Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
Free after Arthur C. Clarke
Disclaimer: I own neither the Harry Potter nor the Mass Effect franchises, nor do I claim any rights to them whatsoever. I don't know the legal mumbo jumbo but I'm pretty certain HP is owned by J.K. Rowling and ME by Bioware/EA. Obviously I'm not making money out of this. As the whole story here is a single entity I won't repeat this disclaimer in each chapter.
Also I might draw upon the ideas of others, both professionals and hobbyists like myself, so if you read something you have seen somewhere else – it's probably not mine. Over the years I have read a lot – both commercial and non-commercial fiction – and even trying to remember where I've gotten a certain idea would be futile. If I remember, I will give credit where credit's due. If I don't, please forgive me and drop me a note so I can remedy the oversight.
AN: I decided to write a lengthy AN at the end of this first chapter since I didn't know how to properly divide the necessary from the merely potentially interesting aside from the obvious. If you want, you can skip to the end and read the AN first; I won't mind.
What I want to say in advance: I'm not a native speaker so please forgive me the occasional error. I like to believe that I have improved since my first foray into writing half a year ago but I know I'm still far away from where I could and should be. If someone feels he or she is up to the challenge to be my beta please let me know! Thank you for your patience.
Ah, and if this first chapter seems a bit angsty: it's the only one in the foreseeable future. The rest will be much more upbeat.
Chapter 1: An Unexpected Observer
Liara T'Soni was bored and she felt like it was her own damn fault. She should have known better than to break her only rule regarding discussions with her mother. It was simple after all: No talk about politics in public.
But no! She had to voice her opinion to that bloody bootlicker of hers while she was standing right next to her mother at the annual banquet in honour of something she couldn't care less. Some kind of ancient pioneer or some such she was related to.
Normally engaging in a political discussion wouldn't be so bad, even if she didn't agree with the Matriarch's – her mother's - opinion. It might have earned her a stern talking to in private, but she could have dealt with that – she had plenty of experience after all.
Instead her mother had agreed with her! Of all the times their opinions had met, the great Matriarch Benezia had to pick that one to agree with her daughter! And not with her choice of career. That one still hurt.
Liara was focused on the past, while her mother's interest lay in the future. Why the daughter of the most influential politician in Council Space and maybe beyond,and yes that includes the notorious Councillors, wasted – the Matriarch's words - her time with Archaeology was the talk of the more gossipy of the politically involved. Oh sure, she had studied a fair few other subjects as well, Astrophysics, Xenobiology, Xenotechnology, and even Political Science just to name a few – with a thousand years worth of time there was no reason not to – but they were all just supplementary to her main interest. Still it puzzled the politicians and had caused a lot of sniggers where the T'Soni's supposedly couldn't hear them. It frustrated her mother to no end that she couldn't call the guilty – it wouldn't do to reveal her information network because of such trivial gossip.
The subject of that particular discussion was a favourite pastime of sorts - not that they ever had new arguments - during polite conversation when everybody tried to stay clear from sensitive topics. It was an age-old dilemma, dating back to pre-Council times: What to do when one encounters a technologically inferior species? Specifically what should the protocol for dealing with an advanced, but not yet spacefaring species be?
Most believed the answer was simple – do nothing as long as they don't discover the Mass Relays for themselves. After all there was no telling how this intrusion would affect the newcomers. Meddling might hurt them and the Galactic Community in the long run – one had only to look at the Vorcha. As a result all Council races practised a hands off approach as soon as there was a confirmed sapient species on a planet, declaring its whole solar system off-limits.
Liara disagreed and made the mistake of voicing her opinion. At first they smiled at her from indulgent to patronizing. She was only 90 after all, not yet a full adult for another ten years, academic merits – three doctorates, two masters and a couple of undergraduate degrees - notwithstanding. Those smiles quickly turned into surprise when her mother, who was part of the same circle, voiced her support of her daughter's opinion. Naturally at lest half of those present quickly jumped the bandwagon – including the hussy that initially declared that the enlightened – meaning the Council races – should not sully themselves with the rabble that had trouble leaving their own ball of dirt, specifically meaning the newly discovered Humans.
Liara was stunned. She knew that her mother loved her but they disagreed on almost anything of importance and she had to admit it felt good to finally get her mother's approval, even if it was in such a small matter. At least she thought it was a small matter. Goddess had she been wrong!
Now she was trapped here in this tiny stealth shuttle observing obnoxious children – Human children to be precise – taunting and tormenting each other.
Later on that fateful night when Matriarch Benezia had - for the first time in living memory - agreed with her daughter in public, Liara had been asked to join her mother in her study. The guests had already left and the acolytes were hard at work cleaning after them when Shiala had fetched her. Still in a daze because of the unexpected praise – for praise it was – Liara was smiling. If the smile was a bit goofy, so what?
"Daughter, today you made me proud," Benezia said, sitting in her comfy chair by the fireplace – a remnant of ancient times. The chair was big and Liara had very fond memories of snuggling there with her mother when she was younger, reading a book together or hearing stories from the old days that few remember. It was there she had discovered her love for the past. Secretly she hoped her mother was not as disagreeable with her choice of life as she let on. When Benezia had spoken of the days when Armali and her lost twin city had been the only ones on Thessia she always had a shine in her eyes that lacked when she spoke about politics.
For a moment Liara felt the urge to join her mother in her chair, even though she had not since she was a little girl. The urge passed and she settled in the chair – not as comfy but nearly so – opposite to her mother's as was expected from her.
"Thank you mother, that means much to me. I only said what I felt was right," she answered after she had made herself comfortable. And for the first time she felt truly comfortable in the smaller chair. True she seldom was outright uncomfortable – only when she had done something to really upset her mother – but ever since she had decided to not follow her mother in her career there had been an unquestionable distance between them that set Liara on edge.
"Indeed you did. While I agree with you - to ignore the new species is foolishness, as it is foolish to rush them into our world - I am curious what further thoughts you have on the subject," Benezia continued smoothly. While she was familiar with this tone – the Matriarch used it often when she wanted to gauge the opinion of an almost equal – Liara was at a loss. Benezia seldom used it with her. She was always confrontational, almost needling her to disagree with her. The only times she used this tone with her was when she was showing her up, when Liara had made a grave fallacy. Those kind of talks always ended humiliating. Suddenly she was not so confident any more. Still she pressed on.
"Uhm. Yes. I... I believe that the answer if we should show ourselves to an emerging species is not universal, rather it should be decided for each new species individually," Liara finally managed to say. Gaining confidence by her mother's pleased smile, she continued. "I was thinking that with the new stealth technology it should be possible to observe them; study their history, their culture, their art, and the people themselves without interacting directly.
"In my field we are used to model an ancient society with limited data. Compared to that, we should have ample information to correctly extrapolate if, when and how it is most beneficial for them and us that relations begin."
"You are perfectly right, dear. Finally your studies are paying off," her mother said with a smile that made Liara almost tear up in happiness. She had not seen that smile since she was little.
A few days later Liara was told by her supervisor that she had been selected for a top-secret project. She was to be the first to study a newly discovered culture and advise the Matriarchy on how to proceed. Liara nearly fainted. She had never heard of such an assignment but figured that only the most senior faculty member would be considered for something like this. The career implication were mind-blowing – never mind the project itself! True, her speciality were the Protheans, but she was aware that without much data on them, studying as many cultures as possible to draw parallels was essential.
She did not tell her that she was not to study an extinct culture, rather the opposite in fact. She found that one out when some clerk commented on it in a offhand manner. It had been quite the shock - again.
The project was to evaluate the ancient and modern cultures of the newly discovered Humans, the sapient species – well one of them anyway - of planet GT89534 – or Earth as the natives called it. The assignment reeked of her mother but for the first time her mother meddled with her professional life, Liara did not mind terribly. She would have liked to be told directly by her, but she understood. It would not do for the Matriarch to use her influence to advance her daughter's career. And Liara was a bad actor, she knew, so there was no way Benezia could have told her beforehand without someone picking up on it. No Benezia was right to do it her way.
Preparations took almost a year and the project itself was a standard four year deal. Plenty of time to study a single culture.
Only it wasn't. A single culture that is. Apparently, despite the evidence of global cooperation for more than eight generations, there were almost two hundred nations, each one more or less separate from the others with its own culture, rules and economy. Throw in the fact that the Humans liked to change their culture every couple of generations...
Yes, not all of those cultures were relevant. Some were so similar, distinguishing them was not necessary for the scope of her work, but Liara had to categorize them first. That took half a year. The next problem was that she wanted to work herself from the bottom to the top, starting with the most ancient cultures and finally arriving at the most recent. Only the ancient ones did not leave many relics behind. It seemed like galactic history in miniature.
The difference? All those cultures influenced themselves in a seemingly random pattern, something that never happened in the wider Galaxy, was unprecedented on almost all scales in fact. The known species had very linear cultures which evolved slowly over centuries in a very homogeneous manner. Only with the onset of Galactic communications external influences started playing a role but it was a minor thing; the cultures had already settled. Not so with the Humans. At times information – most importantly new ideas - travelled great distances, at others it seemed the next village was on a different planet. They evolved and regressed in leaps and bounds, it was maddening! Liara loved it.
In the two and a half years she had barely scratched the surface, and that only because the natives had already done a marvellous job themselves. Now if only they would start digitalizing their knowledge in earnest. Luckily she saw signs that the dawn of the true information age was at most a few decades away. She had already drafted several proposals for further study. She hoped to bring a full-fledged team with her next time, and with luck they could then tap into a planet-wide information network.
The last year was reserved for the current situation. It was far too much like the politics at home for her taste, yet she soldiered on. Sure there were differences. Generally the system was archaic and bogged down in places, but some ideas had merits. Even after a cursory glance she could tell that Humanity was not ready yet. Were they more settled they could be ready in half a century, but as it was she doubted they would be ready after a hundred years. Sadly interfering on either a grand or small scale would be bad. First they had to work out their own problems. That was not to say they could not subtly guided in secret but that was not her decision to make.
Wanting to help make that decision was what brought her to her current stakeout – a primary school in Little Whinging, Surrey in the nation of Great Britain.
For the umpteenth time she cursed herself and her thorough nature. As an Archaeologist she seldom had the opportunity to just watch the daily life she was studying but often hoped she could. Now she cursed the Goddess for granting her that wish. Watching everyday life was just boring. And at times like these downright depressing.
Her shuttle was parked on a nearby rooftop where nobody would accidentally bump into it. She had planted surveillance equipment all over the school and listened into a few classes. It reminded her of her own school time – not a happy memory. She had always been the odd one, even considering her heritage. Being a pureblood was a serious stigma and it was only partially mitigated by the fact who her mother was, at least with the older Asari.
But children did not care about Matriarch Benezia. They only saw shy and studious Liara, who's 'father' was quite obviously - to Asari at least - another Asari, and what's more, one that had left her. Why those were bad things, Liara never understood.. But at times she wondered where her father was – assuming she was still alive – and why she left.
As she watched a small, black haired boy being chased by a horde of other little children she cringed in sympathy. When they got to him, he was in for a beating. She had seen it before. At times like those she hated the fact she could not intervene. Her school mates had never hurt her physically but they didn't have to. Words could hurt just as well. Sometimes even more.
As she watched the boy run into a cul-de-sac behind the school's kitchen she balled her fists in frustration at her inability to help. She almost switched to another feed, but felt that if she couldn't help the boy she owned it to him to at least bear witness. She did not turn away as he realized his predicament, as his eyes widened in fear at the horde that gathered at the entrance, as he frantically looked for a way out, as he suddenly vanished into thin air. Wait what?
Liara, who at that time had tears in her eyes, not just for the boy but all the ugly things she had seen over the last months, scrambled for the controls. Something had happened. At one moment the boy had been cornered, ready to spring behind the garbage bins and then he just vanished. She hit the reverse and zoomed out so that she could see more.
There he was, entering the cul-de-sac. The others arrived. Then he vanished. Liara hit the pause button; all five monitors froze. It took her only a couple of seconds to spot the little boy again: He was now sitting on the kitchen's chimney.
Liara let the last couple of seconds play again frame by frame. There was no observable time delay between the boy standing on the ground and him standing on the roof, almost ten meters from his initial spot. That left only one conclusion.
"Goddess... Biotics! But how? There is no Element Zero on Earth!"
She stared into the green eyes of the mysterious boy as if she could solve this riddle by willing the projection to talk. Somehow she doubted she would get to the bottom of this, even if she asked the boy. By the look of him, he was just as confused by the whole situation as she was.
"Who are you? What's your secret?"
Not for the first time Liara cursed that Humanity had not yet advanced so far that computers where an everyday tool. She would have to hit the archives to find out more about the boy. But somehow she was a little giddy at the prospect. There was something about physically sorting through information that was just lacking in the age of electronics. As convenient as data pads were, sometimes they couldn't compare to actual books in Liara's opinion. The first time Liara had leafed through an actual tome had been magical.
Harry Potter was not aware that his little 'freak outburst' – as his uncle called them - had garnered so much interest. Had he known he would have been even more upset. Garnering interest was not a good thing in his experience.
After a perplexed teacher had gotten him down from the chimney there was no way his relatives would not hear about the incident. They would have heard anyway as his cousin was part of the pack that had hounded him but this way it was much worse. His uncle had yelled for an hour straight and then sent him to bed without dinner. For the rest of week he was confined to his bedroom – the cupboard under the stairs. He was only allowed out of there when he had to do his chores or go to school. And he didn't doubt he was only allowed to go because people would talk if he didn't go.
He thanked the stars for small favours. Before school he had been miserable. He still was in many ways, but now he had an escape. He loved books but he could only read them at school. There was no way his aunt or uncle would allow him to study at home except for the bare minimum necessary for his homework. They had made their opinion on him outperforming Dudley – his cousin – in school quite clear. In fact today's 'Harry Hunting' was because he had done better in class than his cousin. Not that Dudley wouldn't have found another reason.
While his school had a most unusual visitor that night, who was especially interested in his file, Harry tossed around in his sleep. Nightmares were nothing new to him, but today was especially bad. Everytime after one of his freak outbursts they got worse for a couple of days. He figured it was because of the scolding. Why did he have to be different from everybody? Why did he have to live with his relatives who hated him, a feeling that was entirely mutual? Why had his parents left him?
"Hello mother," Liara was clearly nervous, evidenced by her wringing her hands. It was late by her clock, after midnight in fact, but where her mother was it was early morning. Her mother immediately picked up on her nervousness. She was never able to hide anything from her – or anybody else for that matter.
"What is it Little Wing? You were not due to call in for another two weeks. Have you accidentally revealed yourself?"
"N-No, nothing like that mother, but I need your wisdom," Liara said, uploading the short clip that left her so upset. "Please look at this and tell me what you think."
She waited as her mother watched the twenty seconds clip. To see the same shock as she felt on her mothers face helped, strangely enough. Her mother operated some controls, obviously replaying the clip.
"Goddess! Biotics? But I thought..."
"Yes, that was my conclusion as well, mother," she said, smirking at the fact that her mother reacted in almost the same fashion as she did. "And no, there is no Element Zero on Earth. I've checked again, and even did a more thorough search on the island – it is quite big – where this happened. According to the file I found in the boy's school there is no reason to believe he ever left it. Another thing mother. There was nothing in that file that suggested that he was in any way special, except that his parents died when he was little."
"So either he is the norm or they don't know anything about the Mass Effect or biotics," Benezia nodded to herself.
"I think we can rule out the first possibility. After it happened everyone – including the boy - was just as confused as I was – more so in fact!"
"So they don't know. Goddess, what if... No," Benezia fell silent for a moment. Liara knew better than to interrupt her mother's thoughts. "Liara, this is important! Listen to me carefully: Everything about this is strictly classified. You are not to tell anybody except me. Have you gotten enough data to advise the Matriarchy?" She waited for her daughter's nod. "Then from now on you are to investigate this further. It is too bad your project ends in only a month's time. Maybe if you could justify extending it..." at this a huge smile blossomed on Liara's face. Benezia could not help herself and smiled as well.
"But mother surely the Matriarchy has to know about... You know something, don't you?" Liara was not nearly as good at reading her mother as vice versa, but she still considered herself the foremost expert on reading the great Matriarch Benezia. She knew her mother was hiding something.
"No, I don't know anything, but I suspect... I am sorry Little Wing, but I can't tell you. Not yet. Please, I know we didn't always see eye to eye, but this is important or it could be. Please trust me," Liara was stunned. Benezia was pleading. The Matriarch never pleaded. Not with her – at least not since she was twenty – not with anybody!
"Y-Yes mother, I will." What else could she say?
Liara was fuming. She never before felt this much anger. Those people... no those monsters!
For the past two weeks she had observed the young boy – Harry Potter as she now knew – almost constantly. By now she was seriously tempted to unleash her biotics on the fat male that apparently was Harry's uncle Vernon. And maybe his equally fat son Dudley. How anyone could treat a child in this way was beyond her. Oh, the adults did not hurt the boy, not directly at least. They merely encouraged his cousin and his gang to do it in their stead. And the dog. Goddess she almost lost it that time. Thankfully Harry made it up the tree at the last second. She had almost thrown that monster into the nearest wall, secrecy be damned!
School was out and Harry was hanging around the neighbourhood playground. He had learned last year that he was not to come home after Dudley but neither long before him. So he waited for his cousin to show up so he could hurry back home. As always he read one of his school books while sitting on the swings, feet dragging through the coloured leaves that started piling up. Unknown to him, Liara was sitting not far from him on the ground under a tactical cloak, a relatively new development that allowed her to be invisible to the naked eye as well as some of the more basic active scanning methods.
Today had been a particularly bad day. For homework Harry and his peers had to build or draw something of their town. How Harry managed to build a near perfect model of the town's church without help was beyond Liara. It was not as if his aunt or uncle would have given him anything to build it with. Still he managed and somehow his model had been the best of all, at least in her opinion. Had his cousin not destroyed it on their way to school.
As it was, Harry had been scolded for not delivering anything. He tried to defend himself without saying who destroyed the model – a sure way to get another week in the cupboard at least – but the teacher remained adamant. Liara, who was far more perceptive than any seven year old, saw that the teacher believed Harry was not at fault, but could not bring herself to let it slide. Liara did not blame her – the woman was concerned about her pupils' discipline and Harry's excuse was flimsy.
Dudley sported a shit eating grin for the whole day. Liara was once more tempted to punch it in. But all she could do was sit next to the swings in silent and unknown companionship, commiserating with a boy she had come to care for so much after only two short weeks. So much in fact that she contemplating taking him away with her, because obviously he was miserable here. If only she could give him a hug, let him know somebody cared. Damn the Matriarchy and their fixation on secrecy!
She could tell he was silently crying, a skill he had mastered at a young age. He hadn't turned the page once ever since he had opened the book some twenty minutes ago. She couldn't blame him. Ever since the chimney incident there had been a string of bad days...
"Look who we have here. Hey Piers! Grab him!"
And it was about to get worse.
Before either Harry or Liara could react – not that she was allowed to – Dudley's crony had grabbed Harry in a lock, trapping his arms behind his back. Dudley strutted around in front of their captive, letting his right fist smash into his open left hand. The gesture was clear even to Liara.
"Harry," he said, attempting to imitate their teacher. "I expected better from you."
He hit Harry in the stomach.
"You know, Scarhead, in my opinion she should have beat you with that stick she uses to point at things. Daddy always tells us how they did that back in his day."
Liara had enough. Her stasis field surrounded Dudley just as he pulled back his fist for another swing. Her cloak failed with a electric fitz sound just as she expected. They weren't designed to operate in combination with biotics – or weapons. Active Mass Effect fields would disrupt them and it would take a couple of minutes to reload them. She just hoped her long robes complete with a mostly face-obscuring cowl would mask her appearance sufficiently. Maybe they would think she was Human. A blue skinned one, but a Human.
The two boys stared at her dumbfounded. She had expected that. Same as she expected for them to run away as soon as they regained their wits. Dudley's friend did, Harry did not, instead he continued to stare at her. Even after Dudley was freed from stasis and he scampered off as well, only glancing back at Liara for half a second, he was still rooted in place
"Are you a Jedi?"
What? Now it was Liara's turn to be dumbfounded. She had not expected that Harry would stay, even less talk to her.
"Are you going to make me forget about this?"
Finally Liara got her wits back. She gave quick thanks to the Goddess for remembering to load English into her translator. She would sound slightly synthetic, but that was better than talking Asari.
"Why would you think that?" She asked in turn, slightly offended. To Asari meddling with another's mind was one of the worst crimes, ranking higher than rape.
"Sorry," he cringed." But isn't that what Jedi do? 'These are not the droids you are looking for'," Harry told her, struggling to keep his voice without emotion for the last bit. "I've seen it on TV last summer. Dudley was watching it while I was scrubbing the floor in the kitchen. Nobody noticed that I scrubbed the same spot for over an hour. Didn't you use the force to stop my cousin from hitting me? Do you have a lightsaber?"
"The force? Lightsaber?" Liara asked perplexed. "No Harry, I used biotics. Do you know what they are?"
Harry shook his head but then got a pensive look on his face. "You know my name?"
"Err. Yes. I'm Liara, nice to meet you."
"Cool! I've never known someone with blue skin!"
Harry almost jumped forward, extending his hand for her to shake. She had observed the odd ritual before, but of course had never shook another person's hand. Every species had its own greeting ritual. She knew Turians and Krogan shook hands as well, but she never had met one of them in a context that made it necessary to engage in that ritual. Ever so cautiously she took his hand and slowly moved it up and down.
"Harry, can I ask you a favour? Could you not tell anybody about me?"
"I guess, but Dudley will tell aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon anyway. They will blame me, like always but I won't tell anybody. I promise," he said in a serious tone but seemed insecure after his promise. "Can I ask you a question?"
"I guess that's only fair. However, I might not be able to answer you."
"Are you an alien?"
Liara stumbled backwards in shock. That such a young child had come to the right conclusion so fast stunned her. All she could do was work her mouth in silence.
"So you are an alien! Wicked! Can I see your space ship?"
"H-How did you know?" Liara finally managed to stammer.
"Please, I'm seven, not dumb! You wear robes like a Jedi, you are blue, you speak funny - although not like that Vader bloke - you have wicked powers and you obviously don't know how to shake hands," he told her as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "But don't worry, I will keep your secret if you show me your space ship. Well, I will keep it anyway, but please can I see your space ship?"
Liara couldn't help herself, she just had to chuckle at the singlemindness that so much reminded her of herself at that age – well equivalent age anyway. That and his puppy eyes melted away what small resistance she had instantly.
"I guess... Now that you know what I am there is no point hiding it anymore. Alright, come along then," she said, extending her hand for Harry to hold on to. He didn't hesitate to grab it and never looked back as they made their way into the more dense parts of the park where her shuttle was parked.
"Wicked!" he said admiringly as the Shuttle materialized out of thin air.
Liara ushered Harry inside as fast as she could, reactivating the stealth system as soon as they were inside. She did not want the shuttle exposed longer than necessary.
The inside was spartan. The living space was maybe five by three meters, including the small bathroom and the cot in the back. Obviously the cot was of no interest to Harry. The floating screens and interfaces bathing the small space in orange light were far too captivating.
"Wicked!" he repeated himself, obviously hard pressed to decide where to look first.
"Wait till you see the real space ship," Liara told her companion smugly. She was really proud of her small ship currently in orbit. Benezia had insisted on the best of the best. Initially Liara, herself rather frugal, was exasperated but in time she became to appreciate the many small comforts her little home away from home offered. It didn't have a name when she arrived on Earth but she soon decided to call it Alexandria, after the library that supposedly had been the biggest of its time, now long lost.
"The real space ship? You mean you have another one? And I can see it too? Wicked!"
"Erm..." Shouldn't have said that, Liara, she thought."Yes, why not. let me just get out of these ridiculous robes first," she relented, as soon as she saw the eager look on Harry's face.
After she tossed them on the cot, revealing a much more form-fitting one-piece overall, she typed a few commandos on the main console. A couple of keystrokes more made a section of the wall transparent so that Harry could enjoy the ride.
Harry meanwhile watched her closely. He didn't seem to mind that she looked different from him, still Liara could tell that he took in every detail of her. While Asari could pass as Human at a distance there were several differences, none of which seemed to bother the young boy. The blue, slightly scaly skin was of course a dead giveaway, as was the missing hair and ears – they didn't even have eyebrows! Instead of hair they had scalp crests that were reminiscent of tentacles, even if they didn't flop around, as some might think. But Harry, while noting them, didn't focus on those things, instead he studied her freckled face, her deep blue eyes, and how her long fingers danced over the interface.
As soon as the shuttle started to move, leaving the park behind he focused his attention on the outside. Now it was Liara's time to observe him, as he was staring out of the window wide-eyed and open-mouthed as Earth dropped away. His hair was an unruly black that seemed untamable. Understatement of the century! That hair had a mind of its own! But as fascinating as it was – and Liara was very fascinated by hair in general, and Harry's in specific– what stood out the most about Harry was his deep green eyes. There was a light in them that Liara hadn't seen before in anyone. Her mother and her tutors would disagree.
Just as they broke through the clouds the main screen buzzed, indicating an incoming call. Which could only mean one person. Mother, you have the worst timing!
Liara looked frantically around for a way to hide Harry, but saw none that didn't alert the boy. The shuttle was just not big enough. And if she didn't answer soon the line would open anyway. Benezia was not known to be patient when it didn't suit her needs.
"Liara, it is good... Liara? Is that who I think it is in your shuttle?"
Harry had of course heard Benezia talking and looked around to find out what the new excitement was about. As she was speaking Asari he did not understand anything beyond his new friends name. At the sight of the new Asari, this one clearly older – and showing a lot more cleavage – his eyes bugged out anew.
"Yes mother," Liara exhaled, also speaking Asari. Mother's too calm. That can't be a good sign. She swiftly tapped a few keys, interfacing her translator with the main computer so that Harry could understand her mother, and she him. "Mother, may I introduce to you, Harry James Potter. Harry, this is my mother Matriarch Benezia T'Soni."
Harry stood from his seat,giving her mother a small bow, to everyone's surprise. "Pleasure to meet you, ma'am."
"It's a pleasure to meet you as well, young one."
Turning to Liara he said in a whisper – which her mother obviously heard as well "What's a Matriarch?"
Seeing the amusement in her mother's eyes, Liara breathed a sigh of relief. This might not be so bad. "It's difficult to explain," she whispered back. She pondered a moment how to best explain it to the young English boy. Not an easy thing, considering her own knowledge of Human culture was still quite superficial."A Matriarch is like a Bishop combined with a noble Lady and a Minister. Some focus more on one aspect but my mother is all three of them."
"Ehem," Benezia decided to 'interrupt' them just when it was clear Liara had finished. "Daughter, please explain why you have violated your vow of secrecy by bringing this young Human aboard your shuttle."
"Liara, are you in trouble because of me?" Harry asked, clearly distraught, after Benezia had hung up. She had been very stern with Liara in his opinion. She hadn't shouted at her like the Dursley's did when he did something wrong but her disappointment shone through nevertheless.
Liara pondered the question for a while. Was she? Sure, her mother had been less than pleased with her, showing herself to three Humans, even if they were children. She had been somewhat appeased by Liara's assurances that supposed alien sightings featured quit heavily in certain media but were as a rule not taken seriously. Also, Liara had the impression as if Benezia was secretly quite pleased. It showed in her eyes. It was not hard to understand why, as Liara had reported on the boy daily. Benezia was no less incensed about his relatives than she was. Liara thought she was only faulted for not figuring out a way to help Harry without breaking cover. But she had always been impulsive under emotional stress. Benezia had – reluctantly – accepted that long ago.
"No, I am not in trouble because of you, but because I made a mistake. I should have found a way to help you, without anyone noticing," she finally told him.
"But then I would never have met you," Harry whispered desolately, just as they docked the Alexandria. Liara could think of no answer.
After a lengthy tour that improved Harry's spirits somewhat they found themselves in the small kitchen area. Liara, despite her many years, was no good at cooking and therefore mostly ate field rations. One of the first things she had checked was the compatibility between Humans and the various known species. She had been pleased to find that aside from some very rare exceptions – and those merely gave her ingestion - she could eat Human fare without a problem. It was a guilty vice of hers, that she stole into stores from time to time to nick some local cuisine. She fell in love with pizza early on.
So there they sat, eating pizza, Harry still looking left and right but mostly looking out of the window where just in that moment the moon became visible.
"Can we go there?" he asked, waking Liara from her thoughts.
"Go where, Harry?" she asked. He pointed at the pale disc outside the window. Liara pondered for a little while. Harry got the impression that his new friend – at least he hoped she was - always thought carefully before answering. It was a bit annoying, as he was used to quick answers from his aunt and uncle, but as Liara had yet to deny him anything he considered it a good trade. 'Don't ask questions' wasn't really an answer after all.
"Hmm. I don't see why not. My spare suit will be a little bit to big for you, but as long as you don't run or do anything strenuous it should be fine," she answered finally, eliciting a happy whoop from Harry.
Liara had parked her small space ship near the Apollo 11 landing site, careful not to disturb anything. Harry was sitting cross-legged next to the remnants of Eagle, the landing module that had brought Armstrong and Aldrin to the moon almost twenty years ago. He looked up to Earth, fascinated with the sight.
Liara meanwhile was inspecting the leftovers of the first moon landing. She knew a lot about the Apollo 11 mission, knew what she would find, but still; being here was different from only reading about it.
Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.
For the first time in almost a year, Liara was hopeful for the new species. Yes, they could be intolerant, but Harry had accepted her immediately. No mistrust whatsoever, something that truly astonished her. Even her own kind took a long time until they fully trusted their first allies, the Salarians. Maybe being short lived can be a blessing. New ideas can get a hold much faster.
"Giant steps are what you take
Walking on the moon
I hope my leg don't break
Walking on the moon
We could walk forever
Walking on the moon
We could be together
Walking on the moon..."
It took her a moment to register what she was hearing. Harry softly sang to himself, lost in thought, not realizing that the communication channel was open. Liara could tell that the song was somehow important to him. He had a sweet voice and she decided then and there she would never allow for him to go back to his relatives.
She waited until he had finished his song – she had to look it up, she vowed – and than approached him.
"That was beautiful. Do you want to go for a walk?"
"Yes!" he exclaimed with genuine joy but became immediately pensive. "But can we? What if we run out of air?"
"That won't be a problem," Liara chuckled. "We have several hours' worth of air. And I'm not suggesting we travel that far – only to the edge of the crater over there."
Again she offered him her hand and he took it awkwardly because of the too big gloves.
After a short walk they stood at the edge of a huge crater, for the moment just stargazing, the blue earth and the traces of the first moonlanding at their backs.
"When can I go to the stars?" Harry broke the sombre mood.
"One day, my sweet," Liara answered, her resolve wavering.
"What will be there?"
"Anything you can imagine," she promised. "Our galaxy has billions of stars, each of those stars could have many worlds, every world could be home to a different form of life. And every life is a special story of its own."
Both fell back into silence. Liara made her decision.
"Harry? Do you want to be my friend?" she asked after a couple of minutes.
"Your friend? Yes! I never had a friend before. But... won't you leave me behind, when you return home?" he asked, his voice scared.
There it was, the question she had dreaded and looked forward to at the same time.
"Harry, your are my first friend as well. I won't leave you behind."
"So you'll stay?" there was so much hope in his voice. Liara gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
"No, I have to return home."
"Oh." he sounded dejected.
"Harry? Do you want to come with me?"
"You want me to come with you? Like to your planet? Really?"
"Yes Harry," she nodded for emphasis.
"Yes!" he shouted as he tackled her in a fierce hug, eliciting a surprised yelp.
AN: So here it is. And yes, I have shamelessly stolen the stargazing scene from ME3 and 'Walking on the Moon' by The Police. In my opinion both are fitting - and I listened to the song while writing this...
First I want to point out that I did not misquote Clarke at the very beginning. This modified quote is kind of my motivation for this fic. What I mean with it should become clear with the next chapter or the one after that.
This fic has many inspirations. I first began to wonder when I pondered the inner workings of biotics for my other 'big' fic set entirely in the Mass Effect Universe (Fate Reversed). I came to the conclusion that biotics are space magic. Not that I have a problem with that – refer to the original Clarke quote.
Sometime later (or was it earlier?) I found a Harry Potter/The Culture crossover called 'Culture Shock' and a Dresden Files/ME crossover called 'Ghost Story'.
That Mass Effect would be one part was a forgone conclusion: I love that setting just too much.
As a teenager I loved Harry Potter as well, but haven't thought much about it in years; haven't read the books in ages in fact and skipped the last two movies. But I gotta admit that the story holds a special place in my mind and heart, plot holes and inconsistencies notwithstanding. And somehow I found my way into the HP-section on ffnet.
After I read 'Harry Potter and the Quantum Leap' with its brilliant Asari Meld impression by Luna Lovegood the idea to combine the two took root.
So what can you expect from this? First there will be a short prelude of sorts that will deal with Harry joining Liara on Thessia and various expeditions. It won't cover everything in that time but the most important bits until he gets his Hogwarts letter. Yes, Harry will attend Hogwarts and this fic is mostly about his years there and the fight against Voldemort. But other than that I can't tell you much.
See, I have planned almost nothing yet, in fact, I never do in my stories. Sure, I have a lot of ideas which I might work in – or might not. The big story in the broadest of terms – which really isn't that much different from the books – is staked out but other than that everything's possible. Does Sirius survive? Possibly, but not certain. Dumbledore? Snape? One might, the other might not. Even Voldemort's ultimate demise is not certain.
Only the epilogue and Harry's love interest are fixed but that's because it ties into the sequel. Yes, there will be a sequel and yes, it will deal with the Mass Effect story. And it's going to be epic! At least I hope it will.
And no, that pairing is NOT Liara/Harry as I'm going for an older sister/brother relationship with them. Harry/Hermione is the only planned paring, although romance will only start playing a role in late book three or even four – just like in the original. Don't worry though. I'm not about to write a teenage relationship drama, but I will have some fun with the characters.
I will try to keep the characters and events close to how they are in the books/games but naturally I'll have to make some concessions. They each have their own agenda that I will do my best to reconstruct from the books and make them react to the changed circumstances, according to their knowledge, agenda and personality. That means no serious bashing, but some might be called out for their behaviour. As the story progresses it will deviate further and further from the original but I hope it does so in a consistent manner.
Please let me know what you think of the story. Also I appreciate any idea you send along my way.