Harry opened his eyes. He was alone in a large, round room with a high ceiling, done in soft whites and pale blues, open on one side, which overlooked a beautiful lawn sloping gently down to a small lake, framed on two sides by trees. It was a beautiful summer day, and through the open part of the room, Harry could hear birdsong. In the distance, he could see many vague figures wandering here and there, playing, picnicking, and laughing.
A whisper of noise alerted him and Harry turned as several people entered. A stocky man of around average height, and wearing an antique tunic and trews, smiled and nodded at him. Other than his stature, he looked a great deal like Albus Dumbledore, right down to the twinkling blue eyes, though his beard wasn’t nearly as long. Behind him were a tall, slender, red haired woman with brilliant green eyes, and an equally tall man with flyaway black hair, wearing glasses.
He woke again, this time on a settee with his head in his mother’s lap. She was caressing his hair like Hermione often would, when she thought he’d fallen asleep in the common room. His father sat beside her, looking down at him. For that reason only, it was James instead of Lily who first realized Harry was awake. Lily had been engaged in a quiet but heated discussion with the older man.
“Hello, Harry.” He said quietly. Lily broke off the conversation with the bearded man and looked down into her son’s eyes.
“Harry…baby!” Tears brimmed in her eyes.
“Mum?” Harry was afraid this was just another horrible dream.
“Yes, baby. It’s mum.” The tears began to spill down Lily potter’s cheeks.
Now the dam burst. Harry was up and wrapped around her as tightly as any python, crying: “Muuuummmm!” His tears flowed in torrents as Lily returned the embrace with all the love she held for him. James, encircled them both, and from the other side, a newcomer made it a four-way hug.
Behind them, unnoticed by any, the bearded man stood and went to a sideboard that appeared nearby, to fetch something for his guests. He returned with a wooden tray bearing a fired clay pitcher of mulled mead, several clay beakers and a plate of honeycakes.
Harry, James, Lily and Sirius were all laughing and crying and trying to talk at the same time. It wasn’t until considerable time had passed that Harry finally noticed the bearded man who had been reading a battered copy of ‘The Once and Future King’.
James noticed where Harry’s gaze was directed. Snickering at the man’s choice of reading material, he introduced the two.
“Harry, I’d like to introduce you to Myrddin Emrys, or as you might know him, Merlin.”
“You mean ‘the’ Merlin?” Harry was, for the first time in his life, star struck. At his father’s snicker, he blushed. “Sorry.”
Merlin chuckled. “No matter, lad. It happens quite often. Something you are familiar with, I’d wager. And yes, I am the one you call Merlin. I served Uther Pendragon and taught his son, Arthur.”
He folded a scrap of linen between the pages and set the book on the table, then leaned back to watch the small family before him.
“Well, that didn’t work out too well.” Harry quipped.
“Harry!” Lily smacked her son across the back of his head.
“No, Lily. He has the right of things. Still, ‘twas a fine dream. Harry, can you tell me where the dream went awry?”
“Erm, if I remember correctly, the fault lies with Arthur, Lancelot, Guenivere and erm…Morgan le Fay. And Mordred too…oh, and Ma’ab.”
“Correct…for the most part. There is shame enow to share ‘mongst several others as well, m’self included, however, here you have the prime causes. This is what happens when one allows the little head to think for the big head. Try not to make that mistake.”
Harry blushed fiercely. His only sexual advise other than the mandatory lessons in primary school, were glimpses of the magazines that Ron, Dean and Seamus brought into the dorm, and Vernon’s one snarled: “Don’t you ever…!” Followed by a savage beating and being locked into his bedroom. This, after Petunia had found a hard-core sex videotape in Dudley’s room. Dudley, of course denied all knowledge and therefore blame was automatically assigned to Harry. Unfortunately, it also was just the day after Dobby had arrived to cause him so much trouble with the ministry. He’d remained there, subsisting on half-tins of cold soup until the Weasley brothers had freed him.
Harry wasn’t the only one blushing, though both James and Sirius were trying manfully to stifle their snickers.
“Harry…” Merlin broached a new subject: “You are here before your time. Your death has set your reality into confusion. Unless it can be corrected, that confusion will become anarchy and after that, destruction. You, and you alone, have the power to correct that.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“Harry, the world you know, is but one of an infinite number of worlds, each existing only as a shade to the others. With each major change, a new path is taken and the others along the old path cease to exist. Unfortunately, your death is just such a major event. On your life, hangs the very balance of your world. Without you to contest him, your Voldemort will succeed in his quest for dominion.”
“Annnnnddddd?” Harry drew out the word.
“Harry, there must exist a balance betwixt that which you call good and that which you call evil. The one you call Voldemort threatens that balance. You were one of two prophesized to be the one to defeat him, but with his choosing you over your friend, you became the only one who possibly could. Albus Dumbledore’s interference in your life has seriously undermined your chances, and as a result, he has placed the wizarding world, and by extension, the non-magical world as well, in the gravest of jeopardy.”
Harry felt mutinous. “And what if I don’t care anymore?”
“Harry!” James exclaimed. Lily was more accepting of her son’s defiance. They had been watching ever since their deaths, and she understood more of the ‘why’, where James only saw the ‘what’.
“Yes?” He held his father’s eyes with a strength James hadn’t seen before. He wasn’t sure he liked the idea of his son defying him, but he also respected that he had the moral strength to do so.
“I have spent my entire life, being tormented and tortured by people who love me one minute and vilify me the next. Let’s not forget those oh-so-wonderful people who Dumbledore placed me with. You said you’ve been watching. How many times have you seen them beat me? How many broken bones can I lay at the feet of the Dursleys? And through them, Dumbledore? How many lash marks across my back? How many rapes? Why should I care, if all I have to go back to, is more of the same?”
“Harry, Merlin just told you that you are the only one who can set this straight. You have the power, and the responsibility to do so.” James insisted. Lily, on the other hand, was less insistent. Sirius, waited to one side and watched the lot of them make fools of themselves.
“Have you listened to a bloody word I’ve said?” Harry growled.
“Harry. Baby!” Lily tried to calm her furious son.
“Mum. I don’t want to go back. I love being able to use magic, but I can’t stand the hypocrisy of the wizarding world! They love and revere ‘The Boy Who Lived' one second and spit on him the next. Not one of them gives the slightest damn about me!”
“There are many people who love you!”
“Hermione.” The word was soft but Harry heard it clearly nevertheless. He sighed, and glared at his mother. “She loves Ron, not me.” He growled.
“If you think that, you are both blind and a fool, and I did not bear a blind fool!” Lily shot back.
Merlin sighed, and interrupted the angry dispute. “Well, my young friend. It appears you have a decision to make.” He sipped the mead and went on. “Although you yourself, do not seek adventure, you are a locus. In fact, you are one of two loci in your time. The other, of course, is Voldemort. When two such as you, exist at the same time, you are fated to come into contention. It is inevitable.
You have suffered so very much, given far more than you should ever be expected to give. It has been decided to offer you this choice. You may choose to remain here, or return to your life. As with all choices, there are consequences. Should you decide to remain, you can stay here with your parents, but your world will fall to Voldemort…for the foreseeable future, at any rate. If you return however, you must face him. You are the only one who can destroy him. Either way, the choice is yours.
“Why should I?” Harry demanded. James still looked surprised but Lily and Sirius were anything but.
“A fair question. Let’s look into the reasons. First: The wizarding world will fall to Voldemort.”
“The wizarding world deserves to fall!”
James had gone from surprised irritation, to full-out, open-mouthed shock. Lily and Sirius smirked. To Harry’s surprise, so did Merlin.
“How so?” The legendary mage asked.
“The people of wizarding Britain are a bunch of bigoted, unthinking sheep. They blindly follow whoever holds power at the time. The shepherd with the loudest voice, if you will. Just now, that voice is Fudge and through him, Malfoy and through him…Voldemort. They could have gathered together a long time ago, and fought him, but they are far too worried about their own lives and comforts, to concern themselves about their neighbors. There are over seventy thousand witches and wizards living in Britain. Take away those under sixteen and you still have around thirty thousand…maybe fourty. Voldemort has what? Around three hundred. Pretty poor odds, I’d say.
The problem here is, the wizarding culture is based entirely upon bigotry, hypocrisy and graft. Voldemort never would have come to power if there hadn’t been a place for him. People have their beliefs and prejudices and he pandered to that bigotry in order to ensure his rise. The key people in the ministry have allowed this nutball to gain so much power, because it was financially to their advantage. Bribes, y’know…erm, I mean erm…‘contributions’.” Harry placed his hand over his heart. “Yeah that’s it! ‘Contributions’…‘to worthy causes’. Cornelius Fudge probably has more of Lucius Malfoy’s money than Lucy does. Though he likely would have supported Voldemort anyway, if it had gotten him enough votes. People like Malfoy, Umbridge and Hopkirk, run most of the ministry, and they either actively support him, or they support his stated ideals. I only know of two department heads that are not on the take. Mr. Weasley, and Madam Bones.”
“I thank you for that, Mister Potter." Came a familiar, rather gravelly voice "But as you can see, I no longer control the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” . Harry looked to his left to see Amelia Bones enter. Shocked to see her there, Harry blurted out: “You’re dead?” Then flushed in embarrassment, knowing how rude he would have sounded.
“Aah! The second reason arrives.” Merlin announced.
“You didn’t know? I died almost two months ago…well, as time is measured on Earth. Emmeline here; died the same night I did.”
Harry gawped as Emmeline Vance wandered over.
“Hello, Harry.” The stately witch greeted, somewhat absently. She was clearly more interested in James than Harry and gave him only: “My heavens! You two do look remarkably alike.” Turning to Harry she added: “Yes. I died about an hour after Amelia did. Death Eaters broke in, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up right here. She returned her attention to James only to find a glaring Lily blocking her view.
Amelia took the narrative from there.
“I’m afraid, that while my successor is a strong witch and well familiar with the Auror department, Rufus Scrimgeour, whom I suspect of being as involved with the senior Death Eaters as Cornelius was, is an immensely strong personality. He’s used to getting his own way and has no qualms at all about using, and even sacrificing others to do it. He’s very much like Albus Dumbledore in that respect. People who disagree with him have a nasty tendency to ‘disappear’ or suffer fatal ‘accidents’. Connie is in serious danger just now, of being forced into cooperation with him. She’s not experienced enough, nor does she have the political backing as I did, to stand against him without allies, and unfortunately, Mister Potter, as you hold the houses of Potter, Black and Gryffindor, come good or ill, you are the most important of those allies. Her only other choice would be to resign her position, but I believe she cannot in conscience do so. That would leave her position open and Rufus could easily fill it with someone who would simply parrot his words. Pius Thickness comes to mind. If, as we suspect, Rufus is in collusion with Voldemort, and he controls the Auror corps, the British wizarding world is quite honestly…well…”
“Well and truly fucked.” Tonks chirped in. She walked up to Harry and planted such a snog on him that Sirius and James both fanned themselves rapidly and Harry had a hard time standing. Lily glared at the flamboyant Auror and Amelia narrowed her eyes at Tonks’ choice of words, but having to agree, left it at that. Tonks grinned unabashedly and nodded. When he finally recovered from their impromptu make-out session, Harry grinned back. He’d always appreciated Tonks’ direct honesty. The pink-haired witch was rather like Hermione in that regard, if a bit less cultivated.
“Tonks…” Harry Sputtered. “How…why…how?”
“Oh, well. You see, I’ve always thought you were really hot, but you were too young. Now that we’re both dead, there’s no age limitations. You’re pretty much fair game!” She wriggled her eyebrows suggestively.
“That’s not what I meant…” He got no further, however, as several other people entered the room, including all the Weasleys. Seeing Harry, they all surrounded him and wrapped him in warm and loving hugs. Fred and George both tried to slip things into his pockets. Harry, just as deftly, slipped the objects back into their own. Even Percy greeted him cordially. For Percy that was a step up.
Harry immediately asked Ginny.
“Were you killed by Death Eaters?”
Ginny smiled sadly. “No, Harry. I was a hundred and thirty nine when I died. I married, had children and we all fought Voldemort’s empire from the colonies.”
“Excuse me, Merlin?” Harry ventured.
“If Ginny died more than a hundred years after I did, then why is she here? Isn’t she still alive?”
“Ah, that. Hmmm. I think the best way to describe it, is to say that this nexus we stand in, exists ‘outside time’, Harry.” Merlin replied, knowing how confusing temporal paradoxes could be. “Ginny is here because she is important to you. Since you are dead, you couldn’t speak her here unless she was dead as well, so for this situation we’ve…‘sifted’ the time stream a bit.” Merlin held his hands in a close globe and rotated them back and forth in opposite directions. “It affects all those who mean something to you.”
“Ah.” Was all Harry could say. He didn’t understand a damn thing Merlin had just said, and the ancient sorcerer knew it. He smiled and chuckled: “Perhaps ‘tis best you think of this as the here and the now, Harry. ‘Tis less conundrum that way.”
Fred and George were killed by a massive explosion that destroyed their shop. Scrimgeour blamed it on their ‘dangerous experiments’ but they suspected he’d had it done on orders from Voldemort.
Fleur was killed for being a ‘half breed, by Umbitch herself. Bill killed the toad-like woman immediately, and died seconds later, at the hands of Waldon Macnair. His last action was so send an ancient Egyptian rotting curse at Macnair’s groin. The death eater had died in agony less than a month later.
Charlie died in an ‘accident’, involving two dragons fighting over a hunk of meat. Someone had stunned and bound Charlie, glamoured him to look like a side of beef, and tossed him in between the two great beasts.
Percy was killed simply because he was in somebody’s way. He’d heard the disturbance the day the Death Eaters took over the ministry, and stepped out of his office to investigate. He was greeted with a killing curse.
Ron, Ginny and their parents left Britain and lived in Canada. For more than fifty years, the Death Eaters used every sort of legal maneuver to entice the Canadian government into extraditing them back to England, but it wasn’t until Voldemort consolidated his rule over planet Earth, that Death Eaters found and killed them ‘as examples’ to all purebloods everywhere, that ‘blood traitors’ would not be tolerated. Ginny escaped and she and with her husband and children, survived another seventy years in hiding, waging a guerrilla war all the while.
Hagrid, Grawp and Olympe Maxime all died together; as Umbridge had her forces attack them. They took all fifty of her Death Eaters with them, including several newly marked students on their first assignment. The self-preserving Umbitch escaped, of course…for a few weeks longer, until she went after Fleur.
Harry didn’t think he could take any more. He immediately learned once again, that one does not tempt fate.
“Hello Harry.” The voice behind him was the one he hoped to never hear in this place. He turned slowly around and faced his very best and most beloved friend.
“Ohmigod! Hermione!?!’ Tears glistened in his eyes. “Not you!” He moaned. “Please, not you!”
“Yes, sweetheart. I’m dead as well. I wasn’t as lucky as Ginny. In fact, I was one of the first to die…after you. Draco Malfoy and his Junior Death Eaters kidnapped me from the castle just a few months after you died. Voldemort decided the idea of a wicker man was a good one and so he ordered one made and filled with ‘mudbloods’ to ‘celebrate’ the winter solstice. They found every muggleborne in Britain, killed our families and then burned us alive. They took special pains with me. I think I was raped by every one of the Death Eaters that Voldemort had at the time. After the first dozen times or so, one stops counting. I was placed in the wicker man’s head, so I died last.
Harry gathered her into his arms and held her close, breathing in, her unique scents. His voice cracked as he whispered: “Oh, God! I’m sorry, Hermione…I’m so sorry.”
Hermione just hugged him back.
Another voice entered his ears.
“Hello, Harry.” Came the familiar tones.
To one side, stood a group of adults. Harry recognized many of his teachers, including Hagrid and Filius Flitwick. The ancient headmaster of Hogwarts stood at the front of the group. Next to him was a sadly smiling Minerva McGonagall.
“Professor Dumbledore? Professor McGonagall?”
“Yes, Harry. I lived for almost a year longer. I died at the end of what would have been your sixth year. There was an invasion of Death Eaters. Someone allowed them through the wards…”
“Draco Malfoy repaired a vanishing cabinet with a twin in Borgen and Burkes!” Ginny piped in, angrily.
“Erm, Yes. Well, be as that may be, I was a casualty at the end of the year and…”
“Snape killed him!”
“Miss Weasley, would you please allow me to tell my own story?” Dumbledore scolded.
“No!” Ginny spat back. “Because you’ll tell only the parts of the story that you want people to know, gloss over the parts you don’t, and generally interfere with the lives of everyone around you. Even dead, you haven’t changed!” The twins immediately cheered at Ginny’s outburst. Molly tried half-heartedly to rein them in…but only just.
“Snape killed him in the great hall…in front of everyone! Then, he swore allegiance to that monster and then he started…he started…” Ginny began to sob. Molly gathered her daughter to her bosom.
“What?” Harry growled. “He started what?”
Ron stood then. “He started killing all the halfbloods, mate. Since all the mugglebornes in Britain were dead by then, he went after the halfbloods. He threw killing curses all around the hall. Sinestra took him out and Lucius Malfoy killed her for it. He finished the job that Snape started. Flitwick killed him, but died at the same time.”
The diminutive charms professor nodded his head sadly.
“Well.” Dumbledore began. “I’m sure it was only because Severus needed to demonstrate his loyalties to Voldemort, in order to remain a useful spy for the light…”
“By murdering innocents?” Harry interrupted with a snarl. “You stupid ass! What is it going to take to convince you? Of course he was demonstrating his loyalty. It’s where it’s always been…with Voldemort! Snivellus has never been loyal to you! Voldemort ordered him to become ‘your’ spy! He was, and always has been, a Death Eater!”
There really was nothing Dumbledore could say to that.
Harry turned to his former head of house. “Professor McGonagall?” He queried, not really wanting to hear the answer.
Minerva sighed. “I was executed, publicly, as ‘an enemy of the state’, the day Voldemort came to power. Draco Malfoy did the honours, I’m afraid.”
Luna and her father died when the Quibbler building was firebombed. Interestingly, the investigating Aurors reported that father and daughter both had died of the killing curse. This information was promptly ‘misplaced’ and shortly after, both Aurors tragically died ‘in the line of duty’. Tonks was one of those two Aurors. Kingsley Shacklebolt was the other.
Neville, was a target simply because he could have been the prophesized one. He and his Grandmother, both fought to the death, taking all three Lestranges and a dozen more Death Eaters with them. Voldemort had been absolutely furious. He’d thrown a temper tantrum of legendary proportions, leveling the manor and then casting a dark spell on the destroyed Longbottom estate, which would allow nothing to live or grow there for the next thousand years.
Merlin began again. “You see what stands before you, Harry. Your world is on the very cusp of doom, at the hands of Voldemort.”
“What if I think the wizarding world has earned its fate?”
“Wither the wizards have or not, is a moot point entire. The mundane folk have had naught to do with this, and yet they will be more the victims than the wizards. Harry, whether you wish’t or not, they need you. Without you, before he is done, Voldemort will have either murdered or have caused to be murdered, hundreds or perhaps thousands of millions. You cannot, in conscience, allow that to happen…not while you have the wherewithal to stop it.”
Harry stood stock still, a look of anger on his face. After a few seconds the anger faded and resigned determination took its place.
“No.” Harry replied quietly. “I can’t.” He turned away to pace. Hermione stepped forward to join him, but Lily gently held her back. “Not just now, Hermione. He must decide this on his own.” She spoke in a whisper. Hermione turned with tears in her eyes, and whimpered: “Why does it always have to be him?”
“I don’t know, dear.” Lily murmured, weeping as well. “I just don’t know.” She gathered the younger woman into her arms and held her while she cried.
Harry paced and thought for a good long time, weighing the information he had. Finally, he growled in disgust, and returned to the group. Every eye there was on him.
“So, my job is to return to a world that alternately idolizes and despises me, destroy Voldemort and try to get the sheep to think for themselves for a change.” Harry groused.
“Basically, yes.” Merlin agreed, smirking.
“Harry! Language!” Lily and Hermione chorused. Ginny snickered. Ron, Fred and George all laughed out loud. Harry just shot his mother and his best friend a look of utter derision. Fortunately, both women had the grace to look abashed.
Harry returned his attention to Merlyn.
“Alright. But if I’m to go back, I’ll want some concessions.”
“Yeah. The last thing I remember before I died, was someone, I think it was Luna, saying: “May the force be with you.” He turned and sought the odd girl.
Luna nodded her agreement.
“Well, that gives me a great idea. I want the materials available to build a functional lightsaber and the knowledge and ability to properly use it and make more. I also need to be able to use the force and to teach others to do the same.
“You planning on becoming a Jedi Knight, Harry?” Hermione asked with a smile on her lips.
“No, but think about it. Voldemort would never think of a lightsaber.” Harry thought hard and the weapon appeared in his hand. He snapped the blade to life, examined it closely, and then deactivated it. The assembled crowd gaped at the unusual device. A second concentration returned the slender cylinder to wherever it had come from.
“A weapon that requires the force to handle, otherwise it’s useless. A blade of pure energy that can absorb or deflect any spell, curse or hex, and can slice through any solid object. My being able to use the force; would be something Voldemort doesn’t know, as ‘Star Wars’ came out in the mid seventies, after he’d come to ascendancy. His minions are all mindless purebloods, and as such, would never even consider the cinema to be a ‘proper’ entertainment.
“Hey!” Squeaked Ginny. Ron, Bill, Charlie and the twins, all backed her up.
“Present company excepted, of course.” Harry assured them blandly. Returning his attention to his friend, only Hermione and Lily noticed the smirk that flashed across his face.
“I also want a previously unknown codicil in my parents will, or in the pureblood acts. or the end of a noble house or somesuch, to come into effect, emancipating me and giving me full and immediate access to all my family fortune, heritage, titles and properties, including all of those that Sirius left me. I’ll need a place to train myself and my troops and the money to provide for them. The location will have to be one which neither the ministry nor Dumblefutz there, can find or track.”
“Harry, why would you exclude me from your training?” Dumbledore looked extremely disappointed in Harry. Quite frankly, Harry could care less.
“Because you are clearly insane.” Harry growled. “Whether it’s dementia, or Alzheimer’s, or paranoia, or something else entirely, you have done more damage to me personally, and to the British wizarding world as a whole, than Voldemort ever could. It was your placing me with the Dursleys, against my parent’s express wishes, Professor McGonagall’s sound advise and ministry law, I might add, that resulted in my being brutalized, starved, beaten and frequently raped, by the ‘man’ of the house. It was your refusal to even consider the idea that you were wrong, despite your clearly knowing that I was treated worse than Dobby, or more likely it was your plan all along that kept me there. I wonder how many people you had to obliviate after each one of my more than three hundred casualty center visits? It was your binding my magic, against all laws and against all decency, that wouldn’t even allow me to defend myself. Actually, I can thank you for that…after a fashion. Since I had to fight through the bindings and I have done as well as I have, when I return and the bindings are removed, and they will be removed, I promise you, I should actually be more powerful, magically speaking, than you are. Oops! You made a major mistake there!” He sneered. “You ensured your enemy would attain a level of power you couldn’t possibly hope to attain!”
“Harry. Dumbledore protested, his ancient blue eyes twinkling sadly. “I’m not your enemy.”
“Oh - yes - you - are. You made yourself my enemy when you wrote those letters to Vernon, allowing him to do anything he wanted to me, the last of which resulted in my being…well…dead, after all. Tommy just wants to rule the world. You want to play your stupid, fucking games with it!” The last came out as an animalistic growl.
Merlin smirked. He’d been watching his descendent for quite some time, and he had to agree with Harry’s rather brutal assessment. Albus had clearly lost it.
“Anything else?” He asked, feeling there would be.
“Yes, a couple more. First; break through the blocks Ol’ Lord Dumblemort there placed on me…and for God’s sake, fix my eyes! While I like looking like my dad, these glasses are a liability in combat! I’ll still wear them as camouflage, but I need to be able to see without them.”
“Second; Since you said this nexus was outside of time, that means you can send me back to the beginning of summer, or the end of term, either will serve, but I think I’d prefer before end of term…say, before we go to the ministry to save Sirius…”
“Harry.” Sirius interrupted, holding up his hand and shaking his head sadly. “My time on Earth was done. I would have lived only a few more weeks or months anyway. It seems my years in Azkaban, had drained my magic to the point where it couldn’t protect me from a simple infection. That infection grew, and spread from my lungs to the rest of my body, and now…well, then, I suppose…I would have died anyway. No, it’s better I stay here.”
“Sirius?” Harry felt the heat behind his eyes again.
“Don’t worry, Harry. You’ll have the rest of them by your side. In fact, I think it would be better to go back to just after you return to Hogwarts from the ministry. That way, it’s a clean break from one part of your life to another.” Sirius wrapped his godson in a warm and loving embrace.
Long moments passed before Harry gently pushed Sirius away.
He shook his head sadly, but agreed. Turning to Merlin, he said: “As much as I hate it, and I really hate it! I can see his reasoning. However, it has to be well before Madam Bones is killed.”
Merlin’s eyebrows shot up. As did Amelia Bones’. Surely, it was within his power, but it wasn’t often done. Only twice in the past millennium, in fact.
“I can do that, but I will of course, have to know your reasoning behind this request.”
“It’s not a request, it’s a condition. However, I’ll answer your questions. I’ve got two very good reasons. First, I’m going to need Amelia Bones on my side, especially after Fudge is sacked. With her as Minister; and we all know she’s the best choice for the job; and on our side, we stand a chance. Without her, we don’t. It’s really as simple as that. I cannot fight Voldemort and Scrimgeour at the same time.”
“And the other reason?” Merlin knew, but he wanted Dumbledore to hear it.
“I was beaten to death…or very nearly. If I return to the time frame I just left, or anywhere near it, before or after, I’ll need several months’ worth of intensive care, even in the magical world, before I am useful to anybody. That’s time we just don’t have. This way, I’ll still be healthy and whole, following almost a year of good food, rest and exercise, Umbitch notwithstanding. As you’ve explained it, my death is the turning point. If I can get back before that point, I can save at least a dozen friends, maybe force the sheep to start thinking for themselves…and just maybe, start some other things off in time to matter.” Harry looked significantly at Hermione who gave him a shy smile and blushed prettily.
Ginny watched the two sadly. Despite her longstanding crush, she’d known since that last poignant message so very long ago, that they were really meant to be together, whereas she and Harry never were.
A shuffling noise directed their attention to a little greenish creature that looked for all the world like a chubby house elf, wearing a tattered brown robe. The creature hobbled forward, leaning on a gnarled cane and looked to be quite old. The room quieted and Merlin bowed in respect. Hermione bowed as well. The old creature nodded to both in return and stopped before Harry. He also recognized the elflike person, having seen him a few times as he served popcorn and fizzy drinks to Dudley and his friends.
He knelt on one knee, before the small Jedi Master and met his questing gaze without fear. “Master Yoda.”
“Grave danger I see, in this path you choose, young wizard!” Yoda growled. “Not lightly treated, is the force.”
“Master Yoda, I have little choice. If I don’t vanquish Voldemort, then my world will fall to the dark side. Whole populations will be slaughtered or enslaved at the whims of a psychotic few. As Merlin said, I cannot in conscience allow that to happen. Not while I have the power to stop it.”
“Seek you oneness with the force, yet governed by your emotions, you are!” Yoda poked Harry with his Gimmer stick. “Such is the way of the Sith! Easily fall to the dark side, you could!” Another poke. “Power you have already, yet more power you seek?” Yoda poked him a third time. “Corrupt you, it could! Consume you!”
“Master Yoda, all power can corrupt. That is the very nature of power. However, the corruption is entirely in how one perceives and then uses the power one has. I’ll have only two very slight advantages against a being who has considerably more skill and experience than I do. First, I don’t seek power just to have it. I intend to use it to return Voldemort to the force. He has been dead since I was a baby. Now he exists, not truly alive but tied to this plane through a magical construct he uses as a body. If you require a parallel, then he is my world’s Palpatine. I must stop him before he becomes Emperor.”
Yoda’s face became grim at the mention of the one who had caused so much fear, misery and death in his own lifetime.
“My second advantage is my friends. I have people I can rely on…people I love, and who love me, to keep me from turning dark. This is the ‘something’ Voldemort cannot understand. The love of people. More, it is the ability to love. It’s also the ability to do whatever’s necessary, including sacrifice myself if I have to, in order to return him to the force, or to protect my friends. Voldemort cannot do that because he has never learned to love. Fear, yes. Hate, yes…but never to love.
Riddle grew up in a place where the words: ‘God is Love’ were beaten into him with a stick. He was taught from the very first, that the slightest act on his part that the church objected to, was a sin, and would result in his being condemned to burn in Hell for eternity. His very existence was considered a sin against God, who apparently held the mythical actions of his most distant ancestors against all of their progeny. He also became aware very early, that he was ‘different’.
When he showed signs of magic; also a sin in the eyes of those who taught him, they thought him to be ‘touched by the devil’, and he was beaten for it…just as I was. An attempt to ‘purify’ his soul, as it were. He was again condemned to burn in Hell for the unforgivable sin of having magic…for simply being what he was. People, who refused to look beyond their own little lives, condemned him simply for existing. He quickly learned to hide his magic…just as I did. He was constantly tormented by those bigger and stronger than him, because he was different, with no support from the staff. Dumbledore ensured he’d have no succor…no real friends to ease his pain. After all, to the master manipulator, he was nothing than an expendable a tool, with which to destroy his last tool, Grindelwald. Are you drawing any parallels here? Is it any wonder he became bitter? Fearful? A bully? He doesn’t know love, except as fear and pain and hatred. This is the only real difference between us. I have people around me who do love me, and whom I love in return.
You said yourself: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” I can ease that suffering…no, not for him. He’s earned his reward many times over, but I can ease that suffering for the rest of the world. Tom Riddle has undergone many of the darkest, most obscene, of magical rituals, rituals involving the senseless and deliberate murder of innocent’s, in order to avoid his own death, but he isn’t really afraid of death. Since he was raised to fear the consequences of his actions, his sins, if you will, and though he derides everything muggle, he ‘knows’ he’s condemned himself to Hell, and he’s afraid of going to Hell. I can use that. I can use his fear to bring this to resolution.”
“Then fall to the dark side, you will!” Yoda objected. “For using his feelings against him, is a technique of the Sith. To use the force when angry, upset, vengeful they are. To great power, the dark side leads, but greater still is the cost.
Only when you are calm, passive, without emotion, will you become one with the force. So says the Jedi code.”
“The Jedi code is wrong. It’s flawed, and you know it. The code is too straited…too limiting. It prevents growth. You were a young Jedi during the last of the Sith wars. The Jedi council’s fear of another Sith uprising is what caused the new code to be written. This newer code requires one to divorce oneself from all emotion, but that’s where the code is wrong. People cannot divorce their emotions…not without damaging themselves. It would be like cutting a part of your own…essence, away. The original code is more appropriate, but like life itself, it has its risks. The older code allows for passion, yet requires control of the emotions, not being controlled by them…but not rejecting them either. The older code is in tune with nature, the newer code is apart from it.
Like the force, magic is neither light nor dark. It just is. Life creates it. Makes it grow. You told Luke that we were creatures of light. But you were wrong. We cannot be entirely of light; we must also have our dark sides. Without shadow light has no purpose, and without light there is no shadow. For either to exist, both must be present. It’s only when one or the other grows too powerful, too overwhelming, that trouble occurs. What we must do then, is seek a balance between the two.”
Yoda furrowed his brow and pursed his lips. “Correct, you may be. Think on this, I must.”
As Harry had before, the ancient Jedi master paced back and forth, pondering this for a long while. Harry rose, gathered Hermione into his arms and held her closely. He sighed in relieved pleasure as he felt her arms encircle him as well. From the side, Lily, James, Sirius and Molly watched. Ginny felt a tear roll down her face, until Charlie gathered her up.
“You’ve always known he loves her, haven’t you?” He asked gently. Ginny nodded into his chest.
“Then why try to interfere with what little happiness they have?” Charlie spoke softly, but projected his voice enough so that Harry and Hermione both heard. “Wouldn’t it be better if you accepted them as they are? Who knows, maybe they’re not adverse to the idea of a second wife.”
Ginny had nothing to say to that. Harry smiled thinly as he considered the idea. Hermione was a bit surprised at Charlie’s suggestion, but not particularly shocked, as her parent’s had come from a freer, less inhibited time, where such marriages existed, and did so, happily.
Finally Yoda nodded his head. He returned to the group and began to speak.
“Valid points you have made. Decided I have, to grant you the knowledge you seek. Have within you the power to defeat this dark lord, you do. After that, if wish you to become Jedi, seek out and train younglings, you must. Only then, a true Jedi will you be.”
Yoda gestured for Harry to kneel before him, and when he’d done so, placed his hands on Harry’s temples, and concentrated hard. Images, feelings, techniques and diagrams filled Harry’s head, building on themselves faster and more intensely until his world went black.
A/N: My description of the orphanage where Riddle grew up is far more accurate than the idealized image JKR presents. With a very few exceptions, orphanages were little better in the 1920’s and 30’s than the workhouse of ‘Oliver Twist’. Most were run by the church, (Anglican or Catholic, made no difference as the orphans were treated the same) where “Spare not the rod…” was diligently practiced. Those run by public or private concerns were more like the sweatshop run by Mrs. Hannigan in ‘Annie’
It was even worse for little girls, where education was not considered to be important, as ‘they would only come to ruin’. Frequently such girls were sold off to rich men as servants or as temporary bed-warmers, and after they were used, they’d be taken out into the countryside and killed. There are a lot of peat bogs in England.
While the first trilogy never mentioned the Jedi code, several very well written Star Wars Novels had been published by 1995, including several by Timothy Zhan, who does seem to be the most imaginative of the early authors. I don’t know if he is the one who developed the code, but I suppose a little artistic license here is OK.
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