Alyx looked up from her desk when Bob placed the file down. She eyed the still smoking file warily.
"Pure Crack," Bob replied. "This is so cracked it should be illegal."
She moved slightly away from the file, it was now staring at her with red evil eyes.
"Ummmm," she began.
Bob ignored her. "This is cracked crack!" he exclaimed. "It's whacked crack, insane in its crackishness!"
"Ummmm," she said again, beginning to panic. The file was inching closer and had exposed row upon row of sharp teeth dripping with venom.
"This is cracked beyond all crack. This is the most crack you'll.."
"BOB!" shouted Alyx.
He turned and spotted the file trying to attack her. He picked up a handy club and beat the file senseless then he glared at her. "It's going to keep attacking until you tell them the words."
"Oh," she said, then she turned to the audience. "Please buckle your seatbelts, put your trays in the upright position, do not read this at work, nor should you read this while drinking, or late at night while your grumpy spouse is sleeping. And finally, we don't own Harry Potter or the Potter Universe, but even JKR would deny owning this mess!"
"Enjoy the tale folks," quipped Bob.
Harry stumbled out of the vortex and looked around. Behind him the magical vortex spat sparks and slowly faded from view.
He grinned maliciously and cracked his knuckles. He knew this place, he knew it intimately.
"Helloooo," he said softly. "Daddy I'm home!"
He waved his hand, bathing the building in a pale yellow light for a minute, then he grinned maliciously.
He stretched and patted his pockets to make sure he still had his needed equipment, then he whirled and vanished from the back yard of #4 Privet Drive. The game was afoot and Fate's bitch was about to throw this world a left curve that would leave them wondering what happened.
In front of Number Four, Vernon's Dursley's car experienced a catastrophic tire explosion in all four tires, plus the spare. The small explosions caused considerable damage to the car, and set the theft alarm screaming.
Before Vernon could find the remote to shut the damn thing off, it would wake up most of the neighbors. The 3 am wake up call would not go over very well with them.
Background Briefing (take notes!)...
The Multiverse is real, but not in the way most people think.
Often authors come up with the concept of alternative universes. It is actually an idea lifted from theoretical physics and made popular by science fiction. The problem, and it was one that Harry understood intimately, was that the authors of said fiction failed to understand the idea that the differences between universes could be as minor as being left handed in one universe or being right handed in another. Or having blond hair instead of black.
In short, the differences between universes tended to be minor in the extreme. The other problem deals with numbers. Infinities are a difficult subject and when you're talking about the number of possible universes you suddenly realize that you are dealing with infinities contained within infinities and no amount of aspirin is going to help your headache.
Harry knew this, the CEO of Fate Ltd, a subsidiary of God Incorporated, had explained it all to him when she helped negotiate the deal with the big man himself.
He, fate's bitch, would work for her until the damage was undone, in return he would be allowed eventually to pick a universe to live in and settle down. He had even arranged for a very generous retirement package which included a Swiss chalet, a beachfront condo in Malibu and a very nice Potentate position. God Inc drew the line at letting Harry become Emperor of the known Universe. He'd have to settle for a single solar system as his playground.
It all started with a single problem that was simple in reality and incredibly complex in solution. God Incorporated realized that the universes were about to end one one millionth of a second before it all winked out and stopped time. Then all the minor deities and supra deities met at a massive conclave to determine what had gone wrong and what could be done to fix the situation.
With time stopped just a split second before total extinction, no one could say how long the enclave worked to determine the problem, but ultimately it boiled down to a minor mistake of a minor worker for Fate Ltd on a small planet in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Along the way, while researching the cause of the problem, the conclave had so many parties, shindigs and barbeques that they severely damaged the universe it was being hosted in. As a result, that particular universe was consigned to be recycled, and that allowed Fate Ltd. to accrue enough points to be reused elsewhere.
Deities, minor and supra, rarely get sick but it does happen. This particular minor deity had a touch of a cold which caused her to sneeze. Once. That was all it took, an immortal split second of inattention and the grand plan got derailed across the infinite span of the multiverses. But being mortals ourselves, it's hard to imagine a sneeze that lasts for a century. If you think that's bad, imagine the type of tissue you need to blow a divine nose. You simply can't run down to your local 7-11 for a box of divine hankies. And lets not get into the subject of Holy Boogers, religions have been started on less.
Deity time is obviously different than mortal time and when the minor deity turned her attention back to her task, the war was over, only not quite according to the grand plan. Across all the universes the plan had changed, but in one universe, it had really gone bad.
Put simply, Harry Potter, Fate's bitch, became the plaything of one old man with delusions of grandeur. His interference resulted in Harry winning, but at an extreme cost as the secret of the magical world was revealed in all it's hellish glory to the muggle world.
Not content to live without magic the muggles turned their considerable scientific abilities to understanding magic, and like usual, their understanding was turned to a darker purpose. If magic couldn't be shared, they would destroy it. And in doing so, set in motion the death of God Inc in a single universe. That destruction planted the seed to the destruction of all of multiverse.
God Inc. would not allow this to happen. They had a purpose and would not allow mere mortals to destroy all things. The end of all things was their business, not mortals. It was even in their charter, along with the necessary escape clauses that allowed for an ending to result in the birthing of an entirely new multiverse. The mortals mucking around with eternity took that option out of the hands of God Incorporated.
If the press release issued by God Inc was to be believed, the big man himself was rather put out with the whole notion. It was rumored he flew back to Headquarters from his vacation home, the company also denied vehemently that he was accompanied by a pair of hookers from Tijuana. Inside sources within the company that demanded anonymity claimed they were from Shang Hai.
Once the cause of the problem was determined, God Incorporated took the usual way out of fixing the problem. It was against their charter to intervene directly so they selected a hero and gave the poor schmuck a choice of being responsible for the death of everything, or he could save the multiverses.
Enter Harry Potter, schmuck, and all around hero. Code named Fate's Bitch, aka double oh screwed. Selected to fix a problem that spanned an infinite number of universes. Was he asked? Well yes, in a way he was. God Inc told our stalwart hero that if he didn't do as he was told, GOD would be very unhappy with him and he would end up spending the remainder of his life as a sentient pimple on his Aunt Marge's buttocks.
This isn't to say that Harry entered into this agreement with God Incorporated without some hefty conditions of his own. For one thing, he had insisted that the deity that had made the original mistake be demoted and sent to Trenton, New Jersey. It was as close to hell as Harry could possibly come up with for a deity.
It should be noted that the arrival of a demigod to New Jersey went unnoticed for 78 years before she was arrested for failure to pay her income taxes. Her defiance sparked a new religious movement which nearly resulted in bankrupting the United States and did end with the second civil war.
But we digress.
Harry got carte blanche from the CEO of God Inc, the big man himself. He was allowed to do anything to fix the problem without it staining his soul. He had unlimited funds and no matter what multiverse he landed in, he had a list of contacts for everything from black market weapons to mercenaries to Bill Gate's mistresses. He could hire whole armies if he so wished as long as he corrected the error in that universe.
There were two basic requirements that Harry had to accomplish in each universe he visited.
Voldemort could not be allowed to start the second war, no matter what the cost, he had to be stopped before the muggles became aware of the magical world. The second requirement was more troublesome, he had to supervise the remaining life of one Albus Dumbledore to insure that he never threatened the multiverses again. Unfortunately that meant Harry ended up spending anywhere from 10 to 35 years in each universe since he wasn't allowed to deliberately kill the old fool. He could however set events in motion which would result in the old man's death.
God it seemed, didn't have a problem with wiping out entire planets, but he did draw the line at murder.
As a final concession Harry demanded and got the only other person who had survived the war from his original multiverse as his companion. Luna Lovegood.
God Inc. had not been happy with that particular requirement and had in fact delayed on delivering on that promise. It wasn't until he had entered multiverse number 0074530456374856110374 theta prime bip bip dash 12 wic wic nufu and proceeded to arrange for Hogwarts to be destroyed via a nuclear weapon that they gave in. Fortunately he had arranged for the attack during the summer so the loss of life was minimized, but it was at that point that God Inc realized perhaps a companion that could act as a moral compass might not be a bad idea.
Luna Lovegood as a moral compass? As far as Luna was concerned, North was an ugly color and she wouldn't point at it even if you offered her a box of fruit loops. Now south was a divine color and she frequently wore it in private since she felt it accentuated her bust line for Harry.
God Inc was less than thrilled with the results but it was too late to send her back.
#4 Privet Drive, Little Whinning, 1985...
Luna appeared with a pop. She had mastered cross universe apparation a long time ago. Harry still used the older vortex method which made him sick to his stomach half the time but that was only because Luna didn't want to teach him her method.
She stared at the house, so familiar and her eyes glowed while she looked at Harry Nargle's handiwork.
That was another thing, Harry was Harry Nargle, and she was Luna Snorkack. She wanted to avoid any confusion with the fact that Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood already existed in this universe. Harry wanted to be called James Bond, but Luna refused to let him adopt such a silly name.
"Standard package," she murmured. "Dursleys have had their aggressive tendencies redirected to each other. Harry's been given a healthy dose of cunning and the basis for solid occlumency shields plus a surge to his magical growth."
Her eyes narrowed and she frowned. "Harry Nargle when I get my hands on you," she muttered, then she shook her head. Once again Harry had implanted the idea into Harry Potter that having a blond and a brunette girlfriend at the same time was a good idea.
Harry thought that every Harry he ran across deserved to enjoy life more, what better way for that to happen than for him to hook up with Hermione and Luna?
She really had no idea how long he had been pulling that little stunt, she only became aware of it when they hit the multiverse where Luna had been replaced by Larry. She shuddered in remembrance and corrected Harry's work so that Harry would not actively seek a three way relationship. Unless of course said relationship sought him out. That was acceptable in her book.
She quickly corrected little Harry's programming, adding in some extras, like being considerate to girls, improved study habits/memory retention and a healthy distrust of old men with beards, then she turned her attention to the Dursleys. For some strange reason Harry always seemed reluctant to do anything extreme to them, but she was under no such compunction.
A minute later she was satisfied with her work, so she twirled in a pirouette and vanished from Privet Drive.
The Dursley's were despicable people to begin with and now with Luna's help, the rest of the neighborhood would learn that fact first hand.
Now, just a mere hour after Vernon dealt with the problem of his car and soothed his neighbors, Petunia's car exploded, causing Numbers 3 and 6 to catch on fire. Few people would sleep through the arrival of the Fire Brigade, but Harry was one of them.
Vernon's car alarm went off to mark the occasion of the spectacular fire.
The Leaky Cauldron, London, 1985...
"You know, you're becoming predictable," said a voice.
Harry didn't even flinch, he continued sipping his tea and reading the morning paper. "Good morning love, I was wondering when you were going to show up."
Luna frowned, she hated when he appeared nonchalant when she arrived. Next time she'd appear riding on the back of an elephant! That would get his attention.
With a slight huff she walked over to the table and sat down next to him.
"So you did your review?" he asked calmly.
She tore her eyes from the sight of the teapot pouring a cup for her and glanced over at him. "I did. And I corrected a few of your exuberance's."
Harry grimaced. Luna didn't have half the abilities he had, thanks to God Incorporated, but she was probably the strongest magical person on the planet right now. And Harry? Well he wielded an entirely different class of magic, just one step short of being a deity.
She held up a hand and he snapped his mouth closed.
"No Harry, if Harry Potter is going to have two girlfriends, he'll do it without your help. Do you know how many complications that sort of thing can cause for the people involved? Or need I remind you of Harry and Larry? I mean really, poor Hermione was bowlegged and..."
"All right! I get it," He replied testily. "No more trying to give Harry a happy life."
"After all this time and you still don't understand do you?" she asked gently. "Harry, you've given nearly every Harry Potter we've run across happiness just by eliminating Voldemort and the other unsavory elements in his life. Now let's finish up our breakfast we still have a lot to do to insert ourselves into this society."
Harry nodded and turned back to his breakfast. What she had said was true, it was always the same old story, they had access to numerous mansions that had been unplottable at the time of the death of the last in that family but because the buildings had been unattended, they would require considerable magic to repair them.
Magic would allow them to make the buildings habitable very quickly, but Harry had discovered he didn't mind fixing things by hand. So Luna made sure they a bedroom and a working kitchen while Harry went about repairing the building the muggle way. It gave him something to do other than worrying about what changes he was going to inflict on this universe.
Besides, she didn't want another ark incident. The one time she opted to use magic to completely repair the manor Harry was so out of sorts and bored he started building an Ark in the backyard. Said ship soon became so big it was visible from space and caused no end of problems with the muggles.
The Ark, spotted by satellite, caused no end of controversy among biblical historians who couldn't understand what an Ark would be doing just outside of Manchester. It's existence also spawned a new religious movement and the reformation of the Anglican church.
Luna smiled and sipped her tea, watching Harry. It was one of her favorite pastimes watching him. He had really grown up very well despite his rocky start.
It was always the same every time they entered a new universe they were reset to a starting condition. She wouldn't have minded it too much, but Harry came back as a 24 yr old man and she was in a form that she pegged at 19, just prior to the point of losing her virginity. Of course it helped that she found him really attractive and he found her just as appealing.
Harry had lost track, but she hadn't. By her reckoning she had given Harry her virginity 28,600 times. Fortunately she had discovered an old spell that relieved her of the pain nearly 18,000 universes ago. It was annoying and just once she wished she wasn't the one that came back as a virgin.
She was sure that they were coming close to the tipping point, where the number of changes would result in the universe not ending because of Voldemort and Dumbledore. But the exact number of corrections was known only to the upper management of God Incorporated, even she could only guess at the number.
It was impossible for them to fix every universe, but they had to fix enough that it would create an event wave that would ripple throughout the multiverse.
The one time she had requested to know how many universes were needed, she received a memo in return from God Inc, that gave even her a headache. Apparently God Incorporated used a different language, and a different numbering system than she was used to. The reply, transmitted on radio active stone tablets, immediately started a fusion reaction causing Harry and Luna to flee that planet entirely. It was the only time they had left before removing Voldemort's horcruxes. However since the planet vaporized in the resulting explosion, Luna figured they still accomplished their mission.
Harry was most put out with her for causing him extra paperwork for that Universe. Replying in cuneiform on clay tablets made his wrists ache.
She took another sip of her tea, then asked a question that had been bothering her.
"I noticed you didn't remove Harry's Horcrux this time," she observed, watching him carefully.
Harry looked up from reading the paper and gave her a lopsided grin.
She sighed. She knew that grin, she knew it intimately. He was planning on doing something different. Every dozen or so universes Harry would alter his plans to see if he could improve the situation earlier. Or perhaps improve wasn't the right word. Create greater mayhem might be closer to the true reason, but Harry wouldn't admit it.
"What do you have planned?"
"Transference and Divine Intervention," he quipped in reply.
She frowned. "You're not letting your powers go to your head again are you? We can't afford for you to start creating new religions. Do you remember the last one? I mean really, how they convinced the Queen Mother to go naked..."
"Hey I didn't create that religion, it was all a big misunderstanding. Luna, after all this time you still don't trust me?"
"I trust you Harry, but things have a tendency to go out of control when you're involved," she retorted.
He placed his paper to one side and looked at her. "It's real simple Luna. It occurred to me that Dumbledore spent years crafting and implementing his plans. Normally we show up and blammo, things stop going according to his plans. Now I'm thinking, we have to be here at least til the turn of the century, probably a few years after that. Why not nudge his plans off kilter subtlety? Let's take the time to lull him into a false sense that despite a few failures here and there, things are mostly going his way."
She thought about it and nodded slowly. It did make sense, they spent on average at least 20 years in each universe they visited. Gradual changes would at least have the effect of keeping Harry occupied. A bored Harry Nargle was a dangerous thing. Like that time he decided the Tour De France would be more interesting if the riders rode backwards. It took her months to obliviate everyone involved and she had the ability to obliviate enmass.
"And the Divine Intervention part?" she asked carefully.
He shrugged and reached across the table to capture her hand in his. With his thumb gently rubbing across her knuckles he grinned. "You're my angel," he said in a husky tone that made her insides flutter. "Why can't you also be little Harry's guardian angel?"
"Alright," she whispered. "We'll try it your way. Maybe it will be good enough to include all the time."
He grinned back at her. Once he explained all of his plan she was sure he'd go for it.
He released her hand and stood, with a single thought all of his stuff was packed up and ready to move on. Smiling broadly he held out a hand to her. "Come love, lets go find our new home, then introduce this universe to the joys of the Celestial Snorkack."
She laughed and bounced out of her chair, pulling him into a hug. They shimmered for a brief second and then were gone.
September 1st, 1991, Hogwarts...
Albus Dumbledore unhappily reached for a lemon drop. The express was due in a few hours and he was still struggling with his plans. For some reason he couldn't pin point so many of his plans and plots had failed in recent years. Were it not for the fact that some things happened as planned, he would have suspected that someone was interfering with his concept of the Greater Good.
Augusta Longbottom had successfully beat him for the position of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and that resulted in considerable loss of his power base, especially when she wrested control of the Potter seat from him. Without the Potter seat and the proxies it represented, he was left with just his single vote in the Wizengamot. And a single vote of the minor house of Dumbledore didn't have half the impact of the Potters, a noble and ancient house with traceable roots to the founders and beyond.
And if that wasn't bad enough, his Deputy here at the school had grown a backbone in the past five years and was continually questioning his policies. In fact she had managed to get the Governors to approve several changes he hadn't wanted to make to his school.
All classrooms now contained a portrait who's sole purpose was to record infractions. The governors thought it was a good idea to protect themselves and the school by including these recordings. However Minerva used them to make wholesale cancellations of point deductions and detentions by Professor Snape.
Snape hadn't had a single approved detention or point deduction in two years and the student population knew it. Minerva had effectively neutered Snape and Dumbledore was powerless to do anything about it. She was being groomed by the Board of Governor's as his replacement and had powerful allies on the board.
Politically he was all but powerless these days. It all started several years earlier when the press started printing stories about the fall of Grindelwald and Voldemort. While there was little they could pin on him legally, enough dirt was uncovered to seriously tarnish his image.
If things at school were bad, outside of the school things bordered on catastrophic. A freak fire ran through Malfoy manor resulting in Narcissa Malfoy being killed and Draco being hospitalized for what appeared to be the rest of his life. Smoke inhalation left the boy in a persistent vegetative state.
Lucius didn't take the news of the disaster well and he secluded himself in a small shack on the property while he worked on the plans for a newer and grander manor house.
Several other families had experienced similar mishaps or financial disasters, severely eroding the darker families hold on the Wizengamot. The Parkinsons were long known as breeders of whole herds of hippogryphs and unicorns for potion stocks. Unfortunately an infestation of the newly discovered Celestial Snorkacks destroyed the ranch and freed the livestock.
All attempts to recover the livestock were thwarted by the Snorkacks who seemed to have decided to defend the herds. The Parkinsons lost their patriarch and two elder sons trying to round up those herds.
So many disasters had befallen former and suspected followers of Lord Voldemort, and yet none appeared to be related to another. When Dumbledore pointed out that they were all happening to people that supported Voldemort, Amelia Bones shrugged and told him to mind his own business.
And that left Dumbledore with a conundrum.
Draco Malfoy was useless to Dumbledore now. He had hoped to use the boy as a foil upon which he would hone Harry Potter, hardening him into the weapon he was meant to be. All of the other potential Slytherin lads were too weak to adequately challenge the Boy-Who-Lived.
Dumbledore scowled fiercely when he thought about that moniker.
Two years ago the Daily Prophet ran a story questioning the validity of the legend of the Boy Who Lived. Dumbledore had carefully maneuvered Hagrid into spilling what he had learned from Dumbledore over drinks in Hogsmeade. At the time no one questioned the story. But two years ago they did and now everyone questions it.
He had been approached by the paper and asked to comment, but when questioned he had to admit he had not been present and his version of what happened was at best merely conjecture. Given the general lack of respect the wizarding public had for him, when they discovered they had been believing in a tale made up by Dumbledore, they immediately rejected the idea that a mere toddler could have any impact on a dark lord. Instead they focused on Lily Potter and assumed that she was the unsung heroine of that dreadful evening. Something she had done, saved her son. She became the mother that all witches looked up to. She became the Mother that Died.
The popular book series about the boy had been pulled from the shelves and the name all but vanished from British Press. The myth he had tried to build around the boy had fizzled and gone out.
He glanced up and grimaced. Before him stood a creature of blindingly white light. He raised an arm to shield against the glare and groped for his wand, it was somewhere on his desk, but he was too dazzled to spot it.
"Albus Dumbledore you are a big disappointment," said the being again, then she unfurled her wings.
He gasped and stared, his arm slowly lowering.
"What are you?" he whispered.
"You would call me an Angel," she replied softly. Her voice resonated with power. "I am one of the Seraphim, I help guard and preserve the chosen."
Fawkes awoke with a startled squawk, took one look and then bowed before the being of light.
Feeling a twinge of panic Dumbledore groped blindly for his wand. He reached around for several moments before being forced back into his chair and bound there.
"For 10 years now you have done nothing to help Harry Potter," the Angel said, her tone hardening. "For 10 years you have left that foul soul fragment fester in the boy and you have ignored his plight."
"There is nothing to be done," he protested. "The boy must die to release the soul fragment!"
"Untrue," replied the Angel. "In your arrogance and conceit you failed to consider that perhaps others more knowledgeable than you knew safer ways of disposing of that soul fragment without harming the boy."
"No one else can know about this," protested Dumbledore. "Harry Potter must die for the good of our world!"
The Angel paused and glanced over at the phoenix, it was the one thing in the office that could disrupt her plan. The phoenix noticed her glance and bowed again, acknowledging her position and the fact that he would not interfere.
The magical bird understood that he was dealing with what was probably the most powerful magical human on the planet and she would brook no interference on his part.
Satisfied that the phoenix wouldn't interfere, the angel turned her attention back to Dumbledore who watched her with mounting fear.
She raised a hand and Dumbledore bit back a moan of pain. He struggled in his bonds while his forehead burned and seared. The smell of burning flesh permeated the room and finally he collapsed back in his chair only semi-conscious.
The angel lowered her hand and calmly waited for Dumbledore to come around. While she waited patiently she amused herself by altering the function of several of the Headmaster's little machines. She also fixed it such that at random intervals, the portraits in the room would only speak in Cantonese. She also took away their inability to lie.
"What did you do to me?" Dumbledore said groggily.
The angel looked up from preening one wing. "I just made Harry's problem, your problem. You'll find a much happier and freer Harry Potter when he arrives today without any scar or soul fragment attached to his forehead. You however might want to look into how to safely remove the soul fragment from your head, or you can always continue with your original plan and let Voldemort kill you instead of Harry."
With that the Angel seemed to shimmer and vanish from the office.
Dumbledore opened a desk drawer with a trembling hand and pulled a small mirror from the drawer. Holding the mirror up to his face he stared at the smiley face scar sitting over his right eye and he moaned in anguish. How could this happen to him? He was the leader of the light, not a pawn to be sacrificed!
Wain Manor, Late Evening of Sept 1st...
Luna looked up from her book when Harry entered the room. "All done?" she asked.
He shot her a wide grin. "Yep. Dumbledore won't know what hit him this year. I removed the stone and had it deposited into Harry's vault at Gringotts, then I placed the entire corridor where he kept it under a Fidelius charm. While I was there, I took the time to play with Snape. He's going to suddenly find a keen desire to wear high heels."
Luna frowned. "Harry, you're supposed to get rid of that phantasm."
Harry sat down across from her and stretched his feet out on the coffee table. "This is even better Luna, I did a total wipe on him and replaced his memories. Quirrel is now convinced he's being possessed by a homicidal five year old girl named Betsy."
Luna blinked. So few things surprised her, but this one certainly did. "But what about the phantasm?"
Harry smirked and she groaned inwardly, she knew that look. Harry had become bored with the same old plan and was improvising. Last time he done that, it took all of her magic to prevent Harry Potter from becoming the Muggle King of Britain.
"It's stuck Luna. I did a wipe on it's memories and gave it a whole new set. It doesn't remember anything about Horcruxes, or how to possess people. When Quirrel dies, it will pass over not knowing that it has the ability to possess another body. The Horcruxes might be able to revive him, but that Phantasm is just a confused mess and it'll remain that way until it crosses over."
He chuckled softly. "In the meantime, Quirrel is going to appear odder than usual."
Hogwarts, Headmaster's Office, Late Evening of Sept 1st...
Dumbledore led Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape into the office. The feast was finally over and Dumbledore was coming to realize that things had gotten entirely out of his control. The boy had been sorted into Ravenclaw despite his orders to the hat.
He sat tiredly at his desk and looked at his two teachers.
"A most unexpected turn sorting," Minerva said softly. That Harry Potter had been sorted into Ravenclaw was merely one of the surprises from the evening. A Weasley making it into Slytherin and a Zabini getting into Hufflepuff was enough to suspect the old man was playing tricks with the hat again.
She was only partially right, someone had been playing tricks with the hat, but it hadn't been the Headmaster. This little surprise was all Luna's doing. She had snuck into the old man's office and had a conversation that resulted in Potter and Granger going to Ravenclaw along with the other changes.
Snape scowled and stared down at his shoes, unhappy with what he was seeing.
Dumbledore grunted in acknowledgment at Minerva, but he appeared to be lost in thought.
"ngóh séung wuhngwo gàanfóng Dumbledore!" the Portrait of Amando Dippet suddenly shouted.
Dumbledore massaged his temples tiredly. The portraits had suddenly switched languages today and he had idea why. He had checked them for magic and they came up showing no additional magic beyond what a magical portrait would normally have.
Minerva blinked in surprise and stared at the portrait of Amando Dippet. "Why would you want to move to another room?"
Snape turned his gaze to his fellow Professor. "You understood that?"
Minerva nodded. "My father was an ambassador, I learned a number of languages, including Cantonese in my youth."
"He picks his nose and wipes it on his beard," exclaimed Dippet in English. Several other portraits nodded and Dumbledore had the grace to blush.
Minerva glared at Dumbledore. "Disgusting old man," she muttered under her breath.
Dumbledore looked up and scowled. "Can we please get back to the topic at hand? Mr. Potter cannot be allowed to remain in Ravenclaw. He needs to be moved to Gryffindor where he can be guided towards his..."
"You can't make me resort him Headmaster, and if you try I won't let you use me to play naked Caribbean pirates anymore," the sorting hat said smugly.
"Albus!" exclaimed Minerva, then she turned to Snape who was ignoring them both while he stared at his shoes.
"Severus I must insist that you join with me in making the Headmaster see a healer immediately, the old fool has clearly gone senile!"
Severus blinked slowly and looked up at Minerva.
Dumbledore sprang to his feet. "Enough! We have too much to worry about with Voldemort trying to get the..."
He trailed off with a puzzled look on his face. Both Minerva and Snape frowned, they knew that Voldemort was after something but they couldn't remember what it was.
"This makes no sense," muttered Minerva, then she stood, shook her head and left the room muttering about old fools and their games.
Dumbledore slammed a fist down on his desk. "He's done it already! He took the... he took... See? We can't even remember what he took! We're doomed!"
Snape looked up from transfiguring his shoes into a pair of black heels. He frowned. "When did you injure yourself Headmaster? You have a scar on your forehead!"
Dumbledore frowned and fingered the hated scar that hadn't even marked him for a full day. He knew it was a vain hope that no one would notice it. He honestly hoped people would overlook the smiley face scar on his forehead. He was just thankful that it wasn't a lightening bolt scar like the one Harry Potter still bore, although Harry's scar was now quite faint.
"I fell a few days ago," he mumbled. "It's nothing!"
Snape nodded doubtfully. "It looks like a..."
"It's not a smiley face!" Dumbledore snapped. "Next thing you'll say is it's a Horcrux and I have to die to get rid of it!"
Snape blinked. Twice, then twice more. Yep, the old man had finally started casting the simple spells.
"Ummm I think I'll go check on Minerva," the dour potions professor said softly, then he turned and bolted for the door. As he ran he thought that perhaps Minerva was right, maybe it was time for the Headmaster to see Madam Pomfrey.
He would have continued along those lines, but he was unfamiliar with walking in heels and promptly fell down the stairs to the Headmaster's office. His injuries would have been very minor and easy to fix, had Harry not put a hex on Madam Pomfrey. No matter what spell or potion she used on Snape, she would also end up vanishing the bones in his right hand, thus forcing a dose of Skelegrow on the Potions Master.
Hogwarts, Girl's Bathroom, Oct 31st...
Harry Potter peered through the partially open bathroom door.
"Hermione!" he asked again in a hushed manner. His eyes darted to the corridor he was standing in.
"Harry? You can't come in here!" replied a distraught Hermione.
A dull snuffling growl came from the end of the corridor and Harry pushed open the door and entered the bathroom.
"Hermione, we have to get out of here like yesterday! All the houses have been sent to their common rooms, someone released a giant mutant panda bear into the school and it's hunting for victims!"
There was a flushing sound, then Hermione stepped from the stall. She glared at Harry, both hands on her hips. "Really Harry, there's no such thing as a mutant Panda, and there's no magical version of the Panda bear!"
At that moment the door blasted inwards and the entrance was completely filled with a mutant Panda bear that couldn't possibly exist. It growled menacingly and Hermione squeaked, then pushed her way back into the stall, slamming the door shut behind her.
Harry rolled his eyes. The stall door was thinner and cheaper wood than the door to the bathroom.
"There's no such thing as a Magical Panda," Hermione screamed from her stall.
"Denying it isn't going to stop it from eating you Hermione," Harry shouted. "And while I might think you're cute, it thinks you're tasty!"
Hermione stopped screaming and realized that Harry was correct, but now she was trapped.
The Panda shuffled into the room. She could clearly see the enormous feet at the entrance to her stall, sniffing at the door. She squeaked again in fear and huddled as far back as she could.
The Panda swiped one huge paw against the door and it splintered into a million pieces.
At that moment, Harry lunged. "Cowabunga!" he screamed and clambered up the back of the massive bear. Once he was perched on its back he swung his book bag with all the force he could muster. The bag, filled with texts, swung down and clobbered the bear in the head.
It made a snuffling grunt and slipped senseless to the floor. Sometimes it paid to be a Ravenclaw with a full bookbag.
Harry leaped from it's back and reached into the stall. He grabbed Hermione by the hand and pulled her out of the stall. "Run run run now!" he shouted. He knew that the Panda was merely stunned, but as long as it gave them a chance to run, he didn't care if it were busy getting a manicure.
The pair bolted from the bathroom and just narrowly missed colliding with Professor Snape. Harry stumbled and his wand was shoved up Snape's nose. The professor screamed and fell to the floor.
"Wait, what? Who?" shouted a pained Snape at their retreating backs. He held one hand over his nose and could feel it swelling. He didn't manage to identify the two students except to say one was a girl and the other a boy.
Harry and Hermione had just reached the door to their common room when the screams had started up. The bear had awakened and Professor Snape would be needing another visit to Madam Pomfrey.
Oh joy, more Skelegrow for Snape. At least as the Potions Master he was capable of making sure Madam Pomfrey had enough. Lord knows he seemed to need it this semester.
The pair stood, panting heavily just inside the door, then Hermione came to a realization. She blushed heavily, then blushed again on top of her first blush.
"Harry?" she asked softly.
Harry eyed her warily. He couldn't help notice she had turned the shade of cooked lobster and wondered if she were about to explode, or have an accident. After all, she was in the girls bathroom, perhaps she hadn't finished her business when the giant mutant panda attacked?
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Did you mean it when you said you think I'm cute?"
Harry engaged his own blushing mechanism, then placed it on afterburner. Dumbly he nodded and looked away. He was shocked when he felt something soft brush up against his cheek. "Thank you," Hermione whispered, then she bolted for the girls dorm, leaving Harry leaning shakily against the wall.
Wain Manor, Same Day...
Harry looked away from the wall mirror that had displayed the entire incident.
"Cowabunga?" asked Luna.
Harry buffed his nails against his shirt. "What can I say? At that age I thought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were totally awesome."
Luna shook her head and walked away muttering about Muggles who believed in the weirdest things.
Defense Against the Dark Arts Office, Hogwarts, Again Same Day...
The sound of Snape's screams echoed off the walls and the possessed Professor smiled evilly.
"What next my master?" asked Quirrel.
Thanks to Harry Nargle's fidelius charm, neither remembered exactly why they came to Hogwarts, but Voldemort, err, Betsy, was sure it was to wreak havoc. And havoc was exactly what she planned on.
"Poisoned Gummy Bears," Betsy whispered in reply. "And get me another My Little Pony T-Shirt!"
Quirrel groveled and marveled at the power and majesty of his dark lady. A small corner of his remaining mind that was untouched by the insane spirit wondered what a Gummy Bear was.
Wain Manor, November 21st...
Luna groaned and buried her head in her hands. She had been using a viewing mirror to observe little Harry and his friends and had discovered that big Harry had been playing outside of the normal sandbox again.
In her mind the scene played out again between Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. She watched them closely since the incident with the Panda. Unsurprisingly the pair had become close friends over the incident.
Harry looked up from reading his textbook, then he smiled brightly. "Yes Hermione?"
"I read the chapters you told me about. I erm...," Hermione trailed off into silence, blushing heavily.
Harry echoed her blush. "It's alright Hermione, I just thought you'd find it interesting."
"So you're not interested in doing that now?" she blurted.
Harry sucked in a breath. "With you?" he replied, then his blushed deepened as he realized what he said. "Umm... perhaps someday."
Hermione glanced up from studying her feet and smiled shyly. "Oh... maybe someday."
She quickly leaned down and kissed his cheek. "Good Night," she whispered, then turned and dashed up the stairs.
Harry Potter watched her run from his table and his fingers brushed against his cheek. She had been doing that a lot lately and he was really starting to like it. "Good night," he whispered in reply.
Luna turned to Harry. "Did you see that?"
Harry nodded happily. He was so pleased and proud of his little self, who was probably even more pleased with his littler self.
"I did. Seems our little Harry is growing up," he replied.
Luna's eyes narrowed. "What book was she talking about?"
Harry mumbled something and Luna leaned close enough to grab him by an earlobe. "I didn't hear you," she said intently.
"Hogwarts, a history, the adult edition!" he shouted. He really was quite a wimp when it came to pain.
She frowned. "You don't mean the edition that covers the 40 year period where they used Hogwarts to write a magical version of the Kama Sutra? The one with nearly thirty chapters of animated, sexual illustrations?"
Harry grinned. "Our favorite book," he murmured, then he twisted slightly in her grip and kissed her wrist.
Luna shuddered first at the feather soft kiss, then the rush of magic that flooded her body, igniting her passion.
She grimaced and tightened her hold on his earlobe. "They are too young!"
Harry nodded. "You are right, they are too young. Didn't you hear Harry? He said 'Someday'. Not today, not tomorrow, someday. Harry just did something rather mature, he acknowledged a possibility. That's something I never would have been brave enough to do. He basically acknowledged she's a girl and not just one of the guys who dresses funny."
Luna nodded slowly. She wanted to tear into Harry about this, but by the same token she had made her own changes to the pair to help cement their friendship. She released his earlobe and he rubbed it, looking at her with that wounded look of his.
She groaned, she never could resist his hurt puppy look. He slowly slid his hand up under her skirt, his hand tracing a line of fire along her thigh. She gave him a sultry look and slowly started to unfasten the buttons on her blouse.
Harry grinned to himself. He had managed to make a few minor changes to Harry and Luna was going to let him get away with it!
Luna pulled him closer and he nestled his head between her breasts. She reveled in the sensation of closeness and was happy that Harry had been distracted before she had to reveal the changes she had made in both Harry and Hermione.
Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts, Dec 21st...
Dumbledore stormed into his office and threw himself into his chair. Quirrel was possessed, of that he was certain, but now he wasn't sure what he was possessed by. And if that wasn't bad enough, he was practically sitting on a mutiny among his staff!
Someone had slipped the entire fourth year Slytherin class tainted candy that resulted in Madam Pomfrey closing the hospital wing for two days why it was cleaned and fumigated. He was certain Quirrel was responsible, but he couldn't understand what he had to gain by poisoning the one group of people that were likely to support him.
Things were getting out of hand.
The new history teacher that the board forced him to hire had given his first year classes an essay on recent Dark Lords. Most wrote about Grindelwald, or You-Know-Who, but two students in Ravenclaw, Harry Potter and Hermione Granger both wrote about Dumbledore.
Those essays originally received only marginal grades, but the students challenged the marks. As per the rules for challenging the essays made the rounds of the faculty and were slowly upgraded with each passing professor that read the essay.
When the essays hit the Deputy Head's desk, she not only upgraded the marks to Outstandings, she also awarded points to the two students. That caused a number of Professors to question Minerva who confirmed the timelines and facts laid out in the essays.
While both students wrote about the same man, Hermione took his early years, exposing Dumbledore's involvement with Grindelwald and Harry's essay dealt with the rise of Voldemort and Dumbledore's response to Voldemort. He laid out the formation of the Order of the Phoenix then he labeled it the most ineffective and incompetent militia ever created.
No one questioned the unique source of their information, a tome so rare it didn't even exist until Luna Snorkack conjured it and sent it to the pair anonymously.
Although no Professor would admit it, both essays somehow found their ways into the hands of the students who were surprised at what they revealed. Albus was surprised and hurt by the fact that many students now viewed him with open suspicion.
In a fit Dumbledore angrily shoved several books off of his desk.
"You shouldn't treat books so poorly Headmaster," said a voice.
Dumbledore spun on his heel, whipping up his wand he fired a cutting hex at the intruder.
Luna caught the hex in her hand and the glowing energy pooled in the palm of her hand. She smiled prettily at the ball of magic that hovered there, then she turned her attention to Dumbledore. The old man stumbled back in shock and more than a touch of fear. The Seraphim that cursed him had returned!
The ball of magic in Luna's hand collapsed down into an Apple which she proceeded to take a dainty bite out of, then she paused. "You've been a naughty naughty boy Albus," she chided. "Despite my warnings you still sit up here in your tower and plot. You still think you're in charge."
"This is my school!" thundered Dumbledore.
"Control is an illusion Albie. I'm warning you, leave Harry Potter and his friends alone or I might get annoyed. Do you know what happens when I get annoyed?"
Dumbledore cringed back from Luna. She was radiating so much magic she was shimmering.
"N N No?"
She spread her wings and slowly lifted up off the floor. In one hand appeared a 8 foot long flaming blade. "I am the protector of the chosen! Beware lest I smite thee!" she intoned. The room shook with the power of her voice and the portraits all fled their painting in a panic.
Fawkes awoke with a squawk and took in the scene. He honked once and flamed to another room where he honked continuously for nearly an hour. He caused such a ruckus that dozens of other Phoenixes flamed in, wanting to know what was so funny. The result of so many phoenixes flashing into Dumbledore's private quarters was a fire hot enough to glaze the stones of the castle, and destroy most of Albus' private quarters.
Dumbledore backed up and tripped over his chair, falling to the floor. He lifted one arm to shield himself from the light.
Luna swung her mighty sword as she raised her arms. The portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black had a split second to squeak before it was destroyed by the sword. That portrait would never be able to spy on little Harry again.
"Oh, oops, sorry about that," Luna said with a small giggle. She looked down at Dumbledore who cringed and cowered on the floor.
"Remember my warning old man!" Luna intoned, then she swung her sword down with all her strength.
Dumbledore screamed and scuttled backwards, staring in disbelief as Luna destroyed his prized desk that he won in a poker game. The desk was cleaved completely in half, and although he didn't know it at the time, no amount of magic would ever put it back together again.
Luna then winked at Dumbledore, and threw the apple at him. It sailed through the air and unerringly bonked the old man in the forehead, turning his smiley face scar a bright yellow. With that accomplished she faded from view leaving Dumbledore to ponder why fate could be so cruel as to give him a tool with an angelic guardian.
Wain Manor, Dec 25th...
"Are you still mad that you couldn't arrange for Hermione to stay for the Holiday?" Luna asked.
Harry shook his head. "Nah, you were right, she should be with her parents. Besides it gives me a chance to annoy the old man again."
Luna sat next to Harry on the sofa and looked at the viewing mirror. "Oh? What are we watching then?"
The image showed Harry's bed, which was empty except for two small packages sitting on the bed.
"Do you remember what Dumbledore gave me my first year?"
"Your dad's cloak?"
Harry nodded. "That's right. Well I intercepted the cloak and gave him a replacement item from Dumbledore. I also gave him Lily Potter's diaries from her Hogwart's years, from his Guardian Angel."
"Harry your Mum's diaries would be very personal, I'm not sure little Harry is mature enough for what he might encounter in there." Luna replied disapprovingly.
Harry grimaced and turned to face her directly. "I know sweetie, but he knows little about her other than he has her eyes. I remember wanting so badly that someone would sit down and tell me about her. All I knew of my parents were Dad's pranks and Mum liked charms. Maybe he's too young to read about his Mum's first period, but he needs to know her and this is the only way he can. Besides he's smart enough that he'll take what he's read and apply it to others. You watch how he treats Hermione once he understands how painful it can be."
Luna caressed his cheek softly. "Maybe you're right," she admitted grudgingly. "Perhaps in reading her diaries he'll be able to grow up himself. It's not easy entering the teen years. But I warn you now, I'm going to keep a close eye on him. If Lily wrote in her diary like I did, there are things in there that he should not be reading about his mother."
"Fine fine, just let him read about his mother. If there's anything too racy or too girly you can wipe it from his memory. Happy now?" he retorted.
Luna smoothed out her skirt. "Yes, thank you," she replied primly. "Now tell me about Dumbledore's new gift."
Harry grinned and waved a hand towards the viewing mirror. "You recall how Albus and Gellert were 'close' friends?"
"Buggering buddies is the term you used to describe it," Luna said with a edge of disgust in her tone. "I'm all for sexual freedom, but not while you're plotting the conquest of the world. Dumbledore's 'Greater Good' involved more than just a vision of society, he also wanted some of the many boys he taught over the years."
Harry nodded. "Turns out old Albus had managed to accumulate a marvelous collection of picture books suited to his particular tastes. Harry got some, Ron Weasley got some and Terry Boot got some, all with the same note he left me all those years ago."
Luna blinked and looked at him. Then she tried looking at him with her eyes crossed, just in case. Nope, even with her eyes crossed he was still serious about this. "Okay, this should be interesting I guess. I can't speak for the others, but I'm sure Harry will object to the material."
It wasn't long before Harry entered the room wearing only a towel. Luna smirked to herself and paid closer attention. She knew that bothered her Harry when she watched little Harry. She had told him many times that she wasn't interested in children when she had the real thing available to her anytime, but she still watched because it annoyed Harry and made him feel a trifle less smug.
Harry spotted the presents and stopped dead in his tracks, then he looked around for a moment before approaching them. He saw that they were both addressed to him so he quickly dressed himself.
"You know, if you want to get Hermione more interested in Harry perhaps I should send her a photo of you coming out of the shower. This way she'll know exactly what her Harry will grow into," she said.
Harry reddened and refused to comment.
She laughed and leaned against him. "Maybe I'll just save you all to myself. Let Hermione learn in her own way. She always liked to learn things for herself."
He slipped an arm around her and she cuddled against him. He might not always be sane, but then neither was she and they were uniquely suited to each other.
In the viewing mirror Harry opened one present and pulled out a thin leather bound book. His hands shook slightly when he read the inside cover.
"Mum," he whispered.
Big Harry sniffled a little and looked away causing Luna to tighten her grip on him. Despite all his abilities and all his power the one thing he could not to was erase the past. It had been thousands of years since the end of their war and thousands of universes where they had helped little Harry, but for all that, he still felt the pain of their loss.
"Yes?" he replied, his voice thick with emotion.
"I take it back, whatever Lily wrote in those books, it's worth it for Harry to see," Luna said softly.
He nodded and pulled her closer to him.
Back on the mirror Harry reverently put the book back in the box with the other books. He'd read them later, right now he still had another present to open.
He turned to the present and read the note, then tore into the package eagerly. Considering the last gift he was hoping to see something similar to his mother's diaries. Harry would have arranged for that, but James in this universe never bothered with any journals or diaries.
Harry opened the box and gasped, he stared for about 20 seconds longer at the contents, then he slammed the box closed and grabbed the note. With a furious expression he stormed from the room and the viewing angle on the mirror slewed wildly.
"The mirror is tagged to the box?"
"Yeah it seemed like a smart move," Harry replied.
She nodded and climbed off the couch. "Well then I figure things will get interesting in a little bit. I'll go put some tea on for us."
"Bring me a box of animal crackers?" asked Harry hopefully.
Luna snickered and nodded, then stepped from the room.
By the time Luna returned, with tea and Harry's box of animal crackers, the viewing mirror showed Professors Sprout, Flitwick and McGonagall entering the headmaster's office.
"So Harry took the present to his head of house?" she asked.
Harry nodded and eagerly grabbed for his cookies. He tore open the box and carefully searched for a Giraffe which he removed and bit the head off of.
Luna shook her head with amusement. He loved those simple cookies, but for a very dark reason. In his youth, many years ago he had been beaten for eating one that Dudley had dropped on the floor. Since that time he craved the cookie. Luna made sure they always had some on hand for when Harry wanted them.
Strangely Harry never ate the lions. She just figured it was due to his Gryffindor roots so she ate them when he wasn't looking.
"What were you thinking?" exclaimed McGonagall. With that opening statement she slammed the box of magazines that Ron Weasley had given her onto the headmaster's desk. The desk creaked and collapsed which startled the Professors and pissed off Dumbledore. He had spent nearly an hour chanting that particular repair spell and still the desk wouldn't stay repaired!
"What is the meaning of this?" Dumbledore said with a snarl. "I am headmaster, you'll will treat me with respect."
"Respect?" Flitwick retorted. "Not when you're giving students filth!"
"Filth?" Dumbledore replied incredulously, then he reached for the box sitting on the wreck of the desk and lifted the lid.
He stared at the contents for a long minute, his expression one of shock. "So that's where they disappeared to," he murmured, forgetting that he wasn't alone in the room.
"So then they are yours?" pressed McGonagall.
Dumbledore blinked and looked up at her. "I assure you Professor, I would not give these to any of my students."
Over Dumbledore's head appeared a bright sign with an arrow pointing to his head. It read, "Look at the Horcrux!"
All three professors started when the sign appeared, then followed the arrow to the bright yellow smiley face that adorned Dumbledore's forehead. Strangely Dumbledore seemed oblivious to the presence of the sign, and even as it started to fade out, he paid it no heed.
Luna leaned closer to Harry and pounded on his back several times, attempting to help him clear the cookie that he was choking on. When he finally managed to catch his breath again he turned to her.
"Part of your work I take it?" he asked.
Luna nodded happily, Harry had given her a broad outline of a plan when he came up with the idea of Divine Intervention and transference, but it was up to her to fill in all the details. Harry would have never thought of charming Dumbledore's slippers to squeak "Horcrux" when he walked!
Improvisation was one of her specialties.
Harry smiled fondly at her and turned his attention back to the viewing mirror.
"I won't have this Dumbledore," shouted McGonagall. "You will apologize to the students you sent this filth to or I will go to the board and the ministry to lodge a formal complaint!"
"But I didn't send it!" protested Albus.
"Headmaster, the notes are in your handwriting," Flitwick said. Sprout watched and kept silent, she was too busy enjoying the fight to bother getting personally involved. As far as she was concerned, Minerva was doing just fine on her own.
Dumbledore gasped as Minerva grabbed him by the beard and pulled him down to her eye level. "You will apologize or I will transfigure those bits you seem so fond of into something that bites!"
He nodded rapidly and she released his beard.
Dumbledore made to gather up his private collection of non-standard photography but Minerva snatched it up first.
"I will see that these are properly disposed of," she said flatly.
He flinched back from her glare and watched wistfully as she scooped up all the magazines.
"I learned a new fire spell that I've been itching to try," Filius said brightly. "It's supposed to ignite even items charmed to be fireproof."
Minerva smiled at the little professor and gestured towards the door. "Then let's go down to the courtyard and see how well it works."
Dumbledore stood there before his wreck of a desk and sighed sadly. "Some days no one understands us leaders of the light," he grumbled to himself.
Luna and Harry leaned back on the couch as the professors left the room.
"So what now?" asked Luna, waving a hand and shutting down the mirror. There was no need to watch the three professors burn the headmaster's smut collection.
Harry scratched his head. "Hmmm hey I know, we haven't sent Snape to the infirmary in the past three weeks. It's time for him to have another dose of Skelegrow!"
Luna smiled and nodded at him. She had all sorts of ideas that would accomplish that.
Potions Lab, Hogwarts, Dec 25th...
Snape idly turned a page on the potions journal he was reading. Around him several dozen cauldrons were simmering. He was replenishing the infirmary stocks of basic healing potions, it was a process he had done a hundred times in the past ten years. None of the potions were difficult to make, nor were they very dangerous. Unlike some other potions he could allow his guard to drop while making these.
Well that is if there wasn't a certain witch out to cause havoc.
The cauldron nearest Snape exploded unexpectedly. Snape went down after getting hit squarely in the forehead with a piece of cauldron bottom. He lay on the floor, dazed and his eyes fixed on the piece that hit him.
That bottom is too thin! He thought to himself. Damn ministry allowing the sale of defective cauldrons! No wonder it exploded!
Movement caught his eye and he gazed up towards the cabinet that contained some of the most dangerous ingredients in the magical world. He could clearly see the large piece of substandard cauldron bottom sitting on top of the cabinet, it had bounced off the wall and landed on top of the cabinet. However instead of cooling down, the hunk of metal started glowing red, then orange, then white.
The cabinet caught fire.
Snape pushed himself slowly to his feet, he had to get out of there!
He turned towards the door to the lab and stood dumbfounded. The door was gone! Where it once stood, solid stone wall now lay.
He turned back to the cabinet just in time to see it explode.
"Mummy!" he screamed.
Harry turned to Luna. "Neat trick making the door vanish," he commented. In the viewing mirror, the potions lab was a wreck and an alarm was shrieking throughout the castle.
"I thought so," Luna replied, "but you're the one that made that cabinet catch on fire, I was going to settle for him having a concussion and maybe a broken bone or two."
Harry chuckled. "It was worth it to hear him cry for his mummy," he said with a snicker.
DADA Office, Hogwarts...
"I've made up my mind! He's been looking at me funny every time you write on the board!"
"But master," whined Quirrel.
"No, we must find a way to get that mean Ronald Weasley! He stuck his tongue out at me!" shouted Betsy.
"What can we do Master, everyone already hates him."
Betsy was silent for a moment. "I will think of something, something which will scare him to death! In the meantime put mud in his underwear!"
"Mud?" asked Quirrel fearfully.
"Mud! Cold slimely icky mud! Make it smell like doo doo!"
Quirrel sighed. "Yes Master, I will do it."
Sirius Black moaned softly and pulled up the tattered cloak around him. It was winter and all he had to keep warm was the light weight cloak he had been wearing and what little heat the prison retained from the wall torches.
Suddenly the silence of the cell block was broken with an eerie screech. The dementor that had been patrolling stopped and turned towards the sound. Up the corridor a figure approached, surrounded by a white light.
The Dementor froze in place, it's body straining with effort, trying to move. The figure reached out and touched it. There was a bright flash of light and the dementor shriveled up and fell to the floor. Less than a third of the dementor remained.
Sirius lifted his head and looked at the figure in terror. When the door to the cell opened by itself he sat up and tried to crawl to the back of the cell, further out of reach.
The figure stepped into the cell and looked around for a moment.
"Merlin Padfoot, this place smells like fermented cow piss!" The figure said as the light surrounding it faded away.
Sirius blinked and shook his head. This couldn't be happening! Had he finally gone insane?
"James?" he rasped.
Harry shook his head and a chair appeared for him to sit in. "Sadly no, I'm not James. But let's get comfortable while I tell you a story the likes of which only the Marauders would appreciate."
The room blurred and Sirius suddenly found himself sitting on a comfortable chair. He was clean and dressed in warm clothing. A moment later a table appeared in front of him, laden with all sorts of fresh food.
"Eat up Paddy while I explain who I am, and why I'm here," said the James look a like.
For the next four hours Sirius ate and listened with astonishment and more than a few laughs. There were a fair number of tears as well, but slowly Sirius' world was coming back together. Harry explained that he needed to stay where he was for another year or so, but Harry was already taking steps to make sure he was comfortable and well taken care of during that time.
Finally he pushed away from the table and let out a loud burp of satisfaction. "So let me get this straight, you're my Godson from another Universe and you've been on this massive jaunt across the universes where you have been fixing all the problems that started because of one old man."
Harry nodded happily, Sirius was about the only person in this universe that would understand the humor of the situation.
"And my real Godson?"
Harry sighed slightly. Sirius was right to be concerned about his godson, but the question only drove home the fact that he wasn't the correct Harry for this universe. "He's better than fine Sirius. He's happy, he's being watched over by forces beyond your imagining to keep him safe. He's got a friend that will probably turn into a spouse one of these days. And I don't intend to allow anything bad to happen to him."
Sirius nodded. "Alright, but what about me?"
Harry grinned. "You can't leave here just yet, but I'm going to make some changes so that your life here is much better. No one will notice the changes to your cell that I've made, or the changes to your clothing and the cell is warded to prevent the dementors from bothering you. In the meantime I need you to eat hearty and take your potions to get better. During summer between Harry's second and third year you'll leave here and be reunited with him."
Sirius stared at him for a moment. "In case you haven't noticed, this is a prison, the room service here is terrible."
Harry smiled and nodded. "I noticed that and I've arranged for your meals to be delivered. When you're hungry, call for Helga, she'll take care of anything you need. Food, books, potions, anything," Harry replied, stressing the last sentence. "She help with just about anything you need, but she won't help you leave here early. There's much to do between now and when you do leave here. As much as I'd like to take you with me now, it's safer if you stay."
"Helga?" Sirius said softly.
There was a pop and a beautiful blond dressed as a Las Vegas showgirl appeared. "You called for me Master Sirius?"
Sirius blinked, then drooled.
Harry leaned over and smacked Sirius upside his head. "Wake up Padfoot!"
Sirius shook his head and glanced back at Harry. "I I I oh wow. I don't think staying here is going to be much of a hardship."
Harry stood and smiled at Sirius. "I'd better get going, but I'll come back to visit now and then, and Helga can always pass messages to me."
Sirius nodded rapidly and missed Harry's smirk before he vanished.
"Would Master Sirius like a massage before his bath?" asked Helga in a sultry voice.
Sirius nodded and never noticed the drool sliding down one side of his chin.
"You do know he's going to be upset with you," Luna said, not even looking up when Harry returned from Azkaban.
"Yeah but eventually he'll see the humor. Besides, with the exception of one Sirius, every one of them we've encountered ending up marrying the girl."
Reluctantly she accepted his point. "I know, but the simple fact is she isn't a girl."
Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Love we've had this argument a thousand times. Yes she was a disgraced house elf. But you know my transfiguration is permanent, she's now fully human, with house elf loyalties and magic. She has enough will to keep Sirius from hurting himself and at the same time she'll give him the love he needs. She'll never replace James and Lily, but she'll give him the love those two couldn't give him. The more she and Sirius are together, the less elf like she'll become. Eventually you won't be able to tell her from any other normal woman."
Luna reached for her cup of tea and sipped. "Your probably right though it pains me to admit it. Sirius is damaged. Helga will help him recover in the next year and her presence by his side will keep him from running off with little Harry. Just remember the rules, I want to be there when you tell him the truth about Helga and you're not allowed to use magic to defend yourself."
Harry's shoulders slumped. He still remembered the one Sirius that was mortally offended by what he had done to him. Luna healed him, but she spent three days scolding him about stupid silly pranks. "Yes dear," he replied unhappily.
Luna eyed him for a moment. She suspected that this Sirius had managed to drive home the idea that this wasn't really his godfather. Most of them did, although none actually meant to hurt Harry, but the simple fact was Harry's godfather was long dead and thousands of universes away.
She put her cup down and it vanished from the table. Standing she reached out with a hand. Harry looked up from his chair curiously.
"Come love," she said softly. "I'm going to show you exactly why you'll never need a Helga of your own. Who knows, maybe one of these days you'll be able to break God's contraceptive charm. You won't know if we don't keep trying."
Harry grinned and took her hand. As he stood both of them were suddenly naked. Luna eyed him with a raised eyebrow. She knew that he had merely vanished their clothing to the laundry room. The one time he banished their clothing she was very unhappy to lose a favorite bra and let him know about it.
Hogwarts Great Hall, Lunch Time, mid March...
Harry and Hermione sat close together, sharing a book and a plate of crisps between them. Their closeness had raised eyebrows at first, but now people came to accept it. They were very close friends who openly acknowledged that someday they wanted to date their best friend.
Professor Flitwick had spoken with the pair, individually and as a pair and was satisfied that they were just close friends, although they had plans to change that in a few years. It was unusual to be sure, but since the most either of them did was hold hands or the occasional kiss on the cheek no one could really complain about their behavior. And their grades placed them in the top spots at school.
Now they sat reading an old volume and generally chatted like friends do.
"Kill the thief!" shouted Quirrel from the entrance to the Great Hall.
Harry and Hermione both looked up from their book along with three hundred other students. Quirrel stumbled into the room and headed right for the Slytherin table.
Quirrel reached and grabbed Ron Weasley, pulling him up by his collar. "Where is it you dirty little thief!" he hissed.
"W W W What?" stammered Weasley.
Dumbledore stood at the head table and fired off a banishing charm. With a bang, Ron and Quirrel were forced apart. Quirell flew backwards, slamming into Harry Potter and both ended up on the floor in a tangle of limbs.
"Harry!" shouted Hermione in alarm.
It was too late, Harry had finally managed some skin to skin contact with Quirrel. The DADA professor staggered to his feet, his cheek blistering and smoldering. Little Harry sat up and choked back a whimper, his own hand was smoking and blistering as well.
"ARGH!" shouted Quirrel, then he ripped off his turban. "No! I will not go, it's not my bedtime" shouted Betsy from the back of Quirrel's head. Quirrel suddenly conjured a teddy bear which he threw at Weasley. "DIE!"
The bear grew to enormous proportions as it flew unerringly to it's target. Ron squealed in fright as the now three hundred pound stuffed bear landed on top of him.
Quirrel staggered, his face was nearly burned off at this point. "He stole my little pony t-shirt!" Betsy shouted.
Thinking quickly Hermione grabbed a pitcher of cold pumpkin juice and she shoved Harry's burning hand into the cold liquid. Flitwick hastened from the head table to help his students while Betsy continued to hurl deadly teddy bears at Dumbledore.
The fight continued for only a few more minutes before Quirrel staggered and fell to his knees. "No!" howled Betsy, then Quirrel slumped to the floor and moved no more.
Black smoke rose above the still body and formed into the shape of a teddy bear before fading away.
"Oh my god the headmaster killed Professor Quirrel!" shouted one student.
"No, wait I was.."
"He's a murderer!" shouted another.
"Evil wizard!" shouted a third.
"Silence!" bellowed Dumbledore. "Minerva, see to removing these bears and helping any injured students."
As always when she looked at him the giant Horcrux sign flashed into existence over his head and then started to fade.
Turning away she muttered. "Right away Head Horcrux... ah... Headmaster."
Dumbledore scowled at her, then noted the number of students glaring at him. He wisely decided that his office is where he needed to be.
He hadn't reached the exit of the hall when he overheard a student. "So the smiley face scar is a Horcrux, what's a horcrux?"
He quickened his pace, refusing to look at anyone.
Harry turned away from the mirror towards Luna who was wearing a My Little Pony T-Shirt. "Well that was dramatic, and totally different. I like it."
Luna nodded happily, she especially enjoyed the part where the three hundred pound teddy bear landed on Ron Weasley, crushing his pelvis. Ever since he made up the name of Looney for her she had a bit of a grudge against him.
"Little Harry burned his hand, but Hermione dunking it in the juice stopped the burn from spreading. Madam Pomfrey will have it fixed up in no time," Luna said primly. "As for the rest, well I can't take all the blame for it. You gave us a 5yr girl as a possessing dark lord, couple that with naturally immature preteens and teens and there was bound to be an explosion sooner or later."
"Betsy's been out to get Ron Weasley ever since he very maturely stuck his tongue out at Quirrel when he was writing on the board," Luna added. "I just helped it along a little."
"I'd say that the 5yr old homicidal Betsy was a success, we'll have to try it again in the future," Harry said, then he frowned.
"This summer Harry will be locked up at the Dursleys, it might pay to revisit them and make sure they treat him better," he mused.
Luna nodded and pulled out a notebook. "Do you want to see he's treated better, or just get him away from them for the summer?"
Harry paused in his thinking and turned to her. "I'm not sure, if we want to keep throwing the old man curve balls we have to at least pretend to stick to the time line. Why not just arrange for Harry to spend the last week or two with Hermione at her place?"
Luna nodded, "That would work well I think. I doubt the Dursleys will be much of a problem this year, and it will give me a chance to catch Dobby."
"Luna, don't hurt him!" Harry said sharply.
In about half the universes they had been to, Dobby had been more like Kreacher than the Dobby they grew up with.
"I'm not going to hurt him Harry, I'm just going to make sure he's safe. I think I'll also use him to make sure Harry's well fed, just in case the Dursleys do go for the locked bedroom door again."
Harry grew a wide smile and Luna looked at him quizzically. "What is it?"
"It's fitting, feeding Harry Potter out of the Malfoy larder. Merlin if only we could have little Harry send Lucius a public thank you note that the whole world could see."
Luna chuckled, "It would be nice, but we have other plans for Lucius, remember? Oh by the way, how goes his reconstruction efforts?"
Harry snickered. "I adjusted Lucius to be a bit more frugal. Hence he's living in a poorly made shack while he tries by his own hand to rebuild the Manor house and mind you, Lucius is no craftsman."
Luna joined him in his laughter.
"So where do you want to go this summer?" he asked casually.
Without real jobs and access to unlimited the funds plus untold power, the world had become their playground. Usually during the summer months they took a vacation that lasted a month. It didn't matter where in the world they were, they were capable of popping back to England to fix any problems, so they used the time to travel extensively.
"Disney World?" Luna asked hopefully, she adored the theme park and thought Pirates of the Caribbean was a wonderful ride.
Harry nodded, he knew she'd ask for that. Every year they visited Disney world for a week for her to get her fix of Mickey Mouse.
Your screen fills with wavy lines and your computer suddenly starts to play the theme song from Twilight Zone. You think to yourself, now would be a good time to go potty, get something to munch and consider the review I intend to write.
Luna stepped into the room and skidded to a halt, her progress stopped by an unusual sight.
Harry danced in front of a large blank wall. "Do do do do do do," he chanted.
That sounds like a bad version of the theme to Twilight Zone, mused Luna.
"Do I want to know what you're doing?" she asked.
Harry turned towards Luna and blushed. "Umm well if you must know I'm advancing the time line for our readers."
Luna frowned. "Readers?"
Harry nodded happily at her, he was so pleased that she understood!
"What readers," she through gritted teeth.
Harry's expression fell, she didn't understand! Reluctantly he sat down and waved her to take a seat.
She sat and waited expectantly. "Well?"
"We know there are infinite universes right?" he asked.
She warily nodded, certain this was going to be one of those explanations which gave her a headache.
"If there are an infinite number of universes where an infinite number of different things are happening, then it stands to reason that in a subset of the first infinity there is a second infinity in which people are reading about us and what we're doing as if we were some kind of story."
As he spoke, he scrawled runes and arithmantic equations in the air. He also included a large dose of quantum physics and string theory. She thought the animations of little string people representing the varying states of the greater quantum flux was a nice touch.
When Harry finally wound down Luna wandlessly summoned a headache potion, then she leaned forward in her chair rubbing her temples. She couldn't fault his logic, or his mathematics. But the concept of a subset of infinity being also infinity, well that hurt even her brain.
"So you think there are universes where people are reading about us? And that gave you the idea to dance in front of a wall?" She asked finally, after drinking her potion.
"I wasn't just dancing," he replied in a hurt tone. "I was sending them a temporal wavefront to advance their timeline. They don't really need to know what happens over the summer. And I'm not about to let them read about Harry and Hermione both discovering the joys of self gratification."
"My mother warned me there would be days like this," she muttered, "and I didn't believe her."
Luna closed her eyes for a moment and prayed for the potion to take effect. "Alright, I can understand why we don't need to get that personal with Harry and Hermione. Have you finished?"
Harry nodded. "Close enough, we've got enough time still before school starts to put our plans in place for the diary. I take it you still want to handle it yourself?"
"I'll handle the diary if you'll handle Hogwarts," she replied.
Harry nodded, it would be easy enough for him to slip into the school and place the chamber of secrets under a fidelius charm.