- o -
Disclaimer: Fate/stay night and other elements of the Nasuverse are owned by TYPE-MOON. Harry Potter and related elements are owned by J. K. Rowling.
- Nasuverse: Fifth Grail War occurred in 2002 (Timeline Mk I), Unlimited Blade Works route, Good End. Holy Grail is dismantled in 2012.
- Potterverse: Begins June of 1995, soon after the end of the Triwizard Tournament.
- o -
2012, September 17th, Monday, in a Moonlit World...
10 years after the Fifth Holy Grail War.
Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg, master of great magics related to the multiverse, waited patiently for a response from his apprentice of eight years.
"You want me to do what?" Rin deadpanned in disbelief.
"I believe you heard me the first time," Zelretch replied.
Rin rubbed her temples in frustration. "I just finished dismantling the Holy Grail and now you spring this on me?"
"Well," Zelretch drawled, "given that you just tragically destroyed one path to accomplishing a True Magic, I am giving you a chance to experience another one."
"Don't call it 'tragic'! It was your half-assed preparations that allowed the Holy Grail to become corrupted in the first place. Velvet-sensei and I were cleaning up the mess you started centuries ago!" Rin retorted. "And now you want me to move to another dimension?"
"You should think of this as an opportunity to learn about a completely different method of applied thaumaturgy," Zelretch explained. He then sighed and lamented, "For shame, to be cursed with such an ungrateful apprentice..."
"Ungrateful?! I'll show you ungrateful, you bloodsucking-" Rin was silenced by a hand clamped on her mouth, restraining not only her words but also her attempt at throttling the Dead Apostle Ancestor.
"Now, now, Tohsaka-san. Please don't anger the super-powerful entity," Sakura pleaded to her sister. "Saber, some help, please?"
Saber held a hand on her master's shoulder. "Rin, calm down."
Seeing his apprentice effectively held in place, Zelretch continued. "As I was saying, the spellcasters of this dimension work their magecraft differently. It is so different, in fact, that it would take decades if not centuries to unravel their Mysteries. Thus, I am tasking you to begin researching their thaumaturgy for a few years. Not only is this a lucrative academic opportunity, it will also give the Mage Association some time to calm down from your latest escapade."
Rin had the grace to blush. "That was Edelfelt's fault!"
"Yes, yes, whatever. I won't pretend to understand women even after millennia of living. Or unliving, I suppose. In any case, I will give you the meta-reality coordinates of that dimension, along with the proper runic circle diagrams; I assume you are at least competent enough to get there with those tools. If you find yourself in need of someone bailing you out from yet another one of your totally-not-your-fault screw ups, feel free to use the Kaleidostick to beg me for help. Understand that if you do so I will have full mocking rights."
"I will carve your eyes out and make you watch as I feed them to a dog," Rin snarled.
"And how, pray tell, will I watch anything after you carve my eyes out?" Zelretch inquired with a raised eyebrow. He then sighed and lamented, "For shame, to be cursed with an illogical apprentice..."
Rin's only response was to renew her futile struggles.
"One last thing. That dimension is seventeen years behind this one," Zelretch said. "If you would be so kind, try not to pollute their timeline with 'future' knowledge."
Taking a deep breath, Rin calmed herself in order to analyze the situation. This actually was a great opportunity, though at the same time she could not bring herself to completely trust Zelretch. More than likely, he had an ulterior motive in mind. Still, he raised a good point with the Mage Association. Stupid Luviagelita! Shirou was hers! And stupid Shirou for being so nice to that bimbo…
Regardless, there did not seem to be much of a decision to make, as it would not be wise to pass up this opportunity. Rin finally responded to her teacher, "Fine, I'll go, but not alone."
- o -
1995, June 28th, Wednesday, in a Wizarding World...
"Please, come in and have a seat, Harry," Dumbledore invited warmly.
Harry entered the office and took the proffered chair. He attempted to school his features to hide the cumulative stress from the past year and the events from a few days ago.
Dumbledore continued. "I asked you here to discuss several topics. I apologize in advance in that some of this discussion is, shall we say, not-so-pleasant news."
Harry looked into Dumbledore's gaze and hazarded a guess. "I take it the Minister still doesn't believe us?"
The headmaster released a tired sigh as he removed his spectacles to clean them. "Indeed, that is one of the topics, and your suspicion is correct. Minister Fudge has achieved magnificent levels of stubbornness regarding this, and I am afraid that no amount of persuasion will turn him around. In fact, I have come to believe that he will take further actions against me and attempt to strip my titles as Chief Warlock and Supreme Mugwump on the basis of undermining the Ministry or some such nonsense."
"He can do that?!" Harry exclaimed.
"It is an unfortunate truth that wealth and connections can accomplish many things that should not be accomplished. But do not worry, Harry. My titles are not of concern to you. I merely wanted to apprise you of the situation. Now, we need to discuss your summer plans. Do you remember why I insist you stay with your family?"
"Yes, for the blood protection."
"Quite so. You saw proof of that protection your first year which I believe vindicates my decision."
Memories of immolating Quirrell flashed in Harry's mind. As traumatic as that experience was, he was able to see past that and understand Dumbledore's reasoning. Had Harry lived someplace else more pleasant after his parents' death, he most likely would have died at the end of his first year. It was a very bitter truth to accept, but with Voldemort's resurrection a few days ago he had spent much time thinking about bitter truths.
"But unfortunately," Dumbledore continued, "things have changed."
Harry frowned in thought. What could have changed? With Voldemort back, Dumbledore would be even more insistent that he live with his relatives. Did the Dursleys move? Without telling him? Well, Harry did not put that possibility past the Dursleys. Would the blood protection move from that house?
Wait... blood protection...
"The ritual. Voldemort took my blood," Harry said. "The blood protection is gone. He even touched me in the graveyard."
"Yes, you are correct. Five points to Gryffindor. As much as I wish it otherwise, you are now as defenseless against Voldemort as everyone else," Dumbledore answered. "Now, there is the remote possibility that the blood protection can be renewed if you were to stay with your relatives. However, it would be irresponsible of me to place you in a location of risk on a mere possibility. If you insist on staying there, then I-"
"No! I don't insist, whatsoever," Harry interrupted.
Dumbledore suppressed a grimace. "I am truly sorry, Harry, that you had to endure such hardship through your childhood."
Harry paused for a moment, before responding carefully. "I think I finally understand why you did it. You could have done better, a lot better." Harry really, really, wanted to unload ten years of frustration at his headmaster, but the death of Cedric and his recent experience under the Cruciatus curse held the forefront of his mind. "But that's not important now. Where are you putting me this summer?"
"Well, my suggestion would be for you to stay at the Burrow. I am certain Arthur and Molly would love to have you there. William has opted to stay in England, and seeing as he is a curse breaker I have the utmost confidence that he will give the Burrow some impressive magical protections."
Harry suppressed the initial excitement that coursed through him. A summer without the Dursleys! Maybe even a lifetime! This was tempered by the fact that the most dangerous wizard in the world was out to murder him. Staying with the Weasleys, while enjoyable, would also place them at risk. Considering other options, Harry put forth another choice. "Could I stay with Sirius? I don't want the Weasleys to be in danger."
Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak, but then stopped before saying anything. Sitting back in thought, he mulled over Harry's suggestion seriously. "I had not considered that, but I believe that can work." A few more seconds of deliberation passed, before he continued, "Yes, yes, that can work. Sirius is currently staying at a secure location, so it should be safe for you as well. He most definitely would like the company. Tell me, Harry, would you be averse to having Remus stay with you as well? As talented as Sirius can be, I'd like the extra protection for you."
"Professor Lupin? No, that would be wonderful," Harry responded honestly.
"Well, then, I think that is settled. I do have one rule I must insist you follow," Dumbledore said with gravity. "You must be escorted at all times if you venture outside. This is, in fact, a large part of why I asked regarding Remus. I am not intending you to be a prisoner for the summer, but you, of all people, have a measure of how far Voldemort intends to harm you."
Harry nodded in understanding. "I'll be careful, and I won't sneak out or anything like that."
"Very good. If you do go out, take your cloak with you just in case. Also, remember that Peter Pettigrew knows about Sirius's animagus form. Please ask Sirius and Remus to brush up on their glamour charms, so that all of you can be disguised if you venture out."
Thinking for a moment, Harry asked, "Can we have some emergency Portkeys? I was only able to escape the graveyard because of that."
Dumbledore looked at Harry carefully. "That is an excellent idea, but unfortunately there is a complication with that." The headmaster reached into his desk and withdrew three pairs of scissors. "You see, Portkeys are regulated by the Ministry, and the unauthorized creation of Portkeys is frowned upon." He then waved his wand, transfiguring the scissors into simple metal combs. "So, if I were to, say, charm these combs into Portkeys that activate upon touch, then the Ministry would be most upset with me." Dumbledore waved his wand again, causing each of the combs to glow momentarily.
Harry looked up from the combs. "I understand, Professor." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he further transfigured three leather pouches to contain the touch-activated Portkeys. He smiled as he handed the items to his student.
"Now, on to the final topic." Dumbledore took a moment to compose his request. "What I am about to ask you will most likely be unpleasant, but I hope that you would be willing to help me in this regard."
"Um, sure, Professor," Harry responded hesitantly.
Dumbledore stood up and walked toward his Pensieve, gesturing to Harry to follow. "I was hoping that you would give me your memory of what happened when you touched the Triwizard Cup and afterwards in the graveyard. This will be of no harm to you; I will not be affecting your memory at all. I will merely make a copy of it to keep here so that it can be analyzed in detail."
Harry was understandably wary of the request. "Will you show anyone else?"
"If you wish for this information to be discrete, I will try my utmost to do so," Dumbledore replied.
"No, that's not what I meant," Harry clarified. Taking a breath, he continued, "I was thinking that Mr. Diggory would like to see what happened."
Dumbledore gazed at Harry, eyes somehow twinkling in a serious manner. "I must say, Harry, that is very mature of you. I will pass the information to Mr. Diggory, though I should state that he may refuse which is of course quite a reasonable decision to make."
"Um, along with that," Harry said, as he withdrew a bag from within his robes. "Cedric was co-champion, so I think his family should get half the prize. Could you give this to them?"
Dumbledore took the bag solemnly. "I will make sure Mr. Diggory receives this." After placing the money away, the two began extracting the memory.
- o -
2012, December 19th, Wednesday, in a Moonlit World...
"Senpai, do you have everything packed?" Sakura asked as she walked into Shirou's workshop with Rider following. Saber was double-checking the luggage.
"Yes," Shirou replied. "Is Rin ready?"
"I think she is double-checking our monies so we do not accidentally use a 'future' bill or currency. Although truthfully there is no guarantee that the other dimension will have the exact same currency as ours."
"I thought we were exchanging everything into jewels and gold?" Shirou asked.
"We did for most of our savings, but it would be convenient to have actual money while we first settle down, on the off chance that the currencies would be usable."
"Ah, that makes sense," Shirou acknowledged, and then looked around. "I'll miss this home."
"And I will miss the kitchen," Saber added. Not that she used it, but everyone knew what she meant.
"I hope it stays in one piece," Shirou said.
"Senpai's home should be fine until we get back. Taiga-sensei will be watching over it," Sakura reassured them.
The others gave her a dry look.
"Well, we we can always hope..." Sakura trailed off.
Just then, Rin entered with the last of her belongings. "Okay, everyone ready?" Nods came from the other four. "Alright. We are supposed to go to England. If all goes well, we should arrive in a remote location near a ley line. I will be using the Kaleidostick in conjunction with everything else to get there. After we arrive, I want someone to immediately knock me out and get the Kaleidostick away from me. Anyone who mentions anything about cat ears will be shot."
- o -
1995, July 3rd, Monday, in a Wizarding World...
"Kreacher!" Sirius shouted angrily. "That's it. I've had enough." Taking off a sock, Sirius gave his final commands to Kreacher, preventing the elf from ever revealing secrets or betraying them. He then tossed the article of clothing on Kreacher, releasing the elf from the Black family forever. The freed individual immediately teleported away with a pop, but made a stop at a certain cabinet to pick up a certain locket.
"I'm sorry you had to see that, Harry," Sirius apologized, waving his wand to dispose of the poisoned portions of their breakfast. Sirius was not going to allow an attempted murderer to stay with his godson.
"It's fine, Sirius," Harry assured. A few days had passed since Remus picked him up from the 9 ¾ platform, and the three males had settled into a routine. Morning consisted of cleaning the gloom and doom of the house in preparation for more wide scale remodeling. In the afternoons Harry had insisted on training in dueling. He firmly believed that if he had been better prepared, Cedric would have made it out of the graveyard trap alive. Evenings were essentially free time, though Remus politely suggested that Harry use that time to finish his summer homework early.
Switching the topic away from the hated elf, Sirius asked, "So, you said that the Weasley kid will be over today?"
Harry nodded as he filled his plate with remaining non-poisoned breakfast. "I told Ron to tell Mrs. Weasley that Moony is offering tutoring. With us taking the OWLs this year, it should be enough to convince her. And it's not really a lie, since Moony," Harry explained, nodding towards Remus, "is technically teaching us Defense Against the Dark Arts."
Poking a sausage link with a fork, Remus interjected at this point. "I hope he'd be willing to help out a little with the cleaning. I'm ashamed to say, but those Weasley kids probably know more cleaning charms than we do considering their mother."
"Heh, that'd be nice. And we'll have to keep silent about any casting you kids do," Sirius responded. "Really, though, I'm not sure why the entire family doesn't simply stay over. I mean, with You-Know-Who out there and all."
"The idea was bandied around, but I think Dumbledore said something about not putting all your eggs in the same basket. I suppose it makes sense to have two safe havens instead of just one," Remus explained. "But you just want her to clean this place for you."
"Nah, not really. Knowing Molly, she wouldn't let the children use magic, for training or cleaning or whatever." Turning a sly look to Harry, Sirius asked, "What about your pretty lady friend?"
Instantly reminded of the Yule Ball, Harry tried to mentally shake away the incredibly hot images of Hermione from his mind. This didn't help much because they were then replaced with incredibly hot images of Cho. "Hermione will be coming along with Ron. While her parents work in the day, she'll take the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron, and then take the floo to the Burrow. And speaking of underage magic, we'll have to convince Hermione that we need to do it and can do it without getting caught."
"I am noting that you did not deny that she is pretty," Sirius teased.
"Oh sod off, Padfoot. We're just friends," Harry retorted as he brought up his cup of juice to drink.
"Sure you are."
Finishing his gulp, Harry asked, "Didn't you say my parents argued with each other all the time before they got together?"
"Oh yeah, Lily could never stand James the first few years."
"Is it like how Hermione argues with Ron?" Harry pointed out.
This brought Sirius up short. Remus chuckled at his expression.
- o -
1995, July 6th, Thursday, in a Wizarding World...
Seated in a comfortable chair, Saber looked up from her book, Hogwarts: A History, as the door to their magically expanded family suite at the Leaky Cauldron opened. It had not taken Rider long to find the large magical signature of Diagon Alley. Posing as foreigners (technically true), the inter-dimensional travelers quickly acquired a place of lodging at the popular Leaky Cauldron before exploring this world's magic society. Luckily they were able to exchange their home world currencies in this world with no issue.
Sakura and Rin entered the room, the former more gracefully while the latter plopped down onto a seat in obvious frustration. Following them in, Rider materialized from her astral form which she took whenever she went out.
"What happened?" Shirou asked from the table, also looking up from his reading. Sakura sat down next to him.
Rin groaned. "Three hours, and neither of us could find a matching wand. 'The wands chooses the witch,' he said. Sounds like a seventh-rate wizard to me."
"Now, Rin, that's not nice." Sakura chided hesitantly. Referring to Rin by her first name was somewhat uncomfortable, but Japanese name suffixes did not carry well over to English. "I'm sure Mr. Ollivander tried his hardest, and he was very regretful we could not find wands," Sakura admonished.
Giving up on arguing, Rin stood and approached the table where Shirou sat. "Did you finish the Muggle's Guide to Magical Britain packet, Shirou? I'd like to return it to the bookstore to get some money back."
"Yes. I'll get to Hogwarts: A History after Saber finishes it. In the meantime, I'm looking into Transfiguration."
"Find anything interesting?" Rin asked.
"Yes," Shirou replied. "In our world, same-matter Transfiguration and Projection are results of applied Reinforcement. In this world, Transfiguration is much more advanced as it can easily cross different types of chemical elements. They also categorize Conjuration under Transfiguration, and I think what they call Conjuration is an advanced form of what we call Projection."
"Advanced?" Saber asked, suddenly intrigued. Though not magi, the two Heroic Spirits understood many of the underlying concepts of magecraft, having lived ten and eight years with the others. More specifically, they knew that Shirou's ability to Trace was an advanced form of Projection. "How advanced?"
"I don't think they know how to Trace," Shirou answered. "But their conjurations last as long as my mundane Projections. And apparently they can transfigure and conjure living entities with a one-line aria and a bit of wand waving."
"What?!" Rin yelled, leaning over Shirou's shoulders. Shirou immediately flipped to the page with that information. Rin frowned at what she read. "This doesn't tell us how it works. Are there any formulas or explanation on spell theory?"
"Uh, I haven't gotten to advanced spell theory yet. But I did see this," Shirou replied as he flipped to another section in the book.
Transfiguration = ((w * c) / (v * a) ) * Z
(w = wand power, c = concentration, v = viciousness, a = weight, Z = unknown factor)
"Viciousness?" Rin asked aloud. "Why in the world does viciousness matter in spellcasting?"
"I think that only applies to Transfigurations involving living entities, whether the source or the result," Shirou answered. "It doesn't explain how they transfigure non-living matter into a living creature."
Sakura interjected, "In our world, I believe I heard about a doll-maker that can instill life into her creations. Perhaps it is something similar? Or maybe they are creating temporary homunculi?"
"That's not what impresses me," Rin clarified. "It's not what they can accomplish; it's the fact that they can do it so quickly, easily, and more effectively." She mused over the formula a bit more. "So, we can classify their wands as Mystic Codes of the amplification type. But that's not enough to explain this. Even if I used my jewels, I would not be able to perform their Mysteries so easily."
"That's probably what Z is for. They have something we don't," Shirou said.
"I think you are underestimating the factor of their wands," Rider stated. Everyone turned to her, so she elaborated. "All spellcasters here have a wand; I do not think that is a coincidence. Furthermore, I witnessed someone teaching someone else a new spell simply by stating the incantation and showing wand movement. No theory. On the other hand, I have yet to see anyone perform wandless magic aside from a few minor things."
Saber added her thoughts to the conversation. "In Hogwarts: A History, it states that wandless magic is rare. Only the more powerful spellcasters can perform wandless magic with the notable exception of accidental magic in children. The assumption is that the onset of puberty changes their magic in such a way that they become dependent on wands."
"The fact that wandless magic is possible, even if it is limited to the more powerful spellcasters, should indicate that there is another factor beyond the wands," Rin concluded. "Still, if we were able to use wands, it should give us insight into what's missing between our magic and theirs."
- o -
1995, July 7th, Friday, in a Wizarding World...
Ron jolted awake.
Blinking his eyes, he tried to get his bearings. Next to him he saw Remus standing over him with his wand out. Ah, he revived me. "Thanks, Professor Lupin."
"Not bad, Ron. You need to work on the wand movement a bit more," Remus stated. "Levicorpus is a fairly useful spell in dueling, so you should practice it to the point that you do not need to think about the wand movement. Pranking someone with this spell is different from chaining it in a dueling situation."
Ron nodded in acknowledgement before turning to look at the others training. On to another side, Harry and Sirius were dueling each other with Hermione watching over them, her face etched with concern. After a few days of training Hermione had confided her worries in Ron, and now he was able to confirm those worries.
Harry was getting obsessed.
Diligent study was one thing, but Harry's efforts exceeded even Hermione's levels of hard work which Ron firmly believed also fell under the category of "obsessed". At that moment, Harry was drenched in sweat and hurling spells vigorously. Sirius, being more experienced, handled his defense with no issue, but even he seemed to be somewhat cautious of Harry's intensity.
Eventually, though, Sirius managed to finesse a spell chain in between Harry's attacks, ending with a Stunning Spell. After reviving Harry, Sirius calmly gave his evaluation. "You're a natural, Harry. Your aim is spot on, and you got a lot of power behind your spells. The thing is, you keep shouting all of your incantations, so I know exactly what you will be casting. So, I think you should work on your silent casting."
"But that's sixth year level," Hermione pointed out. "Are we ready for that?"
"Doesn't matter," Harry said while panting in exhaustion. His heart rate still beat rapidly despite just being revived. "We need to learn it. What do we have to do?"
"You have to concentrate on the incantation in your mind as you do the wand movement," Remus answered.
"Wait, that's it?" Harry asked in surprise at the simplicity.
"It is a lot harder than it sounds," the older man replied. "A person normally thinks faster than he speaks. When casting silently you have to concentrate on the syllables of the incantation at the speed you move your wand. So if your wand movements are at the same speed as when you cast verbally, that means you have to slow your mental pronunciation on the words. Or, you can speed up your wand movements to match your concentration speed, but that is also difficult to do because you lose precision and your concentration might go off. That's why silent casting is faster but much harder."
"Oh, silent casting is weaker than normal casting," Sirius added. "So for a given spell, you are basically sacrificing power for deception. It's usually worth it in a fight, though. Some spells, like the Shield Charm, you can get away with casting verbally since shouting it out doesn't really provide the opponent with an advantage. And you really don't want the Shield Charm to fail, so it's probably better to do it verbally. You should concentrate mainly on casting offensive spells silently. Oh, and the Finite spell, in case you get silenced."
"But if we do get silenced, we will still need to perform the Shield Charm silently," Hermione countered.
"True. I am more talking about how to use them during a fight. If you can get away with chanting Protego, then do so because it will be stronger," Sirius answered.
"Right, well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm beat," Ron declared. "How about we take a break from training and go flying for a bit, back home?"
"You go ahead," Harry stated. "I want to get started on silent casting."
Ron shared a meaningful look with Hermione before he continued, "Look, mate, you need a break. You need to get out of here. Sirius too. This place is depressing. Heck, I bet Hedwig would rather fly at the Burrow than here in the city with all the pollination in the air."
"Pollution, Ron," Hermione corrected with a face-palm.
Much to Ron's delight, Hedwig suddenly flew and landed on Harry's shoulder. Looking at his familiar for a moment, Harry gave up the argument. "Okay, let's go to the Burrow."
- o -
1995, July 12th, Wednesday, in a Wizarding World...
Tom was quite happy with the latest two employees of the Leaky Cauldron. Shirou and Sakura both seemed willing to perform any task, no matter how mundane. The fact that both of them often did things the muggle way added to their usefulness, as that meant they could work out in the open floor with no issue.
It was strange, though, how they rarely used magic and seemed not to know much about wizarding life; he almost considered them to be squibs. Still, they did perform magic a few times. Activating the entrance to Diagon Alley. Used a customized Muggle-Repelling Charm on said entrance to be self-sustaining, but made tunable so that muggle parents could still go through. And they even added a "Bounded Field" that they claimed to detect ill intent. Tom was skeptical of this at first, until he heard the warning bell ring and saw someone attempting to sneak off with a bottle of wine. That alone made him give the foreigners a deep discount on their stay.
Now, though, the two had presented to him a few dishes to sample. They claimed to be adequate chefs and asked to increase their duties to include cooking. Taking a spoon of the soup they prepared, Tom took a taste.
He was quite happy with these two.
- o -
1995, July 14th, Friday, in a Wizarding World...
Dumbledore retrieved the letter from the owl. Reading the brief contents, he nodded to himself; the sender had agreed to the proposed meeting a few days hence. Putting the parchment down, he reached for the next owl that had arrived and withdrew the Daily Prophet. Looking at the headlines, the headmaster grimaced.
Harry did not have a good history of handling bad press.
- o -
1995, July 15th, Saturday, in a Wizarding World...
"It's the Age of Gods," Rin announced in awe.
Her four companions turned to look at her.
"One, the high level miracles they produce so easily," Rin listed excitedly. "Two, I bet their usage of Latin qualifies as High-Speed Divine Words despite how ridiculous that sounds. Three, the Phantasmal creatures. I think this dimension is still in the Age of Gods, or something close to it."
"That... makes a certain amount of sense," Saber conceded. Sakura went to retrieve one of the many books they brought along from their home dimension.
"So what does that mean?" Shirou asked.
"It means we can learn about honest-to-goodness lost miracles," Rin said excitedly.
"But we can't cast any of this stuff because we're not from the Age of Gods," Shirou responded.
This gave Rin some pause.
"Shirou may be correct. That might explain why we cannot use their wands. Maybe only spellcasters from the Age of Gods can use them," Sakura added. She started flipping through the book looking for relevant sections.
"However," Rider interjected, "the Age of Gods was more than simply magi being able to perform greater Mysteries. It was about gods walking amongst mortals."
She had experience with that.
"Well, I've seen no mention of gods in the books, so maybe they are invisible or posing as rare creatures like this fabled Crumpled-Horn Snorkack," Rin stated. "But you raise a good point."
Sakura made a sound to gain everyone's attention. "Rin, Shirou, have you noticed anything different with your spells?"
"The prana consumption is the same," Shirou responded, "but I noticed I can use Reinforcement much more easily, even on more complex items. And my Projections last longer."
"The same with me," Rin responded. "Same prana cost, but increased effects. Though in the case of supporting Saber, since it's a constant drain, the amount has decreased due to the increased overall effectiveness."
"So, during the Age of Gods," Sakura said, while skimming the book from their home dimension, "the theory is that ether was more prevalent in its existence. That would imply any magecraft we perform should be easier or more effective. I think this counts as additional evidence to your theory, Rin."
"You have forgotten another important aspect," Rider pointed out. "Humanity as a whole was stronger back then, including non-magicals. We should be seeing signs of heroes or some equivalent clue."
"I have not seen anything to suggest that here," Saber stated. "The non-magicals in this world seem the same as ours."
"Alright, how about a partial Age of Gods, where only the magical world is affected?" Rin amended.
"That is a fairly shaky hypothesis," Sakura replied. "Really, Rin, ignoring evidence in front of you so that you can still posit your theory is unlike you."
"Well, we're here to analyze magic, not the world in general. I acknowledge there may be a few holes, but for the time being I'm going forward with this theory. There's too much that matches up to be mere coincidence." Rin thought for a moment before grimacing. "But even though we're better here than at home, we're still not good enough to use Age of Gods magic," she groaned in frustration and jealousy. "That means all the wizards and witches in this world have so much more potential than us."
"Actually, now that I think about it some more, I change my mind," Shirou responded. Everyone turned to look at him. "I can use Noble Phantasms from the Age of Gods."
"Isn't that a just a special property of your Tracing? You lose this ability once the Noble Phantasm disappears. I'd rather not have to 'change modes' whenever I want to cast a particular spell; that sounds way too much like your idiotic nerve Circuits."
"The point is that the potential to use Age of Gods magic is in us. I'm guessing that it's just harder for us to achieve compared to actual spellcasters from that time period," Shirou explained.
Rin snapped her fingers. "Shirou, Trace a wand and its history. Then you can use it and explain to us how it works!"
"I tried, but I can only do weapons and armor," Shirou answered.
"But you can Trace Rule Breaker. That's not a real weapon," Rin complained.
"Actually, it counts as a weapon. And you don't need to cast a spell to use Rule Breaker. You just think of what magical binding you want to break and stab. It fulfills the concept of 'inflict damage with sharp or pointy section' which is enough to be a weapon."
"Ugh, okay, so what, do we have to find a wand that's also a physical weapon? Sharpen it up to a wooden point so that in addition to acting as a wand, it can also be used to stab people? Duct tape a table knife to it?"
"Not really. I've actually thought about this. Without getting down to the details, the short answer is that I probably won't be able to cast spells even if we found some sort of strange sword-wand combination thingy in this universe. I mean, I can Trace your specific Azoth dagger, and I gain some of your knowledge and abilities with it. But I definitely do not gain your spellcasting experience with it."
"Argh, damnit. Well, there goes that deus ex machina," Rin pouted.
"But back to my point," Shirou pressed on. "I think the potential exists in us."
"So, with the aid of the right Mystic Code or - in Shirou's case - Noble Phantasm, it might be possible for us three to use Age of Gods magic," Sakura theorized. "Though it might be limited in its versatility when compared to the wands of these wizards and witches."
"This means we can either spend our time here researching and documenting the magic used by the locals - which is our assigned task, by the way - or we can potentially waste our time attempting to craft Mystic Codes in hopes of allowing us to actually perform said magic based on what is essentially flimsy conjecture," Rin summarized. "Which is nearly impossible, since I am sure there have been many magi back home who have tried this exact same method to reproduce Mysteries from the Age of Gods."
A period of silence permeated the group, before it was broken by Sakura. "You can do it, Nee-chan".
Rin blinked in surprise.
"If anyone can make that Mystic Code," Shirou encouraged with a sincere smile, "it would be you, Rin."
Blushing, Rin turned to the side. "We-well, of course I can. It's about time you recognized my genius!"
Ten years, and yet that reaction was still cute as hell.
- o -
1995, July 17th, Monday, in a Wizarding World...
One particular early morning had Harry stumbling through the floo into Dumbledore's office. Recovering with as much dignity as he could, he looked around. The headmaster sat at his desk, and a severe woman with grey hair and a monocle sat on the opposite side. Fawkes perched at his usual spot gazing at Harry steadily.
"Hello, Harry. Good of you to come by," Dumbledore greeted cheerfully.
"Hello, Professor," Harry returned before examining the other person more closely. Her posture and bearing reminded Harry of McGonagall though this woman was younger than the Transfiguration professor. Her robes were of quality and seemed official in some manner.
"Harry, allow me to introduce the director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Madame Amelia Bones. Director Bones, this is Harry Potter," Dumbledore introduced.
"Uh, hello Director Bones. Nice to meet you," Harry greeted nervously. His eyes darted to Dumbledore while he wondered if perhaps he was going to get in trouble for Underage Magic with his training the past two weeks.
"Hello, Mr. Harry Potter," Amelia returned cordially. "You probably know my niece, Susan? I believe she is in your year."
"Oh, in Hufflepuff? Yes..." Harry trailed off. Susan Bones was one of the many Hufflepuff students who wore the "Potter Stinks" badges in a show of loyalty to Cedric.
Amelia raised an eyebrow. "That does not look like an entirely happy expression. Do you find Susan disagreeable for some reason?"
"No, no!" Harry replied much too hurriedly. At Amelia's suspicious expression, Harry's mind raced to find a something that would appease the woman. "Susan and I have never really talked with each other, honestly."
Amelia Bones did not get to her station without knowing how to take the measure of a person, and so she knew without a doubt the young man was hiding something. Before she could continue interrogating him, though, Dumbledore interrupted with a slight cough. "Please allow me to explain why I asked you both to be here. You see, Harry, I would like your permission to show the memory you gave me to Director Bones. And afterwards, if you could answer any questions the Director may have, that would be most appreciated," Dumbledore said.
Harry turned back to Amelia, losing all of his nervousness. "You believe us?" he asked in surprise and anticipation.
Amelia looked at Harry carefully again. "I am very interested in this memory," she responded neutrally.
"I shall take your eagerness as permission, Harry," Dumbledore said. "You may of course join us if you wish though it is completely understandable if you would rather stay here."
"I can watch it," Harry replied. He already had nightmares of the incident several times, so he concluded that watching it again should not hurt. Modern psychology on post-traumatic stress syndrome suggests that this is the completely wrong thing to do since this would be reinforcement of the events. But hey, Gryffindors charge forward and all that.
Soon enough, the three entered the memory to witness the conversation between Harry and Cedric before they touched the cup that fateful evening. After watching the entirety of the graveyard events, the three returned to the room with much more somber moods. Dumbledore allowed for a few moments of silence as he quietly poured tea for everyone.
Amelia spoke first. "I am sorry, Mr. Potter, that you had to go through that. I would like to also commend you on your bravery and quick thinking."
"It wasn't enough," Harry muttered to himself.
"What do you mean?" she inquired.
Harry looked away in shame. "Cedric still died."
Amelia frowned. "Listen. The one who trapped you two was Barty Crouch Jr. The one who killed Cedric was that hooded man."
"And the one who failed to protect Cedric was me," Harry finished.
"No, Harry," Dumbledore corrected. "The one who failed to protect Cedric was me." A weary sigh. "It is the responsibility of the school to take care of its students, not yours. There is no reason for you to have any culpability regarding this." Sensing that Harry would prefer the conversation to move away from feelings of guilt, Dumbledore guided the meeting forward. "Director Bones, if you have any questions, please ask."
"Very well," Amelia said. "What was the phenomenon when the wands locked together? Avada Kedavra is unblockable. Was that an effect unique to Harry Potter being the Boy Who Lived, or is there an actual way to block a properly cast Killing Curse?"
"An excellent question," Dumbledore responded. "Allow me to answer it. That phenomenon is called Priori Incantatem which occurs when two brother wands cast against each other. This is a very rare effect. Both Voldemort's wand and Harry's wand have cores made from the same source. In their case, phoenix feathers from Fawkes."
"Why would this be a rare effect? Any two wands from the same creature should cause this to occur. We should be seeing this more often if, say, two wands were made from the hairs of the same unicorn," Amelia asked.
"Hmm..." Dumbledore mused for a bit before suddenly struck by an idea. "Perhaps 'brother wands' is poor phrasing though I believe that is the actual nomenclature in standard wand-making literature. Allow me to give an analogy. You see, when a man meets a woman, after some time they can have a child."
Amelia and Harry looked at the headmaster with a bit of trepidation, wondering what type of lecture can start with that particular line.
"Now, if the same man and woman have a second child, well, the second child is usually different. The facial structure, height, eye color, etc. Even gender could be different. Yet why is that? The sources of the genes are the same in the case of both children. So why would two instances of the same gene sources result in two different children? It is an everyday phenomenon, yet it is actually thought-provoking if you do not know the cause."
"I believe muggles have actually researched this process to a high degree," Amelia allowed. "But I think I understand your intention with this analogy. What you are suggesting, then, is that occasionally it is possible for two children to be physically the same. It is unusual, but identical twins do exist. And analogously, two cores from the same source are brothers, but on occasion they are also twins."
"Precisely," Dumbledore confirmed with a smile. "So perhaps the best way to describe Priori Incantatem is when two twin wands cast against each other, not brother wands. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, wand-makers use 'brother wands' as the standard nomenclature."
Amelia considered the tactical ramifications of this. It would be trivial to ask Ollivander for the information on the wand cores of the known Death Eaters; he somehow remembered everything of that sort. However, finding a twin core would still be difficult considering how rare they form. That being said... "Could Fawkes give us another twin feather? Or perhaps it should be called triplet feather. Having another wand that can lock up Voldemort would be extremely handy."
In response, Fawkes trilled a note of sadness.
"Well, it was worth a shot," Amelia sighed. Continuing, she asked, "Now, not only is this the resurrection of Voldemort, but the memory shows the identities of several Death Eaters. There were a few that I do not recognize, admittedly."
Of course! Harry berated himself for not thinking this earlier. "The one who performed the ritual was Peter Pettigrew! I can show you another memory that shows Sirius is innocent. And if you have Veritaserum, we can get-"
"Harry," Dumbledore interrupted. "Please be aware that the standing order to have Sirius Black Kissed on sight is still in effect. If Director Bones were to somehow learn of his current whereabouts or any possible leads, then she would be obligated to follow through with Ministry Law."
Wait... that... is he even trying to hide any secrets?
Processing this new knowledge instantly, Amelia turned to Dumbledore in confirmation. "Is this true?"
Dumbledore merely nodded gravely. "Harry had tried to convince Minister Fudge of this, but to no avail. Perhaps you would be willing to investigate with a more open mind?"
"Alright, we can view that memory in a bit if Harry is willing. For now, I'd like some more clarification regarding why Voldemort felt the need to physically touch Harry. I heard what he said, but perhaps you two can shed some more light?"
"Oh," Harry responded. "We think he was proving that he can get around my mother's blood protection."
"Right. Do you know the specifics of this protection? Would we be able to reproduce it? Can we place it on someone else? I doubt Voldemort will make another body just to negate the protection yet again."
"I don't know. All I know is that it's how I survived the Killing Curse as a baby. And it protected me first year when Voldemort touched me."
"First year?" Amelia asked.
"Right. First year he possessed Professor Quirrell, and when he touched me he burst into flames."
Amelia looked at Harry. Then she turned to Dumbledore.
- o -
At the same time that morning, Sakura finished her morning magical and physical exercises alongside her companions.
Eight years ago, after the defeat of Matou Zouken, Sakura joined Rin and Shirou for magical training. However, given Shirou's future lifestyle, anyone within his circle would need to have practical combat skills on top of Rin's strict requirements on magical prowess. Despite retaining Rider, Sakura did not want to be helpless in a life and death struggle, so she commenced combat training as well. While not at the same level as Rin nor Shirou, she could honestly claim to contribute positively in a battle situation.
After completing her cooldown breathing exercises, Sakura left their training room which was originally one of the bedrooms. Rin and Saber took to bathing first, while Shirou started breakfast. Sakura began clearing the dining table of various study materials. One particular sheet of paper caught Sakura's eye; it summarized Rin's assignments that they had discussed the previous evening:
- Rider: Magical Combat (practical), Gods / Age of Gods
- Saber: Magical Combat (practical), Wizard Law
- Shirou: Transfiguration, Potions, Mystic Code Crafting
- Sakura: Charms, Bounded Fields, Healing Magic
- Rin: All of the above, Spellcasting
The task list reflected the talents of each of the off-worlders. While Saber and Rider could not cast spells, they could do enough research to distill the knowledge to practicals for the other three magi. Having trained together for so long, everyone was familiar with everyone else's style of combat.
Rin would then learn everything based on the findings of the others in addition to researching a way to allow the three magi to cast the magic of this world. Everyone recognized Rin's genius, so no one doubted her ability to handle such a difficult load.
This left out a few of the topics that was covered by Hogwarts, the preeminent educational institution in this world. Astronomy was of no interest since it apparently did not involve aliens. Herbology and Magical Creatures would most likely be sufficiently covered with a purchase of an encyclopedia on each topic. Divination sounded vague and uncertain in the course description; only Shirou had a passing interest in the field. The magical aspect of arithmancy would be learned alongside the theory behind Charms and Transfiguration; the non-magical aspect barely touched upon trigonometry.
Runes apparently had no practical use in this dimension aside from ciphering; the basic Runic Magic that Rin had learned (and taught to Sakura) would be a complete surprise to the spellcasters of this world.
Finished with her cleaning, Sakura began setting the table with Rider's help. Shirou soon brought out servings for the three of them. With Sakura's and Shirou's work shift starting before long, they ate ahead of the others.
- o -
The three left the Pensieve at the end of Harry's memory of his first year altercation. Unlike the somberness that the memory of the graveyard brought about, this time Amelia struggled to contain her fury. "Dumbledore, why has no one been notified of this?" she hissed.
The headmaster calmly walked to his desk as he answered, "That would have caused unnecessary pressure to be placed on Harry."
"Unnecessary pressure? That's your excuse?" Amelia demanded.
Dumbledore picked up a copy of the Daily Prophet before sitting down. "In the end, we had a dead body, and Harry's word as to what happened. Now, to put it crudely, this year is the same: we have a dead body and only Harry's word." He then held the headlines for the other two in the room to see:
The Boy Who Lies? - by Rita Skeeter
"From what Harry told me at the end of first year, Voldemort's shade had disappeared. While there may have been a possibility of him returning - after all, he did it once already - there was no proof after Quirrell passed away. And with no proof, I concluded that no one would listen to us. Given Fudge's reaction now, I firmly believe my decision was correct. This article is not the worst of them, though we may perhaps be happy that the esteemed Skeeter has not published further on this topic."
Amelia closed her eyes as she pinched the arch of her nose in frustration. She had a responsibility to uphold the law, but at the same time she saw Dumbledore's point.
"The difference between then and now," Dumbledore continued, "is that Voldemort is actually back this time which is why we are trying to announce this to the world. However, Fudge refuses to even see this memory, so I am trying my best to discretely work around him."
"Why discretely?" Harry asked.
The headmaster turned toward Harry. "Politics, unfortunately. If word gets around that I am showing your memory indiscriminately, the persons within the memory, such as Lucius Malfoy, would have sufficient standing to accuse both you and me for character defamation. Not only would this force me to stop, we could also be brought to trial."
"But the memory should be evidence," Harry pointed out.
"Ah, Pensieve memories are not viable as evidence in our courts. It is similar to the legal standing of Veritaserum..." Dumbledore trailed off for a second before turning to Amelia. "Perhaps, Director Bones, if you could educate Harry on this matter. I believe the lesson would be better received if it came from you."
Amelia decided to humor the request, if only to give her a minute to calm down. "Both Pensieve memories and Veritaserum can be fooled. An individual with strong enough mental defenses would be able to create false memories or lie through the truth serum. Using either of these two in court would set bad precedents as well have unintended consequences."
"But couldn't they be used as supporting evidence?" Harry asked.
"We do in the sense that we use Veritaserum during the course of an actual investigation. Pensieves, on the other hand, are exceedingly rare; the entire Ministry only has one, and the Department of Mysteries is most reluctant with parting with it. Both of these tools, however, are inadmissible in actual court for very good reasons," Amelia responded. "As an example, do you know about Lucius Malfoy's trial at the end of the previous war?"
"You mean how he lied and claimed to be under the Imperius curse while bribing his way through the courts?"
Amelia favored Harry a dry look. "I suppose you of all people have the right to speak in such a frank manner. Now, imagine how differently it would have turned out if Lucius took Veritaserum and successfully overcame the drug?"
Harry thought for a few moments before conceding. "Everyone would have believed him."
"Correct, his standing would be much more unassailable instead of the suspicions some have now," Amelia confirmed. "To be truthful, Mr. Potter, there are many wizards and witches who think Veritaserum should be admissible in courts. It would allow us to correctly prosecute in many cases, but it would also allow those of high mental strength to escape. The same with Pensieve memories."
Harry nodded in understanding. He was beginning to realize just how inexperienced he was in the legal arena, when his entire goal was to simply tell the world that Voldemort was back.
"Thank you, Director," Dumbledore said with a smile. "If you ever decide to retire from the DMLE, by all means we could use you as a Professor of the DADA."
"Don't try to charm me, Dumbledore," Amelia snapped. "Covering up a death is not to be taken lightly, no matter the extenuating circumstances. You may feel vindicated given the current events, but from my perspective you flagrantly disregarded the law. We will be talking about this later."
Dumbledore nodded in weary acceptance.
"Now then, back to my original question," Amelia stated. "I realize this is a slight chance at best, but is there a way to duplicate the blood protections on Harry?"
"No, for two reasons. One, someone would need to sacrifice his or her life. Two, no one knows what Lily Potter actually did that evening," Dumbledore answered.
The questions from Director Bones kept firing at a rapid pace for several hours which admittedly kept Harry off balance for quite some time. On the bright side, Harry felt that at least they had made progress. Given the shadow over his present life, Harry valued any ray of light, no matter how small.
- o -
That afternoon, Hermione waited patiently at a table in the Leaky Cauldron, jotting down notes from a book on Ancient Runes. With Harry meeting with the headmaster, Ron was forced to stay home by his mother to perform chores. Despite the lack of company of her two friends, Hermione had spent the day under the tutorship of Remus and Sirius to further her own preparations for the OWLs. Since her parents worked during the day, she felt it reasonable to enjoy the company of fellow wizards and witches.
Today, though, Hermione had decided to leave the tutoring an hour earlier than normal to indulge in the new cuisine of the Leaky Cauldron. Tom had given some samples out earlier in the morning, and she absolutely had to return for a full meal.
If Ron ever found out she cut her studying in order to eat, she'd never hear the end of it.
Nonetheless, Hermione was so concentrated on her studies that she did not notice the waitress arriving until she heard the soft thud of the steaming bowl of soba noodles. Hermione looked up at her server only to stare momentarily in shock. "By Merlin, your hair is gorgeous!"
"Thank you," the waitress replied with a smile.
"I'm sorry. That was rude and sudden of me," Hermione apologized. "It's just that I have never seen natural purple hair before."
"Ah, it is not natural," the waitress clarified. She glanced down at the runes written down on parchment before answering. "It is a result of a magical phenomenon."
"Oh, I see," Hermione said, glad to know whether or not her conversation partner was a witch. Or at least aware of the wizarding world. "Thank you for the food."
"You are welcome. I apologize for disturbing your studies."
"Oh, it's alright. I'm just translating this passage into runes. This exercise is good practice for the OWLs."
"Ordinary Wizarding Levels," Hermione answered. Seeing the confusion, she explained, "Standardized testing for wizards near the age of fifteen."
"Ah, I see. Please forgive my ignorance, for I am a foreigner traveling these parts. I am merely working here for the time being." The waitress glanced at the parchment of runes again. "May I ask what you are translating?"
"It's a passage from Beowulf."
She frowned as she examined at the runes before looking up at Hermione. "Are you required to do so with the Scandinavian variant of Elder Futhark? Or do you use the continental variant?"
Hermione froze at the question. This... was something of which she had never learned. "Uh, Scandinavian variant?"
The waitress used her index finger to trace the Hagalaz (ᚺ) rune in mid-air, glowing blue and white in color. The precursor to the capital 'H' character, Hagalaz had a slanted middle line which went downwards from left to right instead of the straight horizontal line.
"The Scandinavian variant only uses a single bar to connect to two vertical lines," she explained. She then made an additional slanted bar, making a ᚻ. "The continental variant uses a double bar. I thought perhaps you may wish to use the Scandinavian variant since Beowulf is from that region."
Hermione stared transfixed at the mid-air rune which somehow seemed to be pulsating with power, waiting to be unleashed. She had never seen someone drawing runes in such a fashion. And the waitress did it without a wand! Granted, she had seen many wondrous things since entering Hogwarts, but this runic character hovering in the air radiated... coldness?
"Furthermore," the waitress continued, "the original Beowulf manuscript was written in the more recent Anglo-Frisian futhorc, not Elder Futhark. It seems odd that you are translating 'back to' a runic system that the original manuscript was not even written in. That being said, the actual story of Beowulf takes place in the 6th century during King Hrothgar's reign which in that time Elder Futhark was still used. You are clearly using Elder Futhark, and thus not limited to the modern conventions of Anglo-Frisian futhorc. As for Hagalaz, the double-bar variant only evolved during the 7th century for Anglo-Frisian futhorc. Before that, the rune only had a single bar."
Hermione snapped out of her daze, switching from staring at the seemingly magical floating rune to staring at the incredibly knowledgeable waitress. "I'm sorry, we never learned the Scandinavians had a different variant of Elder Futhark. I assumed it was a simple variation of writing the same character." She immediately started taking notes about what she just learned. "Are there any other runes with variations? And what you just did with that rune... it's not just a drawn character, right? I can feel the magic in it. Does it do anything else? How did you draw it wandlessly?"
The waitress smiled... mischievously? She then touched the hovering rune, somehow dissipating it as well as the chill in the air. "Ah, I apologize. I seem to be keeping you from your meal. Please enjoy!" she said brightly before suddenly turning away.
"Wait. Wait! Argh." Grrr. Hermione was certain the waitress did that on purpose! She swore to get more answers out of the waitress the next time she comes around.
- o -
After several hours of questioning along with the viewing of the memory concerning Sirius's innocence, the meeting with Director Bones eventually lost its momentum.
"Well, I think we all have much to think about after today's enlightening discussion," Dumbledore stated.
"Indeed," Amelia responded neutrally. Looking at the headmaster, she narrowed her eyes slightly. "However, I gather from your expression that you have more to share with us."
"Yes. Yes, there is." Turning to the third person in the room, he said, "Harry, during your first year, you asked why Voldemort is interested in you."
He nodded in acknowledgement. Interested was an understatement.
"I said, back then, that I felt you should be free of this knowledge so that you can enjoy your youth." Dumbledore sighed heavily. "But Voldemort's return has forced the issue, and you have demonstrated your ability to handle... dire situations, as it were."
Dumbledore paused to sip his cup of tea while the other two waited impatiently.
"Before you were born, Harry, a prophecy was made. 'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies.' And Voldemort knows of this prophecy."
"What?!" Harry and Amelia exclaimed simultaneously.
"And yes, the one that the prophecy refers to is Harry."
"But... That... I..." Harry trailed off in shock. "What?!"
"I am very sorry, Harry," Dumbledore apologized solemnly and sincerely.
Dumbledore and Amelia felt the hum of magical energy surge around Harry. The cups and plates of the tea set cracked from the outburst. Several of the metal whirring contraptions on a shelf spun erratically.
"What the bloody hell is this supposed to mean?!"
The metal contraptions burst and fizzled in small puff of sparks and smoke. Unweighted papers started floating in various directions from the the spontaneous winds circling the room.
"I have to kill Voldemort?!"
"But he did that already."
The floating papers dropped, and the contraptions stopped whirring. Both Dumbledore and Harry turned to Amelia who had just spoken. Harry's tirade came to a halt as he processed what she just suggested. Amelia calmly continued, "Fourteen years ago, Voldemort was vanquished though not permanently, I suppose. Does that fulfill the prophecy?"
The visage Dumbledore wore did not bode well. "That was my first thought as well after that evening. However, when I double-checked the Hall of Prophecies, I found the orb still there and active. And, there is more."
"More?" Harry repeated, falling back into his seat.
"Indeed. That is only the first portion of the prophecy."
Harry waited for the rest, wondering how else fate can screw him over.
"Harry," the headmaster continued. "I believe we should wait before you learn the rest."
"What? Why?" Harry demanded.
Dumbledore raised his hands in conciliation. "Please, Harry, allow me to explain. I ask that you trust me; I will tell you the entire prophecy. The mitigating factor is that Voldemort only knows the portion that I have just revealed. He more than likely wants to gain knowledge of the remaining contents now that you've bested him after his resurrection."
"So, you want me to keep it a secret?" Harry asked, thinking of his friends and Sirius.
"I would like you to, but that decision is yours after you learn the entirety. No, what I am suggesting is that Voldemort may find a means to obtain that knowledge from you."
Harry frowned in confusion and frustration. "You think he'll strap me down and give me Veritaserum? Wouldn't he just kill me instead?"
It was a measure of his experiences that Harry could speak so casually of his own murder.
"Legilimency," Amelia stated. He turned to her in question whereupon she answered, "The art of mind reading."
Dumbledore further explained, "Correct. Earlier, we spoke of mental defenses, strong enough to resist Veritaserum. This defense, known as Occlumency, is also used to guard your thoughts against external mental probes and attacks. I would like you to learn Occlumency before I tell you the remainder of the prophecy. Voldemort may have spies anywhere; Crouch Jr. and Pettigrew have demonstrated this. While Legilimency is admittedly not commonly known, I have no doubt he has followers who are willing to perform the deplorable act of violating the minds of others."
Harry honestly did not know what to think or feel anymore. The day had been exhausting in of itself - in a good way - and then he got blind-sided by a freaking prophecy of all things tying him to Voldemort, and if that wasn't enough now he had to deal with mind readers. What's next? Spiritual possession or something? No, wait, that already happened to Ginny.
But seriously, can this get any worse?
"I shall have Professor Snape tutor you in Occlumency."
#%$! #$^ *(#$ #$$# ^#
- o -
"I hope you enjoyed your meal," the purple-haired waitress said sincerely as she picked up the empty bowl.
"It was delicious," Hermione answered but then hesitated. While earlier she had decided to grill the waitress with more questions, over the course of the meal Hermione's resolve wavered. On the one hand, she had realized one simply cannot demand another witch to explain their magics. On the other hand, passing up an opportunity to learn something new went against her modus operandi.
"Is there anything else?" the waitress asked with a knowing smile.
Asking politely is technically polite, right? Nevermind that she was justifying her behavior with tautologies; there was knowledge to obtain!
"What you did earlier, drawing the rune in the air..."
"You had done more than simply draw a character, right?"
The smile turned mischievous again. "Perhaps."
Hermione paused awkwardly, unsure how to proceed. The other witch clearly found this entire situation amusing, and Hermione doubted pestering the waitress with countless questions would help in obtaining any more information. Perhaps she could offer a big tip to bribe her?
The waitress, though, apparently decided to make the decision for her. Pulling a clean napkin from her apron, she placed it flat on the table. Using her finger, she traced the Sowilo (ᛊ) rune into it; this time the lightning-shaped character appeared in yellow and orange. After two seconds, the entire napkin glowed a soft yellow. Making a random object glow magically really was not that impressive given all the wonders of magic Hermione had already seen. It can be done with a charm or even dousing the object with a potion. However, to do so with a rune was a concept completely foreign to her.
Next, the waitress flipped the napkin over and traced the Sowilo rune again into the napkin, but this time the character appeared in orange and red. And maybe the angles were sharper? She released the napkin, whereupon it burst into flames a few seconds later.
Hermione furrowed her eyebrows in thought. The same rune can have multiple effects? Sowilo symbolized the sun, so that explained the glowing effect. Changing the color of the rune produces a fire effect? Or was it a combination of both the color and the angle of the line segments? Had she missed any other variables? Placement location? Stroke length? Was it normally silent, or was there an incantation and the waitress performed silent casting?
More importantly, why had she never seen something like this before? Hogwarts taught runes mainly to decipher ancient texts, as many old manuscripts were written before modern English. This included older spell books, literature, manuals, and - quite importantly - law records. However, runes themselves had no inherent magical property, as far as she knew.
Hermione looked up at the waitress who was smiling softly. "How?" she asked.
"Magic has many forms," the waitress replied evasively.
- o -
"I take it you have reinstated your merry little band?" Amelia Bones inquired.
Harry had missed some of the conversation due to his stewing in anger at having learned of his forthcoming tutorship under Snape. He vaguely recalled giving permission for the headmaster to tell the entire prophecy to the director since she apparently already knew Occlumency. However, the tone that Amelia just used brought his attention back to the meeting. She had asked the question casually, but Harry felt an underlying razor edge to it.
Dumbledore's pause spoke volumes.
"With the current stance the Ministry is taking at large, it would be difficult to find cooperation from there in our efforts to thwart Voldemort," he answered carefully.
"How diplomatic," Amelia voiced dryly.
Harry's eyes darted between the two formidable figures, unaware of the reason behind the tension. He had never seen the headmaster hesitate so much previous to this meeting; at the same time, the director's demeanor toward Dumbledore was unique. Most everyone Harry knew respected the venerable wizard. The professors expressed their thoughts and occasional disagreements but always accepted his decisions. As for those who opposed him, Voldemort had mocking condescension whereas Lucius Malfoy had an aristocratic disdain. Fudge... well Fudge was an idiot so he didn't matter. Amelia Bones however had the ability to hold her own opinions, some of which agreed with Dumbledore and some of which clearly did not, but most importantly she did not yield.
"Amelia..." Dumbledore began. "Edgar-"
"So will you be sending underage wizards to their deaths, this time?"
Dumbledore drew in his breath before responding. "Would it placate you if I promise not to recruit any underage wizards into the Order?" he offered.
Amelia kept her gaze steady on the headmaster but otherwise said nothing. Harry, sensing the situation going nowhere quickly, decided to interrupt the standstill with a question. "Order...?" he asked. Both adults turned their attentions onto Harry whereupon he realized just what a bad idea it was to interrupt a standstill between these two formidable individuals.
"The Order of the Phoenix, Harry," Dumbledore supplied. A pause before he continued, "You see, there is a reason why the wizarding world is afraid to even say Voldemort's name: it is not an exaggeration to say that most everyone who stood up against him perished. This includes many aurors, Ministry workers, and the common wizard and witch who bravely fought back against the Death Eaters. With such devastating losses to our side, I saw a need to rally what allies I could find to fight back."
"And thus, the self-appointed vigilante group known as the Order of the Phoenix was formed," Amelia interrupted. "With moles and spies in the Ministry, including the Aurors and Voldemort's followers as well, this independent group took the law into their own hands and made itself another faction in the War."
"That... is another perspective, I suppose," Dumbledore admitted.
Harry's eyebrows furrowed in thought. "My father and mother were in this Order, weren't they?"
"Indeed, they were. Out of respect for anonymity, I shall remain silent on the identities of other members as it is not exactly safe to be a publicly known opponent of Voldemort."
"Were Sirius and Peter Pettigrew also in the Order?" Harry asked despite the headmaster's statement.
"I suppose it would not harm anyone to reveal that yes they were as well. Though of course Peter's membership is, shall we say, revoked," Dumbledore answered while stroking his beard.
"But if Pettigrew was in it, that would mean Voldemort already knows everyone that's in the Order," Harry concluded.
Dumbledore suddenly stopped stroking his beard.
Amelia raised an eyebrow at Harry.
"If you would do me a favor, Harry, and not mention this particular part of the conversation to Miss Granger. It fills me with regret that I am affirming her claim that wizards do not possess 'an ounce of logic' in them," Dumbledore finally allowed. "I must remember to remind the current members of Alastor's modus operandi: constant vigilance."
"I suppose you have re-enlisted Alastor," Amelia half stated, half inquired.
"Indeed, I have. While I did just state I would keep identities secret, I will not insult you, Director, by trying to hide this particular fact. Forgive me if I dissuade any attempts to re-enlist him back into the Aurors."
"Wait," Harry interrupted. His thoughts raced around. "You mean Professor Moody? The real Moody?"
"Yes, Harry. It will be to my eternal shame to have been fooled by Crouch for so long."
"Err.. right. What I meant was whether or not the real one was supposed to be a professor, or was it Crouch who agreed to teach?"
Dumbledore regarded Harry curiously. "It was indeed the actual Alastor Moody who agreed to the DADA position though that was last year. Crouch had... interfered between Alastor's acceptance and the start of the school year. However, with Voldemort back, Alastor prefers not to have obligations tying him down at Hogwarts, so he will not be returning this upcoming year to teach if that is your concern."
"No, not that. If he actually agreed to teach students, then would he be willing to teach me Occlumency?" Harry asked hopefully.
"I am afraid, Harry, that your request would not be appropriate. While I am certain Alastor Moody of all people in the world would know Occlumency, he is still recovering from his ordeal. Being imprisoned in such a confined space can be very traumatic."
Harry stared at the headmaster in incredulity, before his expression turned nearly into a snarl. "I know," he growled out.
"That... was a poor choice of words on my part. I apologize."
"I seem to be missing some context," Amelia interjected, drawing the attention of the other two.
Harry held Dumbledore's gaze for a few seconds before turning to Amelia. "It's something between the two of us."
Amelia's eyes narrowed. One does not simply tell the Director of Magical Law Enforcement to butt out.
Dumbledore coughed slightly. "We seem to have wandered off topic. Back to your request, Harry, I do not believe Alastor would be up to the task at the moment."
- o -
1995, July 18th, Tuesday, in a Wizarding World...
"Moody!" Sirius exclaimed in surprise.
"Black," the grizzled auror responded as he stomped out of the Floo fireplace. He turned his head left, right, up, and down while he magical eye turned in the opposite directions.
"What are you doing here?" Sirius asked. While Dumbledore had asked to use Twelve Grimmauld Place as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius had not actually hosted a meeting yet. The first meeting actually took place at Hogwarts two weeks ago.
"Going to teach Harry Occlumency."
"Wait, I thought Snape was going to teach. Not that I'm complaining, mind you."
Alastor snorted. "As if I would let a Death Eater look into the mind of the Boy-Who-Lived. 'Former' my bloody arse. Don't know what Albus was thinking."
"Honored Guest want so-AHHH!" Dobby screamed as he realized a wand was aimed between his eyes. In response, his arms snapped up in the classic surrender pose which incidentally sent the tea, teacup, and plate in his hand flying behind him.
"Damnit Moody, stop scaring the elf," Sirius admonished.
Before Alastor could respond, however, Dobby flung himself head first into the stonework making up the fireplace. "Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby for making mess on floor. Dobby be punishing himself!" The elf then made good on his word and repeatedly smashed his head against the stone.
Alastor immediately spun with his wand which had been pointing at Dobby, and sent a Cutting Charm at the ropes flying at him from the entrance to the adjacent room. He next shielded against the follow up Stunning Charm before sending his own Incarcerous spell out.
At said room entrance, Harry defended himself identically, cutting the ropes flying at him. "What did you do to Dobby?!" he demanded, wand still pointed at the former auror.
"I did nothing!" Alastor answered. "Do you always cast first before asking questions?"
"You had your wand pointed at him!"
"He surprised me, so I treated him as a threat!"
"He's slamming his head against the fireplace. How is that a threat?"
"He Apparated right next to me! Elves don't do that."
"Dobby is bad elf!" Dobby wailed.
"Dobby, stop punishing yourself!"
"Will you be silent!" a certain painting made itself known. "It is bad enough you blood-traitors are tainting my home with your filthy presence, but must I also suffer this infernal racket? For shame, to be cursed with such a horde of plebeian squatters..."
"You're complaining to us about making a racket?" Sirius asked incredulously.
"Dobby is sorry, Great Harry Potter Sir!" the elf declared, tears sliding down his face.
"Harry, what's go-" Hermione cut herself off when she entered the room and noticed Harry's wand trained on Moody. She immediately scrambled to get her wand out of her pocket. "Polyjuice? Metamorphmagus? Glamour?" she belted out the possibilities that came to mind. "Confundus? Imperius? Artificial body made from bone of father and blood of enemy?"
Everyone including the painting of Walpurga Black looked at her askance.
"Okay, everyone, calm down," Sirius declared. "Put your wands away, we're all friends here. Well, aside from Mum."
Nobody did so.
Sighing, he began explaining the sequence of events of the previous sixty seconds.
- o -
1995, July 28th, Friday, in a Wizarding World...
"We need a better long-term solution to living here," Rin declared. "Sakura and Shirou can only earn so much in the Leaky Cauldron, and we really need to find someone willing to share notes about their magic."
"The latter sounds ironic coming from a magus," Rider commented.
"We're not looking for powerful secrets... yet. For now, we need a basic understanding of their magecraft, beyond what we've read in books. While we can duplicate many of the effects, we clearly are not enacting the Mysteries through the same methodologies. Regardless, I'm more worried about logistics. Not only do we need funds, we will also need to establish viable workshops if we are going to stay here for years."
"Should we stay in a magical community?" Shirou mused.
"Yes," Rin answered definitively. "We have less risk of exposing thaumaturgy to non-magicals, and it will let us observe the spellcasters here much more easily."
"I have only heard of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade as full magical communities," Saber said. "Of the two, I would choose here as we will have easy access to London if we require resources from the non-magical side." After three weeks of observation, it was quite clear that the magical society of this dimension had a very large separation from the non-magical society.
"Actually, Hogsmeade may be better," Sakura interjected. "Next to it is Hogwarts, and I have an idea that may work. However, it involves all of us bluffing since the residents here are potentially of the Age of Gods and we are not."
- o -
"Minerva?" Dumbledore's face appeared in the fireplace.
"Yes, Albus?" McGonagall answered from the sitting chair of her living room, teacup in hand.
"If you could stop by for a few minutes, I just received a most peculiar owl."
After drinking the remaining tea in her cup, the Transfiguration professor stood and straightened her robe. Taking some Floo powder, she tossed it into her fireplace. "Hogwarts Headmaster's Office," she enunciated clearly. McGonagall entered Dumbledore's office through the Floo connection and came upon an unusual sight.
Dumbledore was bent over peering closely at a small bird while poking it with a stick. The bird shifted its body away and tried to bite the stick.
Really, why do these things still surprise her?
Walking up to his desk, she realized the owl was actually artificial in nature. Donning her glasses, she examined the owl more closely. "Carved and animated gemstone. It is hollow to increase the overall volume, but the mass is unchanged from the original gem. Does not seem as advanced as Piertotum Locomotor. Better than OWL level Transfiguration, pun not intended. The attention to detail is of high, but certainly nothing amazing by your or my standards."
Dumbledore stopped prodding it and turned to his deputy headmistress, eyes twinkling madly. "Do you have any other comments about it?"
Sighing at the headmaster's obvious I-know-something-funny-that-you-do-not expression, McGonagall tapped her wand on the owl. "Specialis Revelio." She frowned at the information gained from the spell. "This was transfigured from a topaz gem. But I am having difficulty seeing the exact spells used." She paused to process some more information. "Wait," she said, looking at glowing runes inscribed on the back. "Are these runes magical? Odal (ᛟ), Laguz (ᛚ), and Raido (ᚱ)."
"Heritage, Water, and Journey. I do believe the runes are some form of enchantment," Dumbledore theorized, shaking his head in amazement. "Truly magic is wondrous. My interpretation is that this owl belongs to the caster in a magically binding fashion, thus Heritage. It is intended to travel, thus Journey. And the Laguz rune for Water symbolizes life. In this case, the life of the caster."
"The caster's life essence is imbued into this?" she half stated, half asked. Part of her mind still fixated on the idea of magical runes.
"Not quite. I theorize it is analogous to the magical portraits."
"That... is certainly more advanced than I had originally considered. 'Analogous,' you say? Then that means this does not actually contain a full copy of the caster's personality?"
"I do not think so. Though if it did, the ramifications of such magics would be enormous. In any case, the message explains well enough."
"Message? What message?"
Dumbledore handed a letter to his deputy headmistress while grinning in delight. Taking the message, McGonagall immediately noted that it was written on elegant muggle stationary.
To Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry:
My companions and I are traveling scholars seeking knowledge and lore of magics foreign to us. As the preeminent educational institution in Britannia, Hogwarts has naturally attracted our attention. If the exchange of academics agrees with you, please reply with a time and location for a meeting at your earliest convenience.
You can reply to my familiar. If such an encounter is desired, then as a token of good faith please feel free to examine my familiar until we meet.
Rin Tohsaka, Magus
"Familiar? This is a familiar?!" McGonagall exclaimed.
The owl nodded.
"You can understand me?"
The owl nodded again.
The two professors looked at each other. "When are you free, Minerva?" Dumbledore asked with an excited smile.
The Transfiguration professor turned to the owl. "Tomorrow, two o'clock, at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. We will have a room reserved."
- o -
"Damnit, Potter, do you want Snape to read your mind?" Alastor berated.
Panting heavily, Harry took a moment to get his bearings back in order to recover from the most recent Legilimens attack and turned to his teacher. "What do you mean?" he ground out.
"Who do you think is going to resume your Occlumency lessons when you get back at Hogwarts?"
Harry's eyes opened in realization. Hermione and Ron alongside him for this lesson also gaped.
"Unless you are really talented, you cannot learn Occlumency in just two months. So that means Snape."
Harry scowled. "Alright, but I have no idea what I'm doing. You're just reading my mind, and I can't do anything about it."
"It starts off like accidental magic. You clear your mind, and when I attack your Occlumency barriers will eventually activate. Once it activates accidentally, you will be able to consciously control it after a whole lot of practice. And by practice, I mean a Legilimens attacks you over and over again. Which is what Snape will be doing to you when you get back to school."
"Well if it's accidental, why are you blaming me? It's not like I can purposely do something accidentally," Harry pointed out.
Alastor frowned. "Are you clearing your mind before you sleep?"
"How can I? Voldemort's back, and Fudge is being a moron about it. It's been two years and Sirius is still a wanted fugitive. How can I possibly not think about that?"
Breathing out a deep sigh, Alastor thought for a moment. "Do you do anything that calms you down? Reading a book? Brew a potion? Play with a kneazle?"
"Flying," Harry answered immediately.
"Does that calm you down or does that make you excited?" Alastor asked specifically.
Tilting his head in thought, Harry responded, "Both, depending on what type of flying I do."
"Then imagine flying to calm yourself before you sleep. After you get calm, clear your mind."
- o -
1995, July 29st, Saturday, in a Wizarding World...
Walking up the stairs in the Three Broomsticks with the artificial owl in hand, McGonagall considered how it had been some time since she was excited academically. With Dumbledore having so many responsibilities outside of Hogwarts, much of running the school fell to her. This left precious time for her own academic pursuits.
It was not so much that the owl was amazing in what it could accomplish; given enough time she was certain she could duplicate the feat on a feature by feature basis. No, instead, it was amazing because it clearly used magic with which they were not familiar.
Actually, she was not giving the owl enough credit as an invention. Imprinting a personality onto an animate object, as opposed to simply putting a personality into a painting, was certainly an innovative idea. One that she swore she would never hint at when in the presence of Messrs. Weasley and Weasley. The world was not ready for a horde of owls with their personalities imprinted upon them. McGonagall shuddered at the thought.
At Dumbledore's knocking, a young blonde woman opened the door.
The Transfiguration professor almost stepped back from the sheer presence of this individual despite the fact that the blonde merely performed the innocuous task of opening a door.
"Greetings. Headmaster Dumbledore and Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, I presume." she half asked, half declared.
"Greetings," Dumbledore returned. "And you are correct with regards to our identities."
"Please, join us at the table," she gestured with her right hand. McGonagall noted the gesture very much resembled how Nearly Headless Nick lead students to the dormitories. Walking in after Dumbledore, she saw the other occupants around a table bearing a tea set.
A young black haired woman of Asian descent stood from her seat at the table. Her act of standing revealed she wore a skirt of questionable length. Another Asian woman of comparable age also rose; this one had gorgeous purple hair and her outfit exhibited a more reasonable amount of modesty. A slightly tan man with some red and a lot more white hair had already been standing when they entered. Unlike the three females who wore clearly muggle clothing, the male wore what appeared to be a red trench coat with the middle section missing. Odd, that.
"Thank you for meeting us. I am Rin Tohsaka," the black haired woman introduced herself with a bright smile. "These are my apprentices, Sakura Matou and Shirou Emiya."
"Hello," Sakura curtsied softly.
"Hello," Shirou greeted.
Rin then gestured to the blonde. "Saber, here, is our companion." The blonde nodded in acknowledgement. Such a strange name.
"A pleasure to meet such lovely individuals," Dumbledore said with a smile. "Please, let's sit. First things first, allow us to return your familiar." At this, McGonagall handed over the artificial owl to Rin.
"Thank you," she said as she received the owl. Following the example of the elder individuals in the room, the two Asian ladies sat. Saber stood ramrod straight behind the two and off to the side whereas Shirou also remained standing as he began to serve tea to all those seated. Rin continued, "I hope that this example of thaumaturgy has piqued your interests."
"Indeed, it has," Dumbledore confirmed, as he took a sip from the teacup. "Clearly you have demonstrated magical abilities outside of our recognized domains."
"Ah, then we have accomplished our goals. It would have been embarrassing if all the Mysteries exhibited were already known to you as then we would have precious little knowledge to exchange."
McGonagall paused prior to sipping the tea. She interjected, "It seems not only is the magic dissimilar, but it appears the vernacular you utilize differs from ours. 'Magus.' 'Thaumaturgy.' And, perhaps the word 'Mysteries' as well?"
"Quite so," Rin responded, her smile turning satisfied for some reason. "I think perhaps I should explain my magical background as it will be relevant in our ensuing conversation."
"By all means," McGonagall allowed, resuming her act of sipping tea.
"I lived in Japan for my childhood. While I had attended a public school for my general education, my father had home-schooled me in magecraft beginning at age five."
McGonagall choked on her tea. "What?!" she exclaimed. "That's utterly dangerous. And not to mention a clear violation of the Underage Magic Laws. I do not know what exact laws Japan has, but certainly they cannot allow a five-year-old to learn magic."
"We are not naive enough to believe that families do not teach children magic privately before attending a magical school," Dumbledore added. "But I must agree that five years old is too young as magic is quite erratic at that point."
"Indeed, it is dangerous at that age. I almost died opening a cursed book when I was seven," Rin replied. "But from where I come, magecraft is usually taught at such young ages."
McGonagall's lips tightened in disapproval.
"After my father passed away when I was seven soon after the book incident - unrelated, I assure you - I had to effectively take over my own thaumaturgical education as I had soon surpassed my father's apprentice in skill and theory."
The elder witch visibly restrained herself from sputtering whereas the elder wizard merely raised an eyebrow.
Rin continued, "On the outside, I continued my non-magical education in primary and secondary schools. This dual-life lasted until I reached adulthood. At age eighteen, I had joined the Mage Association which is the largest and most powerful body of magi on the globe. Specifically, I enrolled in the Clock Tower branch which is headquartered in underground London. Its primary focus is on academic research and advancement of thaumaturgy."
"Mage Association? Clock Tower?" McGonagall interrupted. She thought for a moment. "Do you mean the Department of Mysteries?"
Rin tilted her head in question.
Saber interjected at this point. "The Department of Mysteries is a section within the Ministry of Magic, located within the underground complex of said Ministry headquarters. The Department's goals can best be summarized as confidential research in magic."
"Ah, I can see the source of confusion. I shall make a visit to this facility at some point. No, despite the seeming coincidences in location, purpose, and name, I did not enlist into your Department of Mysteries. The Mage Association and the Clock Tower branch are independent entities from your Ministry of Magic," Rin clarified. "Two years after I enrolled in the Clock Tower, attending classes and what not, certain feats I had accomplished attracted the attention of a well-known magus. After some politics, he eventually assumed the role of my mentor."
The young woman took a sip of her tea while the elder spellcasters waited patiently.
"Aside from being an accomplished magus, he also specializes in the True Magic known as the Kaleidoscope."
Dumbledore's teacup clattered loudly as it fell onto his dish.
"Ah, you know of this term. If your usage of it matches ours, then hopefully my tale is more believable."
"Albus?" the Transfiguration professor asked, somewhat lost.
The headmaster hesitated, openly regarding the black haired woman in amazement. "You can use the magic of the Kaleidoscope?"
"I am far, far from a master of such True Magic," Rin qualified.
"Albus?" McGonagall repeated, clearly impatient for some clarification.
"I chanced upon the term decades ago when I was reviewing some notes that Nicolas had collected centuries ago from some wizard," Dumbledore explained. "The notes lacked details, but merely made mention that the Kaleidoscope is the magic regarding alternate dimensions."
The witch's eyes widened in surprise and disbelief. "Another dimension? Surely you jest."
"I understand it is unbelievable. And, to be truthful, short of showing our own dimension to you two, there is no real way for me to prove this claim. Even in that scenario, one could say I am using a form of hypnosis as opposed to the Kaleidoscope to convince you."
"I am somewhat surprised you are willing to admit this," Dumbledore observed. "It would be akin to a time traveler stating he or she was from the future."
"We know how these stories go. We would spend an inordinate amount of effort masquerading as natives, using some simple story involving a hermetical wizard as our mentor in a foreign country. However, with the leader of the International Confederation of Wizards as the headmaster of the school, it would only be a matter of time before our cover would be proven false. At that point, claiming to be from another dimension would seem even more ridiculous than now. Such an outcome would be... tedious."
"I gather you have lived in interesting times, then?" Dumbledore asked in amusement.
"Indeed," Rin responded, before smiling beautifully. "And thank you for believing us, Headmaster Dumbledore."
McGonagall turned to her fellow professor and saw the twinkle in his eyes, confirming the magus's statement. "Albus?"
"Minerva, one must keep an open mind about these matters." He then turned back to the magus. "May I ask, Miss Tohsaka, how you came to this conclusion? Am I so easy to read?"
Without missing a beat, she answered, "On the contrary, you are very difficult to read, Headmaster. However, you said 'admit this' instead of 'claim this', earlier."
McGonagall thought back for a moment to that part of the conversation before a chill ran down her spine. It was just a feeling, but she felt that this young woman was dangerously clever. Glancing at Dumbledore, she confirmed he had a similar reaction.
"Ah, I gather you two have also lived in interesting times," Rin queried, recognizing their wariness.
"Indeed," Dumbledore answered. "Now then, I believe we are here to discuss the exchange of knowledge..."
- o -
1995, August 2nd, Wednesday, in a Wizarding World...
Harry ducked under the bludger as he raced to the quaffle. With only six players, this Quidditch game had no seekers, so Harry now had the position of chaser.
To be fair, Ginny apparently was very good at being a chaser. True, Harry reached the quaffle more often than Ginny did, but his aim when throwing it into the goal left much to be desired. Or Ron was just a good Keeper. Yeah, let's go with that.
He reached for the quaffle... only to have it knocked violently out of the way by a bludger.
"Aw, missed ickle Harry," Fred lamented.
"Ha ha," Harry replied sarcastically before pursuing the quaffle once more.
Everyone on the quidditch pitch stopped at what sounded like a cannon shot. Turning to the direction of the noise, Harry saw Dumbledore running towards the pitch from the direction of the Weasley house. Knowing that could not possibly be a good thing, Harry immediately streaked toward the old wizard.
"Professor Dumbledore?" Harry asked as he dismounted.
"Harry! Did you go anywhere today?" Dumbledore half panted, huffing from his sprint.
"No, I was at Grimmauld all day until dinner when Mrs. Weasley asked us over. What's wrong?"
Dumbledore gathered himself, eyes solemn. "I'm sorry, Harry. Your family... has been hospitalized."
"What?! What happened?!"
"I..." Dumbledore hesitated a moment. "I believe they've been Kissed by Dementors."
- o -
Special thanx to Dignity and WhatWindDoes for idea bouncing, and ThirdFang and Datenshi Aoi for beta read.