A/N: So that delay was even longer than I expected. Since the last chapter was published, I lost my job to the lay-off, found a new job, relocated, and started the new job. Plus this chapter was hard to write. It is mostly transitional with no humour to speak of. Sorry.
A New Chapter
20 July 1995
Harry woke with the taste of blood still in his mouth. More than a week since his encounter with Fenrir Greyback and still it haunted his dreams. He'd talked to Remus but even the older werewolf failed to completely understand.
While the Beast was a subconscious part of Harry's mental makeup, it wasn't the only part. The human subconscious remained just as strong as the Beast. When he was young, the hunted for food – for survival. Once he'd started at Hogwarts he still hunted but only for the thrill of the hunt. He rarely killed the prey he stalked. In the graveyard, he'd killed in defence of his own life. It was bloody and brutal but the two subconscious sides were in harmony. Now the Beast saw the clean purity of killing his enemy in a planned duel while the human Harry was feeling freaked out over what could be considered premeditated homicide – and using his own teeth to do so! One would think that Harry would accept that Fenrir had to die – and he did – but something was still bothering Harry. It might not have been logical but there it was.
Harry rolled over and tried to find a more comfortable position. Logically, Harry knew Greyback forced this himself and it didn't count as murder in a magical court. But that didn't seem to help stop the dreams.
The other Alphas had expressed their own shock the next morning after changing back to human form. Ian and Sara Davies of Mic tíre na hÉireann invited Harry and Remus to join them with their daughter for a late breakfast in a small inn some miles from the gathering place. Ian said he was surprised how quickly Fenrir lost the fight.
"I suspect lad that Fenrir wanted to end you quick. Fighting against any other challenger and he'd have taken his time, worn you down and bleed you out as a strategy. For him to rush in like that, showed his contempt for you as a wolf; as a fighter. He took a chance and you made him pay for it. If he'd succeeded to end you that quick it would have given him all the Packs united behind him."
"Most of us only know to fight with tooth and claw when the change is on us," Sara added. "Fenrir was strong and powerful and fought well in the past. Against most other wolves he would have survived that rush if not succeeded Against most humans his strength would have given him the victory. But you my young wolf, you have the strengths of both at once. That gave you the victory last night. But just beware, your next opponent may learn from this and not underestimate you so badly."
That thought was enough to cause Harry to flip over to his other side and look out the window at the rising sun over London. With a sigh he decided to get up. Maybe a long day and going to bed exhausted tonight would get him some dream-free sleep tomorrow night.
Harry wandered down the stairs in the quiet, early dawn morning. His sensitive ears told him no one else was up but he could hear Fluffy sleeping in the parlour. His recently purchased Fifth year Runes book in hand, Harry decided to join his newest pack member and get ahead at the same time. Padma would be impressed.
However, to his surprise, Fluffy wasn't alone. Sirius was sound asleep on the couch with Fluffy curled up on the floor next to him. But that wasn't the real surprise. Curled up asleep on Fluffy's side was little Cassie. One of Fluffy's heads was wrapped around her to prevent the baby's fall. One of the other heads looked up at Harry's arrival.
"Hard as marshmallows you are," Harry mockingly whispered. "The ferocious hell hound!" Fluffy's response was to yawn and go back to sleep. Harry snickered, his earlier feeling of self-pity at least momentarily forgotten in his amusement.
He changed direction and went to the kitchen. A mug of hot chocolate suddenly seemed a brilliant idea.
4 August 1995
Diagon Alley was packed full of witches, wizards, and children. The annual rush to procure books, wands, and other supplies for Hogwarts had started. For merchants, the August weeks leading up to September 1st could be as lucrative as the Yule season. Signs for sales and garish displays were the rule. However, it was not the school shopping that was garnering the most attention. That was reserved for the brightly coloured shop that had just opened across the square from Gringotts Bank. The store proudly proclaimed itself, "Marauders Magical Entertainment"
The store occupied a rather large three floor structure but what captured people attention was the front of the building's top two floors was occupied by a giant mirror. A mirror that was showing them scenes of the Alley itself, a broom flight through a Scottish Loch, a Quidditch match, and scenes from the third Tri-Wizard Tournament event. They were mesmerized much like a tourist standing for the first time in New York City's Time Square (where Remus pulled the idea) but many of these people had never seen a telly or its equivalent before. So while on a much smaller scale, the effect was magnified many times more.
The shop was packed with people excitedly examining the magical mirrors. The mirrors came in various sizes but a Muggle would recognize the proportions as matching a mundane wide-screen television. The largest mirrors were eight feet wide with the smallest down to a foot. Several smiling young witches and wizards dressed in matching MME robes of dark blue with silver trim were enthusiastically helping answer people's questions and making sales. Buyers this first weekend were being offered free 'premium' service for the first year. This fact, added to preview during the Tournament, made the Magical Mirrors the 'must have' item of the year.
This whole idea was Remus's doing. When Harry had been stuck at the Dursleys, Remus had been living in the mundane world for the most part. He'd worked in a large bookstore right in the heart of London's shopping district. With careful planning he managed to have off on the day before and after the full moon. Most Muggles didn't pay attention to the lunar cycle that closely so no one ever commented and the store was large enough that there was always plenty of staff to pick up the extra hours. But what the job had also given the werewolf was time to read freely on any topic that interested him. He'd become fascinated how certain cultural items could cross boundaries even between nations that were unfriendly at best. Even during the late Cold War, many teenagers and young adults in the Soviet Union were seeking black market sources of American cinema and blue jeans. Remus didn't want to destroy the culture of the magical world, but he did want to introduce more awareness of the mundane world than what was offered in Hogwart's Muggle Studies class. Pop culture seemed an excellent avenue to do that.
Sirius thought it was an excellent prank on the wand-up-the-arse Purebloods – like his mother. The fact it was going to make them a shit load of Galleons was simply the frosting on top. The old dog was a simple creature at heart.
To Harry, this whole incident spoke to the short-sightedness of modern witches and wizards. For centuries magic users let their imaginations run wild and then developed the magic to do it. Then once they reached a comfortable level they simply stopped. Harry wondered if Muggles would do the same thing. He'd watched some of Star TrekL The Next Generation. If Muggles ever actually developed transporters, replicators, and holodecks would they stop also? When all of your basic needs are answered with the wave of a wand or press of a button, what motivation do you have to advance further?
Harry's philosophical musings were stopped when he noticed Fudge approaching with a full entourage that included Auror bodyguards, a cluster of sycophants that included Percy Weasley, and of course the Toad herself, Umbridge.
"Minister," Sirius gushed as he appeared out of the crowd. "What a delightful l surprise to have you grace us on our opening day!" Harry drifted down during the greeting to stand slightly behind Sirius.
"I – I am not here to support this!" Fudge stammered as Umbridge turned red at the mere sight of Harry.
"Oh, that's too bad," Sirius sighed. "We are offering Ministry employees half off the first year of a premium package with a Mirror purchase." Fudge and Umbridge looked angrier at that but two of the sycophants actually looked interested. "That of course includes all of the Quidditch regular season matches and the national Gobstones championship!" Sirius added. Now a few more of Fudge's cronies looked to be considering the offer.
Fudge puffed himself up and then started in his pompous fashion, "Black, I am here to tell you that you must stop this business at once! As Minister for Magic, I am ordering it! You have no right to be bring such Muggle filth into our world nor have you paid the proper business start-up taxes to the Ministry! So, this must all stop at once!" Umbridge looked extremely satisfied at Fudge's 'firm' stand. Harry wanted to laugh.
Sirius smile broadened at Fudge's statement. Purebloods two generations earlier would have been reminded of just why the Black family was so feared by that smile.
"Au contraire, my Minister. First off, I am fully licenced by Her Majesties Government to provide the mundane programing. Under the Ministry of Magic Charter, the sale of goods and services of Muggle origin are controlled by Muggle laws as it is beneath the Ministry of Magic to monitor non-magical trade. This was upheld by the Wizengamot when they fined the Wizarding Wireless Network 1,000G for broadcasting the 1956 football World Cup without proper Muggle licences.
"As to the taxes, why you signed a law into place five years ago exempting the Most Ancient and Noble families from all Ministry business taxes. As the Head of the Most Ancient and Noble Family of Black and the financial backer of Marauders Inc, we fall under the purview of said law." Harry almost giggled at the display of Pureblood Noble haughtiness Padfoot was putting on.
Fudge gaggled in indignation at Black's statement. That law was meant to support his own backers, not this nobody!
"Plus, the good Minister is in error here," Sirius continued. "There is absolutely no Mundane technology in use here. Our Mirrors are powered and exist solely on magic – no electricity is use what-so-ever. Unlike say – the Hogwarts Express or the Wizarding Wireless, that use Muggle technology combined with magical elements. MME Mirrors are completely technology free."
"But it is based on Muggle technology!" Umbridge yelled. "You are corrupting our society with their filth! Don't deny it! We've had three more applications for securities from your company alone in the last week! And four more from other sources but also with Muggle influence! You will destroy all that makes the Magical World great if we don't stop you!" The toad-like woman was purple in her fury. Harry wondered if she would have an aneurism if she got any angrier.
"Really, four potential competitors?" Harry asked as he joined out of seemingly nowhere. "That is incredible. We didn't expect that before Yule at the earliest. Between our eleven applications and these four that is double what you had all of last year."
"These changes disturb our society!" Umbridge raged back. But Harry went off in a whole different direction.
"Pardon me, madam but your title is properly the Undersecretary of Magic, correct?" Harry asked.
Umbridge reined in her anger to puff herself up importantly. Beside her Fudge nodded his agreement.
"I happen to hold that honour." Harry smiled in a way that would have made his friends nervous.
"Well, I've always wondered. If you are the Undersecretary and Mr Fudge here is the Minister for Magic, then where did you stick the Secretary of Magic? Wouldn't that be the title of the person above you? Undersecretary sort of implies that there is a secretary above you. Or are you just a glorified administrative assistant? I've looked at the Ministry organizational chart and no one seems to report to you. What is it you do working under the Minister here?" Harry stopped and looked at the pair of Ministry officials with an innocently curious gaze. Fudge and Umbridge looked ready to burst with indignation at Harry's question.
Ironically, it was the painfully earnest Percy Weasley that answered.
"Madam Umbridge serves as the Minister's executive assistant for Wizengamot affairs. As such she is responsible for coordination between the Ministry and the Wizengamot including the drafting of laws and setting session agendas. Mr Malcolm Shaw is the Permanent Secretary of Magical Administration and as such is responsible for the running of the day-to-day affairs of the Ministry, its facilities, and staffing." If Harry thought Percy was in love with Fudge, it was nothing compared to the light in middle Weasley son's eyes when he spoke of Mr Shaw.
"So, he's a career bureaucrat that actually keeps the Ministry running and providing services to people whilst Fudge and Umbridge here run about making a lot of noise and generally mucking things up?" Harry summed up. The pair of Marauders had to supress their laughter when Percy and several of the Aurors and sycophants started to nod in agreement before catching themselves.
The crowd that had gathered to observe the confrontation were not so restrained. Titters of laughter broke out at Harry's summary and the impotently furious expressions on Fudge and Umbridge's faces. Several in the crowd started jeering the Ministry officials. The fact many of them carried bags with the MME logo added to Harry's feeling of satisfaction.
Faced with the public humiliation, the Ministry people fled the scene.
Well, most fled the scene. Harry noticed a few slip into the crowd waiting for their chance to enter the shop. With Sirius's offer of a Ministry discount, he was willing to bet a few more Mirrors would be mounted on the Ministry workers' walls that night. Remus was their technical genius but Sirius with his bad boy image had the charisma with that gift for sales and marketing that would take the company far.
Where Voldemort fought his war with violence, the Marauders would fight with ideas – and a bit of violence when required.
12 August 1995
The Aurors were thick lining the area of Diagon Alley. The Alley itself was filled with shoppers preparing for the new school year. Old magical families walked casually passed wide-eyed non-magical parents escorting their first-generation magical child. This year's inflow of new students at Hogwarts represented the 'high water' mark of the post-Voldemort baby boom of the 1980's. Fully ninety percent of the Hogwarts student body would now be Fourth year and younger. If the years had been level that percentage would have been just less than sixty percent. Harry's year and the two preceding it however were particularly small due to the particularly brutal turns the war had taken the last few years before the attack on the Potters. The retailers were enjoying the surge in sales but the high concentration of people in the Alley, particularly the first generation magicals and the non-magical parents, was making many people nervous.
Two days before had been the first confirmed Death Eater attack since Voldemort's resurrection. Six figures in Death Eater robes attacked the house of a middle level manager in the Ministry's Muggle Relations Department. Alexander Cull had been the primary contact with the Muggle government's law enforcement bodies. A Muggle-born and trained with Scotland Yard, many in mundane law enforcement thought the man was simply an Inspector with the Yard. Instead Cull watched mundane cases for bleed over from the magical world and alerted the DMLE to attacks on non-magicals or other magical crimes in the mundane world. Cull, his wife, and a son were killed in the attack. His daughter, a Second year Ravenclaw, survived simply because she'd walked down to the local library and lost track of time in the stacks.
The attack on Cull sent shockwaves through the magical community. While a first generational magical himself, Cull was highly respected in the Ministry. His wife, Alice, was a Pureblood from the old Catchlock family. The Catchlocks were not significantly wealthy but were a large family with connections throughout the magical world. Their deaths along with the sunny-faced six year-old son shocked the magical world to their core. The attack was a classic terror tactic. It horrified and scared the community and at the same time reduced law enforcement's ability to counter future attacks.
As a result, today's shopping was performed under the watchful eye of many of the Ministry's law enforcement resources. It did make some feel safer and allowed business to be conducted as normal. The visible sign that the Ministry was taking things seriously was comforting to most although some asked if all the Aurors and Hit Wizards were in Diagon Alley, who was patrolling the rest of Britain?
There was no attack that day but the Ministry could not be everywhere every day, and there would be other days.
Harry followed Remus into the conference room they had hired in the Marriot hotel Glasgow. Following behind them were Padma and Hermione. All four wore mundane clothing of good quality and fit right in amongst the hotel's business class clientele. When they entered the room there were four people already present. Three were expected but the final was a bit of a surprise.
Claire and Oliver Westen sat at the table with an older man in a slightly wrinkled and out of date suit with an air of frustrated bafflement with the world around him. He seemed distracted and not really present with the rest of the room. The fourth occupant was a teenage girl Harry was familiar with but not too pleased to see.
"Oliver, Claire, it is good to see you," Harry said. Remus had drilled Harry on what passed for manners between Alphas and the fact only Harry would initially speak. "You of course know my Second, Remus, but with me are Padma and Hermione. They have performed extensive studies on my … condition and will be providing most of the technical data for this meeting." Oliver simply nodded at Harry's opening but Claire smiled with approval.
"It is wonderful to see you too, Harry. Of course we know Remus! The 'Lone Wolf of Britain' at last joining a pack is a cause for notice. Ms Patil, Ms Granger, you are welcome here. My niece Colleen asked to join us here today. And this is Professor Emmitt Smithe, formerly of Oxford University. The good professor holds doctorates in molecular biology and chemistry as well as masteries in Charms and Runic Studies. He is now the lead researcher of our organization." Claire paused and smiled. "And like your researchers, neither is he a werewolf."
Harry smiled at Claire's final observation. He glanced back at the girls and saw Hermione's face. She looked like she'd found a new role model in the good professor. Doctorates and Masteries in both worlds? It was a no-brainer. Padma however was watching Colleen intently. It didn't take the Beast's senses to know she wasn't happy about the young female werewolf's inclusion.
Oliver continued saying, "I've asked Professor Smithe to present a summary of our research and conclusions. Then perhaps the ladies would share their research with us?" At Hermione's excited nod, Oliver smiled. "Excellent. Professor?"
What followed over the next ninety minutes was an in depth review of werewolf history. Harry followed the historical discussion for the most part but was quickly out of his understanding as the scientific terminology started to fill the conversation.
One thing Harry picked up was the trigger to lychanthropy occurred in a part of the higher brain area that was rarely used. Something about the occurrence of the full moon irritated that part of the brain. The brain then sent out the signals to the rest of the body that triggered the physical change. Even if the signals for the physical change were blocked, it would still cause the mental change to occur. Prof Smithe suggested that some patients of the Muggle mental hospitals were in fact 'mild' cases of lycanthropy with only the brain being impacted by the change. Over time the lack of physical release from the curse caused the crazed behaviour to remain even after the full moon had passed.
In the physical body, the 'curse' bonded into the DNA of the subject's body in a most pecular way. When dormant, the wolf DNA was inert and seemed to exist in a pocket dimension much like a Space-Expanding Charm. When the command from the brain was received, the cursed DNA replaced certain human DNA. The more complete the exchange, the greater the physical change and mental control of the subject. Wolfsbane forced the mental control and allowed the human mind to remain in control by putting the wolf-brain to sleep. A Fourth Generation werewolf, like the Westens, saw them gaining a certain amount of mental integration where they were able to guide rather than control the wolf brain like Harry could.
"That is not what really happens," Harry spoke up for the first time in an hour and a half. "I don't 'control' the Beast. I AM the Beast. The wolf is here with me now even in this form. I did try to supress it somewhat last year but I found I lost something and I didn't feel complete without it."
"Fascinating," Smithe said with wide excited eyes. "We've been concentrating our research on the integration of the human brain with the wolf side during the tranformations. This suggests an entirely new line of study!" Hermione and Padma had a similar excitement on their faces. It was like McGonagall had just given them an extra credit assignment.
"Harry made a similar comment to me last summer," Remus added. "I've been listening to Moony's instincts a bit more during the rest of the month. My transformations have been less painful but I have attributed that to both the Potion and the Beast and Padfoot's presence on those nights."
"I've always listened to my wolf side," Colleen suddenly said. "I named her Lady when I was a wee lass. She was like my invisible friend."
"Probably the only kind you could have," Padma muttered under her breath. Harry doubted anyone else but maybe Remus heard her but Harry realized his girlfriend was more upset by Colleen's inclusion than he'd expected. Still the female teen wolf had just provided some positive contribution and said nothing else. Harry decided that he needed to divert attention away.
"Er, professor?" Harry started. "You mentioned that the Christian wizards used a ritual under the full moon to activate their curse."
"Yes, Mr Potter. The timing of when the curse is triggered and when the stories tell us voluntary transformations were blocked all seem to indicate this conclusion."
"Well, why would they do it? Curse the werewolves to only change at certain times and be mindless beasts when it happened."
"Why to sow confusion and pain amongst their enemies I would suppose," the scientist wizard replied in a slightly confused tone.
"Maybe," Harry allowed. "But I keep thinking about something Professor Dumbledore mentioned to us once about the Law of Unintended Consequences."
Remus's eyes took on a faraway cast and he said, "Keep going, Harry."
Harry shrugged. "It just seems to me that if I was cursing shape-changers I would simply want to block their changes completely. After all, most lychanthropes now are not of Norse descent. You even told us how many of the original shape-changers that survived the purges in their homeland went down into Europe specifically to spread the curse to as many Christians as possible. So infecting others with their curse was probably not intended. What if the curse ritual was performed without taking into account the full moon? Wouldn't that make a difference in how the curse was to be countered?" The room's occupants were looking at Harry in a combination of shock, awe, and pure disbelief. Then Padma laughed.
"And that why we keep Harry around," she laughed. Seeing the question in the Westen party's eyes she elaborated. "Put a book of theory in front of Harry and he needs all his will power to keep from nodding off. Give him a practical demonstration or a mystery to solve and he's his own special brand of genius." Harry flushed at the pride he heard in his girlfriend's voice.
"A kinetic learner, perhaps?" Smithe suggested. "However it came to him, Mr Potter's suggestion does have a significant amount possibility behind it. They would not be the first wizards to forget to incorporate outside influences on new rituals or potions. The Bubonic Plague, or Black Death, started in Asia and was an attempt to create a plague that killed off all the rats in a particular wizarding town. Researchers there were working on healing spells and potions and the rats were eating the bodies they were using in their research. Unfortunately, Venus was diametrically opposed to Earth on the other side of the Sun and caused a slight fluctuation to the ritual. That allowed the plague to jump from rats to humans via their bite or other vector such as fleas. The point is there is historical basis for the scenario that Mr Potter suggests."
The man paused and then added, "In fact, it may help answer some of the questions I myself had. What if the curse actually supressed that portion of the brain we noted that the moon's positioning irritates. What if instead of the moon's influence activating the curse, it instead was irritating the curse and allowing some of the original shape-changers' abilities to resurface! Oh, I must get back to my lab and share this with my team! Come, come, we must go now!"
The professor quickly gathered up his notes and materials and all but ran out of the room while exhorting his employees to please hurry them back to his lab.
"Funny guy," Harry commented. "I kind of like him but no one introduce him to Flitwick." The girls and Remus laughed at Harry's comment.
The Westens smiled and rose from their seats. Oliver said, "It seems that our meeting has come to a rather abrupt end. I suspect once he finishs with this burst of enthuesasm that Prof. Smithe will ask for a follow up session if that would be agreeable to you."
"Of course," Hermione answered before Harry could. "I would be fascinated to hear what he comes up with after today. We didn't get to really touch on the data Padma and I developed on Harry. Oddly enough, Hermione's observation caused Colleen to laugh.
"And in three days when Doc Emmitt comes up for air and realizes that fact he will be demanding a new meeting and whinging over the lost time." Colleen seemed to be complaining over the human researcher but her voice also had an air of fond exasperation. Claire laughed with her niece.
"We can try to set something up before they return to Hogwarts," Remus allowed. "If not, maybe during the Hogsmeade weekend."
"If we meet during the school year we will have to Floo somewhere else," Harry inserted. At Remus's look he added, "Dumbledore told us last night when you were out that the Hogsmeade weekends were going to be cancelled due to security risks. McGonagall suggested some of the shops set up stalls near the Quidditch pitch but inside the wards once a month as a faire of sorts."
"A sensible precaution," Oliver allowed in an approving tone. "It reduces the number of people traveling between the school and the village and keeps the students in a more controlled area. Wards can be bypassed but it would take a significantly higher effort to get any real numbers in to Hogwarts."
"Studied that have you?" Harry asked with a small grin. Oliver's return grin was decidedly wolf-like.
"The hunt is the best part of being a wolf. The common animals of the forest are not much of a challenge for us. The Dark creatures are much more fun. Humans can be the best though – the most dangerous and unpredictable. Of course I study where that prey sleeps and lives. I know you understand this, Potter."
"You hunt humans?!" Hermione gasped.
"Hunt yes, Hermione but he doesn't mean he kills," Harry said before Hermione could go any further. "There is a thrill in the hunt. But a true wolf only kills for food or to defend the pack, not for sport. That is a human trait."
"Goblin too," Claire added. "They are a warrior race for all their avarice. They often hunt the more dangerous magical creatures to prove themselves to each other. Every few years they show up in one of our Pack ranges on the night of a full moon. We lose a few pack members but not as many as they do." Hermione and Padma looked shocked and appalled at that news.
"We've gotten off topic here," Remus said pulling them back. "Maybe we can choose a location after the school year has started and the security measures are a little more known?"
"That seems reasonable," Oliver acknowledged. The Alpha stood and gave Harry a short head nod of acknowledgement. Harry stood and returned it politely.
Claire walked around the table and surprised Harry with a quick hug. "When you arrived at the Gathering, I was prepared to side with Greyback against you. The Wizarding World hasn't made any friends among the Packs but I admit to being impressed by you and your friends. Thank you, Potter, for being willing to share with us and make our dream a little closer to reality."
1 September 1995
The crowds parted as Harry walked towards the Hogwarts Express. All conversation dropped to a whisper as the parents and students assembled there watched him. It was worse than his first three years back in the magical world combined.
Harry maintained a stoic expression for the most part until he climbed onto the train. He did break that to smile and nod at the sight of a few friends. Harry tried to ignore the combined looks of hope, fear, adoration, and hatred he saw as he walked through the crowd. He knew that would happen and had tried to get permission to Floo to the school but Dumbledore refused.
"Taking the Express is an important tradition, Harry" Dumbledore explained. "By skipping that tradition, you provide excuse for your political enemies to deride you. And make no mistake, my boy, you have political enemies that have nothing to do with Tom Riddle. Change makes many people uncomfortable and as many people that support the changes there are that many that hate you for them. Taking the Express will not make them hate you less, but removes a wand from their grasp."
"Well, that was funny, Harry," Ron said as he came in behind Harry. "I don't know how you bloody stand it."
"Language, Ron," Hermione admonished as she entered with Ernie, Padma, and Daphne following right behind.
Padma sank down onto the bench seat next to Harry and wrapped her arms around him. Harry responded by wrapping his own arms around her and leaning down into her shoulder.
"It's okay, Harry. This will pass too."
Part of Harry was sure she was right but it had been three days since the attack and the magical world was still in a hysterical state. It was one thing for the witches and wizards to be told about how strong Harry was, both magically and as the Beast, but it was another for them to see it for themselves. Between what was seen on the Magical Mirrors and the stories in the Daily Prophet half the Wizarding World was convinced Harry was a psychopathic killer while the rest saw him as their greatest weapon.
And the sad part was the exposure was mostly the Marauders own fault.
Three days prior…
Harry was enjoying his time in the workshop they had built above the showroom of Marauders Magical Entertainment. The Mirrors were stored in the basement but charmed in a separate workroom behind the showroom. This area was for new product development or, as Kalina called it, the Playroom. In any case, Harry was enjoying a rare bit of time alone.
Sirius and Kalina had made today a 'Healer' day. They took little Cassie see her pedia-healer and were then off to see Kalina's own Healer for some diagnostic tests for her pregnancy. Remus had gone to a small electronics show fishing for some new ideas. This left Harry alone and free to play. Right now he was working on a magical version of a paint-ball gun. Small summoning runes pulled the completely non-magical paint ball down a tube accelerating it like a rail gun would use magnetics. Compared to the top-shelf gun he'd picked up in a shop in London, Harry estimated it had fifty percent more muzzle velocity than a mundane paint-ball gun. And there was no compressed air to run out or moving parts to break. Even if it wasn't a great seller, it was still a whole lot of fun to make. Now he'd just have to work on a storage and feeding system and then put it all together into one package.
An explosion rocked the building and Harry heard screams coming from below him. Harry immediately sprinted out of the room and down the stairs leaving his invention behind.
The showroom was destroyed with shattered glass everywhere. The front window was gone along with most of the Mirrors that had been on display. The two male clerks that had been working the store lay on the ground a bloody mess; their bodies slashed to ribbons by the exploding glass. Harry could hear the sound of additional spell fire coming from outside even as he cast a quick spell to see if either had a chance of survival. Both were already gone.
The crunch of glass under a footstep warned Harry that someone else had entered the shop. The Death Eater had hoisted himself up through the remains of the front window frame only to catch an overpowered Bludgeoning Curse to the head.
"There's someone still alive in there!"
Harry glanced up and saw one of the Mirrors was still functioning and was showing the Alley outside. It was a smaller Mirror but enough to show several Death Eaters outside with a few civilian bodies lying around the outside of the showroom.
A swish of his wand created a whirling cyclone that quickly picked up much of the glass shards littering the show. With a little push Harry sent it out into the Alley straight into the oncoming Death Eaters.
The cyclone of glass enveloped four of the advancing Death Eaters along with their groaning comrade trying to recover from the Bludgeoning Curse to the chest he'd just taken. The spinning glass shards ripped the screaming wizards to shreds in seconds before the spell energy gave out dropping their bodies and the glass to the Alley pavement stones.
The five remaining Death Eaters were shocked by the sudden loss of half their numbers but instantly started casting Dark Curses of all types into the remains of the shop. Their spell energies destroyed what their initial explosive curse had not. It wasn't much different than mundane killers spraying machine-gun fire into a building trying to kill one person.
The Death Eaters had just paused their spell casting convinced there was no way their target had survived their barrage of spells. The sudden explosion of the upper window out into the alley put that assumption away. But what came out the window wasn't a desperate wizard trying to escape, but a very large, very pissed-off werewolf.
The Beast came down two feet from one of the Death Eaters. A single swipe removed the wizard's throat but the Beast was already moving to the next terrorist. A Cutting Curse sliced the Beast's side as the Beast bit one in the shoulder while simultaneously slashing another's leg severing the femoral artery. A backhand smashed the wizard with the bite wound down to the ground and into unconsciousness.
The Beast dove behind an overturned vendors cart even as the remaining two Death Eaters started casting Killing Curses. The two wizards used the spell fire to begin to back away to safety even as their curses started smashing into the cart. However, there were not prepared when where the Beast went in one side, Harry Potter with wand in hand came out the other. A quick Rupturing Curse caught one Death Eater in the chest leaving only a small hole. An instant later he dropped to the ground as the spell ruptured his lungs. Death followed quickly.
The final Death Eater turned and ran for the edge of the anti-travel wards they had erected before the attack. He never even saw the energy of the Flame-Whip Spell wrap around his neck only felt a brief tug that decapitated him.
Harry stood with his lungs bellowing as he tried to catch his breath. His magical and physical stamina was exhausted but none of the Death Eaters were left standing in the Alley. Two lay on the ground with only some slight movements betraying they were still alive. Eight more Death Eater-robed bodies lay on the ground in front of the Marauder Magical Entertainment shop. At least ten more bodies lay nearby, the bystanders of the attack on MME.
Then some motion captured Harry's eye. He glanced up and saw his own gigantic face looking up. The entire fight had been broadcast through the magical mirrors to the wizarding world. They would have seen the Death Eater attack and Harry respond with wand and claw. There was no putting this genie back into the bottle.
A whole new chapter in this war had just been opened.