Hey hey! Quick update for you, my lovely readers! Sorry, as always, for the delayed posting. It was a real... chore... to write this chapter. Fair warning, it's a 'stepping stone' chapter. I have my vague plot, and I needed to get to the next point, and solidify a few unresolved things... thus, this. By the time I got where I was going (in this case, the Daily Planet) I was pushing 4,000 words, and I like to have my chapter lengths about even. So this is just riffing on the Harry POV.
In other news, Thailand is excellent, even if teaching is sometimes a challenge. But the kids are cute, the people are friendly, and the food is amazing, so no serious complaints. I am also finding time to write, so whoopee for you readers!
Disclaimers: I don't own Harry, or Wally, or the Potterverse, or DC stuff... nothing as awesome as that :(
Warnings: Dangerous cravings for baked goods, vague crushing, and absolutely no exciting action or dialogue. Tough beans, folks.
Enjoy reading, anyways, and please review if you have time!
Love you guys XOXOXOXO
Harry quickly made his way to the elevators, smiling softly. So that was a superhero. He was, Harry admitted to himself, pretty cool. He could see what Wally had been talking about – the Flash seemed to be an all-around good guy. The way that he had saved those people, confronted Captain Boomerang, diffused the bomb... and all without magic! Harry, while not as bad as those who grew up in the wizarding world, had gotten into the habit of thinking muggles to be totally helpless. Admittedly, the Flash had an impressive power, but it was, on paper, just super speed. The creativity and adaptability it must take to perform effectively as a hero was what was truly impressive. And Harry loved how fast the man could run!
He felt a small flush of pride as he remembered that the Flash – the speedster himself – had referred to Harry as quick. He had praised him for helping with the little girl, and Captain Boomerang, and then had saved Harry. Not only that, but he had gotten him back to the hotel on time. He really was a hero, and nothing like what the wizarding world pictured Harry to be. Harry just had a remarkable string of alternating luck. And, truth be told, it was kind of nice being able to depend on someone to take care of things. He could see why superheroes were so popular and idolized here in America – there was a feeling of security just knowing that they were around. When the Flash had held Harry in his arms, and grinned that crooked smile, Harry had felt reassured and flustered all at the same time.
Blushing in remembrance of having been carried home by a man, Harry slipped out of the elevator when it got to his floor, and rushed to the Dursleys' room, slipping in the key and opening the door silently.
Aunt Petunia was bustling about the rooms, and Harry could hear the TV blaring from Dudley's bedroom. He wasn't quite sure what his Aunt was doing – probably disinfecting the area – but Uncle Vernon did not seem to be anywhere nearby.
Petunia glanced up as Harry slipped inside, and narrowed her eyes at his new clothing and bag. She glanced at the clock, then sniffed and said, "I hope you've had dinner. We've eaten out, and Vernon is still at the restaurant with some business associates. If you have money to waste on clothes like that, we shan't be providing for you."
As if you ever have before, Harry thought sourly. And who was she kidding? Vernon was not at a restaurant; he was most likely at a bar, getting trashed out of his mind. Sometimes his relatives were so oblivious he wondered if being brain-dead was catching. Still, he thought, he supposed he should be glad that Aunt Petunia wasn't screaming at him about where he got his money. She had to have some suspicion about his inheritance, and she'd evidently not said anything to her husband about it. Vernon would have tried to get it from him, even if it was filthy, freak money. When it came down to it, gold was gold. She probably told him he stole the things he had, which reinforced his 'delinquent' status for the neighbours. It was odd that Vernon probably couldn't care less if Harry actually stole something – he'd be ecstatic if Harry got caught.
A loud snort, and the sounds of crunching came from Dudley's room. Harry wrinkled his nose; Dudley had obviously located his required amount of junk food, and was in the process of decimating it. He was especially glad that he didn't have to room with his cousin, now. He turned to his Aunt as she continued to speak.
"Tomorrow we have a very important brunch with the company Vernon is here to see. We will then have an outing to tour the corporation," she said boastfully. Harry just gave a disinterested nod of his head. She wasn't expecting a conversation – she just wanted to gloat and the fastest way for her to finish was to not talk. He closed his eyes and sat on 'his' couch as she continued. "You will not be attending. I don't want to see you tomorrow – you will be sick, you hear me?"
Harry opened his eyes in confusion. Did she mean actually sick? Was she going to poison him? Make him watch Dudley eat? She wouldn't do that, would she?
No, apparently, she just wanted him to play hookie. Briskly, she informed him that he would not step foot in the rooms until evening the next day, and she wanted him out early the next morning as well, to prevent anyone from seeing him. She didn't want any awkward questions. Which was honestly fine with Harry – the less time he had to spend with the Dursleys, the better. This was turning into an excellent summer, stonewalling from his friends and return-of-evil-maniac notwithstanding. He was avoiding his relatives, seeing new things, and exploring the magical world. He even had some nice new clothes!
The magical world though... as interesting as his day had been, he was worried about the Stunning Spell he had shot at Captain Boomerang earlier. Did the underage magic laws apply here? Why hadn't anyone contacted him? He'd almost broken the International Statute of Secrecy, hadn't he? He would have to go to Magical Metropolis tomorrow and find out, and if his Aunt was serious, he'd have to go early. Which was fine – he'd grab something to eat at the Gateway Cafe, which was the rather cleverly-named entrance to the Magical section of the city. If Aunt Petunia didn't want him seen, if he was playing sick, he would have to forgo the complimentary breakfast.
Harry got ready for bed, even though it was still relatively early. There wasn't much for him to do – he probably wasn't allowed to watch the TV in the sitting area, because it would no doubt disrupt Dudley's program (which was turned up so loud he was surprised the rooms next to them and above them weren't complaining), and he was sure if he brought out a textbook to read his Aunt would have a heart attack. He had to get up early, in any case, so it would probably be a good idea to get some sleep before his Uncle came back and started yelling about things.
Harry flopped down onto the couch and covered himself with the oddly-textured hotel blanket. He hadn't been to many hotels, but it seemed to be a standard thing, and it was ugly and mildly uncomfortable. Still, it was warm, so he was able to relax without much trouble. As he started to drift off, he reflected over his day, and snorted inwardly. Even in America, trouble seemed to follow him everywhere. Trouble, and weird red-heads.
Harry slowly woke up and peered blearily through the hazy pre-dawn light. He wasn't sure how he managed it, but when he was with the Dursleys, he was always able to wake up when he wanted to without an alarm clock. He was still a bit tired, as he had been woken at around one in the morning by his uncle staggering into the rooms, completely drunk. Luckily for Harry, he wasn't angry, and he hadn't appeared to have been able to see the couch that Harry rested on, so there was no shouting or threats. He had gone an entire day without seeing his uncle, and that was a great feeling.
Vernon had stumbled into his bedroom, and he heard his Aunt cooing over her inebriate sop of a husband before loud, ringing snores joined the ones Dudley was making. Harry would wonder how his Aunt managed to sleep beside that racket, but that would require thinking about his Aunt and Uncle in bed together, and Harry definitely did not want to subject his poor mind to that. Harry quietly slipped into another of his new outfits, jeans with a black button-up shirt over a white v-neck, tied on his new converse, and made sure he had everything in his bag. He was certainly not going to leave anything in the room. He quickly stepped into the bathroom to use the loo and brush his teeth, then silently exited into the hallway. The hotel was very quiet, with most of its guests still sleeping, and the maids and other staff were by and large downstairs to avoid waking the guests.
Harry decided to take the stairs today, as he reasoned that he may be able to find a side exit and avoid the front lobby altogether. He wasn't that concerned about being caught up and about, but he would avoid anyone mentioning his appearance to the Dursleys as much as possible.
Sure enough, there was an exit out onto the street at the bottom of the stairway, with a desk manned by a very sleepy-looking man. He barely noticed as Harry strolled by and made his way to the sidewalk. Harry noticed that he was on a side street, and quickly navigated to the main street that would lead him to the cafe.
When he reached the broad road, he saw the city away with pink and golden light. At the end of the street, the Daily Planet building was set against the rising sun, and it created a breathtaking scene. The globe was lit from behind by the rays of the sun, and the reflections seemed to wrap around the metal in a warm embrace. Harry took a moment to savour the view, before looking around in embarrassment at his 'mushy' thoughts. Really, he should just start writing poetry and be done with it, gushing about sunrises, and being carried by really fit superheroes... Harry blushed an even duskier hue, and started walking briskly in the direction of the cafe.
When he reached Gateway Cafe, the sun was up and the shop was open. There was already a fair few customers, but even though the amount of people going in for coffee was constant, the cafe didn't seem to overflow, nor did many people appear to leave. Apparently there were a lot of early risers going to Magical Metropolis. Harry made his way to the counter, where the barista and the cashier looked entirely too chipper considering the early hour. Looking into the display case, Harry's mouth started watering at the baked goods set out. They had evidently been made very recently. Harry considered how hungry he was, and discovered that he was ravenous. In all the excitement yesterday, he hadn't had a full dinner. He had had lunch at the diner, of course, and he had gotten a bit of a snack from a street vendor, but the superhero encounter had drawn all thought of eating out of his mind.
Harry ordered a brioche and a raspberry and white chocolate scone, as well as a large hot chocolate. The smells filling the store had him salivating, and he could hardly pay fast enough, eager to sit down and start eating his treats. He sat at a small table near the back, not quite in the magical section. He wanted to enjoy a muggle breakfast, and he didn't like the idea of being ignored due to a charm. Harry tore a piece off the still-warm brioche and muffled a groan. It was so good. It was light, and the cinnamon and sugar were just right ... if Mrs. Weasley and the Hogwarts elves ever tried making lighter fare than their usual, Harry would urge them to make an attempt at these. His hot chocolate arrived, with whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings on top, and it sipped it appreciatively. Tearing off some more of the brioche, he dunked it into the chocolatey drink.
Harry made quick work of the first pastry and the drink, and he wrapped his scone in a napkin to eat on the go. He sidled over to the couches, and flopped down next to a tired-looking middle-aged witch. She smiled distantly at him, and then a wand was tapped, and they were in the flip side of the cafe. Harry waited for the witch to get up before making his way out into the moderately busy street. He browsed through the signs posted near the entrance, looking for an establishment that would be able to answer his questions. He was caught between visiting a law office, the library, or the Introduction to Magical Metropolis Centre. After staring at the signs for a while, with witches and wizards bustling around him, he came to a decision. The library (they have a Magical Public Library?) reminded him far too much of Hermione, whom he was still rather displeased with. He also didn't think he would be able to effectively research without her, a fact which annoyed him to no end. He knew he librarians probably wouldn't be as unapproachable as Madame Pince, but still.
He was tempted to go to a law office, but finally decided against it, if only to avoid possible consulting fees. It was just a few questions, and it wasn't like anyone had contacted him to ask about the magic he had done, so he probably did not need a lawyer at the present moment. That left the Information Centre, something that Harry was happily surprised to discover. Maybe if Diagon Alley had something like that, Purebloods wouldn't be so annoyed at Muggle-borns for not knowing about magical culture.
He strolled in the directions the signs told him (sometimes literally) to go, trying to think of a way to present his question that didn't make it look as though he had done something potentially wrong. As he went, he munched on his scone, and almost fell over at the taste of white chocolate and raspberries. Really, he would have to see what other bakeries the city had to offer, because these were dangerous. He made it to the cheery, professional-looking office and got in line behind a slightly confused woman who was clutching a handful of brochures in one hand, and a small child's arm in the other. The child attached to that arm looked fairly bored, and kept glancing out at the street with obvious looks of longing. Harry chuckled inwardly, and perused the wall of brochures and pamphlets himself.
There was quite an assortment, he realized. There was a section for summer camps, as well as different classes in magical and mundane culture. There were guides to magical wildlife and plants native to America, and packages for magical reserves that could be found in the country. There were booklets promoting different schools of Magic, and various guides to recreation in the wizarding world. It was quite comprehensive, and Harry feared what would take place if Hermione ever found her way here.
One rather plain booklet caught his eye – it was titled The International Statute of Secrecy. He stared at it a moment, then reached out and plucked it from the display. Before he could read it, however, a cheery voice chimed "Next!" and he found himself at the counter.
"Hello! My name is Amanda and I will be assisting you today!" the woman named Amanda chirped. Harry was now convinced that it was an American thing to be so cheerful all the time. He wondered if all workers in the service business had mandatory cheering charms worked into their contracts. It was fairly ridiculous. He smiled and thanked her quietly.
"Well young man, do you require help with Education, Travel, Immigration, Integration, Extracurriculars, Politics, Wining and Dining, Attractions, General Warnings, the Justice League, the International Statute -" she rattled all of these off very quickly, as if she said it a lot. Which, Harry reflected, she probably did. His attention had been diverted by the Justice League option, but when she got to the Statute, he quickly interrupted with a strangled and incomprehensible interjection.
She seemed to understand, though, and quickly selected a folder from a stack in front of her, and looked up at him, still smiling.
"And what was the nature of your inquiry?" she asked.
"Er," Harry started, "well, I'm visiting from Britain, and I was wondering if the Underage Magic laws are the same, or..." He trailed off as the the witch rolled her eyes and snorted 'Britain!' before flipping open the folder. She sighed before smiling a bit more tiredly and began explaining a remarkable thing.
"If you're from Britain, I'm not surprised you don't know, but quite a few years ago now there was an amendment made to the International Statute of Secrecy. This was mainly lobbied for by Magical United States, and was supported by Magical Canada, Australia, and many Asian governments. The system we have now is based on discretion – with the development of Superheroes, it was decided that citizens can perform magic if it is done in a way that could be passed off as a mutation or 'super-power'. So, no wands shown, or exposure of the magical world, and if you do expose yourself as a witch or wizard, the Magical governments have several back-stories available. The point is not to let the mundanes know of our society, so if you do a bit of magic here and there, it's no problem. There was also the privacy issue – the Underage Magic monitoring system that countries such as Britain have adopted are particularly invasive, and not exactly accurate. The Trace is something that most lawyers and human rights workers would object to, and it is particularly unfair to those living in a non-magical household. So, we trust the parents to monitor and discipline magic-use, and only penalize those who bring magic to the attention of country. The penalization is mainly monetary, as it costs a bit to erase evidence from recordings, and do selective obliviation. So, as long as you don't go shouting about magic, we trust you to be responsible while you are visiting." She finished speaking with a relieved sigh – evidently, this wasn't a subject she was overly keen on. Harry wasn't sure he liked it too much either; it made his head spin, and had him cursing the British Ministry for some of their more stupid policies. The one that stuck out in his mind was blaming him for something a house-elf did. That hadn't been very fun.
But if he was understanding correctly, this was excellent! Not only could he perform magic while in America, he could also learn new magic. Which would only help him if Voldemort and his followers ever found him. Harry was starting to like America more and more, and was feeling very fortunate that his Uncle had been forced to bring him along on the trip.
Harry could honestly think of many other questions to ask, but he wasn't sure if he wanted to deal with such a cheery, loquacious person for an extended amount of time. It was enough to make him want to die a bit inside. Perhaps if he went to go visit Wally... but there Harry stopped his train of thought and inspected it carefully. From the short conversation they had had, Wally was the definition of cheerful and talkative. Why would Harry prefer that over the Information witch? It was quite a puzzle to him.
He left the Information Centre after snatching a few of the more interesting brochures, still mulling over the quandary that was Wally West. He passed by the MagiTech store he had seen on his earlier trip, and glanced into the window. It was quite amazing; apparently American wizards had managed to duplicate an electric current by substituting in magic, creating the aptly named "Magical Current", or MC. There were a few models of televisions and music devices displayed in the window, as well as a magical version of a cellular phone. Harry stared at the small devices for a while. Suddenly, it felt as though Wally's card was burning a hole through his wallet. He had Wally's number, and Wally was one of the few people he had met in America. He had liked talking to Wally ... only he didn't have a phone.
Fifteen minutes later, Harry was the proud owner of a sleek black device and an instructions manual about three times its size. He slipped it into his bag to examine later – it would probably take him a while to get up the courage to phone the Central City Forensics specialist. Harry had never actually phoned anyone before; although he had given both Ron and Hermione the Dursley's number back at the end of first year, Hermione had never returned the sentiment. Harry didn't know why. What if they had wanted to hang out in Muggle England? Friends did that, didn't they? Thinking about it, he reasoned that even if he had been able to phone her, he never would have gotten a word in because she just talked so much. Her letters were exhausting, but at least he could stop reading and take a break. A phone conversation would last forever... Hermione was one of his best friends (even if he was kind of miffed with her) but she could go on about the most boring things.
Wondering what to do for the rest of his 'sick day', Harry decided to explore muggle Metropolis. It wasn't as though he would run into the Dursleys, and he hadn't even really seen the city he was visiting. He made his way back to Gateway Cafe, pausing only to grab a chocolate croissant. He really couldn't be blamed – just as he was passing the counter, one of the bakers came out from the back and re-stocked the case with them. The scent had almost driven him crazy.
He exited into the bright light of day, and looked around, wondering where to go. Looking up at the tall buildings, he saw the Daily Planet, a notable landmark that was very near to the cafe. Apparently, it ran a newspaper, but because the building was a city landmark, it had tours and was open to the public. Remembering seeing the globe in the sunlight, Harry decided he wanted to see the view of Metropolis from the tower. He had a suspicion it would be breathtaking, and he had never been in a building so high. The highest he had ever been was the Astronomy tower at Hogwarts, and students weren't allowed up there during the day, which was really a pity because the grounds were beautiful.
With a shrug, Harry stuffed the rest of his croissant into his mouth, and made his way towards the building. Hopefully he would be able to have a normal, boring tourist day before going back to the hotel.
AN: Whew! That's that done - who do you think he'll be meeting after this? I wonder who it could be...
To clarify on the magic usage thing, I kind of pictured the use of magic in America to be treated similarly to the consumption of alcohol in Europe. It's not as big of a deal for younger people to drink, because they are exposed to it earlier, and its really just up to their parents to make sure they're responsible. I thought it would be funny to flip it, as the States are kind of ridiculous with alcohol age-legality compared to some other countries/provinces.
Also, the use of the word 'loquacious' is a nod to 'Good Omens', one of my favourite books. It's by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, who are absolutely brilliant. I'm thinking of doing an HP crossover with it, but don't worry, I'll keep slogging away at this one.
The brioche and white chocolate scone are favourites of mine. My dad always took my brothers and I to this amazing coffee shop named Serious Coffee. The food and stuff there is awesome, but the brioches, warm with hot chocolate or a latte, are absolutely divine. The scone is one of my favourites from a bakery called Cobbs. I don't know how much money I've spent, or how many calories I've had there. When you time it so you get the scones fresh out of the oven, it's like dying and going to baked good heaven. Sorry for waxing eloquent on baked goods of all things, but as I may have mentioned, I've recently moved to Thailand. I love it here, and the food is amazing, but every now and then I crave baked things from back home. The pastries here just aren't the same. Haha. Now I'm hungry...
Anywaysssss please tell me what you think! Not necessarily about the baked stuff, but the actual chapter as well! I do so love to read your reviews, and it's my birthday tomorrow, so think of it as an extra special present! You guys are the greatest, thanks so much for following :)