The Multiversity was as grand as one could imagine. Literally. The buildings and terraces seemed to transform as one walked past, morphing into what the type of structure the viewer believed was grand or magnificent. Ghost couldn't speak for the others, but to him, the boulevards were white marble inlaid with patterns of gold, silver and bronze. Trees from hundreds of different worlds lined the terraces. Sunlight – which was an enigma in and of itself given there was no 'sun' in the Circle of the Gods – glistened from leaves slightly dampened with dew. Lining the roads were buildings that just couldn't remain fixed. One moment they were colonial British or Parisian, the next elegant palaces with immaculate gardens and columns. Surrounding the Multiversity on all sides was the trunk of the World Tree, white light shimmered down through the canopy of leaves above them.
To say the Courthouse was just a courtroom would be like calling the Arc de Triumph a door. It was the size of a university at least, and the entire thing looked like it had been pulled out of a book. The exterior of the building was decorated with beautiful Ancient Greek marble columns, green vines with gold leaves embossed across them. The roof appeared to be made from gilded gold, with several interlocking Nordic runes etched across the edge. The steps leading up to the enormous oaken doors were lined with every language ever invented. The hallways were perfectly geometric. Each wall segment was an exact rectangle, alternating gold and silver. The interior was like a giant theatre. Millions of seats lined the three galleries of the house, most of them already filled by the time the Travellers arrived. Tapestries depicting each of the Enigma Forces in action hung at equal intervals around the room, and no matter how far away from a tapestry you were, you could always see it clearly.
Floating in the middle of the chamber were twelve thrones, all of the same design. The people seated, however, were utterly different, representing the various members of the Multiversity Council chosen to sit on the panel for the day's deliberations.
Ghost, Miracle, Crystal and the 200 strong force of Travellers were relegated to the third tier balcony – the visitors' gallery. Because none of them were divine or ascended, they weren't eligible to get any closer to the deliberations. No, they were just a group of hardworking 'mundanes' trying to keep the Orrery of Worlds from dissolving into chaos.
After what felt like several hours, one of the people on the thrones – Ghost thought it was the Angel Aziraphale – stood up and called for silence.
"Let it be known," he called, "that we do not own Harry Potter, Wakanda or any other franchise observed in our works of fanfiction! Alcheringa and it's magical community, however, belong to Ghost and Miracle. Bring forth the prisoner!"
Act V, Chapter 3: The Burden of Leadership
Maggie Adams was having quite a nice day. She was minding the front desk of the American Embassy in London, a job that was usually fraught with British people harassing her about why they couldn't get their Visas either faster or more efficiently. Apparently, none of them had the wherewithal to realise she staffed reception, not a seat in Congress. But today was a good day. No arguments, no insults, no thinly veiled threats, no idiots, and she had a date that evening. Her first since moving from Chicago. So, maybe, just maybe she thought to herself, the universe was giving her a sign of a good day.
That image was well and truly shattered; however, the second two young people walked through the front door. The leader was a woman with long hair like flickering flames. She wore denim jeans, brown leather boots and a matching jacket. Around her neck was a woollen scarf with an indigo tint to it. Her eyes, a deep chocolate brown, were fixed on Maggie. Behind her was a man, taller than she was, with messy black hair and vivid green eyes. He wore jeans like the woman, but with an AC/DC t-shirt, and a leather jacket that was black instead of brown. Unlike the woman, his eyes flitted between every person in the room, scanning, assessing. He mapped out every exit, analysed the security guards like a professional. In reality, nothing really should have distinguished them from the general people she saw. Maggie knew what a socialite and a punk rocker looked like after all. But she'd also been trained to recognise potential threats. It was part of her job, especially with the situation in Afghanistan only getting worse. The bosses were worried about another potential incident, and a foreign embassy was the perfect target. So, Maggie was trained to see-through covers. To recognise specific peoples who might be threats. And these two screamed it. The man was clearly a soldier, and the woman looked far less healthy than a British socialite had any right to be. Her face had a shallowness to it that screamed previous malnourishment, her right hand hovered far too close to her pocket, and the aura of confidence she excluded was undoubtedly fake. Then, to top it all off, Maggie recognised their faces. They'd been on the news just the previous night. Kidnap victims 16-year-old Harry Potter and 15-year-old Ginny Weasley, the BBC had said. Yet here they seemingly were.
Maggie's heart began hammering in her chest, and she pushed the little red button on the bottom of her desk. The woman smiled as she approached Maggie's desk, and she smiled back, eyeing 'Ginny's' brown jacket warily. Could they be wired with suicide bombs? The thought made her want to vomit. She silently apologised to her friends, her family. She really hoped her sister would remember her dog, Mickey. But she kept the smile on her face.
"Afternoon Miss, how can I help you today?"
"Hi, can I speak to the Ambassador please?" The woman asked. Maggie very narrowly stopped herself from hitching her breath. The Ambassador must be the target.
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No. But I think the Ambassador will be willing to make time for us," 'Ginny' said sweetly.
"I'm afraid that's not how it works Miss. The Ambassador is a very busy man, he doesn't have the time to accede to demands for his time. If you need to speak to him, you'll have to have an appointment. I can book one for you if you'd like?" The door behind her opened, and two security guards in black tuxedos and dark sunglasses stepped out, hands on the guns at their hips. The two security guards at the door spun towards the two youths, drawing their own weapons. Finally, the doors on either side of the room swung open, and two more guards came out from each.
"Hands in the air, step back from the desk. We don't want to hurt you kids," one of the guards said, gesturing to the pair. The teens shared a glance before stepping back and slowly raising their hands in the air.
"I think there's been a misunderstanding here," the woman said hesitantly. The guard who spoke stepped up to them, and began patting down the man – 'Harry Potter'. Maggie breathed a sigh of relief when no bomb packets were discovered. It appeared all the man had was a shaft of wood in his pocket, and an odd golden tattoo on his neck. The woman also had a stick, though it was a different colour, and she had the same golden symbol. Also, a fading bite mark on her neck, and a scar on her hand.
"Who are you?" The head guard asked. By this point, everyone in the room was staring at the two teens.
"Oh, in the name of Merlin's saggy left testicle, my name is Harry Potter. Surely that means something to one of you!?" The man barked. One of the guards and two of the visitors let out gasps of shock.
"There we go. My wife and I are here to request political asylum in the United States of America, and I suggest you hurry this up before the British arrive, as the guy by the front door with the grey cardigan has already reported our whereabouts," he snapped. The guard who'd gasped instantly spun to the entrance, where a man in a grey cardigan was sitting in one of the black leather armchairs - a look of horror etched on his face. The man let out a gasp of fright before vanishing with a loud crack! Maggie and several people in the room chocked in shock. What!? Who were these people?!
The guards instantly surrounded the two teens.
"Take them to the Brass-level! Now!" The guard who'd seemingly recognised Potter said frantically. Brass-level? What Brass-level? There was no Brass-Level?!
That's when the glass revolving door blasted off its hinges.
People screamed, scattering as glass flew through the room, but Maggie was frozen stiff, staring at the entry in utter shock.
Harry and Ginny pushed through the guards and pointed the sticks that had been confiscated from them mere moments before towards the ruined doors, where five people were now walking inside. The leader had long silver hair and wore garish black robes. Beside him were four individuals with even worse fashion sense. They wore similar gaudy clothes, but on their heads were red caps with feathers sticking out from the brims. All in all, they were the most bizarre people she'd ever seen.
"Potter! You are under arrest by order of the Minister for Magic," the man with the silver hair snarled.
"Escape the Department of Mysteries did we Malfoy? I have to say, I'm impressed."
"Come quietly, Potter, you don't want these poor pathetic Muggles caught in harm's way, do you?"
Magic? Department of Mysteries? Muggles? What on earth was going on?
"You and I both know where we'll be going if we come with you. Straight into Voldemort's waiting hand. In case you hadn't noticed, we intend on departing this country, and you certainly won't be stopping us."
Then all hell broke loose. Blasts of red, green and yellow energy filled the air, and Maggie finally had the sense of mind to duck beneath her desk. There was a great deal of snarling, yelling, gunfire, and even an explosion, but eventually everything quieted down.
"Thanks for the assist," the head guard said.
"Likewise," Ginny replied.
"So, can we see the Ambassador now?" Potter asked.
"Take them to the Brass-Level," the other guard directed, "I'll deal with the clean-up."
"Copy." The elevator made a ding, and Maggie heard several footsteps crunch across the glass. The elevator doors closed, and a voice said, "Reparo," followed by "I know you're all probably very confused right now, and you have every reason to be. But if you look here, you'll all be fine. Obliviate." A bright flash illuminated the room above her, but Maggie remained hidden beneath the desk. More footsteps echoed through the room, and, slowly, ordinary levels of conversation returned. She heard the elevator ding again and finally lifted her head above the desk. It was like nothing had happened. The door was fixed, the glass all restored. All the people were uninjured and sitting or standing precisely as they had been before, and there was no sign of Harry, Ginny, the security guards, or the attackers.
Five hours after Malfoy's catastrophic attack on the American Embassy, Harry and Ginny found themselves sitting on the Private Jet of the American Ambassador to Britain. The Ambassador was – by convention – a Wizard, so as soon as the Security Guard (whose name was Dave) brought them onto the Wizarding floor of the embassy (which they called the Brass-Level) the Ambassador had instantly known who they were and assured them of their anonymity and security. The Ambassador had sent an Owl to the Secretary of Magic immediately, and within four hours, Harry and Ginny were political refugees in the United States. Now they were on their way to New York City on a plane. It had been deemed too dangerous to take a portkey, as they were easily traceable, and Voldemort might be able to find them. So, a plane it was. At least it was a nice plane, rather than some of the pictures Harry had shown Ginny of Economy Class on the larger passenger jets the Muggles used.
They'd been in the air for over half an hour now, and Ginny was sitting in the bathroom, staring at the letter in her hands. She'd sealed up her bond with Harry as best she could, claiming girl problems – a subject he knew very well to avoid by now. Slowly, hesitantly, she broke the seal, removing the parchment within.
Don't let Harry see this.
And with a horrible sense of foreboding, Ginny read on.
When they landed in New York City, Harry led the way down the stairs into the dark of night and onto the tarmac. Waiting for them was a black sedan and two MIB Agents in black suits. The MIB, or Magical Intelligence Bureau, had been established as an independent government agency when MACUSA fell, and the Wizarding government of the United States was reabsorbed into the greater American government. Now their main job was protecting the border between the mundane and magical worlds. The Agents nodded to Harry and Ginny as they sat down in the back seats of the car.
"The President and the Secretary have expressed their desire to meet with you as soon as possible Mr and Mrs Potter. With your permission, we'll escort you to Washington DC immediately…"
"No. We need to go to 177a Bleecker Street," Harry said firmly. The agent stared at him for a few seconds, as if sizing him up, before nodding quickly and starting the car.
They drove out of the airport and onto the highway, quickly getting caught in the famous New York traffic. It was almost 10:00pm at night by his watch, and the roads were as clogged as rush hour in London.
Harry couldn't help but stare at Ginny as they drove. She was keeping their mental link completely sealed, no stray thoughts reaching his brain. She was deep in thought, staring out the car window in exactly the same position she'd sat in on the plane. It was disconcerting, and Harry could tell she was struggling with something. It was clearly something she didn't want him to know about, so what could he do? He'd thought about asking if she needed help, but he just knew the answer would be a polite refusal, before turning back to her window. So, Harry remained staring out his own window into the flashing neon lights of New York, watching as car after car moved past them.
Eventually, they drove down a less busy street, coming to a stop outside a colonial manor with a window on the roof that matched the glyph on the Eye of Agamotto.
"We'll wait for you here," The agent said, and Harry and Ginny walked up the stairs. Ginny finally reopened their mental bridge as Harry knocked on the door.
He couldn't help it. He had to ask.
Yeah. Just had some stuff to work out.
Harry knew she was telling the truth because he could feel how confused and anxious she felt through the Gemini Rune.
Anything I can do to help?
No. I'm sorry, Harry. But not this time.
The door to the house swung open, revealing an Asian man in old Wizarding robes squinting at them.
"Come in. Don't blow anything up while you're here." He opened the door wider, beckoning them inside rudely. The house had a sense of grandeur to it Harry couldn't quite place. The room they stepped into was a large one, an entrance hall of sorts. The ceiling was three levels above them, and an immaculate wooden staircase rose up to the next floor. A cauldron sat near the stairs, and luxurious red curtains were drawn over the windows. The same symbol on the window outside covered the floor, embossed in gold.
"Wong, play nice, would you?" Harry and Ginny snapped up to Doctor Strange, who was standing at the top of the stairs in a hastily thrown on outfit of a dressing gown, tracksuit pants and a pyjama shirt.
"If they had come at a decent hour I would have," Wong huffed. He closed the door and left through another door, grumbling about inappropriate visitors.
"Mr and Mrs Potter, welcome to the Sanctum Sanctorum. What can I do for the two of you?" Strange asked, walking down the stairs to their level.
"We need your help," Ginny began.
"We can't beat Voldemort, not on our own. Not with the Nether Force at his disposal, or the entire British government after us," Harry continued.
"But we might have a way. We've been receiving dreams, flashes, of the Ancient City of Atlantis, sent to us from Clara Hunter – the Oracle of the Council. We think there's something in Atlantis that can stop Voldemort once and for all."
Doctor Strange stared at them for a moment, probably assessing whether they were lying or not. Finally, he seemed to decide that they were, in fact, telling the truth.
"Come with me," he said, before walking up the stairs.
Harry and Ginny followed him silently, trying hard not to stare at all the magical artefacts lining the darkened hall. Harry spotted the Wand of Watoomb, the Cloak of Levitation, the Crimson Gem of Cytorak, a branch from a Weirwood tree, the Ring of Barahir… and those were just the ones he recognised! There were at least a dozen more he didn't. A rusted oil lamp, a flower in a jar with golden petals, a clock stuck at nine in the afternoon, a silver steel belt with seven gems affixed in seven silver medallions…
Eventually, the Doctor led them through another door, and they passed through a transparent barrier, not unlike the one you stepped through to get inside the Home.
"We're in another dimension," Harry said aloud.
"Indeed. This is Karma Taj. An ancient citadel built by the Ancients before their demise. The Masters of the Mystic Arts have been using since it was discovered seven thousand years ago," Strange told them.
The room they found themselves in was eerily familiar. It was shaped like a triangle, with a door at each corner, each carved with a different symbol. The walls and floor were the exact same shade of red as the control room in the city. In the middle of the room sat three raised daises. The one furthest from them held a pedestal and resting upon it was the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto. The next held a sphere roughly the size of one's hands, and on the last was a grey metal and blue glass chair, with blue light trapped within.
Doctor Strange walked over to the platform with the sphere and rested his hands upon it. Instantly, a globe of golden magic materialised in the middle of the room, hovering in the air. The golden light rippled for a second, before solidifying into a three-dimensional image of Earth.
"The Anquietus, or the Ancients as you know them, were a race of space-faring people that arrived on Earth roughly twelve thousand years ago. Earth was still relatively young and new at the time, though still old enough for the first sentient inhabitants of our planet, the Elves, to have been driven to extinction by mankind. Based on what we know for certain, the Ancients came to our planet for one reason, and one reason only. Magic. At least what we call magic in the modern era. The records in this place tell us that the Ancients, when they fled their original home in a galaxy far, far away, were researching a powerful force which they called 'the Source'. We don't know for sure what the Ancients believed the Source was, or if they even had any idea at all beyond its existence. They spent thousands of years trying to find it, but never could. Even sending unmanned starships out into the cosmos to gather data and information as to a possible location. But hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, and using our current understanding of magic, we can deduce that 'the Source' the Ancients sought is the origin of all magic. The force that allows for the existence of life, of which the Enigma Forces are but shadows of its true magnificence."
Doctor Strange moved his hands on the sphere, and four sparks lit up across the globe, with the biggest one right in the centre.
"Atlantis, Kamar Taj, Hades and Valyria. Four cities the Ancients had on Earth. Valyria is long destroyed, Hades fallen into ruin, and Atlantis lost to time. 10,000 years ago, a plague swept through the galaxy, wiping out populations across the stars, and not just the Ancients. Entire civilisations were extinguished. Some Ancients survived by ascending to a higher plane of existence, forsaking their mortal forms, but they were few, and the plague too fast. Almost all of them died, along with much of the human race. Those who did survive eventually evolved into the humanity we see today." Doctor Strange sighed, releasing the sphere.
"Explorers have searched for Atlantis for centuries. None have found it. The City most likely remains hidden by some power of the Ancients we do not understand. I fear your search will be in vain." Ginny growled at him, and Harry had to grab her arm to prevent her from drawing her wand. Red heat flooded the Gemini Rune, and Harry forced himself to ignore Ginny's rage.
"Then how are we going to stop Voldemort?!" Ginny snapped.
"The Aether Force and the Dragon Force together should be able to stop him. If they do not, then the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. We are but threads in the Great Pattern of Fate and Destiny, doomed to follow our fated course," The Doctor said as if addressing pre-schoolers.
"You're giving up?" Harry exclaimed. He loosened his grip on Ginny just slightly, but that was all she needed to slip free. She ducked away from Harry and stalked over to the Chair.
"Don't!" Strange exclaimed, reaching for her, but Ginny had already sat down. The Chair lit up, sliding back into place. Ginny's eyes fell closed, and Strange's jaw dropped open in complete shock.
"Nothing's impossible if you've got enough nerve," Harry said, staring at Ginny with pride. Then it all went wrong.
The chair made a groaning noise, and the lights started flickering dangerously.
Ginny's eyes flashed open, and she jumped up out of the chair with a shriek, launching into Harry's arms. The light within the chair spluttered and died, but it didn't reset to its upright position.
"What happened?!" Strange snapped. Ginny rounded on the Sorcerer Supreme.
"What happened? You imbeciles have been playing with fire, and you got yourself burned." Ginny let go of Harry and stepped up to the chair platform. She dropped her hand to the glass platform and waved her hand over a section near the edge. A piece of the glass vanished, and a cylindrical structure, about the size of Harry's forearm, made from what looked like gold and red stained glass rose up out of the ground. It was smoking. She wrapped her jacket around her hand and pulled it free.
"This is the power source. It's called a ZPM, and it's dead because you've been experimenting on it. I only got time to ask the chair two questions before it died. One: you can't use the chair because you don't have the Ancient Gene, the special genetic characteristic that allows people to use Ancient technology. I do have it, probably because I'm a pureblood. Two: Atlantis is at the Sacramentum de Campion lay corde Terra. I.e. the Plains of Mystery at the Heart of the World. So, unless you can tell us where either of those places are, this whole trip was pointless!"
Laying it on a bit thick, aren't you?
I know. It's super hot.
This chair was connected to a database, like a giant network of sorts, the chair in the library isn't. I wish I'd known it was here before. I could have learned so much.
Doctor Strange, who was staring at Ginny with something that looked suspiciously like respect, placed his hands back on the sphere. A place near the centre of the Earth, where the Equator met the Prime Meridian, lit up on the floating golden globe.
"The Heart of the World is here. The Plains of Mystery never existed. They are merely part of the legend. If you insist on going to find something that cannot be found, I will not stop you. If you would be willing to stay awhile so my colleagues and I could talk to you about this Ancient Gene and the chair…"
Yep. We've got what we came for.
Harry and Ginny turned on their heels, and advanced back through the door they came, marching on a unified front towards the future, leaving Doctor Strange and the past he clung to behind.
Jessica stepped through the St James Park anchor and into the Home, where Luke and Danny were waiting for her.
"Woah," Luke exclaimed, jaw-dropping open.
"Jessica?" Danny asked, disbelievingly.
"Of course, it's me you fuckwits. Now let's get a move on!" She snapped, being sure to keep her usual attitude about her. But secretly she was thrilled at the reaction.
It had been a month since she woke up in St Mungo's Hospital, hearing the prophecy and learning that Harry and Ginny had left her in charge of both the Defenders and the Defenders Army. And it had been a seriously busy month. Fudge had gone and ordered Harry and Ginny's arrest, which basically destroyed all of what remained of his credibility with the public. That's when Jessica, Matt and Hermione had created what Matt liked to call, "The Ultimate Plan of Awesomeness." That had called into serious question why on earth she was ever attracted to him.
They had spent hours and hours while she and Matt were still hospitalised trying to come up with a solution to the Fudge problem, until they realised that instead of treating Fudge like a problem to be defeated, they should treat him as an obstacle. And what was the easiest way to avoid an obstacle? Go around it. So, they'd leaked the prophecy to Rita Skeeter, and all hell broke loose.
They didn't tell her the whole thing. Just that it said Harry was super awesome and the prophesied hero of Wizardkind. Hermione had then started going on about Joseph Campbell, the "Hero's Journey" and a book called "The Hero of a Thousand Faces." Jessica had glazed over at that point.
The stunt worked brilliantly. Kind of hard to run the government if no one is listening to you. Combined with Dumbledore's speech to the Wizengamot and Umbridge's tour of the Forbidden Forest, which she still hadn't returned from, what remained of Fudge's power-base had crumpled. If Jessica's network of spies within the Ministry (she very much enjoyed the fact she could say she had 'a network of spies' in anywhere) were right, Rufus Scrimgeour would be challenging for the Ministership sometime in the next week. And that was excellent news. With Scrimgeour as Minister, that left the position of Head Auror vacant, and she already knew who his replacement would be: Brian Braddock.
With Braddock at the top of the Auror food chain, Amelia Bones as head of the DMLE, and Percy Weasley as the newly appointed head of the Department of Magical Transportation (the previous head having died in Voldemort's attack), the Defenders had control of three of the most important arms of the Ministry. Scrimgeour would be dancing to her tune.
Perhaps the most incredible thing was that they had made amends with Dumbledore. After his speech to the Wizengamot addressing Voldemort's return, in which he told more lies and half-truths than actual facts (Jessica had counted), he had confronted the Defenders in St Mungo's. As per Harry's letter, they decided to trust him with the information that Harry and Ginny had left to search for a weapon capable of defeating Voldemort, though not about Atlantis. Dumbledore had pondered this for a few seconds, before asking how he could help them. Since then he'd been incredibly helpful. He had given his input on "The Ultimate Plan of Awesomeness," providing some insight, and even pointing out a major flaw that they had missed. Plus, Dumbledore had resources that Jessica did not. Access to potions ingredients and spell books, and knowledge of which members of the Ministry were under Voldemort's thumb and which were under Dumbledore's. Under her direction, Dumbledore had even started sending the members of the Order of the Phoenix out on reconnaissance missions. He seemed to genuinely want to help them. But Jessica didn't trust him. He had his own reasons for helping them, she was sure of it.
Then there was Hogwarts. The Wizengamot had reinstated Dumbledore as Headmaster, and he'd immediately ordered his staff restored to their positions and Aurors be sent to guard the school while protective spells were placed around it. Doctors from St Mungo's had been working at the castle through the night, tending to injuries among the students who escaped the Ministry. Hermione, Flitwick, Luke and Dumbledore made it their job to ensure every parent knew the status of their children, and Dumbledore himself went out to the homes of all the deceased to break the news. The depression on his face that first week had even Jessica pitying him.
Peter, Gwen and MJ had returned to the United States; but insisted that if the Defenders needed their help that they call immediately. Gwen and Peter had also taken with them the plans to install a Home anchor in their apartment building for quick travel to Defenders Headquarters, though it wouldn't be finished for a while.
The Dragons, on the other hand, despite wanting to help, had returned to Alcheringa to recuperate after their stint in Hell. Jessica hadn't actually seen them before they left, but from what the others told her, the pair had looked like Hell had chewed them up and spat them back out. Which, if she thought about it, was precisely what had happened. They'd returned looking no worse for wear a few days ago, and had taken up residence in one of the upstairs rooms in the Home.
They weren't the only new residents, however.
A week after the attack on the Ministry, Voldemort himself attacked Bones Manor, and the only reason Amelia Bones had survived it was because Danny had taken it upon himself to wait for exactly that. He hadn't told any of the other Defenders what he was doing. He simply vanished after they saw the prophecy, reappearing in the Home with Madame Bones after the attack. He only narrowly escaped, thanks to his fist and the portkey hidden in his Defenders robes.
Professor McGonagall also remained in the Home being looked after by Dumbledore and Madame Pomfrey. She was still in a coma, but Professor Dumbledore was confident she would awaken soon. Jessica hoped he was right.
The sheer intensity of the past month had been a gift for Jessica. It had allowed her to devote all her attention to everyone else's problems rather than her own. She didn't want to think about her mother, and how she'd looked as she died. She didn't regret it. Not in the slightest. But it still hurt, and she absolutely hated being weak. Then there was her father. He was already back to his old tricks. Two third-year Slytherin girls had vanished. So had Ernie Macmillan's sister. She knew, knew deep down in her bones that it was him. The man was a complete and total psychopath, and she just knew that she would have to face him at some point. That thought absolutely terrified her, so she stayed very far away from it.
She had to get away from it all. So, she'd decided to take a morning off from trying to save the world, 'borrowed' some of Harry and Ginny's seemingly endless pile of money and gone out to a high-end muggle beauty parlour. She didn't want to be Jessica Jones, daughter of Alessandra and Zebediah. She just wanted to be Jessica, aka Alias – leader of the Defenders.
She'd permanently gotten rid of her long, dead straight black hair. She'd had it trimmed to shoulder length and curled so that it actually had volume instead of hanging limply down her back. And then she'd gone what the hell. She'd asked the person doing her hair what was new and fresh. So now she had gorgeous pink hair, with all trace of her raven locks hidden away. Keeping it that way wouldn't be too hard with some Sleakeasy's Hair-cream. Then she'd gotten her nails done, and even some makeup.
After all that, because Jessica was a 'lovely' customer and the Potters had a very large wallet she didn't care about bleeding dry, one of the designers by the name of Sandy (who seemed to think it was her job to tell her entire transgender life story as she was doing Jessica's hair) had gone with her to Oxford Street, where they'd purchased the white tights, light blue mini-skirt, thigh-high boots and the brown leather jacket she was currently wearing. Sandy had impressed on her that wearing greys and blacks was "absolutely not an option" with Jessica's new look, as dark colours clashed horribly with her hair and skin tone. Jessica had then, for reasons beyond her comprehension, agreed to burn all her jeans and return in a few days. She put it down to spending too much time with Ginny. It definitely had nothing to do with the fact that she had enjoyed being the centre of attention for once in her life, and shaking off her parents' influence and embracing muggledom was the ultimate insult to her Pureblood maniac parents and their cultist friends. Merlin, she hoped she never met a psychiatrist.
"Um… you look different," Luke stammered.
"Is everyone here?" She asked him, ignoring their dumbfounded looks.
"Uh….." Rolling her eyes, Jessica stormed down the hallway, chancing a glance at the clock before advancing down the rightward hall. Padfoot and Moony were pointed at 'Home', and The General and Firefly were pointed to 'Abroad'.
She rounded the corner and stalked down to the Study Room. She avoided the newly restored Marauders Library and the Duelling Room and went into the recently added room on the far right. It was very sci-fi. Lily Potter would have been proud. Gunmetal grey walls, electric lighting on the roof, walls and floor, and the centre of the room was dominated by a large holographic table. Standing around the table were Amelia Bones, Sirius Black, Nymphadora Tonks, Bill Weasley, Brian Braddock, Betsy Braddock, Remus Lupin, Jack Murdock, Albus Dumbledore, William and Clarissa O'Neill, Bill Weasley, Fred, George, Hermione, Matt and Luna. All in all, not a bad table to work with.
"Hey Jess," Matt said without looking up his position leaning against the wall. He'd removed his red glasses, but his eyes remained unmoving.
"Hey, everyone." More staring. She supposed she'd have to get used to that. What was it, Ginny always used to tell her? Fake it till you make it. So that's what she did.
"What's the latest?"
"No news from Mad-Eye. He's still trying to hunt down Voldemort's base, but he's had little luck I'm afraid," Bill admitted.
"However, we might have a lead on Greyback," Sirius said, winking slyly at her. Jessica grinned. That was one bottle she wanted corked, especially before the next full moon.
"Investigations turned heads near Yorkshire. He's been gathering up as many werewolves as he can. Trying to convince them to side with You-Know-Who," Remus said, "From what I can tell, he doesn't have a lot of support, but given the Ministry, he doesn't have to drive a hard bargain."
"Then we have to offer them a better one. Will, Clarissa. What's the deal with Werewolves in the Federation?" Will bit his lip, before turning to Clarissa.
"I don't think we have any. Do we?"
"Lycanthropy was introduced into Australia by British convicts in the 1800's when the Ministry of Magic sent over a hundred captured Werewolves on muggle ships to get them out of Britain. The British intended for them to die in the Outback, but the Dwarves of Kata Tjuta brought them into their underground mansions. No moonlight gets in there. Don't think they were altruistic about it though. Werewolves are naturally stronger than average humans, so they used them as slave labour for about a century before the Federation was founded and the Federal Protection Authority put a stop to it. They used Waratah Essence to prevent the transformation as well I think, puts them into a trance-like sleep during it," Clarissa said matter of factly. Everyone just stared at her.
"What? It was my Year 9 assignment for Creature Protection and Manipulation Class," She said with a shrug.
"You got to do Werewolves? Damn, I got stuck with Liar Birds. Mr Archibald was such a dick," Will grumbled.
"You're just sour you didn't get Miss Maxwell," Clarissa told him.
"She was an awesome teacher," Will replied defensively.
"Also had the biggest rack I've ever seen," Clarissa said evenly, raising her hands over her breasts and mimicking a balloon inflating. Will raised his hands in defeat.
"If we could get back on topic?" Dumbledore prompted.
Will and Clarissa both looked to their feet.
"I'll ask Gárlin to send some Waratah Essence up here. Can't be too difficult," Will said.
"I'll try it out," Remus said, eying Will, "If it works, we can spread the news there might be an alternative to Wolfsbane." Tonks, who was cradling Lightning the kitten in her arms as he mewled softly, glared at Lupin. The old wolf firmly ignored her. Matt had told her about a conversation between the two he'd overheard a week previously, where Lupin had rebuffed Tonks attempts to ask him out on a date because of his condition. She had decided she'd leave it to them to figure out, and wouldn't care until they pissed her off.
"At the very least it makes us look better than the Ministry, and presents a viable alternative to Voldemort," Amelia said. Jessica inwardly smirked at Madame Bones. She liked the woman. Despite Susan's death, and the attack on her home, she absolutely refused to back down. She even said Voldemort's name without flinching, and the number of people who could do that could still be counted on Jessica's fingers.
"While we're doing that, we should put together a team to bring in, or bring down, Greyback. If we can get him off the streets, one way or another, I know I'll sleep better at night," Sirius said pointedly.
"Agreed," Jessica said, "Stakeout this gathering. If you see a shot, don't wait for orders, follow your gut."
Sirius beamed and slapped the two Braddock siblings on the back, "You two in?"
"Sounds like fun," Betsy said with a smirk.
"I've got no plans tomorrow night," Brian shrugged.
"I'm coming too," Matt said, standing up and making his way to the table.
"Mathew, are you sure about…" Jack Murdock started.
"My powers will help in the field. I can peg a Werewolf five miles away. I'll be an asset in this," he said firmly, as if daring his father to disagree. The older Murdock threw his hands up in the air, surrendering.
"So long as I can come too," he said. Matt turned towards his dad.
"No way. Maisie needs you at home," he said.
"Maisie needs you more than me, Mathew. She never lets you out of her sight when you're home. If you're going, I'm going."
Maisie was Matt's five-year-old squib sister, though Jessica had never met the girl before.
Matt grumbled something Jessica didn't here, before acquiescing with a nod.
"Count me in as well. Werewolves can't hurt me. I'd be a perfect red-shirt," Luke said, shouldering forward.
"The more, the merrier," Sirius said.
"Good. Brains, Professor, how go the Muggleborn safehouses?" Jessica asked.
"Molly is busy setting up spare beds in the recently vacated rooms belonging to Ginevra, Ronald, Percival and the Twins in the Burrow already," Dumbledore said with a smile.
"Grimmauld Place just has one floor left to clean out, and we'll be completely open for business," Tonks chirped, slapping Bill on the back. She placed Lightning down on the table, and the cat sprinted towards Hermione, who picked him up without thinking and tickled behind his ears.
"The Oxford House is about halfway there. The Goblin Wards are being put in place tomorrow," Hermione said.
The Oxford House was another thing they'd bought with Harry and Ginny's money, though it was a much more essential and thought-out purchase than Jessica's beauty spree. The house was a three-story townhouse in Oxford which had been magically modified by Bill and Betsy to contain three times its actual occupancy. The purpose of the Oxford House, Grimmauld and the Burrow were as waystations for Muggleborns fleeing the country. From there, transport to the Federation, France, or the United States could be organised. Will and Clarissa had already guaranteed support from President Matson of the Federation and brought back two International Portkeys. Professor Dumbledore had contacted Olympe Maxine, the Headmistress of Beauxbatons, who had obtained a portkey from the French Ministry of Magic. They were still working on the Americans. Nothing short of Voldemort arriving with the Nether Force could destroy the Goblin enhanced Fidelius Charm, and even with the Nether Force, he'd have quite the time of it. The Oxford House had been Hermione's pet project. Aside from her OWL's, which she still insisted on sitting despite all the fifth years being offered the opportunity to delay them until next year given everything that happened with Umbridge.
"Fantastic. Anything else?" Jessica asked.
"Yeah," Danny said anxiously, stepping forward, "I received an owl this morning from Kun Lun. I've been granted permission to sit my final examination early. If I pass, I'll be granted the full title of Immortal Weapon and the power that goes with it. I leave tomorrow."
Jessica smiled softly at him. His defeat at the hands of the mysterious 'Elektra' had rattled him more than he let show. He was very conveniently leaving out the fact he'd have to kill a Dragon to pass said exam. The only people in the room who knew the truth were her, Luke and Matt, as Danny had confided in them when he sent the owl to Kun Lun in the first place. Luke gripped his friend's shoulder.
"When can we expect you back?"
"Beginning of next year at the latest." What went unsaid was that if he didn't come back, he would most likely be dead.
"I have one thing I wish to inform you all," Dumbledore said, interrupting the moment. He tapped his wand against the table, and an image of the world shimmered into being.
"A report came across my desk this morning, and I imagine the rest of the world will have the story by the morrow. Harry and Ginny were spotted by paparazzi, leaving the White House. However, despite what the stories might say, I believe the photographs were actually taken about a week ago. So, where the Potters are now, I do not know. But I doubt it is anywhere near Washington."
Jessica nodded softly. Why the hell would they be at the White House?
"Thank you, professor," Jessica said, "If that's all, we'll meet on Monday as planned." Jessica turned on her heel and left the command centre, heading up to her room. Once she reached it, she locked the door and slumped on the bed. Merlin, she was tired.
"Harry, there's nothing here," Ginny said stoically as they stood on the bow of the expensive-looking yacht they had definitely not stolen in Lagos. They were anchored in the middle of the ocean, at the exact point the Equator met the Prime Meridian. And there was nothing for miles except the flat, open sea. There was no wind, no birdsong, nothing but the sound of the motor, which they'd charmed into working eventually (it took four tries, Harry preferred not to think about it). Harry abandoned his scanning of the ocean floor with his wand and turned to face her.
"You think Doctor Strange was lying?"
Ginny sighed, "Maybe. We did kind of piss him off."
"He gave us more than we had, though. Luna said the city was at the Heart of the World as well," Harry pointed out.
"And we know the City wasn't on land. It floated on the Ocean. And the ocean could be a 'plain of mystery'. So, it being here does make sense I suppose," Ginny admitted, continuing to stare out at the flat sea.
"We know the City is still here somewhere. Clara said as much. It wasn't destroyed, it was lost."
"How do you even lose a city?" Ginny retorted, slumping down to the deck and leaning against the railing.
"Let's think about this," he said, beginning to pace "what do we know about Atlantis? It's a city built by an alien race trying to find magic, that was left on Earth when its inhabitants were either killed by a plague or ascended like Clara. We know it was above a body of water, and we know it was here. The myths of Atlantis are all pretty clear that the city sank beneath the ocean. But, no one agrees on why. Some say it was the gods, others a great earthquake or volcanic eruption. If we can figure out the truth, maybe…" Harry trailed off and looked up into the sky. Ginny frowned and followed his gaze but could see nothing.
What is it?
Ginny took shallow breaths and realised he was right. There was a faint trembling in the air and a soft smell of heat like a fire. She stood up and eased her wand from her pocket. The second she did so, a large and sleek aircraft made from a grey looking metal with dark tinted windows materialised in mid-air. The sound of the engines picked up, and two cylindrical guns deployed from the bottom of the ship.
A voice began echoing out from the ship, but it was in a language neither of them understood. Ginny did catch one word, however.
Ginny and Harry locked eyes before dropping their wands and raising their hands above their heads.