Banks, part 2
Alex Dumass walked back into the bank later the second night, finding them narrowing down the list. "I can make a detector, it will suck the energy out of whoever uses it for a month." They all grimaced. "Unless we have another way of finding things that were pulled through space and time?"
"Actually, we might," Danny offered, showing him something he had been working on. "We know we can detect realities and which one we're in. Part of that is a relative time code. So if we can spell something to work on just that part of that charm...."
Horatio looked at him. "Doing it that way would almost make it unstable and radiating magic, Danny."
Ryan coughed. "No it won't. We can shield it, Horatio." Willow nodded. "A lot of the magic you guys work with is like what we do, only the method of powering it and working it is different."
"Magic like you and Willow use comes from outside you," Alex agreed. "You pick it up, feel it, work with it, then use it. For us, it's like an extra blood component."
"It is," Mac agreed. "Stella figured out how to tell the difference between their magic users with a blood test. All of us relate to magic in the same way. She and Tim have figured out the test needed and cobbled a kit together. It's a two step, one to test for the presence and then to test for magical DNA."
Alex blinked. "We do?" Mac nodded. "Did you tell anyone else?"
"No, not yet. Why?"
"Because this is *huge*. That's been a thought now for generations. No one can prove it." Mac smiled at his people. "Cool. So, we can definitely test the suspects?" Stella nodded. "Okay. And we can do a detector one way or another. How many are we down to?"
"Forty-three," Gibbs admitted. "By the evidence it looks like there's five going in and possibly a sixth and/or a seventh waiting on them back at home. Would there be a law against compelling blood samples?"
"Hmm. Depends on the country of origin and where you find them," Alex noted. "Just like normal probably." He went to talk to the goblins, one of which ran in to pull Stella and McGee out to talk to them and have it explained to them. They came back with a Ministry wide warrant. "Ah. This'll work wherever there's a Ministry. They'll compel them to appear, you'll get to interrogate, take the blood, and then come back. We've had more minor theft cases where we've used these." He handed it to Gibbs. "I figured you'd be the top interrogator since you do it so well."
"Thanks, kiddo. Can we get a current location through the bank?"
"The place they last logged in their keys."
"Even that's a help," Don agreed. "We can each take a few, that way it doesn't take forever to do the questioning." That got some nods. "When can we get the key logs?" Alex looked at the goblin, who huffed and went to do that. He came back to get the suspect list, finding the greater majority of them in Europe, which simplified matters. "Can we use the bank's floos to get there?"
"Of course. Or a cart, either way."
"Which way is less nausea producing?" Gibbs asked.
"About equal. One's a roller coaster, the other's spinning and flipping."
"Roller coaster," Stella said. They all nodded at that. They went to gather what they needed, including fact sheets to question against.
"Can you test for those who use both or multiple forms of magic?" Speed asked.
She nodded. "The second test can. Each type of magic you can use is a taint against the magic in your cells. We're still working what each taint is though."
"Interesting. So even if they test negative, you can tell later if they use chaos or nature based?" Willow asked.
"I can. I found both in your sample and chaos in Ryan's. That one we've worked out already. It's the wanded magic that gets so heavy. There's types of spells that can warp it. There's types of magic that warp it. Alex's alone was probably warped by exposure to so much dark magic and the hellmouth." Alex nodded at that. "How do you know?"
"Because my external power signature changed. I figure anything else would as well. My core power signature, that'll never change. That's how we find hiding wizards. Hurts like hell too." Don nodded at that. They had shown him how to do it and then made the group practice. "Thankfully the vaults take core magic and test it against yours to see if it matches. They don't have to expose any."
"Which hurts," Don agreed firmly. "A lot."
"Do you guys do a lot of police work too?" McGee asked. "Because you guys spend a lot of time learning things like the academy trained us to do."
"Some of it's how we investigate. Some of it is tracking down leads," Alex offered. "Some of it is that we're more likely to run into dirtbags and those hiding from a Ministry in the field. Most often for doing bad things or because they wanted this sort of power."
"So we learn how to duel, unfairly and fairly," Don agreed. "We learn how to subdue someone. How to hunt and track information. Plus how to break and enter."
Alex nodded. "I used to teach some of the dueling lessons," he said proudly.
"Well, yeah, you were world champ a number of times," Danny reminded him. Alex just beamed at him. "Plus a badass on a broom."
"Ron found my old quidditch cards and stats from the year I played pro," he sighed, following them out. "We do know it's late, right? We can do this in the morning?"
Gibbs looked at his watch. "It's nine pm our local time," he agreed. "Mac, Horatio?"
They looked at their teams, then nodded. "Call it a night and we'll go investigate tomorrow." That got mass nods and they locked their work up in the safe they had been given. Then they went back to the rooming house for dinner and relaxation.
Gibbs walked into his first Ministry office and stared around, then looked at Tony, who shrugged. There was an over-abundance of statues and artwork. Museums didn't have this many pieces together. "Not my fault. I did not decorate here, boss." He walked him over to the guard's desk, casting a language charm. "We are here for Gringott's, Case 3." The guard gave him a horrified look. "We request the aurors' office."
"Wand please?" Tony handed his over. He registered it. "And his?"
"He was brought for his skills at interrogation. Gringotts does work with nature path people." The guard glared at him. Tony glared back. "NCIS." He produced his credentials. "Try international incident."
"Very well. Who is in charge of this case?"
"Gringotts," Gibbs told him. Tony smirked at him. "They are."
"The cursebreaker in charge?"
"Dumass," they said together. The guard started to pale and back away.
"Now," Tony ordered. "Please." A small glowing pebble was handed over. "My wand?" It was handed back. "Thank you."
"We need your name, sir?"
"Antonio DiNozzo. Special Agent, NCIS, on special assignment." He walked Gibbs off. "They're pretty isolationist. Thankfully you're about the only one we have." He got into the lift and looked at the buttons, putting the pebble near it. It went blue at one so he pushed that button. They moved down and the pebble slowly turned blue, taking them up the hall to a room number 210. He tapped then walked in, nodding at the people in there. "Special Agents DiNozzo and Gibbs, NCIS, on special service for Gringotts." They all stared. "Case 3." One of them hurried over. He handed over their list and the warrant. "We need them, we're weeding suspects."
"All right. Which one of you is the supervisor?"
"He is," Tony admitted. "My spell works better on me. He's a nature path."
That got one single nod from someone in the back of the room. "Gringotts is either desperate or knows something."
"We believe one of the people can."
"Crap," that person muttered. "Someone who can do both?"
"We don't know yet. Whenever you're ready to summon and compel?"
"Of course. You can use our interrogation center," the person working with them agreed, leading them that way. Tony kept Gibbs from walking in. "What?"
Tony glared at him and pulled his wand. "I may have been trained in New York, but really. I work with the Banes." He moved closer. "Look very closely. Who do I look like?"
The man swallowed. "The Vinese's family?" he hesitated. Tony nodded. "She is what to you?"
"My great aunt, unless Arteste has passed on?" He shook his head quickly. "Then let's not play this game. You stonewall or eject us, we bring Cursebreaker Dumass. He's in charge of this investigation."
The man whimpered. "I understand." He led them to another door and inside. "I will go summon and compel myself." He bowed and left.
"The posturing was for...." Gibbs asked dryly.
"The other door was an exit." He settled himself. "These people will be arrogant. Like Draco before Alex arrogant. They believe you're a myth or a lesser being."
"Then why am I here?"
Tony grinned. "Because you're so darn cute," he offered. Gibbs glared at him. He grinned brighter. "Because you're better at this."
"Good point." He sat down next to him. "This nature path thing...."
"To most purebloods they're considered like house elves. Inferior, slime minded, weak. Wrong in the eyes of nature." Someone walked in. "Willow. I thought you were going to Britain."
"So did I but they didn't want to work with me. They think I'm still scary because of how I lost it during the war and went spastic. Not like I nearly destroyed the world this time or anything," she pouted, sitting next to Gibbs. "I was helping by destroying the bad guys."
Gibbs looked at her. "You nearly destroyed the world?"
He nodded once. "You're in control?"
"Yeah. Ethan's got a line hooked into my magic to drain me back to normal witchy levels and the HP in Miami gave me to Ryan to watch over."
"Interesting. I wondered why Speed said he had a new puppy." He looked at her. "Remember, Speed, Danny, and I studied stuff that would make you shudder in horror as it ate you. And a few things that would make you shudder in pleasure as it ate you." She grinned at that. "Seriously."
She nodded, looking complacent. "So I was told by Danny. I'd never hurt Alex anymore. I know I was sick now, poisoned by the chaos. After I nearly wound him to me as a slave, I learned better."
"Good," Gibbs assured her. "Makes me happy I don't have to pull strings to put you in a padded cell." He stared her down. She nodded, sighing at that. "Good girl." He patted her on the head. She bit him, making him yelp and her smirk.
"Not your bitch, thank you." She stood up as someone walked in, casting the language charm on herself. "Our suspects?"
"Rosenburg. Part of the investigation. In case my being here doesn't tell you how bad this is...." The man went white and shook. "Our suspects?"
"Coming. We have six of the nine in the country. Two are in Greece. We have called them. One we do not know where they are but we put out an inter-Ministry call to have them brought here. Are these all the suspects?"
"We narrowed it down to fifty, now we're narrowing it further to our thieves," Tony said plainly. "Yes, it's that bad."
"Anytime Gringotts has a 'case' we know it is. How much was stolen?"
Willow stared at him then moved closer. "Someone found a way to warp a few vaults to open. Including Dumass's work vault." He went whiter and leaned on the door. "Hence us working so fast this time."
"I will have them sped up," he promised. He nodded at Tony. "Your Great Aunt would like a visit."
"When I'm done. After this investigation is over with."
"Agreed. I shall tell her this must take priority over family meetings." He ran off to do that, babbling at his boss.
Willow sat down again. "I feel better now. I haven't gotten to threaten any vampires in weeks," she said perkily. Both men looked at her. "Someone's got to hunt in Miami."
"Does Horatio know?" Tony asked. She shrugged. He sent a thought to Speed, who looked at Horatio where they were waiting to be sent to their assignments.
"Did you know Willow's hunting?"
"No, I hadn't," he admitted quietly. He pulled out his cellphone and called Ryan. "Did you know she's still hunting?" He heard the quiet muttering. "Thank you." He hung up. "Tell Tony to expect a shock."
Speed sent that back. Tony looked at her, then she yelped and put the fire out on her ass. "Ah," Tony said fondly. "I don't think Ryan likes that idea, Willow."
"That's great range. Where is he?" Gibbs asked.
"Gdansk. That's where the Russian Ministry is," Tony told him. "Good range."
Willow glared at him. "I'll get him back later."
Tony snorted. "I'm sure he'll be watching for it." Someone walked in and he lifted his chin. "Sit!" he snapped. They sat and glared at him. "You are here to answer questions. You will answer their questions. I suggest you cast a language charm since they're more fluent in American."
The wizard slowly cast a language charm.
Willow looked at him. "His signature is close but not quite to one of the ones on the vault," she noted.
"Does that mean I'm not a suspect?"
"That means you're more of a suspect," Tony assured him.
Gibbs leaned forward. "Tell me what you know of vault 5483," he said quietly. The man's eyes went wide and he slowly shook his head. "Now."
"Nothing. I know nothing."
"That's a really good impersonation of that show, but not good enough," Tony said, taking the folder from the auror. "You are a suspect in a Gringotts break-in," he noted. "You are here because you have three of the skills that were used." The man's eyes went wide. "I would answer their questions. Gringotts called in nature paths to help."
The man sneered and Willow reached over to smack his head into the table, leaning over to hiss in his ear. "I am Rosenburg," she growled. The man started to cry. "You know something about this. I can tell."
"It is not me. It is my younger brother," he said, looking at them. He looked at Willow. "My younger brother is anti-Gringotts. He thinks they have too much power." He looked at Tony. "He has been doing research, using our basement to make vaults to test on."
"You will stay here, we will go see these soon," Gibbs agreed. He nodded his head. He looked at Willow. "Was he lying?"
"Not that I could tell," she noted, putting the lying stone in front of him. "Say it again?"
"I had nothing to do with the vaults being broken into," he vowed. The stone stayed pale cream. "I am at the inquest's honor." He got up. "May I wait in another room?"
"You are to contact no one," Tony told him. He nodded. "He is to wait on us. He has information and is giving us a lead," he called. The aurors came to lead him off to sit in a corner.
Gibbs looked at her. "Don't announce that."
"Sorry." She looked at him and then stood up. "Change places with me." He did that. She sat between the two men. "One tap, they match the signature. Two they don't." She tapped his shoulder. He nodded at that. "Good enough?"
"Good enough." He looked outside. "Next." She was brought in sneering. "Sit," he snarled. She took her seat regally.
Tony looked at her. "I wouldn't start with the 'tude, sister. You're here because people with your skills have been targeting Gringotts." She gaped. "We are here to determine if you were one of them." She closed her mouth with a snap.
"At this point it's just an inquest," Gibbs assured her casually.
"I had nothing to do with this action. I had no knowledge of it," she said. Willow tapped the stone and she sniffed. "That is not *real* magic."
"I nearly destroyed the world once. Bet me," she shot back. The witch looked horrified. "They wanted people with the power. Now, were you involved?"
"No." She looked at the stone. "I have only heard rumors." The stone grayed. "But I know the source." The stone went back to cream.
"You will share these rumors and the sources," Tony said, sliding down paper and a quill and ink pot that had been on the table.
"Otherwise we can find you complicit," Gibbs assured her. She shuddered and started to write. "In English if you know it." She nodded, doing that. "Thank you." He looked at her. "Do you often just proclaim who you are?"
"Yup. Cuts the level of shit I get," she noted dryly. "The same as all you have to do is say your name in DC and people piss themselves," she quipped. He smirked at that. She looked a the witch. "Is that the current hot fashion in Italy this year? It looks so much more comfortable than the ones in London."
The witch looked at her. "You know about the fashions in London?" Willow nodded. "How?"
"My ex is living with some witches in the countryside and a friend is one of you."
She frowned at her. "That show, the one that someone was bragging about seeing and it being false. It was real?"
"It was," she agreed. "Buffy shared with someone she shouldn't have." She smiled. "We had the uncomfortable realization that we had a wizard among us after the fact really."
"Dumass. That's where he grew up again," Gibbs said dryly. She stopped writing and the quill fell. "Also known as Xander Harris." She burst out laughing.
"He didn't have access to his powers," Willow said dryly. "He survived seventeen years with us." She let out a small whimper. The stone turned dark. "Not seventeen?" She counted. "He was five, and eighteen. Sorry, thirteen. He comes back and now and then though." The stone went back to cream. The witch's mouth hung open. "Exactly."
"We're not really sure if it was magic, dumb luck, or what," she admitted. "Personal opinion, a combination, heavily resting on dumb luck with the way they locked him. He only got a broken arm that I know about. A lot of bruises, some head injuries, but only one broken arm."
The witch shook her head and went back to writing. "I wish him luck. Is he back to his whoring ways?"
"No, he's got a consort veela mate," Tony told her. "Draco's very good for him." She burst out laughing. He smirked. "And he's teaching some who got missed thanks to New York's academy. Write."
She went back to it. "Only having one mate. How the mighty have fallen, even if it is a veela."
"Draco Malfoy-Dumass more than keeps up with him," she assured her.
She burst out laughing and nearly fell out of her chair. "Oh, my!" she said, wiping her eyes. "Thank you. I wish you the most luck," she offered, pushing the paper back to them. "May I go?"
Gibbs looked it over. "If we need you again, we'll call you back." She nodded and left, bursting into giggles outside.
Ryan finished casting at Willow and glared at the man with him. McGee gave him a scared look. "My puppy is still hunting," he said grimly. "I just set her ass on fire."
"Oooh," he said, wincing. "We'll let you two fight in private tonight," he promised, smiling at him. He grinned at the guard in front of him. "Gringotts sent us to the aurors. It's an inquest," he said through his translator charm. "Where is the office?"
"Upstairs, on the second floor," he said promptly. "May I register your wand?" He handed it over. "The others?"
"I'm not a cursebreaker," McGee said dryly. He pulled his credentials, getting wide eyes. "They asked for my help."
"Your associate? He is also a government agent?"
"CSI," Ryan said, staring him down. "And nature path, chaos branch." The man shuddered and backed up. "Where on the second floor?"
"Third door on the left," he said, handing McGee back his wand. "Thank you for not practicing in here."
"Not on you. You haven't earned my attention." He led the way to the stairs. "Have you noticed that we're either feared or thought of as unnatural?"
"Chaos people? I guess it makes sense," McGee offered.
"No, nature paths in general."
"That's a long held discrimination among the wizarding world. They see you guys as inferior or as unnatural. It's another part of 'to the winners go the task of writing history'. We survived more openly and the various nature path religions and cults didn't do so openly. Even though some of you are stronger, and usually more dangerous, it's seen that way because you guys don't have standardized education and standards of conduct." He opened the right door and walked in. "Aurors?" he asked. They nodded. "Gringotts asked for our help in an inquest about Case 3. Here is our suspect list to compel and summon. Here is the Ministry warrant," he said, presenting it. "I and my associate will be questioning them here."
"Special Agent McGee, NCIS." They gaped. "Trained in Chicago. This is CSI Wolfe, from Miami."
"He is one of us?"
"No, I'm one of the other sort that was working with your sort to break into vaults," Ryan told him dryly. "And I have been since I was fourteen." That got some nods and they went to prepare a room. He looked at the officer working with them. "I'm sensing that some of us worked for the old government?"
"Indeed. They were big in the KGB. Many were scared of your type."
Ryan smiled. "I'm a chaos as natural path person."
"Even worse. Your type made some of us disappear."
"I promise not to today," he offered with a small smile. "This is only the questioning phase."
He closed the door on the room they would be questioning in. "What was taken?"
"A number of vaults were broken into," McGee offered. "Including a few work vaults of cursebreakers. Dumass is heading the investigation." That got a moan. "You know Alexx?"
"How old is he now?"
"Twenty-three," Ryan offered. The wizard looked confused.
"The curse that hit him deaged him back to five," McGee offered. "He regrew on the Boca hellmouth without his powers. They were locked by Dumbledore." The wizard shuddered and wrapped his arms around himself. "He got them back before the war so he could help."
"He's not happy at the moment. This investigation is taking him away from his consort," Ryan offered. The man gave him a horrified look. "Consort veela, Draco Malfoy- Dumass."
The man bowed his head and muttered a prayer, then nodded. "I understand how serious this is. Anytime he is called to see something or to fix a situation it is bad. This time?"
"His work vault was one," Ryan agreed.
The wizard nodded, taking the list to summon them. They had rogue artifacts in the country and it was a bad thing. He looked at his boss. "Gringotts has a Case 3. Dumass is in charge of the investigation." His boss's eyes went wide and he started to cross himself. "Work vaults were broken into. Including his." He handed over the list. "They need these people."
"I will get them." He went to send aurors out to personally get them and then warn his counterparts so they wouldn't have to spend too much time hunting people down.
Alex strolled into Britain's ministry, waving at the guy at the desk. "Gringott's business."
"Why?" the guard asked.
"Case 3. I'm in charge. Chief auror in?"
"Yes, but can you send Miss Rosenburg to some other country, just in case?" He looked at him. "I will beg. We don't need the panic attacks today."
"You do it so prettily," Alex teased, getting a snicker. He looked at Willow. "Going bye- bye. Go see...Tony." He sent her off with a flick of his wand. Horatio walked in behind him. "Better?"
"Much, thank you. Anyone else?"
"No, Don, Speed, and Mac are doing Paris. Stella and Calleigh are doing Brazil. Danny's doing Germany." He shrugged and headed to the elevator. "Going down." He hit the right button and leaned on the cage. "They're going to freak. I'll warn you now."
"I'm the big guns that Gringotts calls out in emergencies and other bad things." They landed and he walked out, leading to the nice door up the hall. He slammed the door open and strode in. "It's a bad thing," he announced. "I need auror support for retrieval and questioning." The aurors all stared in horror. "For Case 3." Most of them scrambled to get the list and find people. "Thank you. This is Lieutenant Horatio Caine, trained in New York. He's doing the questioning, I'm here for morale and scary support. I'll be reading various scary books to make them sorry as hell." That got some nods. "Room? Tea? Horatio, tea?"
"Water please," he offered, following the one who was leading them to an interrogation room. "Do you often make such announcements?"
"We prefer when he does," the head auror said as she walked in with tea and water. "Cold and warming charms already applied," she offered. She looked at Horatio. "The last time he came up on a case like this, Merlin's Storehouse in Stonehenge had been broken into and looted. His apprentices found it. The time before that, we had an escaping demon thinking he was a demi-god loose in the building. They only send him for the *bad* things," she told him. "Him announcing it means we don't have to worry what it is this time."
"Ah." He sipped his water and pulled out his warrant to hand it over. She read it and nodded, handing it back. "How long do you think it'll be?"
"Ten, twenty minutes."
Xander grinned. "Then I'm popping to the bookstore for my order. Be right back." He disappeared from right there.
"I want to know how he does that," she said grimly. "No one else can apparate from inside the Ministry."
"He proved he does a lot of theoretical things," he offered cautiously.
"We figured that out when he got the camp moving spell to work. Also when he got the Bernuli realm theorem to make sense and then made it work." She sat down. "What got broken into?"
"Some work vaults and other ones," he admitted. "Including his." She went pale and wobbled. "Are you all right?"
"Demonic?" she asked hopefully.
"Mostly." She sighed and moaned, going to make that report. She came back. "We're asking the people who can do what was needed to narrow down the fifty to the six or seven we need."
"What would they have that we can search with?"
Alex reappeared with a stack of books and handed her something. "The detector. Their keys used things from out of time. That's wandless and not."
"I understand. What's the range? And did you know how much trouble you nearly got Harry into?" Alex raised an eyebrow. "He was seen grabbing his arm during a practice. He had to out that he's a Bane."
"Yes, he is. Especially to Abby's concentration," he noted dryly. She giggled at that. "Abby is the dark haired young gothic woman he's been seen with."
"She is adorable. A bit older but adorable."
"He doesn't stutter and terminally blush with her. The aunts are *all* pleased." She smiled at that. "Go find them. Search the estates on the list then send that to Italy."
She nodded. "Should we worry?"
"There's no evidence that they've released anything. They could be collecting and coveting. They could be planning to use things. They stole gold, gems, and artifacts. All from the same tier of vaults. Which aren't sequentially numbered. They skipped from one to the other, not in a row. They knew what they were hitting." She nodded. "Go, search. Any word on Narcissa?"
"We've checked into it and we think it may have been hijacked but we can't tell where or by who yet. We're working on it, Alex. Has anyone sent a ransom note?" He shook his head. "No contact?"
"Not a bit," he admitted. "Not unless Draco's keeping it from me."
"We'll make sure." She looked at the list. "The twins.... Well, I suppose you wouldn't suspect them."
"Their wife would kill them horribly," he noted dryly. "None of the other Banes are on there either. Tipsy and the Prof could tel if someone did that. I already had him check, no go on any of us. It narrowed down the list by about ten people."
"We noticed you had crossed some off," Horatio agreed, looking at him.
"Nine Banes and a dead person," he agreed dryly. "She died before this started. She was one of us."
"That's fine. Those sort of weeding out had to be done by a member of the group," he agreed. "Think we can get a game in since you have us covered for a week?"
"If we get done before the week's done."
"That's a good incentive," he decided. He looked at him. "What do you think about me and the trio?"
"I suggested they include you," he said gently, patting him on the back. Their first person was walked in and he pulled up his first book. "This is Lieutenant Caine. He is doing an inquest for Gringotts. You'll answer him or I get to prove why I'm the head of this inquest." He flipped to the section he wanted and got to work. "Go ahead, Horatio."
Horatio looked at the young witch. "Miss Granger. There have been a number of vaults broken into at the bank," he said, watching as she sat down. "You have the knowledge and skills to have taken part."
"But that's not a surety that I did. I've always been one of the ones who helped Harry and Ron."
Alex looked at her and she shuddered. "In this case, it was work vaults. Possibly a collector, possibly not." She went pale. "Including mine." She went tense. "Now, you do have the skills. You also are known to be a sharer, especially of your research. You're also known to be lax with your research materials at times."
She shook her head. "I've kept it locked when I could," she assured them, looking at Horatio. "What areas?"
He pulled out a folder and flipped it open. "Power warping, theoretical magic, distance, time, and space studies, magical math, portals and transport magic, and theoretical charms." He flipped it closed and looked at her. "All of which you've shown an interest and asked the bank to let you look at books on. That's why you're included."
She shook her head slowly. "My interest was for a medical charm to...to bring a patient back so you could have more time. Not this. Magical math?"
"Arithmancy is the lower levels of that," Alex noted. "In my years, it was your third, fourth, and fifth years, then you went onto the higher magical maths and theoretical in your seventh year if you got into the advanced seventh year class instead of the regular one." He glanced at her again. "That theorem you were working with for that? Magical math. Anything quantum or calculus and above would be."
She shuddered at that thought. "I don't deal in that. I passed Arithmancy with top honors. I took the highest NEWT in it. I never got higher and the teacher only hinted at the higher maths. She taught us how to solve a few types of equations that she said were outside of arithmancy itself but nothing further."
Alex opened a book and pushed it toward her. "You're looking at this sort of formula for portal magic, Hermione."
She looked and traced it with her finger. "I don't even ...know how to solve this," she admitted, looking at him again.
"Do you know anyone who would?" Horatio asked.
She considered it, then nodded. "Let me see if they're on your list. If not, I'll gladly name names. He's a genius and he's got students working for him during the summers. I worked for him my post-graduate summer. It's incredibly easy to get into his research." Horatio handed over the list. She tapped a name. "Him. I would dare say that if it wasn't him, it would be one of his students who took something of his. He was working on theoretical realm shifts the summer I worked with him. Trying to travel to other ones to see if the elves in the Tolkein books exist or not."
Alex looked at the name, then at her. "He's still alive?" She nodded. "I went to school with him." She let out a small smile. "He was weird then." He looked at Horatio. "The other fields. Any names pop out at you from the checkout cards?"
"Draco's." He grimaced. "I know he isn't but still. Um, Perdry Lemongrass?"
"We have her on our list as well," Horatio agreed. She took it back and stared at it, then took out a pencil and made notations, handing it back. "You know others in your fields already?"
"I work in the archives," she said blandly, staring him down. "Those are who I've seen repeatedly in those sections." She stood up. "If I can be of any more help, let me know, Alex. And where might Harry be?"
He looked up then at her. "In bed. He's got late practice since his next game is a night game."
"Oh." She pouted. "Think you could make him come in for tea with his girlfriend so I can meet her?"
"Send an owl," he told her dryly. She smiled and nodded, walking off. He looked at Horatio. "Their best friend. Remind you of Willow?"
"A lot," he agreed, looking at the list. "Who's next?"
"Teaches arithmancy," Alex told him, going back to his reading. "She's on the list?"
"No but she'll have an idea of who could do the work," the auror suggested. "It could weed down your list some."
Alex looked back at him. "We think they had brains and doers in this case. Five doers and one or two at home."
He nodded. "We figured as much but the brains are often easier to trick or break into a confession, Alex. Let me bring in the professor." He went to get her and bring her in. "They had some questions, Professor."
"He thinks you can weed down our lists," Horatio agreed. "Professor, who on this list," he said, handing over the main list, "can do magical math?"
She blinked. "We're talking the higher levels?" Alex put a book in front of her and whimpered. She looked at the list and pointed at three names. "They could. Professor Airdale wouldn't though. One of his students would be more than capable of tricking him to get his help or to steal his research. We've all worried about the old coot."
Alex nodded. "He was weird in school. Any students you placed with him that come to mind?"
"I saw Miss Granger. Beyond her?" She considered it, looking at the list again, then she suddenly sat up straighter. "Miss Lemongrass has a cousin in Italy and she told me once that she was working on something that had to do with portals. She said she and the professor were talking now and then. She was going to Venice when she graduated, a year behind her, so she'd have been in Miss Granger's year. Um, there was one out of the school in Kenya as well. Also one out of the school in Cuba if I remember right. There were some students with minor skills coming out of the schools you would expect - China, Japan, India's school up by the Burmese boundary. Not the main one but the small, private academy. There was one in Brazil." She looked at Horatio. "Have you looked at the Magical Math and Arithmancy Competition lists?"
"That wasn't my area, mine was charms," he admitted. "Can you tell me about this competition?"
"It's held every four years anymore. Not enough geniuses who get to this level anymore. In Alex's day it was widely taught but we've had to dumb down the curriculum due to the dumbing down of the students and lowering expectations. The only one who teaches magical math in the Empire is the Deares Academy in Canada."
Alex looked at her. "That's exclusive, only admits twenty students a year, total, and each year the students have to fight against the new ones for spots. Even a year there guarantees you a spot in one of the universities." She nodded at that. "I thought Hildegarde was."
"She is, but like me anymore. She teaches some limited equations but not the full subject."
"All right," Horatio agreed. "Where would we go to look up this competition and who was in it?"
"Professor Airdale was one of the judges and scholars overlooking the formulas this year. You'll be talking to him anyway about his students so I would probably ask him. He's in Derry at the moment I think. Somehow he moves his house every decade. If he doesn't know who did the math, he'll know who to see from the competition. I'm happy when one of my students makes it to cleaning his chalkboard for a summer, like Miss Granger did. I would definitely talk to the Lemongrass girl's cousin in Italy however."
"Thank you. I'll make note of both those suggestions. Any other names that pop out?"
She considered it. "Draco has a cousin, who has a son and an illegitimate son. The illegitimate son is said to be very bright and slightly evil. The only problem with that was he's a sixth year this year I believe and he's at the Hildegarde academy. He has been for the last two years, transferred from Drumstrang," she admitted. "His family's hiding him."
"We'll be checking with him," Horatio agreed. "Thank you." He added the notation to the list.
"I do hope you find who did it. What was stolen this time? I was told it was a Case."
"They broke into some of the work vaults," Alex admitted. "Including mine."
"Oh, dear Merlin," she whispered. She swallowed. "I'll put Father Philip on alert, Alex. Thank you for the warning." She hurried off, going back to the school to report to her headmaster immediately.
"Did anyone find out where Airdale is living this decade?" Alex called.
"Derry. He's about to move. You want the first suspect?"
"Please." He sipped his tea and went back to his reading. "It was a nice thing to find out."
"It was. It gave us a definitive source. How bad is he?"
"For me to say someone's weird, Horatio, that's saying something," he noted. He looked at him over the top of his book. "That's like you saying someone's a good criminalist."
Horatio quirked a small smile. "Fine. Should I expect Legolas?"
"No, he was always more into the hobbits really. I think he wanted to date Pippin or something." Someone cleared their throats. "Get in here." They were walked in and sat down. "You will answer Lieutenant Caine. This is a Gringott's matter." He looked at them. "Or else." He went back to his reading.
The witch stuttered, looking at the lieutenant. "What's going on? I didn't think I overdrew my account and this seems a bit much for that I would hope."
Horatio looked at the notes Hermione had made. "You've been studying portal magic for how many years?"
"Um, twenty, nearly," she said, looking confused. "Why?"
"Someone has been using them inside the bank." She shook her head. "No?"
"That's impossible. Goblin magic and their portals aren't what I study. I'm studying things like the camp moving spell." Alex flicked his wand in a circle and she moved ten feet. "You made it work!" she said, standing up and glaring at him. "How dare you!"
"I've had it working since I was twenty-six," Alex said blandly, turning the page. "Why do you think Gringotts sends me to handle the really bad shit. Sit down!" She sat suddenly, staring at them. "Answer the questions."
"Yes, um, you are?"
"Oh, shite." She blinked at Horatio. "This is really serious? Not a prank?" Horatio shook his head. Her lower lip trembled. "I didn't do anything to the bank. I swear it. I like the bank. They've given me numerous loans so I could keep up my research and not have to work."
"Has anyone approached you about these sort of portals?" Horatio asked her. She shook her head quickly. "No one's shown interest in your work recently, even other academics?"
"No. If I may ask, how did you make it work?" she asked. He pulled a book out and held it up. "I... I've read that in a different author's hand." She made note of the title and author. "Is it hard to find?"
"Nope. Obsolete textbooks. Pay attention to Horatio."
"Yes, sir." She looked at him again. "I'm sorry. I would *never* harm the bank. They've been good to me."
"Not even if the thieves promised you money to continue your research?"
She shook her head. "Last year I came into an inheritance when my husband shot himself. I don't need it. I paid off my last loan from the proceeds and I'm living comfortably now."
"Why weren't you before?" Horatio asked.
"He was working fairly hard here at the Ministry and I was only doing research. When he offed himself, I got his insurance and pension. Plus I sold our house to move somewhere smaller. For just me it's enough. With both of us it wasn't. I don't know how someone like Arthur Weasley made due with a family on Ministry paychecks."
Horatio nodded. "Can you think of anyone who has an interest or is working in this field?"
"Ask Professor Airdale. That would take a lot of math. That's what's holding me back." She stood up. "Can I go?" Horatio nodded.
"We'll come back to you if we have more questions," Alex noted patiently. She nodded and hurried out. "That was a lie. She does know someone."
"I gathered that as well," Horatio agreed, looking at him. "Are all those relating?" Alex smirked and nodded. "Because you can do all this, can't you?" He smirked harder and nodded again. "How well?"
"I know exactly how they pulled it off. That's why I called for who I did. They would've had to used a computer to acquire targets and do the formulas. I do and I know this stuff backward and forward. Hold on," he called at the sound of footsteps. "The portal magic would require someone who was fluent in Bassinggil. What they did was they headed down to a vault, with a faked key most likely, and transported through time to do it. That way the key was fresh. I'm fairly sure the keys are either here or Italy. The brains are here or Italy. That's why I sent the people with the skills I did there. The thieves themselves are either in Paris, Russia, or Germany. With Don, Speed, and Mac, they can handle the thieves there. Speed can tell who was using the wandless if they run into them. If they're in Russia, Ryan can. If they're in Italy, Tony or Willow can. If they're in Germany, Danny can and I think the cursebreaker is there.
"I got you because you do know charms; you and Danny had the theoretical charm already worked out. Ryan helped with the shielding and Willow with the math. Don's a curse breaker, I needed a second one in the group. Mac and Gibbs are Marines. If we have to go in as an action, we have that end covered with you guys backing them up. Mac does know magical assault patterns as well. The quad wouldn't come without Stella and I was pretty sure her transfiguration lessons might've come in handy somehow. I could've have been sure but they wouldn't have left her anyway. Calleigh was a bonus. Ryan said she needed a vacation." He went back to his reading. "If it wasn't for you guys, I'd have asked Greggy to come and the twins to help but that wouldn't have gotten me the high-end thinking that you guys did, which was what we needed. Because even though I know how it was done, I can't prove it without busting myself for being a theory person and if I do that then Gringotts has vowed to lock me away from humanity forever because they know I know too much already. That's why they send me on these things, because I know how they did it."
"So, it's a matter of giving us the clues we needed and then us figuring out which ones it was while you sit there and go 'that's impossible' now and then?"
"Yup. The theory I just worked out, it'll be an opening charm that only two types of locks can't defeat. If that gets out, there's no tomb really safe and they'll have to up the quality of locks in the newer ones. That's why cursebreakers will be swearing my name for generations to come. Gringotts is worried that I'll end up like Airdale, people will come and take my research. It wouldn't be the first time someone had and screwed themselves royally by doing so because Airdale always leaves a step unwritten in his equations. In this case, it'll be better because we can stop this knowledge from getting out. Because I'm guessing, but I think they merged the whole process into one or two charms. One to capture the key and load it onto their fake key, one to do the breaking."
"So, we're looking for the brains?"
"Yeah, we're looking for the brains. We have one good suggestion in the Lemongrass cousin. There's one other here. The only places to learn magical math that way are here, at Hildengarde, or there with the Venetian teacher over math. Now, having said that, some people do pick it up independently, like Hermione, Tony, and Danny. Though, I'd never take a class from her. She nags and she's pushy according to Harry. Nagged them into studying all the time."
"So, if you and Danny had a child," he taunted.
Alex looked at him. "They'd be doing this work. Why do you think Gringotts got so excited when I took on a new apprentice. Each of my apprentices are special in some way. Bill's got a great hand at Runes. We all have to know some but he's figured out clues on walls that others bypassed. Harry, well, Harry's a power person. He's drawn to power sources, power flows. Anytime I'm looking for how a trap is powered, I let him go. Ron, he's great at defensive traps. Some year, he's going to be the guy teaching how these traps are created, magically and not. Draco's a potions person. Something we need desperately in the field, but he's also got the alchemy mindset. He's identified some chemical notations on some of what we've found that I would've bypassed because I suck at potions. Don's got this 'how does this work' curiosity but I think he's also got a pretty strong affinity for wrongness. That feeling that something's wrong. When I die, it'll be them who'll break my storehouses down, together, as a team."
"Ron's wife and pretty decent at power and transformation. She sees power flows. Like pretty ribbony hallucinations in front of her when she turns it on. That's part of being who she is. She'd have either joined me in the field or gone into research and that's boring so she hates it."
Horatio smirked. "So why add Danny?"
"Because Danny's great at theory. Speed's a theory person but in different areas. Danny's got my areas plus potions knowledge. He's like a kid between Draco and I. Tony can do most of it as well. Those three, if they put their mind to it, could possibly be my equal. Speed leading and Danny doing the practical while Tony does the stranger research. They've got the affinity to work together. Adding you in gives them some extra stability. Stella and Mac give Danny stability but you would stabilize the whole group. By the way, I'm still working on Danny's blood curse. There's some written on those but not much. Then again, I started in the field when we had to build everything ourselves, including half our charms."
"That's fine. Putting them together to work on Dawn's training...."
Alex smirked evilly. "You just read my mind. Into occulmencary?"
"Not really. We're done," he called. "Bring them." The next person was brought in and he went over the questions in the back of his mind while he worked on this.
The group met together again to compare notes. Horatio looked at Alex, who shrugged. "Did anyone realize that Alex is a theory person behind a lot of the cursebreaking spells?" he asked.
"Yup, read a few of his books," Speed admitted. "Read the new one last night. Was pretty good but it'd make just about anybody eligible for the field."
Alex shook his head. "There's more to the field than being able to break a lock charm. Then again, it's not that hard. When I started, it was a 'build your own charms' field. That's why the sensing and other spells are individual and then there's the Gringotts way which is newer."
"So, you knew how they did this?" Don asked. Alex nodded. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"Because if I let out that I know some of this stuff, I'm going to end up in a seclusion vault for the rest of my very short life."
"Oh. Why do I want to be in the field again?"
"Don, I spent about a third of my time on my ass injured. I had to do something so I wouldn't go insane with boredom. I picked you because you've got affinities that work well and enhance your natural skills." He looked confused. "Like being able to tell that the vault was open, even though it wasn't physically open. That's being able to sense a wrongness. Between that and your natural curiosity? It'll keep you safe and alive for decades to come. It'll probably also save your life at your real job. The best curse breakers don't work for the bank, they're using their skills in other ways and expanding the field. Plus doing research. The same way Greggy is, and Speed is."
"Oh." He considered that. "Then what about Dawnie?"
"I want those three to take over Dawn's education." The trio stared at him, shaking their heads as one. He looked at them and smirked evilly. "I will shift the libraries out of phase and reality. For you guys it'll be about twenty-six months. For us it'll be three days." They moaned as one. "With who and what Dawn is, I need her that trained and you guys gathered all the skills. I can't be the teacher she needs. She's my sister. I'm biased on both ends at times. The three of you managed what I did in sixty years."
"We went out of phase and reality plenty of times," Speed noted. Alex grinned at that. "It's easier that way. No one interrupts you in the middle of reading."
"True," Alex agreed. "It took me until I was forty to work out how to do that though." They smiled at that. "Yeah, I know, the book came out that year." He gave them a look. "Besides, sometimes I want to be twenty-three and spoil my husband rotten. There's not too many points left on my 'I'd come just from seeing these places' list. Malgadesh was my next to last and the last one is supposedly mythical."
"Supposedly?" Danny asked.
"Aphrodite's Temple." He moaned. "Yeah. That's my last on my wish list. Plus, hey, they don't know if this is going to extend my life or not."
"Okay," Gibbs admitted. "So I'd be without Tony for how long?"
"Probably a full week, give him time to readjust to being back here and to file his own library again." He nodded at Don. "I'd even let you take this one if you could talk him into it. He's still behind, even after another quick-learning session because he's not practicing."
"Lock him in a vault, see how long it takes him to get out," Gibbs offered.
"They're airtight," Don complained. "I don't hate you that much."
"Didn't know that, Don. Sorry."
Calleigh looked at him. "You can take them out of reality and space?" Alex and Speed both nodded. "How?"
"It's really difficult, bordering on dark magic because it could be used very wrongly, and it's dangerous," Speed told her.
"I slipped a week once but I felt really sick," Willow admitted.
"That's because you didn't balance it out and you went to where you were. I'm not taking them back in time so they can meet and screw themselves, I'm taking them out of reality, turning it into a pocket universe for a few days our time." He looked at them. "No holds barred, whatever she needs. Whoever you want in there out of the group. You can have any of the other junior curse breakers or Bill too if you want, because I will have him stolen for this."
"Damn it, I hate the carrot and the stick this time," Speed muttered. "Tempting."
"Yeah, because someone's got to. I'm feeling the suffocation of the seclusion vault already."
Tony looked at him. "But..." Alex smirked and winked. "Point." He looked at the others. "We'll talk about it later."
"Of course. How far did we narrow this down?"
"We have ten possible thieves and I took samples of the ones I did," Danny admitted.
"Us too," McGee said, handing over their swabs to the pile in front of Stella.
"We found one mastermind," Tony agreed. "The clue about the Lemongrass child wasn't quite it. It was her boyfriend. He was sponging off her research and doing what he understood of it. He's a charms person, she's a magical math person."
Gibbs nodded. "We also found the reason behind them. You guys?"
"We found where they got their research on our side but there's a few suspects from there," Horatio admitted. "Including Miss Granger. I'm not going to rule her out. She had access and she hates that these things are being so confined. She's a knowledge person and feels that they're being hidden if I read her right."
"And she'd be right," Alex agreed. "There's some very uncomfortable and unfortunate truths in those vaults. The other reason they don't really want to confine me. Because some of mine will come open and then they're fucked," he said quietly. That got some smirks. "No one ever said I wasn't vindictive. Because I am." He tapped the list. "So, tomorrow?" They nodded. "Do we have the charms in our possession? If not, this is the night they'll try it."
"We don't," Gibbs told him. "You guys?"
"No. We know how, we know that they may have merged them from individual, necessary ones into simpler single ones."
"That in itself means that someone's got brains for charms," Danny agreed thoughtfully. "Crap, that can take months. Is the boyfriend that good?"
"No," Tony said, grimacing. "He followed the instructions in her research. Someone else put it together, which is why I think there's a mastermind behind the casters. The mastermind worked it out, picked the targets. They cast it, the thieves go in, the thieves come out, the spell ends. The mastermind pays them royalties." He leaned on the table. "Where would we set up to watch them, Alex?"
"They've been going through Paris because it's the main European branch. Can we set up inside their parts of the tunnels?" Mac asked. "I'm assuming they've got some of their own."
"They do," Alex agreed. "We can set up there and have a patrol on that shelf. We're going to have them already out of time though. Probably before they walk into the bank." That got some nods. "So we'll all have to do the same."
"Sure," Danny agreed, nodding. "We can do that for the group, then put them into place. Put an ending clause on it." Speed nodded that he could help him with that. "What would we need for supplies?"
"Water and food," Alex offered. "It shouldn't take that long but it's nearly dinner and we'd better hurry up. Paris is closing in another hour." They broke up and went to make the plans while he gathered something. Then he helped cast the spell. Speed caught his eye and he winked at him. "It'll be fine. We can do this." They all nodded and phased out by the time the goblin came in to check on them again.
Alex watched the guys come in, smiling that he was right, they did have to have the casters with them. He froze the group and sucked out their memories with the device in his hand, then called the others. "Got 'em!" He put the device into his pocket. The others hurried up to get them. "Do we go back to the mastermind?"
"We do," Gibbs agreed. "Because it won't stop and he'll go higher next time. Could he feel this?"
"Unless they're in synch with us, no." That got an evil smirk from Tony. "Truth." He got the last one down and cuffed. "Make the plan, Mac." Mac deployed them then cast the reverse that they had built into their portkeys, dragging them to the Mastermind's home, landing back in Venice. "I hate this city," he muttered as he followed them upstairs. He paused to inhale the memories and make them his own, then caught up with the group. They found her waiting upstairs and Tony growled. "Easy."
"No!" He stomped over and turned his great aunt around. "How could you disgrace the family this way!" he demanded. She looked offended. "Don't even! We're on the inquest. Congratulations. You wanted to see me?"
"Not like this, Anthony." She stood up.
Mac froze her. "Fat chance I'm letting you hurt him, woman." He used the key to summon the goblins, bringing them and other curse breakers running. "We came to track the mastermind and found her."
They looked then one nodded. "Not the first time. Report back to the rooming house while we clean up."
Danny pulled out the detector and waved it around. "They're not here."
Alex tapped Don and pointed at something. "What's that?"
"Clearly backwards. I've seen that painting hundreds of times in books." He walked over to the backward copy of the Mona Lisa and searched, coming up with the portal. It opened and he looked at the detector. It was flashing rapidly and starting to smoke. "I take it this is it?"
"Yeah, drop it," Ryan warned. Danny dropped it and Willow destroyed it. "Well, we need heavier shielding next time," he told her. She nodded. "Let's gather them."
"We will," a goblin told him.
Alex looked at him. "Fat chance I trust you lot. We found two of the younger ones involved." They gave him horrified looks. "I turned them in to Gruinth personally." He looked around. "Danny, blood curse?"
"Oh, yeah." He looked around then went to find his father. Don and Mac ghosted behind him. He found him up in the family's suite/cell. He tapped them walked in. His mother gave him a horrified look. "Yeah, I'm still living, even with that nasty little blood curse on me. You might think about removing it unless you want the family name to die with me. Not like there's any Messers left in the wilds."
"No," his father said. "You're weak."
"Is that why I've just been helping with an inquest through Gringotts? Or why I'm a level two CSI?" His father sneered. "Yeah, I know, because I don't like violence, I'm weak. Well...." He pulled his wand and pointed it at him. "Crucio." He screamed and writhed. Danny canceled it. "Still think so?" he asked dryly. "Remove it. Now. Or else we'll let the next Vinese clean up the parts."
"I release you," he ground out. "You are one of us."
"No thanks. Like my life. Like my boys. Like fucking my boys really." He shrugged and walked out, smirking at his mother's screams of fury that he was gay. Don resealed the suite with a lock Alex had taught him and put an arm around his shoulders. He grinned at him. "Now all we've got to do is fully release it, which means I've got to be changed using the DNA changing spell because it'll drop off. Wanna come when we train Dawnie?"
"Sure. Mac, you mind?"
"No, not at all." He smiled at Danny. "The same as I'll understand if things happen while you're gone." Danny smiled and nodded at that. "Stella said she would too when we came up the stairs." He patted them both on the back of the head. "Have fun with that."
"Of course. Now all we gotta do is figure out where Alex is going to show up next."
"Um," Don said.
Danny stopped him and looked at him. "Do you really think they'll let the person who *knows* how they did it go?" he asked quietly.
"But he can get out... oh." Danny smiled and nodded. "He'll need his wand," he said quietly.
"Remember, he's a cursebreaker too," Danny pointed out. He gave him a pinch on the arm. "Come on." They headed back down. "Done on that part, now we've got to do part two," he told Speed. "We'll do it while we're with Dawnie in the library." He looked around. "They took Alex already?"
"Yup," Stella said, frowning greatly.
"He's got a plan," Gibbs said quietly. "Trust Alex. Remember, he's not really twenty- three, he's eight-seven." She sighed and nodded, not liking that anyway. "We've got to go back to the rooming house to write up whatever reports they want, then back to the castle, right?" They all nodded. "Or straight to the castle?"
"Straight to the castle once we're packed," Danny offered. He played with his necklace, looking at them. "Screw it. The house elves can come." He made the portkey and they all latched on, going back to home base. He looked at one of the house elves. "Me, go get our crap from the goblin's rooming house," he said, handing over the metal divot key. "All our stuff." She nodded and left. He looked around then at Speed. "Call to get Dawnie. I'm sure they've got his stuff back."
"Probably." He went to do that, finding her in the library. "When did you get here?"
"When Alex called over the Bane marker to tell me to get here for my own safety. By the way, Abby's upstairs." She stood up. "What is going on?"
"Alex asked us to train you and the goblins just turned on him," Speed offered quietly. "He knew too much."
"Well, duh. Most curse breakers don't make it past thirty-eight." She looked over as Alex strolled in. "How did you get away so fast?"
He smirked. "I'm evil like that. I did what our suspects did and what you'll be doing later and created a small parallel universe for myself that had air, food, and all that good stuff, waiting until they realized I wasn't in there. Then I phased out right as I came back across the boundary. I even left it up there as a trap. Then I casually walked out behind them, came out in Cairo's branch about three hours ago, and came back after doing some housekeeping duties. Why?" he asked with a sweet smile. "By the way, go pack." She nodded, going to do that. "You're going to have two years or so of training. Get them some notebooks and stuff too." She sighed and went to dig into that stash. He looked at the others. "Don't ever fuck with a cursebreaker, especially not the older ones. It's just plain old stupid of them." Someone tapped on his shoulder and he smiled back at their patron saint. "Hi. Did I break untold natural laws again?"
"Well, yes, but not why I'm here." He gave him a hug. "I'm so proud! They're all screaming in fear as that parallel world starts to eat them and the seclusion vaults. Plus the three things you released out of that one and the other books you released are going to cause a national panic."
"Then next time, don't fuck with me," he reminded him. He turned and gave him a real hug. "No national panic. Researchers will be swearing at me for years as they move to see if their ideas and my ideas work together. Some work and some don't. I did that so they could be frustrated trying." He beamed at Gibbs. "McGee's going to be one of them." McGee moaned at that. "The book on the electricity and computers versus magic? It does work, all but three chapters." He produced a copy and handed it over. "Here you go. Have fun." He went up to his usual room to sit and read.
"Have I ever told you that you being mean is incredibly sexy?" Tony asked.
Alex shook his head. "Nope. But thanks." He beamed at Horatio. "Want to go for a fly?"
"That might be risky."
"Only if they want the wrath of god to bite them on the arse," Professor Armwrench assured him, disappearing.
"How can he do that and no one else can?" Calleigh asked.
"He's very powerful," Tony said, patting her on the back. "Dawn, hurry up." She came down the stairs with her dog, her boyfriend, and her school trunk. He looked in the library. The house elves had put cases of paper, quill, ink, food, drinks, and coffee, plus a coffee maker and a new bathroom off to the side. "Cool. Home sweet home. Beds?"
"Six of the couches pull out," Dawn told him. "Who else is coming?"
Speed, Danny, Don, and Ryan came in. Ron looked edgy. "Ryan?" Speed asked patiently.
"There's stuff I can learn and you'll need help teaching my area. You can't do chaos and neither can they but she can."
"He's the most controlled chaos person I've ever seen," Danny admitted. Don nodded and shrugged, going to sit down. "Dawn?"
"If that's what I need." She looked at Ron. "If you're not here, I'm going to be with them for the next two years out of our time and space. They would probably mind if I masturbate."
"Probably," he sighed, deciding then. "Want the dog?"
"Will it age him any?"
"Nope," Ryan told her. "Or us."
"Midnight." He came running and Speed set the spell on their side, Alex doing it on the other. The rest of the house grayed out. It was like fog was filling the doorway. She felt a wrench and then they were settled. She looked at them. "Okay, I'm doing what first?"
"First, pick a couch, help me set up the coffeemaker, and let's go over what you really know. He said you've done some private research."
"Which could be very naughty," Danny agreed, smiling at her.
"Yes, sirs." She went to do that with her dog and Ron's help. She picked a couch in the other tower, one behind an intervening bookshelf. She looked at Ron, then groaned. "Tampons?"
"We'll work on that potion first," Danny called. "Get out here and help."
"Yes, Danny." She went to do that, finding most everyone with a book already. She pouted. "Where's the potions supplies?"
"Create some," Don told her. She looked confused. "Speed said you could."
"I can?" She looked at Speed. "Like transfiguration?"
"No, like pulling from another reality."
"Isn't that going to unbalance things?"
"Not really. We're out of touch of all of them. We can pretty well rob carefully if we want. Nothing that would be missed." She sighed and went to look in the card catalog to find a book on how to do that.
Alex looked up from his reading as a goblin stormed into his office. "I could've sworn I locked you guys out of the castle." He went back to his reading. "Next time, don't try shit, Gruinth."
"It was not my decision. You can be a danger to us."
"Have I been?"
Alex looked at him. "Push me, watch me do so." The goblin stepped back. "Your own fault for pushing me. If you don't push me I don't do shit."
"We cannot let you run free with what you know of us."
"No, you can't let me run free with how I know how to undermine the bank, yet you've done that for the past forty years." The goblin looked stunned. "You forget, I wrote that book, Gruinth. You might want to check the references and my file." He went back to reading, turning the page. "You also might want to note that screwing with me again will only cause the bank more harm. It's not like I don't take the jobs no one else will. And hey, you could *always* have solved earlier by yourself, right?"
"You have The Key in your possession," he said. "We want it."
"Fat chance I'm turning it over. It's not in Key form anymore." The goblin looked stunned so he smirked behind his book. "It's not. It's also safe." The goblin growled. "You're sounding rabid."
"You cannot stop us."
Alex put down his book and leaned forward on his desk. "Really? Would you like me to put out the other books? Because I've got copies lying around here somewhere I'm sure." The goblin took a step back. "I have slaved and nearly died for your bank. Time to repay some loyalty. You know damn good and well I'm not handing it out. The only people who have access are the other Banes and my very few, carefully chosen students. Who do you think is going to use that against the bank?"
"The team you assembled. Two of them aren't even magical."
"The two of them are magical. One of them isn't very magical and she'd end up being a very weak nature path. Gibbs is a lot more powerful than you think. He doesn't want to do it. Big difference." The goblin huffed. "Any other qualms? Because it's not like you can erase their memories. I've already blocked that."
"We can remove them."
"No, you can't. That doesn't work on nature paths." He leaned back and looked at him. "You've already lost and you're deeply out of favor with me, Gruinth. You're going to have to beg really hard the next time you need me. Since one of the digs with a goblin-only crew just exploded last night from what I heard..... Have fun with that and get out of my house." He looked horrified. "I'm not going. Bill can go if you can talk him into it. Of course, he already knows what went on. Handy thing my mentor created, communication charms." The goblin took another step back. "He knows all about what happened yesterday evening. And so does Draco. So does Arthur Weasley."
"You would leave our young to suffer?"
"You would try to kill me by putting me in a vault to suffocate?" he countered. "Then the answer is yes." He picked back up his book and put his feet up. "Now, I believe I asked you to leave. We're going to be having fun and flying later." He stomped off in a huff. "Pity but you brought it on yourself. Your debits and credits aren't equal anymore. You've run out of credits with me." The door slammed. "Fine. Be that way." He smelled the troll and sighed, pulling his backup wand and stunning it, then banishing it back into the main bank. Then he summoned his things they had taken off him, including is wedding ring. He put it back on and put his wand in its usual spot in his waistband. Draco leaned in. "Yes, Gruinth put a troll in here. It's in the main bank's office."
"Pity," he agreed, coming in to sit in his lap. "Did you leave part of yourself there?" Alex smirked at him and pulled him down for a kiss. "Well?"
"It'll be back later tonight, Draco," he said quietly.
"As long as it won't hurt you."
"Nope." He snuggled into his chair and put his book down to have his mate.
Mac started to walk in then saw what was going on, backing out and going in the other direction. "Draco and Alex are in the office," he noted to the others, who just rolled their eyes. Stella smiled at him. "They are cute."
"They are. Was that a troll?" Mac nodded. "Why?"
"He came with the goblin clinging to him. It got him past the no-goblins orders on the floo." He pulled her up. "We've got to check in at home."
"I already did. Sheldon said they're doing fine. Eric said the Miami crew is arrogant and acting like Feds, but they're doing the job. He's only had to yell at two of them and Alexx backed him up. They've solved most of the cases and the experienced techs are having a field day teaching them what they should know. They get to brag this way." He smiled at that. "They're fine and we've got another two days before we get Danny and Don back, then we'll play a fun game." He nodded, smiling at her. "So relax, go sit down and read one of the other billions of books that's laying around the house."
"Fine. I'll go into the garden and read some more. Want to go with me?"
"Sure." She grabbed them a drink and went with them.
"Young love is so cute," Abby sighed, smiling at Harry. "So are you." He beamed and kissed her for that. "Hey, Gibbs, if we get that serious, family rules say we've got to get married here."
"That's fine. I can come back for the wedding," he reminded her. "The others can come but they won't remember how they got here, just that it was beautiful and you were scary in black."
She laughed at that. "Thanks, Gibbs. Long way off but I'll keep that in mind."
Harry blushed brightly. "Far way off. Only when you're ready."
"Thanks, Harry." She kissed him again and drug him off to walk in the front yard.
Gibbs shook his head, looking at Calleigh. "Why do I have to watch that?"
"Because it's cute."
"It is but I'm going to be nauseous watching them." She laughed and hit him on the arm. "Did Willow head back?" She nodded. "We could get you back."
"I want to see quidditch." He smirked a bit. "I do. Where's McGee?"
"With his book on Harry's computer. Where he'll be for months when we get home." He looked up at the sound of screaming. "Some of us don't need to hear that, Alex."
"Not me," he called. "We're still dressed." They got up and went to the front door, finding Harry and Abby going at it.
"Yes, the aunts will be ecstatic about that," Draco said fondly, closing the door. He led Alex back to the study. "We're busy." He closed the door behind him. Just in case.
Gibbs shook his head and went to wander around the gardens with Calleigh. She could understand that he wanted silence and to look at the odd things, like the flowers that tried to bite them both when they walked past them. She laughed and he shook his head. Only in this world would you decorate with people-eating flowers.
The library opened and Midnight trotted out, going to find food in the kitchen. The house elves raced to check on the people who had been stuck in there and feed them something, but they were all asleep. They tucked in Tony, who was on top of Speed with a book between their chests. They checked on Dawn but she was curled up underneath Ron's snoring body. They checked Danny and Don but they were on separate couches with separate books and Ryan was the only one sitting up in a chair. Asleep but sitting up. One of them nudged him and he snapped awake.
"Mater Ryan go to sleep in his bed," she ordered. "Upstairs. Come, Favor will take you." She led him up to his room and let him into it, watching as he wobbled over and fell face down to sleep. The others were all in comfortable sleeping positions so they left them there.
To next part