Her reaction unknowingly mirroring Colonel O'Neill's, Ginny stared blankly back at Hammond as he stood there in the doorway of his office. The President of the United States wanted to talk to her? That was not something she would ever have expected.
Best not keep the man waiting, though.
Or at least, she presumed it was a man. She didn't actually know. She would have to take it on faith that they were unaware of her ignorance, and wouldn't try to yank her chain.
Ginny glanced at her cup, but it was sadly empty. Taking her borrowed blanket, she got up and made her way silently over to the General. She would have long since asked for a place to change, but everything in her knapsack (except the invisibility cloak) was just as wet as what she was wearing. She was freezing, and hoped that something could be done about that soon.
But one thing at at time, she supposed; her own comfort was hardly at issue here.
Hammond held the door and then closed it behind her. He then quickly moved into the ornate leather chair behind his sparsely-populated desk, and Ginny used that brief moment to look around. There wasn't much of interest to see, though, beyond a few certificates of some sort hanging in frames on one wall.
The most prominent feature was a pair of telephones on one corner of his desk. One was olive drab, just like so much else around here, and the other was incongruously bright red. Ginny knew just enough about the muggle world to wonder why one would actually need two telephones. It was odd.
Hammond reached forward and pressed a button on the red one, putting an end to any chance she might have had to prepare for the upcoming conversation.
"Mr. President?" he called, "I have you on speaker, and Miss Weasley is here with us."
"Thanks, George," an affable voice said from the telephone. "Ginny Weasley? I'm President Henry Hayes." He paused for the briefest of moments before asking, "Is that short for Virginia?"
Ginny blinked. "Ginevra, actually," she softly replied.
"Ginevra," he mused. "That's the Italian version, isn't it?"
"Er, I think so," she frowned.
Ginny wondered why they were talking about this, though a glance at Hammond showed that he accepted it as normal, if mildly amusing. Weren't there more important things to do, though, than talk about her name? But she didn't dare change the subject; he was their President, and she was just a random girl. Fortunately, he moved on from there.
"George tells me you're still in your early teens," he noted in a surprisingly friendly tone. "Hogwarts, I presume?"
"Yes, sir," she confirmed. "I just finished my fourth year."
"Gotcha," returned the President. And then he turned a lot more serious, the affability falling away, though his tone was still friendly. "I'd like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind," he informed her. "Information about what's going on over there is very hard to come by."
"I'll answer what I can," she frowned.
"Thank you," he offered. "My main concern right now is regarding a certain terrorist from the seventies that nobody likes to name. We've heard rumors that he's active again."
Hayes had already proven that he knew of magic — how else would he know to ask about Hogwarts? — but she still took a moment to decide what she should say. In the end, though, she had no reason to avoid answering, especially since she was here to ask for help.
Hammond's gaze sharpened considerably at the mention of a terrorist, but he remained silent, so she ignored him.
"He is," she quietly told the President. "Tom outed himself just over a month ago. I didn't see him personally, but a lot of people did."
"Tom?" he asked with an audible frown.
Ginny nodded even though he couldn't see her. "His real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle," she explained. "He got the other by rearranging the letters."
"Ah, I see, an anagram," he mused, seemingly to himself. "Interesting."
Silence fell for a few moments while the President presumably gathered his thoughts. She was content to wait; she had no way of knowing what else he might want to know, so she had nothing to volunteer.
It wasn't long before he continued, though. "How bad is it?" he asked. "I wasn't in the know the last time around, but I've been informed of the kinds of things he did back then."
Ginny sighed and took a moment to pull her feet up under herself and settle in. It sounded like this was going to be a long conversation. There was nothing for it, though, even if her information was limited.
"Not much has happened yet beyond a few disappearances," she said softly. "It could get very bad though. Harry warned everyone he was back a year ago, but nobody believed him. Tom had all that time to prepare, but I don't know what he's done or who he might have recruited."
"I saw some of the articles in your paper last year," noted Hayes darkly. "That they would smear a child like that is an absolute disgrace. I don't know about over there, but here we have laws against that sort of thing, especially where minors are involved."
"We might too, for all I know," she shrugged, "but Harry is an orphan. He has nobody to defend him. The people he lives with don't like us and treat him horribly, and everyone else assumes that Dumbledore is taking care of things. I don't think he is, though."
Her brow furrowed as she thought about that; she really couldn't fathom Dumbledore's motives. By her understanding, he had more or less claimed guardianship of Harry in the magical world, and did exactly nothing to meet that responsibility. Inside their world or out, Harry had no adult help whatsoever. Even her own parents ignored everything they saw wrong with his situation on Dumbledore's mere word that things were fine.
Their trust was misplaced, she felt.
"Is there any truth to him being vital in dealing with Riddle?" Hayes asked after a moment. "I'm sure you're aware of what your papers have been calling him lately."
Ginny closed her eyes and sighed. The Chosen One. They had started in with that before the school year even ended. She had to agree with President Hayes on this; they shouldn't have been publishing anything about him at all, speculative or otherwise.
And Harry was going to hate it when he found out.
"I don't know for certain," she hedged, "but something I saw makes me believe it might be true."
"Oh?" he prompted.
Ginny eyed Hammond, who was becoming more and more pensive as the conversation went on, but still held his counsel. She was honestly surprised that he hadn't asked any questions. In his shoes, she doubted she could have been so passive. But no matter how patient he was being, she really had no choice at the moment.
"It's covered under the Statute of Secrecy," she reminded the President.
"Oh, right," said Hayes, seeming to have genuinely forgotten that issue. "We still need to resolve that, don't we. You're here to get help from George and his people, right?"
"I think so?" she answered uncertainly. "I was told to tell Dr. Jackson that Harry needs to be with the Nox, but I don't have any idea what that means."
"I do," replied the President, to her surprise. "But we'll get to that in a bit."
Ginny's ears perked up; maybe she would finally get some answers of her own? There was another brief silence, and she had the distinct impression that the President was considering his options. And then—
"George?" he called.
"Yes, Mr. President?" responded Hammond attentively.
The President's voice suddenly turned formal. "Under my authority as described in the International Statute of Secrecy of 1689, clause 12," he began, "I am hereby authorizing you to receive and retain, if and as necessary, knowledge of the covered communities and all matters pertaining thereto. I am also extending that authorization, if necessary and at your discretion, to Dr. Janet Fraiser and the current members of SG-1, only. Nobody else is to be read in without my direct authorization. I will issue this order in written form when we're done with this call. You will have it within the next two hours."
"Yes, sir," confirmed Hammond, seeming mostly unaffected by he pronouncement.
Ginny was somewhat aware of the particulars of the Statute — mostly due to actually reading the textbook in History of Magic — so she knew that this was legal. President Hayes had, in essence, designated Hammond and the people he mentioned to be his representatives to the magical world on behalf of the muggles. It was a loophole to be certain — it didn't require that they actually do the job so far as she was aware — but it was a valid authorization.
"Take the secrecy seriously, George," the President warned. "This matter is just as highly classified as your program, and the consequences of premature disclosure have the potential to be just as dire."
Now Hammond took notice, and his eyes widened. Ginny was suddenly curious what they did here that might somehow compare to the secret of Magic. She wouldn't ask, though; she would be patient, for Harry's sake if nothing else.
"Yes, sir," he confirmed formally. "I understand, sir."
"Excellent," said Hayes in a much lighter tone, his smile audible once more. "Now then, is that okay, Ginny?" There was a beat before— "It is okay if I call you that, right?"
Ginny blinked. "Er, yes, that's fine, sir," she told him, suffering from slight conversational whiplash. "And yes, I'll accept that."
"Wonderful," enthused Hayes. "So can you tell me what you saw? I don't mean to press, but I think you're probably more aware than even I am of just how important this could be."
Ginny sighed heavily. She really didn't want to go there since so many people derided the concept to begin with, but then she supposed that it didn't matter. Even if one did not believe, it was clear that Tom did.
"There's a Prophecy, Mr. President," she told him quietly, copying Hammond's form of address since it seemed appropriate. "I saw enough to know that it exists, and that it was stored where they keep copies of certified Prophecies. It involves Harry, Tom, and maybe Dumbledore, but I don't know what it says."
Hammond frowned much more deeply at this, but almost seemed to acknowledge the possibility, to her surprise. Even in the magical world a lot of people believed that there was no such thing as true Prophecy. Ginny felt otherwise, and perhaps more importantly, so did Merlin when he was still around.
If Merlin believed it, she was going to take him at his word.
That did not, however, mean that this was necessarily a true Prophecy. Without that certification — and she had no idea how they did that, or if this one had ever been certified — there was no telling. That fact actually bothered her. And Hayes seemed to feel the same way.
"Could it have been falsified?" he asked neutrally.
"It's possible," she shrugged. "But given where it was, it would be really hard to do. I don't think it matters though, really. Tom knows it exists, and apparently believes in it."
"He knows what's in it?" asked Hayes, sounding a bit worried.
"No, sir," she reassured him. "Or at least not all of it. That's how we ended up in that mess last month, actually. He was trying to lure Harry in to bypass the protections so he could get his hands on it. Only the people involved in it can get to it, and Tom was trying to lay low at the time. The recording was destroyed before anyone could hear it."
"Well that's something, at least," he mused. "What do you think his next move will be?"
Ginny frowned and took a moment to contemplate that. She had thought about it off and on, but she really had no answers. For all that she knew Tom's character and personality better than most, he was still an enigma. On top of that, he tended to be more than a little mercurial. That said, she could make a few generalizations.
"His immediate goal is probably to take over our government," she decided. "He's had a year to plan and prepare, and since his followers mostly walked free last time…"
"He probably has his forces already in place to pick up right where he left off in the seventies," Hayes finished heavily.
"Yes, sir," she sighed. "And a lot of our government is sympathetic to his supposed cause, which makes it even worse. I honestly doubt they'll last long once he gets going."
Silence fell for a long moment as everyone digested this. Even Hammond, who didn't have the full context yet, understood enough to be very concerned. Tom was desperately dangerous, full stop.
"And where would he would go after that?" wondered Hayes.
"Hard to say," she shrugged. "I don't think he'll go after the normal governments until he has our communities under his control though. They would cause too many problems for him otherwise. But I'm just a schoolgirl, so…"
"No, that makes sense," agreed Hayes.
Silence filled the room, and Ginny couldn't help but wonder where this would lead. She supposed that they could send aid to Britain — American Aurors were notorious — but Britain would have to accept them, and that was highly unlikely. Fudge was very much in the "Britain Is Best" camp, and a bonafide moron to boot.
At least the Americans would know to prepare, though. Other countries might not be so fast to decline their help if Britain fell. Tom would run into much stiffer resistance if other countries were ready for him.
"Okay," Hayes finally said. "I think there's only one way forward here. George?"
"Yes, Mr. President?" Hammond responded immediately.
"As of now, General, I consider Harry Potter to be absolutely vital to the future safety and security of this world," he informed the man, his voice once more turning formal. "Barring immediate threats, helping him however he needs is now your top priority. Do you understand?"
"I understand and will comply with the order, Mr. President," he frowned. "But I'll need to know what we're dealing with in order to help him."
"We'll get to that in a minute," the President said dismissively. "Ginny?"
"Yes, Mr. President?" she queried tentatively, hoping he wasn't going to try to give her orders.
"Are you willing to keep our secrets?" he asked simply.
"Er, yes?" she said tentatively. It was a pretty broad request. "I mean, as long as they don't endanger us or something," she qualified with a frown.
To her surprise, she heard Hayes chuckle. "I understand what you mean," he said, his voice smiling again, "and that's good enough. Don't worry, it's nothing bad, even if it is a bit shocking."
"Okay," she frowned. And then, knowing that he probably need something more explicit, she made a promise: "You have my word that I won't reveal your secrets as long as they don't endanger our community or other innocent people."
"Perfect, Ginny, thank you," he replied. And then— "General?" he called again, "I am hereby authorizing Ginevra Weasley and Harry Potter for knowledge pertaining to the SGC, as necessary at your discretion, up to and including full disclosure of the program in its entirety to them if necessary. As I said, Mr. Potter is vital, and helping him is a top priority. Miss Weasley is to be considered his representative agent until such time as he can speak with you on his own behalf. I know I'm playing that last one fast and loose, but Oma Desala's involvement necessitates it."
Hammond's eyes widened with each word until they were bulging. He was clearly shocked by the order. Whatever they did here, it must be a truly deep secret.
"Respectfully, sir, is this really that important?" he asked, still wide-eyed.
"Absolutely," confirmed Hayes strongly. "The last time this threat was active was in the seventies, and we were preparing for the worst. He's not on the same level as the threat we most recently dealt with, but in some ways he's almost as dangerous."
"I understand, sir," Hammond frowned. He didn't appear skeptical, per se, but he clearly wasn't fond of not knowing everything about a threat of that magnitude — and Ginny found herself wondering just what they had faced before that could possibly be worse.
"I'm going to trust you to tell the General and the others I mentioned what they need to know, Ginny," Hayes continued. "It's entirely at your discretion. But don't discount them, they're far more capable than even you can likely imagine."
"I understand," she replied. Honestly, she was relieved; she didn't really see why they needed to know anything at all just yet.
"Don't press her for information, George," warned the President. "Let her tell you in her own time. This isn't our war. We're just sitting on the sidelines and helping out where we can get away with it at the moment."
There was a brief pause before he added–
"And you should hope and pray that it stays that way."
Hammond's eyes widened again, but this time it wasn't as much of a shock apparently. He nodded decisively. "Yes, sir," he said simply.
"Good," said the President. "And George? Whatever she decides to tell you? Even knowing what you know? You'll want to dismiss it as fantasy."
He paused for a beat, and then—
"I understand Mr. President," Hammond nodded.
"Excellent," pronounced the President. "And now for next steps. I assume you can contact the Nox?"
"I don't see why not," confirmed Hammond.
"Then do that," ordered Hayes. "See if they'll send a representative. Either way, let's get Ginny in touch with them and see what happens from there."
Understanding blossomed as she listened to Hayes' orders. She finally and fully understood that the Nox were a people. She had no idea who they were or what they would bring to the table, but any help they could offer would be welcome — and Oma seemed to think they held the answers.
For the first time in weeks, Ginny felt like things might just be looking up for a change.
"We'll get on that immediately," agreed Hammond.
"Thank you," offered the President. "It never ends in this Office, and I have another meeting I need to get to now. Honestly, we were lucky to have as much time as we did. Ginny? Oma aside, thank you for trusting us. You won't be disappointed, I promise."
"Thank you for helping us, Mr. President," she replied, uncertain how else to respond.
"It's my pleasure, Ginny. Just let George and his people take care of you. And George? Let me know how it goes."
"I will, Mr. President," he promised.
"Good luck," was the last thing Hayes said before a click sounded, and Hammond reached forward to press another button on the phone, presumably disconnecting the call.
Now it was just the two of them, and Ginny wondered what would happen now. She would be brimming with curiosity in his shoes, and the President's orders aside, he definitely had leverage. The longer the silence reigned the more nervous she got — but then he broke it, and she needn't have worried.
"Let's go back to the briefing room," he offered, getting to his feet.
Ginny nodded and followed him, her mind busy chewing over the conversation just past. She was too tired, however, to see much beyond the fact that she was finally getting somewhere. She now knew the Nox were people and they were going to get her in touch with them. She could hardly ask for more than that.
Carter, O'Neill, and Teal'c stood respectfully for the General as they re-entered the room — and then Dr. Jackson did so belatedly when he looked up from whatever he was reading. She had the sudden feeling that he was a bit of an absent sort. O'Neill raised an eyebrow as though to ask what happened, but Hammond ignored it entirely and focused on Carter instead.
"Major?" he called. "I want you to get a message through to the Nox, in person if necessary. Let them know that we need help with an unusual medical issue and are requesting a representative to discuss the matter."
"Yes, sir," she nodded, though she didn't immediately move off.
Hammond turned to O'Neill next. "Take Miss Weasley down to the infirmary and have Dr. Fraiser look her over," he ordered. "Also get her some dry clothes and some dinner. By then we should know how long this will take, and we can put her up in a VIP room for the night if need be."
"Will do, sir," nodded O'Neill. Ginny was visited with the sudden notion that he was a very unconventional officer. It was something about his response.
"Good," nodded Hammond. "No more questions, people," he told them seriously. "The President knows what's going on, and it's on a need-to-know basis, so don't press Miss Weasley for any more information than she wants to give. President's orders. Am I clear?"
"Yes, sir," nodded O'Neill.
"Good," said Hammond. "Then get moving."
As she followed O'Neill and his team — now sans Major Carter, who had left down a spiral staircase — she found herself hoping that the Nox would take their time. While she was in a hurry to help Harry, right now she could barely keep her eyes open. She didn't know how much longer she could stay on her feet.
A warm bed sounded like heaven.
A/N: Henry Hayes is one of my favorite Stargate characters; William Devane brought him to life and made him an awesome President. I hope I got him right — but I think he might have had a touch of Jed Bartlet in there at the beginning. =) Unfortunately, as much as he was the star of this chapter, there wasn't room to have as much fun with him as I would have liked.
And now this installment is done.
I've gotten through one of the sticky parts, and am just about to try to rewrite the second. There could potentially be a third, but I think this next bit will be he hardest to write. I'm going to try to release on a more or less weekly basis until I have drafts for everything (though I won't release unless I have completed at least one more chapter ahead ;). We'll see how it goes.
I will also try to avoid another decade-long hiatus, but no promises! =)
I'm actually surprised that so many are so interested in a crossover; thank you for taking the time to review and let me know! Here are a few responses:
First, to the couple of you asking about the timeline — it was in the note at the end! =) It's just post OotP; where exactly will become apparent as the story progresses (if it hasn't already).
frisbeeg70: Thanks! And yes, I see a lot of the same in HP/SW as well, where a good idea gets overused (and almost never finished). I hope this one is a little different than the norm (though I admit there will be familiar elements at times). As for Ginny being the main character, I didn't actually set out with that intent, but she just went and stole the show. What can I say?
Urgazhi: Honestly, the best Stargate crosses seem to be with Buffy (where I'm barely conversant with canon) for some reason. Good HP/Stargate crosses are, unfortunately, few and far between. I've read a few straight Stargate fics, but this series lends itself to crossovers so well….
hga: I actually did consider that, but this is the most secret facility in the country, and she's an unknown in possession of very esoteric and highly classified information. Until the end of this chapter she wasn't a guest to them; she was a potential threat, and they weren't going to do her any favors yet.
They gave her some consideration because of Oma; without that, they would have dumped her in a cell for quite a few hours (albeit with dry clothes), tried to research her, and then interrogated her thoroughly when they couldn't find anything. Hammond has proven in canon that he can be a hard-ass at times. Things could have gone very badly for her if Hammond wasn't also capable of being reasonable. =)
LadyPhoenix731: :P =)
And on that note, I'm off to work, and then hopefully to get more written. See you all next time!
[Oh, and ignore the extra update alert if you get one; I'm just fixing a few minor things that I missed in the first chapter; typos and flow/perspective issues, mostly, nothing that changes the story, though.]