A meeting of minds.
Open books were strewn about the dimly lit library - flopped open atop the colonial worktable, left open for reference atop the seat cushions of the two antique armchairs and spread across the tufted back sofa, teetering open along the edges of the expertly crafted end table set between the two armchairs, and splayed precarious open atop the dark stained, dozen drawer chest of maps. The far right section of the floor to ceiling bookshelves lining the back wall of the Black Library was very nearly bear, as the tomes that had once occupied the section had been pulled from their shelves and scattered in a mess that had rapidly replaced the previous mess of cobwebs and dust that had afflicted the family library.
Amongst the mess of books, Harry sat on floor on the ornate rug, which defined the reading area within the library; his back leaned against the edge of the sofa behind him and his knee drawn up at an angle. His eyes darted across the pages of the hand written notes that he had taken in the leather bound journal that he had stolen from his counterpart.
Two days. Two full days had passed since he had woken up to find himself in this alternate world and had realized that his soul had somehow become displaced within time and space. He had spent a majority of the last 48 hours reading up on as much information as was available to him on dimensional divides and time travel, as well as rereading several tomes on soul magic. He had spent much of the last four hours meditating on the memory of his interrogation with James and their conversation that had followed about the other Harry's dreams.
It was worrisome, all very worrisome. The more that he had read and the more that he had thought about it; the more unlikely it seemed that the spell that Malfoy had hit him with back in his 'home dimension' had much of anything to do with his current predicament. The fact that the last vestiges of pain that had afflicted him since his arrival in this dimension had left him alittle over nine hours ago had him all the more worried.
His soul had settled and had bonded with his counterpart's body.
Harry supposed that he ought to be happy, or at least relieved, about this development, considering that he had no clue what might have happened to him, if his soul had been rejected. Though, based from his previous knowledge and the research that he had conducted over the last few days, that particular outcome had always been extraordinarily unlikely, as Harry's body was his body for all intents and purposes - it had the same genetic code, had been occupied by a 'replica' soul, and had been used to conduct magic that was similar, if not an exact copy, to his own innate magic. The only things that truly differentiated him and his counterpart were their age, their memories, and the imprints on their magic that had accumulated throughout their lives. Soul transfers had been successful with less compatibility.
Harry sighed and scrubbed his right hand over his face, while using his left to keep the leather bound journal propped open against his knees. He had made a promise to James to do everything within his power to bring Harry back to the man. Yet, with the way things were shaping up, his counterpart was as good as gone, if not dead.
There were multiple theories on dimensional divides - why one might occur, what happens to the planes of existence after one does occur, and so on and so forth. However, there wasn't much research or actual experimentation done on the subject; at least not by wizards, or so the few books that Harry had access to at the moment claimed. If he remembered correctly, muggles did have a whole branch of science dedicated to the understanding of space and time, as well as proving the concept of alternate dimensions. Even if he were able to obtain a book or two on what the muggles had come up with on the subject, though, he doubted that he would find the information very useful or applicable to finding a way to reverse his situation. If there was one thing that he was certain of, it was that magic was the cause for his displacement and was the only possible fix. Muggle science could not rip a person's soul from his or her body and transport it into a version of the person in an alternate dimension - maybe one day in the far and distant future, but not at the current time. Therefore, muggle science was irrelevant as far as he was concerned.
Yet, magical knowledge on the subject was just as limited and unhelpful. If Harry wasn't mistaken in his understanding of what he had read, not only was dimension travel widely regarded as impossible, but soul transfers were more than a bit tricky and required power and concentration in levels that few were able to sustain. He didn't even want to contemplate the power or concentration required to transfer a soul across space and time - from one dimension to another - if such a feat were even possible. In general consensus of all the theories that he had read, dimensional divides occur naturally, when a decision is made that greatly affects the future. When a divide occurs, there is a split in the time-stream, allowing for all possible variants of the decision to play out in its own individual time-stream. The principles that dictate the occurrence of a dimensional divide makes dimensional divides highly unpredictable, as sometimes even the most minor decision, or what was believed to have been a minor decision by the decider, can have an enormous impact on the future. Due to the unpredictable nature of the occurrence of dimensional divides, traversing dimensions was regarded as being just as unpredictable and, in all likelihood, impossible. Without being able to pinpoint an exact destination within space and time, to attempt to travel between dimensions was suicide, as the chances of randomly 'hitting' upon an alternate time-stream were next to nothing, or so it was believed.
Harry had found this conclusion unacceptable, of course, seeing as time travel was apparently possible. Therefore, he had wasted a good six hours reading up on time travel as well and had learned why time travel was possible, when dimension travel was not. The answer turned out to be simple and quite logical. Time travel followed the time-stream that an individual exists within backwards, allowing the individual's time-stream to determine the individual's ultimate destination within space and time dictated by how far the individual desired to travel back within their time-stream. However, the principle behind time travel (as it was currently understood and applied) didn't allow for the time-stream to be varied, as the means of time travel, by tracing back through the time-stream, folded time back upon itself and essentially created a loop, meaning that the future would always be as the person remembers it before they traveled back, no matter what the person did in the past to try to change his or her future.
In conclusion, it seemed that Harry had once again managed to defy all known laws of natural existence. He had traveled through time without following his own time-stream back. He had traveled from one dimension to another, which was regarded as an impossible feat in and of itself. Lastly, his soul had been transferred out of his own body and into another without the accustomed ritual being performed by a third party - or so he had concluded, seeing as transferring a soul across dimensions was a feat even more impossible than someone physically traversing dimensions.
Head pounding and vision swarming, Harry leaned his head back against the edge of the couch. He hadn't slept in the last two day, as his research had taken priority over the necessity of rest. He had been more than aware from the moment that he realized that he wasn't in his own world that every second that he spent in this world was one more second towards him never returning home and Harry never returning to this world. However, sleep was now quickly creeping upon him and demanding his submission to Morpheus. At this point, after two straight days of nonstop research in his attempt to find a solution, he was willing to submit, as he was no closer to understanding what had happened and how to reverse it than he had been two days ago, and he wouldn't be any closer to the answer, even if he forced himself to remain awake for the next few hours.
Harry found himself standing in the Gryffindor Common Room. The heat of a fire burning within the great hearth was warming his back and a black haired youth that was all too familiar too him was sitting before him in the worn, red armchair that he had favored all six years that he had attended Hogwarts. Looking down - having noticed that he was standing at his proper height, yet not able to remember why that was significant - he saw that he was dressed in his favorite pair of trusty jeans, his comfortable, military grade dragonhide boots, and a plain gray t-shirt with his vintage, leather jacket over top. Running his left hand over his right forearm and feeling through the leather of the jacket, he could make out the bulk of his wand holster and the distinct ridge of his wand. Quickly checking his belt, he found that his communication device and dagger were exactly where they ought to be, along with the rest of his supplies.
He was Porteur Demort, while the boy before him was Harry Potter.
How strange, he thought to himself, as he looked to the boy. They weren't supposed to separate. Though he was Porteur, he remained Harry. He had been sure to hold on that over the years, as not to lose himself to his invented persona and become something worse than the enemy.
"You wanted to come here," the boy in the armchair said nervously, fidgeting in his seat. He was looking to Porteur with a cross of uncertainty and fascination. "The other day," the boy clarified, "when you thought that you were dreaming."
Porteur raised an eyebrow at the boy, finding the reference strange for a reason that he couldn't quite understand. Had he wanted to come here? Hadn't he set out with a company of men to track down the remaining enemy in London? How had he gotten to Scotland? The Kill Wards were still active in the Isles. Yet, for some reason, he didn't find his situation all that alarming.
"I...I just...well..." the boy bit his lip and lowered his gaze. "Y-you can take us somewhere else if you want. But it seemed like you really wanted to come here."
"Here is fine," Porteur said, cocking his head and studying the boy. Though the boy appeared to be a younger version of himself -back when he was just Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived - the boy was wearing an appalling plaid, button-up shirt tucked neatly into pressed, navy trousers that looked far more expensive than anything that he ever remembered wearing, as well as fit the boy properly, and, instead his accustomed bulky, circle rimmed glasses that had been the signature of his youth adorning the boy's face, the boy was wearing soft-cornered, rectangular, silver frames. Realization of who this boy was hit him like a punch to the gut. "You're James's son."
The boy nodded, confirming the statement as the truth that Porteur knew it to be.
"This is a dream."
Again, the boy nodded. "Sort of, I'm not entirely sure. You're asleep - we're asleep - but I brought you here so we could talk. I've tried talking to you, when you're awake, but you're too strong and I can't get through."
"I've been trying to find you," Porteur said, as he mind began to consolidate this non-dream with his waking reality. "I've been trying to find a way to go home and bring you back."
"You can't go home," the boy said in a worried rush and stood, his arm outstretching towards Porteur, before abruptly stopping short of actually touching him.
"No?" Porteur asked dangerously and eyed the boy speculatively, wondering what it was that the boy was playing at. "Are you going to stop me?"
The boy recoiled and shook his head vigorously. His green eyes flew wide behind his glasses and filled with fear, as he took a jerky step back. "N-no, sir. I-I didn't-t m-mean..."
"Spit it out," Porteur demanded, lacking patients after two days of little to no success. He wanted answers and clearly this boy knew something.
"Sir, y-you..." Again the boy choked up and shook his head.
Porteur sighed. He's a boy, a teenage boy who has been traumatized...by you. "Right," Porteur said and forced himself to calm down and relax. Looking back at the boy, he motioned for the boy to sit back down. As the boy tentatively returned to the worn, red armchair, he pulled the other fireside armchair around to face the boy and sat down as well. "When you feel that you're able to do so, I need for you to tell me why I can't go home and what you know about all of this." He motioned to himself and then boy, before motioning to the room at large, all the while attempting to come across as personable as possible. This boy was delicate. "When you're ready, okay?It's very important."
"I'm not scared of you, not really," the boy said boldly, after take a moment to collect himself.
It was a lie. Porteur didn't need to look inside the boy's mind to see that it was. He could practically smell the fear radiating off of the boy. "That's good," he said, deciding to allow the boy to put on abrave front, if that was what the boy wanted to do, "because you've nothing to fear from me. I won't hurt you. I don't hurt innocents."
"I know," the boy said a little too quickly, yet seemed to relax a bit as well. "I know you don't. You're good, though you sometimes don't think that you are."
"Good...Evil..." Porteur gave the boy a thin-lipped smile, "nothing and no one can be defined so clearly by such stringent terms. How I view myself is beside the point, however. Harry, I need to know what you know, so I can help us both."
"I only know what I saw," the boy said, once more looking hesitant, "...and what I felt."
"And what was that?" Porteur asked, his attention riveted on the boy.
The words were soft, barely even above a whisper, breathy and faint and filled with regret, or perhaps sorrow. The boy's eyes took on awatery sheen behind his glasses, as he bit his lower lip to stop it from trembling.
"T-the floor collapsed...a-and..." the boy took a shuddering breath "and there was nothing to be done. Everything was shaking, and it was as if the entire building was coming down on top of you, and you were falling. That stupid spell didn't even hit you. I-I don't understand what happened."
As the boy spoke, what had been a faint memory became clearer to Porteur. No, the spell hadn't hit him. In fact, it had hit the floor several feet in front of him. He knew Malfoy's style well enough to know that that had been intentional and hadn't been a miss. Malfoy didn't miss by feet -inches, if his opponent was lucky, not feet. No, the spell hadn't even grazed him or his shield. What had thrown him back was a shockwave of ricocheting power resulting from the spell making contact with floor, which had most likely pulsed throughout the entire building, if his and the boy's memory of the event were anything to go by.
"Fucking suicide!" Porteur hissed in displeasure.
Of course Malfoy would know that the end was mere days away for him and the few others who remained of the Regime. If they wanted to take their revenge against the Resistance, they didn't have long to do it, before they all ended up dead and in the ground. With nothing to lose, why not bring down a high-rise on top of himself and the one who had killed the Dark Lord and had essentially destroyed the Regime and ended their reign? Malfoy would be hailed a hero by his remaining comrades for having sacrificed himself to bring down the great Porteur Demort.
Porteur let out an amused laugh, as he allowed the information to take. While he was, in a sense, deeply disappointed that he was dead and wouldn't get to see the rise of a magical Europe that was stronger and more united than it had been since the time of the Celts, there was a poetic justice in Draco Malfoy having been the one to do him in, along with having died alongside him and Ron (Though he still wasn't sure how many floors they had climbed, he sincerely doubt that - between plummeting through the destabilize floors and having the upper floors crashing down upon them - Malfoy or Ron had survived the collapse.). In a fitting end, they had died together just as they had grown up together, risen to power together, and had learned the meaning of the word 'enemy'from each other from the very first day that the three of them had dared to breathe the same air inside that small train compartment on the Hogwarts Express.
"Are you okay?"
Porteur looked to the boy who was him, yet wasn't him and sobered. He had more pressing issues to deal with at the moment than the poetic justice of his death, seeing as, though he had died, he wasn't exactly dead. Really, dead men were supposed to be dead. Non-dead men were living men, who had yet to die. It was all quite clear. Yet, it wasn't, as he wasn't dead and had, instead, woken up in a world that wasn't his own. Clearly, he had misjudged the severity and complexity of the situation.
"What happened after I died?" Porteur asked astutely. "Do you know?"
The boy shook his head. "When you...died, I woke up." The boy fidgeted with his hands in his lap and looked down at his interlaced fingers. "It was like always. I woke up from the dream. One second I was you in your world, feeling everything that you felt. The next second, I was awake and back in my own bed. But," the boy looked back up at Porteur, "but unlike all the other times that I've woken from one of my nightmares, it didn't really end. You were there. I could hear you thinking, feel everything you were feeling. I had no control over my body. You were in control, just like always. I tried to yell, to scream at you that I haven't gone anywhere, b-but just like in my dreams, you couldn't hear me."
"So you're here - in your body - with me." Porteur's thought were going a mile a minute, as he considered the implications of what it meant for him and his counterpart to both occupy the same body without one of their souls having been rejected from their forced cohabitation.
This is absurd. If I died, I ought to be dead! Porteur thought fiercely. I shouldn't be here making this boy more miserable than I already have. This is his body! His life!
"You'll be able to fix this, won't you?" the boy asked, looking hopeful. "You always know how to fix things and make things you want happen. You can fix this, right?"
"No," Porteur said honestly. Ignoring the boy's dejected looking, he pressed onward. "Soul magic has never been wholly predictable. The only thing that I can think of to set this right is to exorcise my soul from your body, yet this isn't exactly a possession. My soul has settled in your body. My magic has bonded - if I'm not mistake - with your magic."
"You mean what Mayra said, right?" the boy asked. "My magic wasn't burning upon itself and neither was your magic. They were fusing together, weren't they?"
"It seems a logical assumption." Porteur nodded.
"Wait!" the boy said, nearly jumping out of his chair, as his eyes flew wide with panic and he stared at Porteur with abject horror. "If your soul is exorcised, that means you'll really be dead!"
"Correction, kid," Porteur said. "If I could be exorcised, then I'd actually die, as I should have. However, as I said, this isn't exactly a possession. I seriously doubt that I could be exorcised, at least not without exorcising your soul as well. An exorcism focuses on eradicating a foreign presence from within a person's body. According to my soul, I'm not foreign to this body, and in a way, I'm truly not. Now, if I had to figure out a way to switch our souls back (had we traded bodies), we might have stood a chance of returning to our lives as we've known them. However, with our souls occupying the same body and our souls essentially being the same soul, we're shit out of luck."
"I don't understand," the boy said, a frown forming his lips and his brow knitted together in confusion.
"While I need to do a bit more research to be certain,"Porteur gave the boy an apologetic look, "I do believe that were stuck with each other...indefinitely."
"That's..." the boy began, only to pause and collect himself. "Okay. I can handle that." The boy nodded, as if to convince himself of what he was saying. "I mean, my life would only be slightly weirder than it was before, when you were only around in my nightmares, but we can work something out. We could take turns being...us. And you could teach me -"
"Harry," Porteur said sharply, cutting off the boy's ramblings, before the boy got ahead of himself.
"What?" the boy asked, startling at Porteur's tone.
"When I said that we're stuck with each other, I meant it," Porteur said, giving the boy a meaningful look. "I've studied the Mind Arts at their greatest depth. Trust me. There will be no taking turns and living as separate entities. If we try, my stronger, more disciplined mind will win out over your weaker one or we'll both go insane.
The boy's face fell and he looked down at his lap. "So that's it then?" the boy asked, his voice quavering.
"Not necessarily," Porteur said delicately, hoping not to end up with a crying child on his hands. "Going with my gut on this, as I'll need to look up a few things to confirm or deny it, there might be a way to consolidate our existence and become a blend of each other as a single person."
"I could be you?" The boy's eyes flew wide, as the boy brightened considerably at the prospect.
"And I you," Porteur said, not quite sure what to make of the boy's enthusiasm. "But like I said, I need to do some research. While the chances are very slim, we may still be able to remove me from you, meaning that you might -"
"NO!" the boy shouted. "I mean," the boy said hurriedly,"you can't want that."
"I can't?" Porteur asked, once more arching an eyebrow at the boy.
"No, you can't," the boy said firmly.
"I'm a mercenary, kid," Porteur said assuredly. "Death is my business and an accepted part of my life. If my dying as I should have died will give you your life back, I can damn well want it."
"I don't accept," the boy said, crossing his arms over his plaid covered chest, while attempting to look stubborn. "You dying is not an option."
"Your father will most definitely consider it the only viable option, until it proves not to be," Porteur said knowingly. If there was a way to get his son back, James would do what was necessary. He knew it and this boy knew it.
"You don't know my father," the boy said with narrowed eyes. "He won't accept your death any more than I will, if there is another way. You've spent too much time in the presence of darkness and being ruthless out of the necessity to be ruthless that you've forgotten what the Light stands for."
"I'm not even sure that we can consolidate our existence,"Porteur said softly, feeling the sting of the boy's comment. It was a known truth, but not one he often dwelled on, as the Light had died out in Europe years ago, taking many good men and women with it, before ruthlessness became the new policy of survival. Was he judging James to be more ruthless than the man actually was? Surely, if the man could get his son back and be rid of him, the man would jump at the possibility.
"Then go do your research and be sure," the boy practically ordered, clearly set on the idea of consolidating their existence.
Harry gasped for air, as he came to. For an extended moment, he looked around wildly, taking in his surroundings with racing eyes and apounding pulse. He was in the Black Library, still seated on the floor with his back propped against the edge of the tufted back sofa - just as he had been sitting prior to falling asleep. He put his right hand to the left side of his chest, as if the action would slow his speeding heart. As he did so, his eyes fell on the leather bound journal that had many of its pages already filled and several more blank pages yet to be filled.