Sitting at a kitchen table, rubbing his forehead, sat one old man with a very long beard. He had only one thought in mind, which was how had things gone so wrong? Didn't he sacrifice enough? The boy that was supposed to be protected had no qualms on killing a person, just saying that he missed, and indicating by how much.
No, it was not a good day to be Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
And it definitely was not a good idea to bring Minerva along.
“Young man, you do not try to kill someone who has come to visit.” Said an incensed Professor McGonagall. For the seventh time.
Harry rolled his eyes at her and snorted, “As my father, and my mother have said. You entered a house without being invited inside. Without any sort of invitation, and expect us to be fully accepting, gracious, and good mannered about an incident of break and enter. You expect us not to protect ourselves and throw our bodies at your feet and worship you as a goddess for breaking the law, foul manners, and being incredibly stupid. Show me how you can dispute this and I will accept that you're right.”
“I did not break and enter.” came the angry reply.
Harry was on a roll. “You enter a house without going through the door or asking to come in. That is, under the law, breaking in and entering a residence. Your turn.”
“We are Wizards and Witches, going through a door is a muggle idea and it wouldn't do to just walk up the walkway.”
“OK, do you see that castle out the window? It's my castle. It is patrolled by Wizards and Witches from the DMLE. People are outside walking around in robes and pointed hats. They have come up and politely knocked on the door before entering. Your argument on that point has failed.” Harry said dismissing her.
Minerva was not about to let a rude boy talk back to her in such a manner. “That still does not give you the right to try and kill a person.”
“It's called self defense miss, and I am fully licensed to carry as is my whole family.”
“If you were my son I would put you over my knee and spank you for being so disrespectful.”
“We've already established criminal actions and intent, and now you expect me to be nice to someone who is yelling at me, in my own home, about disrespect? It just shows that you have no manners at all.”
“I am a Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, just by my position respect is deserved.”
“OK, that's three for three because any proper professor, or any in the teaching profession knows that respect is earned, not expected.”
Dumbledore spoke up to prevent Minerva from arguing more, and to try and get the obvious weapons pointed away from them. “I apologize on our behalf. I was the one who made the portkey, and was hoping to impress you with what magic can do.”
99 smiled grimly, “All you have done is impressed upon us the fact that we need to put up proper wards here, as well as automated defenses.”
Albus sighed again, “I understand. Perhaps I can tell you about Hogwarts then.”
“Hold on Gandalf, we need to solve a problem first.” Max said as he looked Dumbledore in the eye.
Dumbledore's eyes sparkled, and then he was holding his head again. The mans occlumancy could drive an unprepared wizard insane. How did the man think properly with all those conflicting things going on in there. “What is the problem?”
“Well, would you believe that Harry is the Reborn King?” Max asked.
Albus frowned, “I am afraid I don't understand.”
“Do you think he is King Arthur reborn?”
“Well, everyone out there does.” Max answered while waving towards the front of the house, “And it is because you are considered Merlin.”
“Yes, you.” Max said sarcastically, “So we need to solve this, and for that, you need to go and come back, in public, in the persona of Merlin, so that Harry can go to school. Otherwise everyone will follow him, and what will that do to the so called statute of secrecy?”
The headmaster of Hogwarts slumped in his chair. One mistake! He was going to pay for that one mistake seemingly forever! “I see. Well, there is no help for it. To keep the world happy, the legend of Merlin must come true from the muggle side, and I will have to take on that role. Now, I need to find a proper staff.”
His eyes twinkled suddenly at the thought of the fun he could have with this. “I suppose a visit to young Olivander is in order.”
99 blinked. This was not good. For the first time, one of Max's arguments went through with very little trouble on anyone besides family. Usually there was a lot of protest about it, refining, and Max negotiating and then making a joke at the end of the negotiations. She smiled suddenly in realization. If these were the most respected members of magical society here in Britain, then setting up an information network was going to be a breeze.
Throughout the discussions everyone was having, Hagrid remained strangely quiet. Oh, he wasn't too scared of the guns, he had seen them before when he was young, and handled them as well. They were just instruments, kind of like an advanced crossbow, but not as silent.
If anything, the real reason he was quiet was because of little Harry. The boy had grown up differently from what he was used to with the normal magical students. In fact, he saw a lot of how he was when he had first gone to Hogwarts in the boy.
The young man in front of him was raised with lessons dealing with survival, something that he felt that every student should know. Know the laws of an area, find out what is happening, examine your surroundings, and to be careful of some people. If he had been a bit more paranoid about Riddle, his entire life would have been different.
And if he had known Dumbledore was just going to intrude upon these people, well, he may respect the old man, but when this was over, they would have words about it. Over the years, the infallibility of the man, or at least the appearance of it, had been falling to the wayside as he properly examined various circumstances, reactions, and other little facts.
It was that which led to Hagrid actually going to the DMLE to have his conviction concerning Aragog overturned. It had been a long investigation, but having viewed his memories, they agreed that an acromantula could not be the cause of the girls death. Since then, he had completed his studies and become the Care of Magical Creatures professor.
If anything, he would have to observe Harry for a bit, try and find out how he was, and how he was trained. He could see the boy becoming a great beast master with the fact that he had aimed for McGonagall's cane and not her body. Given the quick reactions, the boy could well protect himself and others from dangerous creatures.
But that was for later, it was time to introduce himself. “Harry, I un'erstand yer reactions, and I just want yer to know that it's fine by me. It's also great that yer got parents that care fer yer.”
Harry turned to the large man, “Thank you sir. It is a pleasure to meet you, may I know your name?”
“I'm Hagrid, the perfesser for Care of Magical Creatures a' Hogwarts, and I knew yer birth parents. They'd be proud of yer for protecting yer kin.”
McGonagall sputtered at that, “Hagrid! He just tried to kill me with that weapon!”
“Yer wrong abou' that perfesser. If Harry had wanted yer dead, yer would be dead. I ken see that he has a good aim, just like me an' me crossbow.” Hagrid smiled at her. “He was startled and pertecting his own, like any would ha' done.”
“Harry, I thin' we should leave yer now and meet with yer later. I want t'e talk with yer abou' yer birth parents, an' what they were like.”
Harry nodded at the man, “I would be pleased with that, although...”
“Although wha' Harry?”
Harry Looked at McGonagall, then motioned the man over to the other room. When they got there, he commented, “Could you leave her behind? I don't want to continue arguing with a person who doesn't know the laws of the country they are in.”
Hagrid looked at Harry for a moment, stunned, and then started laughing.
“So Hagrid, what did young Harry want to talk with you about?” the headmaster asked as they walked through the alley.
Hagrid glanced at Minerva out of the corner of his eye, “Well, 'eadmaster, he just wanted to know if it was absolutely necessary for Perfesser McGonagall to come back. Seems he's no' keen on arguing.”
“Ah, yes. That can be a bit of a problem.” Albus conceded. It seemed that his mistake was multiplying, and he didn't need Minerva angry at him or the boy.
“A bloody, stupid child is what he is,” Minerva grumbled under her breath as they headed towards Gringotts, “His mother should take him over her knee and teach him a proper lesson in respect.”
“Minerva, it was not Harry's fault, it was mine. I was hoping to impress a family of muggle origin, and did not expect that Harry's adoptive parents were magical as well. It is for the best, however. He does have a good idea of what we would teach him, and would not need so many lesson as he would have if he was raised in a muggle family.” Dumbledore stated as he headed towards a teller.
“Key.” the goblin at the desk said.
Dumbledore handed over his key for inspection, and that done, he went towards the carts while his two companions did the same. After they collected the money they would need, as well as the stone since it was unlikely that Harry would visit as he already had all his school items, they went to Olivander's for a staff for Dumbledore.
“Albus, I have never made a staff in my life. Do you know how much material will be needed for the core? And how about the fact that it will be almost impossible to use properly. I can't think of anyone who has training in how to move the bloody thing. It's a lost art, and it requires one to have a very huge core!” Olivander stated after he heard what Dumbledore wanted.
“Surely it is not that hard to make the staff. I am willing to pay in advance to receive it.” Albus said calmly.
Olivander took a deep breath to calm himself. “I can make it, if you can fill a little quest. It is a necessary one aside from the money for time and material. In fact, I will make it at cost to me for my time, if you can also find enough of a proper core material or materials as the case may be.”
“I am more than willing to fulfill this quest that you have, old friend.” Dumbledore said, confident that it couldn't be that bad.
Olivander grinned. “The quest is this. As I only carry materials for wands, and have only wand blanks, you must find three stave's of a magical tree which will be left alive and is more than fifty years old to make up the shell of the staff. It must be from the same tree and prepared properly. I will now test you for what else you will need to find. Stand still.”
Olivanders' measuring tape climbed all over Albus's body measuring everything, and I do mean everything, much to his embarrassment. When it was over, Olivander was going over the calculations, and figuring out everything necessary. He then took a box out from behind the counter and said, “Place your hand inside and remove the four planks you will feel inside one at a time.”
After completing this ritual, Dumbledore asked, “What will you need?”
“The stave's must be 8 feet, seven and three quarter inches high with a diameter of three and seven eighths inches. It must be made of rowan wood that has grown close to a pure lake, and you will need at least eight hundred feathers from either a Phoenix or if you cannot get that amount of tail feathers from a Phoenix, and it must be the same Phoenix donating that amount, then you must get the entire main and tail of a Golden Unicorn before it becomes silver, freely given.”
“Of course, and the charge?” Albus hid his surprise at what it would take.
“4,900 galleons and it will take around three weeks to make, especially at this time of year.”
Albus nodded and counted out the coins, and they left the shop. The time limit only allowed him a week to find the necessary materials and it was going to be very difficult to find them. As they entered Madam Malkins for the appropriate robes to be created, Dumbledore thought to himself, 'This may be more difficult than I thought.'
On the first day of Dumbledores' quest, he sought to have a friend of his help him, “Fawkes, I'm sure will donate the tail feathers required.”
When he got to his office, he looked towards the Phoenix and made his request. Fawkes looked amenable and launched himself to land on Albus' shoulder.
“Now, Fawkes, it will only take 800 tail feathers to complete the staff.”
Needless to say, Fawkes imitated a woodpecker with the headmasters head.
“Chief, welcome to our home.” 99 said as she answered the door.
The chief had a weird look on his face and continued into the house and towards the back, where framed by the windows was the castle, like something out of a fairy tale. “Are you _absolutely_ sure that Harry isn't Max's son by blood?”
“Very sure, Chief.” 99 replied.
“Then why do these things keep happening? Why? I send you out to take care of a terrorist that targeted your son, and to help bring down his support organization, and this happens! Why weren't we informed about this? It's a circus out there!” the Chief ranted and he turned and walked into the living room.
99 sat down across from him. “Actually, it wasn't missed Chief. For a few years now, people have been talking about the return of Merlin and Arthur, but that happens almost like a cycle every twenty years or so since about the late 1800's. It was also prevalent during both world wars, so another cycle showing up was not looked at too closely because of it's reoccurring nature.”
“And the castle out back?”
“With revisionist architects, they are always calling something new a 'castle'. This was believed to be a new theme park, such as the Disney parks, but this is actually a properly built castle instead of thin stone covering over a steel shell building.” 99 reported, “This one is built along the lines of a large protective area for a small town or community.”
“Why didn't anyone report that it was connected to your house? That is what I want to know.” the Chief interrupted to prevent a long winded explanation while pulling papers from his briefcase. “This is a failure of an entire section of CONTROL! First of all, the area of this 'park' combined with where you lived. The public media that I've found out since Max called, combined with the constant reports and Spill Sheets showing the house, the use of the cover name, and numerous other things should have risen an alarm.”
99 frowned and took an overview of the documents in question. “I don't know Chief, but it wasn't magic. I would say that it was because of the numerous alias' that Max and I have used over the years. This will be one of the longest times we've used the same one, and we are reprising it after a decade. On top of that, even we forgot the cover we were using at the time. If not for a fortunate meeting, it would have been embarrassing and telling if we had used our actual names instead of the Stanton cover.”
The Chief shook his head. “Where are Max and Harry anyway?”
“They went up to the castle for a proper tour.”
There was a crash heard, and they both went towards the back window to look out. They could see the damage from here, and it was rather obvious that the two people beside the trebuchet had accidentally released something in the wrong direction. The smaller one had just gotten up from where he was face down on the ground, and was removing his foot from a rope that had tangled around his leg.
“Never mind.” the Chief said, “I just remembered the best way to find them.
The next day Dumbledore decided to forgo asking Fawkes for help. He had spent most of his time following his meeting with the Phoenix recovering. Instead, it would be a good time to get the rowan wood. And going by his books, he had found a wonderful place where the Sorbus Americana version grew well and tall. Old trees by a beautiful mountain lake in what was termed the Rocky Mountains. Surely this wouldn't be hard to get the lengths of wood necessary.
Using a portkey to get to America, and then having one made for the area he needed to go, Albus was going to enjoy the day. He had one of the elves prepare a proper lunch with a couple of wines, one to have with the meal, and a sweet wine for desert. With the pleasant breeze and weather, it would be a good day for a picnic.
When he used the portkey and was prepared for the wonders of nature.
“Whoa! Did we score good shit or what?” a voice behind him said as he was facing the lake. A lake that obviously was not a pure as it had been given the motorboat, people water skiing, and the oblivious signs of garbage on the shore.
“Yeah man! Told you the stuff that grew here was the best for a great high! Yo, Dungeoning dude! Can we help you? Maybe share some good red with you?”
Dumbledore turned to look slowly, and saw a large group of muggles. More than he could possibly use a memory charm on, but with the exception of the two in front of him, everyone else ignored the fact that he was in robes and they were in their underwear. “Ah, yes. I am looking for a good Rowan.”
The blond haired one scratched his head, “Say what?”
Albus sighed, “A tree. A good tall one.”
The second one nodded quickly, “I know where some big ones are. We'll take you since we need to get some buds near it anyways.”
Perhaps these weren't muggles after all. “Are you collecting potion ingredients then?”
The two young men looked at each other, thinking about putting the red into some foods they could cook over the campfire, “Yeah man. A real good set of potion ingredients. The best way to check on them is to inhale a small amount like in tobacco.”
Albus smiled. These were not muggles after all. “I appreciate your willingness to lead me to this tree.”
“No problem man. Say, you have a pipe?”
Albus patted his pocket, “I do have one on me.”
The young man pulled out a small bag and shoved it into Dumbledores hands, “Then try this while we lead you to your tree.”
Albus appreciated the gesture, Tobacco really was used to greet people in the Americas.
When he recovered three days later, he found that he had brought back a lot of plants that were now planted around the grounds of Hogwarts, and the three strangest sets of wood.
Needless to say, he couldn't remember much after meeting those young men, but he did find the wood he needed.
“You know, we really need to know what is going on with this Magical World.” Sigfried was telling his friend and subordinate, Shtarker, “I want someone who can tell us everything we want to know.”
Shtarker stood to attention, “Of course, Sigfried. I shall attend to it at once.”
Just before he went out the door, Sigfried stated loudly, “STOP!”
“Yes, Herr Sigfried?”
“No torture this time.”
“Not even a little bit?”
“Not even the feathers? Do you know what the union will say about that?”
Sigfried paused. While the union was a good thing for the most part, there were times when they took away the fun. “Don't kidnap anyone then. Invite them in, say as an information exchange on cultures.”
Shtarker huffed, “I'll get the banquet hall ready.”
“Shtarker,” Sigfried said confused, “Why would you need to get the banquet hall ready?”
“The last contract with the cafeteria people said that any guests we had would get the full treatment and that they would be allowed to cook for them in a style of extravagance.”
Sigfried's head shook a bit in understanding and he waved Shtarker out. When his subordinate was gone, he asked himself, “Perhaps I should have let him be tortured instead. It would have been less painful.”
Penny looked up from the map. “Park here, Uncle Gadget.”
“Ok Penny. Where is this shopping plaza you wanted to go to?” Gadget said as he slid the Gadget Van into a parking space, “I don't see anything like that around here.”
“It's inside that pub, Uncle Gadget.” Penny pointed indicating the Leaky Cauldron.
“A mall for children and teens to shop for things inside a pub? The British really have a strange idea of what's appropriate.” Gadget mumbled to himself as he followed Penny inside.
He coughed a bit as some of the smoke choked him, “Go, go Gadget Fan!”
Immediately an electronic fan came out of Gadgets hat and started to blow the smoke away from his face, “Penny could we please hurry up?”
Ignoring the looks that they were getting at the hat, Penny giggled and led him out the back door of the pub and then hit the appropriate bricks with her wand. It looked as though WOMP's files on the British Magical Community were accurate so far. “Through here Uncle Gadget.”
“Ah, a secret passage.” Gadget said as he went through the wall with her. “What are we shopping for here?”
“I need a few potion ingredients, and I wanted to pick up some new books.” Penny said as she walked down the alley.
“Magic, Penny? I thought you were still wanting to become a scientist?” Gadget questioned as he followed her.
“I do, Uncle Gadget. But to be a proper scientist, you need to have as much information as possible, and magic is rarely, if ever, subjected to the scientific process.”
“So, are you going to use what you get to improve my ghost catching equipment?” he asked loud enough to be heard by several passerby.
“Not at this time, Uncle Gadget. But I do have a few ideas I want to try out.” Penny said as she noticed an old wand shop. “Let's go in there, we need to get a very special gadget for the next few years.”
Gadget winced, “I just had all of my gadgets overhauled and improved Penny, can't we avoid more until the stiffness wears off?”
“Not this time, Uncle Gadget. Besides, General Sir wants some information about possible new recruits since Nose hair retired.” Penny told him, forgetting to mention that Nose hair retired the same way Brain did, by medical leave due to a mental break down. Only a few people could be around her uncle without ill effects. Come to think of it, she would have to get in touch with Billy. He would love to know about this place.
“But what type of gadget could I possibly need? I have just about everything!” protested the man.
“A wand, Uncle Gadget. We forgot to get you one before you left,”, Penny said out loud, 'Or rather I didn't want to deal with the number of people screaming, from Brain to Quimby, if they found out I was getting him one.'
“Come on, Uncle Gadget, don't be scared.” Penny said pulling her uncle with her.
Gadget winced, “I am not scared Penny. I'm just wondering how much power it will take. They just replaced my batteries with new systems, and I don't want to have them replaced, or have to use those battery packs again.”
“Don't worry about it, Uncle Gadget. Everything will be fine.”
Dumbledores next foray was to get the mane and tail from a golden unicorn. This did not seem like a difficult task as the forest had many unicorns.
When he approached and asked one for them, however, he had to leave for the infirmary for a while, and to take sitting on a ring. It seemed the mother was not too keen in having her baby shorn of important parts in keeping insects away. He would try again, because Fawkes was being very stubborn about a few tail feathers.
After explaining why he needed the tail and mane to the mother, and promising to cast a proper spell to keep insects away, as well as provide a potion for enhanced hair growth, she allowed her child to donate the necessary parts. Dumbledore had finished his quest, and after fulfilling his obligations, left to get the rest of it to hand in to Olivander.
Olivander accepted the gathered materials, although he did wonder why the headmaster had gathered over three dozen lengths of wood. Still, this was a good thing. He had only expected to make one full staff when the three blanks were brought to him and he cleaned and chose which sections would be good so that it would not break apart. Now, however, he had a bit more choice for coverage.
It was after Dumbledore left that he noted that some of the lengths of wood were already hollowed out, and that they contained some sort of plant bud material. Well, it seemed he had found a staff maker, and had still chosen him for making it. The plant materials must be necessary to using the staff properly, at least in the curing. Since this was to be a freshly made staff, he would include some of these buds and flowers.
Maybe he should keep the material and dry it and try in some wands as well. It couldn't hurt and he would have a new product line. They had to have some mystical property if Dumbledore was bringing it to him.
“Dr. Claw, Gadget has been spotted in England.” said a black garbed minion.
“Whaaatt! Why is Gadget in England!” said a man who's right hand was covered in a gold glove.
“We don't know, Dr. Claw. All we could find out is that he is doing something in London at the moment. He disappeared from sight when going down Charring Cross road. One minute he was there, the next he vanished between two buildings.”
“So, Gadget, you have a new headquarters, do you?” growled Dr. Claw. “Which means you know of my plans to take over New Camelot and turn it into one of my castles.”
He turned his chair slightly and activated one of his office screens, “Agent 39, how is the infiltration of the castle going.”
The agent gulped a bit and replied, “Not well, Dr. Claw. No matter how many times we've put in camera's and mikes, they fail to work within minutes of us leaving the area. We have not been able to get to many parts of the castle either as it is too well protected, and anytime we have someone who has made it past security, they are usually arrested.”
Dr. Claw was now crushing the arm on his seat, “I want that castle. It will be the perfect base to take over Britain, and I can have someone pretend to be the boy king.”
“That may be a problem, Dr. Claw.” said the agent, now wanting to disappear.
“Why,” was the single word growled out.
The agent picked at his collar, “Because the boy king has shown up. His name is Harry Stanton, and, well, on the tour a few days ago, he managed to accidentally fire a catapult that we were preparing and it hit the outer wall where one of our agents was trying to place a camera. Agent 32 should be out of the hospital by next month.”
Dr. Claw slammed down his hand on his desk, “Show me a picture of the boy and his family.”
The agent gulped and pressed a switch, showing the Stanton family.
“He seems familiar...” Dr. Claw mumbled to himself. “I want a full background check on him.”
“The boy, sir? We've already tried and he is being well protected by some unknown American agents.”
“No, you fool! The father! I have seen that face before, and I want to know who he is!”
“Of course, Dr. Claw.”
Dr. Claw turned off the screen and grumbled, “Why must I do everything myself?”
Olivander was not having a good time making the staff.
Oh, he had everything he needed, but the foolish headmaster had gotten sticks from several different plants and trees, of different sizes as well. The only way to finish this thing was to either get all the materials himself, or kludge together a staff out of the material he had. Dumbledore had even included several vines and plant stalks! What was the fool thinking?
Sighing, he prepared everything the best he could, using bits and pieces from all the gathered materials.
This staff would either work, or blow up, or cause unknown magical effects. It was doubtful that the first would occur, and his reputation would be damaged if the second occurred, so he was aiming for the third one.
At least the plant fibres provided a good gripping area.
The chief sat in his new underground office in the castle, “So, have we got everything set up?”
“Just about Chief,” Laraby said as he was looking over a folder. “Security checks are being made on everyone involved, and that should be complete at the end of the week. Harry is playing the part of a 'boy king', but combined with the magicals in the area, it will still be difficult to keep him properly protected. On top of that, we still need to have a liaison from the local magical government that we can trust.”
“How about that Amelia Bones that 99 told us about?”
“We asked, and she said she is already much too busy with other liaison and other concerns. She is looking for someone in her department who she can trust, and has recommended one Sirius Black. Apparently, Mr. Black is Harry's godfather.”
“OK, check him out as thoroughly as you can. We need a liaison in order to operate in their area without problems.”
The door to the office opened, “Got a minute, Chief?”
The Chief almost hit his head on the table, “Come on in Max. What do you need?”
“Well, I was just going to go with Harry to check out this Diagon Alley, and was wondering if you wanted anything.”
The Chief held in a shudder. “No Max. I have everything I need right here.”
“Ehh, there's just one more thing Chief.”
“What is it, Max.”
“Ahh, well we need to discuss this properly, and as per regulations, the cone of silence is needed.”
The Chief almost started crying. Who else could have this amount of trouble with this one family?
Across the European continent, a Chief Quimby, a dog named Brain, and a retired colonel Nozzaire sneezed and felt something that made them shudder. Somehow Gadget was involved, and they quickly made themselves as scarce as possible.