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This story is No. 3 in the series "Correcting Past Mistakes". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Ragnarok is about to start the new term at Hogwarts, and things are going to be substantially different this time around.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralGreywizardFR18535,3861111738,33415 May 0910 May 13No

Chapter Two

Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to J. K. Rowling and Joss Whedon. Sabrina Spellman belongs to ABC Family and Warner Bros. Television. I'm just borrowing all of the characters for a while. Any other characters that might show up that you might recognize don't belong to me either, but to their respective owners. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine.

Author’s Note 1: This chapter is dedicated to Melferd for her successful bid in the January "Support Stacy" on-line vampire auction held at Majik's World of Fan Fic.

Author’s Note 2: Many thanks to Lori Bush, Bill Haden, Drake the Archr and Theo (Starway_Man)for beta-ing this story.

As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

~~~

6305 Westminster Place
Sunnydale, CA

August 29, 1995


Willow Rosenberg, the unknowing descendant of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black on her mother’s side of the family, instantly realized that there was trouble brewing the moment she stepped into the house after yet another miserable evening spent at the Bronze – a miserable evening where she had spent the time alternating between watching Jesse panting and drooling over Cordelia, and wondering where the supposed love of her teenage life, the one and only Xander Harris, was.

“Willow. We need to talk,” Ira Rosenberg said in a serious, no-nonsense tone of voice.

“We do? Uh, what’s up, Dad?” the redhead asked. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to know the answer, though, as the expression on her father’s face reminded Willow of the time when she had thought that hanging a cross on the wall – like everyone else in the neighborhood did – would be a really cool idea.

“Your father and I received a visit last night,” Sheila darted a quick look to her husband. “Two men who we quickly threw out of the house –”

“You did? Why?” Willow interrupted in confusion.

“Because they wanted to talk about you, daughter mine,” Ira said sternly. “Now why didn’t you tell us that you’d been making inquiries into this school, this ‘Hogwarts’ place?”

Suddenly reminded of Xander’s words that the Scottish institute of education he was now attending – or would start attending within the next few days once summer vacation was over, anyway – was seriously concerned about maintaining its privacy, Willow hesitated over what to say. After a moment's pause, she stammered, “Well, I, I didn’t think it was important enough to bother you with, I mean – I, I, I know you both have such a busy schedule with the upcoming psychology seminars and lecture circuit!”

For some reason, Sheila was somehow reminded of the one time she had ever met her wizard cousin Sirius Black; the stammering fit he had undergone upon encountering his squib relative had been both very amusing and very irritating to behold. But putting away such thoughts, Sheila said to her child, “Willow, how did you even find out that schools such as Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang exist?”

“Bo-who and, and, Durm-what?” Willow had an utterly clueless look on her face as she looked back and forth between her mom and dad.

Ira and Sheila again glanced at one another with concern. “Willow, were those men lying to us? On your word of honor, have you or have you not been investigating Hogwarts and the Wizarding World?” Sheila demanded.

“Wizarding World? Mom, what the heck are you talking about?” Willow demanded in honest perplexity, before shrugging it off as incomprehensible generation gap lingo and getting back on topic.

“Look, I-I’ve just been trying to find out where exactly this Hogwarts place is, because – uh, well, a friend is going to be attending there this year, and, um, yeah. – that’s pretty much it. I, I know they have this weird thing about privacy, but I never thought just asking where the school is would cause trouble! But now that I think about it, that’s kinda weird, isn’t it? I mean, if an international school is going to recruit then it can’t afford to-”

“Willow! Please, stop for a moment,” Ira raised his hand to stem the incoming tide of Willow-esque hyper-babble. Sharing yet another look with his wife, Ira finally comprehended the situation and made a decision that if his daughter did not yet know about the Wizarding World, then so much the better. The American Ministry of Magic could go hang – he would *not* be sending the fruit of his loins away from Sunnydale.

“I want you to promise me something, Willow. And that is, you will cease and desist from making any further inquiries into anything concerning that Hogwarts school,” Ira finally declared. “Is that understood? All that stops, right here and right now.”

Willow’s eyes instantly went huge. That was an order she could not follow willingly, because it meant letting go of finding Xander and bringing him back to Sunnydale where he belonged.

“What? Uh, Dad, why do you want me to do that?”

“Young lady, your father and I don’t need to explain ourselves to you,” Sheila said sternly as only a mother could. “We have our reasons for our actions, even if you are not privy to them; and that should be good enough for you to obey us, as a dutiful daughter should.”

“But, but, mom –”

“Enough, Willow. Now swear to me on your grandmother’s memory that you will do as I ask,” Ira demanded.

Willow Rosenberg was horribly, grievously torn. She was still young enough that the whole ‘teenage rebellion’ thing hadn’t really set in yet, and thus lying to her parents was subconsciously anathema to her. But at the same time, giving in to their incomprehensible bullying wasn’t an option either; because Xander Harris was far too important to the potential witch to simply abandon that way.

Perhaps luckily or unluckily, depending on your point of view, Willow suddenly had a brainwave and gave her parents the pledge they’d asked of her – more or less, anyway.

After all – they hadn’t exactly forbidden her to ask someone else to find Hogwarts in her place, now, had they?

~~~

The Atrium
Ministry of Magic
London, England

August 29, 1995

Approximately 8:42 AM


"No! Mum!"

Ginny's horrified and grief-stricken scream echoed against the walls of the chamber as all five members of Ragnarok instantly sprang into action upon seeing the gut-churning scene of an unmoving Molly Weasley lying in the middle of an ever-growing puddle of blood.

Sabrina, as the primary emergency medical specialist of the team, was already dropping to her knees next to Molly, and she was joined an instant later by her fiancé, both of them ignoring the frenzied screams and babble of the other survivors and victims of the attack which surrounded them as they focused their attention on casting a series of diagnostic and/or remedial therapeutic spells.

Hermione had grabbed Ginny when she had first lunged towards her mother and was holding the younger girl her against her and quietly murmuring reassurances to her, both to calm her and to prevent her from possibly inadvertently interfering with their teammates' evaluation and treatment of Molly's injuries

At the same time, Harry was carefully restraining Arthur from approaching his wife for exactly the same reasons. The battles he and the other members of Ragnarok had lived through almost made it instinctive, and the current situation reminded Harry far too much of a future that he had no desire to ever experience again.

While his teammates restrained Arthur and Ginny, Xander, supported by Remus, had raised a shield between their family and the panic-stricken crowd still rushing haphazardly around the rest of the atrium in response to the attack, their faces grim and wands drawn and ready for use as they awaited Sabrina and Ron's evaluation of Molly's condition and their recommendation of a best course of action. After all, just because it appeared that they'd completely eliminated the group attacking them didn’t mean that there weren't sleepers waiting for them to let down their guard before attacking again.

"Okay, we've got her stabilized for the moment," Sabrina finally announced several nerve-wracking minutes later as she looked up over her shoulder to where the rest of their family was waiting and watching anxiously. "But we need to get her to Saint Mungo's as quick as we can, guys. Her bowel was perforated and we need to get heavy-duty antibiotic potion into her before she gets septic. That, and that bitch managed to hit her in the spine with a bone-breaker and I'm worried about possible nerve damage from all of the bone shards it made."

"Ron! Here, catch!" Xander called as he reached into his left robe pocket and tossed what looked like a deck of cards back over his shoulder, which his brother quickly snatched out of the air. "Fourth card from the top will portkey you guys to Saint Mungo's emergency room.

"You guys port Molly there now, and the rest of us'll meet up with you after we finish up here, okay?" Xander suggested, catching the redhead's affirmative nod from the corner of his eye as he refocused his attention back on the chaos running rampant in front of them.

"Why don't you go along with Bree, Ron, Ginny and Dad, while I stay here and help Xander and Remus clean things up, okay, darling?" Harry requested as he glanced over at Hermione at the same time he released his hold on Arthur so he could hurry to his wife's side.

"And make sure that whatever administrative noob is in charge there knows that House Potter is requesting that their top people take care of Mum, all right?" he added, and a worried look passed across the face of the Boy-Who-Lived as he glanced down at their adopted mother.

"Don't worry – I'll make sure they know *exactly* how important it is that she get the best care possible," Hermione nodded her agreement, a grim expression on her face as she hurried over, along with the other members of their family, and touched the card Ron was holding aloft.

With a blue glow and the faintest of shimmers, the group abruptly popped out of sight, and Harry turned his attention back to the bedlam in front of them.

"All right then," the newly recognized Potter Patriarch seemed to half-growl as he began stalking forward, "let's go find out just how these lickspittles managed to port into what’s supposed to be a completely secured area."

"That would be true only if you're comparing it to breaking into a kid's piggy bank, Har," Xander shook his head in disagreement as he moved to flank his brother's left side.

"Whoever the idiots were who installed these wards, they should be shot and chopped up to use for potions ingredients," he declared loudly as he glanced around the chamber, his eyes glowing faintly with a pale blue luminescence. "The only thing they're keeping out is mosquitoes – and that's only if the mosquitoes aren't trying very hard to get in.

"Just look at how flimsy the connection on the South side ward there is to the main atrium," he pointed out as he indicated a particular spot in the atrium's upper chamber. "I could take this whole set-up down in less than four minutes, with just a couple hard shots to the underlying foundation ward and these idiots wouldn't know what hit them.

"And speaking of idiots – look who's just shown up," Xander noted sourly as he caught sight of several figures who'd abruptly appeared near the center of the vestibule.

Having apparently been assured that any potential danger had either been neutralized or had fled, the Minister of Magic had materialized on the far side of the atrium and, quite predictably, had begun trying to make political capital out of the tragedy that had just occurred.

"Excellent work, Auror Dawber!" Fudge's voice boomed through the chamber, evidently fortified by a 'Sonorous' spell in order to be heard above the clamor of the still frightened crowds.

"You and your fellow aurors are to be commended for your stalwart and courageous actions in dealing with those terrorists," he announced loudly, clearly attempting to shift the crowd's attention away from recognition of Ragnarok's actions and hopefully make them believe that the Ministry was responsible for putting down the rabid dogs who had attacked them.

"You know, Harry, I have to say I think you're completely wrong about the Minister," Xander's carefully-pitched voice could be heard declaring a fraction of an instant later as the noise filling the atrium diminished slightly.

"I don’t think Fudge is the idiot you keep referring to him as, at all," Xander continued, his words drawing a small number of laughs from some of the closest bystanders who could clearly hear his words and obviously catching Fudge's attention, since the Minister could be seen turning to stare in their general direction, an expression of hopeful interest lighting up his face.

Which made the subsequent expression of outrage and dismay on the Minster's face all the more visible when Xander finished his announcement by declaring, "After all, even an idiot would realize that trying to claim credit for someone else's actions – after you've been standing around and doing nothing but trying to hide – isn't exactly the smartest thing in the world to do."

{ I didn't think anyone's face could turn that particular shade of purple, beside Vernon, } Harry thought to himself with an inner grin as he saw Fudge react to his brother's statement with an expression of wide-eyed dismay and outrage.

"No, Har, I think that ol' Fudgie-Wudgie here is what I believe most people would call a complete and utter moron," Xander then went on, with a wide, malevolent smile, "because he truly seems to think that he might actually successfully accomplish this stupidity he's attempting, and that we would just stand here like a couple of dummies and not say anything to contradict him.

"To me, that indicates a level of stupidity which far exceeds that of your garden variety idiot," Xander proclaimed as he stared at the purpling Minister with a contemptuous expression on his face. "It starts to approach the level of 'putz,' or maybe even 'imbecile.'

"And just for your future reference, Fudge-meister," he added, "I don't recall ever seeing someone diving for cover, ignoring the bad guys' attacks and doing their best to keep their fat ass out of the line of fire being referred to as either 'stalwart' or 'courageous.' I think a much better description of those actions would be 'pathetic' and 'cowardly' but, then again, that's just my opinion.

"Obviously, yours is different," Xander finished his rather scathing evaluation of both the Minister and the aurors' actions during the Death Eaters' unsuccessful attack just a few minutes ago with a teeth-baring grin that would be far more suitable for his wolf-form than a human. “But then, everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, no matter how moronic or imbecilic they happen to be.”

"Just who do you think you are, you loudmouthed punk, talking about the Minister and the Ministry's aurors like that?" a somewhat intimidating-looking, grey-haired wizard, who had been standing by Fudge's side, demanded furiously as he crossed the space separating him from Xander, Harry and the others to glare at him.

"I *know* that, unlike you, numb nuts, I'm one of the people who actually stood up and did something to stop those putzes who just attacked us," Xander declared emphatically as he didn't waste even a fraction of a second responding to Dawlish's furious question echoing through the atrium in the stunned silence that followed his disdainful description of Ministry personnel. "I'm part of the reason why it's the Deeze who just popped in here who are splattered all across the floor and walls here, and not the people they were trying to attack and who you're supposed to be paid to defend!

"I didn't see you or any other of the Ministry's lackeys trading spells with those putzes; in fact, once those curses started flying, the only red robes I saw were disappearing behind the biggest and sturdiest pieces of furniture or architecture in the area," he declared angrily.

"That's it, punk! You're under arrest! Give me your wand and – uurrrkk!"

"Exactly what grounds do you think might justify your attempting to arrest a member of the Wizengamot, Auror Dawlish, instead of more appropriately using your time trying to determine exactly how it is that a group of murderous pure-blood terrorists managed to portkey into what are supposed to be the some of the most highly-secured areas in England?" Harry calmly asked as the auror in question abruptly rose up into the air as he simultaneously began clawing at his throat.

Since neither Harry's nor Xander's wands had moved even a centimeter from their current positions at their sides, most of the bystanders' faces wore expressions of bafflement as they tried to figure out exactly who or what it might be that was currently holding the auror several feet above the atrium's floor.

"That's an excellent question, indeed, Patriarch Potter," a new voice declared, and most of the bystanders who had been gaping at both Dawlish and what looked to be the impending confrontation between Harry and the Minister turned their heads to see Madame Bones stalking towards the small group, her forehead furrowed and her eyes narrowed in an scowl of anger and displeasure.

"Can you explain to me why you aren't doing that, Auror Dawlish?" she demanded, her glare focused on the sputtering auror as he abruptly dropped to the stone floor.

"Auror Dawlish has been assigned as part of my protective detail, Madame Bones," Fudge interjected in what he apparently believed was a loud and authoritative tone of voice, even if the exact opposite was a lot closer to the truth. "And he was reacting to what was clearly blatant and insolent provocation by Potter's brother here concerning both myself and our intrepid aurors!"

"Well, the last I heard, telling the truth about what just happened in here doesn't come anywhere near being sufficient grounds for some slope-browed Neanderthal to try and make me shut up, just because you want to try to make people think that you aren't the incompetent, bungling lamebrain you so clearly are," Xander declared in an equally loud voice as he glared at the pudgy little politician.

"In fact, Fudge-bottom, I think that, thanks to your actions here today the Daily Prophet will finally have the evidence it needs to show that you are a scrofulous, degenerate, pathetic excuse for a human being, let alone a wizard, and that you not only smell like a pile of hippogriff dung, your mother also dresses you funny," Xander declared loudly, momentarily channeling Monty Python.

"You can't talk to me like that, you arrogant colonial barbarian! I'm the Minster of Magic!" Fudge boomed indignantly, reiterating the same declarations he'd made to Harry just a few minutes before, inside the Wizengamot chambers.

"Not for very much longer you won't be," Harry predicted as he finally joined the ongoing debate, while Xander and Remus both watched with wide, feral grins.

"How well-run or competent can the Ministry you're overseeing be if a group of Death Eaters can manage to portkey into the main atrium of said Ministry and publicly attack the innocent citizens present with impunity?" Harry asked, a moment after casting a minor 'Sonorous' on himself, to ensure that everyone present could hear him.

"As I said a few minutes ago, during the assembly of the Wizengamot we all just attended, Minister Fudge," Harry continued, his words clearly audible to everyone present in the atrium, "if you and your flunkies hadn't kept denying my assertion that Voldemort had been re-embodied by one of his followers at the end of the Tri-Wizard Tournament last year, then the Department of Magical Law Enforcement might possibly have been able to locate him and his minions before this, and they could have dealt with them in the most appropriate manner for all of the crimes they'd committed prior to the attack on my parents' home fifteen years ago.

"And if they had been able to do so, then none of the innocents who were just attacked here a few minutes ago would have been injured, would they?" Harry asked as he concluded his accusations, noting the nodding heads and thoughtful expressions on the faces of a good number of the wizards and witches present.

“Potter...” Cornelius growled, acutely aware how the tide of public opinion was turning against him from the expressions on people’s faces. However, Fudge couldn’t seem to come up with anything intelligent to say to try to save face at this late stage.

"One more thing I'd like to point out, Minister, is that the sudden appearance of a group of Death Eaters attacking here and now, just moments after my family and I were leaving the Wizengamot, would seem – to me, at least – to be an astonishingly coincidental occurrence," Harry said, as he focused all of his attention on the loudmouthed little braggart.

"As it is, the Matriarch of one of House Potter's most esteemed allies was seriously injured as a result of that attack and was transported to Saint Mungo's just a few moments ago for emergency treatment," he informed the now visibly sweating and concerned Minister of Magic. "And as you might also recall, while the Wizengamot was in session, I declared a Blood Feud against the House of Gaunt and all of its clearly marked slaves!

"Accordingly," Harry went on, staring calmly at Fudge with an implacable expression, "I am now declaring that, should I determine to my satisfaction that someone had provided any information to either Voldemort or his Death Eater minions which led to this attack, I am going to consider that person or persons as being allied with House Gaunt and I will then hunt them down, challenge them to a duel, and then kill them, along with anyone who might attempt to stop me from doing so.

"Have a good day, Minister," Harry said impassively before turning away, as though he was dismissing Fudge entirely, and refocusing his attention back to Amelia Bones.

"Madame Bones, if the House of Potter can assist your investigation of this despicable incident in any manner possible, we would be both honored and delighted to do so," he informed her, after first giving her a small nod of greeting.

Clearly playing to the crowd of captivated wizards and witches watching their every move, Harry then announced in a clear voice that reached every sector of the chamber, "Any equipment or tools which House Potter can provide your aurors to help with this inquiry will be made available at the earliest possible moment, Madame Bones.

"House Potter will no longer stand by and do nothing while terrorists wreak havoc at will among the citizenry!" he declared passionately. "From this moment on, any attacks by Voldemort and those spineless cowards who follow him, regardless of who or what the target of their attacks might be, will be regarded by House Potter as an attack upon an ally! House Potter has no intention of sitting around idly and simply waiting for Tom Riddle and his craven sycophants to gather their courage together and attack us when our backs are turned – any Death Eater we come upon will meet exactly the same fate as these cowards received here today!

Dismissing his 'Sonorous' and dropping his voice to a more conversational level so that only those closest to him could hear, Harry then asked, "Are you familiar with how to use a muggle cell phone, Madame Bones?"

At Amelia's nod of confirmation, he pulled a phone from his pocket and handed it to her as he informed her, "All right, then take this. All of us have already programmed our personal numbers in – just call whichever of us you'd like to speak with and let us know what you need, and we'll get it to you as quickly as possible.

"And now, unless you think any of us can be of any further help here, we're heading to Saint Mungo's to see how Molly is doing," he said. Throwing a cold look in Fudge's direction, Harry simply said, "Minister Fudge – I'm sure we'll see you later."

As the three of them headed towards the public floo grates, with the various small crowds of people that were buzzing with raucous discussions hushing momentarily as they passed by, Remus offhandedly observed, "You know, Harry, I noticed what looked like a beetle flying around and landing on Fudge's bowler, right before you lit into the git."

"Yeah, so did I," Harry nodded, the hint of a small smile momentarily tracing its way across his face. "Like Xander said, I'm figuring that the Daily Prophet is going to be churning out a special edition covering all the details of Tommy-Boy's attack on the Ministry, compete with all the details of how the Ministry's aurors caved under pressure and hid while the Potter family bravely defended the innocent citizens that the aurors left to fend for themselves, by oh – this afternoon at the latest."

~~~

Family Ritual Chamber
Potter Manor, England

Approximately three hours following the attack in the Ministry Atrium


It had taken the healers at Saint Mungo's less than an hour after the Weasleys' and Ragnarok's arrival at the Emergency Ward to determine that, while they could heal almost all of the damage to her spinal column Molly had received as a result of the bone breaker curse Alecto Carrow had used against her, they were unable to do nearly as much about the nerve damage she had received as a subsequent result of the bone shards that had effectively blasted through the nerve tissue forming the interior of her spine.

After evaluating the body language of the healers while they spoke encouragingly to Arthur about possible treatments and 'promising new avenues of nerve regeneration research that were being reviewed on a daily basis,' all five members of Ragnarok had agreed among themselves that the healers basically had little to no hope of being able to restore Molly to any real semblance of her previous state of health.

It was because of that conclusion that they had then persuaded Arthur to direct the healers to restore Molly back to full consciousness, so that they could then discuss with both of them an option they had originally intended for conversation with the couple who had taken on the position of parents to all of them at a later, less hectic and far more convenient date.

After Xander and Hermione had provided a general description of the purpose of the ritual and an explanation of the possible advantages (significantly improved physical abilities, including a greatly enhanced healing factor) as well as the possible accompanying disadvantages (a heightened tendency to reflect the general emotional and mental aspects of whichever species of Spirit might respond to the summoning ritual) that bonding with a Primal Spirit might entail, both of the elder Weasleys had immediately agreed to perform the ceremony, in the hopes that the enhanced healing factor would enable Molly to at least regain the equivalent of her previous physical condition, even if they ended up not being boosted to the superhuman levels that the various members of Ragnarok currently possessed.

Molly had subsequently been discharged from the hospital against medical advice, and the group had then come here to do the ritual. After a thorough briefing by both Xander and Hermione on the (thankfully few) requisite chants and gestures of said ritual, Arthur, Molly and Ginny all took up positions on the floor of the chamber, the young redhead occupying her own circle while her parents took their places in another. The two elder Weasleys had decided that they both would accept and bond with whichever type of Primal Spirit might deign to answer the summoning they were about to initiate, as had Ginny.

Grasping the requisite silver knife in their right hands and the waiting chickens, which had previously been under the influence of a sleeping spell, in their left, each of the three then began chanting the requisite incantation to summon the Primal Spirits which would prove the most appropriate match for the people involved, finishing up the ritual as they slashed the throats of the sacrificial fowl.

The triumphant bellows and the shrill scream that filled the chamber a moment later at the conclusion of the ceremony served notice of the success of the ritual, and Ragnarok stared in respectful amazement at the two mammoth moose – the daunting antlers of the bull stretching over a meter across – who calmly returned his gaze and an ink-black crow calmly gazing back at them from within their respective ritual circles.

“Good thing we didn’t do this at St. Mungo’s,” Xander murmured to himself, only for Sabrina to give him an absent-minded whack on the arm.

"Courage and determination embodied in a frame that exudes power and grace," Hermione whispered a summation of the moose totem to herself as she, too, stared at the towering forms before them, "and the crow is touted as the keeper of knowledge, for nothing escapes its keen sight."

Ragnarok's admiration of the majestic animals standing in front of them ended as all three of Weasleys shifted and reformed into the human shapes they normally wore, with everyone instantly swarming protectively around Molly as she wavered a bit uncertainly for a moment as she sought to adjust to the familiar-yet-strange sensations surging through her that were a result of merging and bonding with the Primal Spirits which had answered her and Arthur's call.

"How are you feeling, Molly?"

"Mum! How are you doing? Are you okay?"

"Mum! Are you all right?"

"How do you feel, Molly?"

Various iterations of the above questions filled the air over the course of the next few moments, ending only after Molly had reassured all of her questioners as to her restored state of well-being and her intention that everyone proceed with the plans they'd tentatively outlined during their previous meetings.

"Remember, my dears, school starts in just three days – and you all need to be there if you want to keep people from becoming suspicious about what you might be doing," she reminded all six of her children.

Admittedly, four of them might not have been born of her body, but that didn't matter to either her or Arthur in the slightest. Each of these almost unbelievably wonderful children (who, in truth, were no longer children deep down where it mattered) had selflessly sworn themselves to a fight that, in Molly's opinion, had unjustly fallen on their all-too-young shoulders. And so she was bound and determined to make sure that none of them would be exposed to any more risks than was absolutely and unquestionably necessary.

Glancing amongst themselves, the five time-travelers knew that Ragnarok had caused enough disruption in both the uppermost social and political circles of the Wizarding World for the moment; so now it was time for them to step back from the limelight and fade from prominence, to let their opponents convince themselves that the group members were merely arrogant, loudmouthed children, too full of themselves and their perception of their supposed power to even begin to anticipate the problems that would most certainly be thrown in their path.

And while their opponents schemed and plotted and planned how to best deal with what they perceived as a handful of overconfident teenagers, Ragnarok and their allies could lay their own plans to take down the people who were helping pave the way for Tommy-Boy to try and seize power over the sheep that made up the bulk of the Wizarding World.

Basing their plans on the axiom, 'It's not what you don't know that's gonna cause problems, it's what you know for certain that's wrong that's gonna screw things up,' Ragnarok intended to make anyone and everyone in the Wizarding World who might be watching think that they were merely five typical fifth-year and one typical fourth-year students, who were currently more concerned with their schooling and preparing for their OWL exams than with disrupting whatever plans that Tommy-Boy and his minions, that incompetent idiot, Fudge, or that manipulative old bastard at Hogwarts might have waiting for them.

And then, when they least expected it, Ragnarok was going to simply step forward and smack all of those bastards in the face with a (not necessarily metaphorical) baseball bat, reducing their heads – and their brains, their skeletons, their internal organs and the rest of their body – to the consistency of strawberry jelly.

And once they'd done that, everyone (except the aforementioned bastards, of course) would live happily ever after.

Well, at least, until the next Big Bad showed up, that is, and they had to start things all over again.

~~~

Archie's Pub
Soho District, London

August 30, 1995


"A good afternoon to you, Angus. It's good to see you again, my friend," Remus smiled as he extended his hand to the middle-aged man seated at the table in the back corner of the pub.

It had been in the course of one of their initial brainstorming and planning sessions, while the group was trying to determine the best way to alert the appropriate non-magical authorities about Riddle's ambitions and his ongoing attempts to overthrow the current Ministry of Magic without causing any panic or drawing unwanted attention that Remus had informed his companions of previously undisclosed information.

Namely, that as a result of his being unable to obtain a permanent full time job in the Wizarding World due to his lycanthropy, he'd been forced at various times to seek employment in the mundane world, a fact of life which had involved his performing a wide variety of jobs in the course of the past dozen years.

And it had been in the course of one such short-term endeavor, one involving some of the less savory elements of society, that he had first met the man currently sitting at the table in front of them – a man Remus was certain would be able to facilitate their making contact with at least one of the various clandestine government agencies Ragnarok believed that they needed to establish a working relationship with, if their plans to avert the upcoming apocalyptic future they'd fled were to have the optimum chance of success

"Angus, I'd like to introduce you to several people who I think you need to meet, for both all of our sakes and for that of the country, too," the group could hear Remus saying as they patiently waited a few feet back from him and his mysterious friend.

Turning his head, Remus then nodded for the teens to join him as he said, "Guys, this is Angus Kingston, the gentleman I was telling you about, previously. Angus, this is Harry Potter, his brothers, Ron and Alexander Potter and their associates, Hermione Granger and Sabrina Spellman.

"And we're here to get your help in preventing the civilized world from going down the toilet and the Dark Ages from running rampant across the entire planet."

***

Somewhere in muggle London

A few hours later


It took several hours of Remus' not-inconsiderable powers of persuasion combined with an extensive description by all the members of Ragnarok detailing both Harry's personal history and the current state of the various socio-political aspects of the Wizarding World to convince Angus that finding and neutralizing Tom Riddle was the first step in averting the inevitable slide into chaos and possibly eventual oblivion that the entire world was currently heading towards.

Should Riddle succeed in seizing control of the British segment of the Wizarding World, Ragnarok had explained, his hubris and arrogance would inevitably lead him to attempt to assert control over the remaining still-free sectors of the Wizarding World – an effort which could never be completely concealed from the mundane world and an action which would inexorably lead to the revelation of the existence of the Wizarding World under the worst circumstances imaginable.

That, in turn, Ragnarok pointed out, would unquestionably lead to a pogrom by any number of terrified national governments against those they viewed as potential or actual opponents by the simple expedient of accusing them of being a wizard or witch and, thus, an enemy of the state who needed to be either eliminated or controlled. The complete and utter social breakdown resulting from such strategies would quickly lead to bedlam and chaos and help foment insurrection and anarchy, accelerating civilization's passage down the metaphorical toilet and setting humanity's progress back to such an extent that it would require centuries, if not millennia to recover.

Hearing such a grim – and entirely too plausible – description of the possible demise of civilization being predicted and quite persuasively argued for by a group of grimfaced and unquestionably well-prepared teenagers had to be one of the most unsettling meetings he'd attended in quite some time, Angus decided later, as he waited to report about his meeting with his old contact and the information he'd been provided.

The intensity with which all five of the teenagers had presented their arguments had been more than a little unnerving, and the bleak look in all of their eyes as they'd taken turns describing and outlining the most likely chains of events resulting from a victory by Riddle's forces would almost make one believe that they'd actually lived through a similar catastrophe, if such an occurrence weren't clearly impossible.

Nonetheless, after having seen some of the possible consequences of Riddle's succeeding in his plans to take over the British sector of the Wizarding World laid out before him, there was no way Angus could in good conscience ignore any opportunities offered him to put down such a mad dog, especially when the associated costs were so minimal. He'd make the various calls Remus and those kids had asked him to make, and now that he'd given the matter some more thought, he was going to call in a few favors various people owed him for services rendered over the course of his career, too.

For a situation that had the potential to turn as bad as this one could, there was simply no such thing as overkill.

If he had any say in the matter, whatsoever, Riddle would be lucky to merely end up in an unmarked grave.

~~~

Main Drawing Room
Potter Manor, England

The same time


"I'm not sure how good an idea this really is, Xander. I wouldn't have the slightest idea about how to begin to do something like that," Sirius said as he looked at the tall brunet from his position stretched out on the sofa lining the west wall of the room. The rest of Ragnarok, as well as Remus, were sprawled in the other chairs and couches scattered around the rest of the room and were watching the discussion between the two with varying degrees of interest.

"Being a bodyguard for a bunch of teenagers isn't something I've ever done before, you know."

"Aw, come on, Sirius, you know you can do it. It’s not like I'm asking you to hold off the Eighth Armored Division or anything," Xander replied, swallowing the last of his pint of John Courage Amber, as he gave the older man his most earnest and hopeful look. "You just have to make sure that none of the guys end up as vamp-chow before I can get back there and clue them in about the magical and supernatural sides of the world.

"Anyway, do you really want to hang around here for the next nine months doing nothing?" Xander added doubtfully. "'Cause you know ol' Fumble-dork isn't gonna let you do anything the least bit helpful or worthwhile - not if he has anything to say about it."

"Xander does have a point as far as that goes, Siri," Remus noted, eliciting a surprised look from the other Marauder at his agreement with the younger man. "Remember how, when the kids first told us about the history they'd lived through, one of the things that they said led to your death in the old timeline was that you were a bit overwrought from being confined to Grimmauld Place for over a year? And that was because Dumbledore insisted that you maintain a low profile? I really can't see him doing anything different this time around, given the fact that he's probably looking at you as one of the few things he can still use to try to influence Harry's actions.

"Although he could only do that if, for some unfathomable reason, you decided that you wanted to continue hanging around this little slice of heaven, that is," Remus noted the least bit sarcastically.

"The old man's got quite a number of contacts scattered around the continent that he could use to find you if you decided to disappear for a while," the werewolf elaborated on his previous statement, "but he's got very few reliable contacts he could call on in America, and none of the ones he has that I'm aware of would even consider visiting a Hellmouth, let alone spend time searching for anyone around one."

"And we'll promise not kill off either Tommy-Boy or the manipulative old fart without you being here to watch, if that's what you're concerned about, Sirius," Harry chimed in, giving his godfather a small grin as he finally realized what might be one of the reasons for Padfoot's reluctance to agree with Xander's request.

"You'll be right there with us, when we finally take both of those bastards down," he promised.

"Yeah, Sirius, we'd all consider it a big favor if you'd agree," Ron chimed in. "It'd make Xand feel a lot better about his friends' safety if you do this, and it'd be one less thing we'd have to worry about while we're setting things up to take Tommy-Boy out."

"Ron's right, Sirius," Hermione agreed. "Xand grew up with Willow and Jesse, so they are, for all intents and purposes, Xander's siblings. And even though Xander and Cordy broke up before they graduated, that doesn't mean that he's not going to worry about her safety, too. Our knowing that you're watching over all of them while we're still here would help to reassure him immensely."

"All right, fine," Sirius released a weary sigh of resignation and held up his hands as though to physically stop the others' responses and entreaties. "I'll go take a vacation in beautiful and exotic Sunnydale. And while I'm enjoying the charming Hellmouth ambiance over there, I'll make it a point to keep an eye on your clueless friends. Okay, Xander?"

"Thanks, Sirius. It means a lot to me that you're doing this," the expatriate Californian said with a wide smile. "You just make sure you watch your own back while you're there, too, okay?"

"Don't worry about me, pup," Sirius grinned back. "I've been taking care of myself for a lot longer than any of you kids have been alive."

After a moment's consideration and seeing the looks Ragnarok was sending him, the so-called Lord Black then added with another grin, "Well, at least in this particular timeline, anyway."

"And you can be sure that I'm not going to do anything that might bugger up my chance to see you take out either of those wankers."

~~~

The Bronze,
Sunnydale CA

Later that same night


Cordelia Chase was completely *pissed*!

Ever since she had met Xander in the Sunnydale Mall exactly one month ago and he’d then disappeared out of town, the brunette female teen’s life had gone downhill in a majorly awful way. Not only did no one else in Sunnydale have the ability to trade insults at her level (and thus her skills at verbally ripping people to shreds were beginning to slide), Cordy had had a bombshell dropped on her the likes of which she’d never even imagined.

Namely, finding out that her father hadn’t paid his taxes properly for the past eight years, and now the IRS was conducting an investigation as to whether or not the accountant that had been blamed for that fiasco would end up taking the fall for criminal misconduct, or whether the Chase family would end up losing *everything*.

{ Stupid Daddy for not filling out those stupid forms himself! What the hell was he thinking? } Cordelia fumed as she disinterestedly spied Willow and Jesse talking off in the distance. { Oh, God, what am I going to do? The news is going to become Sunnydale’s biggest piece of gossip *ever*, after school starts up! It’s a miracle no one’s found out about it before now. Huh, I guess that dweeb Xander actually had a good idea for once, about my setting up my own personal Swiss bank account. But damn it, if worse comes to worst that money isn’t gonna last long enough for me to graduate high school, get out of this one-Starbucks town and become a Hollywood actress!! Why the hell didn’t I set up another account in the Cayman Islands, while I was it? }

“Hey, Cordy! You look great tonight!“ Jesse McNally suddenly appeared within Miss Chase’s sphere of attention. The words were supposed to make him appear suave and debonair, but in Cordelia’s opinion, they only appeared to make him dorky and idiotic.

“I already knew that, doofus! So go tell it to someone else,” the soon-to-be freshman cheerleader shot down her potential suitor’s advances ruthlessly.

Unfortunately for his own sake, Jesse, who had just been enlisted by Willow to find out everything he could regarding a school with the weird-sounding name of Hogwarts, didn’t let that deter him. “I was thinking, maybe we could go out for a bite to eat sometime? Uh, I can’t afford much better than Bucky’s Fondue Hut right at the moment, but I –”

Something just snapped in Cordelia’s mind at that moment.

“Okay, that’s it! You listen to me *very* carefully, dork!” she hissed as Jesse momentarily recoiled from his beloved’s inexplicable burst of anger. “We are *not* going out on a date! EVER! Do you understand me? Wait, let me spell it out for you and your diseased and pathetic excuse for a brain; n-e-v-e-r, got it? I wouldn’t date you if you were the last man on Earth!! Hell, I’d rather date Xander than you! At least he has *some* redeeming qualities!!” Cordelia ranted, the financial problems she and her family were having making her overreact quite a lot tonight.

“As a matter of fact,” she continued, Cordelia’s hazel eyes boring into Jesse’s shocked and confused brown ones, “if Xander *did* come back from wherever the hell he disappeared off to after that morning, I’d do a lot more than just give him a pity date like coffee at the mall! I’d date him for as long as it took you to get it through your thick head, that I’m not even *remotely* interested in you! Now stay away from me from now on, or I’ll tell the police you’re stalking me or something!!”

Jesse just stood there, feeling as if someone had actually gutted him completely as he watched Cordelia stampede towards the side door of the nightclub. As Willow joined him and start to demand to know what had just happened, young Mr. McNally's attention suddenly focused on some of the things Cordelia had said to him.

{ Redeeming qualities? Coffee date at the mall? Date him for as long as it takes? Oh my God, NO!!! Cordy can’t possibly be interested in my best friend instead of me!! } Jesse instantly indulged in the strongest form of denial he could. { Besides, Xander wouldn’t do something like that! It’d totally be against the guy code! }

Perhaps it was better that he had no idea who Alexander *Potter* really was these days.

In any event, it certainly promised to be a very tangled state of affairs that Sirius Black would soon encounter, when he finally arrived upon the California Hellmouth.

~~~

TBC
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