Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 30

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30

They ended up in Oslo, which still had a fair amount of muggles roaming around. There was little point in bothering with Trondheim any longer due to the steady attacks, ever increasing wards, and removal of rubble and destroyed buildings. Harry was gratified to see Viktor taking out everything he felt on the draugr, finally having an outlet for all the rage he just knew his husband had penned up inside him.

He was doing some of the same himself, almost gleefully setting things on fire. He even caught himself laughing at one point, which caused Draco to give him a weird look. He found it vastly entertaining to use Chain Lightning and watch the electricity arc from one draugr to another, to see them all shake. By the time they were worn out Viktor was in a much better mood, which made Harry happy. It had been a good idea.

That night he slowly leaned in and kissed his husband for the first time in a while.

“I don’t think we should go anywhere near Hircine,” he said after they showered.

Viktor shook his head. “Hircine might not be evil, per se, but I’d just as soon stay away. I don’t want to be thrown into a hunt where I might be the prey, just for the chance at better dealings with werewolves.”

Harry finally got to meet his sister. His mother brought a bassinet down to dinner that evening, one with a sound-muting charm on it so conversation wouldn’t disturb her, but so that Lily could spend time with everyone. Harry thought she looked really tired. His sister looked cute enough, but then, she was his sister. He was supposed to think that. Her eyes were still “baby blue” and he wondered when they would change, and to what colour.

“It’s really kind of weird having a sister eighteen years younger than I am,” he murmured, then carefully gave his mother a hug.

She settled her arms around him loosely, then sat back and smiled at him. “But I had so much fun making her!” For just a split second her expression twisted in remorse at her unthinking jest, but then she pasted a smile on her face.

He crouched down next to her chair so he could whisper. “Don’t—don’t change your behavior too much, okay? Be you. It upsets me when people walk on eggshells. I mean, I’d rather you didn’t ask about it, but—”

“Okay,” she whispered back. “I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see it if you act a bit odd, until I no longer have to not see it anymore.”

“Or something like that. We’ll get beyond it. Eventually.” He could hear Viktor quietly conversing with Pavel in the background. “How are you holding up?” he asked, nodding toward Clover.

“She’s exhausting, but less so than the last time. I mean, I had two of you to take care of. Even with house-elves it’s a lot of work. Severus is torn between his base dislike of children and bemusement over this little creature he helped make.”

Harry glanced over at his step-father to see the same exhaustion, but also the secretively fond looks he cast at Clover. Maybe he would tease the man later on. They would hopefully get back to working on his Potions Mastery, after all. Well—he stood up and moved around to Severus’s side so he could ask, “Ah, I know you’re probably really busy of late, but, is there some kind of schedule I can be following that won’t always need your presence? I’ve already lost a couple of weeks on my mastery work.”

While Severus was thinking he glanced over at Viktor again, wondering if he would be all right going back to quidditch practices. If anything, the timing of their abduction and initial recovery coincided with the holiday, so it wasn’t as though any absence had to be explained. But then, a seeker’s job wasn’t to wave a beater’s bat around and try to knock other people out of the sky. Perhaps flying in and of itself would give Viktor some sense of release, or freedom, from events.

“Yes,” Severus eventually said, “but I would feel better if you were to have someone with you. Even Draco would do. You know how volatile some potions can be.”

He nodded. “I can do that. Just get me something. I need a little extra stability.”

Severus’s countenance darkened for a moment. “I will.”

Life went on. Harry got a lot less twitchy and angry, Viktor became a lot less bitter and angry, and they continued to go out on hunting trips to keep down the draugr population, as well as remove any uppity dragons. If they weren’t willing to listen to Paarthurnax, well, so be it. Harry had also taken to listening to those music spheres Yuki had gifted him, though he refrained from singing unless he was alone, to spare the ears of others.

They were on another hunting trip in Oslo, mainly because that city hadn’t been bombed into nothingness yet and still had a number of muggles hiding out in it. In some countries there were muggle-haters joining in on the “fun” of killing off the muggles, but that did not seem to be happening in Norway, much to Harry’s relief. Perhaps it was because Norway was a formerly neutral country (even though it had only really lasted about thirty-five years that century) and right next to Sweden, which still was. That sort of thing might have filtered down to the magical population in some way.

Tom, Severus, and Barty were along—Severus had desperately needed a break and Lily hadn’t minded, so he was dragged along. They had finally gotten word about the exact location of Nurmengard and the surrounding territory, and were all out to bleed off the frustration of arguing back and forth over how to plan an invasion of the place.

“You know the drill, people,” Harry said, using Aura Whisper to get an idea of what was around. The bracelets, while very helpful, did not have the same range his Shout did, so he still used it every so often. Even his vampiric version of revealing auras had more range. “South, indeterminates, with hostiles closing in from the west.”

Tom nodded and gestured, so off they went, pausing to scavenge anything of use along the way. Harry had his usual weapons in place, and even Viktor had a set of daggers strapped to his thighs, Harry having managed to create some very credible ones fashioned from dragon bones and enchanted with Shock and Paralyze.

He sighed on getting close enough to the confrontation. Half the muggles were dead and the other half were in the process of dying. Draugr were all over the place, though surprisingly there was a dead giant present. “Do you think the muggles have guns?” he whispered.

“I don’t hear anything like that,” Viktor said, sweeping his gaze around the area. “Besides, where could they possibly still be getting ammunition? Unless they’re making it themselves. There are certainly enough hunters in this country.”

Tom said, “Less talk, more action.”

“Right.” Harry swung his bow around and drew an arrow, and set to work. The giant was pressed into service once it became clear that, once again, they were not going to be able to save anyone. He also got to absorb two more dragon souls. He had just finished absorbing the second one when Severus sucked in a sharp breath and caused Harry to whip around to see what was wrong.

Heading toward their group was Albus Dumbledore, leading a bunch of his people.

“For the love of Mara,” he muttered. “What are they doing here?” He turned away again and went back to shooting draugr, seriously unhappy that Dumbledore had probably witnessed him absorbing that soul and knew there was something very special about him.

Dumbledore and his people apparently did not have any ethical issues with “killing” the undead and they simply joined in. As soon as the current batch was wiped out Harry moved behind Viktor and out of the line of sight so he could use Aura Whisper again, then said softly in Japanese, East of here. Hostiles only right now. Probably roaming for a target.

Tom cast a covert look at Dumbledore’s group, then nodded, so Harry led the way. Naturally, the Britons followed them. A swift look over his shoulder revealed that Dumbledore looked like he was having a grand time, which was odd considering he had heart problems. James was with him, which made Harry’s stomach clench with unease, along with Sirius, Remus, and some woman with neon-bright hair he had never seen before.

“It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?” Dumbledore said conversationally.

Harry rolled his eyes up to the sky in a silent plea and kept going, feeling comforted by the feeling of Viktor’s hand at his waist. He was rather surprised that the old man wasn’t questioning the former Death Eater in their midst. They arrived at the next batch and started in again.

“I was hoping,” Dumbledore said during a brief lull, “that we could speak about combining forces.”

Fucking hell,he complained.

Just ignore him,Viktor said, downing yet another draugr.

He could hear James, off to the side, wondering out loud why his not-squib son was using a bow, of all things, instead of magic.

Can I accidentally-on-purpose shoot him?he asked hopefully.

No,Tom said curtly, then looked sharply toward a familiar sound.

Harry groaned. Two giants? . . .One dragon. Just great. I wouldn’t care if these idiots weren’t along for the ride.

Complaining won’t solve the issue,Severus said. Worry about them later. Or not at all, if we simply portkey out once this batch is handled.

One giant was killed just as the dragon crashed down, unable to fly any longer. Harry pressed the giant into service; after all, the Britons had already seen him do weird things.

“What the hell language is that, anyway?” he heard Sirius say.

“Ah, Japanese,” Remus replied, taking out a draugr that got too close.

Harry had put an arrow right through the dragon’s eye, killing it, when disaster struck. The beast’s soul started to stream toward him, and then it all went black after an agonizing pain to the back of his head.

Harry kept his eyes closed when he woke, already aware that he had been stripped of his gear and weapons, even his rings. He listened carefully and heard three men nearby, speaking quietly, saying such awful things about what they planned to do with him. They were speaking in German. He slit his eyes open just enough to take in what was around him.

He was in a cell. Bare stone walls, a rough cot, and a door with a grate at about head height so that his jailers could see in, but only if they were standing right there. A twist of his vision showed that they were nowhere near the door, and one of them was seated. Two of them moved away, to go prepare for Harry’s “interrogation”.

‘More like torture,’ he thought. ‘So, first thing, get out of this cell. Second, retrieve my gear.’ He slid off the cot soundlessly and cast invisibility, then ghosted over to the door. He paused to do another check to see if anyone else was nearby or moving in his direction, then aimed a paralyzation spell through the grate. The guard stiffened up and slid sideways off his chair, hitting the stone floor with a muted thud.

Harry backed up, considered for a moment, then Shouted, “Bex!” The cell door popped open with ease, causing him to smile faintly. The unfortunate guard had his mind plundered before being drained. He had, after all, been getting a decent workout before being kidnapped, and was hungry. All his things were being kept in a lockbox at the guard station. Apparently they planned to sort through everything later, preferably after they had gotten him to talk. He had only just finished getting dressed and got everything back into place when the auras of the two from before showed up again, moving toward him.

The dead guard was tossed into the cell and the door closed, and Harry slipped into the shadows, and waited, and then threw out a mass paralyzation spell. The quieter he was, the better. He read their minds, too, then dragged them into the cell and slit their throats. With no one else shown to be coming he finally reached for his bracelet to trace a message out to Tom: Nurmengard. Status good. Three dead.

He realized he was feeling a little off when he started giggling quietly. ‘I think those might have been the first proper humans I’ve ever killed,’ he thought. ‘Well, aside from Miraak.’ He flipped his chain-mail Chameleon bracelet over and walked off, looking for more members of Gellert’s forces to kill, but had to stop and check his message bracelet when it twitched and alerted him to a response. He ran his finger over the metal, then let out a quiet huff of frustration and flipped his chain-mail bracelet over, unable to read the message clearly just by feel.

Tom sent: Situation?

He cleared it and sent back: Escaped cell. Killing minions. He flipped his chain-mail bracelet back over and skulked off. As long as he was there he might well wipe out anyone he could find. And, perhaps, figure out what the deal was with the ruin the place was built on top of. He could only imagine the arguments that were going on back wherever Tom was—Skyrim, probably, because he could not see them all standing around with Dumbledore’s idiots watching on—about how to respond.

He had killed several more of Gellert’s men—he always checked their minds first, just in case—before his bracelet twitched again.

Tom: Portkey out?

Harry: Wards.

Tom: We’re coming.

He bit his lip and looked around, then sent: Will keep an eye out.

Because of that he stayed visible, but kept to the shadows. A glance out one of the windows showed that he was several floors up, so he moved methodically through each level and cleared them out, also stowing away anything of interest. He was on the first floor and had just taken out two more minions when a wavering blue blob showed up in his peripheral vision. He checked with Aura Sight and saw three gold life-forms moving around on the floor below him. He sent: First floor. Clearing it out.

He was shortly joined by Tom, Viktor, and Serana. Viktor immediately rushed to him and pulled him into a hug, then started checking him over.

“I’m fine. Between the enchantments and vampiric healing, whatever they did is. . . .”

“They bludgeoned you,” Viktor whispered. “I turned when the dragon died, to help as I always do, and saw it happen. They had crept in behind us all in the confusion. Portkeyed you away before any of us could stop it.”

“We wouldn’t have been so damn distracted if Dumbledore hadn’t been there,” he snarled. “I’ve already killed everyone I could find on the floors above,” he said more normally. “I checked them all first, though. Haven’t run across any other prisoners.”

Tom nodded. “Your giant went berserk when you were taken. It started clubbing anything that moved. We tried to get a portkey trace, but so much magic had been used already it was useless, so we left.”

Viktor produced his bow and handed it over. Harry took it and put it away. “I’m feeling a little giddy, so if I start giggling again, pay it no mind.”

Viktor frowned, but Serana just looked knowing.

“So, since we’re here, want to find out about that ruin?” he asked.

Serana looked at Tom and shrugged, a faint smirk on her lips. Viktor growled; that was no surprise. Tom nodded. “We’re here. We wanted to do this anyway. This just wasn’t the way—let’s go. We’ll take out everyone here, find the access point. . . .”

“Okay,” Serana said briskly. “Let’s get to it.”

Serana and Tom made up one team, Harry and Viktor the other. The fortress went down a good ten levels underground and they systematically wiped out every one of Gellert’s minions who had the misfortune to be there, and liberated anything of value or possible importance. Eventually they came to a very odd room on the lowest level.

Serana just nodded and pointed at how the walls were carved. “That’s Nordic, all right. Very typical. And that, my friends, is a claw key door.”

Harry eyed her for a moment, then pulled out a stylized talon. “Like this, you mean?”

“Yes. Was that the only one you found?”

He nodded.

“Perfect. Look on the underside. It should have symbols that’ll match up to those rings on the door.”

Sure enough, the claw had three small discs with symbols on the “palm” of the thing. “Bear, owl, dragon?”

Serana nodded and moved forward, then started forcing the rings to spin, one by one, then held her hand out. Harry gave her the claw and she slotted the talons into place, pushed, turned, and then let it rotate back before removing it from the door. The whole thing began to rumble and slowly slide down. “Nords were pretty clever in making these things such that they lasted millennia, but they weren’t exactly. . . .”

“Bright?” he suggested. “I mean, I just grabbed it because it looked interesting. But if I’d stopped to examine it more closely. . . .”

“Yeah. Exactly.” She handed the claw back. “You’d be surprised, though, just how many Nords of Valdis’s time were too dull to figure that much out, even having a claw and a door right in front of them.”

“Well, I probably would have remembered myself given a little time. Valdis certainly mentioned more than a few of these,” he said, feeling a bit stupid for not having made the connection before Serana had pointed it out.

“We have to decide what to do, here,” she said, keeping an eye on the then open door. “Do we investigate deeper, or. . . .?”

He looked at Tom, who was eyeing the access point thoughtfully. “The most I expect to find is more draugr, to be honest. However, if we plan to destroy any possibility of Grindelwald ever accessing the place again, we should have at least some idea how deep the rabbit hole goes so we’d have a better idea of how to approach and resolve the issue.”

Harry used Aura Whisper and did a slow circuit. No one was approaching from the fortress, which meant Gellert was elsewhere still. There were definitely hostiles inside the ruin, though. “Well, there’s something in there, and on more than one level.”

Tom finally nodded, as if to himself. “We make a quick foray inside. We have no idea when Grindelwald will return and realize his people are all dead. We can’t necessarily afford to stay here much longer.”

With that they pressed on inside, slaying draugr and poking around. According to Serana it was nothing special, though there was no telling just how deep the place went. Three levels down Tom called for them to halt. Once there he said, “I’m not willing to risk going deeper. Harry, do a check for warm bodies while I consider this.”

He nodded and used Aura Whisper again. There was the barest hint of some kind of life in the distance, but it was so faint he could not tell what it might be. When he reported that Tom nodded and led them on a retreat. When they got to the room with the stairs leading to the door level he stopped and began etching runes into the floor. “Cover the room in this rune sequence, quickly. Walls, floor, ceiling. I’ll power it up once that’s done.”

Harry took a good look and started working. For some reason Tom wanted to blanket the room with protection, but for what purpose he could not divine. With three of them at it the work went quickly. Tom ushered them up onto the stairs and used his rings to push magic into them and one by one they glowed with power.

Before they retreated again he moved to the door opposite and conjured a whole lot of lava. Harry was more than a little in awe of just how powerful Tom was, and for all he knew the man was translocating the stuff straight from a volcano. When Viktor saw what he was doing he joined in, until Tom signaled that it was enough.

They retreated up to the door level and, after Tom and Viktor had a quick whisper, the two began conjuring some kind of oil, using gusts of air to spread it out to coat everything. They kept doing that all the way out, Harry keeping watch, until they were back on the other side of the claw door. Tom waved them back, aimed his wand through the door, and sent Gubraithian Fire at the oil.

“Time to go,” Tom said. “Use your bracelets. I’ll lead, you follow my heartbeat.”

And off they went.

Back at Skyrim Lily burst into tears on seeing him. She rushed over and engulfed him in a hug, sobbing all over him.

A week later word filtered in that Gellert was pissed. And for some reason he was taking it out on Britain. Even the smaller muggle settlements were going up in firestorms.

“Maybe he figured out where I originated from?” Harry mused.

“It’s possible,” Lily said. “I mean, someone on his side obviously caught you in action, knew you were a threat. So long as he knew what you looked like he could probably figure it out if he’d seen any pictures of James and Edward.”

“So he may think I retreated back to our beloved homeland after being kidnapped and escaping?” he asked skeptically.

“I don’t know, honey, but it’s a possibility. I mean, Dumbledore and James were there. That may be exactly what he thinks.”

“It’s not outside reason,” Severus said.

“So basically, if we plan to go after him, we either wait until he’s somewhere else, or just go there and hope to stumble over a fight he’s participating in.”

“Essentially.” Tom shrugged.

“We still have no real idea of why I’m the one, but I am feeling more than a little peeved at being kidnapped by the guy’s flunkies. True, I took next to no real damage and did my own bit to put a serious dent in his operation, but I really feel like I ought to do something about him, at some point. Then maybe some bright soul can figure out how to trace where his minions are, the ones creating all these damn draugr, and take them out, too.”

Lily sighed. “I kept hoping a day like that would never come. You know, that he’d suffer an inconvenient accident, choke on a chicken bone, something along those lines.”

In the end, four of them temporarily moved to the house in Hogsmeade, a good a place as any to scout out the situation. And if Grindelwald believed that Harry had retreated to the auspices of Albus Dumbledore, well, then they’d be reasonably close by should the man decide to attack Hogwarts.

The day finally arrived that Grindelwald marched his forces on the school, sending wave after wave of draugr on ahead of him to announce the start of that day’s entertainment. Harry, Viktor, Tom, and Serana all made sure they were geared up and slipped in behind Gellert’s forces.

“You dare!” the man roared. He sounded a bit upset that they had wiped out a number of the draugr accompanying him as a guard.

“I could have sneaked up behind you and kidnapped you,” Harry called to him. “You know, like you did to me?”

Gellert cackled. “And it was so easy, too!”

Harry rolled his eyes.

“You have no idea what you’re dealing with, boy! I have more power than you can imagine!” he crowed.

Tom muttered something under his breath in disgust, even too low for Harry to make out, and shook his head slightly.

“Is this the part where the bad guy goes off on a Soliloquy of Evil before launching into the big battle?” Harry said quietly.

Tom surreptitiously cast a few detection wards around them, to alert them should anyone attempt to sneak up from behind. Even though the vampires of the party would hear something approaching, once the fighting started for real, they wouldn’t have that luxury any longer.

There was a fair amount of fighting going on at the other side of the army. He had to assume that Dumbledore’s Order was involved, maybe some of the staff. After all, school was in session, so Grindelwald had to be betting that his old nemesis would come out in order to protect the students. Or maybe he had expected that Harry would have come out.

Harry was feeling just a bit cocky, if he was honest with himself. Maybe Yuki had had more effect on him than he realized. Or, maybe, being kidnapped by Molag Bal and—yeah. And then kidnapped again. Maybe he was just cracked at that point. He waited not so patiently through Grindelwald’s grand speech—it would have been more impressive had the man actual living minions with him—and then blinked in utter shock.

“Did he just say something about a pact with Alduin?”

“Yes, yes he did,” Serana replied.

“What does that mean?” Viktor asked, then glanced back behind them briefly.

“Don’t have a clue,” she said, “but I expect it’s not the least bit good.”

“It sort of makes me wonder: did this happen when he fought Dumbledore? Did he have his Soliloquy of Evil, and did Dumbledore then have one, before they actually got around to the fighting part?”

Tom snorted in amusement.

Gellert finally shut up for a few seconds longer than normal, then yelled, “Witness my power! Tremble before me!”

Harry sighed and readied himself, then blinked again in shock when Gellert transformed into a massive dragon, at least three times the size of a normal one, and launched himself into the air. “Oh,” he said in bemusement. “I guess that’s why.”

He cracked his knuckles, got his bow ready, and tracked the dragon’s flight path. As it turned toward them and made to do a strafing run at them, he inhaled deeply and Shouted, “Joor Zah Frul!”

The dragon screamed and crashed into the ground and slid, earth flying up to either side. Tom and Serana went left, Harry and Viktor went right, and all four of them began to attack. The second his throat cleared he Shouted, “Krii Lun Aus!” He kept nailing the dragon with arrows between Shouts while the others laid into it with whatever magic or magicka seemed best. Serana and Viktor would occasionally check the space behind them and to the sides, even with the proximity wards Tom had cast up. An actual living minion might show up and cast from a distance.

Joor Zah Frul!—Strun Bah Qo!” He was . . . extremely surprised and puzzled as to why Gellert didn’t change back, actually. In the end it didn’t matter. Marked for Death had seriously weakened the dragon’s resilient hide, Storm Call had rain to blur its eyes and arcs of lightning to hit not only the dragon but also the draugr, and Dragonrend, of course, to keep him on the ground. Gellert’s fire breath in that form was simply fire, and that was nothing really to be alarmed about, even as a vampire, not with all those embedded enchantments.

The only thing Harry wasn’t surprised by was that when Gellert died, he merely, immediately, transformed back to himself, and he did not absorb the man’s soul. After all, he was just a human who had some “pact” with a real dragon.

Harry refrained from using Storm Call again because he could see that the Hogwarts forces had gotten a lot closer and he didn’t want to completely ruin their vision while there were still plenty of draugr to be killed. So he used his bow, Fire Breath, and Lightning Storm against them. As soon as they were down to the last few he stowed his bow against his back and he and Viktor moved closer to Tom and Serana.

The last one went down to a Shock spell sent by Serana. Dumbledore, James, and the others were standing a few hundred yards away, just stunned at the spectacle Harry had created during the fight. Harry looked at the others, saw they were ready to apparate away, and sent a cheeky wave at Dumbledore as he took Viktor’s arm and Serana took Tom’s. Then they left.

Epilogue

It was a fine day outside. It was pissing rain and thunder rumbled threateningly overhead. Lightning cracked and arced through the sky in a glorious display of nature's fury. Harry and Viktor were taking a walk after having worn themselves out in the bedroom, knowing that the rain would be refreshing and the lightning, should it hit them, would barely tickle. And then a portal opened up right in front of them and they entered it before they could stop moving.

Some indeterminate amount of time later they reappeared in the forest. They returned to Skyrim, to a number of people who were, admittedly, feeling a bit frantic at their disappearance.

“There’s something I need to do,” Harry said, more or less ignoring all the questions.

Viktor looked at him and nodded. “There is.”

“Which is?” Tom demanded.

“There’s a little something I need to reclaim,” Harry said cheerfully.

“Is that—is that what I think it is?” Serana asked, eyes wider than normal.

“This?” Harry twirled the staff in his hand and smiled at her. “I don’t know, my dear. I’ve not bothered to read your mind.”

Serana covered her eyes with one hand and groaned.

It was then that Tom noticed neither Harry nor Viktor had markings on their hands any longer. “What the hell happened?”

“It’s called apotheosis, Tom,” Harry said. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, we can talk more later.” He reached out to take Viktor’s arm, and the two of them disappeared into a pale purple portal.

At Hogwarts the two of them strolled on up to the gargoyle outside Dumbledore’s office suite and Harry tapped it smartly on the head with his staff. “Open up.”

The gargoyle ignored him.

Harry used the Wabbajack and it turned into a mouse, which skittered off in a squeaking panic. He sighed theatrically and entered the stairwell with his husband, and let it wind them upward. At the top he went down the short hallway and rapped several times on the large door there with the metal cap of the staff.

After a startled silence the door popped open and they heard, “Come in, please.”

He walked in and twirled the staff, then pointed with it and conjured up a wonderful little loveseat, though it was strangely higher off the ground than was usual, then the two of them took a seat and stared at the old man.

“Mr Krum? Mr Evans?”

“That would be Messrs Krum, actually. Surely you heard that we were bonded last summer,” Harry said disapprovingly. “After all, Viktor is a teensy bit famous. I heard the girls all fainted in distress when they heard the news.”

“Er. . . . Would either of you like some tea? Some nibbles?” Dumbledore offered like a good host, eyeing the grapefruit perched on Harry’s left shoulder.

Harry shook his head. “No, no, haven’t the time, I’m afraid,” he said, resting the Wabbajack against his right shoulder, more or less parallel to the floor.

“All right. May I say, you were magnificent at the battle,” Dumbledore said, somewhere between admiring and dismayed. “Was that Tom I spotted with you?”

Harry looked at Viktor for a moment, letting his brow crinkle slightly. “I’m fairly certain that was his name. But then, I know at least half a dozen people named Tom. You sort of lose track after a while. Now, to the purpose of our visit.”

“Oh?” Dumbledore peered at him intently, then winced and touched his hand to his temple.

“Oh dear, I do hope you weren’t tempted to peek. I’ve been told it’s bedlam in there!” Harry said brightly. “So many interesting events in my life, you know. Could easily drive a man insane. So. I have come to understand that one of your little people has an artifact of mine. I figured since the Big Blowout Battle at the End came up right on schedule that I would reclaim it.”

Dumbledore looked a bit discombobulated at that.

Harry was helpful and said, “Yes. An artifact. Of mine. I understand that some Edward person has it.”

“Forky?” the grapefruit said hopefully, in an adorably babyish voice.

“Yes, Stanley. I know how you miss him. Don’t fret, we’ll get him back.”

The grapefruit beamed a smile.

“Ah, I’ll just send a note asking him to come up, shall I?” Dumbledore finally said, eyeing the grapefruit warily.

“Splendid!”

Dumbledore set about writing a short note and called for a house-elf to deliver it. When he looked back up it was to see that the grapefruit was on Viktor’s shoulder and Harry was having a staring contest with Fawkes.

“I wonder how well draugr work as an alternative fuel source,” Harry mused. “I mean, they burn awfully well. Not so sure about the smell, though.”

Dumbledore coughed uncomfortably and fetched a sherbet lemon from a dish on his desk and popped it into his mouth while waiting.

Eventually Edward barreled up the stairs and said, as he entered the office, “Headmaster, did you know your gargoyle is missing?”

“Is it?”

“I know you,” Edward said somewhat accusingly. “You’re Krum. And—”

“Your long lost twin!” Harry caroled, not deviating from his staring contest. “Isn’t it wonderful? But that’s not why I’m here.” Fawkes finally blinked, then huffed, so Harry turned his gaze on his brother. “You are, however it happened to come to be, in possession of an artifact of mine. I’m sure you’d love to be rid of it.”

“Forky?” Stanley repeated, just as hopefully.

Edward looked down at his left hand and scowled. “This damn thing?” He thrust his hand out rudely.

As Harry reached out to pluck the Fork of Horripilation away the hand holding the Wabbajack twitched. Remus, who had been doing his best to sneak into the office without being noticed, transformed into a platypus.

“Oh,” Harry said sadly, “my hand must have slipped. No matter! Now see, Stanley? You can play with Forky again.” He handed it to Viktor, who tucked it away in a pocket.

“If I may ask,” Dumbledore said slowly, “what exactly is that fork?”

Harry affected to look surprised. “Why, it’s the Fork of Horripilation, of course. And see, all my life I’ve been hearing about what an erudite man you are. I’m just shocked that it’s not true. For example, have you ever heard of Quagmire, the Shivering Isles, or Evergloam?”

Dumbledore shook his head.

A strange squeaky growling sound could be heard from behind as Harry looked at Viktor in patent disbelief. “What is the world coming to these days?” he asked. To Dumbledore he said, “I’m afraid that trying to explain the fork to you would be inadvisible at this time, as you are clearly not educated enough to appreciate the answer,” then belted out, “Haskill!”

A pale purple portal appeared and from it stepped a balding, older-looking man dressed smartly in black. “You bellowed, my lord?”

“Indeed. Run back to the palace and fetch copies of the books explaining the Aedra and Daedra, and bring them here. Quickly now, or I will roast your liver and feed it to the platypus back there.”

“Yes, sir,” Haskill said boredly and portaled out again. Edward walked away, muttering about not getting the attention he deserved. Barely a few seconds later Haskill portaled back in with a stack of books in one hand.

“Excellent. Just leave them on the edge of the desk, there’s a good man.”

Haskill made a tidy pile of them and portaled out again. Harry and Viktor got up, the loveseat vanished, and Harry said, after glancing back, “The transformation should wear off soon. Nothing to worry about.”

Before they could go, however, James Potter rushed in, looking somewhere between wild and relieved.

Harry arched a brow at him. “Oh look, the sperm donor. I have something for you. A gift.” He pulled a long, intricately carved staff from nowhere and offered it to the man, who took it out of reflex. Four little creatures poofed into existence behind him.

“Ta ta!” Harry said, and the two of them portaled out. Except, they really didn’t. The manifestation that time was purely for effect.

James frowned. “I came because Edward said his brother was up here, but—what the hell are those things?”

Harry and Viktor snickered together quietly, not that they needed to. It was just more fun that way. Unless James could get some sucker to take the Staff of the Everscamp off his hands, he was stuck with four of the beasts following him everywhere for the remainder of his life—or until Harry decided to take pity on him.

Remus popped back to human form at that moment. “I feel really strange,” he said woozily.

Harry and Viktor exchanged a look, then Harry, feeling uncommonly helpful, decided to write a message on the were’s back, through his clothing.

Remus began wriggling around like he had ants in his trousers and started taking his shirt off. “Is there something wrong with my back?” he asked.

“Uh. . . .” James said less than helpfully.

Remus turned around to look at him, at which point Dumbledore said, “It reads: Should there be any unforeseen negative side effects, feel free to send an owl to the Palace, New Sheoth, Shivering Isles.”

“Wha—?”

Later on, it was found that Remus had become a wereplatypus.