The Prime Minister stood in the middle of his new office, looking in every direction. This was his first time alone in it since he was nominated after the assassination. He gave a small sigh of half accomplishment and half worry. His first day as Prime Minister had been intense, frazzling, and just downright bizarre.
The day started with riots in all the major cities over the revelation of the magical community and the subsequent double assassination of the Minister of Magic and Prime Minister. The people were demanding answers and their collective voice consisted of everything from protest signs to rocks. Then FM bands all over Britain began to broadcast messages about the war, detailing a group known as the Order of the Phoenix as dangerous criminals fighting against the rightful magical government.
After his appointment to the office earlier in the day his people put together a news package for the evening news, having just enough detail to satisfy public uproar without spreading unneeded fear through the country. That vague news package had contained almost everything that his government knew, for all links with the magical world had died with the assassination of his predecessor and the witch Amelia Bones.
It was hard for the Prime Minister to comprehend such notions silly as magic. It had been just a fairy tale until the day before, but there was no doubt as to its truthfulness. He along with the rest of the world had seen the sickly green spell rush in and steal the lives of two people. He had seen how their bodies were blown backwards into the officials behind them. He had seen how life was snuffed out without mark, blemish, or even hesitation.
His job done, the assassin had spun on his heels and disappeared into thin air with a sharp crack! Just a second afterwards another man stepped forward and wrapped his arm around the corpse of the Minister of Magic, disappearing in exactly the same manner as the assassin. The regular police were left to clear out the crowd and rope off the area. The whole ordeal had lasted a few measly seconds- and everyone magical had disappeared in the blink of an eye. The war there in one second and gone the next, it was as if the world had accidentally seen something it was not supposed to have seen. They had all glimpsed from a dark hallway into the brightly illuminated crack of a door, only to recoil in horror at the light beyond their little hallway.
That had been yesterday morning, and the Prime Minister had not heard anything from the magical section of his government since. Instead he had spent the day supervising his press release, hearing about the riots, and conferring with his advisors about how to respond to the mysterious radio messages, coming from one faction in the shadowy wizard war.
"Bloody mess," the Prime Minister muttered to himself. How was he to do anything without some contact from the magical government? Already a whole day had been wasted.
Sighing, he sunk into his large leather chair. At least one good thing was going to come to pass before the day was out. The Minister of Defense was due to arrive within the hour, bringing with him a report on American forces scheduled to arrive the next morning. The help they were due to receive had been requested by Amelia Bones and helped along by his predecessor. It was a mixed force of both wizard and normal troops. If anything remained of the rightful sector of his magical government then they would be there to meet the American wizards.
The Prime minister wondered if members of the Order of the Phoenix would be present, for he had a number of questions to ask them. Supposedly Bones supported the group, but the radio message had said they were nothing more than rebellious militants. Who was he to believe? Either way it was the only hint he had to find out who the good guys were. It wasn't an opportunity he was going to pass up.
The intercom on the desk in front of him buzzed quietly and his secretary's voice said, "Mr. Prime Minister, your appointment is here."
Leaning forward and pressing the intercom he replied, "Yes, send him in." Sitting back in his chair he folded his hands and waited for the large oak doors on the other side of the office to open in anticipation.
The oak doors did open, but instead of revealing the Minister of Defense an impossibly blond-haired man with a pointed face walked in, a fancy bathrobe trailing behind him. Too late- much, much too late- the Prime Minister realized that it wasn't a bath robe at all, but rather a cloak. "You! You're a-"
"Imperio!" the man said, pointing a stick at him. Immediately the office around the Prime Minister melted away and he found himself floating in a warm nothingness. Colors he couldn't focus on floated around him like a lazy plasma and his muscles relaxed automatically. It was pure peace and contentment, the worries and stresses of his short office evaporating like sweat.
A face appeared in front of him, the same one that had brought him this wonderful peace. It was smiling, the two blue eyes not looking icy or cold, but more like the blue of the sky. "Tell me what you know about the wizarding war," it commanded of him.
The minister was only too happy to answer.
Half an hour later, the Prime Minister's intercom buzzed again with the small voice of his secretary, "You have the Minister of Defense to see you, sir."
"Send him in, make sure the doors are shut behind him."
A short and stout man of fifty walked through the oak doors and into the room, his cheeks slightly baggy but his eyes hard and set in a constant glare. The Prime Minister sat at his desk impassively.
"Albert, it is good to see you."
"Likewise," grunted the short man. He waited a few seconds for a handshake and a seat, but none came.
Instead the white-blond man that had been standing unnoticed in the back of the room raised his wand towards the Minister of Defense and said, "I have you now... Imperio!"
Harry arrived back in the small curtained area in the Great Hall to find Kaycee happily chatting with Ron and Hermione. His heart grew a little to see Kaycee have small pocket of normalcy inside Hogwarts as it slowly returned to normal; patients moving to St. Mungo's when space was made available. She was sitting next to her mother, listening intently as Hermione demonstrated the wand motion for the levitation charm. Harry smiled, reliving the memory of the troll that had brought Hermione over as the third in their little trio.
"Madam Pomfrey let you out so quickly?" Harry asked when he realized that she was out of bed and back in normal clothes.
"Perfect health," Hermione said, holding her arms wide as if to confirm it.
"Good." He took a seat in the empty chair next to Kaycee. "Don't let me stop your lesson."
"I think I have it anyways. Swish and flick," she parroted, doing the wand motion. "I'll practice while you tell us what Ron's brother wanted."
"All right. He wants me to go with him to meet some people. They asked for me because they want me to tell them who to believe."
"Er, well-" Harry said, his eyes darting away to settle on Kaycee practicing the swish and flick motion as she listened, "American military?"
"WHAT!?" both girls screeched.
"Are you crazy?" Kaycee asked just as Hermione said, "Are you daft?"
"No to both," said Harry crossing his arms. "They don't know who to trust. Lucius Malfoy is spreading propaganda to the Muggles over the radio and no one knows who to believe. Supposedly I'm the only confirmed fact for everyone at this point. Besides, Voldemort wouldn't care one bit about Muggle military."
"Maybe," Hermione countered.
"When are you supposed to go, Harry?" asked Ron.
Hermione shook her head, and was about to argue again when Kaycee broke in, "Well, it makes sense if we're being honest. I barely have any idea about this war and I'm right in the middle of it. What would a bunch of soldiers know? I'm sure Harry can take care of himself anyways. Two days ago he was-"
Kaycee stopped in the middle of her sentence and the happiness dropped out of her expression instantly. Harry knew she was thinking of her parents but was at a loss of what do do. He took her hand, hoping she would like it.
Surprisingly Ron also noticed Kaycee's hurt and quickly veered into less painful waters. "I guess you're right. It shouldn't be too dangerous and if Harry's the only one to do it..." He shrugged as if there was nothing else to be said about the topic.
Apparently there wasn't as they talked about the basics of magical theory, allowing Kaycee to learn about the world to which she belonged.
Harry left his friends just under two hours later, getting hugs all around. Everyone was waiting for him when he entered McGonagall's office.
"All right, Harry?" asked Percy.
Percy nodded, "Good. Now there hasn't been any contact between us and the outside since the assassination, but this meeting was already finalized last week. There shouldn't be any surprised parties when we arrive."
Harry nodded, "Who's going?"
"Just you, Kingsley, and I," Percy said, nodding his head to the powerful Auror standing silently to the side.
"That's all we need. I'm the Minister of Magic, Kingsley is head Auror and can double as a representative of the Order, and you. There's going to be a lot of Muggles there that don't know a single thing about wizards, so we don't want to have too intimidating a group."
"But I thought that there were going to be wizards there too," said Harry, confused.
"There are, but the Muggles only found out about us two days ago. I bet the Americans know as little about each other as they know about us." Percy rubbed his eyes and gestured to a letter opener on McGonagall's desk. " The Portkey is ready. We'll be arriving right at the landing point. Kingsley?"
The black Auror came forward, "Let's get this over with quickly," he said. "The Death Eaters aren't very active right now and it has everyone on edge."
"Of course," Percy replied, "Grab hold on my count. Three, two, one..."
Suddenly the office was empty, save for an artificial wind and a worried headmistress.
Major Curtis looked across at his magical counterpart and scowled, "What do you mean 'no contact?' I may not know much about you wizards but where I come from we don't land on friendly soil without permission."
Auror Banks leaned back in his chair, "We did get authorization of course. That was back when there was a government to communicate with. Haven't heard anything since the assassination, but as to why your muggle government hasn't contacted us..." he just shrugged.
Curtis frowned and got out of his chair to pace the room. Their small base consisted of one plain concrete building three stories tall and a large parking lot, all nestled into a small wood in southern England. It had been loaned to them for a headquarters for peacekeeping operations in England, as requested by the now apparently defeated Ministry of Magic. When the joint Marine-Auror motorcade had rolled into the base it was abandoned.
"I don't like it," Curtis stated. "Is there a possibility that they've been subverted?"
"Depending on how much effort is being put into protecting the new muggle administration, maybe."
"Damn." He turned to the Auror, "What do you think?"
"I think it's too early to tell," the Auror replied honestly. "Let's just get the defenses up as quickly as possible and hope that a contingent from the Ministry of Magic arrives soon. We're in a hostile environment until we know otherwise."
The Major nodded in agreement, "How is your part coming along?"
Banks stood and walked over to the window, pulling up the blinds and looking out at the parking lot two stories below. It was bustling with activity, uniformed Marines moving back and forth with various duties, erecting tents, barbed wire fencing, and guard towers. The Humvees that had carried the battalion (consisting of just over five hundred men) were parked neatly off to one side of the lot. Sprinkled in with the camouflaged men below were wizards in black robes, sticking out like burnt rice that had found its way into a white bag. The battalion had been briefed shortly on their presence, and a full explanation on the nature of the joint operation was going to happen when they were settled.
"Looks like initial warding is close to completion." The sky above the base suddenly shimmered yellow as the wards were erected, to much exclamation on the ground below. "Perimeter wards were just erected."
"And they do what, again?" asked the Major, approaching the window to peer at the yellow-tinted sky.
"Makes a big fuss when someone tries to cross them. Takes quite a bit of effort to actually push through them as well; like wading through a swamp. Ones that go out a few miles should be coming up soon as well."
"Radar," the Major muttered to himself. "Very good."
Just then an empty area at the edge of the tree line seemed to fold in on itself. The painted lines on the asphalt bunched up and then uncoiled, like an inching worm,. The space squashed in and then bulged out, as if the very fabric of space was bursting to rip. Suddenly, sourceless light burst out before the space returned to normal, revealing three new travelers in cloaks as it did so.
The Marine that had been posted to guard the tree line in that area reacted quickly. He shouldered his rifle and shouted something that the two men couldn't hear. Two travelers spread their arms wide, showing themselves to be no threat, but the third man stood unmoving.
The soldier aimed his rifle at the unmoving man and shouted again. Still unmoving, the man stared back at the soldier for a few long seconds.
"Just do it, boy!" the Major growled to himself. "Your wizards don't know anything about the danger they're in." The Auror nodded in agreement.
Then it happened. The man's right hand plunged into his left sleeve and his whole body glowed red. The Marine fired twice into the man's chest, and the wizard stumbled backwards and quickly sent a spell at the guard, making him fly backwards and drop his rifle, before falling to the ground himself.
"Damn it all!" the Major said and ran from the room, Banks close on his heels. They burst out the doors of the building a few seconds later and ran to the quickly escalating commotion at the far side of the lot. Nearby marines who had heard the shots were running in and shouting at the travelers.
"One of the Ministry got themselves killed already!" the Major shouted to Banks as they ran towards the quickly forming circle. "Marines stand down!" Curtis shouted as he reached the Marines that had surrounded the three wizards. "These are friendlies!"
Curtis and Banks broke through the circle to see the two men and one older teen, all with their wands out. How the hell was the boy standing again? Curtis rested his right hand on his holstered pistol as the supposed to be dead boy brought up his wand in defense.
"You aren't dead," the Major said, stunned. He turned to look at Curtis to see that the wizard was just as surprised. "Why aren't you dead?"
"After the Killing Curse, a piece of metal doesn't scare me all that much," the boy said, his face slightly pained. He brushed his sweating hair out of his eyes to reveal a scar on his forehead and the Major heard Curtis gasp from beside him.
"Harry Potter!" the Head Auror exclaimed loudly.
"Is this the contingent from the Ministry of Magic?" Curtis asked Banks quietly, and Banks nodded.
"Very good then. At least one thing went right today." Major Curtis looked to the Marines, listening intently to the exchange. "Back to your jobs, Marines! Briefing in 1500!"
The area cleared out after a sharp salute from every man who had heard and left just the Ministry contingent, Curtis, Banks, and the downed guard who had confronted the kid.
Curtis picked up the rifle and handed it to the marine, "Report to medical for a checkup and get back to your post." The man snapped a salute and left without a word.
"And you," Curtis said, "You need a medic?"
The boy named Harry Potter shook his head and lifted his shirt. The skin on his stomach had two impressive black and blue bruises. He cast a spell on the marks and they quickly shrank to angry red welts. "I'm fine."
The Major nodded, his eyes wide at the usefulness of magic, and beckoned the three to follow him. "Let's get to the meeting room and you can explain what exactly is happening here. You're the first contact we've had."
"No contact from the Muggles yet?" Percy asked.
"Briefing room," Banks said, "Not all the defences are up yet. We can't take the risk of anyone hearing."
The five men moved inside the grey building and up the stairwell to the third floor meeting room.
"Now," the Major said, "Let's have some introductions all around. I am Major Curtis, U.S. Marines. This is Head Auror Banks, leading the group that has piggybacked here with us."
The redheaded man came forward and shook their hands. "Percy Weasley, Minister of Magic. This is Head Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, doubling as a liason from the Order of the Pheonix. And this is Harry Potter."
Curtis eyed the Potter kid closely, looking at his posture and expression. It was obvious he was a fighter, being the only one of the three to disarm the guard that had confronted them. The kid was special, sure, but it still wasn't a good enough reason for him to be taking the front lines in a war.
He wanted to ask the question carefully, as he would be the first to admit that he didn't know much about wizards. "Son, aren't you a little young to be here?"
The young wizard looked at the Major with a steely gaze and said, "You may want to ask that question to the kid I knocked down, sir. He's a few years older than me, but I've seen more than half of your men."
"Mr. Potter was the downfall of the man that's causing all of the trouble now." replied Minister Weasley. "We had almost sixteen years of peace because Harry and the only reason Voldemort's back is because the rest of us didn't finish the job."
"Major, I requested that he came with the others," Banks said. "At this point he's the only one that we can trust because of his history with the enemy. Also, he's Dumbledore's apprentice."
"Not officially," Harry mumbled, looking at the floor. Curtis was at a loss as to who Dumbledore was.
"Actually," countered Banks, "You are. There was a bit of a stir over on our side when he announced you. It was probably kept quiet in your school to avoid any problems. Dumbledore was one of the top ranked duelists in the world and we were rather interested to see who would succeed him."
Harry looked up and shrugged. "Doesn't matter anyways. Official or not I still learned what I learned. He still died."
"That's true," Banks conceded. "But what's past is past. Right now we need to plan for the future." He looked towards Shacklebolt, "You're liason for the Order of the Phoenix as well? So I assume that they're fully integrated with the government?"
"For the time being," Shacklebolt replied. "No actual administration is happening at the moment. All our efforts are going into locating pockets of Death Eaters and protecting Muggle citizens. The number of random attacks has increased dramatically since the Battle of Hogwarts."
"Your Order," the Major pointed to Shacklebolt and Percy, "is the wizard militia. Is that correct?" They nodded. He looked to Harry, "And they're fighting against this Voldemort." Harry nodded. "What exactly is he trying to accomplish? Do we have a name for his group?"
"They're called Death Eaters, and his goal is to rule. He is power-hungry and obsessed with fear and control."
"I see." Curtis said quietly. "Now, where are the attacks on the population happening?"
"Death Eaters tend to stay away from the large cities and go for rural areas just outside the city limits," answered Shacklebolt.
"And what is your biggest challenge when you confront the Death Eaters?"
"It's been hard to either capture or kill them before they Disapparate." At the confused look on the Major's face, Banks explained what Apparition was.
To his credit Curtis took it in stride. "The killing is easy," he said. "What is hard is winning. How is this war going to end?"
Harry spoke up. "The only way that it will finish is when Voldemort is dead."
"Getting followers is easy for him," Percy said, "The Imperious Curse makes sure of that. Before he wanted people who would serve him loyally. Now all he needs are bodies to do grunt work."
"The fanatical type then. Now, how are you finding the Death Eaters when they attack?"
"Very similarly to the way we used to detect underage magic- except now we look for the unforgivable curses."
Banks nodded and briefly explained it to Curtis. Together the men slowly worked out a strategy for taking on the Death Eaters...
High above the newly established American base and twenty kilometers out, Capitan O'Neal spoke into his microphone, "This is strike team leader approaching drop zone."
An operator from miles away answered his request, "Strike team leader, drop zone approach confirmed. Munitions coming online now."
A red button in front of O'Neal lit up, and he couldn't help but grimace slightly. What was he doing up here, bombing his own soil? It didn't matter. He had his orders and had to trust them. What was anything without order? Shaking his head in resignation he checked his distance. Go time.
Removing his mask and easing back on the engines, O'Neal said, "Flight team leader in range." He pressed the red button that had remained lit for the last minute. "Munitions away."
With that O'neal turned sharply and accelerated to supersonic speeds, his job done. He shook his head as the rest of his team confirmed their drops through his headset. There was no way that this would end up well.
The Minister of Defense thanked the subordinate that had informed him of the successful bombing of the insurgent base and hung up the phone. He sat in his office with a blank look in his eyes, no reaction to the fact that he had just destroyed the help that the government had requested not a week earlier.
The sky above Harry flashed yellow and a sourceless alarm rang through the base. The unmistakable supersonic boom of a jet aircraft shook him to his core as he looked up. There, moving slowly through the wards like a man swimming through honey were ten cylindrical objects with fins on the back.
The marine next to him cursed loudly and yelled, "Get down! Bombs!"
Harry had seen enough war movies back at the Dursleys to know what they were. He lifted his wand and began casting spells at the distant objects. He was able to make a few dissapear before the first ones got through the wards where they quickly gained speed with normal gravity returned to them. The first one detonated across the parking lot, destroying half the vehicles and a guard tower. The next two detonated much closer and the shockwave almost knocked him off of his feet.
Harry ran towards the command building, continually casting spells at the falling bombs and dodging the men running around him in every direction. He was able to make a few more dissapear before one detonated too closely. Harry curled into a ball and cast the strongest shield spell that came to his mind. He was thrown through the air, protected by his shield as he hit the wall of the concrete building. The last bomb detonated on the other side of the building. It fell down around him in a cacophany of cracking rock and groaning metal...
And so the Muggle war began.
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