World of Wheezes.
A Harry Potter Warcraft crossover
Related Lore by Blizzard Entertainment and JKRowling, Story by me.
George Weasley sat alone in his shop, inscribing runes on the back of a mirror. The idea had come to him several years ago when visiting his sister-in-law Hermione and she had explained the concept of the 'cell-phone'. The wizarding world had possessed two-way communication mirrors for nearly three thousand years, but they were always point-to-point communicators shared between and crafted by great sages. Even in recent centuries when silvered glass has stopped being such a difficult endeavor and was no longer prone to distortions, communication mirrors had remained unusual and again, point-to-point, with only legendary artifacts made by scryers able to do anything different. But then the muggles had come up with the computer and everything turned on its head.
George chuckled as he repositioned his wand and edited a character in the upper right hand corner of the laminated silver. Upon adding the mirrors to the Wheezes inventory they had been literally flying off the shelf and he and his employees could not make them fast enough. The gold he made from his joke items was enough that he and his brother could have retired before the man's death and lived comfortably for a century; but these… his new line of products, most of them inspired by a bushy-haired muggleborn, had made him enough gold to contend with the Malfoys for control of the House of Lords. This new mirror he was modifying would be able to do all that his previous versions had, IE calling anyone else in the world who also had one of his mirrors, blocking calls from specific callers, projecting the callers image as either a flat reflection or a full apparition, scrying unprotected people and places around the world and recording conversations for later playback, but would also be able to record, save and play back a selection of books for the user. The data storage matrix was small and crude at the moment, but he was sure that with a few months dedicated work he could build it up to the levels of its latest muggle equivalent, the IPhone.
"Mr. Weasley, sir?" George looked up. One of his numerous employees, Jasper or something, was quivering and sweating in the doorway. George thought for a few seconds, he was one of the newer executive assistants. He'd probably been the one to draw the short straw as he'd given instructions that he was not to be disturbed.
"What is it Jasper? I was in the middle of something." George wasn't sure exactly when it had happened but as his company had begun expanding and hiring new help at an accelerated rate he had somehow gotten a reputation for performing outlandish and humiliating pranks on people who disturbed him while he was inventing. Honestly he thought turn a few people into poultry and hex another to speak backwards for a week and suddenly you're a monster!
"A hooded man with glowing eyes is here to see you sir, he wouldn't take no for an answer. He said to tell you 'Lightning has struck'." The man fidgeted for a second before asking "Is it really him, sir? Harry Potter?"
George smiled. "Tell him Loki waits by the forge', Jasper. That will be all." George said, turning back to the mirror he was working on.
"My name is Jenson, sir." The man said quietly before bowing his way out.
Jenson, huh? George shrugged.
The man had been right; it was Harry Potter waiting for him. After the war against Voldemort had ended at Hogwarts, claiming his brother Fred and so many others, Harry had refused the offered job as Minister of Magic and tried to join the Auror corps. His brother-in-law had put in some serious effort and, after a year of being coached by Hermione, had passed the final tests with flying colors… a full three years ahead of his peer group. George had congratulated his friend over the achievement and received a wedding invitation in return. It had probably been the first day since Fred's death he had made a joke without it being forced.
But his friends happiness was not to last. Harry's marriage to Ginny had, and to George's knowledge, still was going… swimmingly, but Harry's career, the one request he had made of the new ministry, had gone nowhere. After two year of being a mascot rather than the detective he had trained and joined to be, his brother-in-law was still receiving nothing more exciting that playing security at pointless political functions and patrolling Diagon and Nocturne alley's. Harry had been furious and, after a confrontation with the head of the DMLE, had quit his job and joined the Unspeakables, taking the codename Thor. The head of the department, Croaker, and Hermione had thought the name funny somehow, though George was still at a loss.
Ever since then Harry had become James Bond and came to him for most of his heavy research and enchanted gadgets for various jobs the former Hero was working on at the time; traveling the world, righting wrongs, squashing dark lords, spying for England and other such suicidally adventurous nonsense.
"Evening, Thunderer." George said as Harry walked in and removed his hood. "Are we still on for dinner at Hermione's Saturday? Young Fred's still begging for more of your stories and Angelina's worried you're working too much. That mess in Baghdad was your doing, wasn't it?"
"Hello to you too, Forge. And that totally wasn't my fault. These Jihadi cultists were messing with demon portals, trying to set the summoned monsters on American troops and endangering the statute of secrecy, not to mention the rest of the planet. It's hardly my fault their portals became unstable and backfired when their heads started rolling around on the ground…"
"It is when you're the one who's doing the cutting." George deadpanned.
"I didn't fire a single spell!" Harry said mocking an affronted look. "My visa didn't allow for that. I just apparated around asking questions I shouldn't be asking, exactly as the Council of the Magi said I could."
"And you goaded them into cursing you while standing too close to the summoners, I get it." George sighed. "Were you able to make any use of the blood magic you needed me to research for you?"
"Yeah, it saved my life several times. Got me through their wards and allowed me to figure out how to disrupt the rituals without destroying Arabia, half of east Europe, western Asia and north Africa in the process. Did you get any use out of it?"
George nodded. "Yeah, I finished the research and have been taking a break from the books to update a few of my products while I digest everything. There's an incredible wealth of knowledge and uses for that branch of magic, I can't imagine why it was ever outlawed. I mean, sure, the bubonic plague was bad, but it was created by a dark lord, of course it was going to be Evil! I'm still working on product ideas though, I know that's not why you came over." George said, putting down the mirror and looking directly at his friend now. "What do you need?"
Harry was silent for a long time, just looking at the wall. George knew not to push the man, he had always been bad with his feelings and tended lashed out under pressure, even when he knew the questioner genuinely cared. "It's been ten years to the day since Sirius died." Harry said finally.
Harry looked at him shocked, "George, I looked at the calendar when I got back, I have that date burned into my mind, what do you mean 'no'?"
"I mean," George said, leaning back in his chair and holding Harry's gaze "that you need to go home and spend time with my sister. Your sons and Lily may understand that their father is a globetrotting Hero, but that doesn't mean they don't miss you, and Ginny misses you."
Harry looked away. "Ginny doesn't miss me." He said sullenly. "She's too busy with her Quidditch career to do something so mundane as that."
George palmed his face. "You two are still having that argument? You've been married what, six years? Seven?"
"Yes!" Harry snapped. "She still thinks that because I have a flexible work schedule that I'm personally insulting her by not attending Every Single Game the Holyhead Harpies play! And I try, I really try, I'm there Every game I'm in the same country and try to work my adventures around her games, but Evil simply doesn't wait for her! How is it she can't see that? And don't get started on me, I get enough of the lectures on how It's not my job to shoulder the world's problems for them."
"I know," said George "I know, you just can't stand idly by when you see something wrong. You've told me this before and your argument never changes." George held up his hands at his friend's outraged look. "I'm not siding with her, I think you both need to grow up and take a vacation together somewhere sunny. Now, were you only here to avoid your wife, or…"
"Well, I would like your help researching the veil." George gave him a hard look. "Come on, George, you're the best artificer and spell theorist I know and that's including Hermione!" Then he perked up "It'll also keep me home and supporting Ginny while you work!" He pointed out, pleading clear in his eyes..
"You need to put Sirius and Tonk' deaths behind you Harry…" George said heavily. "Go home, say hello to your boys, entertain Lily, take care of Teddy. You're his Sirius now, you need to forgive yourself before you waste that."
"But that's just it, George. I don't know what happened to Sirius. One moment he was there and the next Bella's stunner has thrown him through the veil. Why didn't he come back, where did he go? What happened to him? You know I can't rest while a mystery remains unsolved; I've been that way since first year. Before even. I'd do it myself, but for all my brains and increased drive I need the kind of stuff you and Hermione have to stand even a chance of understanding the veil, and you know me. I can learn anything by feel and action, but this theory stuff just blows my mind. And just so you know, I'd have just jumped into the veil years ago and to see where it leads if I didn't have my kids here waiting for me."
George looked at his friend and brother for several minutes while he calmed down from his tirade. "Fine." He said eventually. "I'll think about it."
Harry, to George's surprise, was as good as his word. He went to Croaker the next day and took his accumulated vacation days from his last five years of service and asked for a short stint in the research division upon his return. He patched things up with Ginny, entertained his kids and Ted Tonks, caught up with his friends and generally took the quiet life for a little while. The only down side to this was he was now constantly visiting the shop and utterly failing to be subtle about his wish to work on the veil.
George shook his head. The new mirrors had been as big a success as he had expected and he was already getting massive foreign orders from across Europe and his marketing group was dealing a silent war with competing models that were popping up in several American companies.
He had also found a means by which to revitalize blood magic. Deciding to start small with an expansion to his discerning teen witches line George had made an engraved metal plate that required blood from the user in a specific, variable number of the seven rune shaped pools and more blood from a target person, muggle or magical. The utilizing a rune map provided with the plate the user could focus upon and direct changes to themselves ranging from their hair type or color, eye color, or even skin condition dependent on what you wanted to look like and who you could get a few drops of blood from. These plates had stunned him by turning out to be particularly popular with kids, male and female, who had powerful acne as one of them had figured out that they could cure it entirely by getting a bit of blood from someone who didn't suffer as they had. Unfortunately there was a corresponding increase in the number of broken, bloody noses Madam Pomfrey was being forced to see to. While nobody had any proof it was in any way his fault or that the desperate children had been directed by him to do so, he had still ended up having to spend nearly two hours calming down the fuming matron.
George was just glad the open knowledge of the situation hadn't passed beyond the school yet. He was rolling in money for bribes and probably wouldn't miss it, but he didn't want to get a reputation similar to the Malfoy's.
Looking for a solution to the problem George had turned to Hermione who had shown him the muggle wonder known as 'the syringe'. The syringe was a small potion flute with a needle attached to the end of it that drew blood into itself. It didn't take George long to figure out how it worked, but he was certain that advocating stabbing people with sewing needles was going to get him into trouble somehow, so instead he worked out a rune charm similar to that used in blood-quill that pulled blood directly from the veins of those whose skin touched the end of the much shortened glass flutes. None of his plates needed much blood to activate and he knew well what a pain blood loss could be. It was also an endless source of amusement for him how he'd managed to create a new fashion trend and business world among the insecure ickle kiddies. Imagine, selling your blood because you had some popular trait… George giggled as he watched one Ravenclaw auction off small vials of his blood after winning the houses annual in house knowledge/magic/trivia tournament.
It was six months from when Harry had first begged him to begin researching the veil when the redhead finally decided his friend was truly serious about the issue and wasn't going to let it go. So, he put the latest version of his blood plate in his bag and went to visit his friend. Their meeting for Christmas dinner had been scheduled for several weeks now, so George picked up Angelina from her office at the Harpies pitch, little Freddy from the house and they flooed to the Potter Mansion.
The Potter Mansion had been Ginny Weasley's idea. Originally a four bedroom cottage in Devon, Ginerva, now Potter, had spent evenings after practice and between games gradually transfiguring the estate from a humble abode Harry had fallen in love with, into a grand manner house with spacious gardens, a large menagerie and their own Quidditch pitch. It hadn't taken much, a small transfiguration here, a space expansion charm there, a bit of transmutation and summoning done in about an hour after work each day over the course of nine months and voila. Most of the magic was in transfiguration, a branch of sorcery that changed the physical and molecular shape of an object and was permanent unless specifically reversed. The fiery ginger had received an outstanding NEWT in the subject too, which helped alot. Most of the plants had been outright given to them by Neville and Hagrid had been more than happy to provide his friends with a veritable zoo of common and bizarre magical creatures. The entire complex was maintained by seven house elves, all of whom had volunteered to serve 'The Great And Kind Harry Potter, Sirs!'
Harry Hated it.
Despite not costing them a galleon the place was outwardly ostentatious and reminded George's brother-in-law of the Malfoy's home with its gilded everything, too many rooms all enlarged to make the occupants feel small and dozens of things for which the dark haired man could discern no purpose. George didn't come over for dinner very often because when Harry was there he and Ginny would often have quiet, but heated battles as he tried to transfigure the place into a homier configuration and coloring as opposed to the grand palace of his wife's girlhood dreams.
George shook his head as he came out of the fireplace to find Ginny 'correcting' another of Harry's attempts to make the place more welcoming and less courts of Avalon.
"Oh, hello, George! Angelina, Freddy, I'm so glad you could come!" Ginny said warmly, stopping her casting and walking over to them to envelope each in a tight hug. "Harry's in his study playing with the children. It is nice to have him home more often, thank you for that, brother. Do you know if Ron and Hermione are still coming?"
"No," George shook his head "Ron got a surprise raid today with the hit wizards, some hot tip that couldn't wait. Hermione's coming though."
George listened absently as the two women talked about their recent practices with the harpies and what the lineup was likely to be for the next game against Dublin's team. As much as he like Quidditch it simply hadn't held the same fascination for him as it had all those years ago in school when his brother was still alive. Ah well he thought and so life moves on. He still attended all of his wife and sisters games, but he'd long stopped avidly following the progression of various teams.
Reaching Harry's study, one of the few places Ginny had never been able to properly interfere with the decor, George kissed his wife on the cheek and left the pair of them. Entering the room he found I much as he remembered, warm earth tones, rich burgundies, oak furniture and book cases covering the walls. Above the fireplace were a pair of paintings, one of Harry's parents that they'd found in the family vault after the war and one of Morgana LeFey George was sure Harry had stolen right out of either Hogwarts or he department of mysteries.
Harry was in the middle of the floor halfway through his animagus form of a jet black Hebridean dragon while his kids giggled, shrieked and pretended to attack him, young James even throwing streams of sparks at his father from time to time with his bare hands. "Playing dragon tamer again?" George asked loudly. Letting off a bellowing laugh and transforming quickly, Harry snatched little Lily from where she was falling off his shoulders and held her upside down by the waist, tickling the shrieking girl's ribs as he walked over to join George at the door.
"What can I say?" Harry asked, grinning. "Keep it small and don't morph the claws, and the kids love it. Can't wait till they're big enough to take flying though." He deftly flipped his daughter over in his hands and set her down in front of Little Fred. The boy pressed back into his father's legs and Lily hid behind hers, blushing. "You said you had something for me?"
"Yeah." George answered, moving further into the room and ushering little Fred over to where James, Teddy and Albus sat. "I've been working on improvements to the blood magic plates and I need some samples to test a new sequence I've built. On top of that I've also decided you're serious enough about the veil that neither ignoring it or trying to talk you out of investigating the damn thing is possible, so, I'd like to propose a trade."
"What sort of trade?" Harry asked, warily, his arms crossed, eyes glowing faintly.
"Nothing dangerous. I've been collecting samples of blood from people with rare magical abilities. Beast tongues, seers, people who are unusually adept at various wandless types of magic, that sort of thing. With each of the previous subjects I've purchased their blood, but with you, we both want something special, something we see as nonnegotiable."
"You want my parceltongue and I want the veil." Harry said nodding.
"Not quite," George replied, scratching the back of his head "I've already got someone else's parceltongue, though I'd be quite happy to gain yours for cross-referencing. No, I want Teddy's blood."
The light in Harry's eyes transforming and becoming slitted emeralds. "What?" he hissed. He hadn't dipped into the snake tongue, but the edge and tone of his voice had caused the kids to freeze and look at the pair of them nervously.
"I just need a few drops Harry, it won't even hurt. If it works this can be one of the special clearance products and require a full legillimancy interrogation and personality check to purchase. The blood will never move off site and I'll happily give it to the rest of your family as well."
"Metamorpmagi is a dangerous skill." Harry growled keeping his voice low so the children supposedly couldn't hear him. "It may not make the person bad, but in the hands of someone without morals, it's as dangerous a weapon as any dark art!"
"So is the ability to become a dragon or use a wand, but I don't see you binding your magic, snapping your wand and advocating that others do the same. Personally I see metamorphmagi as more of a curiosity toy than a danger. You still show up on ward-maps as who you really are, so it's not as if it can be abused. Everyone has full wards these days, especially since I started releasing the Marauders Map as a service industry. The only real problem will be in recognizing people who have the ability and you know how Hermione's been pushing wandless magic instruction at Hogwarts."
George sighed as Harry glared at him for several minutes. Then, finally he spoke. "You swear on your magic you'll find out where the veil leads and what happened to Sirius?"
George raised an eyebrow, sighed, and then held up his hand, sparks of magic dancing between his fingers. "I, George Gideon Weasley, do swear that in exchanging for blood samples from Theodor Tonks Black, Heir of the House of Black and Harry James Potter, lord of the house of Potter, Lord of the House of Black that I shall put my upmost abilities and resources into discerning the nature of the so named 'veil of death' and the fate of one Sirius Orion Black, son of the House of Black, former Lord of the House of Black. So I have sworn, so mote it be; let my magic punish me should I lie or cease my efforts without the consent of Harry James Potter, Lord of the house of Potter, Lord of the house of Black."
The sparks of Magic in Georges raised hand flared brightly and went out. George snapped his fingers and conjured a small candle flame in his palm and showed it to Harry. Harry studied him and, seeing that here was no pain or loss of magic, created his own flame and the pair of them clasped hands. "You know, you could have just used your wand instead of this dog and pony show." He dark haired man said smiling.
"Yeah, but then I wouldn't be me, now would I?" George pointed out grinning. "I've been a showman my whole life, why stop now?"
Things went smoothly after that. George brought out a series of vials and demonstrated one on himself before collecting blood from Harry and then Teddy. He had pulled out the grooved silver board he'd crafted and was halfway through a laymans description of how it worked when the door opened again and the three Weasley wives sauntered in.
Angelina sashayed up to George and kissed him on the cheek while Hermione looked with interest at the silver plate. "So, Hermione's finally arrived, and Pinky's done with dinner. How about you two, what's captured your attention so readily tonight? You were awful eager to get here earlier."
"Oh, just a project I wanted Harry's input on." George said easily, leaning back to kiss her back. The two of them went at it for a couple of seconds before breaking apart and smiling. Then Angelia caught sight of the silver plate and made a face.
"That icky blood thing you've been obsessed with for the last year?" Angelia asked rhetorically, wrinkling her nose. "Never mind, I don't want to know. That stuff is even creepier than when you took that failed potion goop and tried to sell it as a pet…"
"Hey," cut in Hermione "I bought one of those, it was cute. It glows at the touch and hums if you stroke it." She said, giggling. "There's even this one wizards band that made a musical instrument using different sized blocks of the stuff!"
He whole room looked at her for several seconds, expressions bemused before George grinned "you'll have to send me a recording of their music sometime. I might put them under sponsorship if they're any good."
The group moved out towards the dining room, their children trailing behind and chattering noisily. Dinner was roasted potatoes with a thick gravy, butter and a mix of seasonings George didn't recognize; smoked cod with a honey glaze, sweet corn, a large loaf of freshly baked bread, a baked black current pudding and a selection of red wine from Ginny's stash. It wasn't bad George thought as he took a quick gulp, far too sweet though. But then that was his sister, the tomboy who thought she was a princess, even at the age of 25. It was hard to imagine she was still such a kid even after surviving a war and having three kids.
A treacle tart was being served at the end of the meal by Hermione's elf 'Brain' when the bushy haired muggle studies professor asked what George and Harry had been working on.
"It's a theory of mine." The freckled inventor replied. "Ever since Harry asked me to use his authorization in the department of mysteries to research blood magic or sanguimancy, I've had this idea that the blood adoption ritual can be adapted for lesser more focused effects such as the passage of traits from one individual to another rather than going whole hog and becoming someone's parent, sibling or kid." He saw the girls giving him disgusted looks. "Oh, don't give me that, Blood magic is incredibly useful! It fell out of style when the ICW banned it in the mid nine hundreds after the dark lord of the generation used it to create the black plague, but before then it was used for all sorts of things, particularly healing. Hermione, I know you've asked Madam Pomfrey how wizards claim to have maintained such a high level of health care for ten thousand years when nearly all medical potions, charms and transfiguration's are a mere fifteen hundred year old or less, here's your answer. Blood magic has applications in battle, healing, curses, wide scale destruction; warding, summoning, scrying and physical enhancement spells. Most of our current self enhancement potions these days use the blood of dragons, giants or other magical creatures for one effect or another, where do you think they got the idea?"
"But if it's banned by the ICW then why are you using it?" Angelina asked worriedly. "Couldn't that get you in serious trouble?"
"Perhaps," George agreed "except that the lobbyist I hired told me that the bans on blood magic are in a section of the text that hasn't been referenced in nearly three hundred years after most world governments had succeeded in burying all knowledge of it in their personal state archives. It won't be brought up until I start trying to export the product and Minister Shacklebolt is a friend of ours. I know it's fairly Slytherin of me, but I'm working on getting that section of the ICW charter quietly erased before I add the plates to our off foreign storefronts."
"Back on topic though, I've been calculating blood runes and diagrams to allow for the passage and expression of specific traits from one person to another. Hermione, I'm sure you noticed it at Hogwarts, students coming in with silver plates and different hair and eye types?"
"Yes, it's been quite frustrating. I knew it wasn't a charm or transfiguration because I couldn't quietly reverse it with the usual canceling or reversal charms even with my wand out." Hermione said frowning. "You've had me researching and working frantically on my control for four months George! You will let me look at your research and notes at least?"
"Sure. Thing is though, my most recent project has been designing a plate to transfer rare magical skills and gathering the required blood samples."
"Rare magical talents…" Ginny interrupted, "you mean Teddy. It's Christmas brother, what have you done to my godson!?"
"I've done nothing to him, Ginevra." George said, stressing her name in irritation. "I am however willing to do something to the lot of you, if you're interested." He held up the plate. "I've checked my calculation on this a hundred times and I already know it works on the beast tongues for wolf, dragon, snake, bird and mermish and the magical talent of the minor seer Abigail Waldwick."
"Waldwick?" Hermione asked. "You mean the woman on the wizarding international post who's been banned from gambling after bankrupting over a hundred casino's?"
"Yeah," George said with a grin "she was quite willing to trade a pint of her blood for my experiments in exchange for a new blood-locked look. She was cute, if a little mousy, before but she's an absolute fire ball now. She's a minor seer with the ability to see as far as a minute ahead of herself with a bit of concentration. Been using it to clear out casinos and stay ahead of security ever since her fiancé ran off with her family's money and moved to Taiwan with his girlfriend. I'm still working on how that one activates but I get flashes every now and then. Point is, now I have Teddy's metamorph blood and I'm offering the lot of you a chance to join him in the talent. Seemed like a good Christmas present to me. Kid gets some peace of mind not having to feel strange about his ability and you all get a new toy."
Hermione, fascinated as always with the chance to learn something new, accepted right away. Harry did as well, having already had time to think over Georges proposal and relishing the thought of being able to walk around without his unspeakable robes and not be mobbed. Ginny on the other hand declined and had to be stared down after she tried to forbid James, Lily and baby Albus from being able to take the skill. Little Fred and Hermione's daughter Rose agreed because their parents had and Angelina didn't say anything, but got this wicked grin on her face.
"Last chance Gin-gin," George teased "back out now and I'll make you buy it like everybody else." Ginny gave him a dirty look and slouched in her chair in a huff. The procedure went smoothly; Teddy's blood was placed in the center of the silver plate and each user placed their fingers on specifically enchanted indents. Blood was drawn out of their veins to fill the diagrams and basin runes ad then there was a flash of light. Hermione was the first of the new users to begin using her metamorph abilities, turning her bushy mane to a sleek straight crimson while looking in a mirror. Harry was next to successfully make a change and then Angelina. The children all discovered how to work it at the same time and were soon giggling as they imitated each other's features.
As everybody was making ready to leave Hermione pulled George aside. "You mentioned other beast tongues earlier. I'd always assumed there were more, but I'd never been able to find reference. Could you tell me what you found?"
George nodded. "According to the departments tablets; not books even because they were just that old, the beast tongues originated from a druid adapting a translation charm for blood magic, literally keying the ability to speak to whatever creature he was trying to contact at the time into his very blood. As the druids were traditionally a fairly tight knit community he naturally shared his work with others and some took to doing it themselves. Naturally the most famous ones became those who spoke to serpents. People are afraid of snakes, irrationally compared with the danger of most other creatures out there, so they took the heat. I'm still working out the arithmancy on doing it myself, but with the access Harry's about to give me to the department of mysteries… well, It's only a matter of time. Speaking of which, if you want to take time off campaigning for the imps I could use you as an evening research partner."
Hermione who had been nodding along and looking pensive until this point scowled fiercely. "They're not imps, they're brownies! Honestly George, how many times do I have to keep telling you!"
"How many times can you deny house elf breeding being a sacrificial ritual in favor of muggle German folklore?" he replied with a grin.
"That's just an effect of the spell used to bind them into slavery!" Hermione refuted petulantly.
"Three of them commit suicide in a pool of blood, explode, then the entire thing catches of fire and anywhere between five and thirteen of the little buggers hop back out." George said as he walked into the green flames of the Potters floo. "That doesn't strike you as an odd thing for a naturally helpful little fey to do?"
George stood, leaning up against the arch way in the chamber of death, an extendable ear hooked into one of his ears and the other side poking through the shimmering light field that made the veil. He was grinning brightly as he worked on his latest project inspired by Hermione Granger. Wonderful people, muggles, he thought, so frighteningly inventive… honestly, eyes in the sky he marveled, who would have thought of it?
Working on the veil for the past several weeks had been frustrating. Carved from a solid mass of Avalonian basalt the outer edges of the arch were rough and jagged and inlaid with runework that hadn't been seen since pre-Arthurian times when dragons still deigned to work with humans rather than savagely attack on sight. The inner edges of the archway, however, were smooth as silk and inlaid with swooping jagged rune work that looked like it had been made by claws. Small, sharp claws that easily could easily rend stone judging by how he stone chipped up in a smooth trail without deviation in depth or straightness…
Regardless he had been reviewing the department's records of the veil rune studies extensively for weeks. The samples were too small to work out much of anything because, surprisingly, Merlin of all people had been quite thorough in destroying any and everything to do with the old religion and dragon magic in England and beyond. Without those magic's in quantity to reference the department hadn't been able to make heads or tails of the ancient artifact besides what it did.
The arch way was a portal. Plain and simple. No one quite knew where the portal led, only that it had a piece carved out of it and was now broken and no one had ever returned from passing through it, even people with Horcruxes. Boy didn't he wish they'd known that eleven years ago… George had started his practical tests of the portal with a simple stick. Six feet long and held loosely he had shoved the thing through the portal up to half way and then drawn it out. The wood where it had passed through the glistening watery energy of the doorway came back burnt and covered in black and plum energies with small traces of every color the wizarding tinker could conceive of, including several sparks which he go a headache simply from looking at them.
Running over the rod with dozens of different diagnostic charms he had corroborated the DoM's findings that the predominant color of purple was pure concentrated magic, strong and thick enough to light magical England for a year, whereas the wisps of black which made up nearly 40 percent of the energy clinging to the wood was the very same power that held ghosts and other spirits together. Power and death, a portal to a place so thick in both that it tainted the very air with enough energy to roast a piece of wood just from a few seconds exposure. Thus coupled with the lack of people trying to return through the device the archway gained the moniker 'the veil of death'.
So, naturally, George had decided to challenge this.
He'd first started with animals; a rabbit in an iron cage, a cat held by the tail, a dog on a leash. Each creature was stuck partway through the veils magical field before being drawn back. The cat died, the right side of its body sparking with violet lighting and cooked clean through and the dog hadn't fared much better, held and pulled back by its collar, covered in odd glowing loops and whorls of black and purple energy. The thing had given a piteous bark and had a heart attack on the spot. The Rabbit however had been fine. Obviously George was confused so he put the furry white ball of fluff aside and sent a dozen newly purchased rabbits against and even through the veil to see what the difference was. Each of these rabbits died, much the same as the dog and cat had and the ones who passed entirely through the veil didn't come back at all.
The first rabbit, as it turned out, was one of the kind bred by stage magicians who skirted the edges of statute of secrecy by performing magical versions of muggle stage tricks for easy money and a chance to bait muggles without the ministries of their current country coming down on them. The rabbits were fed potions to increase their intelligence and give them certain magical powers such as the ability to turn themselves into top hats, use literally any hat as a portal and several other questionable skills, such as pickpocketing. Wanting to test out his theory George had purchased several more of these Rabbits, an extra post owl and a Krupp. The owl and Krupp received the earlier halfway treatment while the rabbits were placed at varying stages from just brushing to all the way through the portal. The rabbit that had gone completely through had disappeared with the others but all of the other animals survived largely unharmed.
Thus George determined that while not protecting you entirely, magic did shield a person from the effects of the portal and the energies on the other side bringing him to his current project, first the extendable ears and now, a free floating glass eyeball he was enchanting to work as a third eye, connected directly into his mind. Since diagnostic spells cast upon the veil did nothing and the extendable ears only gave him the same unintelligible whispers as standing beside it, the next logical step was to look inside the damn thing.
That did not however, include him being stupid enough to stick his head in the thing. Magic being able to resist the effects of the other side of the portal for a time or not, who knew what the damn thing might do to a person?
Brushing a bit of glass dust off of the prosthetic eye George studied the runic circle he'd drawn into the thing. "Looks good" he said absently. Taking out his wand the red-haired wizard began tapping the tip back and forth between his brow just above his nose and the runed prosthetic, muttering in Latin as he did so. After seven taps his vision became strained as his mind tried to process the third incoming perspective. Letting go of the eye George commanded it to hover two feet from his face and look at him. His vision instantly cleared as his brain resolved the incoming information by associating it with that of a mirror. Opening his journal he circled the calculations and method for the latest version of the eye and sent a copy to the master print in his shop where it joined the list of things for his employees to craft and stock in their spare time. Wonderful little things, communal books, been around for millennia. It was a pity they weren't more widely used though. Probably a safety feature to stop idiots from pranking scholars by sending in inane changes to useful texts.
George spent the next hour playing around with the eye, trying to get used to the new disjointed perspective. It wasn't too bad when he closed his eyes, but needing to do that every time you used the eye would make it less of a useful toy and more of a hassle.
Forcefully pulling himself out of his musings, George directed the eye to hover in front of the veil. The archway looked different to the magical eye, enchanted as it was to read magical energy. Instead of a rippling water-like silver light it became a swirling vortex of plum and black with arcs of an odd dark green energy that hurt to look at jumping between the folds of power. Urging the enchanted glass forward so that it passed through the veil, George waited impatiently for some sort of image to clear up from the ever shifting storm of plum.
Harry walked into the room of death looked toward the podium. George had called him over their priority mirrors, another of the redhead's ever growing list of blood enchanted items. It was really getting fairly annoying how obsessed his friend was becoming with subject, but not only was it his fault the Weasley inventor had started on the path, he couldn't fault the man's grasp of utility, everything he made was damn useful. The mirrors for instance were a definite upgrade over his normal ones in that they would respond directly to the users thoughts and intentions, held a vastly increased amount of data and couldn't be stolen. The downside to them, if it even was one, was that the stupid bits of silver and glass seemed to be developing personalities. A lot of enchanted and animated items did as a side effect of the wanded wizardry's intent based casting, but when your phone tried flirt with you and took to calling itself Sif, things were going too far.
"Sleeping on the job George? I thought you said this was important…" Harry said loudly, as he approached the archway.
"I said it might be important." The surviving twin replied without looking up or opening his eyes. "I've been using a new enchantment for the past week to explore the area beyond the veil and I think I might have found something."
"Oh?" Harry asked, instantly more attentive. "What was it? If it was Sirius you would have been much more excited."
"Possibly, but as I told you last month after testing the bunnies, I'm not entirely sure Sirius survived. Whatever is going on beyond that portal is dangerous."
"Yes, you've told me, ghost magic, chaos, pure energy and something green that gives you headaches." Harry narrowed his eyes momentarily "which had better not be another one of your jokes on my eyes, Weasely."
George lurched forward and put him in a headlock from point blank range, whipping off Harry's hood and messing with his already spiky, tufty hair. "And if it was, chum? What then?" his brother-in-law said with a laugh.
"Then I would match any of your previous pranks and set your wife on you." Harry growled, recovering, twisting Georges arm off of him and spinning the man around into a joint lock.
George winced, but grinned anyways. "Yeah, but I'd still win." Harry huffed, but let his friend and brother go.
"So, what have you found?"
"Structures" George said, suddenly serious. "They slipped away before I could get a good look on them, but it looked like a cross between Hermione's superman comic books crystal technology and Frankenstein's laboratory."
"So…what? There used to be a society of some sort there? Some magical disaster and it's been renamed by the mists of time as death or something?"
"I don't know, but it wasn't dead, whatever it was. When I got too close, the entire thing moved. Violet lightning poured out of the crystals, covered the frankenstien shit and it moved. I'd swear I was crazy, but I think I might have seen mummies in there too."
"Have you told Croaker yet?"
"No, not yet. He'd probably put this in the black files. I though you should know first. I've been pulling the eye back since the structure moved, and it should be back any-AHH!"
Harry watched in shock as a stream of brilliant violet white energy streamed out of the portal, connecting with his brother in law. As shock turned to adrenaline Harry whipped out his wand and started casting counter curses at the tendril, frantically trying to sever it. Then out of the silvery ripples of the arch shot a strip of linen cloth that wrapped itself around George's head and pulled the young man in.
Harry stood there, staring frantically at the barrier between this world and another. The fuck was he supposed to do now? He collapsed to his knees; it had taken him years and his own death to get over Sirius's disappearance, to accept that it wasn't entirely, or even mostly his fault, but now… George was gone too and this time it really was all his fault, he had asked the man to investigate the veil, begged him!
That was how they found Harry hours later, face blank of emotion, siting knees askew and staring at the veil, thick tracks of tears still leaking down his cheeks. The mind healers at Saint Mungo's told everybody that he was in a deep state of shock and only time would tell if he ever recovered.
On the other side of the barrier George twitched, eyes bulging, muscles clenched too tightly to properly scream. POWER! rushed through him, like nothing he had ever felt before. Searing motes of every color danced along his flesh as plum and violet energy sang along his nerves, flowing in and out of his core and swelling it just short of exploding. It was pure ecstasy, pure pain, pure… he didn't even know what to call it… Every nerve in his body screamed with energy, his core howled at him, acting as it always had to direct his power to save his life and the energies of the land of death tore into his flesh and charred his hair, seeking to fill what they obviously saw as a void. It was excruciating and beautiful all at the same time, he had never felt so much power! It was as if everything he ever dreamed of could be made manifest with but a thought while at the same time the world seemed as if it was closing in on him and denying every possibility. I was… maddening!
And then… it stopped.
George collapsed onto a cool shining surface that he could have sworn was mother-of-pearl. He looked around and saw that the dark mist of energy was still there, held at bay by glittering black metal tubes connected by ring washers and more purple lightning. Each facet of the barrier was pentagonal except for an area directly in front of him. This part of the dome started from one of the pentagonal barriers, but pushed out to connect with a circle with seven rings jutting into it. The lower six rings had purple, almost pink, energy crackling between them in two groups of arcs.
Whatever he had seen within the veil, it had found him…
George heaved himself up into a kneeling position slowly, groaning as his skin stretched painfully over a million blisters. Reaching into the pocket of his robes which shook with ash from their time among the wild energies of the veil and began poking at the swollen patches of skin, muttering. High as he was on raw magical energy, Georges wounds subsided quickly despite the Weasley boy's rather limited knowledge on the subject of healing and he soon moved on to restoring his cloths. Repairing charms and transfiguration's all around, George flopped back onto the deck and sighed. What a mess…
This did at least confirm a few theories. There were indeed people of some type here, the structure he had seen was real and it was indeed possible Sirius had survived, though for how long and where the old dog might be now George still had no clue.
Having no idea whether he was captive or rescued or how long it would be until he saw the mummies who ran the structure George pulled out a small leather bag and shoved his hand into it up to the elbow. Where was that mirror… After rummaging around for several seconds the redheaded sorcerer drew out his latest communication mirror, bloody runes that powered it sandwiched between two laminated pieces of silver. "Harry." He called into it. "Harry you there?"
George started, that strangled cry was most definitely not Harry. "Angelina?" George asked. "What are you doing with Harry's mirror? Did he get pulled through too?"
There was a choked laugh and his wife's face appeared in the mirror, her eyes blotchy and red, her smile wide and happy despite the mess her hair was in or he thick tracks of tears running down her cheeks. "No, no, nothing like that. George, honey, we thought you were dead! The veil of death, no one's ever been known to survive crossing it and when we found Harry sitting in front of it crying when he was supposed to be meeting with you…"
"Don't worry, Ange, I'm not that easy to kill." George reassured his wife, voice soft. It hurt to know that he'd caused her pain and that he still needed to cause her more. "I'm not exactly sure how, when or if I'm going to get back though." He said looking around. "I seem to be in a cage, though it's design is rather open and easy to escape, the world beyond the veil isn't exactly what you'd call friendly."
Angelina gave him a watery smile and nodded. "Considering no one's ever returned it would either have to be that or a paradise." She paused for a moment. "How unfriendly are we talking?"
"Imagine a constant state of core overload and then step into a fire without a flame freezing charm." Angelina blanched.
"I'm so sorry, George. I don't suppose there'd be anything in your notes that might aid a rescue attempt? Harry's been in a coma ever since you went through nearly," she waved her wand and muttered "Tempus, eighteen hours ago. Considering where we thought you were I was planning your funeral." Two more tears tracked down her cheeks. "I'm glad I won't have to now."
"Oh, I don't know…" George replied, a small grin gracing his face "it might be fun to show up at my own funeral!"
Angelina giggled, a slightly hysterical edge to her voice. "Yes, that does seem like the kind of thing you would find amusing. I suppose I should put out that you're on… vacation? Sabbatical?"
George hummed thoughtfully. "Tell my executive assistant Piper that I'm dealing with unexpected business abroad and will call her periodically to see how things are going."
"May I assume by this exchange that you are a trader, Master George?" George whirled around, moving from a sitting position to crouching with his wand pointed at the source of the ethereal, multilayered voice. It was one of those mummies he had glimpsed through the mist, except that it was not a mummy as he was familiar with the concept. The creature before him, while wrapped in thin bandage like strips of cloth, had no noticeable body or mass but rather was comprised entirely of energy. It was vaguely humanoid in appearance with the bandages largely constraining its shape into a head, arms, legs and torso with two comparatively brighter spots of light for eyes.
"I suppose you could," George said "in my language and understanding of the word, but having dealt with Goblin's and their radically different idea of the concept… maybe?"
The creature seemed to nod and without face or expression somehow conveyed a thoughtful demeanor. "I shall consider you an apprentice trader then. You will have to forgive us our lack of accommodations; it is rare we receive traders this deep within the twisting nether."
Moving slowly George waved his wand behind him and conjured a chair before pausing "would you?"
The creatures demeanor had shifted to one of delight, though George was still confused on how he was even understanding such. "Oh, yes, certainly!" it said, that multilayered voice giving him the creeps. "I am of course familiar with numerous races of magic, if I could, however, perchance to examine your artifact? I would of course offer quite a bit in barter." It said that last part quickly, something George picked up on.
"That would depend on what you had to offer" Angelina's voice came through the mirror "releasing one's wand to another is considered of great value and is rarely done outside of duels or battle."
George conjured another chair and moved them both into the center of the space, conjuring a small table between them and setting the mirror up so that the three of them could speak on a triangle. "Oh, this is most exciting." The creature said. "Master George is a purveyor of arcane artifacts perhaps?"
"Sort of," George allowed deciding to work on Goblin rules for the time being "Though as this is a negotiation you have already taken much from this one and owe recompense. Perhaps your name for starters, trader?"
"Do forgive me my breach in etiquette." The thing managed an embarrassed countenance this time. "I am warp trader Ilos crew of the militant habitation heart of k'aresh under nexus prince Nazarra."
"So you're a magical race then?" George asked.
"Indeed. We are the commonly known to other corporeal races as the Ethereals and this vessel is associated with the Etherium Protectorate. I believe that is sufficient trade for the information I pulled out of you without properly initiating negotiations."
"So, what does this one want in exchange for information into the humans new movements and intentions in the void?"
Down to business then George decided. Might as well get to why I was looking around in here in the first place. "The whereabouts and condition of a certain human who came through here roughly ten years, eight months ago" George said promptly.
"Is that apprentice trade master George's offer or demand?"
"Yes." George said with a grin.
"Very interesting, you seek to trade the fugitive shape changer. The protectorate was beginning to wonder if that information was ever going to become of value. I do hope the profit margin is high for you though, despite his innocence, the cost of trading him will no doubt be quite steep."
"I design, create and modify, what is it you called my wand and mirror, arcane artifacts for a living. What is your price for him?"
The thing, ethereal, before him exuded a sense of deep amusement. "I must apologize for my lack of clarity, you are after all merely an apprentice trader. Ethereal's consider what you corporeal's term murder a trade in its own right. The difficulty and effort of slaying a person versus the reward of accomplishing such a task. Though I believe from your expressions I have erred again. Would you care to clarify the nature of your trade with Master Black?"
"Master Black was a close friend and guardian of my, ah, contractor." George said honestly. Harry had contracted him to divine Sirius's fate in a more definitive matter after all and from the Ethereals comments it was likely that the old dog and marauder was still alive somehow.
"Indeed, very interesting. We rescued him much as we did yourself. For your mirror I could charter a small vessel and deliver you to where we left him."
"Where you left him?" Angelina asked incredulously. "Just where did you put him that he couldn't find his way back to us after eleven years?"
"That was actually a bit of a… miscommunication on our part. Mr. Black was found floating deep into the nether on the verge of losing his corporeal form. The consortium was unsure he would survive such an event and so we stabilized him in exchange for profit at a later date, of which he provided far in excess of the value of his rescue. After that we offered him an escort home as I am yourself, only the world and people he described matched another world on our records and the portal through which you arrived had been dormant and unused since the collapse of Avalon so we did not have current or accurate records of it at the time."
"So… where did you send him?" George asked.
"Azeroth." He warp trader said. "We will be going to Azeroth."