Bob cringed and clapped both hands over his ears, then he turned to glare at Alyx who was standing behind his chair, wailing at the top of her lungs.
"What are you screaming about?" Bob shouted.
"Its over," wailed Alyx. "This is the last chapter of Mutant Storm!"
"I know it is," Bob replied smoothly, because as a cool author, he did only cool things. "Its not like this is the last story we'll ever write you know. We've finished stories before."
Alyx blinked and looked at him in astonishment. "You're right!," she gasped, then she paled. "Oh what can we do next? Can we work on the Snape Saves the World story? Or perhaps the one with the zombie llamas attacking Britain and Harry is forced to team up with Voldemort in order to save the day? Or then there's the one mmmph mmph!"
Bob shrugged an apology and put the duct tape down while Alyx tried to peel the tape off her mouth.
"We already have a plot picked out," Bob replied in a cool manner. And I don't have to tell you why he can be so cool. "All we have to do is put this story to bed, then we can start working on the next one."
Alyx glared at him and tried harder to peel the tape off her mouth.
Bob smirked at her. "I'm going to let you give the disclaimer to our friendly readers. And as an added incentive, if you don't tell them, I've arranged for a battery of lawyers who are waiting backstage to sue you into the next country."
With that Bob turned and walked away. As exits go, it was really cool. Alyx tore at the tape on her mouth and it refused to budge. "Mmmph mmmph!" she said with pleading eyes, hoping someone would understand her.
Ginny sat next to Harry in the front row. She turned to him. "Does that count as a disclaimer?"
Harry grinned at her. "Not even close. All she had to do was say they don't own Harry Potter, now those lawyers are going to boil her in oil."
Alyx's eyes bulged at Harry's comment and she dashed off the stage. Bob spotting her running away turned on the chapter and chuckled to himself. "Gotta love superglue backed duct tape."
Wizengamot Chambers, Emergency Session, January 30th...
"Minister, I do hope you have a reason for rousting us out of bed at this late hour?" called Yaxley.
"I beg your indulgence, my lords, but you did demand we report as soon as we knew about the students that were taken from us."
"As you are aware, scrying is an imprecise art unless, you have a general idea of the area. One of the missing students sent a letter to a sister who is attending Beauxbatons in France. While we were unable to get our hands on the letter, we did manage to tag the owl with a very light tracer spell. The trace was first located somewhere in New York state, in the Americas, but then yesterday it moved much further south. We now suspect the owl, and the student owner, have been moved to the state of Florida.
"With that information, we were able to scry the location and believe we have their exact position. Of course, there is still some uncertainty, but..."
"Yes, yes. Do you have the location or don't you?" shouted one member.
Thicknesse bobbed his head and shuffled his hat in his hands. "We are pretty certain of the location, my lord."
"Then what is the problem?"
"My lord, the students are in a foreign country. Sending an auror force in could be construed as an act of war. The United States has an auror force larger than ours by more than triple. Had they gone to someplace like Canada, we could have acted without worry. But the United States is not some little country to trifle with. Unlike many others, the United States regards us with contempt. Our Ambassador there has tried on numerous occasions to explain to them why we're the premiere wizarding society, but they are stubborn and hold to their backwards ideas," pleaded Thicknesse. "I fear any attempt to rescue our students may result in the United States attacking us."
"They wouldn't dare!" shouted one member.
"Then what do you propose?" asked another member icily.
Thicknesse knew he was on thin ice, but he had few options available to him. "My lords, I propose that we ask the ICW to intervene on our behalf. If that fails, and with your mandate, we shall organize a rescue party to bring our students home."
"The ICW? That could take months! I want my granddaughters back!" shouted Ernest Greengrass in a fit of rage. He had been planning on opening talks with the Flint family for marrying off Daphne when she vanished.
"Yes, all this talking is wasting time! Bring them home!" called another.
"My lords, please hear me out," Thicknesse called. "Our Auror force is much reduced and some have quit because we can no longer pay them. The muggles have stopped delivery of most of our food and basic goods. We have taken to larceny in order to keep some of our most basic needs supplied.
"Things were working well and we even managed to get our hands on a lot of the muggle money to buy more goods, but lately the aurors we sent out to raid for supplies are reporting armed muggles fighting back.
"I authorized a covert attempt to imperius the Prime Minister, but that failed. The Auror sent to do the job was killed trying to get out of the building. He never reached the Prime Minister to cast his spell. Somehow they detected him under his invisibility cloak."
Yaxley pushed himself to his feet. He was an old man, nearly Dumbledore's age, and if there was one thing he was known for, it was for steering his family through three dark lords without getting the family officially involved. He was a canny old man and a survivor.
Silence fell in the chamber when he stood. He wasn't well liked, but he was respected and feared by many.
"Lords and Ladies, it is obvious that our ministry is currently in dire straights. The vicious murders of our aurors and the imperioused wizards by the hands of mutants has hampered our ability to deal with the upstart muggles, or the mutants.
"I propose that we immediately institute involuntary conscription for all wizards and witches from the ages of 16 to 35. Further, we authorize the Minister to assemble a force to bring our family members home."
Yaxley stood silently, letting his words settle in.
"I second!" shouted Ping Chang. His daughter was head girl before she was forced to write that terrible note and taken from the school.
Thicknesse watched the vote and tried to determine his best course of action. Even with raw recruits, it would still take a couple of weeks to train them up, assuming he had the aurors to do so. He could only hope that the Wizengamot would give him that time. He was only temporary minister and he knew he could lose his job if the Wizengamot wished.
Camp Christmas, Florida, January 30th...
Harry leaned back against the palm tree and chuckled. From where he sat, he could see Daphne Greengrass, wearing a Minnie Mouse T-Shirt, trying very hard to eat a foot long chilli dog with everything and not make a mess.
Melony had gone into town, while Rupert, Harry and Scott spent their afternoon setting up a huge stereo/entertainment system in the recreation building. A few of the students watched Harry, who was the designated wire crawler as he slithered under tables and behind bookcases, pulling speaker wires. Their comments were suddenly cut short when he stood and walked over to the radio console and turned it on.
The sheer number of different stations coming in from Orlando far exceeded anything they could get on the wizarding wireless.
When Melony returned, she had a huge supply of t-shirts and other items to wear. The pile sat for nearly an hour before a timid second year Ravenclaw looked at the shirts and asked if she could take one. Melony nodded and helped the girl find a shirt in the pile that she liked. She beamed a huge smile at Melony and clutched her Goofy T-Shirt tightly.
That was all it took for the girls to explode over the pile of shirts.
They didn't understand the images on the shirts, but they were colorful and much cooler than the heavy clothing they had for Scottish winters. Melony had also included piles of sunglasses, sandals and other warm weather items to help the students.
Later that day, Rupert, Scott and Hank set up a row of 50 gallon drum BBQs and they were turning out hotdogs and burgers by the bucket load. The idea of sitting around in the open, eating food cooked by people seemed strange to some of the students, but no one complained since the food was tasty.
The windows to the recreation building were open and several speakers were sitting in the windows, playing music for everyone.
Harry's house elves watched with disapproval on their faces, but he had given them strict orders not to over work themselves. The elves would help with the cooking, but not tonight. Tonight was special.
"Look around you, Harry," Hermione said softly.
He grinned at her. "I have been. Who would have believed it? Daphne Greengrass, sitting on the ground, eating a chilli dog and zoning out on Elton John?"
"Wait til the movie later," Hermione said with a laugh. "Dad and Mum couldn't agree on a movie, so we have Star Wars and Hercules."
Harry looked down at his feet. He didn't want to admit to his friend that he hadn't seen either of those movies either.
He glanced over at Ron and laughed.
The red head stood up and stared at the ground for the third time since he'd arrived. Harry and Ginny had posted photos of various bugs/snakes and other stuff to avoid in every dorm and Ron was now downright paranoid.
"Has anyone told you what's going on back home?" Neville asked quietly.
Harry frowned. "I've been told nothing. The one time I mentioned it to Amelia, she told me it wasn't anything I needed to know about." He sighed and shook his head. "I hope she's right, but I'm getting tired of being treated like a child by adult wizards."
He looked up at his friends. "We killed their dark lord and then set in motion events that pitted wizard against muggle, but we're still kids in their eyes."
"Not all of them, Harry. Your parents don't think that way, nor does Professor Xavier," Ginny commented.
He smiled at her and gave the top of her head a quick kiss. "You're right. My family does treat me different, but in their eyes I've earned the right to be treated like an adult. Most of us have, as far as my family is concerned."
"Mum and Dad don't see us as kids anymore," Ron said softly. "Dad even asked me if he should talk to Luna's father about making an arrangement between the families."
Luna sucked in a deep breath and her eyes widened to the size of saucers. Ron smiled at her and picked up her hand in his. "I told him that if Luna and I are meant to be together, then we'll handle it like he and mum did - by themselves."
Luna smiled shyly at Ron.
Hermione couldn't help herself. "I do believe Ron has moved up to teapot."
Harry grinned at Ron, then turned back to Hermione. "Perhaps, but what about you? Rumor has it you've been playing tonsil swapping with Neville since the fight."
Hermione blushed and Neville slipped an arm around her shoulders. "Back off, Potter," he growled playfully. "You're not exactly lily white yourself, you know."
Harry leaned against Ginny, who cuddled up with him. "Yeah, but I had an excuse. I hadn't seen my girl for nearly two weeks."
Ginny laughed, then nudged Harry. When he looked at her, she pointed towards the line of BBQs.
Tracey Davis and Daphne Greengrass stood a few feet away from Hank with plates in hand. They seemed to want another hot dog, but were unsure of the big blue mutant.
"Watch this," Harry murmured. "Logan thinks he's smooth with the ladies, but Hank is an act unto himself. He could charm the Queen herself if he wanted to."
Hank looked up from the grill and grinned at the two anxious girls.
"Ah, another pair of customers, but why do you hesitate? Did you know that love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind?" Hank said warmly.
Both girls seemed stuck frozen for a moment and Hank smiled gently at them. Tracy timidly returned the smile and took a step forward.
He placed another hotdog on her plate. "Chance makes strange bedfellows of us all, my dear. Eat hearty."
Once Tracy had thanked him and stepped away, Daphne moved forward.
Harry turned to his friends. "See what I mean? Logan blusters and growls and thinks he's a ladies man. Hank quotes Shakespeare and smiles and two pure bloods who would have called the aurors on him a year ago, smile and thank him. Now that's smooth. Give him enough time and he'd have them combing out his fur, while he reads them love poetry."
He shook his head in admiration and Ginny pinched him. Shocked he turned to her. "What did I do?"
"You don't need to quote this Shakespeare at any girl, Harry," she said firmly. She didn't want to admit that she didn't know Shakespeare, but if he could be quoted to woo girls, he was obviously a bad influence in her book.
Harry shot Hermione a grin, then turned back to Ginny, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate," he said in a husky voice. She squeaked and flushed. He used the opportunity to lean in and give her a quick kiss before turning back to the others.
Hermione started to laugh.
"Hank is my primary tutor these days, and while I spend most of my time learning about electronics and physics, he feels that a bit o' the bard is needed to round out my education," he continued with a shrug. "It's fun, actually. He hangs from the ceiling quoting Shakespeare while I try throw quotes back at him and solve his problems."
"Who's this Shakespeare guy?" asked Ron.
Neville nodded in agreement, wanting to know, too.
Hermione looked at the pair and groaned. "Wizards," she muttered, then pulled up sharply. She glanced over to see Harry smirking at her. "All right, I get it now."
He laughed and glanced at his watch. "It's about time for the movies. We should make our way inside."
The group stood and walked slowly to the auditorium, where Logan and Jean were getting things setting up.
"I hope there's popcorn," Harry said brightly.
"What's popcorn?" asked Ron.
Hermione groaned again.
"Trust me, Ron, you're going to love popcorn," Harry said firmly.
Ministry for Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, February 15th...
Pius Thicknesse watched the group assemble and felt a small shiver of fear run down his spine. Two aurors and 13 poorly trained militia who had been pressed into service. The ministry had trouble initially with their 'volunteers'. In a few cases, the ministry had to resort to cursing family members to get their 'volunteers' to cooperate.
Now they were getting ready for an attempt to recover the children who'd had been stolen from them and he was worried. He was sending 15 people to another country, hopeful that they would bring their stolen children home.
"Senior Auror Morton?"
Mathew Morton was an old hand Auror from a family with an impeccable pedigree. He was also the senior Auror in charge of this mission.
"You realize you are authorized to use any force necessary to ensure you accomplish your mission?" Thicknesse said quietly.
Morton nodded, then looked at his people with a frown. Most of them were not Auror material and a few he doubted could cast a damaging spell at all. Their brief training had been exclusively devoted to the use of the unforgivable curses and these were the best of the new 'recruits'.
"You have a plan?"
Morton nodded. "We'll narrow the area down and hope to get close enough to follow an addressed owl. It's probably best if we go in and hit them hard. The shock and surprise should allow us to overwhelm any defenders."
Thicknesse nodded. "Excellent. I wish you and your people luck, Senior Auror. We'll see you when you get back."
Morton nodded and walked back to his men. They weren't due to leave for another hour.
Camp Christmas, Florida, February 15th ...
Classes had started on a limited scale just two days ago and more were expected to begin next week.
Now Harry sat at a table in the mess hall. Ginny sat nearby working on her homework. Like so many of the students, once they had been exposed to paper and ballpoint pens, they quickly embraced the change to write their homework.
Ginny had experience with pen and paper, but the American's insisted on it for all of the students. Salem still used parchment for turned in assignments, but even they were phasing them out in favor of muggle writing methods.
He grinned, watching her. She was writing in her notebook and absently chewing on a lock of hair. He was trying to pretend he didn't have homework of his own to deal with. Hank had given him a devilish problem and he was knee deep in equations. But watching her was a welcome break from the work.
The material that Harry was studying was at a level that mystified most of his friends. It was something that bothered Hermione. He was studying material that she couldn't help him with. The one time she asked if he wanted her to check his homework, he'd handed her a report he'd finished on determining acceleration rates. Her eyes bulged and she wordlessly handed it back to him without a comment.
He looked up to see Daphne Greengrass standing across the table from him. He resisted the urge to shake his head. He had to admit that she filled out her jeans and T-Shirt quite well. Mickey Mouse never looked so good.
Daphne and Tracey were leading the charge to embrace some of the more comfortable muggle fashions that Melony Granger was exposing them to. The parents of both girls would have heart attacks, especially since Melony had introduced the girls to muggle swimwear. It was still too early for swimming, but both girls were hoping to own their first bikini this summer.
Ginny's head popped up from her work and her eyes narrowed when she spotted Daphne.
"Do you mind?" she said, waving to the seat opposite him. When he shook his head, she sat down.
Ginny inched a little closer and he shot her a small smile. "I don't think she's here to curse me, Ginny," he said mildly.
Daphne grinned at Ginny and turned back to Harry. "No, I'm not here to curse you, but your girlfriend still thinks you need protecting."
He looked between the two girls, his eyes narrowing. There was a friction between them that he didn't really understand.
"Relax, Weasley. If I wanted to take him from you, you'd know it."
Harry leaned back slightly and arched an eyebrow. "You seem awful certain of yourself, Greengrass."
She smiled at him. "I know what I'm capable of, Potter, but I also know that even I would be hard pressed to pull you away from your little red head."
"All right, then what do you want?" he asked, his eyes narrowed in irritation. He didn't like what she seemed to be implying.
"I'm concerned and no one I've spoke to seems to see the problem," Daphne said firmly.
"You know how our houses tend to stick together, even here?"
He nodded grudgingly. It was true that even without the houses the students seemed to stick to the people of their own house.
"I heard one of our firsties telling a friend that she had sent her big sister an owl. I didn't think much of it at first because I know the girl's sister lives in Milan where she's studying enchanting under a master."
Harry frowned, suddenly concerned. Their safety lie in their location being kept secret and the camp wasn't under a fidelius charm yet. "Do you think she told them where she is?"
Daphne shook her head. "No, she knows not to tell anyone, but owls are easily recognized. What if one has a tracer placed on it?"
Harry minimized his workfile and brought up another program that allowed him to tie into the camp security system. He looked at the readouts for a moment, then he activated the nighttime protocols, including the motion sensors. A moment later his phone rang.
"Harry, I know Hank has been teaching you stuff we haven't covered, but please don't try hacking into the camp security."
"Dad, I'm not hacking. We've got a problem. Come to the mess hall. You better bring Logan and the Professor."
Five minutes later, Daphne was repeating her story to Scott and Professor Xavier. Logan and Harry were off to one side, huddled over his laptop and debating something about the security system.
Amelia Bones stood not far away, looking rather disgruntled. Daphne had come to her and she had brushed the girl off. Now it seemed like the mutants were taking her seriously.
When Daphne finished, Xavier gave her a small smile. "Thank you for the warning, Miss Greengrass. I know this hasn't been an easy time for you and we do appreciate your help."
Daphne shrugged. "We weren't much help in the fight against the Dark Lord. In punishment for that, Hermione has dragged me all over the place, shoving muggle life into my face. I might not be ready to say I want to marry a muggle, but I'm no fool, and only a fool can deny what I've seen. It's time to make a stand."
Xavier nodded. He'd heard similar sentiments from a number of wizards in the last week. Melony Granger had proven exactly where Hermione had gotten her organizational skills from, as she organized day trips to the Kennedy Space Center, Sea World and Disney World. It kept the students busy while the adults worked to get classes going.
The wizards exposure to the amusement park had been predictable. But the trip to the Space Center shocked them silly. The ride back from the center was done in complete silence, as many students realized that muggles were smarter than they thought.
The trip had been humbling in the extreme for the wizards, who'd thought they were the pinnacle of human existence.
Everyone had hoped to be having classes by now, but there were still some problems they were ironing out, including the delivery of a set of standard text books for the students to use. Limited classes, study groups and field trips were the order of the day until a complete set of books approved by the Americans arrived at the camp.
Xavier turned from Daphne and noted Logan and Harry both talking tensely over his laptop.
"Logan, Harry, is there a problem?"
Logan held up a hand to Harry, silencing him and he turned to Xavier. "The Wiz here says we've left a major hole in security, and to be honest, I'm not sure there's a way of closing it."
Xavier turned to Harry. "What then is the problem?"
He ran a hand through his hair. "The camp is warded against portkey and apparations, so magically it's moderately protected. At the perimeter fence, we have motion sensors on every other post, which can pick up motion from a fairly large body, but it's still not enough to trigger the alarms. The motion sensors are tied into ground tremor detectors. It's how we can tell the difference between a 70 pound dog and a human walking up to the fence.
"The problem is that the motion sensors are very limited, and aimed in such away so that they can only pick up a ground approach. Coupling them to the ground tremor detectors means they won't trigger on an airborne intrusion."
"Brooms," whispered Scott.
Logan and Harry shot him a look and nodded.
"Yes," Harry replied, "brooms. We have no way of picking them up. We'd need radar, like the one we installed in Blackmoor, to pick up broom riders. Even then, you didn't pick up those two Death Eaters until they were at the very edge of the wards. Radar isn't meant to pick up people, it's meant to detect metallic objects."
"We can't use infrared, either. A detector wouldn't have sufficient range," Scott mused. "Perhaps ultrasonics?"
"Is this really necessary?" asked Amelia in exasperation. She didn't trust Greengrass and felt the mutants were putting too much stock into her tale. "We have wards and your machines."
The building suddenly shook and someone outside screamed.
"There's your answer," Harry said in a snarl, then he pulled his wand and headed for the door at a run with his friends close behind.
Harry phased and leapt into the street between buildings. He could hear screams coming from his left. He glanced over his shoulder to find Ginny and Daphne were close behind. Both had pulled out their wands and were crouching down. Glancing up towards the intersection, Harry spotted Hermione and Neville moving back, firing as they went. Flashes of green curse light flew past the pair and Harry ran to help them.
A siren sounded in the camp and Harry grimaced. The siren was supposed to sound when they detected trouble, not after they were under attack. He swore to himself and cursed the fact that he didn't look over what the X-Men had installed for security. The only consolation was that the magical protections weren't much better.
He also knew that Professor Xavier would be calling in all available help. The wizards wouldn't think to do anything about the phone lines running into the camp.
Logan appeared at his side and grinned at him. "I was getting bored anyway. Wanna go mess up some of these turkeys?"
Seeing someone run past him wearing the red cape of a British Auror, Harry almost snarled. "Reducto!" he shouted. The man started to turn when the spell hit him in the side, blasting his arm to pieces. He fell to the ground, bleeding heavily.
He glanced at Logan and nodded. "Let's do this."
Logan slid his claws out and ran around the corner with Harry hot on his heels. Every so often, they caught flashes of light from Scott's visor as his beams lanced out to some target.
Logan spotted two men casting curses at a group of students, who were firing back from a window. He leapt on one, his claws sliding into the man's back and slicing out a huge chunk of flesh. The man screamed and tried to throw Logan off. Instead, he stumbled into his fellow wizard, causing that man to miss his target. The stray shot hit the wall of the building he was standing next to and the cinder blocks exploded in a shower of near lethal fragments, peppering Logan and the two wizards.
Harry heard a scream to one side and he turned to see Rupert Granger being tortured with a Cruciatus curse by a woman he didn't know. He didn't even think. A quickly cast severing charm to the woman's back sent her crashing to the ground, dead.
He ran to Rupert and placed a hand on his chest. With a puff of smoke, he was gone, taking his best friend's father to the building they used for an infirmary.
Harry returned a moment later to the corner where he'd last seen Logan looked around in confusion. There was a large hole in the building and several students were dragging some limp forms away from the hole. Logan stirred under a couple of bodies. "Oh, man, my head."
Harry hustled over to help his friend stand up. "I want to ask if you're all right, even though I know it's a silly question," he said.
Logan smirked. "Then why would you ask?"
"Habit. The rest of us are mortal... DOWN!"
Harry grabbed Logan and pulled him down, phasing as they fell. The killing curse passed right through Harry and he felt an intense wave of exhaustion rush through him.
"You ok, Wiz?"
"Yeah, just tired. For some reason that curse exhausts me."
"Get me up to the roof," Logan told him.
Harry nodded and took a breath. A moment later, they were on the roof of the dormitory. He released Logan and the mutant phased back into normal space.
Logan looked down onto the street between the buildings, gauging distances, then he hurled himself off the roof onto a caped Auror. His claws flashed once and the man lost his arm at the elbow. Logan spun around and repeated the process on the other arm. The man screamed in anguish and pitched to his knees.
Harry teleported to the street level and looked at the man, then he cast a pair of spells cutting off the blood loss. "Messy," he commented.
Logan grinned, "Yeah, but Charles is always on my case about killing. He says I should disarm my opponents."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I don't think that's what he had in mind." He swayed slightly and Logan steadied him.
"Are you sure you're all right?"
Harry nodded and looked around. "It's gotten quiet. Maybe it's over."
"Or maybe we're seriously fucked and we're the last ones left," Logan replied, jamming an unlit cigar into his mouth.
"Ever the optimist." Harry countered.
Logan's phone started to ring and he reached for it. "Yeah?"
He listened for a moment, then he retracted his claws. "All right, Professor, we'll meet you there." Closing his phone, he looked at Harry. "It's over. Grab the caped crusader here and let's get over to the infirmary building. Charles says we have a large number of casualties."
Harry nodded and laid a hand on the Auror. "Grab my shoulder, Logan."
The three men vanished in a large puff of smoke. They arrived a second later in an infirmary in absolute chaos.
Jean was no where to be seen and several healers he didn't recognize were rushing around, trying to triage students. Harry spotted a number of Federal Aurors in their customary blue uniforms. They'd obviously arrived in response to the call for help Charles had made.
Harry shook his head. Amelia must have dropped the apparation ward in order for people to get here this fast, he thought.
"Harry?" he turned to see a teary eyed Ginny reaching for him. "Your safe!" she whispered, then she flung herself into his arms.
"Are you hurt?" he said, pushing her away to look her over carefully.
She shook her head. "No, but your father and Hermione -"
"Dad? Hermione?" he exclaimed in dismay.
"Listen, Harry. Her mum was being tortured. Your dad stopped the wizard that was doing it, then he got hit bad. Hermione killed the wizard that hurt your dad. Now her mum is unconscious, your dad is hurt and she's so upset and afraid her mum will become like the Longbottoms. Neville is too shocked to help her much. You know just hearing about that curse scares him silly."
Harry nodded. "Where's my dad?"
Ginny pointed towards a closed door and he nodded grimly. "I'll be back."
He opened the door and slipped inside. Scott lay motionless, face down on the bed. A healer knelt next to his form and he couldn't see what he was doing.
Jean sobbed quietly in the corner. Nearby, Xavier watched grimly, his expression totally out of character.. He was more than angry, he was enraged. Scott wasn't just his first student, he was like a son.
Harry took a step closer to Jean and she looked at him, her expressive eyes echoed the sorrow that so often resided in his "No," he whispered.
She stepped closer and he shook his head. "No, no he can't die. Can't you help him? Let's take him to a hospital."
Jean stepped closer and wrapped her arms around him. "There's nothing I or any hospital can do, Harry. Healer Anderson is trying something, but it's not good."
The pair held onto each other, each drowning in pain and trying to give and receive comfort. It was a futile gesture.
Harry, Jean and Charles waited in silence for twenty agonizingly long minutes while Healer Anderson cast spells and sprinkled a potion on the huge wound in Scott's back. Slowly, bit by bit the wound began to close.
Harry nudged Jean and nodded to the bed. For the first time since he entered the room he felt a spark of hope.
After thirty minutes, the healer stood and swayed slightly. Harry jumped forward, grabbing his arm and helped him to a chair.
"Damn, I had forgotten how hard it is to heal a muggle," muttered the healer.
"How is he?" asked Jean.
The healer looked up at her and grimaced. "He's better, but he's not out of the woods yet. Using a mixture of Phoenix tears and spellwork, I've stopped all of the major bleeders and put him back together. But he's shocky and he's lost a lot of blood. The next twenty four hours are going to be critical. Before I worked on him, I wouldn't have bet a penny on his survival. Now, if he can make it through the next day, I'd guess he'll pull through."
"So he's going to pull through?" asked Xavier.
"If his liver functions return to normal, then yes, I think he will," admitted the healer. "I'll inform the other healers, but I will stay here and watch him through the night."
"Thank you, Healer Anderson," Jean said, then she moved to sit by Scott's side.
Harry ran a hand through his hair and he scowled. "There are a lot of injured students out there, Professor. I know Madam Bones says it's not our problem, but she's wrong and you know it."
Xavier nodded tiredly. "Yes, it's time to put an end to this once and for all. Get into your uniform. I have a few calls to make to my friends at the State Department. After that, I think it's time to return to Britain."
Jean looked up at Xavier, her desire to stay warring with her desire to go along and make sure Harry was safe.
"Jean, stay with Scott. Call me if his condition changes in any way," Xavier said firmly. He waited for her reluctant nod, then he turned and hovered from the room
Harry stared at Scott for a moment longer, then began to follow Xavier from the room.
He turned to Jean. "Mum?"
"Come back to me. I can't lose either of you."
"I know. I don't want to lose Dad either, Mum, but I have to do this."
She smiled weakly at him and he turned and left the room.
Jean sighed and took Scott's hand in her own. Its going to be a long night, she thought unhappily.
Healer Anderson ran one more check on Scott, then he looked up at Jean. "He's holding on, so have faith, Mrs. Summers. I'll be right outside helping the others if you need me."
She nodded gratefully, but refused to turn her eyes away from her husband.
Harry stepped out of the room and paused, looking around. Amelia stood off to one side of the building, her face nearly alabaster white. The attack had been serious and she had brushed off a warning of a possible problem. Now she stood, shocked and bewildered by the sheer number of injured, injured that her ambivalence had helped create.
He looked around until he spotted Hermione sitting between two beds, each one containing her parents. Ginny sat next to her, holding her while she wept. He strode over to the pair.
Ginny looked up at him. "How's your Dad?"
Harry scowled, "Not good. Mum's with him, but they aren't certain he'll live. Professor Xavier is calling in the X-Men. We can't let this go unpunished."
He looked at Hermione and his expression softened. "Hermione," he said softly.
Ginny caught his attention and mouthed "She killed a wizard," to him. She had told him that earlier, but it really hadn't registered until now.
"Oh, bugger," he swore, then he crouched down so that he was eye level with his friend.
"Hermione, it's going to be all right," he murmured quietly.
Her eyes focused on him and she broke from Ginny's arms to lunge at him. He wrapped his arms around her and she wept bitterly against his shoulder. He was uncertain if she was weeping for her parents or for her actions.
Harry glanced over at Ginny. "Her parents?"
"They'll recover. She killed the wizard that injured your Dad." Ginny replied.
He nodded and slowly pushed Hermione away enough so that they could look at each other. "Hermione, listen to me. You're alive. Your parents are alive. All of us are alive and while some of us are hurt, we're all going to come out of this. No one is going to think any differently of you because of what you did. You did what you needed to do," he said intently.
She watched him, her eyes locked on his.
"I know it hurts right now, but you're strong, you'll get past this point."
"No buts," he said overriding her firmly. "Did you hate me for killing LeStrange or Malfoy? Did you hate me for killing Voldemort? Jesus, Hermione, my hands have been dripping with blood since the day my parents were murdered. But in this, you do the only thing you can do. Take a deep breath, hold onto the people you love and try to go on."
The pair stared at each other for a minute of silence, then she nodded.
Smiling Harry conjured a handkerchief and handed it to her. "Are you going to be all right?"
She nodded. "Thank you."
He grinned and kissed her forehead. "Anything for my big sister."
She smiled weakly at him when he helped her to her feet.
"Look after your parents. They're going to need you," he said gently, then he turned to Ginny. "Ron, Luna and Neville are unhurt?"
Ginny nodded. "Neville and Ron are organizing the DA and some of the upper years. Within an hour, we'll have students patrolling the campus. I don't think we'll have any more problems, but it's giving us something to do."
He turned in time to catch the duffel bag Logan tossed him.
"We're outta here in five, Wiz, so shake a leg. Rogue is prepping the Blackbird in Westchester, but you're our pilot for this ride. Heck, you're our ride back to Westchester, for that matter."
Harry nodded and turned to slip into the bathroom to change. What he hadn't expected was for Ginny to follow him.
He peeled off his shirt and had just dropped his drawers when a voice came from behind him.
"Do you mind telling me what you're doing?"
He spun to see Ginny looking at him. She wet her lips and her eyes raked his form several times.
"We're going to deal with the people who sent those Aurors," he replied tensely. They had kissed and had several heavy sessions but he had never been this naked in front of anyone other than a healer.
Ginny nodded, expecting no less. She stepped forward until there was no space between their bodies. She raised a hand, placing it behind his neck and gently pulled him into a passionate kiss. His body couldn't help but respond to the closeness and his lack of clothing.
She reached for him gently and he moaned when she caressed him, her hand lightly stroking his arousal. When she broke the kiss, she looked into his eyes. "Don't do anything stupid, Harry. I want us to finish this, and more, when you get back."
She stepped back and smiled impishly at him. "I'll let you finish dressing and see if I can help Hermione and your Mum."
Harry nodded dumbly. When she reached for the door handle, he finally found his voice. "Ginny," he called. "I want you to know that I love you."
She turned and smiled at him, her eyes filled with unshed tears. He had never really expressed that to her before. "I love you too, Harry. I always will. Now go, but come back to us."
She turned and left the room, leaving Harry to finish getting dressed.
The Blackbird, leaving New York Airspace, February 15th...
Harry held the plane in a steep climb that astounded the air traffic controllers. From their point of view, he was traveling upwards more than he was forward.
He scanned the controls and tried to ignore the unfamiliar feeling of Rogue sitting in the co-pilot's seat.
"Relax, suga'," Rogue murmured. "I'm shure yer Dad misses you as much as y'all miss him."
"I hope your right, Rogue," he replied, then he turned back to the controls. "Passing 80,000 feet," he called. "Buckle up, everyone."
Everyone turned to stare at Logan, as he was the only one who hated to use the seat belts.
Harry reached forward on his chair and he flipped a few switches. A deep thrumming noise filled the cabin and Logan shook his head as the plane shot ahead under an intense acceleration.
"Show off," he muttered.
"What's that, Logan?" asked Xavier, turning to look at him.
"He engaged the ramjets while he was still powering down the main engines. It's not supposed to work that way."
Harry shot Logan a grin. "We just shaved four minutes off our flight time by using both sets of engines to help boost us to altitude."
He looked out of the window and marveled at the nearly pitch black sky above and the blue below. Someday, Harry thought, maybe someday I'll really experience spaceflight.
Leveling out at 105,000 feet, he engaged the autopilot and leaned back on the chair. For a brief moment he closed his eyes. The day had been beyond hectic and it wasn't over yet.
"We'll arrive just after 8pm," Rogue called, then she turned and undid her harness so she could walk about the cabin.
Harry opened his eyes and swiveled his seat to face Xavier. "Sir?"
"I know your Mum didn't want you to come on this mission. Now, I'm going to ask you outright. Can you handle your temper? I can feel you seething with anger."
Harry looked down at his hands and nodded. "I know I'm angry, sir. I... All my life I wanted a family of my own. A lot of you guys grew up with parents. Even if they eventually turned against you, they weren't always like that. They... they nearly killed my Dad. So yeah, I'm angry."
He looked up directly at Xavier. "Dad and Mum are my family, but so are you guys. I'll do my job, Professor. I may be angry, but I'm not going to let it rule me. Although, when we're done here, I may end up trashing the Danger Room."
Several chuckled at that. It wouldn't be the first time one of the X-Men used the Danger Room as a means of blowing off steam. Xavier had long ago come to the realization the necessity of paying for repairs.
Xavier smiled at Harry, then he looked around. It felt strange to him that Jean and Scott weren't there. Logan, Hank, Rogue and Storm were scattered about the plane. Gambit had been away from Westchester when they assembled and couldn't make it back in time.
"Listen up, everyone," Xavier said. "I've been in contact with our Government. They've been talking with the British and helping them for the past month. The principle help that we've given the British has been in the form of munitions and weapons that are capable of penetrating magical defenses. There are a few Department of Magic special agents on the scene, acting as technical advisers.
"Given the current attitude towards Mutants by the mundane population in the US, we're formally attached to the US Department of Magic as special consultants, but it is very likely that we'll be spearheading an assault to capture the leaders of the Wizengamot."
"Capture?" muttered Logan.
Xavier turned to him. "Yes, Logan, capture. Let's try to keep the fatalities to a minimum. The British Government would like these people to stand trial as examples to the rest of the British Wizarding World."
"Makes sense," Harry admitted. "They've been abusing the muggles for years. Unless they can see the muggles have a power over them, they aren't going to change their ways."
Xavier nodded approvingly. "Precisely how it was explained to me."
Xavier started to say something further when his phone rang. He pulled it from a compartment on his chair and listened for a moment. "I see," he said with a heavy sigh, then he turned to Harry and broke into a grin.
Xavier nodded. "That was Jean. She called to tell me that they are detecting signs that his liver is beginning to function normally. Given that, they feel confident he's going to pull through."
Harry turned back to the controls of the plane so the others couldn't see the tears sliding down his cheeks. Besides, he could listen just as well while he monitored the flight.
Camp Christmas, Florida, February 16th...
Amelia sat behind her desk and she slowly lifted a glass of whiskey up to take a drink. Hearing a knock at her door, she put the glass down and called. "Come!"
Arthur and Molly Weasley filed into the room, both looking rather haggard and somber.
"Is there anything wrong?" Amelia asked.
Arthur shook his head. "No, we're just tired," he said, then he sank into a chair. Molly sat next to him.
"Amelia," he began.
She held up a hand. "I know, you don't have to say it. I've sat here all night thinking about what happened and why. I have a number of people to apologize to, starting with the students. Dear God, I nearly got many of them killed because I paid lip service to pretending to use muggle technology when I was already discounting it. And to compound that, I treated our students like they were six year old children."
"We all did the same thing, Amelia," Molly said soothingly. "Daphne spoke to me about one of her friends sending an owl. It never occurred to me that they would use owls to find us."
Amelia nodded. "Well, you're not alone. I told Miss Greengrass not to worry about it also. Late last night, I ran into her coming out of the infirmary. She was getting some sleeping potions for some second year students. She told me to my face that this was my own fault."
Arthur shrugged. "Even if that's the case, the only thing we can do is pick up the pieces and try to do better."
Amelia nodded grimly, then she waved in the direction of the dorms. "How are things now?"
"Quiet, finally," Molly replied. "Hermione, Neville and their friends organized a guard for each dorm. We also have six American Aurors patrolling the grounds. Oh, and there's good new from the infirmary. Mr. Summers is expected to pull through. The healers are starting the Grangers on an anti-cruciatus treatment. They were worried about Melony, but she's fine mentally.
"We managed to pry Hermione and Ginny from the infirmary and get them into bed around two this morning. I had to make Hermione take a sleeping potion, but she finally went to sleep," Molly concluded.
"Ginny's just worried about Harry," Arthur added. "So am I, now that I think about it."
Amelia shook her head. "I still can't quite wrap my mind about it. What is he? Mutant? Or wizard?"
"He's our friend, and he's both. He's a wizard with extra powers," Molly added firmly. "It doesn't bother Ginny that he has extra abilities."
Arthur smiled at his wife. They both understood the depths of feelings the couple had for each other and had no plans of interfering.
"But he's still a student, yet they took him with them," Amelia protested.
Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Amelia," he said in a pained voice, "Harry killed Voldemort. He killed LeStrange and Malfoy. He's fought for us, bled for us and lost his birth parents for us. Now he's training to be something more than just a wizard. And they nearly killed his adopted father. Can you blame him for wanting to be part of the attack on the people who did that?"
Amelia looked down, feeling ashamed that she had treated him just like the others, as a child. "No, I guess not." She stood abruptly. "I think it's time I talked to some people. I need to start doing things better."
Molly smiled. She knew Amelia would come around eventually.
Wizengamot Emergency Meeting, February 16th...
Those in the chamber quieted down when Thicknesse climbed the stairs to the podium so he could address them. The man had visibly aged in the past month and those who knew him knew that the slight tremor in his hands was a recent development.
"Aurors, clear the room of guests, press and visitors. What I have to say is for Wizengamot ears only," he called, then he looked down at the paper in front of him again. He still couldn't believe what he had in his hands, or what it implied.
The Aurors pressed forward and cleared the room until only the official membership remained. Thicknesse gave the room a quick look, then he nodded to an Auror to seal the room.
Once that was complete, he began. "My lords and ladies of the Wizengamot, yesterday your ministry attempted to rescue our stolen students. Our gallant Aurors attacked the prison where they were being held, only to discover our own students turning on them.
"Not a single Auror from that mission has returned. We were assuming they had all been killed, but this morning I received a notice from the American legation stating that our blatant act of war will not go unpunished. The American who delivered the notice to me this morning also handed me a note from the muggle Queen of Britain. In her note, she informs me that we have twenty four hours in which to surrender."
He paused and waited until the cries of outrage ended.
"The Queen has declared the Treaty of Kent broken. She has revoked our autonomy and declared the ministry disbanded until such time as forces loyal to the Crown can be persuaded to resume operations under her personal direction.
"Obviously, I wasn't going to accept this blatant attempt by the muggles to control us. Upon my order, we assembled a four man team with the intent to locate the Queen and either kill her or put her under an Imperius."
Murmurs of approval rippled through the crowd and there was a small amount of applause.
Thicknesse took a deep breath. "Nearly an hour after that mission left the building, their bodies were dumped in the entry portal. Each Wizard had been killed by a single muggle gunshot to the head at close range. The implications are clear. The muggles captured and brutally executed our men, and then arrogantly demonstrated their knowledge of our location.
"As we speak, I am mustering our forces for an all out attack on the muggles. We shall start by attacking the palace of their Queen and then their Parliament."
Applause resounded in the hall and Thicknesse looked rather pleased with himself.
When the sound finally started to die down, he noted Augusta Longbottom standing.
"Lady Longbottom, do you wish to say something?" he called.
She nodded and waited for the room to fall silent.
"My lords and ladies, I have lived a full and long life and have seen many things. I have come to regret many things, as well. The loss of my son and his wife affected me deeply, but I carried on for the sake my grandson. Now, I stand before you bereft of even that small comfort. My grandson has renounced his ties to the Longbottom family, claiming that his honor demanded no less.
"I have sat here and listened to us delude ourselves into thinking our children were taken from us, when we all know they went willingly. I am an old woman who has seen too many winters and I'm tired. I fear this course we embark on will be our downfall. The muggles are like drops in the ocean, and even with magic, we cannot hold back the tide.
"I urge you now to reconsider. Contact the Queen and open talks with the intent of finding a peaceful solution before it's too late."
Having said her piece, she sat back down to utter silence.
Thicknesse blinked and looked around the chamber. "Does anyone else wish to speak?"
Antonius Yaxley stood.
Thicknesse nodded in his direction. "Lord Yaxley?"
"My lords and ladies, the Lady Longbottom is wise and greatly respected amongst us. For generations there has been a Longbottom who sat in her chair and brought honor to her family. Even now, she makes no real demand of us. She councils caution and is right to council such. But the time for talking is long past. Our lives, no our very way of life, is threatened by these muggles.
"We must strike a blow that will change their mind before the Americans can gather their forces and aid them."
The chamber rang with applause and Yaxley sat back down, basking in the glow of the approval of the membership.
Suddenly an alarm rang then abruptly cutoff.
Thicknesse looked across the floor of the chamber to one of the aurors and he motioned for the man to go investigate the reason for the alarm.
The Auror ran up to the door and cast a finite to dispell the locking charms. His wand sparked fitfully and the doors remained locked.
The auror stared at his wand as if it had somehow betrayed him.
Street Level, outside of the Ministry of Magic Building, February 16th...
"All set, Colonel?" asked Xavier.
"We're just waiting to hear from the fire brigade, sir."
Xavier nodded and waited. The fire department had been out in force when they arrived, evacuating the Ministry building and all the buildings around it. Now they were running a door to door sweep to make sure each building had been emptied.
They had arrived late last night and most of his people had managed to catch six hours sleep on board the Blackbird, while Xavier conferred with the British.
Logan had woke them this morning just in time for breakfast and quick showers before they left the airport. They had been attached to a commando unit that was part of the Special Air Services. They met up with the convoy of soldiers who had been trained and outfitted by the American Department of Magic with munitions and scopes capable of spotting invisibility cloaks or spells.
Harry watched the fire brigade with interest. The trucks were complex machines that he'd never had a chance to see up close until now. He was amazed that they could pack so much gear on board such an important vehicle and still have room for the fire fighters.
Xavier turned to Harry, who was carrying the present from the Americans.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Harry?"
He nodded. "I have to be part of this, Professor."
Xavier sighed, but understood. "Have they explained the Suppressor to you?"
Harry grinned. "Yes, it's easy. Remove the cover, press the button and it'll activate. We just need to get it to the fifth floor."
"Very well. Do be careful. Your parents need you to come back and I daresay so does your Ginny," Xavier replied, then he turned to look for the British Colonel in charge.
He spotted the man conferring with some firemen wearing ornate uniforms, then he turned and trotted over to Xavier.
"Buildings are all clear now, sir. Give me a moment to assemble the men and we'll be ready."
He nodded and waited while the Colonel issued orders. Men began spilling out of the trucks and lining up nearby.
Xavier turned to Logan. "Remember, our job is to take the suppressor to the center of the building and activate it. Harry, if the suppressor gives you any problems at all, I want you to teleport out of there."
Harry nodded anxiously. The suppressor was a device made by the Americans that would saturate an area with a magic dampening field. Only the strongest of Wizards would be able to cast through it.
The Colonel waved at Xavier and he turned to Storm. "Ororo, if you would, please knock on their door?"
Storm nodded, "The center phone booth?"
"Yes, that's the one, although I imagine any one is good enough to blast a hole through," Harry replied.
Storm stepped forward and raised a closed fist.
Harry made a squawking noise as Logan pulled him down next to the side of a truck.
Three massive lightening bolts lashed down and the phone booth exploded. A chunk of the booth shot past Harry's head to embed itself in the wall behind him.
He swallowed and slipped lower behind the truck just before three more lightening bolts blasted down, tearing a huge gaping hole in the sidewalk.
Storm lowered her fist and two of the commandos rushed forward. Both soldiers dropped grenades into the opening and a pair of muffled whumps shook the ground.
"Up, X-Men!" shouted Logan. He dashed forward with his claws extended.
Harry cinched up the backpack he wore carrying the precious suppressor, then he followed Logan, who had disappeared down the hole. Storm, Rogue and Hank followed Logan and Harry a moment later. Behind them, British Commandos formed up and started their entry.
The X-Men were tasked with getting the suppressor in place and guarding it. The commandos would sweep the building, clearing it of any wizards they may find.
Their orders were simple; give one offer to surrender. If that failed, neutralize the opposition.
Harry landed next to Logan, who was scanning the area. The on-duty security guard was on the floor, moaning, stunned by the force of Storm's entry and the two grenades dropped into the hole. Harry summoned the man's wand and bound him, then motioned Logan towards the staircases. It wasn't safe to use the elevators.
Harry was confused by the lack of people in the atrium. Normally it was bustling with activity, but today it only contained the one guard.
"Where is everyone?" he asked.
"What's the problem, Harry?" Xavier asked over the comm-link.
"It's empty. There's almost no one here, Professor," he replied. Other than the guard the place was empty except for the X-Men and the Commandos entering through the hole.
"Wiz is right, Professor. Looks like we hit them at an off hour," Logan added.
"Keep going, but be careful," advised Xavier.
Logan nodded and he entered the stairwell. Harry cast a quick detection spell but he didn't find anything.
A grumbling growl came from the landing below and Harry peered over the banister. "Oh, shit," he muttered. "Um, Rogue? I think this one is for you."
"Whats the matta Suga'?"
"Security Troll," Harry muttered. It was already climbing the stairs.
"I can take him," Logan said.
"Yeah, you can, and you'll take out the floor, probably most of the staircase, and take too long. Rogue can put it down quicker."
"Y'all leave the big fella to me," she said, then she lifted up and flew over Logan, who scowled at her.
He hated when someone was allowed to play when he couldn't.
Rogue swooped down on the large creature and casually batted his club away.
The massive club flew out of the troll's hand and through a wall. Someone behind the wall screamed.
The troll grabbed at Rogue and she broke both it's arms before hitting it in the jaw. The force of the blow snapped the poor beast's neck and it dropped to the floor.
She flew back up to join the others. "Child's play," she murmured.
"See," Harry said to Logan. "Rogue does it right. You'd of broken through the wall, involved some wizards and..."
"Enough, young Harry. I'm sure Logan understands that he's impetuous and he's working diligently to control it. Now, let us be about our work this day," rumbled Hank.
Harry nodded, a bit chagrined, but he knew Hank was right. He motioned for Logan to continue down the stairs.
"I'm nobody's pet," Logan muttered, then he glared at Harry when he laughed.
The group continued lower in the building until they reached the fifth floor, the home of the Department of International Magical Cooperation. They could hear the sound of gunfire and shouting filling the stairwell. The commandos had encountered resistance.
Hank chuckled. "Well, we're here, and now to make them cooperate."
Harry smiled and took off the backpack. Opening it, he extracted a large silver cube and placed it on the floor. There was a single button on the device.
"Are you sure this is safe for you to activate?" asked Hank.
Harry shrugged. "I'm not using that much magic. Once I press the button, I'll stop using magic altogether. I'm sure if it were unsafe for me someone would have said something."
He looked around, took a deep breath, then shrugged. "Here goes nothing," he said, then he lifted the cover over the button and pressed it.
The box began to glow, then a huge pulse of magic exploded outwards. Harry doubled over as if hit hard and grunted in pain. He was thrown up against the wall before sliding to the floor, dazed. His head pounded and his stomach heaved.
"Are you well, young Harry?" asked Hank, leaning over him.
Harry looked up and shook his head. There were three Beasts looming over him. He felt nauseous and weak. He shook his head again and tried to control the urge to throw up.
"I'll take up to the aid station. The Professor will look after him," Rogue said, then she started to lift him.
Moving was a mistake. Shoving himself away from her, he dropped to the ground in time to grab the banister, lean over it and empty his stomach into the stair well.
Logan laughed when he heard sounds of dismay coming from somewhere below them. Obviously someone hadn't dodged Harry's little gift.
Rogue waited until Harry was done, then she lifted him and flew up the stairwell.
Harry woke up several hours later. He started to sit up, when a hand pressed him down again.
"Relax, Harry," said Xavier.
He lay back and looked around. An army medic was adjusting an IV that dripped into his arm. She smiled at him, reminding him of Tonks, for some reason "You're going to be just fine, lovey. You were too close to the suppressor when it went off. The Yanks didn't warn us not to let any magicals near it when it was activated."
He nodded as the thought that the girl that couldn't be more than five years older than he was wandered through his mind.
"A surgeon will be by to check on you, but you'll be up and about in no time," she said, then she made a mark on a chart and walked away.
Harry turned to look at the Professor. "Is everyone -"
"They're fine, Harry. Logan got a little beat up when some people on the lower levels released a bunch of trolls, but everyone is unhurt now. The British managed to capture most of the Wizengamot alive. It was rather anti-climatic, once the suppressor went off. They had little fight left in them."
"I can understand that. I guess it wasn't safe for me to be there," Harry murmured. The way he felt right now, there was no fight left in him either.
Xavier moved a little closer. "Yes. After you were brought back up, one of the technical advisers called to warn me that you shouldn't be near it when it went off. Sadly, his warning came a little late.
"The suppressor burned itself out hours ago, but this little war between the wizards and the mundanes is over, for now. The British are moving people into the building, searching it from top to bottom and combing through their records. To say they are unhappy would be a gross understatement. There are records of wizards interfering in mundane society going back centuries."
Harry nodded and laid his head back. He still felt weak and sore. "So what happens now, Professor?"
Xavier smiled. "War is the easy part. Finding a way of bringing the wizard world to a state that resembles modern society is going to take decades. There are years of misconceptions and prejudices to overcome."
He paused and looked at Harry seriously. "I think that you and your friends will be an important part of rebuilding things. You could easily work out of Blackmoor and maintain our base. Perhaps someday even open a school for mutants there. But that's for the future. For now, rest. A healer from the American embassy said your core was disrupted and nearly emptied by the suppressor, which explains why you feel so terrible. She also said your core is fine and refilling normally. You also managed to give yourself a concussion."
Harry nodded and started to drift off to sleep, not knowing the medic had added something to his drip to help him drop off. "Yeah, I always wanted one of those," he murmured sleepily.
He felt Xavier pat his shoulder gently as his voice seemed to come from a great distance.
"Sleep now, Harry. You did very well. Your parents will be proud of you."
Ministry for Magic, February 19th...
Harry stepped off the ladder and looked around at a much changed ministry. Bright work lights flooded the atrium. Under the old magical lighting, it wasn't possible to see how dingy and dirty the walls were. Under the harsh yellow lights, it was clear how run down things were. It somehow seemed to symbolize the magical world.
It looked wonderful, until you moved closer and started to really examine it.
Harry moved with a purpose. He had heard from Xavier that an old friend had been found and he wanted a few words with him before he returned to America.
The news in the past few days had been startling, to say the least. The Queen had recalled a number of people, including Amelia Bones, who she appointed as temporary Senior Undersecretary for Magic, attached to the Home Office and answerable to the Prime Minister.
The American's were talking about making Camp Christmas a permanent magical school, but there was already talk of bringing home the British students. For now, however, many would stay where they were. The Crown wanted to insure that the students were given a quality, well rounded education and they currently couldn't get that at Hogwarts.
The Queen had also 'requested' an audience with several of the student organizers, including himself. That was why he found himself at the Ministry. He had no intention of letting the Queen or Amelia draft him into anything. He planned on having this conversation then be on his way home in his jump jet. He could teleport directly to the states, but flying was more fun, even if his jet couldn't go suborbital.
It was sneaky, it was underhanded, but he figured to let the other organizers enjoy the fame. He had had enough of that to last a lifetime.
Harry nodded to the pair of Military Police and they nodded in return. He was in his X-Man uniform, so they had no problem letting him pass. Hank had been helping the British teams comb through the numerous files, so they recognized that he was part of the force that had taken the building.
His destination was the former Department of Magical Law Enforcement, which was currently serving as a temporary jail for prisoners awaiting trials on treason and other charges.
The holding cells were packed with people who had been caught when the Ministry fell. So many were caught they ended up sending more than half of them to mundane prisons until they could be tried in Her Majesty's courts.
He walked down the corridor reading the name plates on walls. There was only one cell with a sole occupant and that was the one he wanted.
He ignored the cell containing Tonks, as he had nothing to say to her. Passing the cell Malfoy was housed in gave him great pleasure. There would be no escape for the Malfoy family this time.
All of the marked students were locked up and their wands taken for evidence. The muggles were planning on forcing veritaserum on all of the Death Eaters during their trials.
Spotting his destination, he stopped and opened the door, revealing the bars behind the door and a small, very cramped cell with one lone prisoner.
The man looked as though he'd been sorely mistreated during his stay.
Harry sighed, then opened his carry bag and pulled out a canteen full of water, which he pushed through the bars.
The prisoner's hand was still missing and the stump had been only crudely bandaged.
"Harry Potter," the man rasped. "Are you here to gloat?"
He conjured a simple stool for himself, then sat down. "Not really, Dumbledore. My whole reason for coming was to ask you something, but I've come to realize that it really doesn't matter. You could have dozens of reasons and none of them would make one bit of difference."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled slightly. "What did you want to ask?"
"Was it worth it? What you did, I mean. Was it worth it in light of the results?"
Dumbledore's expression fell briefly, then he gave Harry his classic grandfatherly smile. "What I did, I did for the good of our world, Harry."
Harry shook his head, realizing the man didn't understand. "What you did, Dumbledore, destroyed your entire world. Don't you know what's going on out there? Hogwarts is closed and won't reopen until they can completely revamp the courses offered. Your Potions Master is dead, killed by your own students, after he murdered Professor Sprout.
"Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are being patrolled by Royal Marines and Goblins. The Muggles have appointed an official ambassador to the Goblin nation. Right now, a Goblin has more rights in this country than a wizard does.
"Your government, your way of life, is gone, all because you decided to let a silly prophecy rule you. Your inaction killed my parents. You could have stopped Riddle before he became too strong, but no, you had your vision," Harry spat, then he shook his head in frustration. "I was right. Your excuses mean nothing."
Harry stood and banished the stool. Turning to walk away, he paused when Dumbledore called him back.
He turned to face him again.
"What.. what will happen to me?"
Harry looked at him for a long moment. "The government will do what's best for the people, Albus. In all likelihood, you will die in prison, forgotten and alone. Use your time to mourn for Dennis Creevy and the others you murdered for your "greater good". I don't think it will be much longer before you face them all again. And I wouldn't want to be in your shoes when you do."
With that, Harry turned and walked away, his words prophetic. Dumbledore would never see daylight as a free man again. He would survive three years in a muggle prison, before old age finally caught up to him.
Two hours later, Harry was landing in Iceland to refuel his jet, having escaped the net Amelia put up to find him.
Sorry, but I'm no one's tool, he thought, then turned his attention to his controls. He was on final approach to land. A quick refuel and he'd be on the final leg of his trip back to Florida and his family.
Blackmoor Castle, 2014...
Ginny Potter sat at her desk, skimming through her email.
Dobby appeared and placed a cup of tea on her desk.
"Thank you, Dobby," she said. "Did you see that Harry packed everything he needed?"
"Yes, Miss Ginny. Harry Potter has plenty of warm socks," Dobby replied.
Ginny chuckled and a noise drew her attention away from the elf. She glanced up at a monitor on the wall and smiled brightly. The monitor showed her Mum in her favorite pastime, surrounded by her grandchildren.
When Molly realized that Ginny intended to have a career like her mother in law, she stepped up to the plate and decided she'd home school her grandchildren. It worked well, for the most part. But as her class grew, others stepped in to help with the job.
Harry had set aside several very large rooms, designed to Molly's requirements, for her to hold her classes. There was even a small kitchen where she could bake as many cookies as she wanted for the small army of kids.
Ginny and Harry's twins, Jamie and Sirius, were the cornerstone of the new group of students. Hermione and Neville added Franklin Daniel to the group, followed by Luna's twins, Diana and Soma. Then to everyone surprise, Jean Summers asked to include Lily Summers in the mix.
She was the one everyone watched like a hawk. Little Lily was wickedly smart, magical and a mutant, although no one knew exactly what her talent was just yet.
Ginny smiled as she watched little Siri try to read from his book, while Lily made faces at him. Turning away, she shook her head. Her boys had been confused when she had tried to explain that Lily was their Aunt and not a cousin. Jamie didn't believe her. After all, aunts were old, like Auntie Hermione, or Auntie Luna. Lily was a year younger than they were!
I've got to stop day dreaming, she thought and turned back to the monitor on her desk.
She skimmed through the figures again. Potter Industries was doing rather well for itself. They held the rights now to over 200 potions and were successfully marketing 40 of them.
Unsurprisingly the cold and flu remedy and the hangover cure were two of their best sellers.
"Mrs Potter, Dame Longbottom wants a moment to speak to you. She says it's urgent," said her secretary, who was standing in the doorway.
"Thank you, Connie. Send her in."
Hermione swept into the room looking suitably frazzled.
All this time and she's never learned to tame that hair of hers, Ginny thought.
"Where is that husband of yours?" she demanded.
"Hello to you to, Dame Hermione," Ginny replied with a smirk.
Hermione stopped and blinked, then she took a deep breath. "I deserved that," she said with a sigh, then she plopped into a chair facing Ginny. "I'm sorry, but your husband bought the rights to another potion and I'm ready to strangle him."
"The Deaging potion?"
"That's the one," Hermione agreed with a grimace. "We agreed to never market anything like that."
Ginny nodded. "Hang on a second. Harry left a file for you."
She tapped a few keys on her keyboard, then tilted her monitor so that Hermione could see it.
A window popped open and Harry appeared on the screen. "Hermione, if you're seeing this, it's because you're angry over the deaging potion. I'm sorry I couldn't be there to explain this in person, but I'm up at the L5 station this week, working on a problem.
"I bought the rights for two reasons. First, to keep the potion out of the hands of the mundanes. Second, it occurred to me that if we examined how it worked, we might be able to figure out how to reverse the effects of aging on the human mind. Think of it, Hermione. Reversing, or halting senility or Alzheimers."
Hermione's expression cleared and she looked a little stunned. It never occurred to her that some of the more dangerous potions might point to cures still undiscovered.
"Hopefully, you now understand my reasoning. If not, Ginny will email me and I'll stay up here until you calm down," Harry said with a wide grin, then the image changed to the Potter Industries Logo, indicating it had ended.
"And that explains why Neville and I are chief executives and not the CEO of the company," Hermione said softly, shaking her head.
Ginny smiled. Neville and Hermione were a lot more than executives. They were partners and members of the board. A lot of their school friends had moved into similar positions in the company. Daphne Greengrass was the head of their legal department, having obtained law degrees in both worlds. Her daughter Delilah had just recently joined Molly's little school and was already fast friends with Lily.
Sighing, Hermione leaned back on her chair. "So, what's Harry working on now?"
"He's working on his baby, Potter Space Systems. He's got this idea for using a portkey to deliver material to the orbital stations, but the portkeys are proving to be difficult to work with coordinates. He felt that if he could figure out the exact locations for the arriving packages, he might be able to figure out why they are still missing by 25 miles," Ginny replied.
Hermione shook her head. Twenty five miles in space wasn't really a miss, in her opinion, and the remote units were capable of picking up the packages. Harry, however, wasn't satisfied with "close enough". That PSS was showing more earning potential than its parent company, Potter Industries, astonished her.
"He'll be back at the end of next week," Ginny added. "Then he'll be around full time for at least a year."
Ginny leaned back on her chair and placed a hand on her belly. Hermione's eyes lit up and she rushed to hug her friend.
Ginny accepted the congratulations. She knew Hermione was truly happy for her.
Things had turned out better than anyone could have imagined. America and Britain led the effort to slowly bring the magical worlds into the spotlight. It was led carefully by Potter Industries, who turned both minorities into needed commodities. The governments knew exactly who ran the company, but the taxes and benefits had already quieted their complaints.
If all went according to Harry's plan, in a few more years, any disruption to the company would hurt the world economy. They were becoming a benign power and no one yet realized it.