Author's Notes: The theme song for this chapter will be, "Chiisana hoshi ga oriru toki" from the Japanese animation Mai Hime. It is worth a listen. Seriously it is. Don't let the Japanese cause you to skip it. Whether you like the anime or not is another matter although I personally liked it.
This is a non-profit work of fanfiction meant only for entertainment.
On a side note, I'm just not that great at estimating how many words it will take to get to particular points. Ah well.
by Lerris Smith
The next morning there was a staff article in the Prophet about how the Potters had again saved the day with their new contraption, thanks in part to the Durmstrang champion. According to the article, the culprits had cast killing curses that missed due to how fast the craft moved and were then subdued by the Hogwarts team. It went on to say that the culprits later died of the poisoning they had been willing to deliver to children. A later article mentioned that Narcissa Malfoy reported her husband had gone missing.
The article didn't mention what the commander of MI-5 now knew, since there was no way for them to have access to that information. Lucius Malfoy expected the Potters to die fighting either the nundu or the hit-wizards and counted on Hogwarts being used to protect the spectators and him. Of course there was a specially warded plate around the nundu's neck that was supposed to keep it away from anyone who had the plates counterpart as Lucius and the hit wizards did. Even so, it must have cost a fortune to hire them.
One amusing thing they had found on Lucius body was a warded notebook that included his own theories of where Lacus Clyne came from. Fortunately the warding that hid the text was not difficult to bypass. It seemed that he and the undersecretary were of the opinion that she was likely Perenelle Flamel. As random guesses go, it wasn't bad, yet it was obviously incorrect. Still, it wouldn't hurt to have the Flamel case reopened. It was probably futile, as he remembered reading the report that firmly concluded that they were in fact finally dead. He was, however, more than willing to grasp at straws at this point, if that was all they had. He would also have to make sure there was surveillance on the undersecretary. It was always possible that someone else of interest would visit her and ask for help.
Overall the information from Lucius didn't change much for the people at MI-5. The people that died had been willing to slaughter children if it got them their objective and they were better off dead as they now all were. The only serious concern was that it might disrupt the plans in place to take out Voldemort once and for all, and there was little they could do there. They could hold back only so much.
Still, today was a mostly good day. Both Prince and Princess had returned safely from a bio-weapon attack. They had finally gotten a chance to meet the Potters and make some plans. They had even figured out the key pieces to duplicate the Potters rather useful jet. Of course the wizards that had so easily cracked Lucius ward scheme on his notebook were seriously annoyed that they couldn't even analyze the obvious ward scheme integrated into that craft. It didn't appear to have anything special at all, but those dispersed killing curses said otherwise, not to mention the couple finite spells did nothing during their failed attempts to open the canopy. Beyond that, the rune work that had to be there to stabilize all the other work was conspicuous in its absence.
He could wish the princess had not taken a stupid risk, yet he could understand the appeal of such an offer. There was also nothing he could do there. Still, it would be nice if they had at least waited till they had been totally cleared from possible nundu poisoning. He had his people watching the others at the castle for signs, just to be on the safe side. Everything seemed okay so far.
There were two other pieces of troubling news. First were the reports he had of dark wizards gathering and meeting. They were planning something and he very much feared it was going to be coincident with Voldemort's resurrection. The Potters had done what Dumbledore had not. He very much feared that they had given the Dark Wizards a true target. The question was, whether or not it was enough for Voldemort in whatever weakened form he was in now to seek out allies. His profilers suggested nearly infinite arrogance from Voldemort. The convoluted path he was using seemed proof of that. Was there something more to it? Were the Dark Wizards perhaps moving in to witness Voldemort's full resurrection?
If they could just find the monster then they could capture him and end this, but their only solid lead there was fake Moody. If they took him and failed to extract Voldemort's location quickly enough they could ruin everything. The best odds he could get on that approach was three in ten, which put it firmly in the no go category unless something changed. Still, even with those odds he had a team on standby for that one task.
The second piece of troubling news was by far the worst, well if it was related to the reactor issue in France. Particle accelerator experiments were yielding slightly different results than they had in the past and the effect appeared to be increasing. It would be one thing if it was only the results from one lab, but a half dozen of them around the world had duplicated the results, with the results different more as they approached the United Kingdom.
His best people thought it might possibly be a sign that things were beginning to unravel. They thought it was equally likely to be perfectly harmless and unrelated. He considered sending the results to Lacus as soon as she woke to see what she made of them, but immediately rejected it. If the Potters's cracked under the strain they might very well all be doomed and they would already be asking them about the neutron jammers they had just received the information on. That would be enough for now. He had already authorized expedited background checks on the workers at the UK accelerator. As soon as he got any of them back approved he would have his people bring them in and get them up to speed, if it took faking a few deaths to do it. They could not afford to depend on one young woman for everything.
In other news their agent in the Department of Mysteries had reported that Dumbledore was often reading from some of the oldest magical tomes there, although so far they had no idea what specifically he was looking for. It was presumably some method to stabilize the Potters further. He supposed you couldn't rule out something to stop Voldemort either.
He had a whole team composed of wizards, muggle doctors, and engineers looking into the same issue and so far their consensus was that nothing further should be attempted while they were stable, lest the one more straw be the one too many. They did suggest bringing the Veela that were in the bond to Hogwarts for the final task, well provided you didn't mind the likely negative consequences for said Veela when Voldemort finally died. His latest intelligence there indicated that they were already coming, except for the youngest Delacour sister, and he could hardly blame the family for making sure a young child was as far away as possible.
The problem was they also had no idea what to do if and when the crap hit the fan. The idea of further bonds was flat ruled out. They would simply fail and be repelled by the existing bonds. So far the only implementable plan he had was the Hail Mary pass Diana and Charles had discussed with him, which he very much doubted would work. He would prepare it regardless of course and have some other people look to see if they could find any precedent in history for it. If they got desperate enough to try it, well, it would probably be the right thing to do at that point anyway.
The prince looked pale with worry. He had not slept in two days since this began. The first day had begun with a private overview with the Queen. She had insisted on it. There he told his mother what he knew, including on how Lacus had sent him a note detailing details of his affair that should not have been know to her, if she wasn't as she said she was. He also detailed Diana's likely future fate should nothing be done and the actions he had already taken there. She had not been surprised at the affair. She did, however, appear surprised that he had admitted it to Diana.
She said, "We shall have to see to it that laws are enacted to prevent such a tragedy. Stalking is stalking and I will not have it."
After controlling her anger she said, "It is good to see you learn from your mistakes son, even if you must be prodded with a very large stick to do so. Now what would you have us do? I have read the reports forwarded to me from our intelligence division. I am unsure how the crown may assist further."
He said, "I would like permission to keep control of things. We have the resources to see this through. The head of MI-5 believes we can solve this ourselves. He even believes we can, if the document from Lacus is correct have the first neutron jammer built within ten days, and begin mass producing them shortly afterwards. They may not be ideal, but they should work. Unfortunately, we only have enough material for about ten of them so far, but we are also working on that. Everything else has been planned for as well as can be. There will be a lot of people getting little sleep, but that would occur regardless."
She said, "I thought you were concerned that you might need the resources of the colonies to produce enough of these devices."
He said, "I would like to keep that option in reserve, at least till Lacus wakes and we talk to her. Our best guess is that unless we revealed all the United States would not act immediately on things and may disrupt our efforts more than help. They may also call us crazy. Worse they may waste time we do not have. It is not a matter of resources really, other than obtaining sufficient quantities of the rare minerals we require. Dave believes that he can get them. When the devices are complete we plan to stage them at bases around the world, although more will be focused near here, since our people believe that if the cause is related to time travel that it may be worse nearby."
He said, "We only need to get them within half a mile for nuclear reactions to be disrupted. That distance probably won't stop them, but it should prevent the worst of it. When active, they also disrupt wireless communications at the same time, so we will have to be very careful in their use. The plant in France still appears to be safe, even if no one understands why it is still generating more heat than it should and has failed to reach a cold shutdown state."
She said, "Very well. Make sure intelligence knows I will want twice daily reports on developments. I approve of your plan of a mandatory safety stand down of at least sixty days for as many nuclear power plants as we can comfortably do without, regardless of the cost of the alternative fuels. We will say it is as a result of the incident in France. If there are more incidents, you have the crown's authority to shut all of them down in the United Kingdom regardless of the consequence of doing so. Protect our people my son."
He said, "I will."
She asked, "Do you believe that the end is coming my son?"
He said, "I believe that our lord may take us whenever he chooses to do so. Until he choses to do so, I fully intend to fight for our world. Do I believe that Lacus's time travel is probably at the heart of this? Yes I do, but I'd rather die fighting to preserve a better world than give up and march towards the tragedy that has gone before. Perhaps it is even a test of our faith. Will we take the easy way out and possibly doom the future, or will we take the harder path?"
She said, "It is fitting that their be a cost to fixing our mistakes. Let us pray that it is not too high a cost. Now, what of your wife? I understand she remains unconscious, as do the Potters."
He said, "They remain connected magically. There is nothing that can be safely done until they come out of that. Our doctor has given the three of them intravenous food and the mediwizard has a minor spell to clean them for when that becomes necessary. The mediwizard insisted the doctor wear heavy gloves when she added the intravenous lines, fearing that other people could be trapped in what Lacus began. Nymphadora Tonks returned and was shocked at their state. She immediately requested to bring in her mother, who has been the Potters healer. We agreed of course. I had already been looking for a way of contacting her."
"Andromeda agreed with our own healers, but added the request of renewing the protective spell on Lacus's womb. Our own mediwizard thought it was probably one of the few things they could do, as it would limit the likelihood of Lacus unconsciously using magic to bolster that protection. He seemed fascinated that Harry had created something so powerful. Andromeda got both her daughter and our mediwizard to assist her. It was the most incredible thing. I had read the reports, but I had never seen magic combined like that. She said that if they did not do what we could to renew the ward that Harry might risk his health again to bring it back to full strength before he was fully recovered."
She said, "That is perfectly understandable of course." Charles nodded. He said, "I intend to return to the villa as soon as I am done here. I hope to hear more by then, but if not Dave is already having updated phone encryption hardware sent out there. If my wife can truly gain part of that young woman's memories then we may have a better guide in the coming days than we could hope for. I just pray that they are okay and that Harry doesn't run out of magic. I suggested having others donate magic as they had done to assist Andromeda, but both mediwizards agreed that touching anything this unknown and powerful that was facilitated by touch was a bad idea. If they were pulled in, their magic would be drained very quickly and likely make things worse. They plan to just levitate them apart if they are forced to separate them."
She said, "Do not mention your wife's possible knowledge to others. We shall keep that a secret, if we can. When she recovers you must watch her to be sure she is not influenced unduly by what has happened. Based on the reports, including your own, I do not believe Lacus Potter would do so, but vigilance is always necessary. You were perhaps foolish to allow a desperate dying woman to do what she wished without greater care, yet the opportunity is also great, and the need greater still. I believe she may have understated the risks, or simply not known them and offered anyway, because she thought it was necessary."
She said, "When Diana is better, I wish for her to attend me by herself. She is embracing her future role as Queen. It is an act I highly approve of, yet she must remember that the Queen most of all is the servant of all. She does not have the right to visit dangerous locations, or fly in jets, or participate in unknown magical acts. Nor do you have that right. You would do well to remember that."
He said, "Yes mother, though I would point out, that we may not have time for excessive caution either."
She said, "Do not mistake my caution as disapproval of your actions my son. While certain of your actions have not been forgiven, your recent ones do show improvement of which we are glad. We have committed to this course. We must see it through."
He said, "I understand mother."
The meeting with select cabinet members and the prime ministers was anti-climatic after that, mostly because they were keeping a lot of details away from them. He had originally thought it was overdue that they be told more, but the more he thought about it, the less he actually cared. They were already getting briefed by MI-5. That would be enough. They simply did not need to know everything and Charles could not be bothered to take the time to tell them, especially not now. They were told what they needed to know to do their jobs. He had the Queens backing which was enough for now. Eventually they would demand more, but hopefully things would be settled one way or another by then. Now was time to get back and check on his wife.
As Charles sat watching the trio's sleeping forms,he noticed a noise from outside the window. He got up quietly and looked out only to see an obviously exhausted house elf slumped on the ground. How the devil did the little guy get past the wards and all the way to the window of the room Diana was in without being spotted?
He shook the nearby mediwizard awake and whispered for him to keep watch, and then pointed out the window. The mediwizard quietly got up and looked out the window and then nodded. He then stepped out to the hall and whispered the situation to the wizard who was guarding them. The wizard frowned, only to go outside and then levitate the house elf to an empty room and onto a bed. They were then were joined by another guard and the prince. The prince sent for a light snack and something to drink in the hopes it would help the poor little guy. He waited for it to be brought and set on the bed before he asked the wizard to waken the elf. The wizard cast an ennervate on the elf.
Dobby woke and looked around and then seemed to shrink into the bed when he saw the wizard with a wand pointed at him.
The prince said, "We are not here to hurt you, but we do need some questions answered. You can eat or drink first if you want." The prince motioned to the food on the tray in front of Dobby.
Dobby quickly eat the half sandwich and drank some of the tea before saying, "Dobby no mean any harm. Dobby come see the great Mr. Harry Potter, but bounce off wards and then try to sneak in."
Charles asked, "Why are you like this Dobby? The wards should not be that bad."
Dobby seemed to shrink further in on himself.
Charles said, "Wait a second. I know who you are. You are that elf that Harry freed at the end of his second year."
Dobby grinned proudly.
Charles said, "That must mean you never took another bond."
The wizard said, "He has probably been absorbing magic from Hogwarts, but he would be healthier if he were bonded to someone he wanted to be bonded to although in Mr. Potter's case that would probably be a bad idea. A house elf does not draw much magic from his master, but Harry has none that can be safely spared. I also wouldn't like to think how adding a house elf bond into that mess he already has would work."
Dobby said piteously, "The great Harry Potter sir wanted Dobby to be free, so Dobby no ask."
Charles asked, "Dobby, the Potters are going to be okay." Dobby looked relieved. Charles added, "Dobby, I don't believe that Harry would have wanted you to suffer. At the same time I can't recommend you ask him to bond you. Do you understand why?"
Dobby said, "Mr. Harry Potter Lacus has already bonded him. There be no room for Dobby." The little elf's ears drooped.
Charles said sadly, "Yes Dobby, that is sadly true." Dobby wilted further.
Charles said carefully, "Dobby can you think of anyone else that you might like to serve? Perhaps they could let you do what you wished on your free time?"
Dobby's eyes grew wide, then he grinned and said, "Could Dobby ask Miss Luna?"
Charles said, "I don't see why not. She has been a good friend to you and your group has she not?" Dobby nodded. "Let me write you a note first. Will you be okay to return on your own? I could ask a wizard to take you back."
Dobby paled. He said, "Dobby be okay. Dobby not like wizard pop. Make Dobby sick."
The wizard frowned at that. Charles finished his note and handed it to Dobby who started for the door.
Charles said, "Wait. I need you to wear a disguise and follow this gentleman out of the house so you are not seen. He will also tell you where you can check in the next time you come. This is important. If you come in again without checking in you could be hurt or killed. Do you understand?"
Dobby nodded. Dobby said, "Dobby will obey."
Charles said, "Thanks Dobby."
After they had left Charles told the guards angrily, "Check over all the video recordings. Find out how a tired elf got right up to Diana's window and make sure it doesn't happen again! He can visit if he goes through the proper channels, but from now on I want at least one wizard or witch and one regular guard inside this room at all times and additional guards outside. Get them cloaks so they aren't noticed, but get it done. Furthermore, while those two are with us they will have the guards they see and an additional covert detail to make sure things like this do not happen again. Their lives are more important than yours or even mine. I rate only Diana's life higher. Are we clear?"
"Yes Sir! We will not fail you again." They bowed low, even as Charles went back to watch over Diana.
It was the fiftieth hour since Lacus had first proposed the idea of giving some of her experiences to Diana. Laran, the mediwizard who had been sleeping when the house elf appeared, was now wide awake and focused on the trio.
Laran said, "Not even Harry Potter has endless magic although he definitely has way more than me. I may have to separate them soon. I have no idea what it will do, but letting them be drained completely dry will be worse. That will kill the Potters for sure."
Charles nodded, his face grim. He said, "Do what you have to do." He had already given that order several times, yet now it seemed it would become real.
Suddenly the expression on Laran's face changed. He jumped up and over to them. He then began frantically waving his wand in some elaborate sequence. He said, "They are separate! She has done it. She has somehow managed to let go." He then reached into his pouch and pulled out a potion. Remembering Andromeda's advice, he tipped the entire potion down Harry's throat. Steam came out of Harry's ears, yet he could also see the effects in Lacus.
Charles asked, "Is Diana okay?"
Laran said, "I think she will be. I can't give her a potion. It would be little more than poison to her. I did, however have positive readings on her just now before the magic faded away from her. It's gone now so I can't tell any more."
Sarah, the muggle doctor, must have heard the commotion and come in. She asked, "Then can we at least move them to the palace now? I was not in favor of keeping her here this long save you thought it would be more dangerous to move her and forcibly break a connection that strong."
Laran said, "Yes, I believe so. The link Lacus formed I don't think was ever meant to be permanent. I'm guessing she lost control of it somehow and shared more than intended. It is quite odd. I would highly recommend she not try it again. It could be easier to lose control a second time, and she might not be able to stop before she drains her and her husband to death. Some forms of magic can be very seductive. They are not necessarily dark, just insanely dangerous, thus are never passed on. Often they simply kill the practitioner, and then there is no one to teach such dangerous magic to the next generation. I believe that Lacus discovered, or maybe rediscovered one such. I'm just glad it stopped when it did. They were very nearly out of magic. I was about to have to pull them apart, and I don't know what that would have done."
Sarah asked, "Do they need to still stay together?"
Laran said, "The Potters should for sure. Andromeda was very insistent on that. I'd say transfer them in the same unmarked ambulance, and keep the Potters together, but separate the princess. If this causes a problem they can be pushed back together, although I don't think it will. I'd do the same at the palace hospital. At minimum it should make it easier to care for them and keep things under wraps."
Charles said, "Do it."
A few hours later they were in the palace hospital and in line for MRI scans of their heads when Sarah had stopped the palace doctor from proceeding. She insisted on doing at least preliminary CT scans first of the Potters as they had no medical history on either of the them. The palace doctor pointed out that the CT scan would have a small risk to the child, while Sarah pointed out that with shielding, the radiation would not touch the fetus, as they were not scanning that region. This turned out to be a very good idea as the CT scan turned a bright spot just outside Lacus's visual cortex. Her husband's scan was clean save a little scaring around where his scar used to be.
Charles asked, "What do you make of that spot in her head?"
Sarah said, "I do not know. My best guess is some kind of electronic device. It is not causing inflammation, yet it clearly rules out using an MRI on her ever. Doing so would probably be fatal. My recommendation would be to leave it alone. To be safe it is probably better to not use an MRI on Mr. Potter either. At the very least, his wife would have to be kept in a separate room and away from that intense magnetic field, and we wanted to keep them together as much as possible."
Charles asked, "Why did you want the MRIs anyway? Should one still be done on Diana?"
Sarah said, "I recommend one on the Princess. We know she doesn't have any metal objects in her head and it could give us a better idea of what is happening to her brain. The CTs on the other two told us that their brains were apparently undamaged, but does not give the detail of the MRI scans. After that I say just put them all on EEGs. Those are passive, so should be safe regardless." Charles approved her plan.
Diana's MRI revealed minor swelling from parts of her brain. Sarah was concerned, but not deeply so, and neither was the specialist they consulted, provided she avoided doing such a thing ever again and let her brain rest. Diana's MRI also appeared to reveal an extremely high degree of activity. EEGs of all of them showed high activity on both Diana and Harry, and very little on Lacus's. Her's appeared to reflect a true unconscious near coma like state.
Later the next day, Charles caught Sarah again looking at the results of the initial scans of Harry, Lacus, and his wife. He asked, "What seems to be so interesting?"
Sarah said, "I was just looking. All three appear to be healthy, yet there are really not any large obvious physical differences in any of them, save for activity. Whatever makes her a genius doesn't show up on a CT scan, unless it is that device, which I doubt. It's connections to her brain are minimal. If I were to guess, well perhaps it is some kind of data storage."
Charles said, "That is probably a reasonable guess. At the very least, it would make several things make greater sense."
Sarah said, "There are a couple other interesting things. First off, we did blood tests on them all as a precaution. Sir, Harry and Lacus somehow have a mix of each others blood. It is very strange. It is an even mix, something I would have thought impossible to achieve, short of a continuous transfusion."
Charles asked, "Who else knows of this?"
Sarah said, "No one sir. I did the tests myself. It took me awhile even to figure out what was going on. Ignoring the magic bit, their blood appears to be basically compatible, yet I wouldn't have expected that to be enough to prevent a long term reaction. It is very curious."
Charles said, "Destroy your notes and any samples and forget about this."
Sarah said, "Sir?"
Charles said, "It's classified I'm afraid and you don't have a need to know. Some things are best forgotten, for now at least, or so I am told."
Sarah said, "Very well sir. I have a printout of their EEG's here as well. It took me awhile to line them up side by side, but I think you will find this interesting."
Charles looked at the long waveforms that were pinned up on the wall. He asked, "What am I looking for?"
Sarah said, "The seventh one down on each."
Charles said, "They are very nearly identical. Is that normal?"
Sarah said, "No, it is certainly not. It is almost as if some aspect of their thoughts are the same, or maybe they are communicating. I really have no idea."
Charles said, "Is it medically relevant?"
Sarah said, "I don't know. I doubt it."
Charles said, "Keep any notes you feel are necessary to treat them, but insure they are secured in the same manner my wife's are. Destroy everything else when you are done with it, particularly those blood samples."
Sarah said, "I will do as you ask. I'll attend to the samples now."
The Potters were on the other side of the dividing curtain in the room they shared. Three days later Diana and Harry's EEGs showed much reduced activity while Lacus's showed more. They were finally beginning to approach normal levels. Another day passed. Diana's eyes moved and she blearily opened them. This wasn't right. Her vision was better than this, or was it? She half moaned, "Could someone get me some Tylenol?"
Charles was startled out of his slumber in the over-sized stuffed chair he had been sleeping in. There was something about Tylenol? He looked around and saw Diana moving. He gasped out, "Your awake!"
Diana said, "Tylenol. Need Tylenol."
Charles looked around, only to half stumble through the door as he tried to make his sleeping foot wake up. He saw the mediwizard and the doctor and said, "She is awake and asking for Tylenol."
Sarah said, "I'll give her something a bit stronger. It's best we not rush things. While I know it was unintentional, her brain needs to rest."
Charles nodded, obviously relieved. He asked, "How are the Potters doing?"
Laran said, "I saw a finger on Mrs. Potter's hand fade a few hours ago. Since you mentioned they had already had phoenix tears before, I gave one more to each of them, although by then the finger had already come back. I'll need to get more tears. That was all I had. I'm not really sure what more I can do there."
Charles said, "And my wife? Are you sure she is not affected by this temporal fading? When you tested Harry and Lacus the first time I felt sure she would be affected."
Laran said, "I'm sure she is fine. Whatever Mrs. Potter did to try to give the princess bits of her memory did not leave any permanent residue of magic or bond of any kind. I'm almost surprised at that, given how long it lasted, but it could be that with whatever the Veela did, it is simply impossible for her to form another permanent bond."
Charles still looked worried.
Laran said, "I'll go check again." When he arrived, she was awake and drinking something. He cast the detection spell from behind her and again failed to detect any magical residue on her. He told the prince who nodded.
Sarah came back. She said, "I got her to drink some broth and take the pain reliever. She fell right back asleep and appears to be sleeping normally now. I think the worst is over. Let's see how she feels when next she wakes up." Harry and Lacus woke up next. It was almost a day later. Both expressed interest in food and were quickly given soup and crackers along with glasses of hot tea by Laran. An obviously tired Charles came in and sat down. He looked torn as he examined the Potters. He saw the moment Lacus noticed him and the guilt and shame on her face.
Lacus said, "I am truly sorry. I lost control. It was so easy. Your wife wanted to see and experience all I could give her, and I got caught up in it. I think I nearly killed us all. I truly am sorry."
Charles asked, "She is okay though?"
Lacus said, "Her mind was rich and vibrant when I lost consciousness. I had barely remembered that we must be two not one before that point. I could not tell beyond that. I could not sense her fatigue, or my husbands, or even my own until the very end. It was just so easy, and I knew she wanted to know, needed to know even, and I wanted to pass on something. I probably can't ever do that again, not without some solid way to separate. I'm not sure I could stop if I tried that again."
Harry pulled her to himself as he embraced her. He said, "Hey, I was there too, and I didn't stop us either. I don't think I saw it as clearly as Diana did. I wasn't the intended target, yet I can remember your life growing up. I think I could even muddle through playing a piano now."
The door opened and a wan Diana stumbled though the door only for her eyes to light up and smile as she saw Harry. She walked carefully towards his bed and nearly fell on top of him, but not before pulling Harry into a scorching kiss. Harry pulled back and Lacus gently pushed them apart, even as she held onto the princess to prevent her from falling..
Charles said in shock, "Diana!" Diana shook her head, looked back at Harry and blushed. Charles steadied her and helped her to the chair he was sitting in as he himself stood.
Lacus said, "I'm afraid that was probably my fault as well. I think she got almost two years of my life, mostly carefully chosen, so effectively significantly more. I had not intended it, but she must have also got some of my feelings for my husband. I think in time she will be able to distance herself from the memories, but they are fresh now."
Harry was still half out of it. Lacus kissed him softly to show that she understood he had nothing to do with that.
Diana turned back to her and said, "Do not apologize. You have given me a gift beyond measure. It will just take me a bit." Diana sang, "Beneath the veil of starry sky.."
Lacus smiled at her. She said, "It will take time to train your voice properly, yet it is good to see my sudden obsession with showing you my music lessons seems to have worked."
Diana said, "I could already play the piano, but I'm sure I am much better now. I can't wait to try it out."
Charles said, "Your feeling better then?"
Diana turned to Charles. She yawned before saying, "I'm just tired. I think tomorrow I'll be fine." She turned to the Potters. "I really am sorry for that. I wasn't quite myself for a moment, although I must admit to being a little envious of you Mrs. Potter. You married a living legend. I just got this guy." She pointed backwards to Charles.
Charles sighed, but said nothing. She had not forgiven him, but she had also not divorced him. He thought her current actions were mostly in support of their people. Well, he had a responsibility there too. Still, if she had felt the love in the Potters's marriage, did he have any hope at all? He guessed not. He had not even formally broken it off with Camilla yet, hoping that they could at least pass through this current crises first. Of course he had not seen Camilla either other than letting her know that a complicated situation had arisen that he couldn't discuss and that he wouldn't have any free time for some months. It was cowardly he knew, but it served no-one for him to be weakened by scandal right now.
Charles notice Diana's expression pale, then he thought about what she really must have seen. He was without a doubt an idiot, thinking of his own problems. She had looked fine, yet he supposed it all had not hit yet. He said, "Dear, perhaps you should get some more rest."
She glared at him. Then her expression softened. To Charles she said crisply, "I need to talk to the Queen, while it is all fresh." To the Potters she asked, "You will be here when I return?"
Lacus looked at Harry for a moment. Harry said, "We will be here. I'm still trying to sort through some of what I saw. I don't think I'd be up to flying just yet, even if I wanted to."
Diana said, "Thank you."
With that she walked out of the room only for Charles to catch up to her and offer his shoulder to lean on. She hesitantly did so as they made their way to the Queen's study. Along the way she said softly, "I tried to keep it together in there, but it was all too fresh."
Charles said, "That is understandable. You went through a lot."
Diana held her head with her hands.
Charles asked in concern, "Are you in pain? Should we go see the doctor?"
Diana looked up. Pain was obvious in her expression. She said, "Some Excedrin wouldn't hurt. It is probably just a side effect. I suppose it is too much to expect to gain two years worth of memories without a little pain."
The Doctor gave her the medicine and then examined her in detail. She made her follow her finger with her eyes as she moved it in front of her. She also tested her coordination, before testing she could feel all the places she was touched. She then tested Diana's memory by giving her a short article to read and then talking with her casually for a few minutes before asking her questions about the article.
Finally the doctor said to both of them, "It seems to be just a tension headache." She said to Diana, "You should take things slow for awhile. If anything gets worse, do not hesitate to come back day or night. I will be here. I also want to see you once a day until further notice. What you have gone through is unprecedented so we must take care."
Diana said, "Thanks. The medicine is starting to work."
Diana and Charles thanked the doctor. The doctor was working on her notes as they left.
They entered the Queen's private study after having her guards announce them. The Queen was sipping on a cup of tea while reading over a familiar report on the current crises.
Diana asked, "May I sit? I am really not feeling well yet."
The Queen said, "Of course dear. You as well son." Charles helped his wife sit and then asked the guard to relay a message for more tea and snacks before sitting himself.
Diana said, "She knew fully what this might do to me, the price I would pay. I can't believe I had not put it together myself. Oh I had, but not fully. It was a story, not something I had lived!" She didn't sound truly angry. It seemed more a matter of frustration.
The Queen asked, "Are you physically okay my dear?"
Diana said, "Yes, as far as I know. Emotionally is another matter. I kissed Harry just after I woke up. The emotions overwhelmed me and I just did it, yet that is the smallest thing. I was there. I lived a good portion of her life! She said two years. It felt like ten. I felt the pain and rage when her mother was killed by a cowardly attack with nuclear weapons. I think I will always feel it, even though she has mostly let go of the rage these days. I felt her desperation to save Kira Yamato when he decided to return to the war. She convinced her father to help her steal a giant nuclear powered mobile suit, so that Kira could have the tool he needed to make a difference, to try to end the war. Her hidden reason, the one she told no one, was to give him a chance to live through the war. She could not see him surviving it without it, and she wanted him to survive. She felt it was important somehow, above and beyond her own feelings for him. You won't believe this, but I'm sure Kira and that robot could devastate our entire military!"
The Queen said, "Surely you are kidding." Fresh tea came along with a plate of small snacks. Diana helped herself to both.
Diana said, "Not really. It would take him time, but he could do it. Not that he would do it. He very nearly was able to avoid killing after the day he helped steal that robot, by being very selective with his aim. Her two knights, Kira and her former fiancee Athrun, using two of those mobile suits very nearly saved the world. The Americans talk about their strategic defense initiative. Those two stopped countless nuclear missiles and other robots by themselves. Oh sure, there were others helping, but I really think that if she had just one more knight, she would have saved the world."
She continued, not noticing how the pitch of her voice subtly rose. She said, "But I failed. All of our effort. All of our technology and I failed. I could not make them listen. All of those I had known were dead. All of those who had risked their lives and their families to follow me were dead. My god I remember giving the eulogies to so many on a dead world. I remember the last kiss I gave to Kira's torn body before watching his coffin lower into the ground. I remembering killing the dark lord's puppet with my own hands. I burned him to ash with my own hands. Why are they not burned? I remember desperately holding a sword in the air, only for a monstrous basilisk to almost swallow my arm. The sword went through its head, even as a tooth from the monster broke off and lodged in my arm. I remember the poison flowing through my veins even as I yanked the tooth from my arm. I felt my blood flowing out as I desperately plunged the tooth into a diary that contained a part of the dark lord's own tainted soul."
Charles faced her and gripped her shoulders. He said, "Snap out of it Diana. Let the memories go."
Diana's eyes seemed to loose focus for a moment before focusing on Charles again. She said in her normal voice, "I'm okay." She drank some more of her tea.
The Queen said, "No, I do not believe you are. I think you will be though. I also think the experience may make you a better Queen when that time comes, even if it is not really yours."
Charles asked, "You got some of Mr. Potter's experiences as well?"
Diana said, "Just his experiences at the end of his first two years. I think when things began they just somehow thought I might want or need to understand who this Dark Lord was, so they gave me that. It was horrible. I fully agree that he must die."
Charles said, "Of that, there is no doubt."
The Queen asked, "Did she give you any good to balance the bad?"
Diana smiled. She said, "She did. I felt her hopes and her dreams. She truly believes that men can grow beyond war even if she has doubts at times. She gave me much of her early education. I probably know more about engineering and science than most college graduates. She taught me as was taught to her that we must challenge our youth. Mediocrity is not enough. I learned how to truly learn effectively, how to focus on a subject to the exclusion of all else. She gave me her long search through history on the causes of wars and how they were resolved. There was so much stupidity, posturing and greed; so many mistakes of the past were repeated over and over. Most of all she gave me her music. I think she gave me almost all of her training and all that she knew of it. It is amazing. It truly is amazing. It feels like I have done all these things, yet as I remember I see things that were not part of my life and I know it is one of her memories."
The Queen said, "Remarkable. Most remarkable. Now, I must ask you as the likely future Queen of our kingdom, can the Potters be trusted?"
Diana frowned momentarily. She said, "If she survives the year, she plans to continue to do all she can to lead the wizarding world, and if necessary our own world, although she doesn't believe that it will be necessary there. She does not seek power for power's sake, but to avoid the mistakes of the past. She would be just as happy if good leaders appeared and she could be a simple singer, but she also won't shirk from doing whatever is necessary. She did steal that money, and more that we haven't found, from similarly contemptible sources. Her dream is to play a concert with her family under a new sky on a new world. She believes that the only true way to guarantee humanities survival in the long term is to leave the cradle and settle among the stars. She also believes that magic is the key to seeing that done in our lifetime. Much of her work has been to point us in that direction, even if it fit other goals as well. So yes, I believe she can be trusted."
The Queen asked, "What is your opinion Charles?"
Charles said, "Our die is cast. We must weather the coming storm. We will deal with the future once we have dealt with the present. If God's grace is with us, then we shall all survive it and have the tools to make a better country and a better world."
The Queen said, "That was well spoken my son. I also have no problems with the Potter's ambitions. When good men and women fail to follow the call of leadership, it leads to less good men and women taking those places."
Charles asked Diana, "Does the term neutron jammer mean anything to you?"
Diana asked, "Why ever would you mention those? They would be a good defense I suppose, or even a good safeguard for our nuclear plants, but I can't think of why we would need them now. I suppose they would also be useful in finally helping to cleanup Chernobyl and a few other sites, but I can't think of any reason they would be needed right now."
Charles went on to explain why.
Diana said, "I have no idea. I know the time travel is supposed to be destabilizing, but I don't know more than that, or if Lacus knows more. I doubt it. I know about how she traveled back in time, even if I think it is better not to say. That was so horrible, to launch myself into the abyss, into the cold dark night, into the fire, to pray that the universe would grant me its forgiveness and give me the chance to make it right."
Diana caught herself. She paused then said, "I do know she had no knowledge of negative effects from it beyond the radiation damage she expected to die from, if Mr. Potter didn't agree to help her in exchange for her own help. I had not wanted to trap him in the stronger bond, but he was right it gave us the best chance to live, so we agreed to it. I had to live if I was going to make a difference. I knew he was infatuated with me. I had showed him kindness. It was something he had so little of. It was too soon for love to truly grow, yet I accepted the necessity and vowed to try to make him happy, even if love never came."
"The ceremony began. Our oaths were given. I felt this strange thing enter me as Harry's blood began to flow in me. Was this magic? I could even feel a bit of him and then there was the darkness in him. The horrible darkness that I had come back to destroy. I used all the energy that flowed in me and all of my own to fight that darkness, to cast it out. I could feel Harry's friends lending their own power to the runic structure we lay on as they too fought the darkness. The structure reinforced and supported our oaths. The promises we made unto magic in exchange for the bond we prayed for. Voldemort was not a part of our bonding and must be cast out. I, no we fought, back to back. We were virtual strangers but resolved in this. So much time passed. The struggle seemed to take forever, yet in the end we won. Things would be good now. I had time now. I had helped save the chosen one. Surely that was enough for him to forgive me my now eternal need of him. All was well. We should live. Perhaps we would even go beyond affection to actual love someday. I hoped so. I truly hoped so, yet I did not know when or if I would ever truly get over Kira, yet I would try. I so wanted to leave something behind in this world beyond my mere actions; something to represent those that no longer were and now probably never would be; not in the same way at least."
Diana snapped out of it on her own. She said, "Talking about it helps. I just get caught up with it. I'm sure I'll be okay in time. We should ask her about the Neutron Jammers. She may be able to help. I also want to ask her to record her songs. We will need a studio, an acoustic guitar, a grand piano, maybe an orchestra."
The Queen asked, "I suppose there is no better time, and I myself would like to hear her sing."
Diana said, "It is more than that. Her songs give people hope. She believes that the exposure of the magical world is inevitable, yet is now willing to wait on your promise Charles. Don't you see, if we release her music, then we can point to her as an image of a good magical. It would help a great deal when the time comes to tell the world. I also just want to see that much saved. She has done so much, we can at least help her with that." She sang, "Goodbye England's Rose. May you ever grow in our hearts..."
After her rendition of the song finished, the Queen said, "That was beautiful my dear. Who was it for? Wait, was it for you?"
Diana said, "It seems quite strange to sing a song meant to express sadness at my own death, yet I still like it. I should be better when I can actually practice a bit."
Charles said, "I will go see to the Potters and arrange for the recording studio and the rest. Diana you should stay here, or else just rest for now. The couch over there is quite comfortable from what I remember."
The Queen said, "What promise did you make my son?"
Charles swallowed then said, "I promised I would see the secret revealed in my lifetime and work towards peace between our peoples."
"And what do you intend to do about that promise?"
Charles said, "I intend to keep it, perhaps within ten or twenty years."
The Queen said, "Very well my son. Now, you are going to go get some sleep. You can send one of the guards in when you leave. Your task can be delegated and should be."
Charles seemed relieved. He said, "As you say mother. Please wake me if there is need. I would also like to be there when these recordings our made, particularly if Diana records any."
Diana blushed, yet quickly composed herself.
After Charles had left, the queen informed the head of her guard of the tasks she wanted her to arrange. After the door was again closed the Queen asked, "Can you ever forgive my son?"
Diana looked back at the door. She didn't respond for almost a minute. She finally said carefully, "He hurt me. He hurt me so much. I did all I could for him to be the proper princess. Can I forgive him? I truly don't know. He has been better these last days than he has perhaps ever been, and compared to what I've seen his betrayal seems petty. I do know that I will not seek a divorce unless there is no other choice. That would be giving up my duty to my people, and I refuse to do that. He asked me to help him help our people and that is one promise I've made to myself that I intend to keep, but forgiveness, well, there is one obvious thing he must do to even begin to have that chance."
The Queen said, "I think he would have already broken it off with her, and perhaps even publicly apologized were it not for the current circumstances."
Diana said, "And yet, he married her in the other time-line. Also, while it would be nice to see him grovel a bit more, I see no reason to weaken him politically to do it. We may need that strength to help lead our people."
The Queen said, "You never answered my question."
Diana said, "No, I don't guess I did."
The Queen smiled. She said, "Perhaps you should talk to him sometime. Truly talk and truly listen. He too seems to be embracing his role." She paused then said, "I will tell you a secret, that I ask you not to tell him."
Diana looked on intrigued.
The Queen said, "It is traditional for our family not to abdicate, yet I had initially thought I would do so for you, and then I was somewhat disappointed."
Diana prompted, "Oh?"
The Queen said, "You were the perfect princess. I waited and watched, yet I never saw you bloom into the Queen I had hoped you would be. It is no slight on your character. I think you just didn't have the opportunity. Now that you have it, I see it in you, even if you were just stupidly reckless, by so easily agreeing to the request of a desperate dying woman to perform experimental magic on yourself."
Diana winced at that.
The Queen said, "Charles too failed to take his duty to his people seriously enough. His affair said he put himself above his people, and his own honor, yet it was more than that. It was only after he apparently heard of your death that he shaped up. I now have hope he will make a good king when the time comes. Our immigrant from the future has my thanks, for she has done what I could not."
Diana walked over and gently hugged the Queen.
The Queen said, "Daughter of my spirit go and rest. I will wake you before it is time to go. My son is right that couch is still comfortable. I have had to stop them from taking it a half dozen times. They have repaired it almost as many."
Diana smiled after she finished her tea. She said, "I will have to pass on that for now. I wish to see my children before I sleep. I think I will sing them a new lullaby."
As she was walking out the door Diana said, "I know magic. No she knew magic." Diana looked around, then not seeing anything she asked the guard for a coin. She dropped the coin on the table they had been using.
The Queen asked, "What are you doing?" as Diana sat back down. Diana just seemed to stare at the coin. The coin moved ever so little, then a little more, and finally one more time. In total it moved no more than an inch.
Diana said, "Well, she didn't actually give me the magic to use that knowledge, even if I seem to have a tiny ability on my own. I certainly have no plans to pay the price she paid."
The Queen asked, "What price was that?"
"Some people experimented on magicals during the war between the magicals and the non magicals. They learned how to make devices that allowed normal people to gain a portion of a magicals magic by sharing their blood. Should Lacus ever get too far away from her husband for too long she will die, and then their bond will also probably kill Harry. I don't think she intended to give me that secret, yet I also don't think she could avoid it. She thought about it too often. I know that she has magic that protects the secret, but evidently not from how she shared it."
The Queen said, "I agree that that one should be kept. The young are foolish. Even the best intentions would lead to much heartache and pain. The worst don't bear thinking about. Are there any other secrets that I need to know?"
Diana smiled and said, "No."
The Queen said, "Then I will trust you to keep those for as long as they are better kept."
Diana said, "Thank you." She then gave a short bow and left to find her children.
As she was leaving the Queen said, "Don't forget to wash that ridiculous hair die out of your hair. You are a princess and should be seen as one, not dying your hair and skulking about strange castles."
Diana turned to give a quick slight bow of acknowledgment before hurrying out.
Dave walked into the main lab that had been hijacked to try to build the neutron jammers as quickly as humanly possible. He was surprised to see that both of the Potters were there, and both had those strange smaller than normal pupils that his people had seen a few times. Both were also appearing to be working very quickly. Harry was talking and explaining high level theory with the employees while Lacus appeared to be working on a computer to program something. She appeared to be typing quite fast, at least compared to anyone he had seen before.
The only person in the room with a business suit saw him and came over.
Dave asked softly, "Larry, what is going on?"
Larry said, "The Potters are trying to help. Lacus already corrected some minor mistakes that must have crept into the graphs when the information we got was copied with a spell. That alone probably saved us a wasted week. The thing is, she says she had never studied the theory behind these devices and had originally only memorized and wrote out the paper as a precaution. If she hadn't said it, I wouldn't have believed it. She is now working on programming our Beowulf cluster to simulate the entire process. She hopes to be done in the next six hours. Meanwhile Harry is discussing and explaining the theory to our scientists and engineers. I think they are going to begin to build something soon, or maybe tomorrow. I don't know. The thing is, how did Harry get the knowledge? He is from our time, right?"
Dave said, "I think when they are like this they are communicating somehow. I'm going to get a doctor and a mediwizard up here as well. That level of focus for hours at a time can't be good for them. Can you make sure there is some place for both of them to rest or likely collapse together nearby? I don't know for sure that this is exhausting him, but I know it would me."
Larry said, "I'll also have people stay close, and try to catch them if needed. We need to do that anyway, since they aren't on the approved list for the room."
Dave said, "Good enough. Now, can you give me an ETA until you will get one of these ready? You said she thought the simulation would be done in six hours. I'll be back to see that, even if I can't understand it."
Larry said, "My best guess is we could do a simple experiment in a few days, maybe less. She is saving us a lot of time, but it might take weeks, if not more for us to fully understand the simulation she is creating. She also cautioned us not to trust her work blindly. She said she would do her best, but as she had never done it, mistakes were likely. She promised to try to catch them. No, we are doing what we planned before, and that is to just build it from the directions without full understanding although the Potters are certainly helping. Some of the scientists even understand a little now. Unfortunately experts aren't made nearly so quickly."
Dave said, "Just remember all of this material is classified top secret special access. If I don't approve it, they don't find out it exists. My cell phone is on day and night. If you need something, you are to call right at the moment you need it. Do not wait. Understood?"
Larry said soberly, "I understand sir. Should we attempt to add any tamper resistance to protect these from being reverse engineered?"
Dave said, "On the first half dozen, just get them to work. If you can do something on the others without significantly delaying them, then that is fine. If it is going to cost significant time then skip it for now."
Larry shrugged. He said, "From what little I know it should be possible to fit a small explosive inside the device that triggers when it is opened. It should be enough to destroy the embedded operating system and the key guts, but not much else. We have that kind of thing in stock. Someone careful could probably get around it with enough time though. They require a special magnetic key to disarm. They are hardly hi-tech, but there apparently isn't time for anything else."
Dave said, "That could work. Just make sure we also have access to the keys. Also, run the idea behind Lacus to see what she thinks. If there is a problem let me know. If she asks why, simply explain we were concerned that the release of this technology might be dangerous. Its nothing more than the simple truth. Contact me if you need me."
Larry said, "Understood sir."
In total it actually took Lacus and Harry almost seven hours of work to finish. Unfortunately, they had collapsed after four hours. They were coerced to drink some water and then were placed on a couch to sleep. Three and a half hours later they woke back up and went back to work, despite the protest of the mediwizard and doctor who supervised them. It was near midnight when they finished and their eyes went back to normal. Lacus sent her husband to a chair and took the next one herself.
One of the scientists said, "So, the process of jamming neutrons is really just the process of highly accelerating the decay of free neutrons into component particles. By doing so, secondary fission reactions are prevented. This is done by very specific patterns of ordinary electromagnetic radiation."
Lacus yawned. She said, "It is more complex than that. It is true that the actual pattern is reasonably well documented in the paper you received. The problem with that is it is possible to block different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation easily enough. If you just did the one pattern then it could be easily blocked, and people could use nuclear weapons again. It might even be accidentally blocked by certain shielding. I wish I would have read a better report, but the key is to produce many patterns simultaneously, some of which only cause the correct pattern to be generated when they interact with shielding. That is in the model I created. I modeled the basic reaction that promotes free neutron decay, then modeled different attempts to shield it. I then developed different modulation patterns that when interacting with the shielding produced the fundamental canceling pattern required. I think what I designed will be enough for now, at least when you have no one actively trying to stop these devices. If a nuclear site truly looks in danger, I recommend using at least two, and preferably three nearby at disparate locations, if at all possible. The different paths and interactions between the three jammers should improve your results. If you can get one actually in the room with the core, then that is even better and would likely be enough in itself."
Dave said, "Is there any substitute for the rare earths used in these devices? It is difficult to obtain enough in time."
Lacus said, "They are necessary for the emitter to generate the correct secondary waveforms. I doubt you will easily find a better combination anytime soon. I suppose you could reduce the size of the emitter and the power input to a fourth of the previous size. That would also reduce the amount needed to a fourth. They should still work, although it would be better if I updated the model. Your range would also be cut in half."
Dave said, "How close would we have to get then to be useful?"
Lacus said, "I'm guessing that two of the smaller ones, on opposite sides, within a thousand feet of a reactor would do as much as the control rods. That is just a guess though. I did my best with only the one paper. I never guessed you might need these so soon."
Dave asked, "Can you remain here to help them finish this? The third task is still almost three weeks off."
Lacus said, "The problem is, the longer we are gone, the more apt things are to change in a way we can't predict."
Dave said, "I have some very good operatives. I can think of a couple off hand that might hold up for awhile under polyjuice, particularly if you sent a message to have your friends help cover for them."
Harry said, "Can you have them meet us in the morning? For that matter, where are we going to sleep?"
Larry stepped forward and said, "Hello, I'm Larry. I'm not sure if you remember me from our hasty introductions, but I'm the manager for this group. I have a very nice house not far away, with a fully furnished guest bedroom. You are welcome to stay there. I'd imagine you would also be welcome back in the palace, although that is further."
Lacus glanced at Harry who gave a half nod. She said, "That sounds fine. There will be food too I hope?"
Larry said, "My kitchen is decently stocked, but I'm a lousy cook I'm afraid. I pay a cleaning service to help with my house and make dinners when I expect to be home at a decent hour."
Dave said, "One of my guards claims to be a rather good cook. I'll send him along. Larry your property already has security right?"
Larry said, "Yes. It seems your predecessor thought I was at risk of being kidnapped by a foreign government, so I have a half dozen people that cover my security. I believe two should be on duty tonight."
Dave said, "I'll send the operatives over in the morning to your house Larry. Todd should recognize them. They are not authorized for this facility and I see no need to change that." To the Potters he said, "Does a weeks worth of hairs seem reasonable? If it takes longer, I can easily get more to them."
Harry looked to Lacus who nodded. She said to Dave, "You do understand that it might be risky in my case?"
Dave said, "I will brief them on the risks, and make the duty volunteer. I'll also send the mediwizard from earlier along just in case."
Harry yawned. Lacus gave a half nod and fought off her own yawn."
Dave said, "Good enough then. Larry, I'll leave the Potters with you. Make sure they get some actual rest before they come back here. If Todd's meals are any good, then I'll lend him to you for the duration and the extra guard. You will have to call your cleaning service and ask them to not come to your house for awhile though."
Larry said, "Of course."
The next morning a nondescript middle aged witch and wizard arrived at Larry's house to join them for a traditional English breakfast that Todd had prepared. The man introduced himself as Gary while the woman introduced herself as Sarah. Both agreed to take Polyjuice and the woman understood that Lacus was just different enough for it to be a concern. She said she had survived some fairly ridiculous polyjuice mishaps over time, so this would likely be nothing. The mediwizard showed up just after breakfast.
Both transformations appeared to go normally. Both already had wands that looked surprisingly like the Potters. Lacus's double said she felt great. She was also, unfortunately, completely unable to do magic even after trying all five wands they had between them. Harry's double had no issues whatsoever.
The mediwizard checked over Lacus's clone and could not find anything wrong with her, other than her magic appeared to be muted somehow. Her pregnancy wasn't duplicated of course, but as Lacus still didn't show, it didn't matter.
The operatives spent the next hour talking and getting to know the Potters. They even asked the Potters to kiss and hug so they could copy that. At the end of the hour both operatives were back to normal. The Potters also taught them the trick of being able to share magic. Harry used that power to first reset the protective power on his wife's womb to full strength and then to cast a strong version of the spell on the agent. It would have little effect, other than perhaps just protecting that one area, but it might help them pull off the deception for a little longer.
To pull off the swap, they would need to fly back the jet, while the Potters would take a helicopter later. Harry walked outside the wards of the villa and called out, "Dobby?" Dobby appeared.
Harry said, "Dobby, you look better! The prince told me what happened. Did Luna bond you? " Harry motioned for Dobby to follow him back inside.
Dobby said, "Miss Luna did accept Dobby's bond then just tell Dobby to do whatever he wanted. Dobby has already played many pranks against mean claws that take Miss Luna's things!"
Harry pause in his walk then said in a low angry voice, "They are still bothering her?"
He was now near the entrance to the house. Lacus was there waiting for them. She said, "I'll add her directly to the ward control list of the new building when we get back. She can sleep there from now on."
Harry said, "That is not good enough."
The others had now stepped outside to see what was going on, having apparently heard the earlier words from the window. Gary said, "Don't worry about it. I'll try to get Flitwick to handle it, and if not we can handle it. You need to focus on your task."
To Gary Harry said, "You are right." Then to Dobby he said, "Dobby, I know I'm not your master now, but I need you to stop pranking the Ravenclaws unless Luna is actually in danger. If that happens, do what you have to do to keep her safe."
Dobby said, "Dobby will obey, but he be telling the great Harry Potter if they no stop!"
Harry said, "Thank Dobby."
Lacus said to Dobby, "We are not mad at you, but we are worried. House elves have less rights, and if those students decided to act against you then you could be badly hurt. It is better to do it this way." After a pause she asked, "Has anything happened since we left?"
Dobby said, "The third task is a maze. Dobby found that out. You will have to find the Tri-Wizard cup at the center of the maze."
Lacus smiled. "Thank you Dobby."
Harry asked, "Can someone make a portkey that will handle three or four people and bring them back here? If your taking the jet back, you will need a crew to help."
Gary said, "No, but I can make a pair of them that will handle two people each."
Harry said, "That should work." Gary magically cleaned a couple saucers and turned them into portkeys.
Sarah said, "I hadn't thought of that. I suppose we can disillusion the others and have them sneak out after we get back. It would be fun to fly it though."
Lacus said, "I'll write a note. I'll ask Minerva to open the assembly area for you and to add Neville, Meer, and Luna to the ward key." She started writing.
Gary asked, "Can we be added?"
Lacus looked up and said, "I'd rather not. I don't think there is any need and you'll only be there a short time."
Gary said, "Fair enough. You don't know that we won't rifle through every paper and item you have there."
Harry said, "If we didn't trust you, we wouldn't have provided the hairs. I'm pretty sure we aren't going to be added to the list of people that can get in that lab without an escort either."
Gary said, "Point taken."
Sarah said, "I don't suppose we can learn to fly the aircraft?"
Lacus said, "I'll add a note that if anyone has time to teach you then they are welcome to do so. I'm also asking people not to explain every detail we went in the construction. You will learn that soon enough on your own." Lacus added some additional writing to the note before passing it to Harry.
Sarah said, "I understand."
Harry read it then added a few more lines before saying, "Dobby can you take this to Luna or Neville? Make sure you aren't seen giving it to them by anyone outside our group. If you can't find them, you can give the note to Minerva, but again don't be seen." Harry picked up the portkey plates and put the folded note on top of it before handing them to Dobby.
Dobby nodded and then ran outside the wards before popping away.
Fifteen minutes later Luna, Fleur, Hermione, and Minerva turned up. Luna, Fleur, and Hermione were together at the time Dobby popped in. They had only stopped to inform Minerva, who decided to come along.
After they were showed in Minerva said, "I do understand that you two are a special case, yet in future, I would greatly appreciate it if you would inform me when you need to leave the grounds. If there weren't a lot of special circumstances right now, I'd have had you in detention for the rest of the year."
Harry gulped and said, "I understand professor."
Lacus said, "I apologize for the position it puts you in."
Minerva sighed and said, "I suppose that is the best I could hope for. Well if everyone is okay, I'm going to be getting back. I presume the others will be back this evening?"
Sarah chimed in, "That is the plan."
Minerva looked at Sarah closer and said, "Sarah? I haven't seen you in ages."
Sarah said, "I've been a little busy, but now I get to do the staring role of her stand-in, so perhaps we can chat?"
Minerva said, "I would like that."
Sarah said in a teasing tone, "So your not going to take a trip in the jet?"
Minerva said, "No, I think once was quite enough. Thank you very much." Minerva then walked out the door.
They then made the trip back to the army base in an unmarked van. When they saw the jet, several were working on or near it. One appeared to be trying to lift the canopy again. There was even a red laser beam scanning over the side of it.
Harry said loudly, "You mean we forgot to leave the key when we asked them to fill it up?"
Lacus laughed as they scrambled to pretend they were not doing what they were just caught doing. A tech came up to her and asked, "Did you want it fueled? We never found where your fuel fill point was."
Lacus asked, "What do you have?"
The tech said, "JP-4, JP-5, and JP-8. No wait, we also just got a full tank of JP-7."
Lacus said, "JP-7, you have a Blackbird?"
The tech said, "I can't say."
Lacus asked, "How much do you have."
The tech said, "I think the storage tank contains about seven thousand gallons."
Lacus said, "I'll take it. I'll also need a tanker in here to take the around four thousand gallons of kerosene we have left."
The tech said, "Four thousand gallons? In a jet that size? Your kidding?"
Lacus said, "Nope."
The tech asked hesitantly, "How much JP-7 would you need?"
Lacus said, "Probably all of it."
The tech said disbelievingly, "I'll, um, go check with my boss."
Fleur asked, "What was all that about?"
Lacus said, "JP-7 was designed for the rigors of supersonic flight. It is a far safer fuel at those speeds which is why I'd prefer to replace it. The magic we have in place makes the kerosene usable, but if they are offering, we might as well. It was designed for the SR-71 blackbird which went into service in 1966. The blackbird will handle Mach 3.3. I'm guessing they got the Americans to donate them one, probably as a result of our Mach 3 flight."
Hermione said with a touch of annoyance, "It's faster than ours and from 66?"
Lacus grinned. She said, "Just think how fast the Blackbird would have been if they had you to help them with the design?" A nearby tech paled even as he got a goofy grin on his face.
Hermione said absently, "Well yes, our structural ward scheme along with some weigh reduction, although it might mess with the electronics."
Lacus said, "Careful Hermione. Let them find their own answers in this."
Sarah said, "Or at least wait till they give you a job offer."
Gary, Fleur, and Harry laughed, while the tech scrambled to write down notes. A mad gleam was in his eyes as he did so.
A few minutes later the original tech that had asked about fuel returned with his commanding officer. The officer said, "I've been instructed that you have permission to use all of our JP-7 fuel. We are trying to get a tanker truck here to offload your kerosene. It is just kerosene and nothing else right?"
While they waited Lacus and Harry popped open the canopy and started explaining its operation to their stand-ins, who listened carefully. A half an hour later the big door opened and a tanker truck was backed in followed by a small pump truck.
Lacus transfigured a top section of the aircraft into a hinged opening and opened it. She then took the hoses she was offered and transfigured them to connect to the existing tank. Ten minutes later they had the kerosene being loaded on the tanker truck. One hour later their jet was empty. The tanker left and it was followed by a three thousand gallon tank on wheels that was towed in. It would take a few trips, but they would get all of the high grade jet fuel, without even having to leave the hanger.
Dave stopped in a few minutes later and asked Fleur, who was by herself, "Are you guys about ready to head back?"
Lacus was over looking at something a tech was showing her. She had even cast a few simple spells inscribed a couple simple runes on a small helicopter based drone craft. Harry looked like he was just itching to play with the craft's controls. Hermione was in their jet checking things over.
Fleur said, "I think so. I'm the one flying back, and the craft has been fueled."
Dave asked, "Can I ask you to stay below Mach 1 on the way back? It would be better still if you could follow a flight plan."
Fleur asked, "I plan to stay below Mach 1. Lacus had already asked us to when we were near or over a continent. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to follow a flight plan." Sheepishly she added, "It hasn't really come up."
Dave palmed his hand to his face. He said, "I'll get someone to fetch a set of magic mirrors. Our aircraft traffic controller should be able to keep you on course by radar for the most part."
Fleur nodded. She said, "We just use the point me spell Hermione created."
Dave said, "That is interesting. Could you teach it to Gary and Sarah?" Fleur nodded.
Dave said, "The main reason for following a known flight path is to avoid the chance of a mid air collision as well as to avoid flying over cities and populated areas when possible. Your method of just flying above where aircraft normally fly is better than nothing, but I'd prefer to do things correctly. Also, if you intend to keep flying this aircraft after the current situation is over, then I'll have to insist everyone get licensed and the aircraft get the things every other aircraft requires. I'd also prefer if this particular aircraft was retired in favor of something less unique and maybe less colorful."
Fleur grinned. She said, "I understand. I wouldn't mind learning."
Dave said, "Well, in that case, this summer you could come work with us. You could then either finish up at Beauxbatons or Hogwarts, or we could cover your remaining courses and help you get an international set of Newts." He handed her a card. "The only problem is your a citizen of France, but we can work something out."
Fleur said, "We shall see. Things are uncertain for me right now." She looked around, and saw Hermione still in the cockpit a distance away and no one else close. She said, "If I don't make it, will you perhaps give my little sister a chance when she is old enough? She might find such things interesting. Too many treat Veela as trophy girlfriends or wives, and I would have her avoid that fate, if possible. Hermione may also be interested."
Dave said, "I'm sorry to hear that, but you can't give up. Nothing is over yet. I'll be glad to give your little sister a call after she graduates, or at least gets her Owls. I wouldn't mind hiring both of you, assuming your little sister shows similar potential. We already employ a few part Veela witches and at least one full Veela I think. The main thing we ask is for them to keep control of their allure and even that we can work around, although it would limit options considerably. As far as Hermione goes, she already has an offer. Normally we wouldn't ask until after someone graduates, but we could use her skills now."
Fleur said, "You want the skills Lacus taught."
Dave gave her a wry look as if to say, "Wouldn't you?" He said, "Yes, we very much do. We make no secret of it. Her father served with distinction in the SAS, so perhaps she can talk with him about it. Her role would, however, be limited to the role of a civilian contractor, so danger should be minimal. You could choose to be either a civilian contractor, or if you wanted you could formally enlist. Enlisting requires a much deeper commitment, so I recommend beginning with the civilian contractor route."
Fleur asked, "Enlist? You teach the wizards that work with you how to fight?"
Dave said, "Yes. We have to remain prepared."
Fleur paused. Then after a few moments thought she asked, "Could you teach Harry more? He thinks he may yet fight the Dark Lord. Also, if the two that are replacing them know how to fight, then perhaps they could help us prepare as well."
Dave sighed. He said, "We will offer it to Harry of course, to both of them. Even if we can't cast offensive spells against a pregnant woman, she could still probably learn some things. I will also ask Sarah and Gary to teach what they can while they are there. If they want, they can probably stay there for that matter, assuming they can remain hidden once the Potters get back or we can get them a full time position. We would continue to pay their salary."
Fleur said, "Thanks."
Dave said, "I do ask that students try to let those older fight this battle. Perhaps something will go wrong and you will have no choice, but this is not your fight. Please don't be reckless."
Fleur said, "Harry and Lacus have to survive. Prophecy says so. If my life can help guarantee a world for my little sister to grow up in, then I will give it." More softly she added, "I probably already have."
Dave said, "Just don't give up."
Fleur said, "I won't."
Those returning to Hogwarts flew back, with Fleur piloting, Hermione manning the settings and limit controls and Luna the breaking and stability charms. It was an uneventful trip, other than Fleur continuing to make small corrections to her course at the air traffic controllers request. The provided communication mirror had been attached to the dash with a sticking charm.
The Potters spent the rest of the day at the lab. As they were walking out to the minivan they had been using to ferry back and fourth, Dobby popped in.
The guards that surrounded them immediately drew aim but Harry shouted, "Stop."
Dobby ducked behind a car, dropping what he had brought.
Harry said, "Everyone relax. Dobby is a friend." They put their guns and wands away.
One of the guard wizards picked up a box and opened it.
Dobby started to head towards the wizard, but Harry grabbed him. Dobby said, "That is Harry Potter's property!"
The wizard opened the box. He said, "Nice. It's a new set of dragonhide armor." He added wistfully, "I wish I had a set of this quality."
Lacus asked Dobby, "How many sets have they delivered?"
Dobby said, "Kitty lady asked me to deliver these. I think there were more." Dobby wrung his hands together, as if disappointed at not knowing the answer to her question.
Lacus asked Dobby, "Can you go back and ask if it is possible to get a half a dozen additional sets for now?"
Dobby nodded and popped away. They got in the van and went to their temporary home. Only a couple minutes after they got in the driveway Dobby popped in just outside the gates to the house. He seemed to be half stunned. Harry thanked Dobby and he popped away. As they were picking up the packages Lacus said, "I think Dobby is getting tired of bouncing off wards. Most do not think to ward against house elves."
The director said dryly, "We like to assume that our enemies aren't stupid."
Harry asked, "Was Dobby hurt? He looked stunned."
The director said, "I am told that bouncing off the wards is unpleasant, but he should be fine. I apologize for not thinking of this before."
Lacus looked troubled, but followed the rest into the house. Once there she picked up one of the packages and handed it to the wizard who had previously admitted wanting one.
He said, "You can't mean. I recognize quality when I see it. This is probably worth more than I make in a year."
Harry said, "Just accept it. The other five as well. We can hardly expect you to help protect us, but not have the same protection we do."
The man said, "Thanks, I'm going to go put this on."
Minutes later he returned in an form fitting outfit. One of the women guards whistled and then said, "I think you were supposed to put your old clothes back on over it."
The guard blushed, but tried to cover it by saying. "Ah come on. Someone hit me with a stunner. I want to test this!"
He was suddenly hit by three different stunning spells which dissipated as they washed over the armor. He said, "Nice!"
Lacus then shot him in the chin with a stunner. He collapsed, but not before one of his fellow guards caught him. Lacus said, "It was just a reminder."
The guard that was holding the now unconscious man said dryly, "Noted."
The unconscious man woke up and got to his feet. He said, "What happened?"
"You told people to stun you. You neglected to specify where."
"Well, thanks for the ennervate."
"You were not ennervated. It has only been seconds ago."
Lacus said, "The armor is powered by the ambient magic your body generates. If there is a spell attached to your body, it will slowly absorb it. It's capacity is limited, so don't count on it. It doesn't gain energy from spells that directly impact the outside though. That happens too quickly for that to be a good idea. It simply disperses them around you and into the ground, if it can."
The armor wearer said, "Nice."
Larry said, "So, if we had the prince and princess wear a set of these, then they could be recharged by having one of the wizards or witches who guard them trade them sets daily?"
Lacus nodded. She said, "The critical need would be after they dissipated damage of any kind, but daily is a good idea."
Larry nodded. He said, "Well, its getting late. I'm going to order Thai food if no one has any objections?" They did not.
A few minutes later Lacus and Harry were in the guest room. Harry closed the door then said quietly, "Will that pull from the protective spell around your womb?"
Lacus hesitated. She said, "Yes it will." After a half a minutes pacing she said, "I can fix it, but I don't have any sealing supplies here, and I'd have to release the protection on the matrix to do so. It could be copied then. It would almost be easier just to start over."
Harry pulled her into his arms to stop her pacing. He asked, "Is their no other alternative? Perhaps something to limit the drain. You said their was a limit on how much it would store."
Lacus said quietly, "There is a limit, but it is adaptive. The armor can, well should, grow stronger over time. I didn't want them to abuse it, so I didn't mention that. It was a side effect really and might make the matrix unstable in the process, so its not something that really should be pushed. I also didn't add a final limit. I didn't think there was a need, and adding one would reduce its effectiveness."
Harry said quietly, "You would still be safer in the armor right? I know I don't see a problem with the set you wear growing stronger."
Lacus said quietly, "No, not unless we let that spell fade first. You put a massive amount of energy in that spell. The armor was never intended to take that much. It would be dangerous. It might explode if it was hit. The protective spell is much simpler and it can take being overloaded like that, but at the same time the protective spell can't block the killing curse or bullets. The ward scheme for the armor is much more complex. It had to be to do a good job. It cannot take the influx of magic, not safely at least. There is also the chance that the overpowered spell will react badly if it was hit. With the armor in place that reaction would be confined."
Harry paled at the thought. He asked, "Is there no way to keep the two separate, for now at least? Once we are back to the magical world we can stop by Gringotts and make you a new set."
Lacus said, "Maybe." She got up and went to the bathroom. She came back a half a minute later with the shower curtain. Harry watched and could not quite hold back a smile as she started removing clothing. He double checked the lock. She was only wearing her underclothes when she draped the curtain over her. Harry watched as she started to transfigure it to fit her body. She soon had a form fitting set of shower curtain armor that she covered with the armor from Gringotts. With two layers, it wasn't quite as form fitting, yet it still reflected her form well.
Harry said absently, "Nice."
Lacus smiled and gave him a kiss that he quickly returned. A couple minutes later she said, "I'm glad that the armor at least has temperature charms or this could get very uncomfortable."
Harry, still caught up in the view, blinked and said, "Huh?"
Lacus said, "This should work for now. We will have to renew the protective spell with the armor off though, but that shouldn't take long. When we get back I can redesign the ward scheme. I'm sure the goblins will appreciate a version that prospective mothers can use safely. Thanks dear. I hadn't honestly considered it until you mentioned it."
As they were eating dinner with the others, Lacus said, "I made a small mistake in the design of the armor. It will also absorb useful spells that are on your body given enough time including the one that protects my womb."
They looked surprised at that. The witch guarding them asked, "Then why are you wearing it?"
Lacus said, "Harry came up with the idea of shielding things. I'm now wearing a form fitting shower curtain under this. I plan on helping design a new version when I get back that will not have this issue. It will be a little weaker than this version, but not enough to justify not having the protective spell."
Harry said absently, "Your going to need a new shower curtain."
Larry glanced at one of the regular guards who said, "I'll go get one."
Later that night, just before he was about to sleep Larry answered the red phone in his room. He told Dave about the armor and about their comments earlier.
Dave said, "I wonder what she is not saying. Wearing a shower curtain can't be pleasant, particularly not with dragonhide over the top and clothes on top of that. There may be some problem with that armor absorbing too much magic. Perhaps that is another reason it doesn't attempt to absorb magic from spells fired at it. I doubt it is an intentional flaw. There are limits. It sounds like she compromised on something she didn't expect to happen for better protection."
After a pause Dave added, "Someone will be by in the morning to pick up three of the sets to begin testing. Assuming they pass initial testing, we will need at least that many to be able to keep the prince and princess in a charged set. Hopefully they will have some more arriving soon. I for one will be relieved when they are wearing armor that isn't obvious that will still probably stop a killing curse or a bullet. I'll leave it to you to decide on the two other pairs for now."
Larry said, "Understood." He yawned then said, "Now, if there is nothing else, I really need to get some sleep."
Dave asked, "I don't suppose it would do any good to show up with some high grade dragonhide armor and warding supplies."
Larry said, "I doubt it. You said she did not want to share that technology, err that magic. She has already given us priceless information. I wouldn't push it."
Dave said, "I know. Believe me I know. I don't even have the people to keep up with the leads and ideas that we are investigating. We are hiring, but people with that level of clearance are not that easy to find. They usually already have jobs and I'm forced to offer them significantly more money to try to get them, since I can't explain anything until they accept the job and sign the non disclosure forms. It would be different if I had the extra budget, but the parliament is being slow to act there. The fact that they have been told next to nothing probably doesn't help, but again I understand why that is the case. I've also pushed for a faster clearance process, but the division that handles them is already working massive overtime, including doing their own hiring. Things can only be rushed so fast and maintain operation security."
Larry said, "I'm sorry to hear that Dave, but for now I gotta get some sleep. I really do."
Dave said, "Understood Larry. Watch over them for me. The people I have investigating that Veela prophecy are very worried for their health."
Larry said, "Understood. Good night."
The next morning Diana joined them for breakfast. As she was finishing she told the Potters, "I've got a surprise for you two."
Harry looked at his wife then asked curiously, "Yes?"
"I've gotten Charles and Dave to give you the day off and reserved time at a very good recording studio. They even have instruments of all kinds waiting there including a very nice grand piano. I've also arranged for the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to be at your disposal should you wish for them to record anything or even play it live. They have a performance Saturday evening, that they have invited you to perform at, provided they can get enough practice in on things. There is a computer setup at the studio that I'm told can be used to record a score. It has a musical keyboard attached to it. I believe it is said to connect with something called MIDI."
Lacus said, "But the engineers."
Diana said, "Need time to understand the work you've done so far. My understanding is that they can do the first tests today without you, and you will only be a short distance away. You can stop by there this evening."
Harry said, "What about preparation? If we are not helping them, I should at least be preparing."
Diana scowled. She said, "At three Dave setup a meeting with the guy who trains our field teams and his top team. They have already rented an empty warehouse nearby to make things simpler. With your permission, he will evaluate you both and do what he can to train you, although he of course will not be asking Lacus to do anything that would risk her child. Dave thought you could do that for two or three hours then if you felt up with it stop by the lab after a meal. It's Tuesday. The recording studio, the training teams time, and the orchestra are all at our disposal at those times through Saturday. Harry could even go an hour or so early to the training area if he wants, although I'd have to check who would be available to help him then."
Lacus asked curiously, "What did you want me to record?"
Diana smiled and said, "Everything." Then a short time later she added, "Well everything you feel should be recorded. It can be your own work, or others. We would like to know for our records, but beyond that, I just feel that more from your future should be preserved, if possible, and I don't just mean the science. More importantly, we are going to tell our people about the magicals sooner or later, and we really want your music to be an example to them of someone from the magical world that did something good for our own. It could make all the difference."
Lacus embraced the older woman in a hug and said, "Thank you. Thank you very much. I have waited for so long for the naturals to listen to my song. Now they finally can. I really want to do the concert too." She looked at her husband who had a goofy smile on his face.
He recovered quickly. He said, "Of course. I could probably help out too. Maybe we could even add in an illusion at some point as well. I mean we wouldn't have to tell them it was magic, would we?"
Lacus said, "It couldn't be an immersive one. Too many people. We could do one like a large video I suppose."
Diana seemed uncertain. She said, "We'd have to get that cleared first. Perhaps we could record what you had in mind and just project it."
Lacus said, "That should work." Then after a pause she smiled and asked, "Can we make it live?"
Diana asked seriously, "Your not planning on using it to do anything that would expose magic right?"
Just as seriously Lacus responded, "No. The time is wrong for that and you have accepted that task. I've changed too much as it is, and yet not enough. I just hope that the third task goes as expected."
Diana said, "I will get it done and ask people to watch. Unfortunately, to get a lot of people to watch I'll probably have to sing at least one song during it and then advertise that I am going to do so. Is that okay? I had meant it to be your night, but if you want an audience, that is the best way I can think of to do so in so little time."
Lacus said, "I'd love to have you be a part. I can help you prepare, or you can sing with me if you want."
Diana said, "I'll sing with you for one song. That way I already know it and just need to practice."
Lacus smiled and nodded.
Charles and the Queen were there at the music studio when they arrived. Both had arrived in unmarked vehicles, followed and proceeded by other unmarked vehicles.
The Queen made the first request. She said, "Mrs. Potter, we would ask for you to first give us your best rendition of the song that was sung at our daughter's sad day."
Lacus looked at the others and then nodded. She transfigured her own dress into a simple, yet elegant white dress. She pointed her wand at Diana and asked, "May I change your dress?" Diana nodded and soon she was wearing an exquisite yellow dress, complete with tiara. Lacus asked her to stand in front of the piano and smile.
Diana blushed but did so. She asked, "Why am I doing this?"
Harry said, "Well the song was for you, wasn't it?" Diana blushed again.
Lacus said to her husband, "Actually, your going to sing it with me."
Harry sputtered and said, "But I haven't practiced. I'm not singer. Sure I have a few of your memories, but I haven't practiced."
Lacus said, "We can do it the same way we have done other difficult things."
Harry said, "The doctor told us to stop doing that so much."
Lacus said, "It will be okay. If anything, this experience will act as a buffer for harsher times. Please?" She gave him her best smile.
Harry held up his hands in warding. He said, "I surrender. I'll do it." Lacus grinned and took the opportunity to transfigure his clothes into a formal black tuxedo.
There were several people with high quality studio cameras and even a make up person there who quickly added a little to the pair and to Diana.
The recording took four takes, but by the third Diana had learned how to keep a serious smile affixed to her face as she looked at the players and Harry was finally doing a credible job blending his voice with his wife's. Before the fourth take Lacus and Harry let themselves just sing. It was the best take of all, with no special abilities whatsoever.
After they were done they all went back to the control room. Charles wiped his eyes. The Queen said, "That was beautiful. Thank you. Of course, we can't release that one, but it was beautiful."
Charles added, "Thank you, but not for that." He then pointed to Diana and said, "but for this."
The Potters smiled and nodded.
Lacus said, "About the concert. I have an idea for a theme, although I thought I would ask since while it won't break the statue of secrecy, well it might cause a little concern."
The royals listened, and then asked the Potters to go into a nearby room for awhile while they discussed it. Lacus took the time to start entering the music she wanted the orchestra to play in the computer, mostly via the musical keyboard.
Almost an hour later Charles and Diana entered. Charles said, "It was a close thing, but we did approve it. It will not be easy to get it all setup in time. Are you sure this is a good idea? It is bound to upset many people, even presented as it will be."
Harry asked softly, "In Voldemort's last reign you had to help cover up many atrocities. How could this upset people more?"
Charles said, "It will. I can't imagine your own people being happy about it either."
Lacus smiled. She said, "We are wearing armor, and I will not reenter Hogwarts until I have made a set tailored for me." Harry looked worried, but equally determined.
Charles said, "I will have to ask your stand-ins to slip out Saturday evening. We can't have people notice you in two places at the same time. I'm willing to ask them if they will take the initial danger, but you will need to let me know what to tell them to tell others."
Uncertain, Lacus asked, "Can we move the concert to the following Friday? Your people are filling our roles and training people. There really is not much more I need to do at Hogwarts so the delay would not affect much there and it would give me time to get a new suit of armor made at Gringotts."
Charles said, "Sure. We can probably manage that. It would also give the royal philharmonic time to practice a bit more, which I'm sure they would appreciate. Your task would be the very next day though. Most people would want some distance between the two events."
Harry said dryly, "Actually I think I would prefer to be fighting Voldemort when certain figures in the magical government find out about that performance."
They recorded several more songs that day before Harry and Lacus spent time with the trainer. The trainer was impressed with both of them for their ages, even if he limited his offensive spells to paint balls. Lacus managed to dodge almost all of them, without taking the sudden moves that she normally would have employed. When she brought out her set of defensive plates, none got through. She also mentioned needing to make a new set soon.
The trainer managed to take down Harry, armor in all, in less than five minutes when he got serious. Harry wasn't injured of course, but he did end up swallowed in the ground wand and all when the floor suddenly became soft. The trainer then proceeded to show how to defend against that. Harry kept going when two hours had passed and Lacus left to go to the lab. Harry later learned that the test of the neutron jammer device was a success.
The day repeated like that with minor variations save that Harry spent more and more time in training. For the orchestra Lacus composed two new pieces and then selected a dozen others for their event. She quickly ran through her own material and started singing other songs from her time, and then used her time in the morning to work with the orchestra. The royals had managed to get the Apollo Victoria Theatre freed up for practice. It was the largest in London. It was a crazy rush, yet they thought they would be ready in time. They were going to use multiple film projectors, each displaying footage that Lacus and Harry together had helped create. The projectors had the advantage of being able to produce much higher quality images than electronic systems of the time could.
Everyone involved thought it would be a success, even if they were utterly confused on why the key players would only be available on that one night. Their understudies were working hard to be able to somehow continue. It was thought that they might be ready to go the following weekend. All in all it was the shortest time a production had been put together in, yet all involved were professionals and determined to make it work. The manager of the theatre was not even upset that they had to pay the cancellation fees to force out a successful production to do the show, since anything the princess was involved in was guaranteed to draw a crowd. He expected to sell out, even with the limited notice.
The apparent success of the neutron jammers didn't reduce the requests for Lacus's help there either, and she often found herself there while Harry was practicing. Diana had insisted she remember to do things for herself, to which Lacus replied, "That is what I am doing."
Diana asked, "Are you truly sure, there is not something else you would rather be doing?"
Lacus said, "Harry feels the need to be ready to protect me and kill Voldemort on that day. I do not think he is incorrect. The only way he can become truly good is to practice. I cannot help him in that, at least not much more than I have. Whenever I use magic, I take away from what he has available to use. Even with help he already uses quite a lot just updating the ward protecting our child every morning. He will also not fight at his fullest, if he knows I am watching and it is practice, since he knows I hate to see him hurt. So yes, I am trying to focus on the production and give him time to do what he needs to do."
Diana said, "You are that sure that somehow events will conspire so that the first prophecy is valid and Harry himself must face him? Why can't it just be at Harry's direction or yours? You would certainly qualify as the power he knows not by yourself. If I was you, and I saw this Voldemort, I'd slice his head off with one of those plates and be done with it."
Lacus said, "I do not know. Too much has changed. Even Harry living is a large change. We each do what we can. Harry would never forgive himself if he didn't do all he could to be ready, nor could I forgive myself if I had not done what I could. As to your last suggestion, I will of course try."
That night a reactor a hundred miles away started to run away from them. They quickly did a reactor SCRAM, but that only resulted in the output dropping to seventy percent of normal. Dave authorized a flight of three attack helicopters to deliver two of the neutron jammers and the tech's needed. The third helicopter, which would go in first had been modified to be able to power a jammer itself.
Other than the total blackout of all nearby wireless communications caused by the jammers the operation went perfectly and the radioactivity from the core plummeted. When it cooled enough they would unload the fuel to the pool, but that would be at least a week even with the jammer in operation. Fortunately, since it was one of their own reactors this time, they were able to leave the jammer just outside the core and then dial back its power enough that the communications blackout mostly just affected the plant itself.
One helicopter and one jammer remained at the site as a failsafe. They had even brought electricity out to the helicopter should the second unit need to be activated for any reason. A pilot was also always on standby, in case the jammer was needed elsewhere.
That night messages that had been carefully written were sent to all neighboring countries via encrypted data links. Something was going on with nuclear power. They did not know what, but advised powering down what reactors were possible to power down. At need, they had developed technology that appeared to help stabilize an existing reactor. They would be glad to lend it out if needed, but would require the devices remain in control by United Kingdom personnel. It was a risk to give out the information, but it was deemed a lesser risk than not doing so. They also sent out teams to Canada and the United States. It was difficult to get them to agree to accepting them and also agree to leave the devices alone, but they had done so. It was also necessary, since they needed to locate the devices around the world to be able to respond in time. The issues with the particle accelerator lab results seemed to indicate that they were correct in focusing on the areas around the United Kingdom, but they were taking no chances.
Rita skitter put the finishing touches on her article for what should become a special evening edition of the prophet tomorrow. It would reveal much, but not until after the major events were over. That would be soon enough. Her bed had never felt softer.
She never noticed the stunner that hit her after she fell asleep, nor did she notice the Oblivate that followed. Her article and all her notes would be found missing the next morning.
Hermione fidgeted as she walked disillusioned through the quite large portable set of dorms that was the Beauxbatons carriage. She eventually found the room she was looking for and knocked softly.
Fleur Delacour opened the door in surprise, only to see the shimmer of a dissillusionment charm. She asked, "Who is there?" Fleur looked exhausted.
Hermione said softly, "It's me. Can I come in?"
Fleur grinned as she opened the door wider, and then after Hermione passed in she closed it quietly.
Hermione dispelled her charm and said, "Can I stay here, just for tonight? I was just having trouble sleeping, and I knew you could do that thing you do."
"Sing," Fleur said impishly.
Hermione said, "Well can I?"
Fleur smiled and said, "Of course. You are always welcome here."
An hour later Hermione lay in the statuesque part Veela's arms asleep as Fleur continued to sing softly to her as she let her magic embrace the younger woman and chase away her bad dreams. It was good to be reminded of this part of her magic. The fatigue that shown on her face when Hermione arrived seemed to melt away as she too fell asleep.
Dobby appeared in the Slytherin dorm and looked down at his former master. He had no desire to ever serve Draco again, yet he was glad that Draco had let go of some of his hate. He could see it in the more innocent smile he now wore when he slept. It seemed that Mother and son had made a new start since Lucius died. He wished them the best as he popped to his own bed.
Tomorrow would be a long day. His mistress was sleeping in the new building with Neville sleeping outside her door on a couch. She had invited him in before, but Neville had refused, citing her honor. That had made his mistress smile more even as she fell asleep clutching an old shirt of his. Dobby fully intended to make sure that his friends had a truly special breakfast tomorrow and always.
Albus Dumbledore was weary. He had finished his work in the great hall and used magic to hide it until the time was right. A part of him dearly hoped it would never be, but the larger part of him knew the work here would see use tomorrow. As he turned to go to bed he saw Minerva standing there.
He said softly, "Good night Minerva."
Minerva asked, "What are you up to Albus?"
Albus said, "Oh nothing much. It is just an idea I had. Now, I find I really must find my rest."
Minerva said quietly, "You are a good man Albus Dumbledore."
Albus turned back to her in surprise, but she had already turned away. He made his way to his bed, after downing a couple of potions. Nearby Fawkes crooned softly.
Diana looked at the two books Lacus had Dobby deliver. She had done something to key the books to her, so that it could only be read by her or one of her descendants. Each book contained notes how to remove those protections, should she wish to do so. The first book contained inventions from her time she thought might be useful. Lacus had apparently picked them as offering the most benefits with the least risk of producing weapons. It was without a doubt a priceless gift.
On the first page of the smaller of the two books was a handwritten note from Lacus. It said, "Diana, thank you for all your help. It gives me hope that no matter what happens the future is in good hands."
"This is the major results and theories from the last major peacetime research program funded by the Orb union. They were a small island in the South Pacific that accepted both coordinators and naturals. They often represented my hope for the future. It's funding was cut as the war began as it never produced results. Still, some very sharp people worked on it. I do not know if the research will ever yield results. The truly dangerous part is the introductory material I have included that is necessary to understand the research."
"In my world, scientists around the world, both coordinator and natural eventually completed what physicists call the final theory. It is also sometimes known as the theory of everything. Of course, it wasn't truly final, since there were still a great many unanswered questions. It did, however work better in all situations than either the standard model or general relativity so it was still a huge accomplishment. Finally, there was no need to choose which theory you used based on particular applications. It also answered many questions that no other model before it ever did and raised still more. The knowledge has nearly limitless potential for both good and evil. Be very careful with it. "
"The research in this paper builds on that theory and proposes ways of manipulating gravity on a fundamental level. In theory you could launch spacecraft easily, if you could simply setup a field that would negate the force of gravity in one direction. Similarly you could travel across space by choosing which directions gravity is allowed to affect you. It would take some time to accelerate, but speeds a significant fraction of the speed of light might eventually be possible. It was proposed as our doorway to the stars, but the war came and the research was never completed. I leave it to you or your descendants whether this research will ever see the light of day. You should know that the final key to this door may be the magic that your world still has. That is not my idea although I agree with it. There were many scientists that later lamented the loss of magic from the world. With its loss, so too did they lose ways to duplicate phenomena that casually defied the so called final theory. I leave our final key with you knowing it is in good hands. With it humanity may be able to go to the stars one day. It could also lead to more dangerous weapons before you are ready for them, if it is even possible to be ready for them. Regardless care must always be taken to be sure that our humanity guides and directs science and not just our baser emotions."
"You now know more about me than anyone else, save my husband, and that is only because he too was with us that day. I never could find a simple solution to avoid wars. I do not believe there is one. It is up to us to teach the next generation of the mistakes of the past in ways that make it real to them, that make them see how very important it is to learn from those mistakes, for we can no longer afford to repeat them. I will keep you in my prayers. -Lacus Potter"
Diana wiped tears from her eyes as she finished reading the introduction. She thought it was the first time Lacus had ever mentioned having any kind of faith. Diana locked the books in her vault before stopping to say a prayer. Tomorrow would bring the show that was going to cause a storm, yet she herself knew it must go on. That would be followed the next morning by the third task and the events that would happen after it.
Tomorrow the world would change. Diana found herself remembering a quote from Hamlet. Upon examining her memory she could not tell if it was her memory or one she had gotten from Lacus. Still, she thought it fit Lacus Potter quite well. The quote read, "The time is out of joint; O cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right."
Diana could think of one more quote that seemed to well fit her hopes for tomorrow. It was taken from Ulysses. It read, "Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." Diana thought that Tennyson could have been speaking to this very moment. No matter what happens they would not yield.
She would for the first time in over a year sleep in the same bed as her husband tonight. She would also have her children in the same room on separate beds. She fully intended to keep her robe on and Charles would as well, but for this night and the next, they would be a family again. They would be together. She reached over to her counter and grabbed a bottle before swallowing another Aleve. The headaches that had started after her trip through Lacus's memories were beginning to become less frequent with time, although she definitely had no plans to do that again. She wasn't sure she would survive a second time.
Author's Notes: Thanks for all the reviews.