Chapter 5

(AN: Apologies. I want to move forward in the story but the plot just drudges on like a netful of stones through muck, each stone demanding just as much attention as the last. But it'll all be worth it when the trap is all set and each in their proper position.)

* * Hogwarts: Medical Wing * *

"I've never seen anything like this!" Madam Pomfrey shrieked as she hovered over Mundungus' body. "If it weren't for Severus' rejuvenation potion he wouldn't be alive now! Just what caused this!"

Remus explained, "We don't know. He was investigating a lead in the states. But… there might be possibility that…"

"That what?" Madam Pomfrey shouted.

"That this might have been some kind of muggle attack. Mundungus was investigating a muggle general when he was attacked." Remus finally said.

"Muggle! How- Well I suppose… Oh blighter!" Madam Pomfrey went over to Mundungus again casting more diagnostic spells. "Ah! How could I have missed this?" Madam Pomfrey gently and carefully extracted a tiny metal nub behind Mundungus' ear and levitated into a nearby container. "It looks like… I don't know what it is. Some kind of poison vector?"

Remus interjected, "It couldn't be so simple, and whatever it is attacked his mind as well. When he was giving his report he mentioned his attacker had launched some kind of mental assault on his partner and during his report he had a mental lapse before we stabilized."

Madam Pomfrey was intently examining the results for Mundungus' blood. "There's something here. Look Remus." Madam Pomfrey showed Remus a medical reading from her wand. "See the parts moving here?"

"What are they? Is it… a virus?" Remus asked.

Madam Pomfrey shook her head. "No. At least not a normal one. Whatever these blotches are, they're benign. At least they appear to be. However, it seems to have released these virus-like infections over here, near his heart. Whatever they are, they attaching to the walls of the heart muscle and trying to… kill it."

"Can you stop it!" Remus sputtered.

Moving at speeds surprising for a woman her age, Madam Pomfrey summoned multiple potions and administered them on Mundungus. She cast a few more spells and let out a sigh of relief. "Mr. Fletcher isn't at risk, for the moment. The saving grace is that these virus-like things are not as effective as they could be. Bolstered by these potions, his own immune system is still enough to attack the viruses and slowly clear them out. You see?" Madam Pomfrey showed Remus where the attacking viruses were sloughing off. It appears that Mr. Fletcher has survived the worst of it. What I'm worried about are the vectors. I still have no idea what these things are doing to Mr. Fletcher. And considering you mentioned a mental attack…"

Remus exhaled noisily. "This is quite a mess. Can you do anything for him? It would be ideal if we could ask him more about his attack."

"… I am still not sure of the extent of the damage, but it's still not possible to completely flush them out, even with a consistent application of blood replenishing potions." Madam Pomfrey lamented.

Suddenly the medical wing doors were kicked open. Sirius Black entered with a shaky unkempt mustached man slung over his shoulders. "Remus, I found Mick. He still a little under the weather but he's holding it up, it looks like."

Madam Pomfrey lead the man to a bed and began diagnostics again. "Do you know what happened to him, Sirius?"

"We were attacked, *gasp* by soldiers." Mick seethed. "Not surprising since Dung had me interrogating a general."

"Did the soldiers shoot you with anything?" asked Remus.

Mick shook his head, "They never got a shot off before Dung threw his smoke bombs. No. What was crazy was the man in the gas mask."

"Gas mask?" asked Sirius

"Muggle thing. I'll explain it to you later Sirius." said Remus.

"How's Dung?" asked Mick.

"He's alright for the moment, Mick." answered Remus. "The question is will he be the same when he wakes up. That man with the mask, he used a legilimency attack didn't he?"

Mick responded, "Yeh. Not any kind I ever saw before. It bore straight threw my occlumency." Mick frowned at the memory and clenched his teeth. "I don't know if they were wizards or muggles or what, but they know about… Me an' Dung don't know that much about what's going on with your whole operation, so I don't think he got much about the Order, but still… you might want to prepare for any spooks crawling around your parts."

Sirius frowned at that. "Do you think they had anything to do with the Death Eaters at all? Anything at all?"

Mick looked up to Sirius for a moment and said, "No. Bloody hell, though mate, those muggles were fuckin' nutters. Whatever we were looking for must have been important that's for damn sure, but probably nothing to do with the Death Eaters. Those were top secret muggle projects, the kind they kill men fer, but that's never been the Death Eater way, 'as it? Wizards superior to everything muggle and all that. They wouldn't even look at the nuclear thingies, much less use 'em."

Sirius yelled, "Just great! So it was a wild goose chase after all!" before Madam Pomfrey shushed him.

Mick said, "I really don't know what to tell you. Do you think Dumbledore's going to want the memory of it, of… Metal Gear?"

Remus answered, "That might be a good idea, but none of us can extract memories. We'll have to wait for either Snape or Dumbledore himself to return. Did the American Wizard's Council get involved with your investigation?"

Mick's shoulders sagged. "Rubbish, this whole thing was. I don't even know how those Yanks knew we were there. Me and Dung cased the house for two days, two whole days and the way the tosser was leaving his door open, it was like he was asking for someone to rob him. Then when we finally caught up with him, I couldn't bloody read him! We get surrounded by bloody muggles, pointing their damn bang-sticks at us. And as if that wasn't bad enough we get a god damn bell-end turning the tables on us and- *cough-cough*"

Madam Pomfrey saw her patient was beginning to get worked up. "That's enough, Mr…"

"Just Mick. No last names 'ere."

"Alright then, Mr. Mick. Aside from the bruises and typical signs of mind trauma you're alright, but please lay on the bed and get some rest." Madam Pomfrey ordered.

Remus asked, "Is there anymore you can tell us? Before Mundungus collapsed he said a phrase, 'La Li Lu Le Lo.'"

Mick gave the bedridden Mundungus a stare before cocking an eyebrow at Remus. "How startling, Dung spouting jibberish. The world must be endin'."

Sirius irritatingly shouted, "Be serious about this!"

Mick turned to the irate wizard and shouted "You're serious enough for both of us!"

Sirius let a single laugh, but steadied himself. "Damn it man! People's lives are at stake here!"

Mick put his hands up defensively. "Okay okay okay. Let's see. From what I could gleam, this Metal Gear is like I said, some kind of nuclear weapon, which as you know are the muggle's super weapon. But the thing about this Metal Gear accordin' to the colonel was that it has ability to move and walk like a car or something. Don't ask me why that's important, I never took muggle studies seriously. Now as far as I can tell the soldiers in Outer Heaven weren't terrorists like the news reports say; they were just mercenaries. It was a nation of mercs with no allegiance to any of the big countries. Give them that and a super weapon? Well I guess the higher ups in the muggle government didn't take kindly to that and blew them all to smithereens. If I had to guess I'd say the boss that gave those orders was these Patriots we were lookin' for."

Sirius thought hard. "Remus, do you really think this has anything to do with us at all? Is it like Dumbledore said?"

"I don't know, but we'll just have to find out. Let's depend on Dumbledore's findings." said Remus.

"We could do that or~" Sirius mischievously drawled out, "we could go out and drum up some information for ourselves."

Remus recognized that look. It was the same look, not Sirius, but Padfoot gave him. "We're not in Hogwarts anymore Paddy. Heading out randomly into the dark with our thumbs up our rears isn't going to cut it anymore."

"So we'll randomly go into the dark with our pinkies. Come on Moony! You know you want to!" grinned Sirius. "They've already written up my pardon and as long as I don't kick up a fuss in the wizarding world the Ministry won't bother me. So~ what better investigation than one in the muggle world?"

"Are you sure you should be doing this? After what happened with Harry and the Ministry? I thought you'd want to be a better role model than that Sirius." chided Remus.

"Oh don't put that in my face. It's not like I'm suggesting we head into a Death Eater base!" retorted Sirius. "We're just going to take old Mick here and figure out who attacked him."

"Oy! Don't bring me into this! I've already done my job and Dung hasn't even paid me my usual fee yet!" shouted out Mick. "You couldn't pay me enough to go through that again."

"Oh?" huffed Sirius impishly. "I just happen to be the Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Black, the sole remaining Black with access to the extensively large vaults of the Black family. Care to make that a bet?"

Mick gave Sirius a stern look, which quickly collapsed into a relenting frown. "Fine! But I want QUADRUPLE my fee! And full reimbursement for everything I've done right here, right now!"

"Ha! That's the way! What do you say Moony? Ready for another Marauder's Adventure?" asked Sirius, wagging his eyebrows and looking younger than he had been for sixteen years.

This was a familiar sensation Remus hadn't felt in ages. One he wasn't sure he whether he was happy or annoyed to be feeling again. It was the feeling of being dragged into one of Sirius' schemes. "ALRIGHT! Someone has to make sure you stay out of trouble and only Merlin knows why I've been chosen for that unfortunate role."

"Great! Then let's get out of here now! Before the harpy of the foul potions returns and puts all of us underneath bedcovers for some reason or the other!"

"God help whoever marries you Sirius." joke Remus with a laugh.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all." thought Mick. "I might have just signed my own death warrant."

* * New Salem Academy * *

Albus Dumbledore stepped into the office of an elderly witch, though vitality belying her true age to most, dressed in neat red silk robes. The sound of school children playing could still be heard outside in the courtyard. Practicing Quidditch and Quod-Pot quite robustly, they might have been teams returning to play or perhaps local children just enjoying the free sunny Summer fields.

"Headmaster Dumbledore, to what do I owe this honor?" A hawkeyed elderly witch sat behind an ebony desk. The sunlight shining in through the large gothic windows reflected beautifully on the surface. If one were to stand before her, it would not be strange for them to imagine they were staring at an aged Goddess Athena. "I'm surprised to see you here, while Britain is in chaos"

"Headmistress Eleniak, it's a pleasure to see you again. We haven't been in correspondence nearly enough, dear Anastasia."

"Spare me your charm Albus, you wouldn't be here unless you direly needed something." she firmly spoke. "What problems have you brought with you now?"

"It seems the age of grace and courtesy has passed even in the elder generation." grieved Dumbledore, as he adjusted his spectacles. "I have come on behalf of an associate, who suffered certain grievances during his stay in the Americas."

"Grievances you say? I thought the State Wizards Council would have been a better candidate to receive your complaints. What services do you believe the humble Headmistress of a school can render?"

"We both know the generous depths of your talents, Anastasia. What more, the unique circumstances surrounding this incident requires a certain degree… of subtlety." responded Dumbledore in typical shrewdness. "There was a mishap regarding the muggle military."

"The military?" Eleniak inquired. "What in blazes were you doing with them?"

Dumbledore nodded. "Tracking down a lead, my friend was attempting to gather information from a US general named Jim Houseman. However, over the course of their interaction, they were assaulted by a most unusual legilimence, one that did not use a wand and wore a gasmask. Is this anyone you're familiar with?"

Headmistress Eleniak frowned at Dumbledore. "When you say 'gather information' I assume you mean spying. Unfortunately I've never heard of a wizard that fits your description. However, I do know you're meddling things you should best leave alone, Albus. I don't know what you believe you're looking for, but the US government and its projects won't have anything to do with Dark Lords and blood purity nonsense. I'll thank you not to have your men come through here like a niffler in a jewelry store! …lest you're prepared for the consequences."

Dumbledore maintained a neutral expression. "Anastasia, my associates and I are endeavoring seriously to maintain the peace of the wizarding world. I would not instruct my acquaintances to purposely stir up trouble in your country. And certainly would not if I did not believe it served a legitimate purpose for the greater good."

Eleniak pertly replied, "You're greater good again, Albus? In spite of your achievements, you've never had a good sense of focus. Coupled with your thorough lack of knowing when to mind your own business… Now just what are you trying to accomplish?"

Dumbledore answered. "A rather strange incident has occurred in our Ministry over the last month."

"You mean the mysterious boy hero your newspapers have been raving about? It's seems like more of the insanity I've reading over the last year. Unless the writer was correct about your mental state." Eleniak scoffed.

Dumbledore shook his head disappointedly at the memory. "A sad state, brought about by a combination of paranoia and bad politics. However, the article was not incorrect. It was that very boy's words that have lead us to seek out information, here in America. And alas the same Dark Lord we're combating has taking a stark interest in the same boy. Hence, it will not be long before he seeks out the same information, bringing chaos and death in the wake of his search."

Headmistress Eleniak glared before letting out an exasperated breath between her teeth. "What is it you want from me Dumbledore? Who was the general you were investigating? Stop beating around the bush."

Dumbledore began to explain. "The boy's name is Gerrard Barrinalo, the first transdimensional traveler."

Eleniak asked curiously, "Transdimensional?"

"Indeed. As I believed in my youth, the Veil of Death was indeed one of the fabled doorways between realities and realms the ancient wizards of tribal England. Mr. Barrinalo confirmed his extradimensional origins himself."

The Headmistress was still suspicious of the affair. "And what proof did he offer you, beyond the obvious?"

"That is where the origin of our trouble lies. Mr. Barrinalo displayed intimate knowledge of both the workings of my organization and of the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Knowledge that I can personally attest to be limited to only myself and few others."

"Your secrets again? That's what this is about!" shouted Eleniak.

Dumbledore wore a stony face, not wanting to return to past arguments. "It is necessary to maintain discretion and secrecy when events of great magnitude are inexorably connected, Headmistress. And… if it were only so simple, perhaps it would not be so dire. If Voldemort catches young Gerrard not only may he be able to undermine all our efforts to thwart his return, but what Gerrard has not told us may lead the Dark Lord to even more deadly heights."

Eleniak listened intently but showed signs of impatience. "You've still yet to explain why you were investigating the American military."

"Quite right, quite right. Allow me to continue. When I detained young Gerrard after the battle in the Ministry, he was reluctant to reveal much about himself. Rather he staunchly refused to let anyone know anything regarding his personal goals at all, except for two phrases, 'Outer Heaven' and 'Who are the Patriots.'"

"Did you say 'Outer Heaven'?" asked Eleniak.

"Yes. Perhaps you… know of it?"

"I believe I do." Eleniak had a nostalgic and mournful look on her face. "It's not a small terrorist organization as some would have you believe; it was an entire nation soldiers, fighting for a cause." Eleniak elucidated. "Is this why you've been investigating? You actually believe that this has anything to do with you? Or him for that matter?

"No." Dumbledore responded plainly. "However, it will be integral to at least investigate. Wherever this leads, Voldemort will eventually follow. We have to prepare for battle, Anastasia, and to prepare we must have superior intelligence."

"If you intend to turn this into some kind of- of chess game, Albus, then do not continue down this path any further! I make it a policy to know about potentially world changing events, regardless of whether they're muggle or wizard. And believe you me, nothing good will come from provoking these people." Eleniak warned harshly.

Dumbledore noticed that the Headmistress was becoming more heated than her normal self. "What do you mean? Please, Anastasia, explain what worries you so."

Eleniak had a guarded look on her face. "You are an old world wizard, Albus. You haven't seen how the world has changed. Muggles have advanced far faster than anyone could have ever predicted."

Dumbledore responded, "Yes. It is indeed amazing what the muggles have done. I have always admired their ingenuity and clever inventions. It is quite a pity we do not have the time give them the appreciation they deserve." Dumbledore would have continued but noticed the elderly woman's pitying smile.

"Your praise belies your naivety." Eleniak took a pause. "Muggles have been driven to invent by necessity. And there is no greater time of necessity than in war. If you've already had men investigate Outer Heaven, then you must know. You must know of nuclear weapons. No Dark Lord in the history of the wizarding world has ever even come close to having enough power to threaten every single human being, no, all life on Earth at the same time. But the muggles have done it." proclaimed Eleniak.

"Surely you're exaggerating, my dear Anastasia. During the height of Grindelweld's power, the bombs over London barely scratched the wards over the Ministry and Diagon Alley."

The elderly woman responded in hushed tones. "No. You're still picturing how things have been in the past, but now… Let me tell you a story, Albus.

I had a student in this school named Anthony Del Rio, a little ball of energy, really the sweetest boy you could ever hope teach. He was the kind of student that would hang on your every word and dog your tail once class was over. However, he had a cousin from his native home of Nicaragua, entrenched in an ongoing conflict. His entire people, his family, had been driven out of their homeland into Costa Rica by the US installed Somoza regime. The way he would fret over little Chico and his sister, the way he pinned his hopes on magic somehow… magically helping restore peace and order to his homeland was heartbreaking. You as the Supreme Mugwump, know better than anyone else the laws regarding wizards interfering in muggle politics.

It was always his dream, such a simple dream. To be able to live in his homeland with his family in peace, something so many people take for granted. You have no idea, Albus, how- how difficult it was to explain to a little boy why was it that we could transfigure towns, charm entire villages, and manipulate the minds of every man on the Earth, but we still could not- would not bring simple justice to his people! What good was magic if one couldn't use it to restore the basic human rights, to restore justice, to one's family!"

Dumbledore didn't know what to say. "Anastasia…"

"But Anthony was an optimist. For years little Anthony went back and forth from person to person looking for any legal way for the American Wizard's Council to help halt the US' containment policies or at least stop them from allowing madmen to run the countries of his native continent. Let me tell you, Dumbledore, these men were cruel and callous far beyond the Death Eaters.

But one day, he finally found an opportunity. It was after he had graduated in 1974, when he received a letter from his cousin. A letter that claimed an eighty-three foot Basilisk had been discovered in the mountains of Nicaragua."

"A Basilisk!" asked Dumbledore, startled from his own experience with the creatures.

"There was no Basilisk, Albus. And Anthony knew that, but it was a pretext he could use to rally the most talented Aurors America had, to deliver the justice he sought so desperately. Spearheading a squad of Aurors, he went mislead his team into an attack on the Nicaraguan National Guard. However, he found something much worst…" Eleniak trailed off.

"…what was it. What did he find?" Dumbledore asked pensively.

"The Peace Sentinels. A rogue unit from the American Central Intelligence Unit that was torturing and murdering his people, all in the name of creating America's perfect nuclear detterent. The Basilisk Chico found, a nuclear armed walking battle tank. Sound familiar?"

"Metal Gear…" Dumbledore responded.

Eleniak nodded. "So you know… Anthony understood that thing was the source of his people's woes, the oppressor, the tool and the symbol of the America's persecution of his people. He led the Aurors into direct battle against the unit. What do you think happened, Albus?"

Dumbledore looked at the grimacing sadness on Anastasia's face. "He failed."

"Yes. He… failed. More than half of the thirty men he took lost their lives. From the memory I saw of Anthony's battle, it was an eighty foot tall walking metal monstrosity. They showered the beast with the typical arsenal of spells, transfigured golems, and some even resorted to dark magic. Nothing so much as scratched the monster. In the end they were only able to portkey and apparate away, to run and hide like we've done for the last three centuries. Anthony stayed and continued to monitor the situation, helping his people from behind the scenes. I'm still not certain what happened that day all those years ago but Anthony discovered that thing had a nuclear bomb on its back with 100 megatons of power. Do you know what that meant, Albus? That single bomb could have destroyed all of England if it was detonated there and no wizard would have been in the position to so much as detect it, much less actually stop it.

In the end, all his magical training wasn't enough, but a single man, a muggle had destroyed the beast. Not with wand and spells but an arsenal of explosives and muggle weapons. Anthony was mortally wounded when he returned to me, but at least he was at peace. He… died with no regrets knowing his family was returned home, but I can't help but wonder if he didn't regret learning magic."

Dumbledore said, "I believe I understand what you're trying to say-"

"Do you really, Albus? Our world is stagnating! We can no longer afford to separate ourselves from technology or at least not advance our spells accordingly! The entire world could have been destroyed that day! The Wizard's Council, do you know how they reported the incident? They saw the memories and reports of the escaped Aurors, but obliviated the entire troop, told the public that it really was just a Basilisk! Turned a blind-eye and pretended nothing ever happened!"

Dumbledore was deeply disturbed by the concept of a new threat from muggles. Yes the wizarding world was somewhat safe as long as it was hidden, but if it was possible for the entire wizarding world to be wiped out by mere collateral damage how could he ignore this? Is this why Gerrard wanted him to investigate the muggle world?

"The soldier that stopped the… Basilisk, he belonged to an organization. He told Anthony that he was a soldier, a soldier without borders, Militaires Sans Frontières. Your Outer Heaven."

Dumbledore perked up out of his introspection.

"The man's name was Big Boss."

"Big Boss…" Dumbledore repeated.

"So what will you do now, Albus?" Eleniak asked with a serious expression on her face.

Sweat came down Dumbledore's brow. "If Voldemort discovers muggle weapons of this degree, I believe he will not stand idly by and allow such a threat to his power go unchecked, even if they're from origins he considers inferior. And we will have no choice but to work to stop him. This may have been Mr. Barrinalo's goal all along. The boy has effectively forced us to focus on another issue, as he moves about to achieve his own aims nearly unchecked."

Eleniak sighed. "I will contact the friends I have within the Council and prepare a countermeasure for when your Dark Lord or his men set foot on our lands. I will also see if anyone has any information on legilimencers within the muggle government. For you, however… Are you aware that we do not inform the President of magic like you do for your Prime Minister? Now that you've exposed magic to these men, I would advise you prepare to maintain your precious… intelligence. I imagine you're glib and wit will be tested to its limit. I honestly don't know the extent of power of these people. Don't underestimate them."

Dumbledore collapsed into his chair and for the first time in many years he was questioning whether he his goals were correct. He envisioned a tide of change coming over the wizarding world. Dozens upon dozens of different ideas blazed through his's mind, building upon the other and twisting others. After a full minute of extreme mental exertion Dumbledore summed up his thoughts, "Well… bugger."

The Headmistress chuckled at the unusual sight of Albus Dumbledore swearing and what more a Dumbledore nearly devoid of smugness. "If you're finally willing to stop carrying weight of the world alone, then I'm glad to be working with you." Eleniak said in a more friendly tone. She walked around her desk and offered a hand to Dumbledore.

Dumbledore slowly looked up into her eyes and shook it, "Likewise, Anastasia, likewise." A bit of twinkle in his eye returning alongside new hopes.

* * 12 Grimmauld Place * *

Harry and Hermione entered through the front door of Grimmauld Place and ungracefully plopped onto the couch in the living room. The both of them were glad that the dust clouds plaguing the furniture was finally clean along with most of the house. The debris, dust, and litter had been completely cleaned out, nearly returning the manor to its original immaculate luster. Creaking floorboards announcing his presence, Ron came and greeted them from the hallway.

"Hermione, Harry you're back." Ron stated. "How were the heli-planes, mate?"

"Airplanes, Ron. And everything went okay." Hermione sniffled a bit. "We've got family in Australia, and they've got plenty of money from selling their practice. It's just a little… sad we'll see even less of each other now. I really hope things don't get worse from now on."

"Well things are looking up from my perspective. They've got Umbridge in the loony ward of St. Mungos. Fudge is about to be sacked. Sirius' finally getting his name cleared, even if the Ministry does insist on keeping it low profile. Plus, no more Dursleys. Everything's just brilliant." Harry said happily.

Hermione bit her lip, not really wanting to state the obvious matter that has hovering over Harry the last few days. "I wouldn't say everything Harry. Are you okay? With the… prophecy I mean."

"I don't know what you're talking about Hermione." Harry denied.

"Oh Harry… Ron and I both know that it's been bothering you a lot, since Dumbledore you the entire prophecy, so..."

"So what, Hermione?" Harry snapped. "It doesn't mean anything. Just think about what Barrinalo said, 'prophecies can be broken,' right?"

"Harry… I suppose he could be right, but… he'd have to be the exception, not the rule." Hermione knew why Harry was grasping at straws for any possible way out of the prophecy. If the prophecy was really immutable, like prophecies were suppose to be, then this prophecy was practically a death sentence unless Harry could become stronger. "But you're still going to have to-"

"Have to what!" Harry angrily shouted. "My whole life, Hermione. My whole life has been ruined because of this prophecy! Why do I have to do anything when- Why do I have to give up the rest of my life just because the rest of the wizarding is too thick to protect themselves. How is it my fault that some wanker with coke bottle glasses decided I was the only flippin' way to stop a god damned Dark Lord – no – not Dark Lord, just a bloody god damned terrorist! Let them handle their own problems! For once in my life I'm taking care of me!"

Ron grabbed Harry's shoulders and barked, "C'mon now mate! You don't mean that and you know it! You're Harry Potter and Harry Potter doesn't stand idly by and let innocent people get hurt!" Ron stared directly into Harry's eyes, who remained stony faced. "No matter how thick they are." he added with softer tones.

Harry sighed ruefully, "You're right. But that doesn't change the fact that I still can't do anything against Voldemort."

Ron responded, "Nobody's expecting you to go out and bring his head back on a pike Harry."

Harry gave Ron a like scowl and held up a copy of the Daily Prophet, "THE-BOY-WHO-LIVED THE CHOSEN ONE? WHEN WILL HE DEFEAT YOU-KNOW-WHO?"

"…okay maybe some people are expecting it, but you're still not doing anyone any harm by at least getting yourself set up to take down some Death Eaters. Even the plain folk are doing something." Ron handed Harry one of his father, Arthur's, new anti-dark wizard preparedness pamphlets. "I'm just saying, you don't have to do it all, but you're still going to have to do something."

Hermione lectured. "I've been talking to a few of the Order members and everyone is a little tense because none of them really know what's going on. They all got a short reprieve when You-Know-Who was injured, but the key seems to lay Gerrard."

"It's alright Harry. We'll support you no matter what happens." Hermione consoled.

"She's right. Besides, we still don't know what's going on. You were looking researching some stuff right, 'Mione?"

Hermione eagerly nodded and swung a book the size of an ottoman onto the table from her bag. "Take a look at this."

"Blimey! That's your idea of 'some?'" Ron yelled.

"Honestly Ron. If you've ever done any real research you'd know that compilation books are always this big. Anyway take a look at this, 'The Otherly Worlds of the Ancients?' by Albus Dumbledore. It's a paper he wrote when he was young."

Harry and Ron gave Hermione blank looks. Ron said, "That's fascinating, but could you maybe…"

Hermione rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Here look, Dumbledore says that the 'ancient archway is decorated with the ancient Northumbrian runes, which represent door, line, key, and æther.' He was talking about the Veil. That means Gerrard really could be from another dimension! A parallel reality!"

"I- So this- WHAt?" Harry spluttered. "That sounds more like something out of Doctor Who, not the magical world!" things were spinning out of hand. It seemed that nothing surrounding Gerrard Barrinalo was without some kind of complicated mess attached to it. Ron could be heard in the background asking, "Doctor what?" but was ignored.

"It's real Harry. I'm fairly certain Dumbledore has come to the same conclusion. It makes sense if you look back on how he acted around Dumbledore when he first came to Hogwarts. He knew things that no one else should have known, but everything he knew seemed a little bit different didn't it?"

Harry replied, "You're right… just before he fought Voldemort he taunted him… he said something about killing Voldemort. Not just the normal kind of malarkey when a guy's talking himself up, he was really specific about. Something about feeding him to dragons and freezing him up in a block of ice."

Ron cocked an eyebrow at that statement. "You sure about that, Harry? Sounds like a bunch of jibberish to me. I mean how do you kill a bloke more than once anyway, Dark Lord or not?"

"Phylacteries…"

"What did you say, Hermione?" Ron asked.

"Phylacteries. When we were watching the scrying pool in the Room of Requirement he told Dumbledore that Voldemort had some kind of phylactery! I can't believe I didn't think about it more until now."

"I don't think anyone's gonna blame you Mione. We were all a little bit more than knackered back there." Ron supposed.

"I… But still… I should have thought about it more… a phylactery would explain why he didn't die that day all those years ago when…" Hermione gestured at Harry's scar. "A phylactery is like the holy grail for necromancers. It's an object they use to separate the soul from the body and turn into a lich, a soulless immortal magical zombie."

"But… You-know-who might not be pretty looking, but he's no zombie. Don't you turn into a vegetable when your soul gets taken from your body? Like when… the Dementors get you?" Ron asked.

"I don't know." Hermione replied. "I don't make it a habit to study the dark arts in depth. It's just mentioned in the basic advanced texts."

"And Barrinalo would know about it because he has lived through it all for some reason in his world." Harry stated matter-of-factly. "It makes sense, why he called me James back in the Ministry, why he seemed to know Dumbledore so well, why he thought my Dad was still alive… But this is just crazy. Can we even trust information from someone who's from another dimension?"

"I just don't know, Harry, but Dumbledore seemed to accept what he was saying. He didn't correct him or even deny any of the things he said." Hermione replied. "Let's not make any assumptions. Maybe we can just ask Dumbledore more about it. At this point it's important to get our facts straight. Hermione really wished she could give Harry the answers he wanted like she normally did, but this time the magic and circumstances were both beyond her.

Harry rubbed his face with both his hands. "You're right. Let's talk to Dumbledore about it. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to go about fulfilling this damn prophecy even if I wanted to. This is all getting so out of hand. Maybe we should hunt down that wanker. Make him explain himself. I swear things weren't half as insane when even Umbridge was ballsing up everything at Hogwarts last month."

"You got that right mate… at least we could take care of her with a couple of well placed dung bombs." Ron changed the subject. "So… did you see your OWLS yet?"

Hermione immediately twisted her head and hopped to the window and said, "Oh my goodness! That's today isn't it?" as she looked for owls delivering mail. "Did yours come already Ron?"

"Not yet Hermione. Everybody gets theirs at the same time." he explained. "You're not thinking you got anything less than ten "O"s are you?"

"Oh! Don't say that Ron! You'll jinx it!" she blustered

"Jinx it?" asked Harry jokingly. "Hermione, you're a witch!"

"Stop teasing! Ah! HERE THEY ARE!" she shouted, so loudly that for a moment the owls looked like they wanted to recoil before they flew in through the window.

For the next hour the Grimmauld Place household bustled with activity, everyone bouncing with a little more energy with the addition of Harry and Hermione. They talked of new classes to take, Mr. Weasley's promotion, the newly dating Bill and Fleur Delacour, how Professor McGonagall had convinced Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts by twisting his ear like a misbehaving second-year, Fred and George's shop, which they had visited earlier, and of Sirius' release and plans for Harry. However, before the day was over a toucan flew in and tossed Harry a large brown letter.

* * Hogwarts: Hidden Archives * *

Dumbledore was patiently looking through all the records of the staff and of certain students, deciphering the words of his own doublespeak. It seems he had thoroughly manipulated the life of this Harry and pinned all the hopes on using the last child of the Potters to defeat Voldemort. However, in contrast to himself, who had invested heavily on building up the character and abilities of James Jr. Potter, his counterpart seemed to be isolating the boy away from the wizarding world. All this merely to protect him? There had to be more of a reason for it… "Ahhhh. Oh dear." thought Dumbledore.

It appeared that since the first year of his arrival Harry has been connected to Voldemort through his scar. Dumbledore adjusted his spectacles and read his notes on Harry's "worrying complaints of scar pain," his "unsettling parseltongue abilities," and finally Harry's "despondently undeniable connection to Tom's mind." There could be only one reason for all these events. Voldemort must have tainted the boy with his Horcrux.

Dumbledore contemplated the possibility. He knew Tom would never knowingly have made the young Potter child into a Horcrux. It simply wasn't wise to place a piece of your soul into an enemy. And given the circumstances of his demise in addition to the complexity of the process required to properly make a Horcrux, it was more than likely the piece of soul that went into young Harry was pure happenstance. Perhaps it was only Lily's sacrifice that kept Harry from succumbing to the Voldemort's possession, perhaps it because the ritual was never completed and only a minute soul fragment attached itself to the scar, or perhaps it was because the magic involved was just simply something completely new. Dumbledore wasn't sure, but he realized this drastically changed the meaning of the prophecy in his counterpart's eyes. "The poor boy." thought Dumbledore. He was in a hurry to find Gerrard but he seriously considering intervening and helping young Harry remove this Horcrux. He knew it was possible to do such things now.

"Ah ha!" said Dumbledore. He had found the coded reports he kept of the Order of the Phoenix and checking through his commands… Here. Nymphadora Tonks was currently in charge of managing Gerrard's tracking charms. He had removed his own tracking charms from Gerrard long ago at the bequest of his new friend, Allidar, but it seems his counterpart had unsurprisingly chosen to use the exact same method of charms. This meant most of the tracking charms would respond to the magical instruments he carried with him. Dumbledore played with the handless watch in his inner robe pocket. Dumbledore thought, "It's best to avoid Nymphadora for now and find Gerrard to change the tracking charms."

With painstaking care, Dumbledore quickly cleaned up the documents and masked any traces of his presence. Exiting the secret chamber, Dumbledore made his way back to the halls. Now was the time to get Lily and find Gerrard as quickly as possible. Suddenly Dumbledore heard a voice call out.

"Oh, Headmaster!" It was Sybil Trelawney, apparently slightly tipsy and smelling of sherry. "I was hoping to speak with you! Now that Umbridge has left, certainly that… equine won't be necessary any longer. Perhaps we could now renegotiate my salary…" she trailed off, mock modesty failed completely by her drunkenness.

Dumbledore decided this would be a good opportunity to joke with Sybil for a bit. "My dear Sybil, surely you must have foreseen what I believe to be fair wages for your return? If not, then perhaps you've not the talent for Divination I originally believed." Dumbledore taunted.

"No! No! I understand perfectly headmaster!" Trelawney stammered nervously. "I foresee our previous agreement will follow through just fine."

"Wonderful, Sybil! I'm certain you'll enjoy working with Firenze as much as he'll enjoy working you. You'll find our new centaur friend will have as little trouble filling in the hollow parts of your schedule as he does your hollow words or body parts." Dumbledore spoke in mock excitement.

"Hollow wor- Wait! Wha-What! What do you mean, Headmaster!" asked Trelawney in a confused tone.

"Oh you know how it is. Firenze has been exiled from his herd for months now, so with no more female centaurs around… Well let's just say centaurs aren't so picky about what their payment comes in." Dumbledore replied. "Or where they come in their payment."

Trelawney seemed to pause for just a second, staring at Dumbledore through her thick rimmed glasses, and then promptly fell backwards and fainted.

Dumbledore chuckled and levitated her onto a nearby bench. Continuing down the hall, he went on his way.

* * Extra * *

In the top office of famed 10 Downing Street, London, the Prime Minister of England was sitting at his desk, speaking on the phone. "Indeed, Mr. President. I understand. Yes of course. I have my orders just like how you have yours."

Suddenly from within the brown oil painting in the far corner of the room, the frog-like little man wearing a long silver wig came to life in a cough. He spoke in a crisp decisive voice, like an announcer for the old kings of England, "To the Prime Minister of Muggles, urgent we meet. Kindly respond immediately. Fudge."

The Prime Minister put up his hand and stuck out a single finger, gesturing for a moment of time. "I have a call from the President of the United States. Do kindly tell your Minister to return in half an hour..." the Prime Minister said.

"That can be rearranged." said the portrait at once, but the Prime Minister thoroughly ignored it and continued listening to the phone.

"We shall arrange for the President to forget to call. He will telephone tomorrow night instead," the now scowling portrait said. "Kindly respond immediately to Mr. Fudge."

"Please hold for a moment Mr. President." the Prime Minister said into the phone. Turning to the portrait, he said, "No, you shall not rearrange anything; I'm already speaking to the President. Would you be so kind," the Prime Minister sarcastically emphasized, "to tell him to wait!" And continued to speak on the phone once, as he disregarded the portrait again.

The little frog-like man puffed up in a fashion similar to his animal look-alike and stormed out of his canvas. In no time at all the phone line in the Prime Minister's office *clicked* and went dead. Simultaneously, his antique marble fire place flared bright green and a portly man burst out of it spinning like a top.

"Ah… Prime Minister," said Cornelius Fudge, preparing to extend his hand before seeing the man before him was not the same Prime Minister he had come to know in the last five years. "Wha-? Who're you! You're not the Prime Minister!" Fudge cried out, accusingly pointing with his finger.

However, unbeknownst to the entire magical Muggle Interference Department, the Prime Minister had switched to codec nearly the instant his phone line had been cut and was continuing his conversation with the US President. "I seem to have an unexpected visitor. Yes the line was secure. No, even I can't handle it he's also in the room now. A was his director during his time in the SAS, I'm sure he's more than capable."

"Are you going to ans-" Fudge tried to scream out, but was silenced when the Prime Minister stuck his hand in front of Fudge's face.

"Yes. I will carry out the diversion now. Goodbye Mr. President." The Prime Minister turned to the portly worn man and asked, "Now, just what can I do for you Mr… Fudge was it?" although his tone indicated he cared nothing for the man.

"I'm here to speak with the Prime Minister, which you are not! So if you don't mind fetching him for me as quickly as possible; I'm on a busy schedule." Fudge instructed in a condescending voice.

"So you are ignorant of the change." responded the Prime Minister in an equally condescending tone. "Quite understandable. I'm Michael O. Davison, new Prime Minister of England. Now, how can I help you Mr. Fudge?"

"What? New Prime Minister of England? Why- How- Why were we not informed! In a time of crisis like this-!" Fudge crumbled his lime-green bowler in his hand. "Wait a minute here! If you're a new Prime Minister, then why aren't you surprised by- by-"

"Magic?" Davison finished. "I've been briefed by the former Prime Minister; He was a capable man, but not one suited for war. Wouldn't you agree?"

"But- but- but no Prime Minister has ever informed his successor of our world. It's a breach of secrecy!" Fudge shouted.

The Prime Minister calmly returned to his seat and offered Fudge the hardest of the chairs in front of his desk. "Is it? It seems that you are obligated to inform the –what do you call us?— the Prime Minister of Muggles of your… magic. So why don't you begin?"

Fudge bristled at the arrogance of this muggle. As if he actually had any actual say or sway in anything of importance. "Well… where to begin?" Suddenly, something this new Prime Minister said finally registered. "Hold on a moment! War? What do you know of the war!"

Davison scowled. "Did you honestly believe your people could run ramshackle through MY COUNTRY and not have any of us know about it!"

Fudge was speechless. "Well…" he said, twirling his squashed hat, "Yes… We've done it before. There's no reason to see why we couldn't do it again."

Prime Minister Davison was angry now, but maintained himself. "Yes… the public believe that it was rusted riggings bringing down the Brockdale Bridge and a hurricane of all things in West England. BUT! Only because we wanted them to! Maniac hooligans in masks, GIANTS, attempted murders and abuductions, the beings hovering all over London, and God knows what other madness your kind has blighted England with. Now… Tell. Me. What. You. KNOW!" demanded Davison, as he rose and pounded his fists on the table.

Never a commanding man, Fudge began to draw back from the angry man. "See here! Y- Y- You can't just order me a- a- around. I-" the portly man began to stutter nervously but was interrupted by the oil painting in the corner.

"To the Prime Minister of Muggles. Requesting a meeting. Urgent. Kindly respond immediately. Rufus Scrimgeour, Minister of Magic."

Davison merely glared at the silver-wigged man and sharply replied, "Enter."

For the second time today, a spinning wizard has spun into his office and spreading dust and dirt from the fireplace. Although Davison was inwardly dazed by the display, he maintained a stoic face, an expression trained up from watching the various unique abilities of black ops agents.

Fudge got to his feet, happy to have help dealing with this difficult muggle. Davison continued glaring.

Rufus Scrimgeour with his mane of graying blonde hair stood in the center of the room. "Fudge told you everything?" he asked, striding nover to the door and tapping the keyhole with wand. Davison heard the lock half-click and the cocking of a gun beside him. However the latter sound was completely overlooked by the wizards.

"Not quite." snapped Davison. "In fact he has hardly spoken at all."

Rufus turned a questioning eye to Fudge, who blurted. "No! It's not like that! This- this muggle knows more than he should Minister!"

"Oh? I was under the impression you were suppose to tell me everything I have just told you." rebutted Davison heatedly.

Fudge shrunk under the glares of two Prime Ministers. "Well…"

Davison looked at Scrimgeour and said, "Perhaps you can give me a straight answer now. What are your kind doing to this country?"

Scrimgeour frowned. "It's not 'our' kind. It's the Death Eaters led by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He has openly declared war on the Ministry and has resumed where he left off years ago, killing muggles. After openly revealing himself last May, he has since begun terrorizing England to coerce myself and those in the Wizengemot to stand aside for him."

The Prime Minister defiantly stared at the pair of wizards. "And?" Davison prodded. "Are you going to tell me something that will actually help me defend my people?"

"You won't be doing anything. My visit, aside from keeping you informed as per the laws stated in the original treaty, is to discuss your security." Scrimgeour said shortly. "Right, I'm busy man so let's get down to it."

Davison rubbed his face in annoyance. "I'll decline any idea of security your people might have. If the scene at the West Country was any indication of your ideas of security, I'm better off without any piss-poor job your people can do."

Behind his scowl, Scrimgeour had a precautious look on his face. "What do you know of the attack on the West Country?"

The Prime Minister earnestly asked, "Did you really think you could keep something like two dozen twenty-foot Giants bumbling through the cities secret? If the navy didn't stop most of them at the Channel before they reached shore, you can be sure a lot more people would be dead now!"

Fudge blurted out in a fluster, "What! But what about the obliviators! They should have made ALL the muggles forget everything!"

The Prime Minister crossly explained, "Your 'oblivators' were woefully unprepared for combat and driven back by the UMAs."

"UMAs?" Scrimgeour questioned.

"Unidentified Mysterious Animals. We documented everything from the UMA's landing to your wizard's attempts at stunning the beasts." the Prime Minister clarified. "I don't know how you imagined you were going to stop them when your… spells were bouncing off them, like water on glass. Even with the former Prime Minister's non-intervention orders you can be certain there would have been an air-raid if the Giants hadn't retreated when they did."

Scrimgeour couldn't deny they failed to repel the Giants. He imagined the only reason they stopped rampaging was because Voldemort wanted to maintain the statute of secrecy for now and ordered them back himself. "Now listen here, Prime Minister. We will handle any and all magical threats to England. You only need to maintain your own safety. It'll be a poor lookout for the Muggles if their Prime Minister starts Imperius Curse."

"You're a bigger fool than I thought if you truly believe the leader of a nation will allow a band of over powered rats to run free in his country. I may have been force to classify the incident with the Giants because of my predecessor's policies,"

Scrimgeour and Fudge visibly relaxed at that, happy the secrecy of the wizarding world wasn't completely blown.

"But I'll be forming a committee to handle any and all magical threats that seep out of your… capable hands." the Prime Minister shouted.

Scrimgeour opened his mouth as if to speak, but in an instant moved his wand into the Prime Minister's face and shouted "OBLIVIATE!" The Prime Minister immediately adopted a blank expression and stopped speaking.

Fudge looked at Scrimgeour and confusedly exclaimed, "Minister!"

"We don't need any busy-bodies from the Muggles' government getting in our way. If he hasn't spilled the beans to any of his co-workers now, it's best we take care of it now. I'll have his staff and the West Country looked over later." Scrimgeour was worried about these muggles collecting Giant corpses. The Giants usually cannibalize their fallen, but not in the salty depths of the English Channel.

"Just keep the man working as if he has never heard of the Wizarding World, Fudge." explained Scrimgeour impatiently. "I have a meeting with Dumbledore at noon. Let's not tarry here any longer." Both men spun on their heels, stepped into the fireplace and floo'd away.

However, as soon as the two men left, the large cabinet besides the frog-like man's painting screeched, sliding to the corner and completely covered the portrait. The Prime Minister smirked.

"Cameron?"

"Use the codec, commander. And please don't use that name. It's Liquid now. Liquid Snake." a voice said.

"Ha! What's the matter? Too much of a big shot now that you're in FOXHOUND? Those Yanks can't be that much better than the SIS." joked Davison.

Behind the Prime Minister, a tall blonde-haired man decloaked. "All that aside, you know I've always been a big shot, commander. I can't say I don't miss MI6, but things have changed. "

Davison jumped a bit, having misjudged Liquid's position. "Whoa. That optic camouflage is quite something. You've dyed your hair. Now, what do you mean?"

Liquid furled his brow. "I've discovered some troubling things about my… lineage. But that's a matter for another day. Let's talk about the mission."

Davison knew Liquid, a war orphan, cared deeply about his parentage and lent a sympathetic note. "Don't your past consume you, lad. Stiff upper lip and all that. You know better than I do by now." Davison gave an appreciated pat Liquid's back.

"The Minister of Magic, quite an arrogant fool." sniffed the Prime Minister. "And his little toady… to think they'd ever let a man like him run a government… There must be a man manipulating the scenes like."

Liquid shrugged. "A bunch of isolationist like them won't have any big players on the important matters of the world."

The Prime Minister was a little bit perturbed because it was his responsibility to keep these wizards from gaining a foothold in the real governing powers of "muggles." But the Prime Minister supposed what was important now was the mission. "Anyway, I'm sure you've injected the nanomachines into Scrimgeour and Fudge, right?"

Liquid nodded. "But it'll be a matter of how well they take. I don't think they'd have sent me, if the entire thing was going to be that simple."

"Well, the ones in the midget from America took quite nicely. A shame about the virus failing but Hunter's working on that. I've already briefed you on the basics from the information we've gathered. You have to find the phone booth hidden in inner London and gather as much information from their Ministry as possible, understand?" explained Davison. "But it might be a good idea to get a bit of recon done in the less secure 'Diagon Alley' in the Bromley District. You just might find something we missed."

"Yes, commander. However, I must say this is the oddest mission I've been assigned on."

"The sentiment is mutual, but don't think it's any less dangerous, Liquid. You've seen what these men can do. Don't let your guard down." Davison warned. Shaking his head he continued, "To think we've let such a threat go unchecked for so long. I would have been little more than a vegetable if it wasn't for the new nanomachines. You've been subjected to the same new nanomachine therapy, so you'll be fine, but be certain not to let them hit your head more than once."

Liquid stared amusingly at his former commander. "Yes. I'll be sure to avoid being repeatedly shot in the head by strange lights. I believe that was the first thing you taught me wasn't it?"

"Don't be sarcastic, soldier." said Davison, but in a light tone. "We'll be in touch through the codec. Get a move on!"

Liquid saluted and said, "Yes sir!" camouflaged himself once again and exited the office.

END