What if Hermione had come up with a plan other than a long-term camping trip for book 7?
By Dr T
Chapter I – the Escape
Major characters and canon owned and operated by She-Who-Must-Be-Named and her minions. I just play in her sand box and rearrange the piles.
The conceit: Canon up to the Trio's escape to Grimmauld Place. There, Hermione had the presence of mind to pack away the Black Library for future reference. The Trio also picked up some odds and ends, including a Wizarding Wireless, where, while they are living in the tent, they heard about the Taboo on Voldemort's name and listen in to ‘the Voice of the Resistance’ and other such broadcasts.
Ron angrily leaves in mid-autumn, as he could not see that they were doing anything worthwhile, and neither Harry nor Hermione (which was worse) were interested in abandoning the seemingly eternal camping trip and consult with Bill or anyone else. This left Harry and Hermione a bit at loose-ends for some weeks, although Harry still wanted to visit Godric's Hallow. To get over Ron's leaving, Hermione went into 'research-mode' in the black Library and found a spell which would demonstrate if an object is ensoulled. The locket of course demonstrated a strong reaction, but to their surprise, so did Harry's scar. This obviously diverted Harry's attention from Godric's Hallow, and the pair realized that 1) they needed serious help; and 2) there was really no way to get that help in Britain. They needed to escape Britain, but to where? They needed someplace where Voldemort's forces should not easily reach them (which left out Europe) or where they would not be sent back.
They would also need to be able to reach any destination without being detected as they left. Some experimentation showed that they could safely hide inside their tent, even if the tent was packed away (the inside stayed the same dimensions even if the outside was folded). The tent could also be safely transfigured. However, Hermione could not apparate to inside the tent (although she could apparate out). Harry, however, found that he could do both, especially when Hermione was inside the tent.
Hermione therefore taught Harry to transfigure the tent into a chocolate frog card, which he then added to some cards which Ron had taken from Grimmauld Place and left behind. Harry then put the cards into a box, wrapped it, and mailed it off via Muggle post to the one place in North America where Hermione hoped they would get help. The other chocolate frog cards surrounding the transfigured tent, each slightly magical, would hopefully mask the magic given off by the tent should anyone be checking packages for magic, either leaving the UK or going into the United States. The volume of early Christmas mail, they hoped, would also help disguise their unorthodox travel. After affixing the postage Hermione had calculated was needed, Harry dropped the package into the post, and apparated into the tent, suffering a minor splinching on arrival, which Hermione was able to correct as his missing fingers had appeared a few inches away from him, rather than back at the post box.
The pair now had to wait and hope, with Hermione buried in more research, and Harry mostly worrying (note: the biography of Dumbledore was not available for them yet).
Friday, December 20, 1997
Santa Clara County, outside of San Jose, California
When he arrived at work, Sean Packer was hoping for a normal day, but then, that was what he hoped for every day. Generally, he got what he wanted.
He worked in what appeared to many to be a warehouse off a highway in the Santa Clara Mountains. The mountainsides behind the warehouse were too steep for development, giving the warehouse a somewhat forlorn look.
What few of the locals knew was that this was not just another combination electronics warehouse/small technology firm. This was the headquarters of a new and thriving part of the magical world, the headquarters of the Technomagic Committee of North America, a small but fast-growing part of the North American Confederation of Magic Users. Underneath the mountains behind the warehouse, in spaces designed to work with the tectonic forces grinding away due to the San Andreas and associated faults, were the world's first real magical factories and major research labs, now several decades old. Technomagic was more than getting magic to work with Muggle inventions, or devices to trace magic power, although that was what most traditional wizards believed. The technomages were taking ideas from magic and Muggle science and creating a whole new way of looking at the universe. The Muggleborn-and-raised from around the world who either specialized in Arithmancy and/or Runes or who had kept up in various areas of Muggle sciences had been slowly accumulating in technomagic centers, not just in North America, but also in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand since 1950. By the 1990s, the same was happening in India, Singapore, Brazil, and even, to the extreme displeasure of its neighbors, Switzerland. A new center with a training college associated with it was scheduled to be opened in India within two years.
The North American Confederation of Magic Users had many different magical communities, some small, others large, some very traditional. They worked together in part because as much as they sometimes did not trust each other, they almost always distrusted the rest of the world even more. The each group respected each other’s boundaries, which meant that there was little threat to the technomages from North American groups. The technomage advances, however, did earn them the ire of some groups around the world, especially in parts of Europe, where the most conservative, even reactionary, magical users held sway. Therefore, Sean Packard, with the job of head of security at this most obvious entry point to the headquarters of the group, was always on the alert.
"Package on your desk!" his secretary called out as he passed through the front shipping area (where Muggle transport was used - magical transport was located in a more obscure area).
"Right," he said with a sigh. Wizards often sent odd things, some of them very dangerous, although usually the sender was innocent of malevolence (as opposed to stupidity).
The package was small, and had already been cleared of having any obvious explosives or hazardous materials or hexes. Deciding he didn’t need coffee yet, Packard levitated the package as he left the security area, heading out the back. He picked up a few stray colleagues, curious as to what he might be dealing with.
Unfortunately, this was not an uncommon occurrence, and so they all 'knew the drill.'
The group took the package some distance from the warehouse, at the base of the mountainside. With six technomages welding their wands in diagnostic spells, and three others using various scanners, the group came to some quick conclusions. "Minor animation magic, and some transfiguration, and that=s it?" Packard asked his friends.
“Yes,” one of the witches retorted, "but with this sort of transfiguration, it could have started off as almost anything. We certainly can't tell until either the animation magic is cleared away or the other way round."
"So, we have to at least undo the package and see what we have before proceeding? Agreed?"
"There should be no danger at this point, no matter what it is," another agreed.
A quick wave of a wand opened the package and another emptied it.
"Eighteen British chocolate frog cards," one technomage, who was a collector, commented. "Three different series present. Fifteen are from the F series, issued 1964-1980, two are from the E series, 1945-1965. That one, that’s the Dumbledore from the current series." (Sirius had given the old cards to Ron, but Ron had only taken them after the visit the previous September.)
“And that's also the one that isn’t really a chocolate frog card,” a transfiguration expert pointed out.
The group quickly and efficiently isolated the odd card from the others, and then set up containment fields, just in case it was dangerous when changed back to its original state. After that, it just took one spell to undo the transfiguration.
"It's a piece of canvas?" one technomage asked, puzzled.
"It's a folded-up magical tent," Packard pointed out.
"Could someone be inside, or just some thing?" a witch asked. No one thought it was merely an empty tent.
"If it's a newer or better model, then yes, someone could be inside," the transfiguration expert replied. "But we won't be able to tell until it's opened."
"Should we get more security?" the witch asked.
"I doubt if any terrorists are inside," Packard mused, "but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt."
"That won't be necessary," a posh mezzo-soprano British voice said from behind them.
"I forget," a light tenor chimed in, "do we say ‘hands up,' ‘we come in peace,' or 'take us to your leader'?"
"Not the first, certainly."
The group had whirled around and were staring at empty space, and then with a flick of his left wrist, the male flipped off the most efficient invisibility cloak the group had ever come across, showing two teens holding wands on them.
"Forgive the wands," Hermione told them. "Just a precaution." The two kept their wands ready, but relaxed them somewhat, easing the concerns of the technomages.
"Illegal emigration?" Packard asked.
"Asylum seekers," Hermione corrected. "I'm Hermione Granger. You probably never heard of me, but my friend here is Harry Potter."
"The Boy-Who-Lived?" the witch muttered in surprise.
"Or 'the Chosen One' if you prefer," Hermione replied. The group could tell Harry was not pleased with either name.
"If there is someone with real authority we could talk to," Harry added, "we could get the main story of why we’re here out of the way once."
"Obviously, we know there will need to be security there as well," Hermione added. To the impressed surprise of the technomages, a barely perceptible flick of her wand caused the tent to fold up and send itself into her shoulder bag while Harry then folded away his cloak. One always had their wand on the group.
"Everyone, please consider this a Security One situation for now," Packard told the group. "Maisy? Could you go see if either Director Stone or Director Talbot is in?"
"What about Superintendent Smothers?" Maisy, the talkative witch, asked.
"Check after you get a director."
"Other than Director Little?" she smirked.
Thirty-five minutes later, Harry and Hermione met with the two directors and the superintendent, as well as three others in Packard's office. Over multiple mugs of tea supplied by Packard’s staff, Hermione then talked for nearly two hours, with Harry adding a total of about half an hour when needed. They told about Voldemort, his Horcruxes, the takeover of the Ministry, the suppression and persecution of the Muggleborn, the hunting squads, and what little they knew of the resistance. They implied they had access to some of the Horcruxes, but did not hide the fact that there were others, and of course did not yet mention that Harry carried one in his scar.
"I don't think you're really after asylum," Director Talbot remarked after the pair had wound down. "You’re after aid in overthrowing a government that is still recognized by the International."
"Can't we be after both?" Harry asked.
"You can, but first let me remind you how our Confederation works. We are a true confederation, crossing Muggle national borders. We are organized into different semi-independent groups: the First Nations, or Indians as you likely have heard them called; the Old Believers; the Colonials; the Technomagic Commune and our ally the Collective; and the various Religious Semi-Autonomous Communes, not to mention the twenty-odd thousand members of the general wizarding population. Granted, we don't know how many Druids and other Old Believers are hidden away, but publically, we total a little over a hundred and twenty thousand magic users and about eighteen thousand associated Squibs and Mundanes. We have a great deal of internal control over our respective groups, but foreign policy belongs to the Confederation Council. They will not move against the British Ministry, even if they come to believe that it is controlled by Voldemort, unless there is incontrovertible evidence that the Secrecy of Magic mandates are being broken, or if there are attacks outside of the United Kingdom or Ireland. So far, the latter has not happened, and any incidents of the former have not been judged over the line." He could have added, 'Close, but not over.'
"You have at least two choices," the Superintendent mused. "One, you can work with us. We can grant you asylum within our group. Obviously, we will have to take that up with the rest of the Committee. We can then bring your case for intervention to the attention of the Confederation Council. Or, you can ask for asylum from the Confederation itself. Assuming you are granted asylum by the Confederation, the case for intervention might go quicker. However, they may decide to send you back, as their granting you asylum would be more public than ours and no doubt the British will demand your extradition. I do promise you, should we refuse you asylum, we would refer it to the Council, not first informing the British."
There was silence for a moment, but then one middle-aged woman, who had been introduced simply as ‘72,’ spoke up. "Have you ever heard of the Collective?"
"No," Hermione admitted, speaking for herself and Harry.
"In a sense, technomagic combines magic and science to produce new technology. About one out of two thousand people can use an innate access to use magic. About an equal number can sense magic, but cannot use magic directly, or at least not much magic. Those in this last group who are born to magic users are called Squibs. Those who are born to Mundanes, who you would call Muggles, are what we call Sensitives, although they are ignored by most Magical users in Europe." Hermione and Harry nodded their understanding.
"Obviously, Squibs have some small advantages over magic users in learning Mundane technology and science – they don't have the ability to learn active magic, and so can spend more time acquiring Mundane knowledge, and of course since they can’t directly wield magic, they can’t interfere with Mundane electrical technology. Many work within the Technomage Commune, some as full members, some as associates. About fifteen years ago, a Squib from Australia whose brother was a technomage discovered a way of combining the native Australian Dreamtime with some advanced Buddhist meditative techniques as well as some powerful technomage computer programming. He is now 1, the Founder of the Collective. The Collective strives to pool the members' minds into a gestalt. We spend at least thirty minutes a day within the collective mind created by the members, sometimes as much as twelve hours. We do forbid being part of the collective mind when asleep, except under controlled circumstances. All the connections are done with a combination of meditation and magic enhancement, and amplify such connections through Mundane and techno-magic technology. For reasons we are still researching, neither Mundanes nor active magic users can achieve Entry."
She continued. "Now we have had six major talent drives. All of the Squibs recruited in the first drive had been in math, physics, computer science, or the other hard sciences. They had not yet become the Collective, but a resource for the technomages as well as researchers into the Dreamtime and other parts which were needed to create the Gestalt. 1 through 54 then created the Gestalt, and it has now been maintained since 1984. We are not certain, but we believe the Gestalt now has some independent existence and consciousness.” Seeing their basic understanding, she continued. “Not all the Squibs we have recruited have joined, of course. Some took positions helping the Collective and the technomages, some opted out, and about a third have been rejected, mostly based on their personalities or incompatible morals. Many, however, have joined, and Squibs with the knowledge set are now recruited primarily based on having at least that little dab of magic and the right mental and moral attitudes which would enable the Collective to expand and stay within the moral boundaries the Collective had set for itself."
Harry and especially Hermione were obviously wondering why they were being told this, but the Squib merely continued. "We now welcomed social scientists, historians, philosophers, and even a poet amongst the 1803 living members. Once the number of active members reaches 3,000, we are going to allow in professional artists and musicians, and after 5,000, any Squib who meets the magical, mental, and moral qualifications. Three of the Collective now exist only in the Collective Memory, for their spirits had passed on. The Collective has worked with our technomage allies and have designed a gizmo which detects inherent magic from the outside. We are now searching the Mundane world, seeking Sensitives, those Mundanes born with that same dab of magic - too small to cause them to be registered in any of the Great Books of Magic, but large enough to be offered a place in the Collective. So far, fifteen such have been found who have joined. Likewise, over six hundred children have been born to members of the Collective. Seventy-two are fully magical, and are being brought up as the technomage children are. A hundred and two lack any magic, but are loved by their parents and raised to join the Muggle world to some degree. The rest are trained to the best of their desires and capabilities, and will be offered a place in the Collective, if they meet the other requirements, when they turn twenty-four."
72 smiled, and said, "I tell you all this in part so you understand the most basic information about us. I can also tell that you are not appalled or disgusted by the concept, as many of the old-fashioned magic users are." Her face hardened. "We searched Britain two years ago. We noted how the Squibs were discriminated against, and we have learned that over two dozen have died under mysterious circumstances since last August. We are a constituent part of the Technomage Commune, and I have relayed your testimony to the Gestalt."
Harry frowned, but eased up when Hermione placed a hand on his arm.
72 nodded. "Except for some intimate personal details, nearly everything one member of the Collective knows, the Gestalt knows. I was not betraying your secrets, for I cannot keep something like this secret from the Collective any more than you could easily keep a secret from yourself. As I said, the Gestalt knows what I know about you, as well as what it knew of you before. We have pulled in nearly all the Conscious Membership to think this through. We have therefore decided to grant you our protection. As we are within our rights, the technomages will aid you to solve how to destroy the Horcruxes you control, and will appeal to the Confederation Committee. When the Committee denies you help. . . ."
That caused a stir.
"We calculate an eighty-one percent chance of denial, at least in the short term, and a fifteen percent chance of delay which would amount to denial," 72 retorted. "The technomages will then have to appeal to the Tuatha, the three elders of the Old Believers, for the Old Believers are truly an entity unto themselves. No one knows for certain how many there are, hidden away, although they currently claim just over thirty thousand members in the open. Everyone knows that is just the Open Membership, and that there are at least sixty thousand Hidden. We suspect that they do not fit with the reproductive strategies of other magic users - small groups at best barely reproducing themselves. Every other magical group in the world would almost certainly die out over a few centuries if new magic users from the general population were not absorbed into them. We believe the Old Believers have a large enough population base that this does not apply to them, and that they actually account for anywhere from a tenth to nearly half of the world's active magic users. If they should decide to intervene from behind the scenes, the Confederation could keep its hands clean."
"Why would they?"Director Stone asked.
"They not only believe in reincarnation, but its necessity," 72 answered. "A Horcrux would be an abomination to them. And, although they are very clannish, they welcome new blood to their clans when offered. Voldemort's racial politics are anathema to them nearly as much as they are to us or to you."
"And the odds of their directly helping?" Packard asked.
"If there are truly less than a hundred thousand, only about thirty percent," 72 answered. "If, however, as we, and you, suspect, they number over a million? Seventy-five percent."
The superintendent looked at Harry and Hermione. "Are you willing to trust us?" The pair looked at each other, and then nodded. "Good. Packard, I'm putting you on detached duty. Call in five of your younger security people to help. If no one here objects, I want to move these two away from San Jose. If it comes out we have them, I don't want them here in case terrorists come looking. I know a secure facility that has the extra space that might be needed, and will arrange to have a technomage team there after New Years."
He looked at 72. "I think we need at least three members of the Collective."
72 showed him a slip of paper with a likely location. Smother's grimaced at the correct deduction, but nodded. "We will have six members available for you to select from after Christmas," was all she said.
"Does this meet with your approval?" he asked Hermione and Harry. They again nodded.
"I don't have family connections," Packard said softly. "Shall I take them someplace for the holidays?"
Smothers thought and said, "Can you get at least three members from Security?"
Smothers looked back at Harry and Hermione. "You both have both our groups' protection for now. Welcome to America."