and Berserker had had against Redsun didn't prepare her for this. One second he was standing next to Berserker, pleading them to not get violent, and the next he was directly between her and Cedric, arms extended and pushing them both into the wall.

At first, she thought it a reaction to her wand being aimed at them. But as she slammed against the wall, her eyes still locked upon the teen she had such hopes for, she was dimly aware of him catching a ball of light in his hands. In the dazed state that came with being concussed, Tonks watched as in a move mirroring what she had seen years ago as Hermit spun with the force of the spell, all before throwing it right back at its point of origin.

She could only watch in mild awe as the spell hit the ground in front of an Auror who had stood behind them, the obvious castor of the spell. The spell ripped apart the ground and blasted him with the concussive force of his own spell, knocking the older man ass over teakettle. She then watched the reactions of every Auror in the building, as they came pouring into the hall leading to the lift, drawn by the sound of the explosion no doubt. Tonks could only guess what was going through their minds as they saw the scene before them. Three Aurors had been taken down by three teens that, for all intensive purposes, had just broken into the Ministry and delivered an unwarranted (from their perspective) attack. Yet even with every thing happening around her, she could feel Morpheus try to take a claim on her even as he exerted a claim on her partner and Kingsley. But she stubbornly refused to submit.

The person she had dreamt of for so long was right before her. The boy she had failed to save, even after he had saved her. This was her chance to repay her debt to him. She could free him from Chang's bonds and bring him back home into the Light. She refused to believe that he was irredeemable. Struggling to stand, her eyes were drawn to the Hermit, as he stepped back into the lift right as its doors started to close, her chance slipping through her fingers.

"Sorry 'bout that!" she heard him call.

"No," she whispered.

"Quickly, they're headed for the atrium!" she heard someone call, drawing her away from her dark thought.

"All Aurors are permitted to Apparate within the premises of the Ministry, just catch them!" she heard Director Bones order as a series of cracks began to sound within the office.

'There's still a chance,' she thought resolutely, as she too disappeared in a crack.

333

"Fuck, this is not good, guys," Ashley growled as the lift continued its accent towards the atrium.

"How'd they manage to get the drop on us? I thought you were supposed to be watchin' for that, Harry." Dudley accused.

"Well, excuse me for being a little shaken up by the guy talking to Redsun. I'd like to see you be able to focus after that." Harry shot back with an embarrassed blush.

The truth was he had dropped the metaphorical ball in this case, and now they were going to have to deal with the consequences. Hopefully they wouldn't break anyone... permanently anyway. Chances were they would have to fight their way out, so it was unlikely they wouldn't be able to not hurt anyone. Especially after he had grabbed that spell bolt and thrown it back. He could guess from most peoples perspective his actions did look pretty hostile, especially the way he shoved the two mages out of the path of the magic. He had recognized it from the brawl on the platform, an explosive spell, and even if he, Ashley and Dudley could have taken the hit, he didn't know how the blast might affect the two squishy Mages in front of them.

His actions were a calculated risk, but in the end no one had died according to his senses. So it was a success, but a success that was bound to have everyone up in arms against them. Even now he could feel the signatures of the Mages on the fifth floor... for lack of a better comparison, shift and pop out of existence, only to reappear above them.

"They're cutting us off," he said calmly.

"Fuck, looks like we're fightin' our way out'a here. I'm fine with that." Dudley growled as he cracked his knuckles.

"Yeah, not that I want to fight or anything. But I am a bit restless, this could actually be a little fun." Ashley smirked as she stretched.

"Well, looks like we can't avoid this, just try not to leave anything permanent." Harry sighed, though he couldn't help the small smile that worked its way onto his face as he too prepared himself for battle. He was after all quite fond of the act, since one might as well enjoy what they were good at. "Oh yeah, make sure that one of us remembers to grab the goblin statue." Harry added as an afterthought.

"Wait, you still want to grab that thing? During the monumental cluster-fuck we're about to walk into?" Ashley asked incredulously. Once more she was reminded that Harry and Dudley had a rather skewed view of things.

"Hey, gold is gold is gold. After all the shit we went through tonight, I for one don't wanna leave here empty handed." Harry shrugged. Dudley nodded in agreement.

"Fine, but just so you know, highest count gets the most percentage," she agreed while adding a challenge to the table. After all, three-way splits more often than not end up being uneven. At least now she had a chance at getting the greatest cut.

"Deal," they agreed as the lift finally halted and the doors opened.

They would have likely rushed the two and a half dozen Aurors immediately if not for the glowing column that suddenly surrounded them within their first three steps out into the atrium.

"Fuck!" Oddly enough, all three of them had managed to utter that curse at the same time as they came to an abrupt halt, not knowing what the ward surrounding them could potentially do to them. And while Harry and Dudley had enough experience breaking past such things through sheer effort alone, they at least knew that discretion was the better part of valor when it came to such things.

"Circle is in place and holding strong," a voice sounded from one of their surrounding foes.

"Thank Merlin that idiot minister actually listened to me and let us install this thing," the three teens' keen hearing picked up as an older woman stepped from the crowd approaching them without a hint of caution, so assured of her victory was she. "Cease all hostile intentions, you're surrounded and trapped within our wards. If you comply peacefully, I can offer you leniency." She spoke loudly and clearly now.

"Yeah, that ain't happenin', lady. I'd like to see you try to take down even one of us." Dudley replied back.

"Oh and what can you do from in there? No magic can pass through that circle. And while it might mean that we can't attack you, none of you can actually escape. We can leave you three there long enough for hunger and exhaustion to take hold, and then what?" She replied with the confidence of one who was completely assured of their victory. However Harry's laughter quickly began to shake that confidence.

"Damn, Berserker, good job. It would have taken me another couple of minutes to figure out what this thing does. Thanks for getting her talking," he smiled gleefully.

"Oh, well, how does knowing what it does matter? It doesn't change the fact that you're still trapped." she replied, her confidence slightly shaken in the sheer lack of visible reactions the three were exhibiting. Ashley might have shown something, but while she had begun doubting her new friends' sanity, she didn't doubt their skills in the least.

"Well, that's simple, lady. Any idiot knows that the first thing to do when you wanna bust past a ward is know what it does. Now that we know what it does, it shouldn't be too hard to get out. And that's where the fun starts." Dudley smiled his best predatory smile, further shaking the woman present.

"Impossible, you think you can get out of the best wards the ministry has to offer?" a voice in the background called out in fear.

"Please. If this is the strongest you've got, then we'd be doin you a favor by bustin it up. You Mages really need a good kick in the ass to start movin'. This shit isn't even a quarter as strong as some of the shit I've busted past before. And Hermit here's just as good at ward bustin' as me. Can't say the same for Valkyrie here, but hell we'll work on that later." Dudley smiled.

"No way," Someone in the assembled crowd whispered in such fear and shock it was almost tangible.

"Oh, yes way. But no need to do anything like that though, cause after all, all this thing does is keep magic from passin through." Dudley smirked as he delivered the coup de gras, by simply walking through the barrier unhindered. "Lucky for me then that I ain't no stinkin cheater of a mage."

"He says that while he basically cheats their system. Man, is there anything you two do that is even remotely logical?' Ashley whispered while taking in the shocked faces of every mage present, feeling oddly elated because of their failure.

"Logic? What is this strange and alien concept you speak of?" Harry asked in mock confusion. But even as he spoke, Ashley could see his muscles tensing in readiness. Though, she did find it odd that the tension looked more like he was preparing to leap straight up rather than forward.

She quickly saw the reasoning for it as Dudley began to bring his fist downwards. She had heard enough talk to know that the Berserker was capable of causing small and localized earthquakes from his fists alone. Joining her new friend in the air as Dudley's fist made impact with the ground, she had to suppress her urge to goggle. The impact was not just a simple shockwave throughout the ground, but rather the earth cracking in a gaping fissure, with his first as the starting point. The break extending in front of and behind the smirking blond, rendering the floor quite unstable as several pieces began to crumble and fall to the level below. And as the two airborne teens began to submit to gravity's hold, Ashley could see why he chose such a tactic. Not only had it shaken the faith and standing of every one of their foes, but it had also destroyed the runic array that had forged the ward that had held her and Harry in place.

"Damn it, Berserker! I thought I told you to hold back!" Harry shouted.

"Aw, bite me, Hermit! It worked, didn't it? Don't fix what ain't broke." Dudley argued.

"You broke the goddamn floor, idiot!"

"Oh, is the namby pamby mage boy gonna cry. Boo-fuckin-hoo!" Dudley taunted.

"Says the spoiled mama's boy who would always cry to get his way. Isn't that how you actually started the Art: bawled your way into lessons?" Harry sniped.

"You wanna dance?"

"Bring it!"

"Oi, will you two shut up? We've got more important things to worry about right now. I'm sure that after we're done here you two can just whip'em out and compare sizes. But right now, we've got bigger problems!" Ashley chided, as she got ready for battle. Despite herself, she couldn't stop the words that came after. "Man, it's like looking after small children." Ashley muttered to herself with a wan smile.

"Che, Valkyrie's right, Hermit. We can settle this later." Dudley conceded.

"Right, or we can settle it now. After all, highest score gets the biggest cut. Doesn't that mean they won?" Harry pointed out as he assumed his customary ready stance. Hands held loosely up and feet apart.

"Guess you're right about that. So let's get started then." Dudley nodded.

It was with that nod that all three teens took to the still dazed and confused Aurors scattered throughout the atrium. They had obviously not expected Dudley's Fissure any more than Ashley had. However, she had been in the air and able to dodge any lingering effect that such a devastating technique could cause her. Others were not so lucky.

Already the scene from the station repeated itself as the three moved from Mage to Mage, rarely dishing out more than a single blow before moving towards the next target. Some however managed to recover faster than others, and began to engage to three teens in battle. Much like the young woman Harry found himself dancing around. He noticed that her legwork was decent, and he could sense a bit of power in each spell. But it was a complete shock to him, when directly after dodging one of her spells she called out to him.

"Why are you doing this!" she sounded desperate for an answer, even as her hair and eyes shifted through colors, further drawing Harry's interest.

"Haven't you ever heard of 'self-defense'? You guys attacked us first." He pointed out as he deflected a spell coming in from behind him, before trying to move toward his foe. However he was shocked when with a crack she disappeared and reappeared ten feet away, spell already loosed at him, another of those red ones that knock people out.

"You broke into the ministry!" she pointed out incredulously as he dodged yet again.

"Okay I'll admit that that wasn't the brightest idea in the world. But hey, we just wanted to make sure that you handled that Redsun bastard properly. Hell, when you caught us, we even asked if we could just go on our way. But nooooo, you lot have to start attacking us." Harry replied as he caught the next spell, throwing it right back at her. This time she whispered a soft word, forming a translucent silver shield around herself that blocked the returned spell.

But now that she was shielded, Harry moved in to strike. Moving quickly he brushed past the shield even as the Auror started to back-peddle. Already it was too late for her though, she couldn't escape him and he didn't feel the energy build up in her that would have signaled a teleportation. But against all odds, his attack actually missed. Because quite unexpectedly during her back-peddle, the now white haired Auror tripped on a stray rock kicked up from Dudley's attack earlier. His fist sailed clean over her, but even as she fell she didn't lose sight of him and she hadn't dropped her wand.

"Depulso!" the woman incanted. From point blank range, Harry was blasted backwards as the spell connected with his chest. It wasn't the most painful of experiences, but it sent him flying back far enough to give the Auror room to teleport away.

With a small surge of excitement, Harry twisted himself in the air, turning what could have been a painful crash into a wall into a landing. He quickly pushed off from his impromptu landing pad towards the reemerging energy signature of his newest foe. This Mage was different form the others for some reason. She had a fire present in her during their bout, which Harry couldn't help but admire. He didn't even care if he fell behind in his competition with Dudley. Even if Dudley defeated more opponents than him this night, he would consider this his victory. At least in part, he had actually found a semi-worthy opponent amongst the Mages.

She reappeared in a crack just as he was closing in on her. He could see the startled look in her eyes as he cut through the air. Yet even as the shock and fear registered in her eyes, Harry's foe was already moving. Bringing her wand to bear she sent another spell towards Harry.

"Bombarda!" she shouted as the yet another bolt flew towards him. Though this time he barely moved, instead of trying to dodge or even throw the spell back at her, Harry merely batted it out of the air, throwing it upwards. Distantly he noted that it cracked the ceiling.

"You're pretty good. That last spell had a bit of power to it," he commented with a wicked smile, even as he threw a wicked haymaker at her. Not as powerful as he could, but with more strength that he had used on any other mage in England. He didn't expect it to hit, and was proven correct when she jumped back.

"You're enjoying this?" she accused eyes wide.

"Of course I'm enjoying it! Why the hell shouldn't I? You're not even an Adept and yet you've managed to keep up with me. For a squishy Mage, that's quite the accomplishment." Harry nodded as he landed with his hands up. Though he grew curious as he noted her stiffen at his words.

"So, it's true, you are his apprentice," she murmured.

"You talking about Li now? What's Pops got to do with this? You should focus on the now, we've got a fight to finish!" he shouted as he charged forward, lashing out with a roundhouse kick. Yet even as it sailed towards her head, once more she disappeared in a crack. Spinning on the foot still on the ground, Harry turned towards were he sensed her signature move towards. Gathering a sliver of Chi in his hand he threw his bolt of power just as she reappeared.

The bolt struck true, blindsiding the mage and sending her careening away. Harry waited only a heartbeat before moving after her, knowing that she'd recover from the blow. He'd only put a small amount of force into the Chi-bolt; about equal to the same force she'd hit him with earlier. He wasn't quite sure, but he expected that she would be able to take it.

He wasn't disappointed as he saw her gasping for breath but still conscious. Unfortunately for Harry's battle lust though, she looked like she would have trouble moving.

"Well, looks like this is over. Too bad, I was actually starting to enjoy this." Harry sighed even as he moved his head to dodge an errant spell bolt.

"Are you *gasp* gonna kill *pant* me?" the downed Auror question grimly.

"Kill you? Why would I do that?" Harry wondered, cocking his head slightly in confusion.

"Isn't that *gasp* that what Adepts do?" she asked, scorn dripping from her words, and also a small sliver of sadness.

"Now where did you get that impression, I wonder?" he asked rhetorically as he turned away from her, observing the flow of battle. He could see Dudley laughing maniacally as he dodged past spell fire and charging each mage with a reckless abandon that truly personified his nickname. Ashley too battled fiercely, and in all her battles the Mages had a visible look of fear on their faces. Harry figured that it had to do with the fact that she was fighting while halfway between lion form and human form.

Yet the two things he saw clearest of all, the surety of victory for his friends and the utter lack of fatalities. There was absolutely no reason for her to equate the title of Adept with that of a killer. As far as he knew there were no practitioners of Satsujin Ken within London. So there was no way she could have come into contact with them. So that left Harry confused.

"Tell me, where did you hear about Adepts? You know that word, and you think it makes me a killer?" he asked calmly.

"Aren't you? You're Chang's apprentice." She pointed out.

"Man, Mages are so narrow-minded," he sighed as Dudley defeated the last Mage standing. Meanwhile, Ashley had already worked her way towards the fountain. No doubt in the process of removing the golden goblin. "Listen, I don't know what horror stories you've been told, but they're probably exaggerations. Just as not all Mages are good or evil, or whatever you wanna define them as. Not all Adepts are bloodthirsty monsters intent on slaking their hunger with your entrails. In fact, the Adepts who are like that are the minority. We, of the Katsujin Ken, are those who dominate our society." Harry explained slowly, as if speaking to a particularly stubborn child.

"Why then did you do this?" she asked skeptically.

"Like I told ya, you lot attacked first, we'd have gladly just left you guys alone if you'd done the same. Besides we were here for a really good reason, though I doubt you'd believe that even if I told you," Harry replied as he turned away from her, walking calmly towards Dudley and Ashley. He couldn't quite hear what they were saying from the other side of the atrium, but he could guess they were arguing about score count.

"Wait!" the mage called, drawing his attention back to her. Her tone was different now; no accusation veiled in her words, only a desperate plea to reach him. "You don't have to go back to him. You can stay here. You can come home, Harry." she pleaded.

Harry, of course, didn't know how she could have figured out who he was, nor could he tell why she sounded so desperate to get him to stick around.

"Sorry, but I'm just fine where I am," he smiled ruefully. He could see the shock work across her face as her features changed. Her hair a dull brown and eyes turning into a mournful black, even her heart-shaped face seemed to droop and crack. He could spot moisture building in her eyes, yet he still didn't even know the cause.

"Why?" It was a single word, and yet it conveyed so much. So much that Harry didn't even know just what she wished to know the reason behind. Why had he abandoned the wizarding world? Why was he siding with a (perceived) monster? Why didn't he want freedom from his master? So many questions packed into that one little word. So many that he couldn't even give an answer.

With another small smile, he simply shrugged and yet again began to walk away, pretending to ignore the sobs coming from behind him. He may have been an Adept, dedicated to the perfection of his art and the protection of those who couldn't protect themselves. But never before had the path he chose to walk reduced someone to such grief.

'What am I to her? That was more than just the hero worship the first Mage I met showered me with. That was something more, something personal. Have I met her before?' he wondered as he closed in on his friends.

"Hey, Harry, she says she took down sixteen of them. Now, there's no way she could have taken out that many. Eleven or twelve I could believe, but not sixteen." Dudley complained.

"Oh and why not? Is it because I'm a girl?" She growled.

"Not even remotely. I just can't believe that Harry took out so few. Cause if you took out sixteen, it'd mean he only took down four." Dudley replied.

"Ah, yeah, about that," Harry muttered sheepishly.

"What? No fuckin' way! What the hell, man?" Dudley said in shock as Harry stepped into the crowded lift.

"Got caught up. One of them was pretty damn good for a Mage," Harry offered weakly.

"Hey, what's the matter, man? You seem off." Dudley asked, genuine concern moving past his bluster.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Harry reassured him.

"Aw, come on, Harry. I know you well enough. If you really did find a good fight, you'd be in a much better mood right now. You look like somebody just stole your last pork bun." Dudley commented.

"Can we just get out of here?" Harry said quickly trying to change the subject.

"Alright, man, but when ya feel like talkin' just let me know. Then I know just what kinda stupid I need to beat out'a ya." Dudley grinned. It was an infectious smile that Harry found himself returning, despite his earlier foul mood.

"You wish, Diddykins." He smirked.

"Why you!" Dudley began

"Hey, knock it off, you two! Kill each other when we get out of this thing, but not in enclosed spaces." Ashley chastised as the lift finally came to a stop. Stepping out she had to struggle slightly under the weight of the golden statue. "Little help?" She asked hopefully.

"Heh, what's the matter putty'tat. Too much weight for ya?" Dudley taunted, earning himself a growl in warning. Though, Harry could tell that neither of them intended to actually hurt the other. In fact he was fairly certain that Dudley was doing his best to make Ashley feel welcome… in his own abrasive manner.

"Let's just get out of here. More mages could show up at any minute." Harry suggested as he took one end of the statue in hand. Though as he lifted it, he could see what Ashley meant, the thing had to have weighed at least three hundred pounds. When it finally came to pawning the thing he was sure they'd make quite a bit of money.

"Right. So, where you two headed?" Ashley asked calmly as Harry helped her support the weight of the statue.

"Well, we've got this place, an old bomb shelter that Harry and old man Li fixed up. What about you?" Dudley asked as he leapt upwards.

"Me, heh. Well, truth is I've been squatting in a warehouse downtown," she admitted sheepishly, as she and Harry leapt after Dudley.

"That so? Well, how do you feel about moving up from that?" Harry asked in concern.

"Huh, really? I don't wanna impose or anything," she replied hastily, even though it was clear she would love to get out of the warehouse district.

"Nah, compared to Song and Dudley here, it couldn't be that big a difference. No way you could impose yourself any worse than they are already." Harry replied.

"Well…if you insist," she said hesitantly. Even if internally she was cheering in joy.

"Great, so let's just stop by your old place and pick up anything you need, and then we can head home." Dudley replied. Unaware of the exact effect the word had on Harry's thoughts. Thoughts still clouded by the pleading question of the Auror.

'Home, huh? I guess it is.'

333

"Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it!" Tonks sobbed as the three teens left in the lift.

She knew that she should chase after them. That she should try to stop them one last time. But what could she do to them? The three of them had ripped through thirty Aurors as if they were nothing. What could one injured Metamorphmagus do against such ability and strength? But that was not why she stayed in place. What caused her to sit and stew in her pain was the fact that he had been right in front of her.

Harry had stood in front of her and refused to be saved.

'Why, why would you go back to him? Why won't you come home?' she silently asked as she stared after them.

Tiredly she rose to her feet and observed the damage done. The atrium was a wreck. The floor was cracked, cratered, and even fell completely through to the lower levels in some areas. Unconscious Aurors were strewn about at random intervals throughout the entire floor. She was also fairly certain that several had fallen to the floor beneath them but she wasn't quite willing to check. Hesitantly she made her way to the crumpled figure of Director Bones, the first actual victim of the night who'd been struck down by the Berserker within the first five seconds of battle.

Relief flooded the young witch's as she finally paused before the Director and made out the slowly rising chest. Bones was still alive, injured and unconscious but alive. Tonks would have smiled if it weren't for the tears still in her eyes. Taking a deep breath, Tonks steadied her wand and aimed at the Director.

"Remmervate." She muttered, attempting to charm the Director back to consciousness was difficult in this manner. In most cases, it would have been best to simply leave her and let a natural recovery occur. But in this case, Tonks needed someone else to be in charge. She was tired, depressed, and in physical pain. She had no place taking charge when far more competent people could be found.

"Ugh, Merlin, that hurts," Bones whispered groggily as she attempted to sit up.

"Boss, we've got a bit of a problem," Tonks interjected softly, drawing the department head away from her growing migraine.

"What? What do you wan…t" Bones trailed off, the angry rant, borne from her aching head, died in her throat as she took in the devastation. "We lost then," she whispered.

"Yeah, I'm afraid so. I don't have a list on casualties yet, you were the first person I checked on." Tonks replied, answering the questions that were bound to come before they were even asked knowing well enough the procedure for any sort of loss. Whether it be men lost in the line of duty, or an operation that went FUBAR.

"And the trio?"

"Gone, long gone by now if what they showed was an accurate measure of their abilities," Tonks replied.

"Blast, did they give any indication on where they might be headed?" Bones asked as she climbed to her feet, desperate to find some way to salvage the situation.

"Umm, they might be headed to a pawn shop somewhere nearby."

"And what makes you think that, Auror Tonks?" Bones asked in confusion, knowing that the first thing she would have done after this night would lay low for at least a month.

Tonks merely pointed at the damaged fountain of mystical brotherhood.

"Did they take the goblin?" Bones blinked in confusion.

"I'm fairly certain." Tonks replied, not wanting to admit that she had sat by and watched as they had left. The wound was still far too fresh to think on. Though if things progressed as they already had she would soon be writing it down with the rest of the paperwork.

"Damn it, this just makes no sense. What could they accomplish from this?" Bones muttered to herself as she walked to one of the still downed Aurors. She had expected a corpse, yet as she drew closer, she could see the steady rise and fall of the downed wizard's chest, indicating that he was still breathing. Confused she wandered to the next downed figure, and the next, and then another after that. Each figure was merely unconscious. Sometimes with large welts on their faces and the occasional claw mark, but aside from that they looked perfectly fine. "And why are we all still alive? What the hell are those three up too?"

"I don't know, Director. I just don't know."

333

X- The Bomb Shelter, London, 10:26 p.m.

It was a quiet trio that walked down the steps leading to the bomb shelter turned home. They weren't subdued in any sense of the word, yet neither were they content. The night had been filled with a myriad of twists and turns, and in the end everything had gone straight to hell. Redsun might have been caged, but it wouldn't last. With the support of Riddle, he was likely to be freed within a month's time, and then whatever the two had in plan would move forward unhindered.

To make things worse, they had gotten caught.

"So, this night's been mostly a bust," Dudley muttered as he pushed open the door.

"Got that right, Dud. But hey, at least we can tell the Masters what we found out," Harry nodded.

"And what exactly did you find out?" Li asked calmly as he fazed into sight behind them.

"Ahh, umm," Harry stammered caught off guard by Li's sudden appearance.

"And why do you two have a life-sized golden statue of a goblin? One that, if I recall correctly, is part of a fountain in the Ministry of Magic?" Li continued smiling as he did so.

"Well, you see-" Dudley tried, only for Li to continue his questioning.

"And why exactly did the two of you leave? I remember quite clearly telling you two to stay here for the night." He added.

"Um, well, they needed to check on something important," Ashley tried for the sake of her friends.

"Oh, and what could have been so important that my Disciple would disobey a direct command of his Master? And for that matter, who might you be?" Li asked as he regarded her with a smile. A smile that may have looked rather friendly, yet failed utterly to match up with the visible aura of azure anger that Li was producing.

"Eep," Ashley would've likely killed anyone who Harry or Dudley told about this incident. But at this very moment, with the palpable force of a Master directed solely at her, she had never felt more afraid of anything. And all of this was while knowing that she hadn't caused the anger but had still been misfortunate enough to be in its path.

"We—ahh—We needed to make sure that Redsun was being taken care of," Harry said quickly, drawing his Master's focus back to him.

"So, to ensure that, you two dragged this young girl along with you while you broke into the most important building in Magical London?" Li asked pointedly as he stared at Harry.

"Um, she volunteered," Harry offered meekly. Li could only stare at Harry blankly. Harry quickly began to fidget under the intensity of the stare, squirming as sweat began to pour down his neck. He knew he would be punished somehow but wasn't quite sure how. Finally after what felt like an eternity Li spoke once more.

"Your actions were foolish and reckless. But I can see why you made those choices. You shall receive punishment for your actions though I shall be more lenient than what I had originally intended. You too Dudley shall share in this." Li nodded.

"Thank you, Master." Harry bowed politely, as Dudley mimicked his actions.

"Do not thank me yet, I haven't told you what the punishment is yet." Li smiled again.

"Umm, what is it we're gonna be doin'?" Dudley asked cautiously.

"You shall both be sparring with Song every night for the next month and he will only be holding back ninety percent of his power." Li replied.

"What? I thought you said you were going to be lenient! How is sparring with that mad man 'lenient'?" Harry shouted in worry, even Dudley nodded at this. While he may have loved Song like the father his biological contributor had failed to be, he knew full well how… destructive the man could be in a fight. And considering how destructive he himself was, Dudley didn't relish fighting him.

"This is leniency. Originally I was only going to have you fight him one at a time while he held back eighty-eight percent of his full power. Now the punishment is less severe. If you want, I shall even allow one you to include our new houseguest to join you. After all, she willingly helped you make your foolish choices. It is only fair that she experiences some of the consequences," Li replied, as he suggested (in a tone that told them that it wasn't really a suggestion) Ashley join them for a savage beating.

"Aww, fuck. I don't wanna die," Harry moan piteously, even as Dudley cringed and Ashley whimpered.

"Then you should learn to do as you're told. Now, come, your punishment…starts immediately." Li said as he ushered the three doomed fighters to their fate.

He could wait to learn what they had found. As of this moment, they needed to learn to mind their elders. And besides, this method of punishment would help them in the long run. Battling a strong opponent was the perfect way to increase one's own strength. And after what had happened to them with Redsun, a few broken bones was a small price to pay to ensure no such incident occurred again.

That and what he had planned for every Itinerant Adept roaming London.

333

Fiori: So yeah I finally got this chapter done. I know it's not quite as good as the others, mostly because the fighting wasn't as intense as it usually is. But I have a good explanation for that. Harry and Dudley are members of the Katsujin Ken. That means they have made an oath not to kill people. They are also ridiculously strong, strong enough that a blow by them at full power could turn a normal person into so many red splotches on the wall that they have to hold back in fights when they aren't fighting other Adepts. Thus why Harry and Dudley didn't curb stomp the Mages in this Chapter or in Chapter three. Even though they showed more power against Redsun. No with that out of the way, I would like to take this moment to look at all of you who though Redsun was Voldemort, and laugh at you.

Heheheheh, hahahahahahaha, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HA!

Okay I'm done, but seriously? Now that I've gotten that out of my system I as you to review or I won't fire the Ffnet Admin tied to a rocket into orbit.

Admin: Wait don't you mean review or you will fire me into space?

Fiori: Why would I do things that way?