Chapter 04 - The Mutants are coming!
Alyx stepped onto the stage and looked around nervously. The stage was bare, and a lone spotlight shone down on her, causing her to begin to sweat. Crickets chirped outside a window, it was the only sound she could hear.
"Why did you do it?" a voice suddenly asked.
Alyx squeaked in fright and she whirled around, trying to find the source of the voice. It wasn't one she recognized. She peered into the gloom anxiously. "I'm sorry? Do what?"
"Don't play coy with us!" snapped the voice. "We know you did it. We want to know why!"
Alyx frowned and reached for her holstered FPIA. A look of panic crossed her face when she realized that her Frying Pan of Infinite Attacks was missing.
"Yes, you're disarmed."
She scowled and peered into the darkness. "Who is this? Where is Bob? Did he put you up to this?"
"Your husband is safe for the moment. But if you don't start cooperating..." said the voice. It trailed off, leaving the threat unsaid.
A slight whimper broke from Alyx. "Alright! I did it! I couldn't help myself! I tore up the disclaimer for this chapter!"
"Why?" said the voice coldly.
She put both hands on her hips. "All he had to do was write something simple that said we didn't own Harry Potter or the Potter universe. But did he do that? NO! He had a dozen porn stars spelling out the disclaimer in various sexual positions. I mean come on, some of those girls are going to be arthritic when they get older from doing that!"
Alyx took a deep breath and then continued. "Besides, he rejected my disclaimer out of hand. It was only fair."
There was a moment of silence, then she could hear the rustling of paper. "According to our investigation you wanted a disclaimer that involved naked mud wrestling with Alan Rickman and Sean Connery."
Alyx blushed. "Well yeah, but we'd wash up afterwards, so it would be all clean fun."
The light snapped off and Alyx screamed. The sound of scuffling could be heard coming from the stage. A moment later the lights came back up and Bob walked onto the stage. A group of women followed him onto the stage.
He looked around and smiled benignly. "Gimme a 'W'," he shouted.
The Mutants are coming!
Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix...
"William!" screeched Molly. Her cry caused a number of the Order members to rush to the sitting room. Molly rushed to help Bill to a chair.
Bill was being carried in by Remus, while Kingsley limped in behind him, holding his ribs.
"Molly, call Hogwarts and ask for Professor Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey to come here. Ask that she bring her potion bag," Remus said through gritted teeth. Several bricks had hit him on his way out of the alley and he was just starting to feel the pain from them. He shook his head in dismay; in less than a second the situation had turned deadly and Harry's response impressed the hell out of him.
Harry had disabled two of his attackers in his first volley of spells. Three trained wizards had taken on one underage teenager and he had cleaned their clocks in under a minute.
Molly threw some powder into the Floo and stuck her head in the fire. A moment later she pulled her head out. "Albus is on his way," she said worriedly.
They sat in tense silence for several minutes; then there was a bright flash of flames and Dumbledore appeared with Madam Pomfrey. Fawkes circled over head for a moment before settling on the mantel of the fireplace.
Poppy immediately went to work.
"Let us give Madam Pomfrey time to do her job. I suggest we all wait in the kitchen." Dumbledore said softly.
For nearly thirty minutes they waited, while other Order members drifted in, asking questions.
At one point, there came a scratching at the window. Ginny went to it and let the owl outside enter. She absently removed the rolled copy of the Daily Prophet, paying the bird from a bowl kept for such a purpose. She started to unroll the paper when the door opened and Madam Pomfrey entered. Laying the paper aside, she returned to her seat.
"How are they, Poppy?" asked Dumbledore.
"They'll live. Remus and Kingsley have some bad bruises and Mr. Weasley broke his leg in two places, but he'll be fine by tomorrow," she replied.
The door opened and Remus walked in, followed by a very chagrined looking Kingsley.
"I thought I told you two to rest!" exclaimed Poppy.
"We can rest in here as well as we can out there, Poppy," Remus said reasonably. He carefully slid into a seat next to Tonks, wincing as he did.
"Excellent, now can you tell us how you three managed to get injured?" asked Dumbledore.
When Remus glared at Kingsley, the bald man lowered his head. "It's my fault, Headmaster," he said. "I got a little carried away."
"A little?" exclaimed Remus angrily. "Perhaps I had best explain this then."
Kingsley nodded unhappily, refusing to meet any of the eyes staring at him.
"It started this afternoon when Bill heard someone say Harry's name in Gringotts. Then he spotted Harry with three people being escorted to a private office."
"Bill contacted Kingsley and me and we set up to watch them from an alley just off the main street. Harry and his companions left the bank and split up; Harry and another man went to Ollivander's and the other pair went to the bookstore. I'm almost certain the woman was Lily's sister, Albus, the resemblance is striking. She might as well be an identical twin.
"When Harry came out, he sent the other man to wait in the same alley we were watching them from."
Remus leaned back in his chair and winced when his shoulder blades touched the back of the chair. Molly poured him a cup of tea and he smiled at her gratefully.
"We realized that the man was a Muggle, but when he saw we were watching Harry, these knife things came out of his hands. It took all three of us to stun him," Remus said, shaking his head over that fact.
"We turned back to see Harry surrounded by Aurors, then poof! He vanished, just like that! No sound, nothing. Suddenly, they were behind us in the alley. Kingsley fired off a bludgeoning hex and a stunner. The stunner missed Harry, but the bludgeoning hex hit the woman and she went down in a heap. That's when things went wrong. Harry whirled and fired off five bludgeoning hexes and created a shield faster than I could have believed possible. Bill went down with his leg broken and Kingsley was thrown through a storefront window. I tried to calm Harry down and told him we weren't looking for a fight.
"He looked at the woman, then snarled at me, saying that if we wanted a war, he'd be happy to oblige. Then he somehow collapsed the entrance to the alley and by the time I could get back in there, he was gone."
Dumbledore's eyes flashed with anger. "What were you thinking, Kingsley? Now the boy will never trust us!"
"I thought, Headmaster, that you would be happy if we brought him in. I never expected Harry to fight back, or be able to fight back so ruthlessly. He broke Bill's leg, for Merlin's sake!"
"You hit his Aunt with a hex! Of course he's going to fight back! All things considered, I think we're lucky he didn't kill us." grumbled Remus.
Dumbledore lowered his head, wondering what to do now. He couldn't believe how rapidly things were spinning out of control. He heaved a heavy sigh and lifted his head.
"I will write Harry a letter as soon as I get back to the castle, telling him that you three were not following my directions. I will offer him my oath on it," Dumbledore muttered.
The door opened and Minerva McGonagall walked into the room. All eyes turned to her. In one fisted, white hand, she carried a rolled up newspaper, and her jaw was clenched so tight her neck muscles were almost bulging. The fury in her eyes was directed at one person: Ronald Weasley.
"Mr. Weasley," she said, her lips compressed into a thin angry line. "I am removing you from the position of Prefect, and also banning you from Quidditch. I cannot begin to tell you how angry and disappointed I am in you. Were school in session, I'd be deducting hundreds of points from my own house and giving you detention for the entire year!"
As she spoke, Ron paled and he looked around wildly.
Molly and Arthur stared at Minerva in uncomprehending shock.
McGonagall silently handed the paper to a confused Dumbledore, who unrolled it. He sagged in his chair and seemed to age almost before their eyes.
Ginny, remembering the paper, turned in her chair, picked it up from the counter and unrolled it. Her scream sent several Order members scrambling to their feet.
Harry Potter, Mutant and Chosen One?
By Rita Skeeter.
"I don't understand why so many people think Harry Potter is so wonderful. Sure, he killed a Dark Lord, but he's not human, he's a mutant. And besides, if he killed the Dark Lord, then how come he's back?"
So says Harry Potter's closest friend and confidant, Ronald Bilius Weasley. In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Potter's long-time friend reveals secrets that he had kept for his friend for many years. Like the fact that Harry's mother was a mutant, posing as a witch, and that he really is the child of prophecy, the Chosen One.
The Daily Prophet was shocked to discover that, as an infant, young Harry was placed in an abusive environment by none other than Albus Dumbledore, and that Dumbledore has been hiding the existence of another aunt of Harry's, also a mutant and witch.
"He's not a wizard, he's a thing!" says Mr. Weasley, and yes, we here at the Prophet have confirmed this. Minister Fudge has issued a warrant for young Potter on the grounds that he is a dangerous dark creature.
Minister Fudge says that he wants all wizards and witches everywhere to know that their government is working hard to protect them.
Quite honestly, in our opinion, Mr. Potter is not a dark creature, but the Ministry has their rules, which they must follow. We think this is the final straw. If Harry Potter is indeed the Chosen One, then arresting him is not going to make him want to fight for us. The time to remove Minister Fudge is now, before his policies condemn our entire world to slavery under You-Know-Who...
Ginny dropped the paper and scrambled for her mother's wand, which was lying on the counter. She whirled and fired off a bat bogey hex at Ron. He ducked and her hex hit part of the table and exploded. Arthur leapt from his chair, tackling his daughter to the ground.
"Get off me! I'll kill him!" she shouted angrily.
Hermione scooped up the paper and read the article, growing paler with each passing moment.
Molly rushed forward and plucked her wand from her daughter's hands, as the girl was still trying to get a bead on her brother, despite her father's best efforts.
Wandless, Ginny went limp in her father's arms. "How could you, Ron?" she sobbed, then she turned in her father's embrace and held onto him, weeping.
The kitchen slowly fell into silence, broken only by the sniffling of Ginny and Molly. Ron sat on a chair, refusing to meet anyone's gaze. Hermione sat coldly furious, staring at Ron with a burning glare as the paper was passed around.
"Mr. Weasley, did you really say these things?" asked Dumbledore.
Ron looked up at him. "Yes... no... I don't know. I was... I had too many fire whiskeys. I don't remember exactly what I said to Skeeter."
Dumbledore sat silently for a moment, thinking. "I see. I'm afraid I must agree with Professor McGonagall's punishments. From this moment forward, you may no longer attend any Order meeting, nor may you know any Order business. You have caused more damage with a few badly chosen comments than a host of Death Eaters could have caused.
"You will give your Headquarters Portkey to your father. I think, for the sake of all of us, you should be confined to Headquarters until the time comes for you to return to Hogwarts. Until today, I had hoped that Harry Potter would return to us," Dumbledore said, then he stood. "Now I am not sure we will ever see him again. You have damaged your friendship with Mr. Potter, Ronald. And while I hope he will forgive you, I am not sure I would, were I he."
Dumbledore turned and left the room. Hermione stood and walked over to Ron.
He looked up at her.
"Upstairs," she said coldly.
"What?" he replied stupidly.
She latched onto his earlobe, pinching it viciously. "I said, upstairs," she hissed.
Still holding him by the ear, she pulled him from his chair and led him from the room and up the stairs, into the room he'd previously shared with Harry.
"Sit and don't say a word," Hermione said furiously.
Ron hastily sat on his bed, watching her nervously.
Hermione paced back and forth for a moment, literally shaking with fury, then she turned to look at him.
"I want to thank you."
"I said, I want to thank you. For the past two years I thought I might fancy you. I even dreamed of a time when we would be together, perhaps with a family of our own."
Ron blinked and grinned at her.
"This past summer has been an eye-opening experience for me. I learned firsthand just what an ignorant, conceited and self-centered fool you truly are."
"Hey!" he protested.
Her hand met his cheek in a slap that caused his ears to ring.
Ron held a hand to his stinging cheek and looked up at Hermione in surprise.
"Did I say you could talk?" she ground out between clenched teeth. She was furious with him, and herself for her loss of control.
He shook his head. She glared at him for a moment longer, then she resumed her pacing.
"You showed your true colors this summer, Ronald. Between your hatred of mutants and now this ... this public attack on our friend? You did more than just talk to a reporter. You proved to me that I could never love someone like you. Never! What we had with Harry was magical, it was beautiful! In all my life before Hogwarts, I had never experienced a friendship like that, and you've destroyed it.
"Harry is no different than you or I, but you have always been jealous of him. Well, that stops today, right here and right now. You killed two things today. You killed the relationship you had with Harry. He may never talk to you again, ever. And you killed forever the possibility that I could have fallen in love with you. The fact that I could be so angered by your actions that I'd completely lose control and slap you was the final straw. I shouldn't have struck you, and it proves we could never be together, regardless of whether Harry forgives you.
"You don't know any better, but you automatically lump Muggles and Mutants as being beneath your notice. My parents are Muggles! And your attitude is something I'd expect from Malfoy!"
Ron's eyes flared with anger at the Malfoy comment, but he wisely kept his mouth shut.
She stopped pacing and looked at him. "I'm going to be selfish here and hope that Harry won't lump me in with you. I'm going to hope that I can recover at least a part of what I had with him. You have a lot of growing up to do, Ronald. A lot. You sit there and you have no idea what you've lost, or what you've done to your own sister."
"Ginny? But..." He shrank back from her glare.
"Grow up, Ronald. I strongly suggest that you spend the rest of the month here pretending you don't exist, because I really doubt that anyone is going to want to see or hear from you."
Hermione turned and walked out of the room, slamming the door on the way out. Ron flinched again and looked down at the floor.
Hermione returned to the kitchen, where everyone was still gathered, and sat down next to Ginny.
"It's over for real, isn't it, Hermione?" she asked brokenly.
Hermione sighed heavily, finally letting her own tears flow. "Merlin, I hope not, Ginny, but I think it is."
No one, not even Molly, could find the strength to rebut her comment.
Blackmoor Castle, Southern England (August 4th)...
Jean Summers rolled out of the bed and quickly searched for her slippers. The stone floor was freezing! She quickly dressed and hurried down to the large hall where they had spent several hours last night. She paused by a window to glance outside and shook her head.
The castle, and the entire island on which it rested, was hidden from the Muggles. Located just off the coast of southern England, the island group known as The Manacles had long been a hazard to navigation in the channel. There were numerous small islands and shoals, rocks mostly, jutting above the water, or worse, lurking just below it. Sometime in the tenth century, someone saw fit to build a castle on one of the larger islands of the group, then hid the island from the Muggles by means of a Gringotts-controlled Fidelius charm. Eventually, ownership of the castle passed into the hands of the Black family, and then into Harry's.
Jean continued down the stairs. No one had been to the castle in at least fifty years and she had expected it to be a total wreck. And it was, until Harry summoned help. He called two little creatures named Dobby and Winky and asked if they would be interested in working for him. She frowned now, recalling how both wanted to be bonded to him, but he explained it was the way of house elves.
Once he accepted their bond, they started working immediately on the castle. Winky went to the kitchen and put things in order there, while Dobby fixed up several rooms so that they had comfortable places to sleep that night.
Harry explained to Jean and the others that the elves would follow him, caring for whatever home he lived in unless he assigned them to the castle. He wasn't ready to assign anyone to the castle until it had been repaired better. The elves could clean it up and repair most of it, but in order to make it usable for the X-Men, they'd need to make modifications to the structure.
She walked into the large hall and stopped in shock. It was sparkling clean. Large banners depicting the Black and Potter crests hung from one wall and fires burned merrily in the four fireplaces, warming the room. Surprisingly, Harry had also added a large black banner between the two family banners. The large black and red X seemed to fit right in with the motif of the room.
Scott shot her a warning look and she slowed her pace. He sat with Logan, going over several large sheets of paper. It looked like they were drawing a map of the keep. Harry stood silently, looking out a huge window at the turbulent waters of the English Channel.
She walked over to her husband and kissed him on the cheek.
"What's wrong?" she asked in a hushed tone.
"Dobby brought a copy of the late edition paper," Scott said grimly, then he slid the paper in her direction.
She quickly read the article, then she stood and walked over to stand next to Harry.
"You know, I never really saw the ocean before this summer," he said to her quietly. "Before this, it was just stuff on the telly, or pictures. That hut Hagrid met me in was offshore, but it was raining hard, so I didn't see anything."
"How are you doing?"
He smiled, and it was a measure of the strength of his shields that she could not penetrate them without using most of her power now.
He turned to her. "I don't really know. It hurts. It hurts bad and I find I want to cry, but I can't. I won't. I won't let them have that level of power over me any more. Last year, I would have screamed and thrown things around. Now... I just don't know what to feel except numb to it all. I wish we could go home. Professor Xavier's school was starting to feel like home."
He turned to look out the window again.
"That article," he said, shaking his head in disbelief. "They expect me to save them again and I'm no longer convinced they're worth the effort, Mum. And if by some miracle I did save them, they would probably try to throw me into prison as a potential threat to someone."
He turned back to her again. "Do we have to stay here? Can we please just go home?" he asked, the plea in his voice was painfully obvious.
She placed an arm around his shoulders. "You know the answer to that, Harry. None of us will insist you fight for these people. But we will insist you fight for yourself. Show them that you are better than they are by not stooping to their level."
She reached up and tried to arrange his hair neatly, it was something she still hadn't given up on.
He smiled weakly at her. "I've spoken to the elves. They know they can take orders from you three. Dobby is going to put the word out to the disgraced elves. We'll hire those that want to be hired and bond with the others. The castle will be fixed up perfect in no time."
"I'm glad you're talking about hiring," she commented.
He shrugged. "I don't want to bond them, but most of them aren't like Dobby and will die without that bond. Would it be all right if I went out flying? I feel the need to burn off some steam and since I can't do it by leveling the ministry building, a nice flight should help."
She smiled at him. "All right, but remember, stealth mode your jet. I don't want to find you coming back here being chased by a squadron of fighters like the last time."
Harry winced. He had been caught out by a flight of four Air National Guard jets over upstate New York because he had forgotten to put the jet into stealth mode. It took him twenty minutes to lose them before he could slip into stealth again. Shortly after that, Charles pulled in a few strings and called in a favor or two, and he found himself the proud owner of an official FAA license. The name of Harry Potter, it seemed, opened all sorts of doors among the Americans, who seemed to take a perverse pride in helping him spite the British Ministry.
He nodded and smiled before turning to leave the hall. Satisfied that for the moment he'd be fine, Jean turned her attention back to Scott and Logan. They were planning on setting up a beacon so that Xavier could arrive on the Blackbird in a couple days.
Jean pulled out her wand and conjured a pad and pen. She had her own plans to make, setting up an infirmary and seeing that the rest of the living quarters were outfitted. Conjuring wasn't her strong suit, as Harry hadn't given her many lessons on the subject. As a result, her pad was a little rough, but it did the job and she was pleased with it anyway.
Blackmoor Castle, Southern England (August 7th)...
Harry rolled out of bed and quickly slipped on his robe and slippers. Dobby kept the room warm by making sure the fireplace was always going, but it did little for the stones of the keep. Dobby had brought three more disgraced elves who wanted him to hire them. He kept Dobby and Winky as his personal elves, and assigned the three new elves to work at the castle.
He had kept to himself the last three days, hiding from the storm that swirled around him — a storm that had nothing to do with clouds or ocean currents.
There had been more articles about him in the newspaper. Some denounced him as a dark creature in need of a cell, no better than a werewolf or vampire. Other articles demanded that he come out of hiding and deal with Voldemort.
The outward effect the articles had on him was chilling. He felt numb. He didn't hate the wizards, but he was now convinced they deserved whatever fate had in store for them. If he could have gotten away with it, he would have written a letter to Voldemort, telling him that he could have the wizarding world. He was angry with Dumbledore, who could have shut so many of the complaints down with a short and simple letter to the editor.
A letter had arrived via Fawkes, who delivered it to Gringotts. Dumbledore had written, apologizing for the actions of Kingsley, Remus and Bill Weasley and stressing they had not been acting under his orders. Harry found he couldn't bring himself to care about Dumbledore's excuses. It was just another failure in a string of failures the man had racked up for Harry.
He knew his mum was worried about him, but he couldn't help himself. Between the attack, the attempt to arrest him and the articles, he was fed up with the wizarding world. For the last three days he had Dobby bring his meals in his room, while he enchanted hundreds of batteries, from small watch batteries to industrial sized truck batteries — all the things needed to power a base for the X-Men.
With no cable connection to the mainland, batteries and a generator were the only ways they had to power the base. Harry was convinced the generator was a waste of time, but he couldn't talk Scott and Logan out of it.
And in-between the enchanting, he studied his Muggle course work, rapidly advancing from algebra to calculus. Harry had been pleased to discover that he seemed to have a talent for math and greatly enjoyed the subject and related topics that used math.
Dobby kept a watchful eye on Harry, while Scott and Jean gave him the space he needed to figure things out.
He looked up at the knock on his door.
"Come in!" he called.
Professor Xavier and Jean entered the room.
"Hello, Professor. When did you get in?" Harry asked, happy to see him.
"Hello, Harry. We got in late last night. Your mother tells me that you've been feeling out of sorts the last few days and the reason for it. I think I'd be out of sorts too, after all the stuff that's been published. Is there anything we can do to help?"
"I don't suppose returning to America is an option," Harry said softly.
Jean stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. "You know it isn't." She paused for a moment. "Professor Xavier would like to continue your evening classes with you," she whispered.
He bowed his head and nodded. He didn't mind the sessions with Xavier in the evenings. The Professor's work had helped Harry a great deal and the classes were stimulating and fun.
"Harry," Xavier said. "I think I do have something that might cheer you up."
Harry lifted his head and looked at the Professor. "Oh?" he asked with interest.
"Yes. Scott and Logan have looked over this castle from top to bottom now and we think it will make an excellent base of operations, once we make certain heavy modifications. Jean also told me about your generous offer to just give the castle to the X-Men."
Harry nodded. He wanted them to have it.
Xavier smiled. "I'll be blunt, Harry. I am a rich man, and so are you. At our level of wealth, we don't just give things away. People like to feel as though they've earned something and you don't want someone to come to rely on your generosity. Since neither of us are in need of money, and you have something I can use, I'm going to propose that you lease me the castle on a five year lease. In exchange, I will give you that Jump Jet you are so fond of. I have been told that the jet is now fully rated to work around magic and Hank is supervising similar changes to the Blackbird."
"Really?" Harry gasped. He loved flying the jet. It was even better than flying his broom.
Jean sat on the edge of Harry's bed and sighed heavily.
"Jean? What's wrong?" asked Xavier. He was startled by her reaction to his offer.
"Most parents have to worry about their sons, their girlfriends and a car. The only advantage to a jump jet is it's too small for that sort of behavior," she muttered.
Harry snorted. "It's not like I'm going to be exposed to any girls interested in that sort of behavior, Mum," he countered caustically. "Victorian Britain, remember? Besides, none of the girls are interested in me. All they want is to date the famous Boy-Who-Lived."
"What about that girl, Ginny? The redhead?" she said teasingly.
He scowled at her. "After what her brother said about me in the paper? No, thank you. I think I've had my fill of Weasleys for this lifetime. Besides, she's dating someone else and I'm not sure I want to get involved with a witch."
"It is your world, Harry," Xavier said gently.
Harry turned to look at him. "No, it was never my world. I was never an accepted part of it. I can see that clearly now," Harry laughed bitterly. "You know what's funny? All those years of Vernon telling me that I was a freak and it turns out he was right. A mutant wizard? You don't get more bizarre than that."
"Harry," Jean chided. "Don't be like that."
He looked down at his feet for a moment before looking at her. "I'm sorry. The past few days haven't been very good ones. Dobby's told me about the newspaper articles. The only good one was written by a girl I know and I think she's a nutter. She claimed I was born of phoenixes turned human and therefore couldn't be a dark creature. I appreciate her effort, but I think she has been on the merry go round for far too long. I mean, she's a nice girl and means well, but..." he ended with a shrug.
Jean smiled reassuringly and she ruffled his hair for a moment. He smiled weakly at her.
"Harry, why don't you invite your friend Hagrid to come for a visit?" Xavier offered. "Having another friend around will help, and we could use his help in preparing the castle for some of the changes we plan on making to it. I'd be willing to pay for his help."
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded. "That might not be a bad idea. I saw some signs that a kraken may be nesting at the far end of the island on the day we arrived. He'd know how to deal with it."
"A kraken? Do I want to know?" asked Xavier mildly.
Harry grinned at him. "Let me put it to you this way, Professor. If you want to go swimming, install a pool. You do not want to swim in the water with a kraken around. It's probably attracted to the island by the Goblin magic protecting it. Magical creatures tend to have an innate sense for that sort of thing."
"A kraken," Jean repeated looking at Harry as though he were nuts.
"You don't believe me?" he asked dryly.
Jean crossed her arms and stared at him. "This isn't anything like a wizarding version of that left-handed smoke shifter Logan sent you out to buy, is it?"
Harry grinned. "Come over and stand at the window," he replied as he stood up.
Jean and Xavier followed him to the window.
"Dobby," Harry called.
When Dobby appeared, Harry leaned down and whispered something to him. The little elf vanished and reappeared a moment later, levitating a huge lamb roast.
"Perfect, Dobby," Harry murmured, then he reached for the roast. It vanished in a blink.
Jean and Xavier watched the area for a moment. Both noted the arrival of the large piece of meat. From the rocks a huge head appeared. It shot upwards and the lamb vanished in a single gulp. Then the head retracted back into the rocks.
Harry leaned around Jean, looking out the window. "That's a kraken... I think. No swimming around the island."
Jean swallowed nervously, her pale complexion going even paler. "Right, no swimming and I think we need Hagrid to visit," she murmured.
"Indeed," added Xavier dryly. "I've always liked owning a pool."
They stood there for another minute, then a bone, minus the meat, was hurled from the rocks. It arced high out over the water before landing with a small splash.
Harry started chuckling, then he turned to spot Dobby looking at him with his arms folded. "Harry Potter Sir gets Dobby in trouble with Winky! Dobby said he'd bring meat back, but now it's gone. What will Winky serve for dinner now?" Dobby asked, moaning and tugging hard on one ear.
Harry leaned over and patted Dobby on the shoulder. "Relax, Dobby. Take some coins from the house fund and go buy Winky a larger piece of meat, and tell her I'm sorry that I ruined her plans for dinner."
Dobby nodded and vanished again, leaving Harry chuckling to himself.
Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix (August 10th)...
In the days since the paper published the story about Harry, there had been editorials and letters to the editor on both sides of the issue. Some people wanted Harry arrested and locked up, others considered him to be the last great hope of their world. And the Prophet lapped it up, publishing both sides, while carrying news of the mess that had become the Ministry.
At the headquarters to the Order of the Phoenix, it was a changed Order. Morale was at a point even lower than it was right before James and Lily were killed. Many people came and went without staying long. Due to the public hue and cry over Harry, Dumbledore was forced to confine not only Ron, but Hermione and Ginny to Grimmauld Place. Those few adults living there went about their business, tight-lipped and refusing to discuss Order business with any of the students.
Ron spent most of his time in his room working on his homework, or thinking. Hermione's words had rocked him to his core and he was slowly coming to realize exactly how much damage he had done, to his own life and to Harry's.
At first he tried to blame Harry for his troubles, but even he couldn't come up a reasonable excuse by which he could logically make it Harry's fault.
Molly and Arthur, after the initial shock of Ron's betrayal had worn off, found themselves forced to take away Ginny's wand. She'd made several attempts to hex her brother, and only the fact that her magic was masked from detection prevented her from being expelled. Few of the adults even seemed inclined to lecture her about her behavior, however, and the message wasn't lost on Ron.
As a group, the three students were all suffering. Hermione stoically shouldered the burden of being locked up, and she played watchdog over Ginny to keep her from killing her brother. But even she was becoming short tempered.
Hermione walked into the kitchen to get a cup of tea to help calm her nerves. She was surprised to see Dumbledore, Minerva, Molly, Arthur, Remus and Hagrid sitting at the table.
"So, it's confirmed then, Arthur? I have been avoiding the Ministry for fear of seeming to be supporting one candidate over another," Dumbledore said.
"It's confirmed. Amelia and several Aurors escorted him..."
Arthur trailed off, seeing Hermione standing in the doorway. That was the final straw for Hermione.
"Really, Mr. Weasley. I am not your son. I know why he is being punished, but why are Ginny and myself also being left out of the loop? If this continues, I will go home, whether the Headmaster approves or not," Hermione said scathingly.
"Miss Granger!" exclaimed Minerva.
"No, Minerva. Miss Granger is quite right. She has done nothing to deserve the punishment she has been made to endure. It is not fair to assume she would tell Ronald anything she hears," Dumbledore said, jumping in before Molly could.
"Arthur was just telling us about Minister Fudge being booted out of office today. It's official, Rufus Scrimgeour is now the Minister for Magic. He's not exactly the candidate I would've picked, but he isn't in Voldemort's pocket," Dumbledore said.
Hermione frowned as poured herself a cup of tea and sat at the table, opting to listen to the conversation. She was feeling profoundly troubled and more than a bit angry at Dumbledore's lack of action. He had done nothing when the Prophet ran editorial pieces claiming Harry to be an evil dark creature. And now, it seemed, he'd done nothing to influence the outcome of the election for Minister!
She had been struggling all summer with changes to her attitudes towards authority figures like Dumbledore and hadn't resolved the struggle yet. The child within her still wanted to believe in the infallibility of her elders and, in particular, of Dumbledore. The blossoming adult was beginning to question their judgment and their value system.
"Anyway," Arthur said, picking up his tale, "Rufus immediately banished Umbridge back to Hogwarts. I'm not sure if she'll go or just resign. And rumor has it that Harry and his Aunt sent their registrations to the Magical Creatures Department by owl today."
Minerva turned to Dumbledore. "Albus, you can't let that woman back into the school!"
Dumbledore shook his head in resignation. "I'm afraid that most of the educational edicts from last year still apply, Minerva. There is little I can do to prevent it."
A scratching at the window attracted Hermione's attention, and she stood and went over to open it.
"Hedwig!" she gasped, seeing the white owl fly in.
Hedwig flew over to Hagrid and dropped a note into his waiting hands. He smiled and reached into his pocket, pulling out a live field mouse, which he offered to the owl.
Hermione paled and turned away when the owl bit down viciously on the little rodent, which gave a pathetic squeak and went silent.
Hagrid stuffed the note into a pocket and looked up, suddenly noticing that everyone was staring at him.
"Hagrid, you know, you never told us much about your trip to see Harry," commented Professor McGonagall.
"Aren't you going to open that, Hagrid?" asked Hermione anxiously.
"Yes, it could be important," added Arthur.
"Oh, I do hope he's eating well enough. He never gets enough food during the summer," worried Molly.
Hagrid stood, causing everyone to fall silent. "Aye, I'll read it later, when I'm alone. My trip to visit Harry in America went well enough. He was happy, an' he has a family tha' loves him fer the first time. I only spent a few days with the lad, but he was busy an' happy. His Aunt is a spittin' image o' her sister, bless her soul. She loves him as if he was her own."
Hagrid looked at Hermione. "I didn' talk much with him about his friends. I could tell how hurt he was, and it was a might touchy subject with him. Instead, I told him about the Ministry, an' the Dursleys, then I spent some time with his family an' friends. We talked about magical creatures mostly, an' some o' the trainin' he's been gettin'.
"Aye, I'll read his letter, an' if there is somethin' in it that he wants me to share with yeh, I will. Otherwise, it's private," Hagrid said, then he walked from the kitchen, carefully balancing Hedwig on his shoulder.
Molly huffed and looked angrily at Hagrid's retreating back, but there was nothing she could do about it.
Hermione sighed heavily. "You know, this is the absolute worst summer I've ever experienced."
"Hermione dear, where's Ginny?" asked Molly.
"She's upstairs. She said she wanted to work on her homework."
Molly eyed Hermione for a moment worriedly. "Do you have your wand on you?"
Hermione's eyes widened with fear. The house trembled with the sound of the explosion and a scream could be heard from upstairs. Hermione bolted for the door with Molly hot on her heels.
Ginny had found a wand.
Blackmoor Castle, Southern England (August 15th)...
Harry ran down the stairs. "Hagrid!" he shouted.
Hagrid laughed as Harry skidded to a halt and hugged him briefly.
Harry stepped back a moment later, smiling. "I see you came prepared," he said, eying the harpoon, nets and rope that Hagrid brought with him.
"Course I did! Not every day I get to catch a kraken to show off to class! Merlin, yer lookin' good, Harry. Got enough muscle on yeh to turn the eye o' every witch at school now."
Harry blushed and mumbled something inaudible.
"I think you're right, Hagrid," Jean said from the hallway. "He is a handsome young man."
"Muuuum," Harry protested.
Jean laughed and stepped into the entrance hallway. "Welcome to our home, Hagrid. We're pleased you were able to come help us with our little problem. Harry said if you can't help, no one can. High praise from him."
Hagrid blushed and clapped a monstrous hand down on Harry's shoulder, nearly knocking him to his knees. "Most folk would call in an exterminator, but I found it's better to try to work with the beast. They are really mostly misunderstood."
"Would you like me to take you to the area Hagrid?" asked Harry.
"Off ta work already, eh? Why not?" he replied, grinning at Harry.
"Do you mind if I tag along?" asked Jean.
"Course! Course! Come along, we'll troop out to the beastie an' see what we can do 'bout it," Hagrid said merrily.
Harry laughed and led the pair out of the castle and down the rocky path towards the far end of the island. Five minutes later, he stopped and pointed to the many whale bones thrown haphazardly on the shoreline. Hagrid frowned, seeing the size of some of the bones.
"Yeh sure this is a kraken, Harry?"
"I think so. We only got one look at it when it snapped up some meat I sent to this end of the island. The head was enormous."
Hagrid nodded and turned to Jean. "A kraken is from the class o' Cephalopoda, the order o' Octopoda, but what we have here might not be a true kraken," Hagrid said softly. He looked around at the bones again. "These bones are too big. This beast has been eating blue whales, or maybe sperm whales. There is a beastie even more rare than a kraken tha' is sometimes mistaken fer a one 'cause it can thicken it's neck until it appears to look like the kraken. The North Sea Sea Dragon is much more intelligent than a kraken too."
Harry frowned at him. "It's not a kraken?" he asked, sounding disappointed.
Hagrid shrugged and grinned at Harry. "Don' rightly know yet, but I think not. A kraken would've caught the meat yeh gave it with a tentacle, not its mouth." Seeing Harry's crestfallen expression, the large man smiled. "Don' feel bad, Harry. We haven' covered kraken in class yet. Now, let's go take a look!" he replied, then he started forward.
A loud hissing came from the waterline.
"Hagrid," Harry said carefully. "Don't move any closer to the water."
Hagrid turned to him. "Eh? What is it?"
"Would a kraken be related to a snake?"
Harry scowled. "Well, then, whatever it is, it's telling you to stay back in parseltongue."
Hagrid's grin broadened into a huge smile.
"What's parseltongue?" asked Jean.
Harry looked at her. "It's the language of snakes. I can speak to them and they can speak to me. Whatever is at the end of the island is speaking in snake language."
"Can yeh ask it to come on out so we can look at it?"
Jean blinked and stared at Harry in shock when he hissed something. Something in the rocks hissed loudly and he replied in kind. Then he hissed again.
"Hagrid, put down your harpoon. She's afraid you'll try to hurt her. I've promised no one will hurt her if she comes out for us to look at her," Harry said softly, then he turned to Jean. "Mum, make no sudden movements, and keep your wand hidden. If you see us do something, do what we do."
"She?" she exclaimed.
Harry nodded. "Yes. I was right. She's nesting, she has several eggs she's protecting."
Harry turned back to the shoreline and hissed loudly. There came a loud reply then a head extended from between two large boulders. The head was easily the size of a full grown cow. Hagrid backed up a stepped and sat down heavily.
"She's beautiful!" he exclaimed.
The large golden eyes gazed down at them and Harry took a step forward, then he bowed. The scales of the creature rippled and changed colors constantly, shifting from one iridescent shade of blue to green and back.
"Do you have a name, great one?" he asked in parseltongue. "I'm asking what her name is," he repeated in English.
The creature hissed at Harry for a long time, then he hissed something back before turning to his friends. "She is K'nor, daughter of Migard the Mighty, of whom the legends speak. She's guarding a nest of four eggs, her first laying in one hundred years."
"Harry, she's protected by International law. We can't touch her," Hagrid said.
"I thought that might be the case. Let me talk to her for a moment," he replied.
Harry turned back to the dragon when he clearly heard a voice in his head. "You can speak normally, youngling Wizard."
"She's telepathic!" exclaimed Jean.
The huge head turned and eyed Jean closely, then it moved in until it was only a few feet away. More of its body appeared from the den it had been occupying. The creature was huge, and it moved awkwardly on land, its legs replaced long ago by clawed tentacles.
"Interesting witch, with two sources of power, like the young wizard. You smell of the youngling, but you are not the youngling's mother. You honor your line and all mothers everywhere by caring for the youngling."
The Sea Dragon stretched out her long neck until the scales parted slightly. One scale snapped off and flew into Jean's waiting hands.
"A token for the mother who is not. May it serve you well."
Jean stared at the plate sized scale in wonder. It continued to ripple and change colors.
The head reared back and eyed Hagrid for a moment.
"When the eggs hatch, come see me, lover of all creatures. I will allow you to bring the young wizards here to learn about my kind."
Hagrid scrambled to his feet and followed Harry's example, bowing to the dragon.
Finally, the head turned back to Harry. He could feel the power of the mind that touched his, easily bypassing his shields. He shuddered, feeling that ancient alien mind touch his. In an instant, he saw a vision of a time when dragons wheeled in the skies and swam the oceans and understood. Where man now stands, dragons once stood and a few still remembered their greatness.
The dragon stared at Harry for long minutes and he hid nothing from her. Then, to the surprise of all, she started to hum in the back of her throat. It was a deep rumbling hum like the beating of hundreds of drums. Harry shook at the sound and his magic surged.
The very air around them seemed to sing with magic, and Harry found himself lifted into the air.
"Destiny's child, wounded by serpent and curse, innocents he will defend, I name thee Dragon Friend."
Very gently K'nor lifted one clawed tentacle and she cut away his sleeve, then she swung the claw, digging deeply into Harry's flesh. He screamed and his back arched. K'nor moved her head close to the wound and breathed deeply on it. In seconds the wound sealed and Harry fell limply to the ground panting heavily.
Jean sprang forward with Hagrid to help Harry.
"Rest well, Dragon Friend. When the time comes, call and those that remember the old ways will aid thee."
K'nor withdrew, leaving Jean and Hagrid alone on the shore of the small island. Harry leaned against Jean, barely conscious.
"Hold him, Hagrid, I need to look at his arm," she said tensely. This was not something she had expected to happen at all today!
Lifting up his tattered sleeve she was shocked to discover no wound, not even a scar. Instead, there was a stylized tattoo of a dragon surrounded by flames.
Harry slowly opened his eyes and he looked around in confusion.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
"I think so," he said. "But now you see why magic is such a pain. Had someone told me that was going to happen, I would have stayed in the castle playing a video game or doing my homework."
Hagrid made a rumbling noise in his chest and Jean realized he was chuckling.
Harry started to stand, but Hagrid pressed him back down. "Easy lad, tha' was quite a display. Yer parents would've been so proud. If we was in school right now, I'd be passin' yeh fer the rest o' the year. By Merlin! Did yeh see her? One o' the ancient dragons, I reckon, an' she honored yeh! I can hardly believe it!"
Jean turned to look at Hagrid. "Do you understand what just happened here?"
Hagrid nodded his head. "She marked him. Yeh see, some beasties, especially the smarter ones like dragons, have the ability to honor a person if they feel they are worthy. The person is marked somehow, like tha' tattoo. I expect he'd be able to walk through a field o' dragons now an' not one would touch him. There may be other advantages, but it will take time fer him to figure 'em out. I remember one fellow, had the mark o' the spiders. Could climb walls, he could."
Harry climbed unsteadily to his feet and looked at his big friend. "I'm sorry we called you all this way for nothing, Hagrid. We can't ask K'nor to move while she's clutching. I thought it was just a common kraken."
"Tha's alright lad. This was more impressive. Besides, I've got a camera on me. Later today I'll come back an' ask K'nor if I can take some photos to show the students."
Jean stepped up and placed a hand on Harry's arm. "If she can warn us, we can provide her with meat or other necessities when the eggs hatch," she offered.
Hagrid grinned broadly at her. "Just like yer sister! She would do the same thin'. I remember when Lily helped me heal Aragog when he got sick."
"Do I want to know who Aragog is?" Jean asked Harry in a whisper. Hagrid was already walking towards the castle.
"Not unless you like spiders the size of a pickup truck," he whispered back.
Jean shuddered and grimaced. Just another misunderstood beastie, she thought sarcastically.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Office of the Headmaster (August 20th)...
Dumbledore frowned at the knock at his door. "Come!" he said loudly. His wards hadn't told him that anyone was approaching, let alone who.
The door opened and several people stepped into the room, including Charles Xavier. Dumbledore's eyebrows rose when he saw Xavier's hover chair was functioning normally. That wasn't supposed to be possible!
Xavier's chair was brand new, one of the first electronic devices adapted to work around magic. When Hank finished adapting it, Harry spent a full day racing around the Castle, testing it, and casting magic. Finally, he and Dobby took turns riding in the chair before passing it to Xavier with their seal of approval.
"It's been a long time, Albus," Xavier said with a slight smile. He knew exactly what Dumbledore was thinking and wasn't surprised by his reaction to his hover chair.
Dumbledore nodded. "A long time indeed, Charles. You are looking well."
Xavier waved him off. "Thank you. I'd like to introduce you to Jean Evans-Summers, Harry's adoptive mother and maternal aunt, her husband Scott Summers, and Logan."
Dumbledore nodded to each of them. "Please make yourselves comfortable. Might I offer anyone a lemon drop?"
Logan moved to accept one of the candies, but Xavier stopped him.
"Logan," he said. When the man looked at him, he shook his head slightly and Logan moved away. Turning back to Dumbledore, Xavier raised an eyebrow. "Really, Albus. Candy that is laced with truth potion? Don't you think that's a bit unfair?"
Dumbledore had the grace to look chagrined at being caught out.
"My apologies. It's a habit stemming from dealing with less than honest students," he replied. "I am disappointed that you didn't bring Harry with you."
Logan laughed. "Don't be. The Wiz is mighty pissed at you at the moment. Between your Order, your Ministry and your Press, he nearly went home."
Dumbledore winced. "Yes, about that. Some of my people got overzealous, I'm afraid. I have spoken rather firmly with them over it. I was not pleased."
Xavier's eyes flitted to Logan for a brief second. "Of course. I understand perfectly how difficult it can be to have your people follow the directions you give them, but that isn't why we're here today. As I told you in my letter, we gave Harry a choice. After much consideration, he agreed to return to Hogwarts, but only under some very specific conditions."
Logan grinned, showing a row of shiny teeth.
"Yes, Headmaster," Jean said coldly.
Dumbledore shivered. The look this witch was giving him made him shudder. She looked exactly like Lily, right down to her temper. Add to that the fact that she was a formidable mutant and it didn't help matters.
"To be blunt, Headmaster," Jean said. "We don't trust you. Harry doesn't trust you at all and did not want to return to Britain, let alone this school. One of the ways we were able to convince him to return here was by promising to continue his normal education. Harry is far more intelligent than anyone here suspected and he is currently catching up to where he would be, had he been sent to a Muggle school. To accomplish that, he will need to spend at least one night a week away from the school, plus all day Saturday."
"I don't see a problem with that," Dumbledore replied.
"Tell me, what class is Professor Snape teaching this year?" Jean asked, suddenly changing the subject.
"Potions," Dumbledore replied warily. Unfortunately Umbridge had opted to remain at the school in the defense position.
Jean nodded and made a mark on a pad. "Excellent. Harry will be taking Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology and Estate Management. I would sign him up for your Muggle Studies class, but your professor is not qualified to be teaching that course. He'll be dropping Potions and Divination."
Dumbledore stared at her in shock. "But he needs Potions! He can't become an Auror without Potions!"
Jean's smile was all teeth. "His career goals have changed. He no longer wishes to become an Auror and he knows that, as a registered Dark Creature, that line of work is forever closed to him. Besides, according to the published by-laws in Hogwarts: A History, any student may seek outside instruction if they feel the instructor is not competent. Harry will be tutored in NEWT level Potions on Saturdays by an accredited Potions Mistress that we've hired.
"Harry has no wish to attend another class given by Mr. Snape. That condition is not subject to negotiation, Headmaster. Mr. Snape is a bigoted menace, and if it were up to me, I'd lobotomize him."
"He needs to learn potions from Professor Snape!" exclaimed Dumbledore. Snape's attitudes towards the boy helped Harry trust Dumbledore. That needed to continue!
"Why, Headmaster? Mr. Snape is cruel and abusive and you turn a blind eye to it. Why do you insist on forcing Harry to work with a man who is too stupid to realize that Harry is not James?"
Jean stood up, a scowl marring her lovely face, when Dumbledore didn't answer her question. "Come on," she told the others. "I can see that he's not interested in hearing what we have to say. We'll go with our other plan and enroll Harry in Beauxbatons."
Dumbledore stood in anger. This could not be! "Wait!"
Jean turned to eye him. "Yes? Was there something you wanted to say?"
Dumbledore stared at the woman for a moment, his natural Legilimency trying to reach out to her.
Jean smiled thinly. She could feel him slithering around, but he couldn't find her mind to even begin to probe it. Finally, he slumped back into his chair in defeat. "Fine," he muttered in defeat. "Harry can drop Potions."
Jean sat down and nodded to the others to resume their seats.
"Things have changed. Harry doesn't trust you. You've hurt him almost as much as Voldemort has. I'm not even going to go into what you did to my own life. We know exactly what you think Harry's role in your little war is, and we reject it utterly. Harry will not be your weapon against Voldemort. It's time that the Wizarding world grows up and learns to stand on its own two feet, rather than relying on an untrained sixteen year old, who only wants a family and a normal life. Something which you've denied him for far too long.
"Do not put Harry in a class with Snape. If you do, Harry will most likely kill him. Don't switch Snape over to teaching Defense, or Harry will drop that class as well. He has my permission to walk out of any class if he discovers Snape is teaching it."
"Spell it out for him Jean," growled Logan.
Jean nodded. "If we accept your version of the prophecy and the idea that Harry is the only one capable of killing Voldemort, then Harry holds all the cards. We've told him we will support any decision he makes, up to and including withdrawing him from this school and returning to America. If you continue to push Harry and Snape together, he will withdraw from your school, and we will allow it.
"You need him, he doesn't need you. That's what it boils down to, and that is what he knows. He's in the driver's seat in this war and if you want to win, you had better realize that he's running the show the way he wants to. He's not going to listen to you anymore."
As she spoke Dumbledore paled and lost the twinkle in his eye. Harry's conditions for returning were far worse than he ever imagined.
"Too wordy, Jean," Logan growled. He extended a fist towards Dumbledore, the claws extending slowly.
Dumbledore's widened, then blinked as he stared at the metallic claws. "Leave Harry alone, or I'll personally carve you and your turkey into little pieces."
Fawkes squawked and flapped his wings indignantly.
The threat hung there for a moment before Dumbledore nodded in numb shock. He had no choice, after all, but to accept the conditions these people had laid out.
"Excellent," Xavier said. "September first is a Friday. Harry will arrive at Hogwarts on the second. He is currently busy with his classes and he has exams on the first. It should please you to know he's excelling in his studies."
Dumbledore nodded again and asked himself if this could possibly get any worse. Now he wasn't even coming to school on the Express! He shook his head, trying to clear the screaming thoughts and the sensation of panic. A seed of an idea occurred to him.
"I think we all got off on the wrong foot. Perhaps we can start over and work together?" he offered in a conciliatory tone.
"What do you have in mind?" asked Jean in a neutral tone.
Dumbledore smiled benignly. "Harry needs to take six classes, but you have only listed five. You complain that our Muggle studies instructor isn't up to par, so why not take the position for yourself? Every year our Muggle studies Professor asks that I replace him, so why not replace him with you?"
Jean blinked in surprise. "Are you offering me a job?"
"Yes, but I'm offering you more than just a job. You'll be close to Harry, so you can keep an eye on him and make sure he's safe. I understand Harry's been tutoring you in magic? By being in the castle, we'll be able to give you far more comprehensive tutoring than Harry can. And you'd be able to fix the problems in what we teach in Muggle Studies," Dumbledore offered.
"It would solve your principal concern, Jean," Xavier commented.
"Besides, do you really want to be stuck in that dreary old castle while we make the needed modifications?" added Scott.
"Castle?" queried Dumbledore.
"Yes. Harry was kind enough to lease one of his properties to my organization, but it's in need of some repair and modifications," Xavier answered. "Part of it will always be his home."
Jean leaned back in her chair and thought for a moment. "All right, I'll do it."
"Excellent. Can you arrive before September first? The sooner the better, since we need to move you into quarters. We prefer to have all our staff in place at the start of term, so they may be introduced to the students. Also, I will owl you the course outline and lesson plan that has been used since 1902."
Jean nodded. It was a reasonable request. "How about a week from today?" she asked.
Dumbledore nodded agreeably. "That would be excellent. It would give you enough time to learn your way around the castle and give us the chance to see where we can help you the most."
Dumbledore looked down at his desk, seemingly hesitant, then he looked up at Jean. "Can you tell me how Harry is? I can understand his anger towards me. I've done a lot that I'm not proud of and I'm not sure I would do again, if given the chance. But I am most concerned about him."
Jean sighed. "Harry is well, for the most part. He did not want to return to Britain, and quite frankly, he is in favor of letting you wizards deal with Voldemort. He is very angry at times, and I think he has a right to be. When we brought him to the States, he was plagued with a crushing guilt and nightmares that let him sleep only a few hours each night.
"Professor Xavier and I have been helping him deal with it, but coming here and being confronted like he was caused him to slide back into old habits. The death of the Dursleys seems to have buried some of his contempt for Muggles, but at this point, he considers himself a mutant, not a wizard. He has little love for Muggles and even less for wizards. In time, that will change, but right now it is how he feels."
"He has been getting better," added Xavier. "And his love of flying has provided a badly needed emotional release. I do hope you will allow him to continue flying."
"Harry has always loved to fly. I wouldn't dream of taking that away from him," Dumbledore replied. He wondered why Logan and Scott shared an amused grin. The lad might not be able to play Quidditch anymore, thanks to Umbridge, but he'd never stop him from flying on his broom.
Muggle Studies Office, Hogwarts (August 27th)...
Jean was busy unpacking boxes of material that she and Harry had put together. It included recent Muggle history texts, magazines and several kits designed to demonstrate principles of electronics and physics. Harry had fixed the kits so that the electronics would work properly.
She stopped and turned. Sitting in her doorway was a stripped tabby cat. Jean's eyes narrowed. "You are not a normal cat."
The cat blurred and grew into the form of a woman. "You are most perceptive, my dear. I'm Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress and Transfiguration Professor. I thought I would drop by to welcome you and also to talk with you for a bit."
"Please come in, Professor," Jean said.
"Please, when there are no students around, call me Minerva. Everyone else does," she said with her habitual tight smile. She stepped into the room and gasped when she got a closer look at Jean.
"Only if you will call me Jean," replied Jean.
"Dear Merlin, you are the spitting image of your sister," she breathed, then she blushed. "I apologize for that. Lily was in my House, as your nephew is now. She was one of my favorite students. When she died, I tried to find out what would happen to Harry. I protested to Albus about his placement at the Dursleys, but he overrode my protests. I would have raised Harry myself if I could, instead of his going to those Muggles."
Jean motioned her over to a chair, then she pulled out a thermos with some hot tea. She offered Minerva a cup.
"Someday, I would like to hear more about my sister. She was taken from me so long ago and she had a life that I'm just coming to learn about," Jean said, handing her guest a cup. "I'm sorry it's not conjured. I made it this morning. I haven't mastered conjuring very well yet and I certainly can't make tea as well as Harry can."
"Conjuring falls under my area of expertise. I'd be pleased to help you master it. So, I take it Harry has been teaching you?"
Jean nodded. "He's a very patient teacher. He's walked me through all of the first and second year and most of third year spells in Charms, Transfiguration and Defense. It wasn't easy, at first. It wasn't until nearly the end of July that we were able to obtain a fitted wand for me."
"So you used Harry's wand?"
"Oh, no. Harry had a bunch of spare wands that he took from his Godfather's house," Jean replied with a bit of a smile.
Minerva looked shocked for a moment, then her eyes narrowed. "I don't suppose he helped himself to some books, as well?"
Jean laughed lightly. "Yes, he does have a rather eclectic collection of books now. I take it he is in trouble?"
Minerva sighed and shook her head. "No, but it is a relief to know that those books weren't falling into the wrong hands. The Order thought that the enemy was somehow taking the books."
She looked at Jean for a moment, then came to a decision.
"Jean, let me tell you a bit of a story because I want you to understand at least part of what happened and what went wrong," Minerva said seriously.
Jean's eyes widened and she nodded.
Minerva leaned back in her chair and sipped her tea for a moment. "In the years following World War I, a German wizard by the name of Gustav Grindelwald rose to power. Grindelwald was a ruthless man who managed to accumulate a large following. He would either kill his enemies or drain their magic, leaving them powerless. People feared Grindelwald; his name alone was enough to send people fleeing in panic.
"At nearly the same time, a dynamic speaker rose through the ranks of the National Socialist Party in Germany. The man was equally ruthless, and because he was so charismatic, he rose to lead that nation into a terrible war.
"Grindelwald held the European Wizarding community in his grip and we all lived in fear that his minions would come knocking in the middle of the night, ready to drag us off to only Merlin knows where. Grindelwald knew that the true path to power in this world lay in the Muggle world, so he became the power behind the leader of the National Socialist Party, Adolph Hitler.
"In 1940, a middle aged teacher of Transfiguration here at Hogwarts lost his wife and infant daughter in an attack by the followers of Grindelwald. It wasn't even a planned attack; she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The teacher was a very powerful wizard who, up until that point, had no wish to do more than teach children how to control their magic. That teacher, Albus Dumbledore, began the difficult task of uniting the wizarding world around him. Five years later, on a mountaintop in Bavaria, he beat Grindelwald in a personal duel, ending the war that had killed millions.
"Dumbledore became a hero. People from all over the world asked for his advice. Ministers, Ministries and organizations wanted his help with their endeavors. During the years following the war, he helped our world many times, and saved us from ourselves on at least two other occasions."
Minerva paused and took a sip of her tea.
"I'm not making excuses for him by any means. But the simple fact is, Dumbledore isn't the only one that failed Harry, or you. We, that is, the wizarding world, had become so accustomed to listening to Albus Dumbledore that none of us even considered questioning his judgment.
"Harry arrived here every September, exhibiting all the signs of coming from an abusive home, and to my eternal shame I ignored it because I knew that if it were a real problem, Professor Dumbledore would deal with it. Had I known what his life had been like, I would have fought with Dumbledore to prevent leaving him with those Muggles."
Jean had sat passively listening to her tale. Now, she leaned forward and met the Professor's gaze with eyes so hauntingly familiar, Minerva felt her heart lurch painfully.
"Minerva, while Dumbledore has hurt me and my son..." She paused when Minerva frowned slightly. "Yes, you heard right," she continued. "My husband and I have adopted Harry and he is now our son. But the point of this is that Dumbledore has done what he thought was right, regardless of the damage. And I don't think any of you really understand just how far Harry fell at the end of the last school year.
"If Harry could have managed it, he would have committed suicide. If he could have gotten away with it, he would have killed his uncle and cousin, but he didn't. Even after he got his hands on the spare wands, all he did was frighten them.
"Harry is healing, but it's a slow, painful process. He can't remember anyone ever telling him that he was loved. Can you imagine what that does to a child? I remember when he accidentally broke a window and my husband Scott got angry with him. Harry cringed away and expected to be beaten! We were shocked and he had a full blown panic attack, including flashbacks that took us hours to help him through.
"Imagine how you must live, if your first reaction to someone touching you is to flinch away. Imagine that every raised voice, whether in anger or joy, made you cower and tremble. That's how Harry came to us. Wounded, emotionally injured, and possessing a furious rage aimed at those who should have protected and loved him.
"I am very proud of Harry and how far he's come in such a short time. But I know he's not fully healed. With few exceptions, he doesn't trust any adult and he's resigned himself to the fact that he has lost his friends."
Minerva moved to protest, but Jean waved her to silence.
"Between what my sister and her husband did to him, his guilt because of Sirius and Cedric, the terrible nightmares and Voldemort, I'm surprised he survived and remained sane this long."
Jean sighed heavily and shook her head. "He's a very strong person, Minerva, but he reached his limit at the start of the summer and I intend to see that no one puts anything else on his shoulders."
"That's how it should be. If you've adopted him, then he needs to learn he can count on you," Minerva replied. "But he hasn't lost his friends. They are very upset, thinking they've lost him."
Jean frowned and picked up her cup of tea.
"Harry doesn't know who wants to truly be on his side and who is just using him. I think his approach is a bit simplistic, but it is logical. He's assumed that everyone is just using him. He intends to slowly weed out those he can be real friends with from those that look at him as just a tool for this war. While I'll agree that what some of his friends did was minor, it came at a point in his life when he was a hairsbreadth away from ending it all. And let's not talk about Ron Weasley. That newspaper article hurt him deeply.
"Think about it. I felt his anguish nearly four thousand miles away. It was what first alerted us to his existence," Jean said, then she paused and shook her head doubtfully.
"He went home having enormous doubts about the wisdom of Albus Dumbledore. He blames Dumbledore and Snape for Black's death. Not Bellatrix or Voldemort, and I'm not sure he's wrong. Then he discovered that his friends are being trained, by Dumbledore's orders, and lying to him about it, again by Dumbledore's orders. He took it for what it was; nothing short of a betrayal of the bond of friendship that existed."
Jean's voice lowered. "Harry sees betrayal in only one light, Minerva. His yardstick is what Peter did to my sister and her husband. Harry compares what his friends did to that and asks how soon before they do the same?"
Jean paused for a moment and sipped her tea.
"It doesn't help that the wizarding world now knows he's a Mutant. Their reaction hurt him so much that he no longer believes the wizarding world is worth saving," Jean said quietly.
"Surely it isn't as bad as that?" Minerva replied with a gasp.
"Think about it. In his second year, most of the school believed he was the heir of Slytherin. In his fifth year, the wizarding world turned on him, believing the smear campaign run by the Ministry. After the article appeared, we had to have Gringotts screen his mail. This past summer, two out of every three letters he received were death threats or complaints because it was revealed that he isn't just a wizard. The Ministry didn't come down on the Prophet for running those opinion pieces, saying that mutants were dark creatures, like werewolves. Professor Dumbledore didn't try to straighten them out.
"The only voice of reason came from a fifteen year old girl, who most consider to be 'strange'. And she wrote an opposing piece in a tabloid that no one takes seriously.
"I'm gratified for the welcome, Minerva, and hope we'll be able to become friends, but I have to warn you. Do not push Harry this year. You will find him much changed and not all for the better. I'm hoping he'll come around, but..."
Jean finished with a shrug. She and Xavier had many talks with Harry, but on some issues, his opinion remained unchanged. His idea that the wizarding society wasn't worth saving was one of them.
Minerva nodded unhappily and cursed her lack of inaction. She hoped that when she faced James and Lily Potter again, she would not be defending herself for her actions.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Infirmary (August 28th)...
"Can I help you?"
Jean whirled around, then relaxed, seeing a middle aged woman dressed in healer green. "You must be Madam Pomfrey," she replied, smiling and extending her hand.
When Poppy stared at Jean for a moment, then shook her head, Jean hid a smile. She was used to the reaction by now. "Yes, I am Lily Potter's twin sister," she said dryly. "I'm Jean Summers, the new Muggle Studies Professor."
Poppy smiled weakly. "Merciful Merlin, where is my head these days? Please, come in. Do you need any medical help?"
Jean shook her head. "No. Actually, I am trained as a Muggle physician. The Headmaster hired me on so I could keep an eye on my son, Harry."
Poppy stared at her again and Jean laughed. "I'm sorry, I just love seeing the reaction that causes. My husband and I adopted Harry this past summer."
Poppy relaxed and motioned for her to join her in her office.
"I'm still putting together the infirmary for the coming school year, but come in and have a seat. I'll pour us some tea."
Jean accepted the cup and waited until Poppy had sat down. "I'm curious, Madam Pomfrey. How is it you didn't notice the signs of abuse in Harry?"
Poppy scowled. "I did. But you need to understand, child abuse is very rare in the wizarding world. It almost never happens, and because of that, we have no laws or procedures in place to do something about it. Blood lines are too important to risk a child's life or well-being by beating him. We mostly see it in children of Muggles, or half-blood families, where they are living among the Muggles.
"In the case of a half-blood or Muggle-born, if they come to me and complain, all I can do is tell the Headmaster and advise the child to talk to the Muggle authorities. By law, I'm forbidden from alerting the Muggle authorities because I might inadvertently violate our secrecy law."
Poppy sighed. "In the case of Harry, he never complained. Not once, even when I knew for certain he was in pain, he never complained. That child has the highest tolerance for pain that I've ever seen and it's obscene! No one should be able to take the kind of pain he has. I can count on one hand the times I've seen him shed tears and have most of my fingers left over.
"When I could, I've stuffed him to the gills with nutrient potions and vaccines. I've held his hand in the middle of the night while he whimpered through nightmares. It's killed me to see what Harry's gone through. And every year I've complained to the Headmaster about it, for all the good it did," she finished, her tone bitter.
Jean nodded. Poppy's story just continued to confirm what she believed. "Well, Madam Pomfrey, for what it's worth, Harry thinks very highly of you."
Poppy smiled. "I keep threatening to put a sign on one of the beds proclaiming it his. He's spent more time in here than most other students."
"Madam Pomfrey, I have more homesickness potion for you," said a voice from just behind Jean.
Jean turned and her eyes narrowed, seeing Severus Snape for the very first time. She had seen Harry's memories of the man, but his descriptions fit him to a tee. Greasy-haired vampire, indeed!
Snape paused mid stride to stare back at Jean.
"Oh, Severus, this is Jean Summers. She's the new Muggle Studies Professor."
"I knew your sister. Unfortunately for her, she lacked the wit to fall in love with the right man and paid the price for it," he said with a nod of his head.
Poppy gasped and Jean bristled. What she was pulling from his mind appalled her. It was a sewer, overlaid with a cesspool!
"Really?" Jean said in an icy tone. "I doubt that was the case. From what I can tell from others, and from Harry, Lily was happily married to James."
"Yes, Potter," he spat. "I don't know what lies that moron has told you..."
Snape's comments cut off in a strangled gurgle. He found himself pinned to the wall and unable to breathe, while Poppy watched helplessly.
Jean had pulled her wand for show, but she wasn't using it. "Mind your manners, Professor," she said softly. "I will not stand for any further rudeness shown to my son."
She waved her wand slightly and Snape slid down to the floor. He rubbed his neck and stared balefully up at her for a moment, before standing slowly and backing out of the room, his eyes never leaving hers.
Poppy looked at Jean, aghast. "I'm sorry, Jean. I know Severus is somewhat abrupt at times..."
Jean whirled on the older woman. "Abrupt? That man shouldn't be allowed within a thousand miles of a child," she exclaimed, then she shuddered. "I know exactly what he has done to Harry, Poppy. Believe me, if you knew, you'd be calling for his head, as well. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some things to attend to. I'll see you at dinner?"
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Headmaster's Office (August 29th)...
Dumbledore scowled at the knock at his door.
"One moment, Alastor," he told Moody. "Come!"
The door opened and to his surprise, Jean Summers walked in.
"Professor, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm in the middle of an important meeting here," Dumbledore said tersely.
"Yes, Headmaster, I know. I came as quickly as I could when I sensed Mr. Moody here. What I need to tell you involves him, as well as you."
Dumbledore blinked, then he nodded. "Very well, then. Please, be seated."
Jean moved to sit next to Moody. "I've only been in the castle a few days and I have met most of the staff at this point. At first, I wasn't going to tell you this, and I want to warn you, I have not told this to Harry. If I did, he'd run back to America faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
She sighed and rubbed her forehead tiredly. "After talking to Professor Xavier, we've decided to come forward with this information. Harry may not want any part of your war, but the Professor and I agree that he's not seeing the bigger picture yet. He will eventually, but until then, we need to at least superficially work together. Tell me Headmaster, are you aware of my abilities?"
Dumbledore frowned. "I know you have shields I cannot penetrate. I know you are a telepath, like Professor Xavier, but I really do not know all that you can do," he replied slowly. "I assume you could control people like Xavier did with me at your parent's house long ago."
Jean nodded. "Yes. Harry has similar shields, although he lacks most of my other abilities. At best, I would say that Harry borders more on being empathic. I am a full-range telepath, Professor. Your mind's shields are useless against me. I can reach past them and pluck out your life story and you'd never know I did it. For example, I know that in your youth, Aberforth called you Albie and you hated the nickname, and you were sweet on a village girl named Tilly."
Dumbledore blinked in surprise and his expression darkened. "I don't know if I like the idea of you being able to bypass my shields," he murmured.
"Perhaps now you understand how Harry felt when he discovered that you and Snape were doing that to him on a regular basis." She waved her hand dismissively. "I do not run around lifting people's secrets from their minds, Headmaster, but to my talent, everyone broadcasts thoughts that are at the forefront of their mind. I can't help but pick up these thoughts. What I did right now was a little deeper than that, just to prove the ability exists."
Moody turned to Jean. "I take it there is a point to all this, lass?"
Jean nodded. "There is, Mister Moody. You and your Order have been betrayed."
The two men stared at her for a moment, then Dumbledore surged to his feet. "What?" he exclaimed.
"Snape?" asked Moody.
Jean glanced at him and nodded.
"But that's impossible!" Dumbledore said. "I trust Severus."
"And my sister trusted Peter," Jean retorted. "Look where it got her."
Moody turned to Dumbledore. "This is serious, Albus. Snape knows too much."
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair, thinking furiously, then he turned back to Jean. "You already suspected something, didn't you?"
Jean nodded. "I saw Harry's memories of those so-called Occlumency lessons. Snape used them to torture him. He pulled up every bad memory, every embarrassing moment, forcing Harry to relive them. He damaged what little shielding Harry managed to build until he was unable to block Voldemort from entering his mind. His actions were, in my opinion, highly suspect. He caused Harry great physical and mental pain and I wanted to know why. To be frank, Headmaster, my original thought was that he was acting under your orders."
Dumbledore stared at her, aghast that she'd even consider that he'd condone such an act. While he would allow Snape some liberties, he would never condone the man hurting a student, even Harry.
"Snape is working both sides against each other and is passing Voldemort more information than he's giving you. Voldemort knows Harry is the only one that can kill him now. Snape confirmed what the papers said at the beginning of the summer. I wasn't able to pick up his motivation for teaching Harry the way he did, but I'm almost sure it was on Voldemort's orders," Jean added.
"Mind rape," Moody commented softly.
Dumbledore removed his glasses and wiped at his face tiredly.
"Now things make so much more sense," he muttered, then he turned to Moody. "Alastor, what do we do?"
Moody grinned. "Well, since you probably won't let me kill the bastard, I'd say we start feeding him false information. We'll need a special meeting of the executive council to inform them, but the general membership can't be told. And we have a lot of things that have to change right away."
Moody stood. "I need to get on this right away, Albus," he said, then he turned to Jean. "Thank you lass."
Moody walked over to the Floo and quickly left the room. Jean turned her attention back to Dumbledore.
"There is a term first coined by the International Mind Arts Council which describes Severus' actions, Professor. It's called 'mind rape', and it is devastating for the victim. If this were any other student, I would be seeking help from a Mind Healer, but seeing how it is Harry, I can assume you and Charles are helping him?"
"You must be careful, Jean," Dumbledore said softly, his eyes full of pain. "Harry's emotional control will be quite fragile for a some time to come. Victims of this crime are not healed overnight. Normally, it takes months, years even, to fully come to grips with it. We must take care that his emotions do not result in wild magic. If you think extra help is needed, I know a Mind Healer that has experience with this sort of problem. I promise she will be quite discreet."
"I'll let you know if that becomes necessary, but for now, I think he's doing all right. He's got most of his magic under control. It wasn't easy, when he first came to us. He had problems performing his spells with the power boost," Jean replied.
"Oh?" Dumbledore replied, looking at her in confusion.
"Charles seems to think that Snape's lessons changed him in some way. He believes that a combination of Voldemort's possession of him, Snape's lessons and the depression he experienced resulted in the emergence of Harry's mutant abilities. He also thinks that with his mutant awakening, his magic was boosted significantly."
Dumbledore shook his head ruefully. "I want to help him, but I doubt he would accept it from me. I do not know how to make amends," he confessed. "I know that you and Harry have rejected the prophecy, but the undeniable fact is that Voldemort has not. That means that Voldemort will keep coming at him until either Harry kills him, or he is killed by Voldemort.
"Harry won't accept any help from me, so instead, if you will allow it, I will rely on you. Tell me what you need to in order to train Harry to fight and I'll help as much as I can. Unlike so many others, I harbor no fear of mutants. In fact, we have another mutant witch starting school this term. A Cynthia Creevy, although I do not know what her abilities are. She has been at the heart of several incidents and we know no magic was involved. I can only assume she's a mutant."
Jean watched him, measuring his sincerity and found he was telling her the truth. "Professor Xavier and I agree that Voldemort will keep coming at him. Harry still hopes to keep a low profile, finish school and vanish from the wizarding world forever, which I think is a bit naive. Harry is still coming to grips with the changes in his life. And until he does, he'll never understand that Voldemort's interest in him is personal. He'll get there eventually, but in the meantime, we have no choice but to wait for him."
Jean stood and glanced around the office before turning back to Dumbledore. "Don't expect Harry to be very cooperative. At least not for a while yet. And please, do not tell him about Snape. Harry would kill him. I'll tell him myself."
Dumbledore nodded and watched Jean leave his office. Fawkes crooned soothingly at him and he reached up to stroke his soft feathers.
"It was even worse than I feared, my old friend. And now we've got to see what kind of magical changes Harry has undergone."
Fawkes trilled a comforting warble and Dumbledore leaned back, relaxing to the sound of phoenix song.
There have been a number of reviews asking for appearance of so and so from the X-Men universe. People need to understand that this is a Harry Potter story. That is why we brought Harry back to England and to Hogwarts. That is why there are no kids from the X-Men universe in this story. They would detract from it, not add to it.
Its not easy writing a crossover. You need to blend just the right mixtures of two universes and never forget that in most cases, your crossover is primarily one universe with a mix of elements from another. In the case of Mutant Storm, this is a Harry Potter story with Harry Potter characters. We've thrown in a select grouping of X-Men and their abilities/technology into the mix, but it's still mostly a Harry Potter story. That is why you won't see Kurt, or Kitty, or Bobby or any of the other X-Men other than perhaps being mentioned in passing. It also explains why we moved from America back to England as quickly as we did.
If that bothers you, well you know where the door is. (grin)
Dogbertcarrol: The wizarding world did know about mutants, they just never encountered a wizard/mutant before. As to the registration, that's easily explained. All non-standard humans (ie werewolves, veela, mutants, vampires etc) are considered dark creatures.
In this chapter Ron hits rock bottom and begins his long climb out of the hole he's dug for himself. For the Ron haters out there, we're sorry, but we're not killing him off. Instead we are marginalizing him and pushing him off to the side. He'll be in the story and eventually Harry and him will make up, but they will never regain the level of friendship they once had.
Alorkin: 42g wasn't for two holsters, it was for FOUR holsters. Harry bought two for himself and two for Jean. Holsters are something that fan fiction often overlook, or cheapen. If you have a holster strapped to your forearm, it needs to be able to automatically resize the wand so that it doesn't affect your arm motion. 10.5g per holster that is charmed to be unsummonable and resizes isn't all that unreasonable in my opinion.
A few people commented about how Logan could get stunned. Well we know he can heal nearly anything. But in this case, he was hit with multiple stunners (which is something we made obvious in this chapter).
Gringotts made the distinction that the money was seized illegally. Sorry if we didn't make that clear.
Harry's feelings for Remus are difficult to describe. In this story Remus is part of the cult of Dumbledore. Hagrid is also part of that mindset, but Hagrid has come to learn how much Dumbledore's actions hurt Harry. As a result Hagrid has opened his eyes and has reevaluated things. Harry's seen him do that first hand. He hasn't been in contact with Remus other than during the attack on his mother. Obviously Harry's attitude to Remus and any other Order members is going to be tinged by that encounter.
RNCybergate: Holding a dual citizenship is a headache. You actually have to be careful that you don't mess up and break laws inadvertently. Harry has a spare wand that is illegal for him to own in Britain. He knows it and is not flaunting the fact that he owns a second wand. He made a bad comment to Ollivander, that is true, but the simple fact is, he trusted the older man to enough that he relies on his discretion.
Taegous: I'm sorry you see it as an insult to Lily. But honestly, what does Harry know of Lily? She's a name and voice in a dementor induced nightmare and that's it. Jean and Scott adopted him, giving him the one thing he wanted all his life. Parents that loved him. Calling her Mum and Scott Dad are major points for Harry.
And finally to all those people that leave reviews that simply say "Update soon!" Knock it off. We know where you live and have sent five dollars in your names to the International Terrorist Retirement fund, then we sent that information to the department of homeland defense. Don't bother trying to run, they are coming for you.
This story has been marked as suitable for adult readers only.