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Phoenix by loony86

Format: Short story
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 14,520

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Substance abuse

Genres: General, Action/Adventure
Characters: Dumbledore, McGonagall, Moody, OC

First Published: 11/03/2006
Last Chapter: 11/27/2006
Last Updated: 01/13/2008


Phoenixes are powerful magical creatures, and they must have played quite an important role in history. But what if someone wanted to change that? What if someone risked major changes in our timeline just to make sure that Phoenixes were never introduced to large parts of the world? When that happens, Albus Dumbledore breaks with his belief that time should not be messed with, and asks Alastor Moody to change time back again.

Chapter 1: Messing with Time
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A/N: Lots of thanks go to Tahi (SiriuslyCrack) for her very long and helpful reviews. This re-write of “Phoenix” is mainly based on them. Also, lots of thanks to everyone else who r&r-ed! I love getting feedback and concrit from my readers.

“More tea?”

“Yes, thank you, Minerva.” Alastor Moody took the cup from her and started sipping the hot tea.

“Looks like a rather calm day for the Order,” Minerva said, “we haven’t had any reports out of the ordinary coming in today yet.”

“Yes, it’s usually quite calm before a storm,” Moody replied gloomily, “Constant vigilance, Minerva.”

“You’re such a pessimist, Alastor,” McGonagall answered.

They were sitting in the kitchen of Number 12, Grimmauld Place, coordinating the actions of all the other people fighting by their side. Things weren’t going too well lately, Lord Voldemort was gathering more and more followers every day, and there was little hope in sight. Even the ever cheerful James Potter was looking a bit worried lately, McGonagall thought.

“Well, you know I’m right, don’t you?” Moody grumbled between two sips of tea.

“I don’t want to think about it. I just refuse to consider certain possibilities,” McGonagall said seriously.

“Yes, I know. That’s what I cherish so much about you,” Moody replied.

Despite herself, McGonagall had to smile. Even compliments sounded somewhat grim and dark when they came from Moody.

Aloud, she said, “Why, thanks. Let’s just say that this oddly calm evening is a good sign then, shall we?”

“If you say so…,” Moody replied. He had been watching the room warily with his magical eye, but now he fixed both of his eyes on McGonagall.

“Thinking too much about calms and storms and other nautical things just brings back too many memories anyway,” he added.

“Really? Memories of what?” McGonagall wanted to know.

“Did I actually never tell about that?”

“About what?” she asked back curiously.

“About how I saved the world, naturally!”

Both of them couldn’t help but laugh about this statement.

“Which time exactly are you talking about?” McGonagall teased him.

“The very first time of course. Way back in the past… And when I say way back, I mean way back!”

“Now you’ve made me curious. I don’t think you ever told me about that…”

“Hm, I think Albus wanted to keep it a secret, but I guess it’s acceptable if I tell you,” Moody said with a wink.

It was several years ago, in the days of Grindelwald’s rise to power. Albus had sent me an owl, saying that he needed to talk to me. When I came into his office at Hogwarts he was sitting behind his table, and Fawkes had found himself a place on the desk. That was the first and, so far, only time I ever saw Fawkes look so unhappy and worried. I can’t explain it, but he seemed to be less brightly coloured than usually… He looked very troubled.

“Please sit down, Alastor,” Albus said.

Doing so, I asked him, “What’s the matter? Fawkes doesn’t look good, and you seem worried too.”

“Oh, there’s nothing wrong with Fawkes, strictly speaking. I learned about a plan Grindelwald is working on, and that’s what we’re both concerned about,” Albus replied, stroking Fawkes.

“What is he up to this time?” I inquired.

“It’s actually a truly brilliant scheme. If he succeeds, nothing will be the same. Chances are some of us won’t be alive at all. The whole structure of society, Muggle and wizarding world alike, will change."

A suspicion came to me, and I asked, “You mean… He’s not manipulating time, is he?”

I hadn’t expected Grindelwald to do something as foolish and risky as that. Whatever you do to time, it’s just as probable to kill you as it is to harm your opponents. It had up to now been an unspoken law of war that time was to be left out of all and any quarrels. Wars came and went, but time had to go on.

“Yes, he is planning to change history as we know it. That sounds overly dramatic, I know, but it’s true,” Albus added when he saw the disbelief on my face.

“Exactly what is he trying to do?”

“All of his scheme comes down to Phoenixes, and that’s what affects poor Fawkes so much. You know that Phoenixes have a deeper understanding of time than we do, and I think he senses the consequences of Grindelwald’s plan already. But let me explain the plan as I know it.

“You know what a Phoenix can do. He can heal wounds beyond the skills of any healer, he can carry enormous weights, he can appear anywhere on a moment’s notice. And you know that’s just the very beginning of the long list of their magical abilities. The Phoenix is one of the most powerful magical beings in our world.

“If you look closely at the history of this planet, you will see the great role Phoenixes have always played. Merlin himself had a Phoenix to help him, and so did many other witches and wizards. Some Phoenixes even chose to aid Muggle kings and lords for some time.” Albus paused for a moment, looking at me as if to see if I understood the implications of his introduction.

Fearing the worst, I asked, “He doesn’t want to kill the first Phoenixes to change history, does he? Can that be done at all?” My imagination was starting to run wild.

Fawkes fluttered nervously at my words, and I instantly regretted what I said. But Albus calmed the large bird, and said to me, “No, he doesn’t. I think it might be possible, yet hard to accomplish. No, he wouldn’t go to such lengths. What he does want to do though is prevent Phoenixes from being introduced to Europe. You know that they originally came from Southern America. Some of them visited Europe in the days of the ancient Egyptians and Greek, but they mostly stayed in America and Asia. For some reason they were never particularly interested in Europe. That is, until almost two thousand years ago: A Roman battle ship was drifting off course and, unable to find their way back, they finally landed on the shores of Southern America.”

“You mean America was discovered centuries before Columbus? By Romans?” I interjected.

“It was discovered long before Columbus, and not just once. Many seafaring cultures reached the American continent at some point in their history.

“But these Romans met the Maya, a native culture that was quite highly developed already. Somehow they managed to convince the Maya to allow them to take a Phoenix back to Europe with them, and the Maya helped them with some navigational problems so that they reached Europe safely. Later, others of those fabulous birds followed.”

I began to understand what this tale was aiming at and said, “And that was the reason European history developed the way it did…”

“Yes, and the Phoenixes had an altogether positive influence on our leaders. No Phoenix would ever help anyone in unjust doings,” Albus continued my thought.

“You mean our history would have been even crueller than it was if it hadn’t been for the Phoenixes?” It was hard to imagine that – although I should’ve known that life could always get worse.

“I think so, yes. Sherbet lemon?”

“I beg your pardon?”, I said, totally bewildered.

“Would you like a sherbet lemon? You’re going to need it for the rest of the tale, it’s nowhere close to finished yet.” He took some of the sweets himself.

“No, thanks,” I replied impatiently.

Albus shrugged. “As you wish. Where was I? Ah, yes. Grindelwald, on the other hand, believes that the world would have developed into a place that would be a lot easier for him to rule, to put it sarcastically. He will travel back in time himself, to ancient Rome. There he’ll try to find a way to convince the Romans not to let this ship sail anywhere on that particular day. That would at least postpone events a bit, and Grindelwald hopes that Phoenixes won’t come to Europe until centuries later.”

“But this plan is crazy!” I protested, “Phoenixes could be brought to Europe for a thousand reasons, on a thousand occasions!”

“True, but that would probably happen decades later, and those decades could change everything. Grindelwald is willing to take that chance.”

“He’s crazy,” I muttered to myself, then asked aloud, “What are you going to do about it?”

“Actually I figured that you would do something about it,” Albus answered.

“And what am I going to do, then?”

“You will also go back in time.”

“But… we can’t mess around with time, we would be no bit better than Grindelwald if we did that!” I could hardly believe that Albus was actually suggesting something like that.

“I’m glad you see it that way, Alastor, but we have no choice here. I hate this option as much as you do, but we must stop Grindelwald, or else we could give up this fight straight away. We can’t allow him to change our timeline, the timeline of billions of people living now and in the past. Of course you will have to be extremely careful not to do more harm than necessary. It’s little good if Phoenixes reach Europe in time but the Romans come back telling everyone about things they’re not supposed to know.”

“I suppose you’re right,” I said, “Come to think of it: Why didn’t the Romans tell everyone that they discovered a new continent?”

“They did, but hardly anyone believed them. Or what did you think where all the stories about Atlantis came from?”

I didn’t know an answer to that. Instead, I asked, “So you want me to go to ancient Rome and kindly ask the Romans to sail to America?”

“Basically, yes. But there’s one more thing,” Albus said. Well, you know that kind of expression he always wears when he’s about to tell you the main point of a story in one sub clause.

“What is it?” I asked, unsure if I wanted to know at all.

“I studied old notes written by the Roman captain and some of his officers. They mentioned a wizard.”

“Grindelwald?”, I suggested.

“No. They’re writing about a wizard who came on board their ship to guide them, because they started their sailing tour in bad weather. The wizard failed though, and they ended up in America after all. There, he was the one who negotiated with the Maya and managed to get a Phoenix which he brought back with him.”

“I fear I know what you mean, Albus,” I said.

“Yes. It already happened. That’s the confusing thing about time travel. I’m convinced that you were this wizard who promised to guide them but instead led them to America.”

“But what about Grindelwald? Why didn’t he succeed?” I asked despite the fact that my head was spinning already.

“I don’t know,” Albus admitted, “I suppose you found a way to stop him.”

“Oh, great. And I did that, erm, how?”

“As I said, I don’t know how you did it. I could suggest a possibility or two, but I can’t know for sure if it’s what you did. Will do, I mean. Or, no, I guess ‘did’ is the better word here.”

“That’s all so confusing! What would the possibilities you spoke about be?”

“I think the easiest way would be to manipulate his Timeturner. I know that you could probably risk a duel with him, but that might cause too much trouble, people will notice it, and that will result in further problems. No, you should go for his Timeturner,” Albus confirmed.

“He’ll have it with him all the time,” I considered.

“He’ll have to sleep,” Albus simply said, “I’m sure you’ll find a way somehow.”

“Alright, let’s say I manage to get his Timeturner, What will I do with it?” I wanted to know.

“A Timeturner can be forced into taking its owner back to the time they came from. I’ll show you how to do that.”

“Okay. And then I just have to find a way to get onto that Roman ship, mislead them to America, and make the Maya give me a Phoenix?”

“Yes, that’s the general idea,” Albus nodded. “I know I’m asking a lot of you, but I know that you can do it.”

“I hope you’re right. Why me though?”

“Let’s just say the Roman captain described his wizard quite well.”

“Oh. I see,” I said, stunned by the thought that there was a text dealing with me that was two millennia old.

Albus and I went through all the details of the plan again, and by the end of our conversation he had actually managed to make me think that it could be possible to do this. He does have that amazing skill, doesn’t he?

Albus knew when Grindelwald would start his trip back in time and a Timeturner was bewitched to take me back to the correct day in history.

And then, on a hot day in July, it started.

Chapter 2: Rome
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I have no idea where Albus had found all those clothes; I suppose he conjured them himself. I was wearing a white tunica and toga, and Roman sandals. He also gave me a dark cloak that was supposed to look mysterious (at least to Muggles) in the most clichéd way. After all I wanted the Romans to believe that I was a true wizard.

When this story took place, I didn’t yet have my magical eye – both of my eyes were still in perfect health – , and we didn’t have to find a way to disguise me further.

Albus had explained the whole matter to me in all the detail I could wish for but I was still feeling uncomfortable.

I had to interact with a lot of people in the past, and if I did anything that hadn’t happened already… I hardly dared to think about that. I had read the scrolls of parchment the Romans had written, and I thought I should be able to do everything the way they described it. But what about all the small things? What if I said something completely meaningless to a person, and that affected their lives in any way? What if I talked to someone, who therefore went to some place a little later, and didn’t get murdered?

That may sound a lot too drastic, and I hope it is too drastic. But, you see, I’m scared of what can happen if you start doing something, anything, to time. Nothing might ever be the same again, and the harder you try to put things back into order, the worse they get.

But of course Albus was right. He usually is. We just had to try this. And seeing as it seemed to already have happened, we would do even more harm if I didn’t go back. The whole business was making my head swirl so badly that I tried to think about it as little as possible.

When I was dressed up as a Roman wizard, Albus handed me the Timeturner.

“The Timeturner works a bit like a portkey now. It is bewitched to take you back in time in exactly one minute,” he explained, then went on, more seriously, “Alastor, I know that you can do this. Don’t forget how important this is for all of us. The world relies on you, and I don’t care how stupid that sounds.”

I nodded and tried to look optimistic. A moment later, I felt as though the whole world was slowly dissolving around me, and only I stayed solid. Everything became a haze of colours and sounds, nothing stayed as constant as it was supposed to be. For a few seconds I stood in complete nothingness. Everything was just colourless, soundless light.

Then the world rearranged itself around me. Colours took shape, and faint sounds formed into voices. Another moment later, everything felt perfectly normal again. I took a deep breath and looked around me.

I was in a dark street. It was dirty and, what was worse, smelly. The Timeturner had set me down in one of the smaller streets of ancient Rome. I didn’t want to loose any time and went straight on to the inn where I knew Grindelwald was staying.

Rome. A grand place, judging by the ruins we can still see today. A place where history was forged, a place of politics, intrigues, arts… Isn’t that what you think of when you hear the name of the eternal city? You may expect to find impressive buildings of white stone, and the aura of strong magic ever present… But that was not the part of Rome I had come to. The streets I was walking down were more or less part of an ancient slum. The houses were old and shabby; most of them were high buildings with a number of flats that were undoubtedly owned by someone rich enough to not live here, and then rented off. People who lived here were poor Muggles, either working hard to earn their living, or else criminal. Some both. It was not the most pleasant of places, but this was the shortest way to my destination.

The inn I was heading for was located in a better district of the town. Still not quite high society, but definitely better.

When I finally reached the inn it was already night. I had seen plans of the building, and Albus had actually managed to find out which room Grindelwald would be staying in. Don’t ask me how he did that.

Most of the guests of the inn were merchants, and I think some of them were even diplomats. As I sneaked into the three-storey building, I hoped that they had all had a long day and were already asleep.

The Muggles in ancient Rome didn’t have any real security measures about their houses. There was a guard outside each entrance, but naturally it was a matter of seconds to stun him long enough to get into the house.

I would have loved to take a look around the building; I’ve always been intrigued by history, and this was a unique chance. But I didn’t have much time, and so I went on to the narrow worn-out wooden staircase that was usually used by the slaves who worked here as servants. I had my wand out and listened carefully for any suspicious sounds.

Somehow I expected something to go wrong, but nothing did, and I finally stood at the door to Grindelwald’s room. Things would be more difficult from here on. If Albus was right, Grindelwald didn’t know anything about my being here, but he would still have set up some kind of a magical alert, maybe a magic detector of sorts. I had to be careful, and get the Timeturner fast.

I used a magic-muffling spell that Albus had showed me; it was supposed to weaken down anything that betrays the presence of magic. If it worked properly – and I hoped it would! – Grindelwald would have a hard time picking up any signs of magic around me.

Using listening devices has never been my first choice to get the information I need, seeing as there are few good ones in the market. But in this case it couldn’t be helped, and so I placed my device to the door and listened intently to the sounds inside the room. Grindelwald was obviously asleep judging by the loud snores I heard. Or else he was faking it; but there was no way to tell that, and I decided to take the chance.

Cautiously, I opened the door just a bit. I flinched as the door creaked rather loudly. I stopped, and listened again. Grindelwald still seemed to be asleep, and I dared to open the door a little further.

I squeezed myself into the room but didn’t dare to light my wand. Just to be absolutely sure I refreshed the magic-muffling spell before I went on. A little light from the street was filtering through the wooden shutters of the small room. My eyes had soon adjusted to the darkness within, and I could make out some shabby boards, an old table, and, on the far wall, a single, equally old bed.

A figure was lying in the wooden bed, apparently still fast asleep. I started looking for the Timeturner; it had to be somewhere in the room, because Grindelwald would surely want to keep it close at hand, just in case he needed it. I searched through the low piles of clothes lying on the boards, but without result.

The only other place in the room where anything could be hidden was the bed itself. I definitely didn’t want to search it, but I had to. I cautiously edged forward to the far wall with no idea how I was supposed to search a bed while the most dangerous dark wizard of our time was sleeping in it. Just then I almost tripped over something uneven in the floor. I knelt down to see what it was, and had to grin.

A lose floorboard. That couldn’t be possible, I thought. Grindelwald couldn’t be foolish enough to use the oldest hiding place on earth.

But why not? He wasn’t expecting any disturbance here, and least of all from a wizard knowing what he was looking for. Maybe…

Laying my wand onto the floor next to me, I pulled at the floorboard, and it actually came off with little effort. There was a low space beneath it, and when I reached into it, I found the Timeturner. A little paranoid voice in the back of my head said that it was all too easy, but for once I ignored this voice.

Albus had told me that there should be a green knob like structure on the back of any Timeturner, something I never noticed before. The light was too faint to see anything, so I risked lighting up the tip of my wand just a bit. Then I examined the Timeturner carefully, and eventually I found the green knob Albus had described. It was tiny, and I think I wouldn’t have noticed it if I had known what to look for.

I placed my wand to the green something and muttered, “Temporem Inverto”. According to Albus, that was all I had to do. There was no visible change on the Timeturner, so I just had to trust whatever sources Albus had. Carefully, I wiped my fingerprints off the magical instrument and placed it into its old hiding space. I looked up at Grindelwald, who was still as fast asleep as ever.

After I had replaced the floorboard, I went out of the room again, making as little sound as I possibly could. It would be all too ironic if Grindelwald discovered me in the very last moment.

All I could do now was wait. According to Albus, Grindelwald had already convinced the Romans not to let the ship in question sail off. By which means I can only guess, but I assume Grindelwald didn’t have any qualms about bringing gold or even knowledge from our time back to the ancient Romans.

We hoped that the presence of me, a wizard, would be enough for the Romans to change their mind. Not only would I offer the ship my protection, but they would also wonder what I was up to. In other words, they would be tempted by the mystery that I represented. Curiosity was the one thing you could always rely on, no matter in which period of time you were working.

I found myself another inn not far off and rented a room for the night. It would have been an understatement to say that I didn’t sleep well. Either Grindelwald would be gone without a trace by tomorrow morning, that is, gone back to our time; in that case, I could start working on my actual task of making the Romans find a Phoenix. Or Grindelwald would still be here, in which case everything would have gone utterly wrong. He would know about my task, and he would try to stop me. History would be changed, maybe beyond repair.

Tossing around in the surprisingly comfortable old bed, I drifted off to sleep every now and then, but never for longer than an hour. Looking back on that night now, I feel a little foolish. There was nothing I could have done anymore – except get enough sleep to be able to fulfil my task the next day. It’s amazing how weak my nerves had been back then.

When the next morning finally dawned I went down to Grindelwald’s inn again. This time I walked in through the main entrance and looked for the owner. I found him right there in the hall, talking to several guests.

“Excuse me, I’m here to visit one of your guests,” I said to him and described Grindelwald.

“What a coincidence!” The man exclaimed, “He disappeared tonight. That may not be unusual in certain other inns, but my guests don’t just walk out! And without paying, too!”

“Oh, I’m sorry about that,” I assured him, “He just went out, you said?”

“Well, I’m not sure if he walked out or left in any other fashion… No one saw him again after yesterday evening,” the owner of the inn said.

“Which isn’t such a bad thing,” another guest interjected, “He was snoring like evilness itself! Honestly, I was too happy to think about his whereabouts when this snoring finally stopped!”

I grinned about that and went out again, feeling very much relieved now. He was gone. Finally gone from this time. Keeping him from returning to ancient Rome wouldn’t be my concern now, Albus would see to that. I hoped he would.

We had found out that a certain Admiral Caius Antonius lived in Rome at this time of year. I set off to visit him, dressed in the mysteriously-looking cloak Albus had found for me. The house of Antonius was located in the best living quarters of the city, and it was a big villa with large gardens. I knocked on the front door, and a young slave opened the door almost instantly.

“Please state you name and – ” he broke off in mid-sentence and then went on, sounding a bit intimidated, “Sir, what can I do for you?”

It’s working, I thought, and answered, “I would like to talk to your master, Admiral Antonius.” I tried to sound and act as much as Albus as I possibly could, and it was sufficient to convince the boy that I was a truly powerful sorcerer. I was very glad now that I hadn’t played the grand wizard when I went to Grindelwald’s inn, or else I would have caused quite some confusion.

“If you would please follow me, Sir?” The boy hurried back into the house, looking behind him every now and then to see if I was following him – and following him in proper distance. I did him that favour.

We went through a large hall, through a shadowy courtyard that was pleasantly cool despite the summer heat outside the estate, and out again into the gardens where the Admiral was spending his free time.

The Admiral was a rather young man; he couldn’t have been older than thirty. He was sitting in a wooden chair by a pond in his garden, reading a scroll of parchment.

The slave motioned for me to wait and went to his master, apparently announcing me as a visitor. Antonius looked over to me, and I noticed that he was refreshingly unimpressed, at least compared to his servant.

The slave boy came back to me and said with a small bow, “Sir, Admiral Antonius is now ready to talk to you.” With that information he disappeared back into the villa.

I walked over to the Admiral who had stood up to greet me.

“Salve!”, he said, “Please, take a seat,” he gestured to a second chair next to his, and we both sat down. He asked me if I wanted some food or drink, but I turned down his offer; I wanted to get to the point of my visit.

Admiral Caius Antonius was a tall, wiry person with cold and calculating, intelligent eyes of a very light shade of grey. I’d definitely have to be careful what I told him and what I didn’t, but if he bought my story he’d probably prove to be a useful ally.

Once more I mustered all of my “Albus-ness” and said, “My name is Alastor Moody, and I come from a country you call Britannia. I know that a self-proclaimed sorcerer met with the senate yesterday and convinced them to postpone an expedition to Gallia.”

“That’s true,” the Admiral nodded, “I was supposed to sail there next week. And quite frankly I don’t understand why these plans were changed.” He looked at me questioningly, trying to read an answer in my face.

“I do, but I can’t share all the information with you. Let’s just say that this sorcerer had other reasons in mind than your crew’s wellbeing, or the Empire’s fate”, I replied.

“That brings up another problem which I am sure you noticed. It’s obvious that you are a sorcerer just as this other man was. How can we be sure that you are the one who has only our best interests at heart? Why couldn’t it be the other way around? Or, yet more probably, why couldn’t you two just be using us for whatever you are doing?” The Admiral wanted to know and watched me closely.

“Maybe I’m not even a sorcerer,” I remarked ironically.

“Maybe,” the Admiral shrugged, “But that option would surprise me. You see, I may not have any magical skills, but I do sense it when someone radiates an extraordinary form of power.”

I didn’t know what to make of that; no Muggle could sense magic like that… the Admiral was either bluffing, or he did have magic in him after all but never discovered it.

I tried to hide surprise and said, “I see. At least my magic isn’t generally in question. Proving over and over again that you can perform it is so tiring, you see?” ‘Heck, he doesn’t even smile,’ I thought but went on, “Anyway, I think you really need to know a little more.”

“I’m happy you see it that way,” the Admiral replied, now with a small cold smile.

I cleared my throat (maybe a bit too dramatically), and explained, “If you go on this sailing trip, you will encounter something… hm, someone, rather, that will influence future events in a way you probably can’t imagine. I can’t tell you what, or who, it is, or where, or why it has to happen now. To be perfectly frank, I can’t even tell you if it’ll be positive or negative for the Roman Empire.”

“This last statement, more than anything else, convinced me, Master Moody,” the Admiral simply said.

“Oh, it does?”, I asked back, very much surprised.

“Why, yes. You see, your… let’s say, colleague, tried very hard to make the senate believe that everything he advised us to do would be for the best for our Empire. Now, tell me, why would a sorcerer we’ve never heard of, and who probably doesn’t belong to our people, suddenly want to help us?”

“That’s an excellent point,” I admitted, “but why would you do what I say, if I can’t guarantee the outcome either?”

The Admiral laughed. “Take it slowly, Master Moody! I never said I’m going to do what you say. I just stated that I believe that you, unlike this mysterious other sorcerer, actually mean what you say. But, you see, honesty alone is not enough for me to trust you. Go ahead and convince me.” He laid back in his chair as though he was waiting for an interesting story to be told.

I had to swallow hard but hoped he wouldn’t see it. “Let me say it like this; if this sorcerer hadn’t come, you would have sailed next week. If you do it now after all instead of listening to him, you’ll just act as though he hadn’t been here,” I tried.

“I can’t act as though something hadn’t happened that did happen, unless of course you want to clear it from my memory. But I can see your point. What if he was right though, and it really is too dangerous? What if it does harm not only to my ship but to the entire Empire?”

“I would of course come with you and do whatever I can to protect you,” I assured him.

“Let’s hope that’s enough,” the Admiral said sceptically.

“It should be. I can’t promise that nothing will happen; I can only try to allow the right things to happen… I’m sorry, but I have to be that cryptic,” I replied.

“I’m used to that by now; it seems to be typical for your kind,” the Admiral remarked, and he actually sounded amused.

I decided that this was a good moment, and asked him, “Does that mean you want to do it?”

“’Want to’ may not be the correct expression. After all, I’m not in this position because I only did what I wanted to, am I? But I didn’t like this other sorcerer, not at all. It’s like this: I can either do what he said, or what you say. There is no third option. I don’t want to follow your suggestions, but I want to follow his even less. So yes, I will talk to the senate and ask them to let me sail after all,” he answered.

“Thank you, Admiral. Will they listen to you?”

“I will recount this visit to them of course, and I’m sure they’ll listen to my advice. How can I let you know what happened?” he asked.

I gave him the address of the inn I was staying at, and then we parted. When I was out on the street again, in the heat of a Roman summer’s day, I had to take a deep breath before I walked on. I knew that I had been lucky the Admiral had wanted to do as I suggested.

Chapter 3: To Shores Unknown
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After my meeting with Admiral Antonius I went straight back to the inn and tried to figure out a way to bring the Romans to America. I didn’t doubt that Antonius would manage to convince the senate; but would that help me so very much? It seemed impossible: They were going to sail to Gallia, which meant that they were probably keeping close to the coast at all times. After some time I gave up and went to bed instead.

When I woke up the next morning, one of the guys working for the inn-keeper knocked on my door and gave me a letter. It turned out to be from Antonius, and I read,

Salve, Master Moody.

I talked to the senate yesterday, and, in short, they are willing to let us sail despite the warnings of your friend. They insisted that the regular crew doesn’t get to know about it though and assigned a group of volunteers and slaves instead.

We have permission to set off the day after tomorrow, on the Nonae of July. I expect to see you at the harbour of Ostia by sunrise, and I hope you didn’t forget your promise concerning our safety.


Caius Antonius

It was decided now. The senate would allow us to set off to Gallia or rather, hopefully, to America. Not that I had ever doubted that my dear Admiral would be successful.

I sent a note back via one of the inn’s servants, assuring Caius Antonius that I would be there and that I would of course keep my promise.

Still the question remained; how could I get this ship to America? Of course I could manipulate the route the ship would go, there had to be a way. But the Admiral would surely notice that.

I had to find a way to prevent the Romans from navigating properly. Something had to distract them… but what? Any distraction I could create wouldn’t last long enough; Muggle sailing ships were horribly slow.

As far as I knew the Romans usually kept extremely close to the coastline and navigated by sight. If that wasn’t possible, they’d use the stars to determine their position. There were probably potions that would confuse a pilot’s sight enough to make him unable to see the stars in the places they really were. But there was probably more than one pilot on board, and I didn’t have a recipe for such a potion with me anyway.

How do you make someone see something that’s not there, or not something that is there? Then an idea hit me: Fog! I could easily conjure sea fog. The ancient Romans weren’t keen seamen, they’d want to wait it out somewhere in the shallows, close to the shore. And here I’d come in, telling them that I could help them find their way despite the fog… Yes, that was a practicable plan. And Antonius couldn’t possibly suspect anything; sea fog was nothing uncommon on the coasts of Gallia.

Of course the Admiral and his crew would know that there was something wrong the moment they noticed that they were probably a long way from Europe. But I could still think of something when that moment came.

I congratulated myself for that plan, and spent the next day with maps of Europe, the Atlantic Ocean and America, trying to find a suitable travel route, and some alternative routes in case the Roman officers did anything unsuspected.

On the day after that the sailing trip finally started. Ironically, there was real fog lying over Ostia when I started out to the harbour before dawn. Rome did have ports on the river Tiber running through the city, but the city wasn’t located directly by the coast. Big ships couldn’t sail in and out of Rome, at least not as fast as it was often required. Nowadays, almost two thousand years later, Ostia itself isn’t a sea port anymore either. Land has built up before it long ago and the ports had to be given up.

Ostia in ancient times was a magnificent sight though. Large sailing ships of various types were lying at bay, some getting ready to sail, others only just arriving. The crews were either working on deck, or else amusing themselves in the taverns of the small town of Ostia. The harbour area itself was militarily organized and didn’t serve as a civil harbour.

Our ship, that is, Admiral Antonius’ ship, was being made ready for leaving by the crew. The ship was one of the largest war ships in the whole harbour, and apparently in fine condition, at least as far as I could tell. I’m not an expert when it comes to sailing ships or, at that, ships of any kind at all, so please forgive any inaccuracies in my tale.

I could see the ship’s name painted on its bow; I’m sure you’ll like it, because the ship was called ‘Minerva’. In fact I took that for a good omen.

When I had arrived at the dock, the Admiral finally saw me and went off board to greet me.

“Good morning, Master Moody. I’m glad you didn’t withdraw from the task you set yourself. I hope you know what you’re doing. Whatever you are doing,” he added.

“I think I do, thanks,” I replied, “Are we ready to go?”

“We will be in a minute. It wasn’t easy to keep this trip a secret from the regular crew. And mind you, they will find out eventually.”

“Why don’t we sail with your regular crew anyway? I’ve wondered about that,” I asked.

“The senate was of the opinion that no sorcerer on this planet could be trusted, including you. I said that I still wanted to help you, and they allowed me to. But the senators were of the opinion that such a fine crew as mine shouldn’t be put to such risks as going on a trip controlled by a sorcerer,” the Admiral explained.

“Oh, I see,” I answered a bit uncomfortably, “But what about the risks for such a fine officer as you?”

“I’m free to act as foolishly as I like,” Antonius smiled. “Shall we go on board?”

I nodded, and we went up the wooden gangway.

I think I don’t have to recount the starting procedures for you; the Admiral supervised the final preparations, and soon the ‘Minerva’ was underway.

Being a Pureblood, I’ve rarely travelled in Muggle fashion. True, I did go by train a few times, but I’ve never gone anywhere by ship. Let alone a sailing ship. This journey was a unique experience for me, even without the adventure around it.

It took me hardly one day to notice why Caius Antonius had become an Admiral even though he was still rather young. As I said, I know nothing about Muggle sailing, but I could see that he was a brilliant sailor and commander. He definitely knew what he was doing, and he knew how to lead a crew.

What was far more interesting though was the crew’s reaction to me. Everyone knew that I was supposed to be a mighty sorcerer, and suspected great and mysterious, maybe even dark, powers in me. There were only few stories circulating about any great deeds I supposedly did, but where those came from I didn’t know. I guess some people made them up to show off with their ‘knowledge’.

The crew mainly avoided getting close to me. It’s amazing how superstitious Muggles in general are, and those were especially much so. Everyone wanted to gain my favour, but no one wanted to have anything much to do with me. Except of course for Admiral Antonius.

As we left the Mediterranean Sea and sailed out to the Atlantic Ocean, I tried my little trick for the first time. I didn’t want to change the ship’s course yet, but I needed to know how the crew would react to some sudden sea fog. I spoke the necessary spells and waited.

Of course I knew the fog was coming, and therefore I noticed the very first bits of it drifting towards us. It took the Roman pilot almost half an hour to finally see it and make a report. Apparently the senators had really tried not to waste a good crew on me and my dubious project.

A sailor was sent to wake the Admiral, and the officer on duty ordered the ship to be sailed closer to the coast as I had expected.

Admiral Antonius came on deck and talked to the duty officer and the pilot for a moment before he walked over to me.

“Master Moody?” he said.

“Yes, Admiral?” I asked back.

“I assume you know nothing about this sudden change of weather?”

“I can’t see any sudden changes. True, there’s some sea fog creeping up on us, but it’s doing so slowly. Or at least I can’t see any suddenness in that,” I responded.

The crew was assembling around us only just within earshot as the Admiral replied, “It’s a sudden change because it’s very unusual in this area. I don’t think I really need to say anything else.”

Then he turned around to his crew and added, “Nor do I think that there’s any reason to change our routine.”

The group broke apart and the men all tried to pretend that they had been listening at all. I had to smile about that although of course I was just about ready to hit myself. How could I have done that without getting some information about the local weather first? I made a mental note to be more careful in the future. A lot more careful.

As the days went by we sailed up north on the Spanish coast. I knew that I had to change the ship’s direction soon – before we reached France.

I thought it would be quite risky to produce anyother fog; that would surely arouse the suspicion of Caius Antonius, and he might decide to wait the bad weather out, maybe even sail into the shallows and drop anchor. Which was of course the one thing I couldn’t want. I had to produce situation in which the Admiral would trust my advice and thus give me a chance to bring his ship to America.

I was so deep in thoughts that I didn’t realise what was happening for a long time. As I pondered over possibilities to get to America, we soon found ourselves in … sea fog! Real, Muggle style, non-magical, physically explainable sea fog! It was irony. But good for me.

The crew steered the ship closer to the short again, and the Admiral walked up to me.

“Do you see the difference?”, he asked.

“No. What are you talking about?”

“The difference between this fog and the last fog, naturally,” he said calmly. Antonius didn’t wait for an answer.

“Admiral, wait a moment!” I shouted and followed him.

“Yes?” He turned around.

“I guess you’ll wait this out close to the shore, and get the ‘Minerva’ back on course again when the fog has cleared,” assumed.

“That’s the general idea, yes,” he answered warily. “Why? What would you suggest?”

“You know I can help you. With my help, you can continue on course, and our journey won’t be delayed.”

Caius Antonius stood there silently for a while, thinking. Then a smile slowly spread over his face without touching his eyes, and he answered, “That’s it now? You’re finally taking action?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. But I’ve apparently always been a bad liar.

“No, of course you don’t,” Antonius mocked me, “Okay. Be it. I don’t know what you’re doing, but if I had wanted to prevent it, I wouldn’t have had to come along in the first place.”

“I repeat, I don’t know what – “

“Yes, yes, okay,” he interrupted me, “If you insist on playing this game: Please, Master Moody, would you help us sail on through the fog?”

Once more he didn’t wait for my reply.

I wasn’t sure if this course of events was a good thing or a bad thing. In either case it was not what I had expected. Admiral Antonius knew exactly what I was doing, and quite obviously he only wanted me to continue. I had no idea why he should trust me like that. But he did.

I would have preferred it if Caius Antonius had believed that I was just trying to help. But I suspect that I started the whole thing in a completely stupid way. I should have had a good cover story to tell him. But would he have believed it at all?

All this went wrong. Or maybe it didn’t? I wasn’t sure. All that I hoped for was that all events took the same turn as they were supposed to take in order to created what I knew as my present time. Did I mention that time paradoxes have always given me horrible headaches?

The Admiral had assembled his crew and I went a little closer to hear what he was about to tell them.

“You all know that the senate has asked us to allow Master Moody to come with us. None of us know why, but at least he’s willing to help us now. We will sail on despite the sea fog, and Master Moody will guide us. Don’t fear his powers. He won’t harm us.”

“But it’s bad luck!” one of the sailors piped up, “We can’t go on through the fog! Creatures live in it!”

“Are you afraid?” Antonius asked, “You can always disobey my orders. Not that you wouldn’t have anything to fear if you did that,” he added in a cold off-handed sort of voice.

When Antonius had dismissed his crew, I went over to him and asked, “Don’t you think that was a bit too harsh?”

“I have no idea where you’re coming from,” he answered, “But Roman sailors are very superstitious. If you help us, they will panic out of pure fear of your powers. They need something real to be afraid of, or else we won’t be able to control them. I don’t know if you can take on a fully grown mutiny single-handed… I can’t.”

I thought Admiral Antonius was probably overreacting; I wouldn’t do anything spectacular. But maybe he was right after all and the mere knowledge that I was doing something was enough.

There was no need to take any risks though, so I went to my quarters and locked the door before I started putting the spells to effect that would lead the ship. I carefully chose a course to America, and hoped that I hadn’t overlooked any currents or winds. I didn’t know if I’d have any chance to change much about the course later.

When I had placed the enchantments on the ship, I couldn’t do anything and went back up on deck to see what the crew was up to. I knew that Antonius would probably not approve of that but I preferred knowing what was going on, even if some people were scared of my presence. Heck, they should’ve met me nowadays, with all the scars time has given me.

As I reached the ship’s stern, I passed two of the sailors and heard one of them mutter to the other, “I’m telling you, I don’t know who of those two scares me more, the Admiral or the witch king.”

Witch king! My, I had risen in the ranks, I thought sarcastically. Apparently Antonius had been right. I hope he’d manage to get us through this. We would probably have been safer with his regular crew, but there was no way to change that now.

The fog lasted almost the whole day; as the night fell, it slowly dissolved, and we could see the stars. When the sea fog had disappeared entirely, the Roman pilot went to Admiral Antonius and asked, “Sir, shall I try to determine our position now?” He looked up to the stars. “The sky doesn’t look right.”

The Admiral laughed. “It doesn’t look right? But it looks perfect to me. Just measure the currents we have right now so that you can keep us on course. There’ll still be time to get an exact position later.”

The pilot nodded reluctantly and set off; Admiral Antonius had seen me and came over to me.

“The sky does look odd, you know?” he said.

“You could see that after just one day on a wrong course? Given that we are on a wrong course, I mean,” I wanted to know.

“Oh yes, Master Moody. That can be done. It requires experience, true, but it’s not impossible to see.”

When he didn’t go on, I finally said, “Thank you for delaying the pilot’s work.”

“Not a problem. I said I would do this, and I will. I don’t actually trust you, but I’ll do whatever it takes to allow you to do your work. Whatever it is.”

He went away, but turned back again to add with a smile, “And of course I’m curious to find out what you’re doing here.”

Chapter 4: Storm
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The fog had come in very handy; the ‘Minerva’ was on route to America. It had just been a matter of time before the pilot would notice that. I told him that we couldn’t have gone on on the course we had originally set because of the fog. I think I made up something that sounded highly mysterious and didn’t even make sense to myself; because, as I am sure you know, there isn’t any real reason to change your course that much just because of fog… But the pilot seemed very much impressed and didn’t ask any further questions.

The real problem would be to prevent the crew from changing the course back again now that the fog was obviously gone. I told them that we would be safer and faster if we kept to our new course a little longer because there were useful currents… I think that’s what I said.

Come to think of it, I might have let something slip about a threat lurking on the course the pilot wanted to take… Well, at least it helped, and no one objected to my choice of course anymore.

That way I actually managed to keep the Minerva on course for several days. I estimated that we would reach America in another week, at least according to my map and star charts we would. I have never been brilliant at Astronomy, but I couldn’t possibly ask one of the crew for help now, could I?

I was already beginning to think that everything would turn out perfect when we got into this storm. Couldn’t this, this… weather have chosen another time? Or another place? But no, the storm had to hit us. Let me tell you what happened.

We were somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when a few light clouds drew up around noon. At first they didn’t look dangerous at all, but they grew darker at an astonishing rate. I had read somewhere that the weather changes fast at sea but I had never actually experienced it before.

Admiral Antonius came on deck and saw to it that any loose items were tied to a mast or brought off deck. The sails were drawn in. And then we could just wait and hope that the storm wouldn’t be too bad.

The clouds were soon covering most of the sky above us, and everything was ghostly silent and still. There was no wind at all for a moment.

And then, from one moment to the other, the storm broke loose.

The wind almost knocked me off my feet. But what was worse were the waves; I don’t get seasick easily but the water was soon building up to high hills and scarily low valleys. The ship was rolling through these waves, and eventually rain set in. I could hardly see what was going on on the ship anymore, nor could I hear much through the roaring wind.

I knew that Admiral Antonius and his crew were doing their best to keep the ship from sinking.

I just hoped that I was overreacting, and it wasn’t all that bad… after all I’m a real landlubber if there ever was one.

After what felt like half an eternity, Caius Antonius came towards me.

“Here you are!” he shouted against the storm, “I’ve been looking for you. Can’t you see how bad this storm is?”

“Yes, of course I can!” I answered, not willing to show how little I knew about storms and especially about sailing in them.

“Are you planning on helping us through it? Because if you are, you should better do something soon! This ship isn’t built for sailing in open seas, it’s mainly a coastal vessel!”

And you’re telling me now I though desperately.

“I’ll see what I can do,” I assured the Admiral.

I hadn’t thought that this was such an extraordinary situation. True, it was shocking for me – but then, I wasn’t a professional sailor. I didn’t want to do more magic than strictly necessary! Then again, this was very much necessary, I thought ironically.

Of course it wasn’t a very big problem to calm a storm. But I didn’t want to make it too obvious that it was my doing. It had to look as thought the storm was just naturally dying down.

I tried a little charm that would make the water less fluid; I hoped that it would keep the storm from moving it too much, and I also hoped that no one would notice it. It seemed to work fairly well – the waves were slowly growing lower.

Then I calmed the wind itself a bit. Not enough to look suspicious, but enough to allow the ship to go more steadily.

Over the course of almost an hour, I had calmed the storm down to a reasonable bit of wind, and made the water fluid again, just in case someone noticed there was something wrong with it.

I thought I had been very careful; after all I could just have stopped the storm without much fussing, couldn’t I? But after this incident I noticed that the crew was getting more suspicious and scared of me than ever. No one went near me, or even talked to me, people formed groups and talked with little sideway glances to me.

I noticed that Admiral Antonius was equally worried about these signs. We had agreed that I shouldn’t have meals with the crew, so I always ate with the Admiral in his quarters instead. The night after the storm we sat there again.

“You know, I can’t even find a reason to blame you,” he said, “Because I asked you to stop this storm, and that’s what you did.”

“I know it was probably a mistake. But you said I had to something about it,” I reminded him.

“True. We could have sunk today if you hadn’t helped us. But it was so obvious,” he answered.

“I could have done it a lot more obviously, believe me,” I growled in response.

“I guess so,” the Admiral admitted. He sounded fairly impressed, and I found that quite awkward since he wasn’t the type of person to be impressed easily.

“Look, I’m really sorry I couldn’t do anything else. What do we do now? Do you think members of your crew will loose their nerves?” I asked.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. Maybe yes, hopefully no. I don’t know any of them well enough,” he said thoughtfully.

“But you do have a lot of experience,” I replied, “And you, unlike me, are a Roman yourself, you know the superstitions of your people, and you know how they might react.”

“You know, I can’t quite rid myself of the feeling that you are not only not from the Roman Empire…,” the Admiral changed the subject.

“Where else could I not be from?” I asked ironically.

“I have no idea,” Antonius admitted, “You tell me.”

He knows something, I thought. How could he possibly suspect anything? Maybe some people could sense it if a person wasn’t from the same time they were from… After all he had also sensed that I wasn’t a Muggle…

I decided to confront him with that. “You seem to sense quite a number of things, Admiral.”

“Like what?” he asked back, knowing very well what I was up to.

“You told me right away that you knew I was a sorcerer when we first met.”

“Oh. Well, it was obvious,” he said a bit uncomfortably.

This wasn’t getting me anywhere. I decided to bluff a bit.

“I know it, Admiral,” I said calmly. Of course I didn’t know anything and could only hope that he wouldn’t notice.

“How can you know?” the Admiral asked. I couldn’t believe he didn’t just deny everything! I had to keep going now.

“Does that really matter?” I asked back.

“No. I guess it doesn’t. Do you know the whole story?”

“No, just rough outlines,” I bluffed on, excited to hear more.

“I’ll tell you everything then.” Caius Antonius lay back with a cup of wine. “You see, you are the first person I met whom I can really tell about this.

“Whatever you heard is right. Yes, I’m a sorcerer.”

I almost choked on a grape but tried to hide it. “But why are you working for the fleet then?” I knew that there were magical orders and circles in ancient Rome.

“When a person with magical abilities is discovered in our Empire, the sorcerers who discover him or her make tests to determine which powers he or she has. Then the person is given into the custody of one of our magical circles, depending on their powers and the place they came from.

“I was supposed to become a member of the Circle of Ostia.”

“And why didn’t you?” I asked when he didn’t continue.

He took a deep breath. “They are dark sorcerers. They use their powers to force people to do what the Circle wants. The other circles weren’t aware of that, and they put me there because I was very skilled at Legilimency and Occlumency, which was a specialty of the Circle of Ostia.

“I was brought there when I was fifteen, and educated by the Circle. A few months later I first noticed what was happening, and what they did. Well, in short, I ran away. I couldn’t go back to my family, they were so proud when they learned about my skills.

“Instead, I joined the Roman navy. I never used my magical skills again, at least not consciously. Of course I can’t help but sense some things that normal people can’t sense, but I promise I never intruded your thoughts.”

There were a few moments of silence until I asked him, “Didn’t the Circle try to track you down? You must have known many of their secrets.”

“No. I didn’t know too much, and they felt perfectly safe. Not to say foolishly safe… Of course, if I had started talking about it…” he broke off.

“Yes, I can imagine what would have happened,” I sighed.

“I trust you won’t tell anyone, Master Moody?” Antonius said.

“Of course not,” I ensured him. I had a feeling that I could trust him. Of course you can never know with a Legilimens. But after all I had little choice but to believe him.

“Admiral!” a sailor opened the door abruptly, then stopped when he saw me.

“Yes?” Antonius asked, “What is so important that you burst in like this?”

“I… we… need to talk to you.”

“About what?”

The sailor threw me a glance but didn’t answer.

“I’ll go to my own quarters,” I said and stood up. “Admiral.”

“Master Moody. Now, what is it?” Antonius asked as I was just closing the door behind me.

I went straight to bed that night but I couldn’t sleep for a long time. Admiral Antonius, a wizard? And yet it was possible. Maybe the wizard in the old parchment Albus found wasn’t me after all? But no, the Admiral was mentioned as well… But maybe Antonius could help me. Yes, maybe I could tell him the whole story.

I wondered what the sailor had wanted to talk about so urgently. He was the type of person who always took the lead when a group of people wanted to address a superior. The class representative kind of man. The crew must have talked about something and found it important enough to bother their feared commander…

Of course I could guess what it was. The look in the sailor’s eyes when he had seen me had been enough of an answer.

Early the next morning the Admiral knocked on my door.

“Yes, come in,” I said.

“I thought you were already up,” he said and closed the door behind him.

“You thought?” I asked ironically.

“In this case, yes,” he replied with a small smile, then went on, “You know what this man wanted from me yesterday?” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Yes, I think so.”

“The crew is scared of you,” he explained nonetheless.

“All I ever did to them was help them. They have no reason to fear me so much. Compared to you,” I added.

“True, true. But magic itself is enough to scare these people. You could save their lives a hundred times and they would kill you for it.”

I knew of course that he was right. Even today Muggles were often scared of wizards… and we all know how much worse that had been in the past. Just think of the witch burnings.

“Do you think there’s anything we can do? Anything other than scare them even more, I mean,” I asked.

“I don’t know. You should definitely keep a low profile, and I’ll try to keep the crew busy. We don’t want a mutiny here, do we?” he replied.

“Most definitely not. Just give me another week, maybe a little longer…”

“Where will we be in a week’s time? Because Gallia is definitely the one place we won’t go to. You didn’t expect me to believe your little tale about currents and monsters somewhere under the sea,” he wanted to know.

“I can’t tell you. I could give you a name, yes… but it wouldn’t mean much to you,” I answered.

“Try it,” Antonius replied.

“We call it America,” I said. I had decided that I could just as well tell him.

“America…” Antonius seemed to be testing the sound of the name. “Doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“I’m not surprised,” I remarked, “It was named after a person who will sail there around 1,500 from now.”

“Ah!” the Admiral exclaimed, “You’re not from our time?” I could see his cold eyes sparkle in a most Albus-like fashion.

I bit my own tongue. “You caught me,” I admitted.

“I won’t ask any further. Seeing as you seem to tell me whatever I want to know…” With a wink he turned and went out.

Naturally I tried to blame his Legilimency… but I knew it was mainly due to my lack of vigilance that I told him a lot more than I should.

Or maybe… a thought occurred to me… maybe I did it because I had already done it. And of course now I had to do it again. Maybe it was a consequence of the temporal paradox.

I still didn’t have any idea why I trusted Antonius. He was such a calculating person, and I didn’t doubt that he could be cruel to the men he commanded if he considered it necessary. And yet he hadn’t wanted to help this ‘Circle of Ostia’.

Over the next days I tried to stay in my quarters most of the time. There were no more storms, and the crew slowly calmed down a bit. I have no idea what the Admiral might or might not have said or done… or rather, have threatened to do.

The only problem was that we were of course still sailing in the wrong direction, at least as far as the crew knew. The Admiral kept up my story of odd currents and creatures in the oceans. I don’t know if they believed it, or if they just wanted to believe it and therefore didn’t ask any questions.

Whatever the case, the crew didn’t start a mutiny – be it out of fear or reason, or both. We sailed on across the Atlantic Ocean, going farther and farther to the southwest.

Almost two weeks after the storm, a watchman on an old Roman ship shouted, “Land in sight! We’re reaching land!”

Chapter 5: America
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It felt so weird to set foot on American soil. Of course I had been to several states on the American continent before. Then again, no known European had seen America before me. It was so confusing, but it felt great.

We had landed somewhere on the Atlantic coast of Mexico, on a stretch of Caribbean beach. It was warm, and the air was filled with flowery scents.

“So this is America?” Caius Antonius asked me.

“Yes, this is America,” I confirmed, “Just don’t let that name slip… I don’t want to cause more paradoxes than necessary.”

“How can you be sure that America will ever be named ‘America’ if I don’t pass it on?”

“Oh, stop it, please! I’m already sufficiently confused,” I answered wearily.

“As you wish… What do we do now?”

“We need to go to a city called Tikal, and then we need to convince the people there to let us take a certain animal back home,” I explained.

“Who lives here?” the Admiral wanted to know.

I sighed. I hadn’t planned on leaving ancient Roman with that kind of knowledge… but it looked as though that couldn’t be helped.

“They call themselves ‘Maya’, and their culture is already quite highly developed. Although of course it will develop further over the next centuries.”

“And what kind of animal are we talking about here? How do we get to Tikal, and who will we contact once we arrive?”

“So many questions… And I wish I knew all the answers. The animal is called ‘Phoenix’, and strictly speaking, it’s not an animal. It’s one of the most powerful magical beings on Earth. Tikal… well, that’s a problem. The city is quite far away from here, and the way we’d have to go leads through jungles for most part. I had planned to go alone, and by, erm, not quite usual means.”

“I’ll come with you,” Admiral Antonius said immediately.

“I don’t think that’s such a great idea. You shouldn’t meet any Maya, and the same goes the other way around,” I objected.

“Just for the sake of your timeline?” Antonius asked.

“For the sake of our timeline,” I corrected.

“No, your timeline; it’s not mine, seeing as most things that are past for you are future for me,” he answered.

“Whatever. You shouldn’t do it.”

“What if something goes wrong? You might need my help. Plus, if you get lost, how do we get back to Rome?”

“I’m not planning on getting lost, but that’s a point,” I admitted. After all Antonius actually might prove to be useful.

“How do we get there? You said something about unusual means of transport,” Antonius wanted to know.

“It’s a technique known as ‘apparition’,” I said. “But what about the ship?”

“Well, it’ll lie on the beach until we return. I’ll make up a story for the crew, something about having to find out exactly where we are. Don’t worry about that,” the Admiral replied.

“Hm, I guess I’m running out of arguments here. Okay, come with me if you must. We’ll set off tomorrow morning. But I need to find some herbs first.”

“What kinds of herbs?” Antonius asked.

“Well, I need to brew a potion that will allow us to understand Maya language and talk in it ourselves.”

“You’re right, we obviously need that. Are you sure we’ll find the herbs you need here? I wouldn’t want to go back to Rome to fetch them, you see,” Admiral Antonius remarked.

“No, they should grow here. At least they did grow here when I last came here,” I said.

“When you will come here, you mean?”

“You think it’s funny, eh?”

“I’m sorry. If you told me what we’re looking for, I could help you find these herbs,” the Admiral offered.

I explained what the plants looked like and which places they were most likely to grow in, and we set off to search for them.

When the sun set over Mexico we had found everything I needed, and I lighted a fire outside the ship. The crew was staying on the ship, positively scared by now. Antonius went to fetch a cauldron from the galley.

“Do you have to be a sorcerer to brew a potion? Shouldn’t that always work as long as you use the right ingredients?” he wanted to know as I set to work.

“Well, some potions could be brewed by a non-magical person,” I admitted, “But most can’t. Don’t ask me why it doesn’t work though, but there have been tests. Of course, some potions involve actual incantations, and need to be a sorcerer to use them.”

“I see. Can you tell me more about those Phoenixes we’re looking for?” he requested curiously.

“They’re a species of birds. No one really knows where they came from, or how they developed,” I began my explanation. I told Antonius a little more about the magical powers of Phoenixes, and about the magical properties of their feathers. I also tried to explain what Grindelwald had been up to, but I tried to give away as little actual information about our time as I could.

“That sounds interesting; I think I can see why knowing or not knowing them would change your history – my future, that is – quite a bit,” Antonius commented.

“Indeed. We need to convince the Maya sorcerers to allow one of their Phoenixes to come with us, because that’s what already happened.”

“Well, what could possibly go wrong? If it already happened, it has to happen again, doesn’t it?”

“Theoretically yes. But practically? I don’t want to rely on it,” I said.

The Translation Potion was now beginning to shimmer in a metallic shade of light green, and pinkish fumes rose from its surface. I thought it would work; at least the colours were looking the way they were supposed to be.

“The potion seems to be ready now,” I informed Antonius, “It has to cool down slowly for several hours which means we can sleep now and set off tomorrow.”

Antonius looked at the potion and said, “Hm, looks interesting. Yes, let’s get some rest first.”

We both went back to the ship which was lying at anchor a little off the shore to sleep in our quarters. When I woke up the next morning and went on deck, the Admiral was already giving instructions to his officers. I went off board to take a little morning stroll.

After a while Caius Antonius joined me.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

“I think so. I just hope the ship will still be here when we get back,” I replied.

“It will; we shouldn’t waste too much time though, you never know what kind of ideas my crew dig up. There are no towns anywhere near, are there?”

“No, at least none that I know of.”

“That’s good. So, how do we get to Tikal?” Antonius wanted to know.

“Just take my hand,” I instructed the Admiral, “We’re going to vanish here and re-materialise in almost no time in another place.”

“Sounds fascinating,” Antonius remarked and took my hand.

We disapparated, and apparated again in a small group of trees outside Tikal.

We stood on a low hill and had a magnificent sight upon the city. Tikal was built of stone houses, and with such skill that Rome looked like a provincial town compared to it. Of course I didn’t share this opinion with Antonius. Even though the classical period of the Maya culture hadn’t yet begun, the city already looked very majestic. And it was big.

There was a temple in the shape of a pyramid at the very centre of Tikal. I knew that the priests’ houses would be grouped around it, and that these priests were most likely all sorcerers. They were the ones we would have to contact. Unfortunately I had no idea of their religion and couldn’t possibly tell who we had to talk to. I knew I should’ve done more research, but I had to leave our own time in a hurry, as you know.

“That’s absolutely amazing!” Caius Antonius exclaimed, looking down at the city.

“Oh yes, it is,” I agreed, “Now let’s first take the Translation Potion, and then we have to find out where we can get a Phoenix in this place.”

I took the two little flasks out of the pocket of my robe and handed one to Antonius.

“I’ve been wondering,” Antonius said, “Do people still speak Latin in your time? Because you didn’t need this potion to talk to us.”

“Most of us don’t; many languages we know are related to Latin, but quite different. I always found Latin fascinating though, and that’s why I learned it when I had the chance.”

After we had both swallowed our potion, I got out my old Invisibility Cloak. Admiral Antonius was very much impressed by it.

“Why do we need it though? Can’t we just pretend to be visitor?” Antonius asked.

“I wouldn’t feel well about that,” I replied, “We have to influence these people as little as possible if I still want to recognise the time I’ll return to.”

“Yes, that makes sense,” Admiral Antonius admitted.

Under the protection of the cloak we went down into the city.

We had to be extremely careful not to run into anyone as we tried to get to the temple on the shortest route. Antonius must have been absolutely fascinated by seeing all these people whose existence he had never known of, and who were wearing strange clothes and working with strange tools. Luckily he had enough self restraint not to stop and stare.

It wasn’t possible to avoid colliding with a few people, the streets were all very crowded. But no one paid much attention to it. It still took us about an hour to get to the centre of the city.

“What do we do now?” Antonius whispered to me.

“We need to find someone who looks like the head of the sorcerers,” I replied.

“Sure, can’t imagine any easier task,” Antonius muttered.

The temple was built in the middle of a large open place. On one side of the place there was a row of houses; the magic detector I had brought with me showed strong signs of magic in these houses, and I assumed they were the place where the Maya sorcerers lived and worked.

“It’s here,” I muttered to Admiral Antonius.

He nodded. “Yes, I can feel it. And what do we do now? Just walk in and say hello?” he asked ironically.

“Basically – yes,” I confirmed.

“You’re mad, Moody,” he commented.

Yes, I thought, I had really been mad to consider this whole expedition at all. I found myself worrying more and more about the consequences for our timeline. What would the world look like when I came back to our time?

But of course it was of little use to think about that right now. Albus had been right; what Grindelwald had done had to be changed back again.

I took a deep breath and steered Antonius to the largest of the houses.

Still under the cloak, I knocked on the door. A moment later we heard footsteps from within the house and the door swung open.

But we couldn’t see anyone.

“Definitely magic,” Antonius whispered.

I nodded to him and said aloud, “We wish to speak to the high priest!” I hoped I had used the correct title.

Apparently I had because a moment later a man in a long robe appeared from the darkness of the house.

“Show yourselves!” he commanded.

Naturally, I had no intention to do that. Instead I just walked into the house, dragging Antonius with me, and slammed the door shut behind me.

The Maya priest, who clearly wasn’t used to being treated with such a lack of respect, jumped in surprise and began muttering some completely senseless spells, probably in an attempt to impress us.

My eyes had soon adjusted to the twilight in his house, and I could see our surroundings fairly well. The priest was a short, slightly overweight man of maybe around forty years of age. He looked a bit intimidated but was trying to keep his composure.

“For the last time, who are you?” he insisted, but his voice betrayed a severe lack of conviction.

I pulled the cloak off us in what I considered a theatrical fashion and announced, “We are sorcerers from a place so far from here that you don’t even know it, travelling a long distance just to visit you, and this is the way you treat us?”

The Maya priest looked even more intimidated and answered, “I’m sorry. You see, I’m not used to visitors who have the cheek to behave that way around me.”

“Yes, I understand,” I said half heartedly, then went on, “We need to talk to you.”

“As you wish. Come with me.”

He led us on into a room that was serving as his living room. It was richly furnished, and an exotic scent was hanging in the air. The priest guided us to an assemble of sofas, and we all sat down.

“What do you want to know?” he asked.

“We’re here to find a creature we desperately need,” Antonius started the explanation.

“And what would that be?” the priest inquired.

“A Phoenix,” I replied, hoping that the Translation Potion would be able to find the Maya expression for the name.

The priest seemed to know what I was talking about, because he said,” A Phoenix? And you want to take it with you to wherever you came from?”

“Yes, that’s the basic idea,” Antonius said.

“No way,” the Maya objected with determination.

Chapter 6: Epilogue
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“What do you mean, ‘no way’?” I asked after a shock second.

“We can’t give you a Phoenix; we need them ourselves,” the Maya priest responded.

“Surely we can find something to give you in return,” Antonius suggested.

The priest shook his head. “No, we’re not interested.”

“Do you really think it’s for you to decide where ‘your’ Phoenixes go?” I asked. “They’re intelligent creatures, and they won’t ask you if they want to leave. It would be a lot easier if you consented, but that’s all.”

Heck, me and my temper were actually getting me into trouble with a culture that hadn’t even been discovered yet.

Even Admiral Antonius looked a bit shocked – but impressed.

The Maya gasped in disbelief. “You wouldn’t steal a Phoenix!” he exclaimed.

“Why, no, I wouldn’t. But I might make it known what I’m looking for. Someone might want to help us… a Phoenix might decide for him- or herself that he or she wants to come back with us…”

That was nothing short of blackmail but it still sounded better than threatening to simply steal a Phoenix. I took a deep breath. This world’s history was slowly but steadily growing into a complete mess.

“You can’t do that,” the Maya said. He had calmed down a bit already. “Just imagine what the people would think. They’d probably doubt our power.”

“Oh no, what a disaster!” Antonius remarked sarcastically.

“Yes, that would be a disaster! You can’t just show up here and destroy the structure of our society.”

“We’re not planning to do that,” I tried to soothe him, “unless you force us to,” I added on second thought.

“Now… if I gave you a Phoenix… you couldn’t know it would want to stay with you. As you said, they have a will of their own.”

“We could at least try,” I said.

“Plus we have evidence that this bird will stay with us,” Antonius added.

“Oh, do you?” the Maya priest inquired.

“Yes,” Antonius answered, “Although we’re not exactly planning on sharing it with you. Look here. We can’t discuss this with you forever. We’ve got a ship waiting for us, and the crew will be getting nervous soon. We can’t waste any time. Do we get our Phoenix or not?”

The Maya was clearly taken aback by his straightforward response. He thought for a moment, then said, “Go out and see if one of them is willing to go with you. But don’t let anyone see you; as I said, I don’t want any trouble with our people. If you find a bird – fine. If not – I don’t care. In either case, the sooner you leave, the better.”

After this conversation we went back outside.

“Why is it that he doesn’t like us?” Antonius asked mock innocently, and we both laughed.

“Let’s see if we can find a Phoenix and get back to Europe,” I suggested.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to ‘find a Phoenix’ – it’s so easily said yet hard to do. Phoenixes usually come to you if they think they should. You know how Fawkes always shows up when he’s needed by those that deserve his help.

There was close to nothing we could do to attract a Phoenix; you can’t set up traps for them or something like that, naturally. All we could do was concentrate on why and how much we needed a Phoenix, and hope that he or she caught our mental signal. Phoenixes are, as you know, natural Legilimentes.

And so we just sat there for hours, hoping that one of these precious creatures would come.

“This is confusing me,” Mc Gonagall interrupted Moody’s tale. “You keep saying that you changed so much about our timeline… but what did it look like before all that happened? I can’t remember anything out of the ordinary.”

“Well, that’s the big riddle. I have no idea if the world looked a lot different before I started, or if it would have if…” Moody hesitated, clearly confused himself. “Albus tried to find out what had happened to time after I returned… but so far he hasn’t come up with anything.”

“Not exactly satisfying,” McGonagall complained, “Time can be so unbelievably weird… But I’m sorry, I interrupted your story.”

“I had almost finished anyway. The rest is quickly told. We really did find a Phoenix.”

“That’s good to hear! But it’s just logical, I suppose… If you hadn’t succeeded, we wouldn’t be here right now, would we?”

“True,” Moody admitted, “Well, as I said, we found a wonderful Phoenix who actually came back to ancient Rome with us. From there he found his own way, aiding different people throughout history.”

“Amazing… and what happened to the Admiral? He must have been a fascinating person!”

“Oh, he was! I can’t tell you what happened to him… After I had gone back into our time, I tried to find out more about him, but I couldn’t. His name wasn’t mentioned in the history books I looked in.”

McGonagall got herself yet another cup of tea. “Odd, isn’t it? From your description I’d have thought he was exactly the type of person who’d make into the history books.”

“Maybe he decided to work as a sorcerer after all,” Moody considered. “Not for the Circle of Ostia, of course, but he could still have dedicated his life to magic in some form or the other.”

“That’s possible,” McGonagall admitted. “I guess we won’t find out, will we?”

“Probably not.”

They sat in silence for a few moments until McGonagall asked, “Do you know exactly what happened to the Phoenix? There are few ways to really kill a Phoenix… he’s probably still alive.”

“That’s true,” Moody said. “I’ve never actually considered that. But, you see, Phoenixes all look pretty much alike for me.”

McGonagall laughed. “For me too,” she admitted. “But who knows, maybe one day this particular Phoenix will let you know who he is?”

“If I didn’t know better I’d say you’re reading too many fairy tales, Minerva,” Moody teased her.

“Who said I don’t?”

In a burst of fire, Fawkes landed on the kitchen table and dropped a roll of parchment, then disappeared into flames again.

Moody picked up the roll and read it.

“It’s a report from one of our people at the Ministry. It seems that we’re getting closer to the secret of – “ he broke off.

“Yes?” Minerva asked.

“Nothing… it’s just… for a moment I could’ve sworn that there were fiery letters on the parchment, forming the words ‘It was me’…”

A/N: If you want to read more about Admiral Antonius, you are invited to take a look at "Tales of Gold and Power". In either case, thank you for reading "Phoenix"! =)