AN: ATTENTION, All readers should read AN's at the start of chapters, they will contain content warnings, update schedule notifications, etc. Further, the timing of the next chapter for this story will partially depend on reader feedback issues discussed in the closing AN of this chapter, so if you wish to see a speedy update, please read it also.
Content Warning: Violence and inferred gore.
Hero Harry, Prologue.
Lake Sakakawea Magical Asylum Refuge, North Dakota, March, 1997.
Lily Potter hummed with contentment as she sipped her morning cup of coffee, eyes closed as she savored the taste and aroma. One of the things she most appreciated about living in the USA, was that convenient little devices, such as coffee makers, were not incomprehensible devices of obscure function to the magical population. Or, for that matter, electricity. She leaned back in her chair, opening her eyes to look around her small kitchen. It was a modest room, with standard muggle appliances, enough counter space that two people could work about it in a pinch, and a round table with three chairs, one of which she currently occupied.
The rest of the small house she'd been given when she was granted asylum was just as minimalistic as the kitchen; a small combination living/dining room, two small bedrooms, and a single full bathroom rounded the place out. Or at least, that was considered minimalistic by American standards, like every other person who had come over to the Americas with the Hogwarts contingent, Lily hadn't really had much conception of just how big the nation was. Flying over more than a thousand miles without leaving a single nation's airspace, or even crossing half of it, began to make the difference of scale more personal to the Hogwarts refugees.
There was a knock at her door, pulling her out of her morning ruminations, and Lily shook herself slightly, before standing and walking to the door, coffee mug still in hand. She paused just inside the door to slip on her warm fuzzy slippers; she was already wearing wool socks with her sweater and trousers, but it was March in North Dakota, even if it wasn't as far North as Scotland was, and she didn't enjoy cold feet.
When she opened the door and saw who stood on the other side, she was reminded of the things she least appreciated about living in the USA, and her mood immediately soured.
"Ah," She said flatly, staring at the man in the expensive suit on the other side of the door, "The latest representative of the corrupt elements of the Federal justice branch, I take it?"
If the man was put off by her less than friendly introduction, he gave no sign of it.
"This," He said blandly, handing Lily a large, sealed envelope, "Is a court summons regarding the magical construct claiming to be Lily Potter. Said construct will appear at the Grace Valley Courthouse in Grace Valley, Virginia, at eleven thirty on Tuesday the Eighteenth of March for a hearing regarding its legal status."
Lily cast a few detection charms on the envelope discreetly with wandless magic, before taking the envelope from the man and shutting the door in his face. She was careful not to slam it, that would give the impression that she thought he merited enough consideration to be angry with; if the man felt it necessary to go out of his way to not address her as a human being, she did not really feel like humoring him this early in the morning.
Slicing open the envelope with a small cutting charm, she pulled out the legal papers within, and began reviewing them as she returned to her seat in the kitchen. It was, no surprise to her, more or less exactly what the suit had said it was, court summons, regarding another hearing regarding whether or not she legally counted as 'human' or not. What was new, however, was the fact that a specific individual was now bringing suit, one Jordan Costello, a name that seemed familiar, but she couldn't quite place. He was claiming that she, or 'it' as the terms of the suit claimed, was an untested and potentially dangerous construct that should be held in quarantine until 'studies' could determine whether or not she was, in fact, a public hazard.
Lily was not amused.
"Neville," Hannah Abbot growled, "Why is there a lipstick imprint on your left cheek?"
By way of response, Neville turned and glared at Sarah Planter, one of the fifth year Ravenclaws that was amongst the Hogwart's exiles, and was sorely tempted to flip her the bird. After a moment's thought, he did.
"One of the underclassmen got fresh with me," Neville growled, "Crept up on me while I was eating. I don't know why these girls think that molesting me is going to endear them to me. Feel free to spank the little bitch."
Hannah turned and glared at the girl herself, plopping down on the bench that Neville was seated at, placing her own lunch tray beside his, and wrapping her arms possessively around him. She considered, for a long moment, a number of creative hexes for potential use against the younger brunette, and almost decided to leave be, not being of an aggressive temperament.
Then the little chit smirked at her.
"Excuse me Neville," She said in a glacial tone of voice, standing up and arranging her skirt as she did so, surreptitiously palming her wand, "I need to go have words with that... female."
Neville made careful note that while his girlfriend had not resorted to foul language herself, neither had she scolded him for doing so.
Draco Malfoy, estranged (and only possible) heir of the Malfoy family decided, for perhaps the thirty-second time in the last year, that anyone who thought Wizards were superior to muggles was an idiot. He still had yet to encounter a single muggle contraption that magic couldn't replicate the effects of, but the thing about muggle machines, was automation. Sure, a spell could be used to heat a pan, or chill a cool box, or illuminate a room at night, but all of these things required the Wizard's magic to do. With Muggle appliances, you just plugged them into electricity, switched them on, and they could last for years.
Automobiles, Malfoy had first thought, were inferior to brooms, as unlike other muggle inventions, they did require constant attention to manage, and brooms didn't require the user to waste their own magic in order to fly. After riding in the vehicles a few times, however, and further thought, he realized that, when it was purely for the purpose of travel, the automobile was arguably superior over anything except for the shortest of distances. It offered a closed environment, with the comforts of heating, cooling, radio, and complete cover and protection from rain, snow, or hail. Not to mention that almost all automobiles could seat at least four (whereas a broom was cramped with two), and had a great deal of cargo capacity. Not even the floo network in England had been able to offer much in the way of cargo capacity.
There were still, of course, many things that magic could do that muggle science could not, such as instantaneous travel via Apparition or Floo, the multiplication of matter via Transfiguration, or transmutation of one substance into another, but there were just as many things that muggle technology could do that magic could not. Draco was certain that with enough spell research and development, something like television could be recreated using magic, but every single unit would have to be hand-crafted and enchanted by a Wizard.
Things like mass production of complex devices, bulk shipping, mass air travel, and more than anything else, computers and their attendant information networks, he could not see magic ever effectively recreating. Again, it all came down to automation; Malfoy just didn't see how magical craftsmen could ever keep up with...
A thought occurred to Malfoy, and he decided that he needed to speak with Granger, post-haste.
Luna Lovegood was quiet as a mouse as she crept slowly through one of the small forests in the area around her new home, creeping carefully, oh so carefully, up on her latest specimen for study. Slowly, she lifted her right hand, advanced it over the other, then placed it silently down between a pair of tree roots, before repeating the process with her left foot, crawling onward at a glacial pace.
Her foe was utterly alien to mammal anatomy; it possessed neither eyes, nor ears, and though it could be said to have a tough hide, she was uncertain as to whether or not it had a sense of touch. Smell and taste, she had no clue about, but that was, after all, the point of furthering study of the specific specimen.
So, Luna crept.
Luna veritably hunted.
And then finally, she pounced, flinging herself upon her prey with a wild grin on her face, and wrapping her arms and legs around it.
"I've got you now!" She shouted, "Just wait until I get you into our lab for study!"
Hermione Granger's face slammed into her palms as she listened to Luna crow about her successful capture of an evergreen tree.
"Not much for thinking, are you?" Ginevra Weasley asked casually, eying the self-confident local boy in front of her up and down.
"Oh?" He said, attempting a charming smile, achieving something more along the lines of smarmy, "What would you mean by that?"
"You just spent the last half of an hour badmouthing 'Purebloods,'" Ginny said with a twinkle in her eye, "Going on and on about what 'wealthy snobs' and 'pretentious jerks' they are. I think you were actually trying to impress me."
The boy opened his mouth, but said nothing; he couldn't quite think of anything to say in response to that.
"Well," Ginny said after dragging out the silence as long as possible to embarrass the young man, "It just so happens that I am a pureblood, and the Weasley family was also rather famous for being the poorest pack of blood-traitors in England."
She then kicked the boy in the shin, and flounced off past him.
Granger Lab, Immediately West of Lake Sakakawea Magical Asylum Refuge, North Dakota, March, 1997.
'Granger Lab' was not technically an official title, but as the small magical/Materials Engineering facility was essentially run by George Granger, Hermione Granger, and Lily Potter, and Lily's legal status was in question. It was also the only building that required a full-time guard, as whether it was intentional or not, some of the things being worked on in there were dangerous. And there was Luna Lovegood's small attached arboretum/menagerie.
Draco Malfoy was on the short list of people permitted access without being screened or an appointment. He found Susan Bones and Daphne Greengrass seated just inside three three-story building's entrance, working on enchanting a pair of evening gowns, he gave them a polite nod as he entered. Susan returned the nod; Daphne gave him a sultry smile.
"Good day, Miss Bones, Miss Greengrass," He said courteously, "Is Miss Granger in?"
"She's in Luna's Arboretum," Susan replied, "They came in with a shrunken tree, roots and all, and Hermione had that look again."
"Thank you for the warning, Miss Bones," Draco said, nodding to the pair of girls again, before heading past the building's atrium, and turning left, towards the airlock on the lab's west wall that separated it from the Arboretum.
The Airlock was not, strictly speaking, necessary, but even in North America, between Lily Potter, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, and Draco himself, they possessed more than enough power and precision to make Luna's little demesne a sealed environment without too much trouble.
It had surprised all of the exiles from Magical England when they had discovered that magic was just more difficult in the 'New World,' spells taking more power and concentration to cast than they had in England, or Europe at large. According to studies that Draco (and most of the other exiles) had read, this was due to Europe being more heavily magically-saturated, something that was speculated to be the result of more leylines being present in the 'old' continent. The lesser ambient magic affected more powerful Wizards and Witches to a lesser degree, Draco being one of the less effected due to his rigorous training regimen, but some of the underclassmen had been kicked down to practicing with first-year spells again in order to build their power level to where a simple stunner wouldn't exhaust them.
Draco himself was somewhat fascinated as he watched the heavy aluminum gears that made up the airlocks mechanism work while he turned the crank that moved the outer door. He could transfigure or conjure such things himself, of course (now that he knew what Aluminum was), but Hermione had transfigured them to fit together seamlessly on her first try, a precision to her spellcasting that Draco had only ever seen in Headmistress McGonagall before Hermione, though he suspected Lily Potter might have possessed before being 'dead' for thirteen years eroded her control to shite.
He finished cranking the outer door open, then moved inside of the airlock and began cranking it shut again, his thoughts, not for the first time, turning to all the things he had learned of magic in the last three years. Draco owed actually learning something from his education as much to Harry Potter as he did to Headmistress McGonagall, and had long since realized that Severus Snape had been the second worst thing for his education, after his parents. With Snape out of the picture, he had been forced to actually deal with the consequences of his actions for the first time, and after almost all of his third year being spent in detention, McGonagall's stern discipline had finally broken through to him.
And as soon as he had realized that the power, and more importantly utility, of a person's magic, did not depend upon their blood-status, but what they did with said magic, his entire world changed. In retrospect, the facts had been staring him in the face the entire time; Flitwick was not only not a pureblood, but not purely human, Potter was a half-blood, Granger was a muggleborn, and Crabbe and Goyle were purebloods.
Malfoy finished cranking the outer door shut, and began cranking the inner door open.
His entire fourth year had been spent attempting to reform his entire view of the world from the ground up, looking for some sort of foundation to stand on. The first thing he had realized was that he didn't even know what the right questions to ask were; his parents had taught him a way of viewing the world as much by osmosis as by deliberate indoctrination, and their way of thinking had been drummed into him on such a deep level, that he wasn't really aware of all the ways it affected him. Realizing that he had bought into a set of values that was not only a lie, but that he had bought into it whole-heartedly and bought it from parents who claimed to love and care about him, had horrified him when he had fully realized it.
Eventually, he had come to two primary questions, ones that he wanted answered before anything else; if a person's birth and blood status didn't define their worth and value, what did? And what difference did and didn't magic make to that? He had spent the Summer after fourth year taking illicit trips into muggle London, to see what it was actually like, and aside from the differences in clothing, he honestly would not have been able to tell a muggle from a wizard walking down the side of the street unless a wizard pulled out his wand.
That had been another shocking realization.
The crank stopped moving in his hand, and Malfoy realized had opened the inner door all the way, and he could smell moist air full of earthy smells wafting into the airlock. He shook off old questions he didn't expect to find definitive answers to any time soon, and stepped into the Arboretum, spotting Hermione, and especially Luna, with little difficulty.
It was hard to miss someone that was being chased around by a tree.
"Miss Granger," Draco said politely, "I take it Luna has added another creature to her menagerie?"
"Yes," Hermione said her voice full of weary patience, "A lesser Treant, this time. How she knew it from a normal tree, I still do not understand."
The bushy-haired brunette shook her head, and turned to face Draco, smiling slightly.
"Morning Draco, what can I do for you?"
"Good Morning, Miss Granger," Draco replied, "I was wondering if you were aware of any method utilizing Runes or Arithmancy to draw on ambient magical energies when one is not directly over a leyline nexus."
"Um," Hermione said, her gaze becoming distant as she began to review her prodigious mental stock of accumulated magical knowledge, "I'm not aware of any existing methods on record, but it's certainly something that sounds like it would be interesting to experiment with," Her attention turned back to Draco, and she looked him in the eye, "Why?"
"I was thinking on the primary differences between the products of muggle Industrialism and Science, and the Wizarding world's magic, and realized that the most substantive one, is automation in manufacturing. As things currently stand, all enchanted items have to be hand-crafted by a Wizard or Witch possessing an extensive set of appropriate skills, requiring tens or hundreds of hours to produce all but the most trivial of enchanted items. I know you've been working with 'coding' with Runes and Arithmancy, and I figured that if we could also develop a way to allow magical energy to be accumulated without the direct involvement of a Wizard or Witch, the primary hurdle would be overcome."
"Draco," Hermione said happily, her smile reminding him unnervingly of her uncle George, "You are absolutely brilliant."
London, March, 1997
Seras was seriously considering moving out of London. Keeping up with the steep rent prices in Britain's capital had been hard enough already in the year since her father had died (her mother having disappeared so long ago Seras couldn't really remember her), but the increasingly frequent reports of gang violence had been unnerving her. It wasn't like she lived in a particularly nice neighbourhood, anyways, and she knew all too well that a girl of seventeen, with her well-developed figure, would be a particularly enticing target to roving groups of punks, but she could hardly afford the rent to live in a 'safer' part of the city.
Which was part of why she generally spent as much time out of her 'home' part of town as she could, mostly by requesting as many hours as she legally could at the small tea shop and bakery she worked at. It was one of the few things her father had 'left' for her, and was currently the one she treasured the most; she knew from personal experience just how hard it was for a seventeen year old orphan, especially one her age, to find a job, and one with a boss like Mr. Whitaker was to be treasured, even if she had no particular interest in being a waitress.
"'Morning, Seras," Avery Whitaker, a stout, slightly balding man with a modest gut appropriate to a baker who enjoyed his own confections, called as the young blonde entered his modest shop.
"'Morning Boss," Seras said, smiling at the man as she took off her raincoat before moving around behind the counter, hanging her coat on the small coat-rack just outside the kitchen, and picking up the apron with 'Seras' stitched onto it from the next hook over, "Looks like the rain's clearing up, do you want me to prep the outside tables?"
Whitaker's only had space for four tables and a single wall booth on the inside (and two of the tables only seated two), but as the neighbouring stores in the small commercial strip were a bookstore on the left, and an antique store on the right, both owned by personal friends of Avery Whitaker, a full dozen wrought-iron tables, each with four chairs, were scattered along the broad sidewalk in front of all three stores. The display fronts of all three businesses were arranged to take best advantage of the arrangement, essentially advertising to each other's customers, with the tables arranged so that customers from either of Whitaker's neighbors could examine or enjoy their latest purchases over a danish, a donut, a crumpet, or a cup of tea from the bakery/tea shop.
"Maybe in a bit, luv," Whitaker said, turning his attention back to the tray of scones he was rolling, "First, I need you to pull a tray out of the ovens."
"Sure thing, boss," Seras said with a nod as she finished tying her apron on, then moved around Whitaker to the back of the store, where the ovens stood directly opposite the store front, in clear view of any pedestrians who happened by.
Many more 'modern' shops, especially chain stores, would have considered leaving the work area within the shop exposed to the customer's eyes gauche, but as far as Whitaker was concerned, if he didn't have anything to hide from the customers, there was no reason to do so. And, as he'd told Seras more than once, as soon as he did have something to hide from the customers, it was time for him to shut the bakery down.
Seras began humming softly to herself as she donned a pair of heavy oven mitts, before opening the oven, and removing the tray of pastries. The simple task was the first of many that day, and she did, indeed, end up setting up, and then serving customers at, the wrought-iron tables on the sidewalk. The work was by no means grueling, though her legs did tire from all the standing and walking as the day wore on, and whether it was a 'good' day or a 'bad' day at work was almost entirely determined by the nature of the Whitaker Bakery's patrons of the day.
It was a Tuesday, and Tuesday was usually a mixed day; old Mrs. Salay came by just before lunch for a cup of tea and a chat with Whitaker, the dignified Indian widow wearing a warm jacket with her Sari. It also meant young Joe Roberts came by to make miserable attempts at flirting with her, which was quite aggravating, but at least the fifteen year old wasn't looking at her with eyes that made her feel dirty. Mister O'Malley appeared to have gone and gotten himself drunk again, because there was no sign of him, and none of the other regulars that showed that day really paid her any more attention than necessary to politely place their orders, and then pay.
There was another new young man though, one that Seras rather hoped would become a regular, more because she actually felt Whitaker's was a better place for him to get his tea and donuts than anywhere else in London than anything else. He was young, fourteen or fifteen, Seras thought, with dark hair, brilliant green eyes, and such a serious and intense expression all the time that she'd never quite worked up the courage to ask him why he was always alone, despite the fact that he moved about in a wheelchair, and obviously suffered from some sort of palsy, with how his body kept twitching or going slack every few seconds.
He had been showing up just before dinnertime every day since Friday, and she suspected that he was rather taken with Emily Book, the neighbouring bookstore owner's thirteen year old daughter, judging by how he stole the occasional glances at her. Seras wasn't entirely sure what to think of that, considering just how serious he was all the time, especially since Emily was too buried in reading through her father's stock to have noticed the young man's attentions. In the end, Seras really only paid so much thought to the young man because he tugged at the edges of her memory, and there really wasn't much else for her to do during the dead time where no customers needed serving, and everything that needed cleaning was already clean.
It was during one of these slow moments, that the normal rhythm of Seras work day was broken. It started when a pair of rough-looking men wearing, of all things, cloaks, stalked past Whitaker's, and entered the neighboring bookstore, something that struck Seras as odd, seeing as how they did not look like the sort prone to reading for pleasure, but she paid no more mind to it until what came some minutes later.
Seven men in red cloaks strode up the sidewalk, their posture, their bearing, their gait, all screaming arrogance, as though they owned the very street they walked upon, and Seras found herself instinctively retreating into the bakery's interior. There was something angry about those men, and Seras had spent enough time at the police stations her father worked at to recognize men ready to do violence. Her heart seized within her chest when they turned to march into the bookstore.
Then all hell broke loose.
A flash of gray light erupted from the bookstore's entrance, and sliced the lead redcloak in half. Blood erupted, spewing everywhere, and Seras vomited, turning away for a moment as she emptied the contents of her stomach onto the sidewalk just outside of the store. For some reason, it seemed very important that she not contaminate the floor of Whitaker's bakery, she was sure it would violate health regulations somewhere. Like having a man's intestines on your shop floor.
Seras snapped out of her moment of half-shock, and turned back towards the bookshop; suddenly aware of the screaming that had begun the moment the first redcloak had died. Bolts of colored energy were slashing back and forth between the six surviving redcloaks and the inside of the bookstore, gouts of flame and water occasionally accompanying them. The redcloaks had overturned two of the bakery's iron tables to take cover behind, though the tables were rapidly being torn apart by the... whatever it was that the men were firing at each other out of sticks.
Wands, the part of Seras that was still captivated fairy tales and childhood stories informed her silently, and she nodded stupidly in response to her own thoughts. For long moments Seras stared in bewilderment, just barely peeking around the edge of the bakery's doorframe, as the store front of the bookshop was blasted, slashed, burned, and liquefied into oblivion, and the six redcloaks resorted to seizing more tables to cover themselves. It was when they seized their fifth table, that Seras realized that the palsied young man in the wheelchair was still in front of the bakery, utterly exposed.
Until that moment of realization, Seras had not realized that instead of breaking from a half-shock, she had merely broken from full to half, and the world around her snapped into violent clarity. Seras heard the faux-latin shouts, both those from the redcloaks, and those from within the storefront, that the wizards used to announce their spellfire, she could hear the rising crackle of flames taking hold of the books within the store, the faint hiss as the bolts of energy sizzled through the air, all of this over the screams of Londoner pedestrians as they fled the scene. She could taste the blood, smoke, and sweat on the air, her nostrils flaring as she instinctively inhaled to take advantage of her suddenly-quickened senses.
She could see how poor a weapon the spells made, moving at speeds low enough that a skilled athlete, such as herself, could conceivably dodge them, even at ranges of less than ten meters, this not even counting the incredibly obvious telegraphing of each spell before it was launched. She could see how the glass of the storefront, the flesh of the dead redcloak, even the concrete of the sidewalk, all were damaged far more easily than the cast iron tables, tickling her memories of how iron was resistant to magic in so much folklore. She could see how the crippled young man trembled in his wheelchair, his body still twitching randomly from whatever neural disorder afflicted him, while he watched the other Londoners and tourists desperately running as swiftly as they could, leaving him alone in the increasingly deserted street.
But more than anything else, Seras saw someone in need of saving. Ever since she had truly understood just what her father had done as a Special Firearms Officer, ever since she had been saved from a bully when she was ten years old, she had been set on joining the police herself, because she wanted to protect people.
Seras burst out of the doorway, accelerating into a sprint in the handful of meters between her and the boy's wheelchair that would have raised eyebrows amongst any except for professional athletes. It took her less than five seconds to reach her objective, her eyes on the firefight scarcely ten meters away as two year's familiarity with the table's layout allowed her to navigate purely by instinct. As she ran, she cursed the Blair government's restrictive laws on firearms, having lost her father's old firearms after any handgun with any real stopping power was banned in February. It was readily obvious to her, especially as a particularly vivid purple jet of energy blasted a watermelon-sized hole into the concrete sidewalk, that while the magic-user's spells were pathetically easy to avoid, the stopping power they possessed was functionally absolute.
And she herself was completely unarmed.
Fortunately, her purpose there and then wasn't to stop the fight in progress, so when she reached her target's wheelchair, she slammed into its back, scarcely slowing down as she seized its handles and sought to whisk its occupant out of the danger zone as swiftly as possible. Her burgeoning combat awareness and calculation was brought to a sudden, screeching halt, when the wheelchair's owner seized the wheels and brought it to an abrupt, screeching halt, stunning Seras not only with his apparently suicidal actions, but with how easily he was able to overpower her.
"What are you doing?" Seras shouted, "You'll get killed out here!"
"R-run, miss," The boy said, his slight stutter not detracting in the least from the force in his voice, "Don't worry about me."
"What?" Seras burst out, completely bewildered by the boy's response, her mind scrabbling at any possible reason for such a reaction, "Look, just because you're stuck in a wheelchair-"
"Fine then," The boy's voice shifted from forceful, to hard and cold as iron, "If you'll not leave, then stay behind me and watch."
Seras stuttered for a moment in shock at the demanding response the boy (no, Seras thought to herself, young man), threw at her, but before she could even begin to respond, one of the redcloaks, attention drawn by their argument, turned their way.
For a frozen, horrified second, Seras locked gazes with the man. His face was clean-shaven and his hair was clearly well-groomed, though sweat, concrete dust, and blood, were smeared across his face. It was the eyes though, and the sneering disdain in them, that stood out most in Seras mind, and memory, from that day on.
Then the man looked down from her, to the wheelchair's occupant, and his face paled in terror.
"IT'S POTTER!" The man screamed, hurling himself back and away, a spell flashing from his wand towards Seras' would-be rescuee.
All activity, both within and without the storefront, came to a deafeningly silent halt, the young man in front of Seras deflecting the orange spell sent his way with an idle flick of his right hand, then extinguished the fire growing in the bookstore with his left.
"I will give you this opportunity once, and only once," Potter said with calm force, "Leave, now. And the girl does not go with either of you."
For a long moment, acted, spoke, or even moved, in the battered London street, though Seras could faintly hear Whitaker whispering into the telephone in his shop. Then one of the redcloaks stood, and Seras could visibly see him gather a blustering, self-important attitude around himself.
"Harry James Potter," He declared, stepping forward towards Seras and Potter, "By the authority vested in me as an Auror by the Ministry of Magic, I hereby place you under arrest-"
He was cut off when a sword was thrust into his neck, slicing clean through and decapitating him messily as his blood pressure abruptly equalized by venting through his neck. Before the man's head even hit the ground, spellfire erupted again, the five surviving redcloaks desperately ducking behind the tables as they pelted their wheelchair-bound opponent with brilliant jets of light. Seras instinctively ducked back and away, trying to pull the wheelchair with her, but it was utterly unmoved, as though it had taken root in the concrete.
A shimmering dome of translucent light sprang to life around the Potter and Seras, and the spells splashed harmlessly against the shield.
"Idiots," Harry spat, "They could have lived through this."
With a gesture from his now wand-filled, hand, he summoned a broad assortment of concrete shards to float in front of him, the detritus of spell damage to the sidewalk varying in from coin sized to fist sized. One of the redcloaks popped out from behind a table, and began bringing his wand to bear.
"Avada-" He began, but was cut off by a finger-sized lump of concrete putting a fist-sized hole through his head.
Then Harry went on the offensive, and Seras nearly vomited in horror. She was uncertain if what he was doing should properly be called telekinesis or not, but the way he used it allowed none of the weaknesses that the other magician's styles of combat suffered, something Seras was painfully aware of, even as she was terrified by its effects.
The young Potter propelled the stones away from himself at hypersonic velocities, the lumps of concrete moving so fast that they punched glowing-hot holes through the iron tables that the redcloaks had been taking cover behind, launching them in sequence at a rate comparable to a high end automatic firearm. Seras could not see the bodies directly, something she was thankful for, but she could see the blood and viscera the hyperkinetic weapons spewed across the street behind the tables.
Later, after post-combat hysteria had died down, she would also recognize that Potter had directed the angle of fire downward, ensuring that the projectiles would not accidentally cause over-penetration kills against unintended targets.
"Loyalist!" Harry barked, "I know Moody's ordered you not to fight with me. Leave the girl and go."
"We don't answer to you, Potter!" Shouted a man from within the storefront, without revealing his position.
"No," Potter replied, "But you know you can't beat me either. Leave, or I'll do you the same as Fudge's thugs."
An angry snarl emerged from the shop, followed shortly by the two rough men Seras had seen enter the bookstore earlier, one of them looking like he'd lost some hair to the fire, the other clinging tightly to a mangled right arm with his left. The uninjured man favored Potter with a harsh glare, before guiding his companion away from the pair, the two running about thirty meters down the street, before disappearing with a sharp crack.
For a long moment, the street was awkwardly quiet, only the sounds of traffic from out of sight preventing total silence.
"Moody's men might be stubborn fools," Potter grumbled, "But they're not complete idiots."
"What the hell was that?" Seras abruptly burst out, surprised by her own sudden flare of temper, "That sure as hell wasn't just 'gang violence!'"
"No," Harry said harshly, "It wasn't, and unless we all clear this area fast, there's going to be thirty to a hundred more of them all over us. We need to leave, now."
"War is Hell," -William Tecumsah Sherman.
End Prologue, Hero Harry.
Author's Note: Well, here we go again. This is going to be... interesting.
First off, for those of you who are interested and care, I'm now published with some of my original material. E-published, anyways; there's a link up on my profile, and the author is very broke. In July, my writing schedule was heavily crippled by computer failure, and I literally spent down to my last dollar (discounting whatever loose change I have) to get a replacement power supply. In other words, if you like my writing, please considering going over to buy some of my posted short stories; they're only a dollar apiece, and authors need money too. In large part to the crap economy in the US (and a lot of the world) right now, I don't have a day job, so what I earn from my writing is it.
Now, on to story stuff. This story is, as is touched on in this prologue, going to deal with ideologies and worldviews. I'm a committed Christian, and my worldview reflects this, meaning what I believe about Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, Economics, etc, all come from a Christian perspective. As shown in some scenes of Brutal Harry, Hermione comes from a very Christian family in this continuity, and Lily will have a similar outlook. I do not, however, wish to have straw-man arguments take place between characters, or have no other perspectives presented, especially as when in a story (particularly a fanfic), when a character adopts an ideology, it comes across as the author stating that said ideology is the 'true' ideology.
Make no mistake, I am, as I said, a committed Christian, I genuinely believe that Christianity is true, not my own particular flavor of 'believe whatever works for you.'
However, I want to give people of other ideologies and worldviews a fair showing in the parts of this fic that show ideological conflict/argument, so I'm going to ask for interested readers to PM me, so I can engage them in discussion and debate about worldviews. Ideally I'd like to try to use 's forum function, and I might even try to get some feedback from on the SB Creative Writing forums, so that the debates/discussions can be publicly seen. After that, I'd adapt said discussions debates, and the thoughts and ideas expressed, into the appropriate parts of the story.
Again, I'm doing this out of a desire to give fair showing to those of other faiths or credos; if nobody volunteers for this, I'll try anyways, but it probably won't work as well.
In part due to this, it will be up to a month before the next story update; ideally, I'd like to update in two weeks, and get onto the same chapter every week schedule I kept with Brutal Harry after that, but we'll see. Brutal Harry had about three chapters written before I posted anything, and that initial lead helped me keep a weekly posting schedule. This story does not benefit from that, and it's also likely to be considerably longer, as I will be paying more attention to other characters. On the flip side, I've been writing much more consistently than I was a year and change ago, so we'll see what happens next.
This is also the official end of my author hiatus, even if I'm not ready to post the next chapter of this next Saturday, I will be posting something.