“Max, every time we use the Cone of Silence something goes wrong.” the Chief said to his top agent. “We keep turning it off and talk about things without it when it does go wrong. Why can't we simply skip that step, for once.”
Max stood and considered it for a moment, then sat down in the chair opposite the Chief. “Sorry Chief. Regulations require that we use the Cone. If it doesn't work, then we can talk about things.”
The Chief blinked, having a sudden Epiphany. “You mean that we use that thing only because you want to follow regulations. If it doesn't work, then you can say you tried and you can't be in trouble for discussing things without using it.”
Max squeezed his eyes for a moment, wondering what the Chief was talking about, “Ehh, if you say so, Chief.”
The Chief looked at Max and then sighed. He was wrong again, He pressed the button under his desk while saying, “Let's just do this, Max.”
Max waited until the cone was fully lowered before he said, “Merlin is going to be ready to take Harry to school.”
The Chief almost rose from his chair until he remembered that this thing never worked right. “Could you repeat that Max? I thought you just said that Merlin was coming to take Harry to school.”
Max smiled, “That's just what I said, Chief. He's going to take Harry to school so that everyone doesn't try to follow him and find out where Hogwarts is.”
The Chief almost started hitting his head against the cone, “How did you arrange that, Max.”
Max went into a convoluted twenty minute recount of what he learned from Madam Bones, and what happened afterwards with Headmaster Dumbledore.
“Why didn't you tell me about this then?” the Chief slowly commented, wanting to know what Max was thinking about.”
“Eh, I was waiting for them to finish installing the cone, and it wasn't urgent.” Max shrugged.
The Chief raised a hand and covered his eyes, “OK, is that all Max?”
“That's all for now, Chief.”
The Chief quickly pressed a button causing the cone to rise. “OK then. I'll see you later.”
“Right Chief!” Max said as he left the office.
“Well, what do you think of what Max said, Laraby?” the Chief asked as he reached for a pen.
“I didn't hear Max say anything.”
The Chief paused, left the pen and carefully backed away from the desk. “You didn't hear anything?”
The Chief, to Laraby's confusion, carefully moved around his desk, and moved out of the office, gesturing for him to get out as well. When they left, the Chief locked the door, and then pressed a button to seal it. “What's the matter Chief?”
“I need to confirm something.”
The Chief then checked recorders, the office camera, and then the communications grid and asked if anyone had heard Max's voice for the past half hour. With the negative reply from all aspects and agents, he was getting very worried. “Laraby, I want a team to check my office, A full sweep for everything. Camera's, bugs, traps, biological, the works. If anything is in there that shouldn't be, I want to know about it at once.”
Laraby coughed and asked, “Why the security measures Chief, we just moved in.”
“Max asked for the cone, and it worked as it was supposed to. There is something really wrong, or we need to put all of CONTROL on alert. The Cone hasn't worked right since day one, and anytime a Smart is in the office and asked for it, the thing acts even worse. For it to work, especially when we are talking about magic, something bad is going to happen.”
There was trouble in the magical world. And it all started with the morning edition of the Daily Prophet, not to mention all the other papers, including Witch Weekly and the Quibbler, putting out special editions that did not conform to their usual publishing schedule. The headlines, however, were what caught peoples attention.
Miss Umbridge took one look at the paper that had been delivered to her and was quickly in the lobby of the Ministry, which she had escaped in short order due to a LOT of people trying to get in. The headline that she was angry about was the role she played in relations, including many copies of documents and mails that she had sent out on Ministry letterhead that should have remained quiet, such as her plans to take care of the Centaurs and other creatures that populated the upstart Council of Races.
Fudge had forgone going into the Ministry and headed straight to Gringotts where he quickly empties all of his accounts. Within the hour, he had already fled the country. If it had only been the headline that his advisers were, for the most part, former Death Eaters, he could have handled that, but his record of doing things for the sake of popularity and to be seen doing something instead of actually carrying out an investigation was not something he could easily contend with. Add the amount that he had left over from each of his campaign contributions, which he had not returned or given over to the Ministry, and he was out of there for as long as it took for this to calm down.
This was going on in almost all aspects of the human magical society. Hogwarts, the DMLE, the Unspeakables, the Wizengamot, and all aspects of government was affected. Secrets were pouring out as many different magazines covered only some of the same articles. The Wizengamot, or at least the more corrupt part, would have put out a price on Rita Skeeter's head, if it wasn't for the fact that one article that appeared in every paper stated that the only reason this information was released was because she had to be dead. There was a rush of people heading for Ms. Skeeters home to raid the place and find any more dirt to destroy and/or use it.
As it was, the DMLE received a priority murder case, due to certain people wanting to find the person responsible for this information being released. This appeared in Madam Bones office, where she had a team going over the papers to find information and send out aurors to bring people in for questioning. Upon reading the directive, Madam Bones just relegated to the bottom of the pile. It seemed as though she would be cleaning up a set of departments.
Surveillance of Charring Cross Road was bringing up a lot of questions. They had narrowed the possible entrance to the new WOMP base, but when examined it was just two buildings stuck together. When they examined the insides of the buildings where the entrance would be, nothing was found. It was a mystery that had the agent in charge worried about what Doctor Claw would do to him.
Worse was the fact that this particular WOMP base was unusual. There was a lot of activity with children and adults disappearing into them and then appearing later with bags, boxes, and other paraphernalia. Women with babies going in and out, men who seemed to come out drunk depending on the time of day or night, weird costumes which people seemed to ignore.
Gadget had been seen with his niece entering and leaving two more times after that first day, but hadn't appeared again. The speculation among the group was that this was a training base of some type, and that Gadget was getting agents very young to join up. Luckily, they hadn't had to report their findings to Doctor Claw as of yet.
Well, that was until a car parked and out came the young King whom Doctor Claw had sent pictures of out.
Sighing, the agent in charge made the call, “Dr. Claw, something is happening at Charring Cross Road.”
Dr. Claw answered the call and responded, “What is it?”
“The young King has just entered the suspected entrance of the WOMP base.” Agent 14 relayed to his boss.
Dr. Claw pondered this for a few seconds, “What would the young king have to do with WOMP?”
“We don't know.” the agent replied.
Dr. Claws voice started out low and then got louder, “Well then, find OUT!”
“Yes, Dr. Claw.” the agent said about to cut off the transmission.
“Wait. What have you found out about that particular base?”
The agent started to sweat, “It seems to be a training area. People of all ages, including children are going in and out constantly, and they all seem to leave with bags of equipment.”
“Have you gotten some of the equipment so that we can find out what their research department is doing?” questioned Claw.
“Uh, no sir. We weren't informed to do so.”
Claw's hand came down on his desk. Hard. Causing the telephone to jump at least a foot. “And why should I have to tell you to do something that you should have already done?”
“It was part of the last agent union agreement to prevent you from getting mad at us.” was the immediate reply.
For once, Claw turned off the screen and then lay his head on the table. “I really should not have let arbitrators handle the negotiations. My people are idiots!”
Harry almost frowned as he entered the dingy bar. Candlelight was the means of illuminating the place, and it left a smokey, irregular atmosphere. Even if they didn't have or use electricity, being a bar full of magic users, you would think that they would have spelled a globe or two for people to see better. It was a basic spell people should learn at school, so either the atmosphere was wanted, or the people didn't want to learn a lot.
Pity, but that's why you had companies to supply the lazy.
“Well son, I can honestly say that this isn't the worst place I've ever been in.” Max said in an aside to Harry. “This is a real old English bar, so the food will have some interesting tastes.”
Harry looked interested as they went towards the bar, “Well, historically, mulled wine, was made by having a red hot fireplace poker dunked into the metal glass to which the wine and spices were added. It was only later spiced wines and mulling in a coffee pot came about. A lot of the food may follow very old recipes which use a fireplace as an oven, which would add the tastes of the wood, and the fire to it.”
The nearly bald man tending the bar looked up and nodded at the comment, “And you'd have it right if the people here still went for those type of dishes. Still do it on special occasions, just to remember the past, but most people prefer to have their food cooked on a stove. Only the bread is still made the old way in a stone oven.”
Max smiled, “Hi, my son and I are here to go to Diagon alley. Can you point the way, all we were told was to come here and we'd be directed to the proper place.”
“Call me Tom.” the man said, “Muggleborn I take it?”
Harry shook his head, “Nope! But we're from America. This is our first time visiting the alley.”
Tom turned and got a good look at the boy, “It can't be...”
Harry frowned while looking at himself, “Can't be what? Do I have my tie out of place?”
“Eh...No, but you're close. The name is Smart. Harry Smart. Agent 7 of Control.” Harry said, a bit put out at the place and forgetting both his cover, and that he shouldn't give out his identity as a CONTROL agent.
“Eh...Yes. Can we forget I said that?” Harry winced.
Tom nodded easily, “Alright. Some sort of American magic sorting I take it?”
“Yes. Yes, that's it exactly.” Max said, also wanting to get off that topic. “My own is sorting is 86.”
“Interesting. Does that indicate spell strength?” Tom asked intrigued.
“Eh, no. It indicates....what type of job you're best for.” Max stated.
“Oh,” Tom blinked, “They really do things differently in America, don't they?”
Max nodded, “Well, it works well, so we don't really question it.”
Tom shrugged and led them out to the wall.
Lucius Malfoy was willing to bet that, somewhere in the hell that he made for himself, Voldemort was laughing at him.
Everything had gone so well after the war. Harry Potter's star was on the rise, although he had disappeared, the Ministry was willing to work on a few laws he had in mind, thanks to Fudge the ever wavering, and he had managed to get on peoples good side by working on the new castle for the Boy Who Lived. Despite the fact that it was a conglomeration of races that were in charge of the new castle, he had managed to ingratiate himself in that group. It almost came to the point where he was going to get rid of all the stuff that Voldemort gave him in case anything happened to him just because it was safer to work with this group than oppose them and end up dead.
Thanks to that Skeeter woman, all that may have just gone down the drain.
No matter, he was a Malfoy, and all he had to do was just make sure that none of the items Voldemort left around were available to be found. He would get rid of the blasted stuff, especially that Diary that he was told to use if the man was missing for more than ten years or so. Although the man had claimed immortality, it had become obvious that he had been missing a few decks to his mind. Shuddering at the memory of receiving curses for doing something right, or even worse for something slightly wrong, he wondered if he had been a madman to join. Then again, if things had gone a little differently, then he would have been sprouting all types of things to his son and raising him to be a soldier in a war that would be fought.
Still, he couldn't just do something outrageous, just in case the man did come back. Instead he had to do it slyly as to not gain attention to himself. Perhaps arranging a robbery of the house would be best. Voldemort's equipment would be gone, of course, and loosing a few thousand galleons of stuff was worth the trouble of doing so. It was going to be a headache to ensure that it wasn't traced back to him however.
Now, where to dump the stuff, it wasn't as if there was a nice way of doing it that couldn't be traced, and he would need to up his occlumency skills if he was to survive. Perhaps even having his memory modified so that he wouldn't remember any of these thoughts. The problem was who could he trust?
The Chief was waiting outside of his office as the the counter espionage team finished their work, “Well, anything?”
“Sorry Chief,” the head of the team said, “Everything is working properly. Not a single thing is wrong with any of the equipment and there are no bugs or any other surprises in the systems.”
He nodded, “OK. Take your team and start checking all of this base, and then start venturing out and check the entire castle. I want everything covered from top to bottom. Even the tiniest detail out of place, and I want you to tell me.”
“Right Chief.” said the man as he had his people start to go through the outer office.
A tired, slightly bald with white hair man went to his desk and sat down. “Laraby, what are the chances that things will go perfectly with a Smart around?”
Laraby, who had followed the Chief into the room, winced from personal experience. “About zero, Chief. In fact, the only one that things will go right around is 99.”
The Chief nodded, “Call home and get some of the magical agents and have them check the castle. Then get a hold of the Chief of Operations for England and have him come out here from his base so that we can compare notes. In the meantime, I want all agents wearing bullet proof vests under their regular clothes, and all agents are to be issued equipment as if it is a wartime standing.”
Laraby nodded his understanding, and handed the Chief a packet he had in his hand.
“The usual from the labs. This weeks flavour is orange julep.”
“Lets just hope no one actually gets to taste one,” the Chief replied.
“We'll need to head to the bank first before we buy anything, Harry. I forgot to get our money exchanged to British Wizarding Currency.” Max said as he was looking for a nice formal setting that was a bank back home. Or at least one which claimed to have served people for several generations. Unfortunately, none of the architecture indicated such a strong institution.
Stepping in front of a person, Max said, “Excuse me, I need some assistance with directions. Can you point me towards the bank?”
The man turned to Max, “Certainly. It's that large white building.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it.”
Max and Harry left, while the man, an Auror, went back to paying for his morning paper. Not wanting to get involved with more coverage of the missing Skeeter, he forewent the Prophet and went straight to the Sun, which was as good, if not better than the aforementioned paper. How a Muggle news agency got so much information on the magical world was something that still confused him at times. At least he could find out the latest on some of the more interesting creatures.
Soon, he was in a small cafe just a couple of doors down and ordered his usual. In a couple of minutes, he sprayed his coffee over his table and held the paper closer. In it was the man who he had just directed towards the bank. A Mr. Max Stanton, the father of Harry Stanton, the Once and Future King, known to the magical world as Harry Potter. “My God! They here without any protection!”
He rushed off towards the bank while a woman who had the next table took up the discarded newspaper to find out what had startled the man. With the front page showing the pictures of the Stantons, well, news soon bloomed around the alley that the King was Here!
“Interesting place,” Harry stated as they entered, “They seem willing to have all of the wealth on display, not afraid of criminals entering and stealing what's on the desk.”
Behind him, the goblins that were guarding the door frowned. They would have to watch these two, there was a good reason that they supported the human magic users being separated from their more advanced cousins. The more advanced they were, the more ideas they got, and the greedier they were. Even with the new ways of doing things that were going to be imposed thanks to Dumbledore, may he rest at the bottom of a volcano, the bank had been successful in preventing people from discovering such ideas as interest being paid to them for keeping their money, or worse, that there were competing banks with better conditions.
That persons stepping into the bank would immediately point out the lax security on the floor was just something that had to be addressed by the bank president.
Max and Harry went to the counter, and the goblin stated, “Key.”
Max frowned, “What do you mean?”
The goblin looked up, “The key to your vault, of course.”
“We don't have a vault here. I'm just here to exchange some money so that my son and I can do some shopping.”
The goblin grunted, “You should be going to the counter to exchange muggle pounds to galleons. This is for those who wish to go to their vault.”
Max sighed, “Well, there isn't a sign for that, and I am not exchanging pounds, I'm exchanging eagles.”
The goblins eyebrow raised, “American eagles? That is not something that is common. In any case you should go to another line. Spend a couple of hours in it if possible.”
“Sir, can you direct me to another bank. I think I and my son will rather deal with someone else.” Max stated, in a voice loud enough that the entire bank heard him.
It was at this point that the manager came up, “Can I help you Mr.?”
“Smart. Maxwell Smart. I have to say that your employees are rather rude.”
“Mr. Smart, perhaps I can help you personally. It would be in apology to the rudeness shown to you and your son.” the Manager got a look at the boy, gasped and then knelled.
“What? Eh...You don't have to be that formal about an apology.” Max said while rubbing the back of his head.
“It is needed, Lord Smart. I had not known that your son was the King. We have much to talk about and a lot for you to understand.” The goblin said as he gestured for the entire bank to kneel.
“Harry, I think they know who you are.” Max said in a low voice.
“I guess. Maybe we should go with them?” Harry answered.
“Please lead the way, Mr.?”
“My name is Ragnok, Lord Smart. We need to discuss your sons castles.” the Manager said.
“We already know about New Camelot.” Harry said, now back in his element.
“No, MiLord. I speak not of New Camelot, but the original Camelot, restored to it's original glory and more.”
“Please lead the way, so that we can discuss this.” Max said with a frown.
Dumbledore was rather mellow that day. He had discovered something that was doing his body good. Some of the various plants that he brought back made the most delightful tea. His old body wasn't feeling much of the pains, but there seemed to be something he should be doing. There was preparation for the school year to complete, that was it. To do that, he had to pick up his staff.
Going to the fireplace, he called out for Diagon Alley and stepped through.
Within minutes, the people of the alley was seeing the normally calm and wise Albus Dumbledore skipping down the street as if he was a prepubescent child. Along the way, he was eating everything in sight, or at least those things that caught his eye, such as cookies, candies, and ice cream. After a little while people dismissed it. After all, with the return of the King, and the fact that Dumbledore had a rather famous sweet tooth, he deserved some time to relax.
After getting to Ollivander's, he called out, “Are you here, old friend?”
Mr. Ollivander groaned and headed to the front of the shop, not caring who was there. “Yes, and I have a bloody headache, so make it fast.”
“I apologise, but I must know if you have finished the staff.”
Ollivander blinked and then got a look at his customer, “Oh bloody hell! Yes, I just finished it last night, and let me tell you, I feel like hell after completing it.”
Albus frowned, “What happened? Is something wrong with it?”
“No. No, I would say it is powerful in a way I have not experienced before.” The white haired proprietor stated with a frown. “While I was making it, I was fine, over enthused even. It was as though I had to complete it, no matter the consequences, and I had energy to burn to do it. Now, I feel drained, as if my magic was at it's lowest point I have ever felt. It will take me days, possibly weeks before I will attempt any more crafting because of that.”
“Is that unusual?” Albus asked as he leaned on the counter.
“Bloody hell yes! When making a wand I will spend some time on it and take a rest. I have never started a wand and not taken a break now and then. This I had to work until I was done. It was like a compulsion charm, except the more I worked with the materials, the more I had to do.”
Albus frowned, “Do you think I will be able to handle it, then. If it is so powerful.”
Ollivander sighed and went to get the staff while calling back. “There's only one way to check.”
Taking the staff to the man, one had to admire it. The bottom of the staff was shod in metals, to allow one to walk with it without it wearing away. In the middle there seemed to be a very comfortable hand grip made of plant fibres, and the top was crowned with silver with various runes carved into it. Truly, it was a thing of beauty.
Albus took it into his hands, and immediately felt the power of it, and the mellow feelings that he had the whole morning increased. The staff felt better than using the Elder wand, which he hadn't believed possible. He gave it a slight wave, only for what seemed like a solid waterfall of colourful sparks to come from it. If he could figure out how to use it properly, then this would be a weapon of light to oppose Voldemort!
“Truly a work of beauty, old friend. I am highly pleased.”
Ollivander blinked and felt some of his pains leave as the staff gave off that waterfall. He still felt tired, however. “Then leave me for a while, Albus. I fear I need rest more than compliments.”
Albus left, highly pleased with his day, and with his new toy.
One person, however, was not happy and was following the old wizard from a ways back.
He knew about the Philosophers Stone being kept at the bank until someone from the castle could collect it, and it seemed it was the old man who was going to do so. It was so like the arrogance of the old wizard, just like when he had been a student. Who was going to question the Great Dumbledore, who some said was the second coming of Merlin himself? He was going to follow the old man and attack him with his back turned to get that stone before it ended up in the castle. As if the old man could defy the will of Voldemort!
But the old man was being as canny as any Slytherin, making a spectacle of himself, and making a zigzag towards the bank. In fact, the man had spent an hour just devouring various sweets on the way, It was infuriating! If only the old man would complete his trip, then they could get around to a good old fashioned robbery.
But the Dumbledore spent another hour going to various places, and ended up at Ollivander's where he spent a half hour. After that, he went back to the Cauldron with a walking staff and left! The old man had been a decoy, and he never figured it out which meant the stone was now in the castle itself. Quirell, who had Voldemort in him, growled. Outsmarted by a crazed old man. It was just not done!
He promised that he would get him, and his little helpers too!
Omake by Philip Jacobs
As usual Chris, you're coming along very nicely with the extension to the life and times of Harry Smart, agent of Control. I was looking over the story again, and it occurred to me that Kaos has to have seen Harry and the rest of Max's family as a challenge. After all, while Kaos has been courting them all in the guise of godparenting encounters, wouldn't it make sense that they need their own set of magically-inclined agent trainees? And who better for this than a daughter of English dentists? I can see a scene in the future that goes something like this:
Jacob Granger was what one could call a reluctant morning person. While he was perfectly capable of rising with the dawn and buckling down to work swiftly, he much preferred a more leisurely beginning to the day that was possible in the summer months. A leisurely morning cuddle with his devoted lifemate, morning ablutions including a near-scalding hot shower, and then a healthy breakfast attended by his wife and lovely daughter while discussing the day's schedule. Today would be an especially interesting morning meal since the family had received a major shock the previous evening in the form of a visit from what was likely to be one of the instructors from Hermione's new boarding school. Granted, both he and Charlotte were somewhat sceptical of the claims of McGonagall, but her practical demonstration did go a long way to settling their doubts, and quite lit the fires of his daughter's enthusiasm for attending Hogwarts in place of her "normal" educational track; at least for the standard school year. That still left the summer break for any non-magical curricula that Hermione wanted to indulge in. Knowing that this would be a fairly involved discussion, he and Charlotte had already cleared their morning appointment book at the practice so that family discussions could proceed without interruption.
In this case, there was an extra topic that inserted itself at the last moment. It came in the form of a large manila envelope, addressed to their daughter in care of her parents, stamped with a "Priority" delivery seal, and hand-delivered by the Royal Mail carrier to his wife this morning as they were clearing the breakfast dishes. While he and Hermione handled the breakfast dishes, Charlotte opened the envelops, and examined the contents, which lead to a look of confusion on her part. As Jacob finished putting the last of the breakfast dishes away, she handed a glossy pamphlet with a peculiar logo on its cover to their daughter, and said, "I wonder how many other companies offer scholarship programs for muggleborn students attending Hogwarts?"
"Probably just for ones with a dental background, Mum," Hermione commented as she paged though the KAOS Manifesto. "It is one of the supporting corporations of the BDA, after all."