Sirius Meets Eliot
May 27, 2010 (Harry's third year), in the tunnel under the Whomping Willow
Sirius turned to Harry, grinning. "Harry Potter! It's.... it's unbelievable to finally meet you."
Harry smiled. "You knew my mum and dad, right?"
"Actually, Harry, I'm your godfather." His goofy smile broadened even further. "When we get the rat off to Azkaban, do you want to get away from those horrible muggles and come live with me?"
Harry stumbled, but caught himself. "What do you mean, Sirius?" Did Sirius not think he should live with muggles? Was his godfather into all the pureblooded nonsense?
"The Dursleys! Merlin, I can't believe I let Dumbledore give you to them. I should have been there for you, Harry, but I wasn't. I'll be there now, I promise. We can start out in one of the Black houses and then find a place to live, just the two of us, and it'll be awesome."
"But I don't live with them anymore." Harry stated blankly. "I haven't in years."
Sirius stopped in his tracks. "What do you mean? I mean, I did think it was weird when I didn't see you at their house, but I thought you were away with friends. I certainly always avoided Tuney." He shuddered.
For a moment, Harry's emotions threatened to close in around him, but he clenched his fist and carefully controlled his breathing. Four seconds in, hold for two, six seconds out. Reality faded back in. "No, I haven't lived with them since I was nine. I live with Eliot now."
Sirius's eyebrows drew together. "Dumbledore said there was some sort of powerful protection with the Dursleys! That it would keep you safe. I mean, I thought it was only until I got back." This time, it was Sirius's eyes that grew cloudy, and Harry waited, patiently breathing until the man returned. "Is Eliot a wizard? Can he keep you safe?"
Harry shook his head. "Eliot's a muggle, but he's more than capable of keeping me safe." He grinned. "He has more dangerous enemies than a leaderless band of ragtag terrorists, anyway."
He noticed the confusion and disappointment on Sirius's face. "But maybe I'll visit you for holidays or when Eliot has a job! And you can tell me all about my parents. I'm really looking forward to learning about them. Eliot says I shouldn't forget where I came from."
Then, the moon rose high above them, and Hermione screamed.
(two weeks later, Morocco)
Sirius collapsed onto the couch, barely noticing its vibrant red and gold design. He let the towel he had been clutching fall loosely around his waist. He had received a note from Harry's guardian to meet him inside the hammam. He's expected a nice bath and massage after a long trip. He hadn't expected the masseuse to be quite so...determined.
He looked up and noticed another man lounging on the couch opposite, auburn hair falling back from his face as he examined the art that adorned the walls. Muscles pushed against the shoulders of his clothing, which matched what he had seen on the streets outside, and he exuded control and power.
When the man made no effort to move, Sirius filled the silence. "I got a note? From Hedwig?" He was also fairly certain the man at the front door had been given a picture of him, although the proprietor spoke as little French as Sirius remembered from childhood lessons. Passing notes and comparing toy brooms with Reggie had always been more interesting, anyway.
The man swung around to face him smoothly. "Sirius Black. Harry told me you were on the run and nearly begged me to meet with you. I'm Eliot Spencer."
A man came in with a coffee set, and Spencer exchanged a few quick sentences with him in what could have been Arabic. Two cups of sweet coffee were poured, and the man disappeared through the doorway. "Harry said that you invited him to live with you."
"Yeah. I'm his godfather, you know, but I gave him over to Dumbledore and went after the rat. He shou-- would've been living with me. And I made a bloody mess of things." Emotions came roaring into him, and settled on rage and the figure of Peter Pettigrew pointing his wand at the street. "And now that rat has gotten away again, and I'm still a wanted man." He shook his head. "I mean, it's my fault they chose Peter in the first place for Secret Keeper. It's my fault they died. Do you know what that's like?" The words tore out of Sirius, opening barely closed wounds.
"Yes." Sirius opened his mouth to retort that he found it bloody unlikely, but when he met Eliot's eyes he found cool and solid certainty. He closed his mouth, feeling his nakedness from the force of Eliot’s gaze.
"Harry lives with me," Eliot continued. "He has for five years. He needs that stability, and we both know Hogwarts doesn't provide it, at least for him." Sirius sighed, feeling the dream that had kept him sane for so many years draining away. Eliot kept talking. "But Harry is desperate to know you, and to know his parents better." He pulled two devices out of a bag that had been beside the couch. "This is a cell phone and a solar charger. You've probably seen muggles use them to talk to each other. You can talk to Harry and get to know him, while you find a place to live and get your life back together. I travel a lot for work, so maybe we can talk about some visits once things are a little more stable." He handed them over, and gave Sirius a brief lesson in how to use them.
Eliot sat back down, and grabbed the bag. "Now for practical matters. I know you decided to stay on the magic side of things, but there's muggle ID and a little money in there. Use them if you want to. Harry packed some other stuff for you. It's all muggle, but you never know what might come in handy. Just don't mix up the toothpaste and the plastic explosives."
Sirius took the bag eagerly, tapped it with his wand, and it shrunk to an easily portable size. "Thank you. I'll.... I'll stay in touch."
Eliot Visits Rita Skeeter
"And....done," Parker whispered. She swung out from the wall slightly, and the window lifted by a fraction of an inch.
Eliot passed her the tube from the canister she was holding, then helped her hold a piece of cardboard in place to block the rest of the opening. He checked his watch and opened the valve.
"Okay, she's under," Eliot whispered after ten minutes. Parker packed up the tube and canister, and opened the window.
Eliot held his breath and moved quickly. Nitrous oxide doesn't stay in the system very long. He handcuffed his target's hands to the headboard and slipped the breath mint between her lips. He motioned Parker to cover the window, smashed the tiny glowing lamp on her bedside table, and flipped on his night vision goggles.
Rita was stirring, so Eliot turned on the electronic voice changer in the mask that Hardison had made for him. If they were still in middle school, Eliot would have beaten Hardison up for being such a dork, but as an adult he could admit (if only to himself) that Darth Vader was an effective choice.
He watched as Skeeter's eyes opened, and the LSD from the breath mint, helped along by the harsh breathing from his mask, filled the darkness with monsters. Her eyes widened and her breathing grew ragged, so he stepped forward and slapped her.
Rita screamed. Eliot smirked to himself. This was perfect. "What have you been doing, little Skeeter?" he growled at her.
"N-n-n-nothing!" she managed, between breaths.
"Not writing nasty lies, then? No wicked malicious articles about children too young to defend themselves?"
Rita began to squirm, tugging on the handcuffs. "I-it was only a little one!" she sobbed.
Eliot put his hand on her throat, pressing gently. "This is your only warning, little Skeeter. No more articles about children." He crouched and moved forward until Darth Vader's face was just inches from hers. "Not even a little one."
"I swear! I swear to the stars!" she gasped.
Eliot shifted his hand so he could turn her face towards his. "Swear to me."
Choosing a Con
"The Cherry Pie?" asked Sophie as the team waited for Nate.
"Casino Flyer," suggested Parker.
"Highland Fling?" Sirius recommended.
Eliot shook his head. "Berlin Shuffle."
"Clover Club?" said Sirius, a grin on his face.
"How about the Wicked Stepsister?" suggested Hardison.
"Tom Collins?" asked Sirius, leaning back in his chair.
There was a moment's pause before Sophie turned to Sirius. "Those are all cocktails, Sirius!"
Sirius shrugged. "It's what I've got."
Sirius Should Know Better
Sirius groaned and slowly sat up. He was on a couch, his head was killing him, and he was somehow both ravenously hungry and extremely nauseated. "What happened last night?"
"You had quite a night. What do you remember?" Eliot replied, pushing a glass of water and a pair of aspirin into Sirius's hands.
"We went to have a drink. I wanted to try the bottle with the funny Russian name and then..." Sirius scowled. "I don't remember. Something bad I think? What the hell did I do?"
"Well, you made your way to an adoption agency, and used magic to convince the people there to let you adopt some children. Four of them I think, to, and I quote, 'make up for lost time with Harry.' You then proceeded to hit a club, and asked women to marry you so your new children would have a mother. One each, apparently. Their phone numbers and the dates for the weddings are on the counter," Eliot said, carefully neutral.
"I did WHAT?" Sirius exclaimed. "No way. I mean, I wouldn't... I didn't!"
Eliot grinned. "Kidding. You only decided to run for office. A muggle office. Did you know that when you are drunk you sometimes do magic randomly? You spent a good portion of the night apparating around London, casting charms on crowds of muggle to get them to vote for you, and running off again. I hear the Aurors had to obliviate close to a hundred thousand people. They are rather annoyed. But hey, at least you didn't abuse magic to adopt four children and get engaged to four women."
Sirius paused for moment. "No really, what happened? I'm not that bad."
Eliot's smile grew wider. "Fine. You convinced me to take you to one of my bars. You hit it off with a lovely young lady who is incidentally one of the more lethal assassins operating in western Europe. Her father is old school IRA. Rather traditional views, staunch Catholic and all that. You got yourself invited to meet her family later this week. I am given to understand that he is under the impression you two are dating and it's gotten serious."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Seriously, Eliot, what happened? I need to know if I need to apologize to anyone important."
Eliot cocked an eyebrow and headed out the door, chuckling.
"Eliot! I did not start dating an assassin. Please tell me I didn't. Eliot. Eliot!"
"What did you put in that bottle we gave him?"
"Everclear," said Hardison, shrugging. "They drink booze that literally sends smoke out their ears; I doubt he will be able to tell."
Extra Parker and Luna
Nate blinked and turned in confusion. He had just seen Parker and Luna at the other end of the building. They were fast, but couldn't be that fast, could they?
"Parker, did you polyjuice someone to look like you at the other end of the castle?" he asked fearfully.
"No. We found a time turner. We have a tea party with ourselves in a few minutes and it would be dreadfully rude to be late. It would also cause a paradox and I would rather not deal with another of those," Luna explained as they turned the corner.
Nate decided to ignore the entire issue. For his sanity's sake.
Sterling Gets Payback
"Sir?" Acantha, Sterling's new executive assistant, poked her head in. "The zoning application you asked me to keep you updated on just went through. The Weasley twins have been given the OK to open their shop."
Sterling paused over his paperwork. "Are there any other storefronts available in the same area?"
Acantha shuffled through the papers in her folder. "The property two storefronts down got closed down for health and safety violations two months ago. I believe it's still available."
"Excellent. Could you put down an offer for me? My personal account," he replied before getting back to his paperwork.
Acantha made a note. "If you don't mind me asking, sir, why? What do you want it for?" she asked.
"I plan to lease it to Molly for a bakery," he replied. That would give her an excuse to drop by and check in on the twins whenever she felt like it. Revenge could be sweet indeed.
Sterling At Work
Sterling flexed his hand as he leaned back in his chair. Three months and he was still not used to the sheer volume of writing by hand. He was using a very nice Pilot Falcon fountain pen that he'd acquired some years ago during an investigation, and while it was infinitely better than a quill, his hand still started to cramp after an hour or two. He was still trying to find an opportunity to switch from parchment to paper.
He looked around his office. Overstuffed chairs and ornately carved and gilded furniture had been replaced with the closest approximation to modern furniture he could find in the Wizarding world. Two walls had been spelled to show a view from upper windows of the Ministry building. The portraits had been removed: how anyone got work done with those things watching and commenting was beyond him. If he didn't focus too hard he could almost imagine he was back in a corner office in a city highrise.
A knock on the door brought him out of his reverie. He granted permission to enter as he straightened his robes. Confounded things. Sweltering in the heat, chilly in the cold and nearly impossible to perform any physical activity in. He idly wondered if he could commission something lighter and with actual trousers, citing the latest fashion in the Americas. It's not like anyone would be able to call him out on it.
Amelia entered, closing the door behind her. She smirked at his scowl. "And what has you up in arms today?" she asked lightly.
"Lowest-bidder parchment is infinitely worse than lowest-bidder paper, robes are impossible, it is sweltering in here, and my girlfriend is mocking my suffering," he replied.
Amelia's smirk widened to a smile.
Sterling picked up the parchment in front of him and placed it in the appropriate pile. "Beyond that, the Wizengamot wants another round of review for the budget, despite it already being a week overdue, and the goblins heard about the concept of investment banking from someone. Probably Nate."
"Wizards use cooling charms to keep the room livable," Amelia noted as she cast several around the large office, "And as far as I am aware, a week overdue is unusually timely for a budget."
"And the Goblins?" he asked.
"Unfortunately I don't think we can afford another war right now. We may just have to live with it."
Chapter 2: Friendship is Powerful Magic
Chapter by ladyphlogiston
This is a gift for sophibug, who has handed in a Very Difficult lab report. It is also unmitigated fluff.
The first time Luna visited Parker was at the end of an awful day. Hogwarts was healthier now: Luna had sent her photographs to the new Minister, like Parker told her to, and Sterling had shown up and spent a long time shouting at people, and now there were new staff and new classes and new rules about bullying and racism, but he'd never acknowledged her documentation of nargles in their natural habitat, and the simple truth was that rules could not stop people from being mean, not entirely. Luna had even cried a little, in the privacy of her safe room, and she'd sat for a long time, missing Parker, until she decided she didn't want to miss Parker anymore. So she'd walked to the school gates and apparated to where Parker was.
Parker hadn't been surprised to see Luna, and she hadn't asked any questions either. (That was the hardest part about people sometimes: they always wanted to know why Luna did things, and Luna never knew what to say.) Parker had just made Luna lie down on her bed and had stroked her hair and read aloud to her from the spec sheets for the Casoro Emerald Series safe.
The first time Parker visited Luna, she'd zipped herself into a large suitcase and smuggled herself into the luggage compartment of an airplane, then jumped three trains and hiked several miles to Hogwarts.
Luna had asked the house elves for four different kinds of pudding, and they curled up together in front of a conjured fire to eat them. After the pudding, Luna used her quill with Every Color Ink (which she'd bought in Hogsmeade a month before, and it hadn't been stolen or damaged yet - the new rules were really quite nice) to draw roses and socks and dirigible plums in a dancing ring around Parker's ankle.
(Before Parker left, Luna made a butterbeer cork into a portkey and tucked it into Parker's pocket. Parker stored it in the box of cherry pop-tarts, next to the five carat sapphire she'd lifted in Cairo.)
The second time Luna visited Parker, she arrived in the middle of a fight. Eliot had to kick over a screwdriver display stand while he grabbed Luna and spun her away towards where Parker was hiding, before turning back to scoop up an armful of screwdrivers to throw at the bad guys. (At least, Parker said she was fairly sure they were bad guys. She'd rather lost track of who was attacking them this time, but anyone who tried to hurt Luna was unlikely to be particularly nice.)
Eliot scolded both of them afterwards, lecturing about impulsiveness and situational awareness while he stir-fried miso-glazed beef with crunchy asparagus for them. They smiled at him and drank their tea and enjoyed the sunlight streaming into Nate's apartment.
The second time Parker visited Luna, she arrived during a Quidditch game. Luna expanded her blanket and they shared it, huddling together, safe from the stiff breeze in their pocket of warmth. They watched the game together, talking softly about passing butterflies and oddly-shaped clouds and the curious things that other students kept in their pockets.
They met on the winter solstice to exchange holiday gifts. Parker hadn't told anyone on the team where she was going, but she wasn't surprised to discover that several additional gifts had been slipped into her pack. In addition to the necklace Parker had brought (a frog with golden fairy wings on a delicately woven chain), there was a small but exquisite Impressionist painting, a selection of candy, a carbon steel chef's knife, and the paperwork giving Luna a share in the proceeds from the Vision Globes the Weasleys had recently released for sale.
Luna had charmed a pair of light-detecting glasses for Parker, and also brought some of the Wonka's Fizzy Bubble Pop that had been her gift from the Weasley twins.
They shared the pop, and went drifting and twirling over the rooftops of Hogwarts, laughing with happiness and peace.
The world is big. That is a fact of life.
Sometimes the world is scary. That is a fact, too.
But friendship is powerful magic.