"Order! Order! I have something to say!" Tyrion shouted, standing up and waddling into the centre of the room, climbing up onto the raised dais. Miracle bit her lip and stared out over the assembled leaders. This was 'make or break.' She glanced at the two empty seats next to her. Ghost and Oracle were in Westeros with Yoda and Magneto, called in to prevent an emergency situation. The number of time travellers and dimension hoppers arriving on Planetos 2 – the canon universe of the Game of Thrones TV Show – had increased by over 6000% in the span of a few hours. The only reason the canon hadn't been destroyed already was thanks to the Travellers efforts, and even then, the threat gauge still sat in the red zone. Miracle, Crystal, Tyrion and Mithrandir would be joining them as soon as this meeting was over.
"This arguing gets us nowhere!" Tyrion shouted, and the room slowly quieted down.
"Thank you. Now I know none of us has any great love for the Multiversity Accords. My own opinion of them is well known. But they are there for a reason, to protect reality. Without them, we're all lost." Stalin and Caesar reluctantly grumbled in agreement.
"The only other thing I think we would all agree on is how much of a pain in the ass the Ascended are in general. They sit on their pedestal in the Circle of the Gods. In Asgard, in Olympus. In Valinor, Heaven, Asmere and New Genesis. And they look down on those beneath them. People like us!" He shouted, and the room erupted in a chorus of "Ayes!"
"Here now, we have a choice before us. Support Clara Hunter, an Ancient and former Sorcerer Supreme of Earth 125. Or we can agree with the sentence the other Ascended beings serve at the Court of the Multiversity. But to those decisions, I say this. When have we agreed with what the ascended have to say?!"
"They've been sitting in the heights for too long. They've forgotten the struggles people face down here in the Orrery. Down in the boom docks of reality! And when one of them tries to get dirty? Tries to do the right thing. She's condemned for it! I say that's wrong!"
"It's wrong!" Miracle found herself shouting, jumping to her feet with the rest of the gallery. Tyrion was usually a calmly spoken individual, careful yet witty and incredibly sarcastic. But he knew how to work a crowd. Politics was what he was best at. Charisma was the greatest weapon of all. And here? Where difference meant little and power over story was valued more than the strength of one's sword arm, he was in his element.
"Clara Hunter broke the rules of the Multiversity, placing reality at risk. But she did it to save countless lives, as anyone here would have done!"
"So, I say fuck the Ascended. We're going to go to that trial, and force them to take a good hard look at what their rules of non-interference have come to!"
The crowd broke into screams of support, and Miracle glanced to Crystal in the front row. 'Good work.' She mouthed. Crystal merely winked and whispered in reply, "We don't own any of the Franchises depicted in this story. Alcheringa and the new structure of the American Wizarding World were created by us."
Act III, Chapter 8: Mt Greylock
Brooklyn, New York City – 1977
"Richard…, are you sure we have to do this?"
Richard turned to his wife of two years, Mary, who was standing on the other side of their apartment, looking out the window towards Manhattan.
"You're not seriously thinking of backing out now, are you?" he asked her. Mary sighed.
"It's just… what about Peter?" Richard stepped over to her and pulled her into his arms.
"I know. I don't want to leave him either, but we've dedicated the last five years of our lives to this cause. And we're finally seeing results. We've got almost 50 per cent approval ratings now, and the movement is growing. The time to act is now! MACUSA is too busy worrying about right-wing radicals like that wacko Voldemort over in Britain to look too closely to us. If we don't do anything, everything we've done. All the protests, all the shelters, all the appeals, all the speeches. It will all be for nothing."
"But if we do this," Mary countered, "we'll be breaking the Statute of Secrecy. We'll be executed at best, fed to the Dementors at worst. We'll never get to see our boy again." Mary broke down, crying into Richards' chest.
"If we don't, what type of world will Peter grow up in? A world of isolation, of fear, of hatred. MACUSA is powerless to stop it. Look at what happened to Ben! Forced to fight in a No-Maj war that even the No-Maj's didn't want. We were there at Harvard, protesting just as hard as everyone else, and then what, dumped on the street with no support and treated like a werewolf the moment he came home? The plan will work, and Ben will look after Peter. Besides, the kid will be better off without us anyway." Richard's shoulders slumped, and he couldn't help the tears that slid down his face. It was for the best. They were on the verge of losing their rental, their car was already gone. He refused to admit it to his brother Ben, but the money he had given him to get therapy and treatment for his leg after coming home from Vietnam was all he had in savings. When he and Mary joined the Interventionalist Movement to bring the plights of people thrown under the bus after the war to light, his Dad had disowned him. All he wanted to do was show the Wizarding World that ignoring problems it didn't want to deal with was wrong, to demonstrate just how advanced the No-Maj's had become while the old and out of touch members of MACUSA sat in their pampered offices pretending to care about people beyond how many galleons were in their pockets. Richard and Mary's generation weren't stupid, they knew exactly who their 'congress' really was. Potion Company CEO's, Real-Estate Developers, Floo-Powder Barons and Media Conglomerate Chairs. It needed to end. They needed a new system, one that wasn't as corrupt, and one that actually cared about the people. The repeal of Rappaport's Law in 1965, which the President only did after a mass riot outside the Woolworth Building that needed the Obliviators, was the first step, but it wasn't far enough. But Richard's father, whose seat on the Congress was passed down from his father, who passed it down from his father, wouldn't hear a bar of it. Now they were on the verge of being forced out onto the streets… But if they did this, they'd be able to do something really good before they died. Who knows, maybe the names Richard and Mary Parker would be remembered for something.
Mary released him and looked up into his eyes.
"I'm ready. Let's just get this over with." She glanced to a photo of her, Richard and Peter, smiling and waving at the camera.
"I love you, honey." She steeled her face and disapparated.
"You'll do great things, Peter Parker. I just know it." Then he too disapparated from their tiny apartment for the last time.
BANG! BANG! BANG! Hermione continued to pound on Peter's dorm room door at the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Hogwarts/Ilvermorny Quidditch Match, the last match of the Tournament, was about to begin, and her two friends were late. Again.
"Peter! Gwen! Come on! We're going to be late!"
There was a bang and a large number of swearing, then the smell of smoke began wafting through the keyhole. Hermione narrowed her eyes and, just like she'd seen in a James Bond movie once, kicked at the door handle, channelling her knowledge of probabilities to estimate the best place and degree of force to use. The latch broke, and the door swung open, revealing Gwen shooting Peter's desk with what looked like a fire-extinguishing spell.
"Shit, Shit, Shit!" She muttered. Peter was busy trying to Aguamenti a burn mark on his right wrist. Behind him, a red-headed woman the same age as Peter and Gwen was opening a window and banishing the smoke out of it.
"What the hell?!" Hermione exclaimed. Peter looked up and desperately tried to hide his wrist. But he forgot to turn his wand off and ended up drenching his bed sheets.
"Damn it!" He exclaimed, trying, and failing, to cast a drying charm with his left hand. Gwen, seemingly ignoring Hermione's entrance, cancelled her charm and began banishing the foamy substance from the desk. The red-head turned and waved at her.
"Hi! You must be Hermione Granger, Pete and Gwen told me all about you in their letters. I'm Mary Jane Watson. No-Maj born and bred." Mary Jane smiled warmly at her, before continuing her work of siphoning the smoke out the window. Hermione looked back to Peter, who had finally dried his bed.
"Okay. This is easily explainable…" Peter trailed off, his mouth opening and closing rapidly, but with no words coming out.
"Yes, and Harry's going to reveal that his Animagus form is an albino chicken, I'm going to win a beauty pageant, and Ginny is going to declare that she's never going to have sex with Harry! This is the exact opposite of easily explainable!" She fumed, stamping her foot on the ground. But instead of thumping on the stone floor, it crunched on something small. She glanced down and picked up a little red contraption, not unlike a watch, with white fluid leaking out in multiple places.
"Those are my… um… those are our… those are batteries, it's a No-Maj technology I've been fiddling with. Nothing special," Peter stuttered.
"Nice try Parker. I'm not some snooty pureblood who'd buy that in a second. I've seen enough batteries, and you damn well know it. Now, I'm going to ask you one more time, what is this? And why is your room on fire?" Peter glanced around his room and groaned. His laundry basket was indeed, on fire.
"Oh, in the name of the Vishanti! Stop trying to fricken hide, you idiot. She can probably help us solve the containment issue anyway!" Gwen snapped, pocketing her wand and snatching the device from Hermione's hand.
"This is a prototype device we designed. It uses this fluid that Peter invented to release a high tensile strength cable. I designed the shooters," Gwen started rambling as Peter tried to salvage his laundry. Mary Jane finally finished with her task, jumped down to the floor. "We think we can use this stuff to carry heavy loads, repair or at least contain injuries and even snatch wands from people's hands before they can cast spells," she beamed, "They're the inventors, I'm the marketer. I'm head of the school newspaper."
"We hope to make some serious money out of this," Gwen admitted. "Well, Pete's got nothing, his parents are long dead; Dad's practically disowned me – at least he can't actually have me kicked out of the family until he remarries and has another kid, not that I think that's gonna happen – and MJ's parents are No-Maj's without a galleon to their name."
Hermione dropped her head. She couldn't believe how much she didn't know about her friends. And suddenly she realised she had never asked. They had asked about her parents, and she had told them all about them. But she had never once asked about theirs… God, they must think she was an idiot, going on about her perfect family.
"I'm sorry, I should've offered to help. My family has money… Harry has boat loads, we can help…"
"No, Hermione," Peter said, forestalling her, "we don't want charity. If it was money we wanted, I'd call up Harry Osborn. We want to be able to build something on our own. Something we can call ours. It's… it's a metaphorical thing you know. Besides, your observations about Kelmscott's Law could lead us all to Orders of Merlin, you've done more than enough for us as is." Hermione looked back up at the three seventeen-year-olds.
"You've got your own little Golden Trio here, haven't you?" she said cheekily. All three of them looked at her blankly.
"Never mind, inside joke. So, what's this containment problem?"
"Well," Gwen said, handing back the shooter, "we've got the fluid ready, one pass through this transmutation coil, and as soon as it comes into contact with air it solidifies into an extremely tough, flexible fibre like cable with extraordinary adhesive properties and a tensile strength of 120 pounds per square millimetre of cross section. The device uses a 300 p.s.i. pressure level in each cartridge of fluid which, when sent through the spinnerets, can force a stream of the cable up to an estimated 60 feet, longer if it's in a parabolic path. The triggers are these disconnectable palm mounted switches so the line fires on command."
"Our problem is the changeover, every time we try and insert a new cartridge, manually or automatically, the fluid jams, and well…" she gestured to the still smouldering laundry and desk.
Hermione bit her lip. She could see the ingenious design and its potential… but what could she do about the containment issue? Hermione closed her eyes and dived deep into the memory centres of her brain. Using the power of the Pisces Rune, which still hadn't worn off, she started shifting through everything she knew about Transfiguration, Chemistry, Physics and Mechanics…
"What's she doing?" Mary Jane whispered.
"Sorting through her brain I guess," Peter replied.
"The adhesion. That's your problem," Hermione said, opening her eyes. Her memory bank had come through for her.
"Yeah…" Peter trailed off as Hermione sat down at the desk and began to examine the cartridge change mechanism.
"The fluid solidifies when it comes into contact with air, right? As a result, when oxygen particles from the environment get into the machine during the changeover, it solidifies and clogs the transmutation coil." She pulled out her wand and conjured a set of protective goggles over her eyes. Then she grabbed a cartridge of fluid and grinned.
"The answer then is to limit the fluids adhesiveness while in its solid form. If you reconfigure the formula, so the cable is just a little bit less adhesive in its solid form, the cable won't stick as much to the coil, and you'll be able to change the cartridges with ease. If you give it, I don't know, a total rate of decay of about an hour, then the cable will still maintain its strength and cohesion. The larger the shooter and the larger the cartridge, the longer you can increase the time till it dissolves."
Peter and Gwen conjured their own chairs and goggles and sat down beside her, grabbing vials and parchment for formula's, the Quidditch match long forgotten.
Deep breathes. That's the key. Keep breathing. In. Out. In. Out… I am so going to die.
No, you're not. You're going to do brilliantly.
You don't know that! This in front of thousands of people! I'm going to make such a fool of myself!
You won't. Trust me. You'll see what I mean once you're in the air.
"Okay team, listen up," Angelina said, calling the Hogwarts Quidditch team together from their positions around the change room.
"I know our line-ups a bit different, but we've trained for this. Extensively. We know what we're doing. We can win this thing. We will win this thing. We have to win this thing. We win this, and we eliminate Alcheringa's lead going into the final task. Then it's just up to Potter…"
"No, pressure, Harry!" Fred and George exclaimed, slapping Harry on the back.
Katie should be here…
There's a reason Katie isn't here.
He was right, of course. Two days before, in the Ilvermorny Great Hall, which Ginny thought was much more comforting and homelier than either Hogwarts or Alcheringa's Halls, Roger Davies, the third starting line Chaser for Hogwarts, had accused Katie of only getting onto the team because she was Angelina's friend. Katie had, understandably, not appreciated his comments. So, she punched him in the face. Roger had then cursed Katie, and the duel began. It lasted for about thirty seconds before Harry had walked into the hall and disarmed both of them in one wand movement. Angelina, who had come in with Harry and Ginny, had furiously benched both Katie and Roger and elevated Ginny to take Roger's place. Ginny had wondered why they had three Chaser reserves at all, surely one would do? Now she didn't.
"Cheers, guys. Don't worry about me, I've got it all under control. The Maze should be a piece of cake," Harry told them.
What was I supposed to say? I'm totally shitting myself and am sure I'm going to die?
If you die in that infernal Maze, I am going to resurrect you, just so I can kill you again myself!
Love you too.
"Good. This is our game! So let's show them what we've got!" Angelina exclaimed.
"Welcome, everyone, to the third and final Quidditch Match of the Triwizard Tournament!"
Cheering lit up the arena beyond the change room doors.
Harry gave Ginny's hand one final squeeze and let go. Ginny clenched her Firebolt and, with a deep breath, took her place beside Angelina and Alicia.
"Today, Hogwarts plays Ilvermorny in a race to close the lead set by Alcheringa in the previous challenges. Remember everyone, the school with the most points accumulated before the Third Task, will have their Champion enter the Maze five minutes before the others! As of right now, Miss Claire O'Neill, the Champion of Alcheringa, is in the lead, but if Ilvermorny or Hogwarts beat Alcheringa's score of 162 points here today, Mr Peter Parker of Ilvermorny, or Mr Harry Potter of Hogwarts, could take that incredibly crucial advantage away from Miss O'Neill. Now, I present to you all, the Ilvermorny Quidditch Team! Chasers: Khan, Pryde and Morales; Beaters: Cho and Alexander; Keeper: Lorna Maximoff; and Team Captain and Seeker, Flash Thompson!"
"Good luck everyone," Eloise said nervously. Ginny looked to the Keeper and tried to smile, but she didn't think it looked very authentic, considering how many flips her stomach was doing right now.
"And the Hogwarts Quidditch Team!"
Ginny, Harry and the others mounted their brooms and shot forward as the doors swung open.
"Chasers: Captain Angelina Johnson, Spinnet and Potter; Beaters: Weasley and Weasley; Keeper: Midgen; And Seeker and School Champion, Harry Potter!"
Ginny soared through the doors and out into the arena, keeping in formation on Angelina's left and George's right as they flew in a circuit around the pitch. Dozens of people were screaming and cheering. Ginny knew that her parents didn't have the money for an International Portkey, but she couldn't help looking for them.
Ginny, Angelina, Alicia, Fred and George lined up over the centre of the pitch opposite their counterparts, while Eloise flew to the hoops and Harry hovered opposite Flash a few metres above them. Ginny was against a girl her age with shoulder-length brown hair and a Middle-Eastern complexion. Kamala Khan. From what Ginny had seen of her at the Alcheringa/Ilvermorny game, she was easily as good as Ginny herself was, probably better. If she remembered correctly, she favoured her right arm and, because of her small stature, was good at weaving between the larger players. Fortunately, Ginny was very good at that particular skill too.
The referee stepped out onto the pitch below them and stepped on a metal plate embedded within the grassy pitch. A section of the turf flipped over, and the bludgers and Snitch flew up into the air.
"The Bludgers are up! Followed by the Golden Snitch."
The Quaffle was launched into the sky, and all of Ginny's fears and reservations vanished as all her attention fixated on the large red ball. She propelled forward, dodging beneath Khan and spinning around behind Miles Morales, the lead chaser as he reached for the Quaffle. Angelina, whose arm was longer, snatched the ball first and passed it over Morales' head. Ginny snagged it and shot towards the goal posts, Khan and Katherine Pryde – who was also brown-haired but had a complexion closer to Ginny's own – racing behind her. She rolled under Pryde and flicked the ball to Alicia, who had come up beneath her, then pulled up and over, dodging a Bludger sent her way by Ilvermorny Beater Sam Alexander. Morales intercepted Alicia, and Ginny was forced to swerve around Khan, who pulled up on her inside. She ducked and threw her body backwards, cutting her acceleration and clearing her of Kamala's mark. Then threw herself back forward, thanking Harry and his stupid bet with the twins for the extra speed the Firebolt offered.
"Oooh! That's some nice Bludger work from one of the Weasleys. Sorry fellas, but I literally can't tell you apart… Okay, Professor Dumbledore just told me that nobody can tell them apart, and the twin beaters of Hogwarts are famous of assuming the role of their opposite, so I'm not even going to try!"
The crowd began laughing, but Ginny ignored it, she was busy. Alicia tried passing to Angelina but was intercepted by Pryde. Pryde, who was now very close to the situation Alicia had been in seconds before, passed to Morales, but Ginny sped between them, catching the red sphere as it arced through the air.
"Excellent intercept by Potter there! For those of you who don't know, Mrs Ginevra Potter, playing Chaser for Hogwarts, is part of a real-life Soul-Bond with Mr Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, hence their shared last name. This is Mrs Potter's first game of match level Quidditch, having played reserve for Hogwarts' match against Alcheringa earlier in the year. And it seems as though she's pulling her weight!"
Ginny rocketed towards the goals, she glanced to Angelina, but Morales was keeping the Hogwarts Captain blocked, Ginny was on her own. Khan and Pryde bore down on her from behind, and Ginny reached up, angling towards the left hoop. The Keeper moved… and she threw for the centre. The Quaffle soared clean through the ring, and Ginny banked off to the sound of raucous applause.
I told you so.
Shut up and find your Snitch, Boy-Who-Lived.
"Incredible shot from Potter. The first points of the game go to Hogwarts!"
Ginny circled around and marked Kamala as Lorna Maximoff, a girl with shocking green hair, passed the Quaffle to Morales, who then advanced down the field. Miles Morales was the one Angelina had drilled into her to not underestimate. According to her, he was the best non-professional Chaser she had ever seen, better even than some of the League Chasers, and that was saying something.
She hadn't really understood what Angelina had meant, until that moment. Morales spun in a complete loop around Angelina. Angelina, anticipating a move, passed to Alicia on her right, but Morales had seemingly goaded her into precisely that, as he reached out, grabbed the Quaffle as soon as it left her hand, and dropped into a Harry like dive. Ginny tried to follow him, but Kamala chose that moment to pull into a hard ascent, and Ginny, anticipating a pass to her from Morales, followed. Miles couldn't shoot from where he was right now, he was too low, which meant he had to shake Alicia's tail, or pass to Kamala or Pryde, but then he did the seemingly impossible, he turned 90 degrees then 90 degrees again, effectively cornering around Alicia, and whipped his arm towards the bottom left goal. Eloise dived, and Ginny smirked, there was no way the ball would go in. Eloise passed through the ring and went for the ball, but it went far closer to the hoop than it looked, and Eloise was actually an inch or so below it. The Quaffle glided over her head, and bounced off the top of the ring, straight through the goal.
"Brilliant manoeuvring from Miles Morales! Ten points to Ilvermorny!"
"Damn," Ginny muttered.
"I know, right?" Kamala whispered, "He's so dreamy when he does that…" She zoomed off, and a very flustered Ginny reversed after her.
The game continued in a similar sort of pattern for the next fifteen minutes, with both teams racking up points against the other. The Ilvermorny team's cohesion was excellent, but Khan and Pryde were both in Ginny's year, and as a result, less experienced than Angelina and Alicia, who made an incredibly formidable pair. Morales was a one-man army, but he didn't fall into the trap Ginny saw so many other good Quidditch players fall into. He never let his show-boating or ego stop him from passing when he needed to or bailing when he knew he'd miss. But, fortunately for Angelina, Alicia and Ginny, he was only one guy, and he couldn't be everywhere at once.
Harry, on the other hand, was thrilled to be versing someone without the Dragon Force to back them up. Flash, while better than Malfoy, was nowhere near Clarissa inability. Which made him feel much better about himself.
"Look at him go! Seeker Potter expertly leads Captain Thompson straight into the path of a Bludger sent by his own teammate! No wonder teams are lining up to sign him, and he's only in fourth year!"
It didn't hurt that the new announcer was clearly crushing on Harry, despite the fact he was technically married. Ginny had wondered whether she should be worried, to which Harry had sent across their connection a very lurid dream that made her miss a shot.
But, as Ilvermorny and Hogwarts were locked in an aerial battle, the scoreboard slowly edged upwards in count. Hogwarts would take a goal, then Ilvermorny would neutralise, then Ilvermorny would score again, and Hogwarts would bring the score back to a draw.
"Owch! Hogwarts Keeper Eloise Midgen has taken a Bludger to the shoulder. It just came out of nowhere… And the referee has called time out."
Ginny landed next to Harry on the ground as Eloise was rolled away on a stretcher.
"She should be fine," Harry said, having reached the ground first, "She'll need some Skele-Gro, but it didn't look too bad."
"That's not good. Eloise really stepped up today. Morales is hard to defend against, I don't know if Foggy will be up to it. Harry, you have to catch the Snitch, fast," Angelina said as Foggy rushed out, an anxious look on his face. The team wished him luck, and they returned to the air.
"Hogwarts substitute Keeper Franklin Nelson has assumed his position at the Goals… and the Quaffle is back in the air."
Ginny shot forward, but Morales reached the Quaffle and rolled over both her and Angelina. Alicia attempted an intercept, but he passed to Pryde at just the right moment, who took the shot. Foggy knocked the Quaffle away, but Kamala caught it from below and lobbed it into a different hoop.
"Shit," Angelina mumbled.
"And we're back ladies and gentlemen. Ilvermorny has a tight lead of just ten points, sitting pretty on 230 points. Can Hogwarts tie the gap once more? Wait… Looks like Seeker Potter has seen the Snitch!"
Time to end this…
Angelina, ignoring the announcer, grabbed the Quaffle and advanced, Ginny and Alicia beside her, down the field, in the opposite direction to where Harry and Flash were chasing each other across the field. Two Bludgers shot towards them, and Ginny rolled beneath one. Alicia wasn't so lucky. The Bludger just nicked her leg, and she faltered slightly, bumping into Angelina, which was all Morales needed to dive in, grab the Quaffle and slip out. Ginny dove after him and the duo ended up locked in a Seeker like race along the grass. Suddenly, Ginny bit her lip. Pryde was leading Angelina up into the air, and Khan was boxing Alicia, who still appeared a little shaken from her near miss. He was making the same move, and there was no way Foggy could stop it. She doubted any Keeper could stop it. And if Angelina left Pryde for an instant, Morales would pass to her, and she'd point blank into the right hoop.
Ginny glanced to Fred, who was deflecting a Bludger back at Amadeus Cho, the other Ilvermorny Beater. He would be of no help. She had to break Morales' run… She glanced to Harry, then to George, who was shadowing him.
Harry, drive the Snitch in front of the goals.
George was angling a Bludger towards Pryde in an attempt to free Angelina. He swung his bat, and the violent little ball careened towards them. Harry, with Flash trailing behind, was careening down towards the goal posts. She could just see the Snitch, inches from his hand.
Morales reared up and Foggy dove to cover the free hoop. The Quaffle flew from his hand, careening in the same arc as earlier, and she could tell it was going to go in. Then Harry zipped straight in front of the ball and swung out his free arm. Ginny pulled up sharp and edged to the left. George's Bludger forced Pryde to duck down, and Angelina broke free. Harry, guiding his broom using only his legs, deflected the Quaffle straight into Ginny's waiting hand.
"I don't believe it! Seeker Potter just perfectly intercepted the Quaffle in flight, sending it straight into the waiting arms of Chaser Potter, without ever deviating from his chase of the Snitch!"
The crowd went wild, and Ginny pulled a 180-degree turn and barrelled down the field, pushing the Firebolt as fast as it could go. Morales tried to race her, but the Nimbus 2001 was just that little bit slower. Ginny arced downwards, relying on her Seeker reflexes and the speed of her broom to keep her shy of Morales. Maximoff realised what she was doing and gasped, diving for the lowest hoop. Ginny angled up and started counting.
The Quaffle soared free of her hand.
Harry kicked out with his left leg, catching Flash in the side and knocking him into the wooden wall of the stands.
The Quaffle slipped an inch over Maximoff's head and collided with the top rim of the post.
The ball rebounded through the hoop.
Harry's hand clasped the Snitch.
The crowd started screaming at the top of their lungs, the wooden stands creaking under the weight of so many people jumping up and down.
"I don't believe it! Harry Potter has caught the Snitch at the exact same moment Ginny Potter has used Ilvermorny Chaser Miles Morales' own technique against him to restore the tie! Hogwarts wins 380 – 230!"
"Okay, that was some seriously good flying," Morales exclaimed, pulling up alongside Ginny.
"I've never met anyone who could pull that off, and I've tried teaching people before." Ginny turned towards the African-American boy.
"Well, now you have," She said, winking at him, "But Merlin it was hard. I'm going to need like five showers just to get the sweat out of my hair." Miles chuckled.
"Every time. Every time."
"The judges… the judges… Okay, EVERYONE SHUT UP A SECOND!"
The crowd paused their incessant celebrations.
"Thank you. The Judges have just informed me that, with the points tallied up, Alcheringa, Ilvermorny and Hogwarts are all sitting on 162 points, putting all three schools in first place going into the Third Task for the first time in Tri-Wizard History. That means that the Champion who emerges from the Maze victorious will win the Tri-Wizard Cup for their school. The stakes have never been higher folks. This is going to be EPIC! Claire O'Neill, Harry Potter and Peter Parker go head to head in two weeks. See you all there for what's looking to be a thrilling grand finale to the 1994 Tri-Wizard Tournament!"
"You know Kamala has the hots for you," Ginny told Miles as the crowd started roaring once more.
Miles bit his lip, and his eyes dilated, "Really?"
"Yep," then she laughed and held her hand out to him, "until next time, Miles Morales."
"Until next time, Ginny Potter."
If someone asked him to describe Alcheringa, Harry would have told them it was a tropical paradise. The sun was hot, the wind fresh, the ocean warm, the people friendly (if a bit aggressive in some cases) and the food delicious. It was very much the image of a society created by a peace-loving and carefree people, who cared little for division or social barriers. The Druids and Mer, two races living in harmony, lived all over the Federation, and while each individual Kingdom had its own identity, they all felt unified under the Federation banner in a way Harry had never experienced before. It was very refreshing.
If asked the same question of Hogwarts, his mind would pull up the image of his trip across the lake, the first time he looked up at the place he considered home. It was a large, beautiful and majestic structure with thousands of years of history. But it was built behind thick walls and isolated far away from the Muggle world. Students were divided into Houses the moment they stepped through the door, and they didn't get to choose where they went, an authority figure did it for them (Harry himself being a unique case). It was a metaphor for the British Wizarding World as a whole. It looked beautiful and majestic on the outside and carried years of knowledge and history that Alcheringa just couldn't match. But it was divided and isolated, with barriers based on blood far more ingrained than any animosity between the Alcheringan Kingdoms. That, in Harry's opinion at least, was why Dark Wizards clearly had an easier time of gaining support in Britain, and to a lesser extent the Magical nations of Europe, than they did in the Federation.
Ilvermorny seemed to be aiming for the best of both worlds. The school was located high upon Mt Greylock, concealed from 'No-Maj' eyes by a thick permanent cloud of fog, highlighting its isolation from the outside world. The castle itself looked almost like a 'new and improved' version of Hogwarts. It contained fewer floors and towers but was more spread out and integrated better with the forested surroundings. It carried the same sense of awe that Hogwarts had, and it had the same deep history, with a compelling origin story that Alcheringa just couldn't replicate. The students were also sorted into houses, something taken from Hogwarts by Ilvermorny's founder, according to Hermione. However, like most British influences on America, Ilvermorny's sorting carried its own twist. Students had the option to choose their houses should they be offered more than one.
That instinctual difference, that element of choice, epitomised the American Wizarding Community. At least in Harry's opinion. Each person strived to live up to the image of their house, instead of just being a part of it like Hogwarts students did. At Hogwarts, if you were a Gryffindor people, like Snape and Malfoy could always be counted to look down on you as rash and prone to violence and rule breaking. By the same token, Harry begrudgingly admitted, Gryffindor's painted the Slytherins in a similar light as evil, lying and malicious. Jessica was proof that those images that were drilled into them were false. Jessica was proud and ambitious, yes, but she was also courageous and didn't care about what someone was born. At Ilvermorny, you had the chance to grow beyond social confines based on where you came from. Instead of being sorted based on personality, you were offered the choice to go where you felt you could grow, to live amongst people with similar beliefs and passions as yours, rather than merely all being brave, loyal, cunning, or knowledgeable. Harry thought Jessica would have loved it here.
But the thing that set Ilvermorny closer to Alcheringa than Hogwarts the most was its attitude towards being different. One of the founders of Ilvermorny had been a muggle. Not Muggleborn, but a fully-fledged Muggle. As a result, anyone trying to publicly sprout how Pureblood Magicals were better than Muggles within the Castle walls was generally laughed at, and often cases, the Pukwudgies who guarded the castle shot them with arrows if they were overheard. Harry had no doubts the same rhetoric happened behind closed doors, but it was refreshing not to have to listen to people like Hermione be belittled by people like Malfoy. There was still plenty of bullying, and if Harry had been a student of Ilvermorny, he would have had no shortage of injustices to correct.
It was this observation, which Harry made to Ginny, Hermione, Luna, Gwen, Peter and Mary Jane while they were having a collective sleepover in one of Ilvermorny's numerous 'retreats' which were scattered across the castle, that led them to where they were now. Harry thought the retreats were an ingenious idea. Each room had a large television (shielded to work around magic) a fireplace, a carpeted floor, and several couches and armchairs – all of which were very comfortable. They had been watching a favourite of Peter's: 'Back to the Future', and Harry had remarked about the power of choice – in reference to Marty's actions within the film – and how the Ilvermorny system was intrinsically better than the Hogwarts one. Gwen had then proudly stated that she believed Harry would be in Thunderbird House, her house. Peter then laid claim to Hermione for his and Mary Jane's house – the Horned Serpent. Then MJ, as she insisted they call her, had asked why they didn't they just let fate decide?
So, now they were standing in the entrance hall of Ilvermorny, a circular room topped by a glass cupola lit by torches, in the dead of night, in front of the four giant carved statues representing the four Ilvermorny houses.
"How does this work?" Hermione asked, staring at the wooden carvings, the ghost of a smile on her face.
"Well, you step up and stand on the Gordian Knot here, then wait and see which house wants you. If more than one offers, it's your choice," MJ said, bouncing up and down on her heels.
"Has anyone been picked by all four?" Harry asked.
"Every generation or so. Doctor Strange was the last one that I know off, and he chose the Horned Serpent," Gwen told them.
"They say Horned Serpent is the house of the mind or the house of Scholars, but I think that's horse-shit. It's the house of people who enjoy learning new things and applying them. I guess you could say it's like half Ravenclaw, half Slytherin," Peter provided, shrugging his shoulders in the firelight.
"Well, in that case, Thunderbird is the house of the curious. We explore new possibilities or create new ones. Don't tell us we can't do something, cause we'll set out to prove you wrong," Gwen said smugly.
"By that logic then Wampus would be for people who prefer action over words I guess," MJ said thoughtfully, "that's not to say they're dumb, far from it, Miles is in Wampus, and he's a fricken genius. But it's a place for people who define themselves by what they do, rather than what they say."
"What about the last one, Pukwudgie?" Ginny asked.
"Pukwudgie is the weird one I guess. They say it's the place for healers or people of the heart. Not entirely sure what that's supposed to mean, to be honest," Peter said.
"I'd say it's for the dedicated, the unwavering optimists, the people with the kind hearts who are determined to make the biggest difference in the world," Gwen said. Peter pursed his lips and nodded his head.
"So, who's first?" MJ asked, raising her torch above the knot on the floor.
"I'll do it," Hermione said, before rushing forward. She stepped onto the knot, and Luna, who had been silent since she stepped into the room, gasped.
"Mystery? You alright?" Ginny asked, her and Harry rushing to the blonde girl.
"Um…, yeah. I… I think so… It's just really loud," She said, covering her ears with her hands. For the first time since her mother died, Ginny saw the dreamy, cloudy expression that seemed a permanent fixture of Luna's face vanish entirely. Her eyes, erratic and flittering, were fastened on Hermione.
Harry and Ginny turned back just in time to see the jewel in the Horned Serpent's forehead light up, followed by the Pukwudgie lifting it's arrow above its head.
"I got a choice! This is so cool!" Hermione looked between the two carvings. "Sorry, Mr Pukwudgie…" Then she walked to stand by the Serpent carving, beside Peter. Luna let out a sigh of relief.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Ginny asked her.
"Yeah. It just takes a bit of getting used to. Too many creatures in here at once while they're choosing, too much music to sort through."
"Come on, Harry! Let's see!" Gwen called from where she was sitting at the Thunderbirds feet. Harry, letting go of Luna, stepped up to MJ and stood on the knot. A tiny rush flowed through him for a split second, then it was gone.
You feel that?
I felt it through you. Must be how the carvings scan you or something.
The Thunderbird beat its wings and Gwen jumped to her feet and whooped.
"Told you so!" She exclaimed, sticking her tongue out at MJ, who pulled a Galleon out of her pocket and tossed it to Gwen. Harry moved to stand beside Gwen, who became the fifth person in his life to hug him behind Hermione, Mrs Weasley, Ginny and Sirius. Gwen's hugs were similar to Hermione's he decided. Quick, excitable and all-encompassing.
"You're up Firefly," Hermione called.
I wonder if anyone's just not been picked?
You're a real comfort, aren't you?!
I rest my case.
Ginny stepped up to the centre, and Harry felt another rush, but it came from Ginny's side of their connection, like a leaky tap. The roar of the Wampus filled the hall, as well as the beating of the Thunderbirds wings.
"Ooh. Another choice. What shall it be, sister of hair but not blood?" MJ teased. Ginny scowled at her and glanced between the two carvings.
What do you think?
I think you should choose yourself.
"Hey! No mental conferring!" Hermione scolded. Ginny went bright red, and Harry just rolled his eyes. She looked between the two once more, before making her way over to stand beside Harry and Gwen.
"Boom! Team Bad Ass over here!" Gwen exclaimed, giving Ginny a hi-five.
What made you decide?
Not you if that's what you're thinking.
That's it we're getting a divorce.
I was joking!
If you really want to know, it's something you said before. About choices, and being who you want to be, instead of who people in power tell you to be. Maybe I should be a Wampus. I'm rash, I get angry, and I tend to hex first ask questions later. But… I want to know more about the City. I want to find the secrets of the Ancients. There are so many things I want to do, things beyond just being a 'warrior'. I used to think I'd finish school, find a husband – preferably you – and become a housewife. That's what mum always told me I'd be doing. That was my purpose, according to her. And I accepted that because I didn't know any better. Maybe, if I was lucky, I'd get to play some Quidditch first, but a housewife was my future. But now I see Hermione and the genius that she is, pushing every sort of intellectual boundary she can. Claire is a badass who's probably going to conquer the world. And Gwen and MJ, they're going to start a business. It's been an eye-opener for me. I don't have to follow my mums out of date rules anymore. I can be who I want to be, and that, for me, means choosing the Thunderbird, the path of curiosity and adventure. You being here is just a bonus.
Harry pulled Ginny into a hug.
You can be whatever the hell you want to be. Don't let me stop you.
I won't. Though, FYI, you already snagged me as a husband, even if we're trying not to think about it like that.
Ginny giggled. Another roar interrupted them, and the pair turned back to the carvings. All four were moving, and standing in the middle, was Luna, her hands over her ears.
"Holy shit," Peter exclaimed.
"That's… that's amazing!" MJ exclaimed.
Luna didn't even hesitate. She walked over to the Thunderbird statue and sat down cross-legged, humming a lullaby to herself.
MJ raised her hand. "Quick question, is it okay if I reserve full rights to write your biography one day?"
Luna just kept humming. No one noticed the tiny flecks of blood in her ears, or the drops from her nose she had wiped away with her hand.