Author's Note: Most of this first chapter was posted before under a different title, but I decided to rewrite the story using canon relationships. Everything after this chapter will be new material.
3 May 1998
Since the Great Hall was still being used an impromptu morgue, Harry Potter and his friends were forced to eat breakfast in the Gryffindor common room. So it came as a surprise when the normally reclusive Professor Trelawney walked through the portrait hole, shoved Hermione out of her chair, and sat down at their table. The witch didn't seem to be in control of her own body, and the harsh voice she spoke with definitely wasn't normal. Harry had seen something like this twice before. Once was the day the Divination Professor had accurately predicted Peter Pettigrew's escape and the return of the Dark Lord. The second was in the Department of Mysteries when he found the prophecy orb.
"The Doom of Magic approaches... Only the Marked Vanquisher can lead our people to a new home... To a sister star where Ophiuchus and Scorpius converge... The Doom of Magic approaches."
Once the last word left Trelawney's mouth her head fell forward right into Hermione's bowl of hot porridge. Parvati Patil rushed to her side, and immediately screamed that "Sybill" was dead. All attempts to revive the witch failed, so Harry levitated her limp body in the air and ran to the Infirmary.
"I'm sorry, but Professor Trelawney is gone," a shocked Madame Pomfrey told them a few minutes later after she had thoroughly examined the body. "It was a cerebral hemorrhage. In fact, it was a series of massive cerebral hemorrhages."
Hermione frowned. "What does that mean exactly?"
"Normally only one blood vessel ruptures at a time, and even that is enough to cause brain death. But in Sybill's case over a hundred of her blood vessels ruptured simultaneously. I have never seen anything like this before in the medical literature," the healer explained. "Are you sure she wasn't struck in the head, perhaps by a spell or a curse?"
"No, she just gave us the Prophecy about the Doom of Magic and died," Harry replied.
"Maybe one of the Death Eaters is still in the castle, hiding beneath an Invisibility Cloak," Ron offered. The prospect of hunting down and capturing one of the dark wizards responsible for his brother's death seemed to improve his mood.
"They could have used the Imperius Curse on Professor Trelawney, and when she was done speaking they killed her with a nonverbal spell," Hermione reasoned.
"What are you talking about?" an angry Harry demanded. "That was a real Prophecy we just heard. Trust me, it's the third time I've seen it happen."
"The "Doom of Magic". That is a bit much, don't you think?" Hermione said. "And traveling to another star? That is impossible—even for the muggles with their advanced technology."
"It was impossible for an untrained teenager like me to defeat a wizard of Voldemort's power and experience, but it happened. Just like Professor Trelawney predicted it would."
"Harry, all she did was give a cryptic warning about the death of an unnamed Dark Lord. It only worked out because Voldemort, Dumbledore, and you all believed that it would. The whole mess was a perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Predicting something important as the end of the world is impossible, even with magic."
"Professor Trelawney didn't say anything about the end of the world," Harry snapped. "I can't believe after everything we been through during the past seven years you are just going to dismiss a Prophecy of this importance."
The two friends glared at each other for a solid minute before Hermione finally spoke. "I'm leaving for Australia today with Ron. If my parents don't kill me first, you and I will discuss this subject when we return to Hogwarts."
With that the angry witch stomped out of the Infirmary. Ron shrugged his shoulders apologetically before following her. Harry couldn't really blame him. They were best mates and all, but Hermione was his girlfriend now. As long as they were together she would always come first.
"The little swot didn't mean any of that," Parvati told him. "Hermione is just worried about finding her mother and father, since she isn't even sure which city they live in now. She also afraid they will never forgive her for using a Memory Charm without consulting them first."
"Don't worry, Ron will talk some sense into her during the trip," Neville assured him. "Now what about this new Prophecy? You honestly think it's real?"
"Yes, I do," an exhausted Harry admitted. Thanks to several disturbing dreams he hadn't slept more than two or three hours last night. "Parvati, do you remember the exact words Professor Trelawney used in common room?"
The Indian witch passed him a piece of parchment covered with her perfect handwriting. "I have it all written down."
"Thank you. Neville, I want you to take this to Professor Sinistra. Ophiuchus and Scorpius are both constellations, and that is her area of expertise. I also want to know what the term "sister star" means."
"I will go too," Parvati said.
"Are you sure you don't want to be with your sister Padma now?" a concerned Harry asked. The poor girl just lost her best friend Lavender Brown yesterday during the Battle of Hogwarts, and today her favorite Professor dropped dead right in front of her eyes.
"It wouldn't help. I need to keep myself preoccupied, or I will just start crying again. Where are you going?"
"To Gringotts. I may not know much about starships, but I'm pretty sure they cost a lot of galleons to build."
The last time Harry had been in Gringotts he left on the back of a blind dragon. The goblins were not going to be happy to see him, so he came prepared for battle. Not only did he have his recently repaired wand, he also had Voldemort's old wand. He had found it in the Dark Lord's robe after their duel, and nicked it without anyone noticing.
In addition to these two brother wands, Harry had all three of the Deathly Hallows. Summoning the missing Resurrection Stone from the Forbidden Forest had been easy using the Elder Wand. Finally he had retrieved his trump card from the Headmaster Snape's still-deserted office before leaving Hogwarts.
Harry had spent the past few hours thinking about the war. They had always been on the defensive, waiting for Voldemort and his Death Eaters to strike first. It was a lousy strategy, and only Dumbledore's insanely complicated plan had saved them in the end. His own attitude hadn't helped matters. During his fifth year he acted like a spoiled brat, while in his sixth year he allowed Dumbledore and Hermione to overrule his judgment regarding Draco Malfoy.
And the less that was said about the Horcrux Hunt, the better.
This new Prophecy would require a new approach. Relying on the Ministry of Magic would be a mistake. Who knows how long their financial support would last, or when they would turn on the Boy-Who-Lived-Twice for political reasons? Harry wasn't going to be anyone's puppet this time. The Prophecy had been given to him, and he would be the one making the plans this time. If those plans failed it would be his fault and no one else's.
"I would like to visit my vault," Harry said when he reached the front of the long queue. With the war over many people were eager to visit the reopened shops of Diagon Alley, hence the large crowd.
The goblin teller smiled when he saw the famous lightning-bolt scar underneath Harry's hooded cloak. "So one of the thieves has returned already. This shall be a day of great rejoicing for all goblins."
"Excuse me, but am I in some sort of trouble?"
"Guards!" the teller bellowed. "Take this thief to Ragnok. You will soon learn the price a wizard pays for stealing from Gringotts."
It seems that price included over three-quarters of Harry's personal wealth, which included the inheritance he received from this godfather Sirius Black. Ragnok was acting like a professional banker, but Griphook was cackling like a hyena during the entire meeting. The other goblins were silent, but their body language suggested that the Boy-Who-Lived was getting off with a light punishment and should be grateful for that fact.
Harry had heard enough of this kind of shite from Cornelius Fudge and Dolores Umbridge to last a lifetime, so decided to interrupt Ragnok's self-righteous monologue. "Do you know what the headline in tomorrow's Daily Prophet is going to be? The Goblins of Gringotts were Secret Allies of You-Know-Who."
"That is a vile slander boy!" Ragnok snarled. "No goblin has ever served a human being!"
"Gringotts was protecting one of Voldemort's most prized possessions during the war. In my humble opinion that makes you all Death Eaters."
The various goblins conferred with each other in their language for several minutes before an angry Ragnok turned to face him again. "You are obviously attempting to blackmail us wizard, so what do you want?"
"I want what is mine," Harry snapped. "I want all the galleons from the Potter vault, from the vaults of the dead Death Eaters, and from the vault of Tom Riddle. The bastard must have had one at some point during his miserable life. Most of all I never want to see another treacherous goblin for as long as I live."
"If the Boy-Who-Lived abandons Gringotts it will be taken as a sign that we can no longer be trusted by other wizards. It would cause a run on the bank, and that would ruin us."
"I don't plan on telling anyone about this meeting or about my personal finances. It can be our little secret," Harry replied. He then reached into his Mokeskin pouch and pulled out his trump card. "I'm even willing to return the Sword of Gryffindor to your people as a gesture of good faith. So what will it be: will you give me what is mine, or will you start another disastrous goblin rebellion?"
"Perhaps we should just kill you and quietly dispose of your body instead," Ragnok mused. "That outcome would allow us to keep the sword and the gold—most of which doesn't belong to you—and avoid a rebellion at the same time."
"If it comes to a fight I know I won't make it out of this bank alive. But I also know that I will kill every goblin in this room before your other guards finish me off."
"Death holds no fear for you, Harry Potter?"
"No, not any more."
"How rare. A wizard who is also a warrior," Ragnok remarked. "Very well. We shall give you the gold from those vaults in return for your silence. In addition you will return the mighty sword we crafted for that thief Godric Gryffindor a thousand years ago."
He should have realized it was all too easy.
Gringotts provided him with a portable chest holding all his galleons, but they pointed out with some relish that most of the Vaults he had named were already empty. Relatives of the late Death Eaters had visited the bank just hours after Voldemort's death, and withdrew their galleons before the new Minister of Magic could have them seized. Harry left Gringotts with a little more than three hundred thousand galleons, but he would need more... a lot more. But how to get it? A glance at the front window of Flourish & Blotts gave him an idea of where to start.
After a short walk down Diagon Alley he found what he was looking for. "Excuse me madam, I would like to speak to one of your firm's solicitors."
The pretty receptionist at Osborne & Partners looked at Harry's ragged clothes with disdain. "And you are?"
"I'm the wizard who just killed Voldemort, so tell your employer that I want to see him right now."
Peter Osborne looked no more than thirty, and he couldn't stop apologizing for his receptionist's rude behavior. Harry finally shut him up by asking for a cup of tea when they reached his lavish office. His Uncle Vernon had often complained about the solicitors that his company Grunnings was forced to deal with. Hopefully he remembered enough of those dinner table conversations to fake his way through this meeting.
"Now what can I do for you, Mr Potter?" Osborne asked.
"I was just walking down Diagon Alley. To my surprise I saw Harry Potter books, Harry Potter dolls, and even Harry Potter-shaped biscuits for sale. But for some reason I have never once received any monetary compensation for the use of my name or my likeness. Why is that?"
"Unlike the muggles who have well-defined copyright and trademark laws, here in the wizarding world things are a bit more archaic," the solicitor explained. "The only way to profit from a new magical invention is to keep your methods a secret. Artists are paid to paint a painting or sing a song in front of a live audience. They receive no other compensation for their services."
"So when a Weird Sisters' record is played on the Wizarding Wireless Network they don't get any royalties?" Harry asked.
"No, they do not," Osborne replied. "It's the same when they place your picture on a Chocolate Frog Card. All the profits go to the company which produces the cards, not to the individual wizards."
"Well, I don't really care how things were done in the past, I care about the future. So I want you to send cease-and-desist letters to every company which is currently producing "Harry Potter" products. Tell them I want at least fifty percent of all their profits. If they refuse tell them I will sue them in the Wizengamot, and that I will demand one hundred percent of all their profits—including everything they have earned during the past seventeen years."
Osborne blinked several times before speaking. "That kind of legal action will make you very unpopular in certain circles. Very important and influential circles."
"A week ago I was the most wanted criminal in Magical Britain, but today I am a national hero. I've learned the hard way that public opinion is a very fickle thing, but that gold galleons always seem to maintain their value."
"If that is your decision I will send the letters out by tomorrow morning. Is there any other legal services you require from our firm?"
"Yes, I want an inventory of my two properties: Number Twelve, Grindelwald Place here in London, and the Potter Cottage in Godric's Hollow. The contents of both homes and the properties themselves are to be placed up for auction. Your law firm will receive a five percent commission, so it will be in your interest to get the best prices possible."
"Do you have any friends working for the Ministry of Magic? Any contacts that can provide you with insider information?"
"The Ministry is a bit of a mess at the moment, but I know several Department Heads who remained neutral during the war and should be keeping their jobs under the new Minister," Osborne admitted. "What would you like to know precisely?"
"I want to know if the Ministry is going to give me any sort of reward for killing Voldemort. Preferably a large one."
"You seem very concerned with your financial situation Mr Potter. May I ask why?"
"No, you may not. Solicitors are paid to keep their mouths shut. If you wish to continue this profitable business relationship in the future you would do well to remember that."
Peter Osborne suddenly remembered he was dealing with the seventeen year-old who had killed the Dark Lord Voldemort, something not even the great Albus Dumbledore had been able to accomplish.
"Sir, you can rely on my personal discretion at all times."
Harry found an interesting group waiting for him in Professor Sinistra's classroom when he returned to Hogwarts late that afternoon. In addition to Neville, Parvati, and Luna Lovegood, several members of the teaching staff were also taking part in the astronomical seminar. Surprisingly Parvati was sitting in front of a large stack of old books, and even more surprisingly she was actually reading one of them.
"Have you found a "sister star" in the specific region of space that Professor Trelawney described in her Prophecy?" Harry asked, not wanting to waste any more time.
"I believe so Mr Potter, although it would be more accurate to say that the muggles found it," Professor Sinistra replied as she pointed her wand at a large glass sphere over a meter-wide. Normally it contained a three-dimensional model of the Milky Way Galaxy, but it could also be used to display specific sections of the night sky. "There is a star call 18 Scorpii located between the constellations of Scorpius and Ophiuchus. It is almost a perfect analogue for our own Sun."
"Tell him everything!" Parvati demanded. "This Prophecy proves that Sybill Trelawney was the greatest Seer in all of history."
"I not quite sure about that, but her prediction was uncanny," Sinistra replied carefully. "An article about this particular star appeared in the Astrophysical Journal last year. Like our own Sun, 18 Scorpii is classified as a G2 star—or a Yellow Dwarf as you laymen call it. According to the most recent observations its age, temperature, luminosity, rotational period, and magnetic activity cycle are all very similar to the Sun. It is quite an amazing discovery."
"It doesn't have a binary component either," Parvati added. It almost sounded like the witch knew what she was talking about. Almost.
"Ten points to Gryffindor," Sinistra said with a smile. "Many muggle scientists believe that life could not exist on a planet in a binary star system, although others disagree with that conclusion. However in my humble opinion the lack of a second star makes it more likely that a habitable planet will be found around 18 Scorpii."
"Tell him the bad news Aurora," Professor McGonagall said. She and Professor Flitwick had been watching Harry closely for some reason, and their odd behavior was starting to get on his nerves.
"Yes, the bad news. I'm afraid that 18 Scorpii is located forty-six light years from Earth. Traveling there is simply out of the question."
"Because even if you could travel at the speed of light—which is impossible—it would you take forty-six years to reach the star system," Sinistra explained. "If you used more conventional methods, like say an Ion Drive, the trip would take thousands and thousands of years."
"Last year I apparated from the southern coast of England to Hogwarts with Headmaster Dumbledore," Harry replied. "Even carrying a passenger it was still instantaneous. Doesn't that prove that magic allows us to travel faster than the speed of light?"
"Mr Potter that has been a subject of intense debate here at Hogwarts since the muggle Isaac Newton published his Principia over three hundred years ago," Professor Flitwick explained. "We know that magic breaks some of the laws of physics, but does it break all of them? Or are there certain universal laws that even magic must obey? To answer your question, we honestly don't know if magic allows a wizard to travel faster than the speed of light."
"Why hasn't there been any experiments conducted to test the theory?" Luna asked.
"That is easier said than done Miss Lovegood," Sinistra replied. "You can only travel a limited distance using apparition or portkeys. That makes it very difficult for an observer to conclusively measure how fast you are actually moving."
Harry tried to remember what that long-range apparition had felt like. "Your body is squeezed by intense pressure, and then you instantaneously reemerge in a different location. I'm positive that no time passes at all."
"Perhaps you are right Mr Potter, but it's a moot point. No wizard or witch has ever apparated more than a thousand kilometers at a time," Sinistra argued. "The process would be completely useless for traveling to another star."
"I am right, and that means magic does allows us to travel faster than the speed of light," Harry shot back. "At least it's a place to start. What about a using a portkey?"
"They also have a very limited range, and you need to know the exact location you wish to travel to before you create the portkey itself," Flitwick explained. The Charms Professor seemed to be enjoying this technical discussion of magic.
Sinistra nodded her head. "That kind of exact measurement would be impossible with interstellar distances. Even the slightest miscalculation would leave you stranded in deep space for decades."
"What about using a series of portkeys, one after the other?" Luna suggested.
"Without any local reference points it would be even more difficult to make the proper measurements," Flitwick replied. "You would keep making mistakes and get progressively more lost with each portkey you used."
"Why don't we just set-up a big Floo Network," Neville suggested. When everyone turned to stare at him he shrugged. "You Floo between two fireplaces, why not Floo between two stars? They are pretty easy to see in the night sky."
"Mr Longbottom, that is insane," Sinistra snapped. "The temperature around Sun can reach well over a million degree Celsius. And even if you could survive the intense heat you would need to be traveling at over six hundred kilometers per second to escape the Sun's powerful gravitational well."
"Well, I didn't think this was going to be easy," Harry sighed. "Professor Sinistra, thank you for all your help. Professor McGonagall, I was hoping to move into the Head Boy's suite tonight."
"I'm not quite sure I'm following you Mr Potter."
"I will be returning to Hogwarts to repeat my seventh year. It's pretty obvious that I will be chosen as the new Head Boy, so I would like to stay at the castle this summer. After living in a tent for a year with two other people, having a private room and a private loo will be a wonderful change."
According to the old saying a single pebble can start a mighty avalanche. In this case the pebble turned out to be a CCTV, one of thousands which lined the streets and alleys of modern London. A young constable of the Metropolitan Police Service was out on patrol when she was accosted by a man wearing a strange spotted bathrobe. She tried to brush him off, but the man was persistent. Rather than walk away in failure, he drew a wooden stick and pointed it at the constable.
Despite the lack of sound and color what followed was unmistakable to anyone watching the recording. The constable was raped. While tragic, this type of thing had been seen before. What followed though was new and very disturbing. Once the man was done he again pointed the wooden stick at his weeping victim. She immediately got dress, and then left the crime scene in a calm and collected manner. The Police managed to identify the constable: her name was Janet Willows, and she had a perfect service record. She also had no recollection of being raped, or of ever meeting the man in the strange spotted bathrobe.
This bizarre case was quickly sent up the chain of command, and in a few hours it reached the desk of the Prime Minister himself. The PM was still furious about the destructive Wizarding War which had just ended, and when he watched the recording it sent him into a towering rage. Later that night he spoke with the Presidents of the United States, France, and Russia along with the General Secretary of China. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council all agreed that these wizards were out of control, and something drastic had to be done to rein them in.
The Doom of Magic had begun.
4 May 1998
Harry awoke the next morning to find Ginny watching him from across the room. She was sitting cross-legged on a sofa, clutching an old stuffed dragon. Of all the Weasleys siblings she had taken Fred's death the hardest, and she had return to the Burrow last night rather than stay here at Hogwarts. He noticed that her beautiful brown eyes were still bloodshot from crying.
"Neville said you've been asleep for over sixteen hours. I was beginning to wonder if you were dead. Again."
"The last few days have been hectic. I died, I came back to life, I killed Voldemort, I received a Prophecy about the end of magic..."
"And Tonks and Remus and that little twerp Colin Creevey."
Ginny gave him a sad smile. "That little twerp was in love with you."
"What are you talking about?"
"Let's just say I know the signs when some poor fool is hopelessly in love with the great Harry Potter."
"Maybe you're right, but keep that romantic insight to yourself," Harry said as he unsuccessfully tried to get out of bed. "If the Slytherins start making jokes about Colin, I will probably end up killing a few of them."
"Fine, be that way you prat," Ginny said as she rolled her eyes. "What are your plans for today?"
"I was hoping Professor Flitwick would begin teaching me how to make a portkey. I was also planning on visiting several muggle bookstores in London, and buying some books about space travel. They have tons of experience in that particular area."
Ginny looked away. Harry was certain that she already learned about the Prophecy from Neville or Luna, but for some reason she didn't want to talk about it yet.
"I thought you wanted to start your Auror training?"
"The sad truth is I really don't know much about magic. I'm good at casting a few spells and at playing Quidditch, but that's about it. Building a spaceship will require a lot of complex magical theory. Stuff like Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, two classes I didn't bother to take when I had the chance during my third year."
Before Ginny could respond Kingsley Shacklebolt—the newly appointed Minister of Magic—came barging into the Head Boy's suite. He didn't look happy.
"Potter, I've been hearing some very bizarre rumors about a prophecy this morning. I already have a lot on my plate back at the Ministry of Magic, so why don't you tell me what the bloody hell is going on. Right now!"
The Prophecy wasn't a secret, so Harry told the African wizard everything he knew about it. The Minster was intensely skeptical about Divination, and proceeded to describe several anatomically impossible things Merlin could do to the late Sybill Trelawney and her ridiculous Prophecy.
"We have just gone through one of the worst upheavals in our history," Kingsley said, continuing with his angry rant. "We have to rebuild our society, and that will be impossible if our greatest war hero starts babbling like a madman about the end of the world."
"It's not the end of the world. It's the end of magic. Besides none of that stupid political stuff matters anymore. The Prophecy..."
"Enough Potter! I don't want to hear another word about this subject. Is that clear?"
"Sir, I don't want to have anything to do with the Ministry of Magic. I plan on staying here at Hogwarts and continuing with my magical education. Since you don't want to have anything to do with the new... project, I suggest we just go our separate ways. I swear I wouldn't set foot in London again without your permission."
"What about the mess you and your friends made at Gringotts?"
"I've already taken care of the goblins," Harry replied.
"And how exactly did you manage to do that?" the Minister asked in a tight voice.
"Trust me Minister Shacklebolt, your best option at this point would be to maintain plausible deniability."
10 May 1998
Later that week a clandestine meeting was held in a deserted aeroplane hanger at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire. The men in attendance were an odd bunch: they were from several different countries and represented several different ethnic groups. Yet despite all these differences they share a few common traits. None of them was younger than twenty and none of them was older than thirty-five. They were also in excellent physical condition, with the lean physiques of swimmers or perhaps long-distance runners. But the most striking thing they all share was a certain confidence in the way they held themselves. These men were all élite soldiers.
An older officer wearing an unmarked uniform entered the hangar along with several assistants who looked more like civilians. His name was Colonel Poshepny, and even among these experienced men he was considered a living legend.
"Thank you all for coming here today. I will once again state for the record that this mission is completely voluntary. If you wish to leave at any point, you may do so without fear of penalty from your commanding officers."
Over the centuries wizards had made many enemies among the muggles, and even the Obliviators couldn't cover-up all their assorted crimes. There were thousands of muggles who knew the truth about the magical world and hated it with a burning passion. A few of these angry muggles had become soldiers—very talented soldiers.
"I know that many of you have dreamed of taking the fight to those stick-waving bastards," Colonel Poshepny continued. "But that has always been impossible because to their defensive wards. That is about to change thanks to these little beauties."
His assistants began distributing what looked like ordinary pairs of glasses. Once the soldiers put them on they noticed that the lenses were covered with dozens of tiny scratches. It was odd, since the black frames looked brand-new.
"Those scratches are actually microscopic runes which were etched on the glass with a laser beam. The design came from a wizard who wanted his muggle mistress to be able to find their hidden love-nest in Salem, Massachusetts. It took him over a year to create a single pair, but we managed to produce over a hundred copies in less than a week."
"What are the side-effects?" one of the Chinese soldiers asked. "In the past I've found that there are always nasty side-effects when you are dealing with this type of black magic."
"After twenty minutes the glasses will give you a headache. After forty minutes they give you a migraine. After an hour your brain goes sayonara," Colonel Poshepny admitted. "Our scientists are working hard on improving the design, but for now we are stuck with these prototypes. At this point we are only conducting recon, so they should do for the time being."
"What if we are captured?" a Russian asked. "When it comes to torture these wizards make the old KGB look like amateurs. One prisoner is all it would take to blow this whole operation wide open."
"If any prisoners are taken by the wizards we have authorization from the UN Security Council itself to proceed with an immediate rescue mission, no matter which country we have to enter."
"What are the rules of engagement for this hypothetical rescue mission?" an American asked. The Americans and their military lawyers were always worrying about things like that, much to the amusement of their international colleagues.
"I expect the men under my command to follow one rule: we bring our people home, no matter the cost," Colonel Poshepny replied.
"What if we accidentally start a war?"
"Son, this war started long before any of us were born. Our job is to finish it, and that is exactly what we are going to do."