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Harry Potter and the Shell of the God-King

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Summary: The aptly named Department of Mysteries is home to a great many things that wizardkind does not yet understand. Luna releases one of them and forever alters the course of history.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Fred/Illyria-Centered > Pairing: Other(Moderator)JoeHundredaireFR181472,9152035358,19120 Apr 1327 Oct 13No

Braking In

Title ArtJoe's Note: Interesting little tidbit I discovered when I was crunching the data to construct a student body that was a proportional microcosm of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Which was what Rowling did on her original class list, hence my interest in doing so. Anyway, there's about a two percent "Other White" population that contains everything from continental Europeans to Americans to the child of two Russian nationals who was born on British soil and therefore has citizenship but doesn't consider himself to be 'White British'. And after people from that last category ("Other White born in the UK but not White British"), the United States was the single largest category. Granted you're looking at percentages that would give you maybe one student in five hundred or so… but theoretically Mary Sue the Perfect American Exchange Student could actually be attending Hogwarts in the canon universe too.

June 23, 2006
The Hogwarts Express
Somewhere Between Hogsmeade and London

     The last car of the Hogwarts Express was indeed a 'half coach', featuring only five of the compartments he was familiar with from past trips aboard the train. They were followed by a room filled with strange equipment… and then a door marked 'Baggage'. Harry reached out, only to abruptly pause with his hand hovering mere inches from the handle. If Morag's killer rabbit was kept in the baggage compartment at the other end of the train… what might he find in this one? Then again, he'd survived a Hungarian Horntail, a basilisk, giant spiders, four encounters with Voldemort, and Umbridge's office full of kitten plates. If none of that could kill him, what were the odds that one of his schoolmates' pets could?

     'I was under the impression that your kind knew better than to taunt Mur'fae?'


     'Saying such things as 'what is the worst that could happen?' and 'what are the odds?'. While not directly invoking Mur'fae's name, such statements serve as a beacon to-'

     '…you're talking about Murphy's Law. Are you trying to tell me that Murphy is an actual… thing?'

     'While not an Old One, Mur'fae was an entity whose power was similar to ours. We knew not where he came from, simply that he was there when we rose to power and was able to resist our best efforts to dislodge him. During my first reign, he would use occasionally his powers to humble those who became overconfident or lend his strength to those who faced near-certain defeat. He said it kept our existence… interesting.'

     Well that was certainly… interesting was a good word, Harry decided. He made a mental note to cut back on using those sayings for safety's sake, and then momentarily mourned the loss of his connection to Voldemort. With Illyria's help, perhaps he could have reached into his foe's mind and encouraged Voldemort to use certain phrases more often. That could have made the war a whole lot more 'interesting' going forward. But with his newfound knowledge - and having already taunted Mur'fae on the subject - Harry suddenly found himself even more leery of entering the baggage compartment than he had been to begin with.

     Gryffindors go forward, Harry reminded himself, grabbing the handle and twisting. Pulling the door open, he peered inside. Inside was neither the killer rabbit that he'd been fearing nor the baggage he'd been expecting. Instead, there were… pillows. Many, many pillows. They were strewn all over the floor, dozens of them in varying shades of blue with the occasional bronze pillow mixed in. And sprawled out on her side in the middle of it all was… "Su?"

     While the face was familiar - or at least familiar enough to make identification possible - it was the only part of Harry's classmate that was still even remotely recognizable. Gone were her sleek black hair, her violet eyes, her flawless skin, and her… well, human-shaped ears. Now Su had hair a few shades lighter than Ravenclaw blue that no longer completely hid her long, pointed ears. Said ears - along with the rest of her skin - had shifted from a fallow tone to shimmering silver, and her formerly smooth face had gained a series of slim vertical grooves. Her inhumanity was further hammered home by the twin rear-swept, deer-like antlers that jutted from her temples, a patch of red scales that covered what he could see of her throat, and eyes that - while still having purple irises - now featured black scleras and horizontal slit pupils. "Ten points to Gryffindor for recognizing the girl you've shared classes with for the last five year." Smirking, Su forced herself up into a sitting position as she folded her legs beneath her. "Good to know that I won't have any competition for being the brains of the group."

     "Sorry I didn't recognize you right away, Li. You seem to be feeling a little blue today." Pausing, Harry frowned as he eyed the Ravenclaw. "Wait, I just realized… when I want to be sarcastic or cheeky or some such, do I call you 'Su' or 'Li'? Because the professors call you 'Su Li' but I think I heard that the Chinese do things backward and put the last name first…"

     Despite no longer having eyebrows, Su opted to stick with a very human mannerism and arched a brow at that question. "Why do my people have to be the backward ones? Ever think that maybe we do things right, and you Brits are the ones doing it backward? Anglocentric bag of dicks. But to answer your question… my given name is Su and my family name is Li. Considering we're going to be seeing a lot of each other, you should probably call me Su. And while we're on that subject… accio Harry!" Caught off-guard, Harry stumbled forward until his foot caught on one of the pillows, dropping him to his knees in front of Su. She snickered softly as she tipped forward onto all fours, crawling over to him. "Any chance of us being able to mix business and pleasure?"

     And then she leaned up and kissed him.

     Harry went rigid as her warm lips pressed against his, having not expected his second kiss any more than his first with Cho. It was… much nicer, to be honest. A big part of that was the fact that she wasn't crying, though. And that she smelled faintly of some kind of flow- chrysanthemum, Illyria supplied for him, instead of the harsher vanilla that his ex-girlfriend had preferred. Just as he was finally starting to relax and leaned forward into the kiss, Su pulled away with a sigh. Blinking rapidly, Harry straightened up and watched as she turned away and crawled back over to where she'd been resting when he arrived, a silver-skinned tail emerging from beneath her uniform skirt and flicking back and forth as she moved. "What… what was that?"

     "That was you turning out to be a horrible kisser. Damn. So much for that idea." Sprawling out on her side again, Su flicked her tail up onto her hip and reached down to run her fingers through the blue mane that ran along the top of her tail. Harry opened his mouth to dispute her claim, before realizing that he didn't really care what the silver-skinned, antlered girl with no respect for personal space thought of his kissing skills. "At any rate, I'll break things down nice and simply for you since you're looking pretty confused. The girl you're used to seeing around school is what I'd look like if I was human… but I'm not. This is my true form. I'm a qílín… half-qílín technically, but we're not like the veela. We count fractions to make the human parents feel better, but any child born of a qílín is identical to an incarnated qílín. Apart from the obvious differences…" Su paused long enough to stick out a very blue tongue. "…we're different from humans in a few different ways. We have superior hearing and vision, especially our night vision. We're always magical to some degree, and have an affinity for a specific branch of elemental magic, wind in my case. We also have some limited shapeshifting abilities, and-"

     Those words evoked memories of a bubbly, pink-haired auror and Harry raised a hand to cut Su off. "How limited are we talking here? Because I know a metamorphmagus who can do some pretty interesting things to herself…"

     Su shook her head. "Qílín have two forms: the one you're looking at and one closer to what you'll see in art. We can instinctively shift back and forth between them, so it's more like being a born animagus, if I had to compare it to Western magic."

     "Oh." Harry frowned as her words destroyed one of his assumptions. "So then how do you turn into the girl I go to class with?"

     "My mother gave me an enchanted necklace. It taps into my innate transformative magic and reconfigures it to power an energy matrix that…" Su trailed off as Harry's eyes glazed over. "It takes the magic behind my natural shapeshifting and twists it to force me into a form I couldn't otherwise take. One with no antlers or tail, two extra fingers on each hand, human feet… and eyebrows for some reason. Which I still don't get the point of whatsoever." Reaching up, Su ran the tip of one finger along her smooth brow before shrugging. "The necklace-guided transformations are painful, but I feel really awkward in my human form and so I turn back to normal whenever I can. The headmaster was nice enough to put a few wards on this compartment for me; I spend the entire ride relaxing in here and then sneak off the train once everyone else is gone."

     Frowning, Harry looked around the interior of the baggage compartment. It was easily twice the length of the compartment he shared with his friends each journey, and ran the entire width of the car with two windows on each side to let in light. There were a few books laid out atop the pillows, along with the debris from a finished meal or snack, so she had entertainment and nourishment. But… "Don't you get lonely?"

     Su shrugged. "Morag visited me earlier before doubling back to visit Illyria, Ráichéal likes to ride in the Gaeltachtaí with the other Gaeilge speakers, and Padma's busy with prefect duties these days but drops in when she's on this end of the train. I'm not really close to Mandy or Lisa and before you ask, no, I'm not friends with Cho. Just because we're the only two Asians at Hogwarts doesn't mean we're best friends or something; the girl can barely speak Cantonese, much less Mandarin, and is pretty much a Scottish girl in a Chinese body. I…" Trailing off, she waved a hand in front of her face slowly. "…quite obviously am not. Which provides a great segue back into the conversation we were having before you derailed things. There's one more thing that makes qílín different from humans and other magical sentients. I suppose the best way to describe it is 'heraldic birth'. Basically, we're born at the exact same time as at least one other person in the world - down to the second and probably even millisecond - and that person has the potential to be someone very important."

     Despite her claims that she had no competition as the brains of the operation, Harry was able to put two and two together fairly quickly and get four. After all, if she shared his birthday? Dumbledore probably wouldn't have let her come to Hogwarts or would have found a way to keep them from ever interacting or some such, given he seemed intent on interfering with every other facet of Harry's life. Which meant that Harry had a feeling that he knew who Su's Very Important Person was. "Let me guess… you were born on March 15th, 1991. Luna's birthday."

     Su's tail undulated, the end slapping against her thigh to create a decent enough imitation of a clapping noise. "Give the lion a prize. Yeah, she's my birthmate. You have no idea how surprised I was when she first arrived at Hogwarts during my second year. It was bad enough before then, when I only had a name to go by. I mean, Luna Lovegood? It sounds like a character from an Ian Fleming novel. But then I met her and she was so very… Luna. I couldn't figure out how this strange little girl who wore food as jewelry and talked about invisible animals was going to turn out to be important in the grand scheme of things." She offered a sardonic smile as she tugged at a strand of her blue hair. "Guess we know now, yeah?"

     "And now that she's actually powerful and interesting, you want to hop on her bandwagon." Harry snorted as he lowered himself to sit on the pillows, waving a hand dismissively to cut Su's rebuttal off. Reaching out, he brushed a question against Illyria's mind and received a torrent of images in reply, making him frown as his suspicions were confirmed. Part of why he wasn't entirely thrilled with Illyria's new plan to capitalize on his fame was that the very idea of people like Su, who only wanted to be friends when it benefited them, was just… repulsive to him. "Just so you know, my bond with Illyria includes a telepathic link. I can see how much time you spent around her. Or rather, didn't spend. Not to mention the fact that I spent most of this year getting to know Luna. You were never her friend. You weren't even an acquaintance. Otherwise, I might have seen you at DA meetings… or she might not have joined because she wouldn't have been so desperate for people to spend time with. But now that she's actually 'important in the grand scheme of things', you're ready to give her the time of day."

     Groaning, Su rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. "Qílín and human aren't that different, Harry. We can be vain. And judgmental. If you really can look into her memories, you'll see me in some of the ones from her first and second year. I tried to get to know her. To understand her. But she was just so… strange. Alien, almost. And that's coming from the girl who has to work around her antlers while combing her blue hair." She slowly raised her head, turning it to meet his gaze. "But if she's willing to give me another chance? I'm not sure what my role in all this is supposed to be, but I'd like to find out. Unfortunately, I can't exactly look to my mother as an example of how this sort of thing is supposed to work…"

     Harry raised an eyebrow at that. "Oh?"

     "…where do you think I came from, Harry? My mother didn't track her birthmate down until she was a few years older than we are, and then… I suppose there's a joke to be made here about getting a piece of tail, but just thinking about my parents having sex makes me want to puke." Su grimaced in disgust, not that Harry blamed her. Nobody liked thinking about their parents having sex. Not even him, and his had been dead for a decade and a half now. He preferred to think that they'd never had sex, to be honest, and that things worked the way they did in wizarding children's stories: a large owl had delivered him to his parents one day. "I suppose I could try and seduce Illyria, but it wouldn't end the same way. Unless she's hiding something that Luna wasn't. Or Luna was hiding something from everyone." Su's eyes slowly widened. "Now that I think about it, I remember her roommates talking about how she was always very particular about showering alone…"

     And there was a mental image that he really, really didn't need. While Harry had no problem with Seamus or other boys who liked to, err, cross wands? It definitely wasn't an idea that did anything for him. Nor did the idea of a witch with a… wand… appeal to him. Thankfully, he already knew the answer to that one. Or at least the answer to why she preferred to shower alone. Whether or not Illyria had a… Harry let out a sigh of relief as the bluenette sent a sharply negative burst through their bond. "Actually, there's a funny story behind that one. Luna was smart enough to eavesdrop on the prefects once she found out about their bath, and was using it by mid-September of her first year. Then she intentionally planted the rumor about wanting to shower alone just to watch her roommates change their own schedules to try and cut her off from being able to shower before classes started. And since she wasn't a big fan of breakfast and prefects usually spend the mornings dealing with their housemates' issues…"

     Su let out a soft whistle of admiration. "She had that entire pool of a bathtub to herself. No wonder she was always so calm and relaxed. Hard to get worked up over something when you're pulling one over on the entire school, and walking away with a reward like that. I'm not sure whether that's proof that she belongs in Ravenclaw, or a sign that she should have been a Slytherin."

     Having experienced it once earlier during the train ride while with Tracey, Harry recognized the pressure on his mind and did his best to relax as Illyria took control of his body. "I am quite happy with my shell's house placement; both the colors and totem animal of Slytherin belong to my former companion Oriens." Harry's field of view panned from side to side slowly as Illyria surveyed the baggage compartment, and then she forced his body to its feet. "I wish to discuss your request face-to-face, qílín. Accompany my Qwa'ha Xahn back to our compartment." Su nodded, reaching for a silver and jade necklace that was resting near her head, only to freeze when Illyria shook her head. "Come to me as you truly are, or do not come at all. The choice is yours." And with that, Illyria again receded from Harry's mind, leaving him to deal with another of her messes.

     After a few seconds of awkward silence, Su sighed and rose to her feet. "She's not exactly familiar with the concept of 'please', is she? I mean, just because we're linked and I'm 'her' qílín doesn't mean she owns me. My father-"

     "Can your father pick your mother up by the ankle and beat other people with her? Because Illyria's done that." Harry couldn't help but smirk at the way Su's eyes widened in response; it was a nice change of pace to be the surpriser for once rather than the surprised. As the qílín processed that little tidbit, Harry took a step back and gave the new Su a long look up and down. The main thing that drew his attention was how much taller her natural form was than the body he'd seen her wearing around Hogwarts. She'd gone from just barely breaking five feet in height to being taller than him by a few inches, and that was just measuring to the top of her skull. Taking her antlers into account? She was easily an inch or two taller than even Kaitlyn, minimum. "So, what's it going to be?"

     Su rolled her eyes before reaching up and… undoing the top button of her blouse? Harry's jaw dropped as she undid the second button and then a third, working her way down to between her breasts before pausing. "What? The second I step out of this compartment - or off the train, for that matter - everyone is going to be staring at me. Not that I blame them, since I'm one of a whopping two qílín in all the Isles, but still. Staring. Oh yeah, and I'm about to meet my birthmate, who happens to be an Old One. Combine the two, and for some reason I'm feeling the need to pretty myself up. You know, change into something that actually fits this form and compliments my coloring, fix my hair, do my makeup…"

     So it was exactly like she'd said: qílín and humans weren't that different. At the end of the day, she was still a teenage girl. Harry sighed and summoned a copy of Snogging Seductresses: Things I Learned From the World's Most Provocative Magical Species to his hand before turning around. He'd seen Hermione reading the book a year ago while Fleur was visiting Hogwarts but had opted against asking to see it when she was done, not wanting to seem like a pervert. Now that he had both time and a copy on his hands, though? "Right then. I'll be outside waiting for you…"

June 23, 2006
King's Cross Railway Station
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

     Harry was both relieved and apprehensive as the Hogwarts Express pulled into King's Cross, and he disembarked behind Illyria and an even more apprehensive-looking Su. On one hand, it would be over two months before he was again subjected to fangirls, impromptu autograph sessions, or gossip. On the other hand, he was about to return to the Dursleys, who were a trial in the best of times and downright nightmarish at their worst. Somewhere in the middle was the fact that this was going to be the first test as to whether Dumbledore or not was taking their demands seriously.

     Directing his trunk forward with a casual wave of his wand, Harry paused and looked around the station curiously even as Illyria led Su over to a horrified-looking Chinese couple. Most of the time, he'd pushed straight through and out into the muggle side of the station to meet his relatives, never taking the time to really observe the wizarding world. It really wasn't that different, he mused. Parents and little siblings hugging and talking animatedly with the returning students, friends making last minute arrangements before parting ways… it rather reminded him of the last day of muggle school each year and Harry wondered what certain elements of the wizarding world would think if they knew how similar they were to their non-magical counterparts. A head of shockingly pink hair caught Harry's attention and he smirked; the 'bodyguard and trainer' he was receiving as per the terms of his new employment contract was right on time. "Wotcher, Harry."

     "Wotcher, Tonks." Harry held his hand out to the metamorphmagus and they shook. "Just out of curiosity, how are you taking this? You were the first person I could think of that would satisfy both parties, but if you'd rather not be around me after what I did to Sirius…"

     Nymphadora Tonks shook her head before pulling Harry into a hug. "Oh, Harry, of course I don't blame you. If it wasn't to save you, Sirius would have found another reason to force his way out of that house. He was wasting away, trapped inside it. And I definitely don't mind my new j…" Trailing off, Tonks released Harry and stared off at something over his right shoulder. "Can I help you?"

     "Probably not. He can, though." The sound of Tracey's familiar voice made Harry turn around quickly, eyes widening as he found himself face-to-face with the entire Greengrass-Davis-Seckford tribe, complete with all three parents. Tracey stood at the front of the group, offering something between a smile and a grimace as she held a handkerchief to her nose. "Just out of curiosity… do you know any girls with green hair? Naturally green, not dyed. About our age."

     Shooting a look back over his shoulder, Harry frowned as he studied his companion. While Tonks was neither his age nor 'naturally' green-haired, both were things that she could change with her abilities… and where else might a green-haired girl come from? That wasn't exactly a color that grew naturally in the wild, so to speak. On the other hand, if Tracey was having visions of a version of Tonks so far removed from her normal appearance that the Slytherin couldn't recognize Tonks in person? Perhaps connecting those two people wasn't a good idea. Turning back to Tracey, he shook his head. "No. Should I?"

     There was a brief pause and then Tracey blushed faintly as she offered a shrug. "Maybe. Anyway, enjoy your summer. I'll keep an eye out for your owl." And without further ado, she wrapped her free hand around Tabitha's wrist and guided her sister off into the surging crowd of people, leaving the rest of her family to ponder the odd interaction for a few seconds before hurrying after her.

     Harry watched as the motley group made its way over to the nearby fireplace, and then took a moment to track down Illyria. Still with the Lis. Confident that he had nowhere else he was supposed to be, he turned back to Tonks. "So, where were we?"

     "As I was saying before we were interrupted, this new job you got me is great." Tonks held her hand up, rubbing her thumb and index finger together. "All I have to do is hang out with my favorite second cousin once removed, and I can collect my full auror pay plus a stipend from Dumbledore. That's a pretty sweet deal."

     Letting out a despondent sigh, Harry shook his head. "Great. I picked you because I like you, but even you're just interested in me for the money these days." He allowed Tonks to sputter denials for a few seconds before looking up and chuckling. "Oh stop, I'm not serious."

     "No, you're Harry. Sirius was my cousin."

     Harry paused at that. "You know, I never really took advantage of how many bad jokes I could make at his expense when he was still around. Damn it." He realized that he still felt the loss of his godfather, but it wasn't an all-consuming, black pit of despair or anything along those lines. Maybe he was starting to accept the fact Sirius was gone, and so he was finally able to look back on the good things without his brain immediately jumping back to the Death Chamber? But an in-depth analysis of his psyche could wait until they were somewhere more private, he decided. "Anyway, I don't want to make my uncle wait any longer than he has to, so…"

     "That… fat bastard… can wait." Illyria announced her return with those words and a silently cast spell, wrapping a blue bubble around him, her, and Tonks. The roaring train station abruptly went silent around them, making Harry look around in curiosity. "A two-way sonic barrier, Harry. It will keep their noise out so we can converse with ease, and our noise in so that we cannot be overheard. Nymphadora-"




     "Nymphadora…" Illyria narrowed her eyes as if daring the older witch to contradict her again, and Tonks finally held her hands up in surrender. "I require your services at present to deliver a letter to Luna's father. If you would be willing to take on my face, I would adopt your outfit for the duration of your mission to increase your chances of reaching him and making the delivery unopposed."

     Harry's brow furrowed as he attempted to puzzle that one out, but Tonks untangled the meaning first and translated for him. "You want us to look like identical twins so that I can get to your father without people causing me problems, because they'll think I'm you and not want to get in my way?"

     "Precisely. I will likely require you to take on my appearance in the future as well. However, as you know much more about fashion than either Luna or Harry, I am granting you the honor of deciding upon our wardrobe." Illyria glanced down at herself, and the casual slacks and jumper she'd worn that day melted and reformed into… wow, Tonks had interesting dress sense. A pink bustier with black accents as well as some green for the ties and straps, with the color scheme inverted for her black skirt with pink accents. The pink fishnets that lead down to mismatched socks, as well as the clunky boots with rainbow laces, definitely seemed at home both on Tonks and Luna, though. Still, it was not at all the kind of outfit he expected even a half-blood witch like Tonks to own, or something he ever thought he'd see Luna in someday. Well, Luna's body at least. Illyria looked back up and nodded in satisfaction. "There. Your turn."

     "Bloody hell, imagine the money I could save on clothes if I could change my looks and my outfits?" Tonks screwed her face up in concentration and a bit at a time, her body shifted to match Illyria's. The hair was the most interesting to watch, bubblegum pink braids unwinding and morphing into a long blonde mane streaked with blue. The veining along her hairline and other exposed areas of skin took a bit longer to get precisely right, but finally… "How's this?"

     Leaning close, Illyria ran her hands over Tonks's shoulders and then down her now identical twin's forearms. "Acceptable, at least for someone with no experience at impersonating me." Stepping back she reached into the book bag she still carried, one of a half-dozen things of Luna's she'd kept, and pulled out a letter. "Deliver this to Xenophilius Lovegood in Ottery St. Catchpole. Luna traditionally took the Knight Bus from King's Cross to The Quibbler's office at the end of term, so try there first. After you deliver the letter, you will rendezvous with us at Number Four Privet Drive."

     Tonks looked ready to protest for a moment but Illyria waved her hand and dispelled the charm hiding them, meaning people would soon start noticing that Illyria had multiplied. "Fine, but only this once. I'll be a few different things for you two, but 'owl' isn't on that list." There was a pop and she was gone.

     "As if she could stop me from forcing my will upon her if I wanted her services again." Illyria looked amused enough, though, which was good. "Come now, Harry. It's time to introduce me to your family." Did he have to?

     Evidently yes, Harry discovered, as Illyria looped her arm through his and dragged him through the barrier that separated Platform Nine and Three-Quarters from the muggle world. As he let Illyria pull him along, he saw Mad-Eye Moody, Remus Lupin, and the Weasley parents waiting, likely for him. But Illyria cared little for the machinations of Dumbledore and bypassed them, stomping over to the Dursleys. Stopping in front of them, she stared for a moment before waving her hand and recreating the bubble of silence around them. "I am Illyria, and I shall be staying with Harry this summer. Another will be joining us this evening as well. Were you made aware of this in time to prepare for our arrival?"

     Vernon went from normal to red to an interesting shade of crimson to purple so fast, Harry wondered if his uncle and Tonks secretly shared the same bloodline. "Boy! What is the meaning of this? I wouldn't even tolerate your freakishness in my house if that headmaster of yours didn't force me to. I won't have any others of your kind taking up room and eating our food the way you have."

     A little tendril snaked into his mind and it was then that Harry realized that Illyria didn't monitor him as closely as he had assumed from some of her other comments. 'Sorry, I told Dumbledore I'd do it when appropriate… and I thought this might be the most amusing way. Not to mention, this way I was sure he'd show up and not have moved to India or the Falkland Islands or something to avoid having to house me again.'

     'Intelligent of you. And this will be amusing. You are forgiven.' The tendril pulled out of his mind and Illyria drew herself up to full height… further, even, as the soles of her boots thickened to give her an extra few inches of height. "Perhaps I did not make myself clear enough. I am Illyria the Merciless, God-King of the Primordium and Shaper of Things. I have decided to give your family the honor of receiving me and an attendant for at least two weeks this summer."

     Vernon looked over at Harry who nodded. "Remember that man who killed my parents? Lord Voldemort? We talked about him last summer?" Vernon nodded in response and Harry pointed toward Illyria. "She's stronger than him. Spells that would kill a wizard like me, they just bounce off her."

     Normal to red to dark crimson to purple and now to white as a sheet. Vernon sure came with a very full range of colors, Harry mused. "I, err, I see. And I'm guessing she's not really a girl your age, and can do you-know-what outside of school?"

     "Oh no, Uncle. She's definitely not my age. It's rude to give a woman's exact age away, but…" Harry leaned in and gestured for Vernon to do the same, waiting until his uncle was close enough for him to whisper. "She was around back when wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers were running around. And yes, she knows a lot of magic and doesn't even need a wand for most of it."

     While Vernon was not the brightest man, or even an intellectually average man, he was aware enough of when he was completely and utterly trapped. "I'm not going to kick my son out of his room or anything. She's staying in your room. You can do you-know-what or stack in there like firewood, I don't care."

     "That is acceptable." Vernon jumped back and stared at Illyria in surprise. "Your nephew is my Qwa'ha Xahn. I can choose to hear through his ears, see through his eyes, or even walk in his body should I choose to. And I will use magic to enlarge the room; sleeping accommodations will not be a concern. Just so you are aware, Harry will also be too busy to perform menial labor for you this summer." Vernon puffed up a bit at that and Illyria raised an eyebrow. "Is there a problem?"

     Vernon struggled for a moment before slumping again. "No."

     "And barring unforeseen complications, we shall be bringing magical creatures onto your property."

     "…wonderful. Any other good news?"

     "That is all for now." Gesturing to the large doors leading to the outside world, Illyria returned to her normal height as her boots shifted back and she took up her spot beside Harry before taking down what Harry finally realized was another Notice-Me-Not Charm. "Shall we leave, then?"

     "Right this way, erm, my lady?" Vernon turned tail and fled, grabbing his wife and son and scuttling toward the exit as fast as his stumpy legs could carry him.

     Illyria leaned in as they trailed behind the Dursleys, lowering her voice just enough that it wouldn't carry to their hosts. "You told me he was irrational and might try to lash out at one of us, and I would get to hurt him."

     Shrugging, Harry stared at his uncle's back. Had Dumbledore gotten to the Dursleys first, and used the Imperius Curse or something? Vernon had been far too pliable. "I know. I'm rather pleasantly surprised."

     "This is unacceptable. I was looking forward to doing violence."

     "I know you were. We'll find you something to destroy when we get back to Little Whinging, okay?"

After a longer delay than anticipated, I'm back. That's kinda what happens when you have a wedding to attend, an anime and comic convention to work as a staff photographer at, and then a photoshoot out in 2G territory back-to-back-to-back. While I was out and about, though, I did add about 1500 words to the story as well as cleaning up previous chapters' notes. A bit of it was streamlining descriptions of characters, while the rest was dedicated to rewriting things to accommodate the people who need to be hit upside the head with everything I want conveyed in any given scene for it to sink it properly.

Up next will be 'The Last Night', which will feature things like a visit to the Greengrass-Davis household and a look at their family dynamics, a glimpse into the bowels of the Ministry (but not the bowels of the Minister, because eww), and Harry… doing some gardening. Oh, and don't forget to read and review. Authors love that shit.
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