1. Due to issues with external spam filters, QQ is currently unable to send any mail to Microsoft E-mail addresses. This includes any account at live.com, hotmail.com or msn.com. Signing up to the forum with one of these addresses will result in your verification E-mail never arriving. For best results, please use a different E-mail provider for your QQ address.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you wish to change your username, please ask via conversation to tehelgee instead of asking via my profile. I'd like to not clutter it up with such requests.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. A note about the current Ukraine situation: Discussion of it is still prohibited as per Rule 8
    Dismiss Notice
  7. The rules regarding NSFW links have been updated. See here for details.
    Dismiss Notice
  8. The testbed for the QQ XF2 transition is now publicly available. Please see more information here.
    Dismiss Notice

Everything Everywhere One Thing at a Time (Harry Potter / Stargate Multicross)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Karmic Acumen, Sep 20, 2022.

Loading...
  1. Superiorshortness

    Superiorshortness Making the rounds.

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2021
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    308
    One of my biggest questions in the Wizarding world with large lifespans is that Rowling really failed to show the large connected families that would come with those lifespans. Where are the great great grandparents and grand uncles and aunts? The big families? We generally only see a grandparent at best. .. even if Bathilda Bagshot was the eldest at 120 something, the so much higher medical care and good health of the elderly should show us with many older folks in the magical world. In real life, having grandkids and great grandkids is an accomishment. It's always been odd that much better health older folk in Rowlings world are absent past grandparents at best. I usually just take to the fact that Rowling was not the greatest world builder, but always been an odd thing to me that Wizengamot and the Wizarding world in general are not dominated by the very elderly. Power after all in this world requires very little physical ability
     
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: The Perfect Crime Is Still a Crime
    Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    A/N: I don't plan to rehash the canon years, but some things I can't gloss over. Tune in next time for the next episode of Harry Potter's Legendary Outrages.




    [​IMG]
    Chapter 5: The Perfect Crime Is Still a Crime

    "-. .-"
    Things didn't look better the next morning, and didn't improve throughout most of the day either because both Ron and Hermione seemed to have important things to do on their lonesome outside classes. Nicolas was sympathetic when Harry complained about it after he got back to Hogwarts, but his brilliant solution was to tell Harry to go back to Gryffindor Tower and 'make himself available,' whatever that meant. Harry was a bit too preoccupied to ask for clarification after Nicolas' absolutely crushing announcement that he was leaving Hogwarts. No, it wasn't a consolation that they'd see each other again in the weekend, not when he'd have to wait until the hols for the next time! But of course Harry would be too tongue-tied to give Nicolas a proper what for. He was too preoccupied trying not to lose it when Nicolas invited him to spend Christmas with him.

    Of course Harry said yes!

    How could he be so stupid? Of course Nicolas wasn't going to just move into Hogwarts full time, he wasn't staff, it wasn't a hotel and he had a life of his own to live, what did Harry think was going to happen? Especially after he went and handed over that silver box with the cursed tiara inside it. Nicolas and Dumbledore would probably have no room for anything else in their schedule for weeks.

    Why did I ever think getting adults to finally take me seriously would make things any better again?

    Things on the friendship front didn't turn around until late afternoon. Harry told himself not to read too much into it, Ron was entitled to have time to himself, and today was Hermione's library day, she always went off on her own every week and came back around this time, or even later.

    All those thoughts were swept away when he saw Ginny Weasley walking quickly into the Common room with Ron trying to get her to stop and talk – awkwardly and to terrible effect. Hermione entered right after them, just as Ginny fairly blew off Ron and all but ran off in angry tears in response to whatever Ron had just said. Ron scowled in weary annoyance, looked around the Common Room until he saw Harry, then and marched back out. Harry felt crushed for the second time in as many hours, up until he saw Hermione pointedly looking at him, so he got up and followed her out. Ron was there waiting, and set off down the corridor with them the moment they caught up.

    "They reckon Ginny did it," Ron said lowly. Stiffly. "The writing on the wall. Dumbledore and McGonagall just done talking to her. They reckon she was made to do it and then obliviated." Ron's tone turned bitter. "Probably imperiused her, because why not? Us Weasleys seem to be collecting unforgivables this year."

    "Whoa." What else was he supposed to say? "I'm sorry."

    Ron glared at him, then glared at the ground instead. "No your fault," he muttered.

    All the weight of the world fell away. Harry had feared it would take weeks for Ron to talk to him again, that's how long it took for the Dursleys to lay off a bit after he did some accidental magic. Harry did his best not to be too obviously happy when Ron was so down. That was the friendly thing to do, right? Solidarity, solidarity for everybody!

    The trio took a walk around the Hogwarts grounds and finally had a long, proper talk about everything that had happened. Since the adults had all failed, they agreed that they needed to look into this themselves. It was a bitter pill to swallow, that this year's trouble was already worse than first year's despite the adults in charge actually doing their job this time. Harry tried not to feel guilty that his own problems were keeping Nicolas too busy to deal with this on top of everything else he owed nobody to solve, but it was hard.

    Their talk ultimately went nowhere, but the next few days gave them a new avenue to consider through Draco's snooty threats. Also, there came the time for first ever instance of their history professor actually being useful. Which is to say, Hermione got Professor Binns to explain all about the Chamber of Secrets.

    The trio had another walk along the grounds that day and unanimously decided they definitely couldn't just let it go, especially when Ron's sister was already involved. Unfortunately, even though they all agreed on the obvious suspect, there was an obvious conundrum.

    "It's gotta be Malfoy," Ron said sullenly, pacing back and forth while Harry and Hermione watched from the garden bench.

    "We still have to make sure," Hermione countered. "We can't just assume we have all the answers."

    "Who else could it be?"

    "Someone actually capable of casting the Obliviate charm and the Imperius curse, spells Draco can't possibly be capable of, we're just second years. Even the most talented second year couldn't possibly…"

    There was an awkward pause as Ron and Hermione both looked at Harry.

    "Spells Draco is probably not capable of," Hermione awkwardly amended. "Is he?"

    "It's gotta be him!" Ron said stubbornly. "You don't hear anyone else gloating and promising mudbloods they'll be next, do you?"

    "Or it could be someone who can not only cast unforgiveables but also fool the staff. Including Dumbledore," Harry said dryly. "Like anyone in the higher years."

    "Which Malfoy will know about even if he's not the heir!" Ron spun on his heel, pointing dramatically. "Don't you see? He's our in!"

    Harry wasn't convinced. Wouldn't pushing back just upset Ron though?

    "He's right, Harry," Hermione said grudgingly, "We can't just dismiss the possibility."

    "Fine," Harry huffed, even though he didn't find Draco all that compelling these days. It was strange, but déjà vu was stranger, and Draco seemed to be very good at bringing it out. "Let's say you're right, how can we check?"

    "Well, since you're a seer, can't you just-" Ron wiggled his fingers. "See?"

    "It doesn't work that way, Ron." Harry didn't know how it worked at all actually.

    "Okay, fine, sheesh," Ron raised his hands defensively. "You're only a seer sometimes, got it."

    The tense awkwardness threatened to return, but Hermione unwittingly saved Harry again. "There might be a way. Of course, it would be difficult. And dangerous, very dangerous. We'd be breaking about fifty school rules, I expect… What we'd need to do is to get inside the Slytherin common room and ask Malfoy a few questions without him realising it's us."

    Harry frowned. "And how do you suppose we do that?"

    "All we'd need would be some Polyjuice Potion."

    Harry listened in wonder how Hermione Jean Granger laid out a detailed plan to get Professor Lockhart to sign a note authorising her to borrow the book Moste Potente Potions from the library's Restricted Section, pilfer rare ingredients from Snape's cupboards, and go about brewing a highly complicated and dangerous potion. Take advantage of her crush. Break the rules of the library. Steal from Snape. Hermione! Harry wasn't crazy to think she was crazy, Ron thought she was crazy too, and he said so loudly, fervently, gleefully and at length.

    Then Harry's eyes caught Neville Longbottom as the latter walked to the greenhouse at the far side of the Hogwarts Grounds, and it dawned on him that he might have a completely different use for polyjuice potion. "Hey guys," he idly cut in when Ron and Hermione paused for breath. "How would you like to make a new friend?"

    Ron and Hermione followed his gaze and watched Neville until he disappeared into the greenhouse. "What are you thinking, Harry?" Hermione asked.

    "I'm thinking we're going to brew polyjuice potion." He decided. "But we might have more than one use for it. Excuse me, I need to see someone about something."

    Fred and George weren't in the common room, but they were in the kitchen, being fussed over by the elves who were not happy with their recent cursing conga. Harry explained his idea. Then politely asked for very specific help. Then politely threatened to go ahead without the help he was asking, at which point the two 'grudgingly' gave in.

    "I still say you should come to us first when you go skulking," George told him. "But you've already shown how prone you are to getting in a tight spot without even trying."

    "Treat it well, Harry," Fred asked. "It's the secret of our success. It's a wrench, giving it to you, but truth be told we were just waiting for you to ask for it. We decided last night, your need's greater than ours. Besides…" He watched Harry pensively. "It was made by your father, right?"

    And his two friends and the rat.

    George Weasley sighed. "Anyway, we know it by heart. We bequeath it to you. We don't really need it anymore."

    Harry sat with them a while, learning all he could of the functions of this wonderful treasure. He left the kitchens with his belly stuffed full of good food and his pocket full of the most precious parchment in the world.

    Now to see about striking new friendship. Harry felt a bit bad that he only got the idea because he needed Neville's help for what amounted to a glorified distraction. Bloody hell, this was slimy as all get out, wasn't it? Wait, this was going to be Harry's first try at making friends since first grade, wasn't it? Ron had done all the work for theirs, and then Hermione fell in with them without Harry doing practically anything. That was all Ron too, however roundabout and… messy.

    "Crap," Harry breathed mid-way through transfiguration, turning his goblet from a half-rat into something almost as nightmarish as his dreams of revenge. He could no longer pretend otherwise, he was trying to make his first friend and was only doing it because he needed him for something. He was a horrible person.

    It was important though. Harry consoled himself with the decision that he wouldn't even bring up his plan until after he and Neville were friends for real. If they were. They would be. He could do this.

    I can do this.

    It was only after the very awkward first evening of inviting a very suspicious Neville Longbottom to study and play exploding snap with them that it occurred to Harry that he'd forgotten to ask Hermione one important question.

    "Hey, Hermione, how long is the brewing going to take anyway?

    "A month."

    "A month!?"

    But that would cut into his Christmas break!

    Nicolas had invited him to spend Christmas with him. And now Harry had committed to a scheme that needed him to stay in the castle.

    Harry slept uneasily that night, and for once he didn't find solace in dreams no matter how hard he tried. He woke up in an even fouler mood than the night before.

    This is my punishment for taking advantage of Neville, isn't it? Harry thought, glaring at the innocent ceiling. This sucks,

    The he got up and went to Quidditch practice, thankful for the distraction of the upcoming game. Of course, even that almost got ruined when the Slytherin team cut into their practice time because of Snape. When Ron lost his temper and cursed Malfoy to vomit slugs, Harry was not ashamed to admit he participated in the ensuing brawl without any reservations. He even gave Flint a black eye! Sure, the Slytherin captain was too busy with Wood to even see him coming, but nailing the huge sixth-year and getting away with it was going into Harry's memory album for certain. Just as soon as he made one. Sure, it got the whole team landed in detention, and Harry envied Ron's clean-up duties in the Trophy Room every moment of helping Lockhart answer his fanmail. But it definitely took his mind of things, so overall he counted it as a win.

    He had a big decision to make.

    "-. .-"
    Visiting the bank proved less daunting than Harry had feared. Nicolas took him and had a staredown with the teller, then another staredown with the private clerk they requested a meeting with. Harry found out his vault was just a trust vault set up by his parents when he was born. Which was crazy, there was still a mountain of galleons in there. It did have a maximum limit on how many galleons could be removed each month, but the fact Harry hadn't known went to show just how much that was. Harry and Nicolas left with a ledger of his other holdings, which he only got because he was the last Potter still alive. There was a bunch of stuff listed on it, most of which seemed to have come from the Godric's Hollow cottage after the attack. Plus a lot of additional money, though Nicolas thought it was too low for a family that could have been in the Sacred Twenty-Eight. He speculated that the Potters might have kept the bulk of their wealth outside goblin hands. Something to look into in the summer.

    Harry was just glad it was over and immediately put it behind him.

    Then he almost died during quidditch again. During the first match of the year (again). To an assassination attempt (again!). And the assassin didn't even do him the courtesy of actually trying to assassinate him this time, even though he did a much better job of it than the first one, how was this Harry's life? What did he do to deserve this? If Dobby the House-Elf hadn't let slip that bit about the Chamber having been opened before, Harry might have strangled him. How could he make this creature leave him alone before he went and finished making Harry feel sorry for him? What was the point in having enemies if your allies decided the best way to keep you safe was to try and murder you? House elves were crazy!

    At least Nicolas had stopped Lockhart from… whatever he was about to do to make his shattered arm worse. That had been a surprise to both of them. Harry being on the quidditch team had apparently slipped Nicolas' mind completely when they'd parted last. The man certainly didn't waste time fixing his oversight though, and he decided the best way to do that was to show up for Harry's first game of the year unannounced. It was brilliant!

    Madam Pomfrey still had to vanish half of Harry's radius, though. And a bunch of bone chips. And give him skele-gro. That cursed bludger had done some serious damage.

    Re-growing the bone hurt like hell. It was pretty wicked that wizards could regrow bones though. And nerves too, apparently. He'd asked.

    Harry cursed Snape for ruining potions for him, he'd been looking forward to the class so much, it would have let him get ahead at the Dursleys even without a wand he was forbidden from using.

    The upside to his latest brush with death was that Ron and Hermione got to meet Nicolas and found out about the Christmas invitation. Being the bloody brilliant friends that they were, they immediately made common cause to persuade Harry that he shouldn't miss such an opportunity and that Hermione didn't need so many extra hands for the brewing anyway, really. Harry felt like he should have insisted, but he didn't have it in him. He wanted to accept Nicolas' invitation so much.

    So he did.

    There was still a while before break though, so he set about investigating the few loose ends left with a spring in his step.

    Said spring in his step threatened to leave him almost immediately, when one of the last unfulfilled visions finally caught up to him. Which is to say, a Duelling Club was started by Lockhart and Snape, his least favorite teachers. To 'give the young ones an outlet other than brawling all over the quidditch pitch' Lockhart said.

    Remembering what he'd seen in that painting, Harry decided he didn't want to let himself be embarrassed by whatever hex or curse would be cast on him to make him stop in the middle of his duel with Draco and hiss at the snake like a crazy person. He was briefly tempted to go anyway, because of the opportunity it represented. Whoever could make him forget wizards could just talk to snakes normally was probably capable of making him forget other things too. Like being imperiused to petrify Filch's cat. But contrary to what people thought about him, Harry didn't, in fact, like putting himself in danger.

    "Harry, wait," Hermione stopped him mid-way through his explanation, looking at him as wide-eyed as Ron as they watched Hedwig leave with his owl orders from the top of the owlry. "You can talk to snakes?"

    Apparently, talking to snakes wasn't normal. And should be kept a secret. Otherwise everyone would start thinking Harry was the Heir of Slytherin. Because of course they would. Who knew?

    He didn't sign up for the duelling club.

    He heard later that Neville ended up matched against Draco instead. And got a draw. Harry couldn't help but feel smug. Then Neville stopped being suspicious or awkward around them immediately and Harry felt triumphant. Take that déjà vu!

    Unfortunately, the rest of Harry's plans for the semester didn't go anywhere. He was still unable to induce lucid dreams on purpose. Draco was no longer easy to rile up after his loss of face due to his epic quidditch loss and even more epic duelling non-performance. And the only crystal spheres and rainbow gas Colin Creevey knew of were complete fancies from a muggle board game with the most ridiculous magic rules, so that was another dead end. Hermione had a lot of funny things to say about spelljammers though, even if Harry secretly thought they were a neat idea.

    Oh well. It was a long shot anyway!

    When break finally arrived, Ron, Hermione and Neville all came to the train station to see him off.

    "Have a great holiday, Harry," Hermione said with a hug. "I'll make sure the potion is perfect."

    Harry hugged her back. "I know you will."

    "I'll keep an eye out," Ron said when it was his turn, referring to the Marauder's Map Harry was leaving with them. "If anyone skulks around where they shouldn't, we'll know."

    Harry wished him luck, he could barely keep track of all the changing levels of the castle, let alone all the people roaming around at all times of the day. It was much easier at night, but Mrs. Norris had been petrified before curfew. Anyone out to attack people would need people around to attack. And they would attack again, no matter what everyone else thought. Yes it had been weeks, and writing in chicken blood on a wall after petrifying the most hated animal in the castle looked more and more like a prank the more time went on, but Harry was sure there was more to it, somehow he just knew it.

    But Harry couldn't keep thinking about that right now, he was going on holiday with his- what even was Nicolas anyway?

    Harry turned to Neville.

    "I know you've got some scheme in the works and you wouldn't have invited me into your group otherwise," Neville said, shaking hands and wait, what did – he just said – shite. "But I'm not mad. If you figure I don't work after, that's alright too. It's been nice."

    Now Harry felt really bad. And he deserved it. "We won't."

    Neville smiled shyly. "I'd like that."

    Harry got on the train and enjoyed the long, pleasantly quiet ride. He was glad that Malfoy was staying at the castle. He did his best not to feel lonely in his empty compartment.

    Nicolas was waiting for him on the platform, welcoming Harry with a smile and a hand on his shoulder, which he used to present Harry to his wife like… like someone showing off his-

    "Well met, Mister Potter." Perenelle Flamel was a stately woman dressed in a flowing blue gown with elbow-length sleeves of silk and a parasol despite the dreary weather. She looked like the stereotypical blue-blood matron, except she didn't feel or look at him like Narcissa Malfoy at all. She took Harry by the chin and inspected him critically. "My husband truly does good work. I hope this healthy pallor means you're ready for a bit of a walk, child, because we have shopping to do."

    "-. .-"
    'Shopping' turned out to be merely groceries. Except there was no 'merely' about them because they were groceries for the little family(!) feast that Nicolas' wife was cooking for Christmas. The Christmas which the Flamels hadn't celebrated since Nicolas 'death' because real Yule was actually around mid-January.

    The Christmas they decided to celebrate this year just for Harry's sake.

    Harry was so overwhelmed that he did the only thing he could think of – he pulled a Hermione and tried to distract himself with studying. Nothing class-related because he was still Harry Potter, not Hermione Granger, but still.

    "What you need, child, is to think outside the box," Perenelle Flamel told him as she turned the roast over. "Your ancestors got sick of people having to argue with the ferryman and just buried them with a boat. That's quite the workaround to solve an old problem that comes up time after time in the old stories."

    Harry was touched that neither her nor Nicolas thought he was a silly child for wanting to prepare for the worst, but… "What does that have to do with anything?" Harry completely failed to see the connection between his continued failure in information gathering and taking your money to your grave.

    "It has to do with how well you control what you control. You're still fixed on gathering more information, but have no idea where to start except existing prejudice. Have you done all you could with the things you already have? Consider Albus recently – he's gotten so used to appeasement plays that Lucius Malfoy was almost able to wrest control of a situation Albus himself set up. Malfoy, meanwhile, is a credible threat to the life of your innocent godfather despite having no rightful authority in the matter, just because he knows what means he has available very well."

    Perenelle Flamel, Harry had been surprised to learn, was the less gentle of the couple. She preferred to show feelings through actions and gestures. Like commemorative statues and charity. And inheritance. Inheritance like the 5,300 Tours pounds that she 'left' her husband when she 'died' in 1397. Which her sister then promptly contested in court, stealing Nicolas' 'inheritance' and prompting Perenelle to privately disown her and her husband and all their children and heirs for the rest of time. After which she used an assumed identity to beggar the couple too, just to be thorough.

    Perenelle was watching him expectantly.

    "… I should find out more about what happened when the Chamber was opened the first time," Harry said. It was a shot in the dark, but it was a good idea, wasn't it? "And maybe talk to Ginny directly? Narrow down what I already know, right?" Magic, for once, wasn't making things any easier. There were a bunch of ways to petrify people, especially when you were doing it to something as magically vulnerable as a measly cat. "What if the message was a lie too?" Harry wondered. "It could just be a stupid prank." But he still didn't believe it. Was that strange?

    "You don't strike me as the sort of person whimsical enough to have visions about mere pranks, more's the pity."

    Harry scowled. "I could be though." Perenelle pointedly allowed herself to be 'distracted' by the closed oven. "I totally could! My dad was the leader of the Marauders you know!"

    "Clearly, the wind must have blown the apple to the other side of the mountain."

    Harry gaped in affront. How could she? He was supposed to finally be with grownups that actually took him seriously, what was this betrayal?

    Oh, but why was he surprised? Magic had betrayed him too! After listening to the treasure trove of information that Nicolas and his wife could just call up from memory, Harry had been almost certain Slytherin's monster had to be either a cockatrice or a basilisk, if only because Slytherin wouldn't have settled for second best. After all, it was pretty simple, wasn't it? A parselmouth called Salazar Slytherin builds a secret chamber of which the other Founders somehow knew nothing, despite them (or Gryffindor at least), having (shared?) control of the wards of Hogwarts. Then Slytherin seals the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school (which should logically have been within his lifetime). The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic. It seemed so obvious, right? As much as anything was obvious in a tale that had obviously grown tall in the telling over the past thousand years.

    Except the basilisk and cockatrice didn't petrify you, you just died instantly.

    Nothing in Harry's life could be easy. Harry was dumb to ever hope otherwise, considering that his first source had been Binns, of all people.

    I probably shouldn't be annoyed at this, Harry thought in dismay. It's not like I wish Slytherin's monster was anything that dangerous. I don't!

    It was frustrating though, that neither magic nor history of magic was any help to narrow things down. Unless Slytherin had somehow stuffed his Chamber of Secrets with a live gorgon, and that gorgon hadn't escaped or died in the time since, and it fell under the control of a Hogwarts student instead of killing him – and whoever else got in the way of her leaving for greener pastures – there wasn't much of a lead to follow at all.

    Not unless the heir struck again. Which he had gone a long time without doing, but it only made sense after the Pettigrew mess, especially with not just Dumbledore on alert but also Nicolas Flamel in the castle for a while there. With both of those factors gone, Harry was sure there would soon be a repeat performance. Something Harry wasn't willing to just wait and see. Putting his plan into action was more important than ever. He'd have to do something nice for Neville. Something that didn't make Harry feel any slimier than he already did.

    "But enough about business," Nicolas declared. "This is supposed to be a holiday!"

    It was indeed a holiday. The greatest holiday. Harry spent it with kind people, he got presents, he gave presents to everyone who got him presents even if they weren't anything special, and he wished it would never end. He felt stupid for ever wishing the Dursleys could act like real parents. He felt guilty for enjoying the holidays so much like he was betraying his real parents.

    Christmas morning found Harry feeling happy and guilty at the same time. He wished Sirius Black could be here so he could finally have a link back to his parents and get over his confused feelings, but apparently his time in Azkaban didn't leave him in a state fit to entertain children.

    "You think I should have got him a present?" Harry wondered as he inspected the Flamels' joint gift. It was a tablet made of some green gem-like material, hazy and misshapen at the edges. There was writing on it in raised letters, but he didn't recognize any of them. The note said not to ask questions about it until he found out what the language was. Without help.

    "I gave Black the Elixir, did I not mention that?" Nicolas asked absently, as if that monumental revelation was a trifle compared to casting animation charms on the palm-sized thestral that Harry had transfigured himself. "I dare say his physical recovery will swiftly make a difference. It's too early to know how it will affect his mental faculties though, if at all."

    "Oh." Harry couldn't help feeling disappointed. "I thought the Elixir fixed everything?"

    "A good question you might find more useful researching yourself,' Nicolas mused with a final flick of his wand. The thestral stretched its wings and flew over to take a prominent spot on the mantelpiece. "Freeform assignment. No deadline. Title – Elixir of Life and Neuroplasticity."

    "That's not fair," Harry whined, he was being ridiculous but he couldn't help it. "I have no idea what the Elixir of Life even is." Nicolas refused to tell him, saying it had to be his ultimate test as an alchemist if he 'chose to walk that path at some point,' as if he'd do anything less!

    It had been close though. Not that Harry would admit it, but knowing about alchemy's non-magical parts wasn't the same as seeing what that meant. Harry had been very interested in how you could unboil an egg without magic, but when he actually saw it happen he immediately wished he'd never asked. Magic was weird, but muggle chemistry was outrageous.

    Wait, what even was neuropastilicy?

    "That's a good point." Nicolas mused, unaware of Harry's inner torment because he didn't read minds willy-nilly like some people. "A different assignment first, then. Try to deduce what the Elixir of Life does to a human body and why. I'll give you a hint – I've taken to calling it ormus this century. Do your best." That wasn't helpful at all!

    Harry was going to need outside help on this one, wasn't he? Unfortunately, Ron and even Hermione were out because none of this was taught in class, and he didn't know any adults who would help.

    Maybe Sirius Black would know. Unfortunately, he was being held in a secret, secure location, receiving counselling pending his much belated trial which was scheduled for way out in March for some reason that surely wasn't suspicious at all. At least nobody could arrange any accidents and claim sickness or weakness from his time in Azkaban, now that Nicolas had given him the Elixir. The last dose Nicolas would part with for the foreseeable future, apparently. The Elixir of Immortality didn't spring eternal, it turned out. Well, it did but also not? Or something? Come to think of it, Mrs. Perenelle looked a bit older than her husband. Harry asked Nicolas about it when she wasn't around. Nicolas made it another thing Harry was supposed to find out on his own as part of learning alchemy. Which he would. As soon as he didn't get queasy every time he thought about muggle science.

    At this rate the curiosity would kill him way before the heir of Slytherin could.

    Life caught up to him eventually though, and soon enough Harry was reluctantly ending the hug he'd been brave enough to steal before boarding the train back to Hogwarts.

    "Make sure to apply yourself from now on, Harry," Nicolas told him as he held him, then pulled away because Harry wasn't going to. "I want to be proud of everything else you do too."

    "Right." Harry sniffled, wiping at his nose and breathing deep for his eyes to clear up. There, he could still pretend it was a cold. "I'll do my best." He was going to ace all his classes and do everything else he needed or wanted and nothing and no one was going to stop him.

    Nicolas must have seen something on his face, because he smiled and nodded solemnly as if acknowledging some great oath.

    Harry's heart fluttered all the way back to Hogwarts, back to his friends, classes, free periods, and the news that the polyjuice potion was ready to enact Hermione's grand plan.

    So Harry finally told them his grand plan. Sure, it hinged on using the map to keep track of everyone, which had already proven impossible, but they'd just been going about it the wrong way. They didn't need to track everyone, they only needed to track whoever was going weird places during those times when everyone knew where everyone should be. Like classes. And meals. And feasts like not-Halloween, when everyone knew where everyone was the whole time.

    Neville was all for it. Ron didn't let it go so easily though. He still thought his idea deserved following up on, and Hermione sided with him because she actually thought it was less crazy than what Harry wanted to do, the nerve of her!

    They compromised and Ron polyjuiced into Crabbe. And so Ron Weasley became the only Gryffindor they knew of that not only knew where the Slytherin Common Room was, but actually made it inside. The escape was not as clean, but Ron managed to prevent people from recognising him through his failing transformation by nailing Draco with a bat-bogey hex on the way out. Ron was smug for weeks, even though it turned out he was wrong – Draco was not the Heir of Slytherin.

    Ron also learned that the last time the Chamber was opened, a Muggle-born girl died and whoever was responsible was expelled. And that was far as Draco got before he began complaining about Harry and Dumbledore and how the headmaster was the worst thing to happen to Hogwarts. Malfoy's dad also had a secret stash of illegal artefacts in Malfoy Manor, incidentally. Ron didn't waste time sending his dad a note about that and wow, Draco was kind of bad at keeping secrets, wasn't he?

    They had two polyjuice doses left.

    The first one went to waste on a wild goose chase through Hagrid's chicken coop, only to end ignominiously when Harry invisibly turned a corner and ran straight into Ginny Weasley, who was using her free period to take a walk. The ordeal ended with the both of them covered in mud and feathers. It was embarrassing, especially since Ginny had only gotten weirder since Harry had last talked to her. Not that he was much better with how awkward it was to talk to an eleven year-old version of his dream wife. The excursion did tell him two important things though: whoever was up to no good had his own way to be invisible, and their name showed up as a constantly changing letter salad on the map.

    When he met up with his friends again, Harry learned that Neville had won him twenty points in Herbology. He also learned that Hermione and Ron had managed to confirm that nearly all of the other upper years had had classes at the same time and didn't have any absentees, because house point awards and penalties were public and nobody had lost any for skipping classes in that time. The only ones who had a free period were the Slytherin fourth and seventh years. So.

    The heir of Slytherin was from House Slytherin but nobody in House Slytherin knew that he was the Heir of Sytherin. It wasn't much, but it was a lot more than they previously had.

    The Gryffindor Four retired to the Common Room in high spirits.

    Only for those high spirits to crash and burn when the vast majority of Gryffindor House that still attended Lockhart's joke of a duelling club – like the vast majority of all other houses who didn't want to give Snape ammunition – returned to the Common Room escorted by McGonagall, minus one.

    Colin Creevy had been petrified. He'd been found with his camera containing film that had been burnt to the melting point.

    The four Gryffindor second years looked grimly at each other. "Should we take what we know to McGonagall?" Neville asked, though he seemed dubious.

    It said a lot that it was Hermione who shook her head, however grudgingly. "McGonagall never followed through on anything we told her, even last year when it was literally a matter of life and death. And, well…"

    Ron curled his lip. "McGonagall gave Harry and me each five points for saving Hermione's life from the troll, and she took five from Hermione when she said she'd gone looking for the troll. But then she took fifty off each of us when Malfoy snitched on us for being out after curfew. That means Hermione's life is literally worth ten times less to her than being out of bounds. And she only took twenty points off Malfoy for the same thing, which I guess means she values the lives of Slytherins more than Gryffindors."

    Well, that wasn't quite how it happened – McGonagall was harder on them because she assumed they had fed Malfoy the dragon story to get him in trouble. Of course, the way she automatically assumed the worst of them in favour of Malfoy was actually worse. And now McGonagall had also punished the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team with a bunch of lost points and detention for brawling, but did nothing to the Slytherin team even though the Slytherins had given as good as they got, and it was Draco who started it by calling Hermione a mudblood. If Harry was any braver, he would have cursed Malfoy himself.

    No, they wouldn't be believed unless they could literally show the teachers Slytherin's chamber. And probably not even then unless they had a monster to show off right then and there. They had to bide their time and handle this themselves.

    The opportunity came when Lockhart officially lost whatever was left of his mind on Valentine's Day

    It was a circus.

    "-.February 14, 1993 .-"
    Lockhart was officially insane. The nut took a break from his narcissism just long enough to realise that the atmosphere at Hogwarts had turned tense and gloomy after the attack on Colin. His 'solution' was to decorate the Great Hall with large, lurid pink flowers, get heart-shaped confetti falling from the pale blue ceiling, wear lurid pink robes to match the decorations, and send everyone all over the place shrieking in horror because the lunatic had spread not-dwarves dressed as cupids throughout the school to receive and deliver valentines.

    All day long, the imps kept barging into the classes to deliver valentines, to the point where even the teachers completely lost patience and began to glare at Lockhart in disgust. When Ron nudged Harry during the evening feast and showed him Hermione's opened book with the Marauder's Map spread over the pages, Harry met the sight of the Letter Salad dot with absurd relief.

    Harry met the eyes of his friends one after the other, and they rose as one to leave the Hall in all too real disgust. But of course fate wouldn't let things just go, because a cupid-imp decided that was the perfect time to tangle in his feet. Harry tripped over the thing and fell with the sound of a distinct crack inside his bag.

    "His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,
    His hair is as dark as a blackboard.
    I wish he was mine, he's really divine,
    The hero who conquered the Dark Lord."


    Harry gaped in horror. Who wrote such crimes against poetry? "You bloody imp, you spilled ink all over my things!"

    "Language, Harry," was Hermione's incorrigible reaction, even as she helped him dig through his bag and dab the stains. "It's no use, Harry, we need to get to the Common Room to salvage this."

    It was the perfect alibi, but somehow that didn't make Harry want to turn the thing into a slug any less.

    They power-walked out of the Great Hall and made a beeline to the nearest boys' loo, where Hermione waited outside while the three of them went in for the switch. Ron held their bags while Neville took a thread of Harry's hair and added it to their last polyjuice potion, which he promptly drank. Neville didn't enjoy the transformation much better than the first time, but he was proving to be made of far sterner stuff than anyone had thought.

    And so the Golden Trio made a very visible march back to Gryffindor Tower while Harry Potter put on the Cloak of Invisibility and went to unmask his second rat. It was the perfect crime.

    The Marauder's Map led him to the second floor girls' bathroom.

    Harry stopped and stared blankly at the entrance to the place where they'd spent weeks and weeks doing illegal brewing.

    What.

    Double-checking the map showed Letter Salad right inside.

    The Heir of Slytherin is a pervert, was Harry's first thought. His second thought was to give him the benefit of the doubt because anything else would be a double standard, but that seemed silly to do for someone trying to commit mass murder. His third was that this bathroom was avoided for a good reason called Moaning Myrtle. Why'd he go in?

    The faint sound of grinding rock snapped Harry out of it the same moment the Letter Salad dot disappeared.

    Harry rushed into the bathroom and stopped dead at the sight of Ginny Weasley's back disappearing into the darkness of a massive pipe in the wall behind the spot where the main sink had once been. The sink whose tap never worked.

    Holy shit. Harry thought dumbly. It is Ginny under Imperius! "Expecto Patronum," he hissed as low as he could "Guys, it's the bathroom! The potions bathroom, I just saw Ginny go through a hole, there's a pipe behind the broken sink, shit it's closing, get Dumbledore!" Harry barely made it before the sink covered up the hole. He nearly missed a step and gave himself away because the pipe was old and rank and slippery, but he didn't because he was a seeker with unequalled reflexes, everyone said so.

    The pipe was scary dark and went on and on, but it came with that weird feeling Hogwarts gave when you seemed to be walking in a straight line but really weren't. Even after the pipe ended, it only led to more tunnels even more blatantly magical than the first. It seemed to take forever to reach the end, and when Harry did he almost panicked when he stepped out and bones cracked under his feet. Only risking a lumos because no other feet were going crunch in the darkness, Harry breathed a sigh of relief. They were just rats and other animals, no human bones in sight.

    Harry deliberately didn't dig past the top layer.

    Moving on, Harry almost tripped when he saw a massive shed skin. Holy hell, is it a basilisk after all? But this skin is huge!

    Harry Potter very nearly turned back and fled.

    But that would leave Ginny Weasley at the mercy of this Letter Salad person.

    Harry set his jaw, turned off the light and hurried past the skin as fast as his Cloak let him walk without causing a ruckus. His haste paid off because he finally spotted Ginny again through the gloom. Only her. She came to a stop ahead of him in front of a stone wall with a snake engraved on it, at the same time as a distinctly male voice said "Open!"

    The noise of grinding stone cut through the darkness as the door to the Chamber of Secrets was opened. Harry swallowed dryly. That proved their hunch that the Heir had a way to go about invisible, but did it have to be as good as his?

    Harry didn't wait until the last moment to go in this time.

    The Chamber of Secrets was a massive, cavernous place of absolutely surreal grandeur. As if detecting their presence, braziers lit up with pale green flames, allowing the place to be seen. The Chamber was half-flooded, but even then it was positively gigantic, framed with towering pillars that were entwined with carved wood all along the walls. At the far end, a gigantic Statue of Slytherin stood, towering and life-like, flanked by the four largest and most ornate of the columns. Harry almost forgot to watch his step as he tried and failed to spot whoever was controlling Ginny to come down here.

    Failing, he skulked over to the side pillar furthest inward that he could hide behind without wading into the water and giving himself away. Each of his step was a mirror of Ginny's so that what little noise he made was concealed. He was debating whether or not to stick his head out or try and signal Ginny some other way – could people even defeat the Imperius? – before Ginny stopped and opened her mouth.

    "Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four!"

    Harry's mind went blank. It was the man's voice. The man's voice came from Ginny.

    The ceiling groaned. The pillar trembled under his hand. Harry gulped and turned toward the statue of Salazar Slytherin again. The stone slab concealing the statue's mouth started descending as he heard an ominous snarling that seemed to be coming from inside. Dimly he could feel his throat going dry and his lungs start to hyperventilate as something shrieked "Hungry!" from within the statue. The stone slab concealing the statue's mouth stopped descending. A split second afterwards, the Basilisk emerged from the darkness and started to come into the light, hissing menacingly as it slid down the statue to the watery ground while its tongue tasted the air. The creature was a monster, a gigantic serpent of titanic size, dark green scales, and deep yellow eyes.

    Harry watched in horror as Ginny Weasley led the Serpent of Slytherin out of the Chamber of Secrets and outside his sight. He told himself not to scream. He told himself not to move. He told himself not to blink. He told himself to breathe. He couldn't.

    He couldn't breathe. He couldn't blink. He couldn't move at all. He wanted to scream.

    He couldn't scream.

    He couldn't do anything at all.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2022
  3. Superiorshortness

    Superiorshortness Making the rounds.

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2021
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    308
    You mean the Basilisk didn't die immediately after the reveal?!?!? Harry was actually terrified and didn't heroically rehash canon with a sword? Haha, thanks for the chapter.
     
  4. suikofan

    suikofan Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2021
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    3,541
    So the group realizes McGonagall is a shit person despite everyone in the fanon loving her for some reason, realize Draco is shit at keeping his mouth shut, and makes friends with Neville. Also Harry might have gotten the Life Tablet from Marvel for Christmas?

    In other news Harry is in a hidden chamber only he and his worst enemy can open, invisible and petrified, while Dumbledore heads face first into a basilisk. Hope he can send memories into the past forcing a vision or some shit.

    ps. Hermione is wrong Spelljammers are the shit!
     
  5. Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    First time I hear about that, so alas no. Think less fiction, more what the fiction is based on.
     
  6. saad

    saad Getting out there.

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2019
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    107
    Panacea?
     
    Prakhar Garhwal and !Renzie0 like this.
  7. Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
  8. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2018
    Messages:
    2,363
    Likes Received:
    21,693
    I am entertained...
    And I wish to sojourn with the Dreamer...
    As I watch at his side.
     
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 6: Petrification Is Hard to Tough Out
    Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    Finding good art of Harry slaying the basilisk that didn't come from the film proved practically impossible, and what I did find was way cartoonish. Have this image of a frowny Tom Riddle instead.



    [​IMG]
    Chapter 6: Petrification Is Hard to Tough Out

    "-. February 14, 1993 .-"
    He tried to move until he couldn't think. He couldn't breathe because his own chest felt like a rock pressing down on it. He'd begged and pled and screamed without screaming until it felt like screaming out of a coffin, that's what his body had turned into. How did he get himself into this mess? Why the bloody hell did he just stand there gawking at the snake? And why was he just petrified instead of dead? That's not how basilisks worked! And who was that in Ginny's body? Was it even really her?

    Maybe it was someone polyjuiced, Harry thought in despair. That would be a riot, why wouldn't our biggest win be stolen and turned to shite?

    Or maybe Ginny was possessed instead, it would explain why his name on the Map was always an unintelligible letter salad, but then where did all these possessing creeps come from? It's Voldemort again, isn't it? Harry thought bleakly, except it made no freaking sense. Whoever spoke from Ginny's mouth sounded nothing like the dark lord, Harry had heard him just weeks ago when he jumped out of the diadem at him, whoever this was wasn't even a full grown man! It was like a teenager trying to sound all grown up and failing! And where was the sibilant lisp? What kind of plan was killing all the muggleborn in Hogwarts anyway? Harry wasn't even one, and why didn't Voldemort do this last year if it was him? I'm in denial, aren't I?

    Why was this happening to him? What had he done to deserve this? You weren't supposed to be conscious after being petrified, it wasn't possible, everyone said so. Had they lied? Were they wrong? Was he not petrified after all? Was this death, then? Was he really dead after all? Was this what awaited when the body failed, an eternity trapped inside your corpse without being able to move or breathe or scream in horror? If he knew what was going to happen, if he knew everything that was going to happen next – if he knew in advance the consequences of his own actions – he'd have turned his back on every mystery and chased the secret of escaping death the same as the thing inside his head. He'd be an empty shell, cowardly and weak. He'd never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. He'd never love anyone, he'd never dare to. He'd be as ruined as Voldemort.

    But Voldemort could at least float around and drain every creature dry that stood in his path. Everything that thought to try and stop him from outrunning the breakdown of his soul as his awareness crumbled and stretched and clawed at itself in desperation. Latched desperately on the one thing left when hope and will failed him. Memories of good. Memories of bad. Memories of worse. Memories of everything he'd left unfinished. Over and over as his consciousness rewound itself all the way back to the moment when Ginny came back half an hour after leaving. Then she ordered the basilisk back inside Slytherin's mouth, closed it and left the Chamber of Secrets, taking all sounds and motion and the light of the braziers with her.

    Thinking about Ginny made Harry want to bang his head against the wall. Wishing for help only made it worse. Thinking about Nicolas made him want to cry. Thinking about Ron and Hermione made him want to scream all over again, were they even safe? Shite, he'd sent them the messenger Patronus just before he went in half-cocked, didn't that mean they might have been in the bathroom when the basilisk came out? Harry didn't want to think about it, but he couldn't help but think about it until he didn't even know which way was forward anymore. It seemed like he could see in all directions, all the better to watch himself strain his will trying to move his body. The harder he tried the more he failed. The harder he willed magic to free him, the more his mind ground at the weaker and weaker tethers holding it and his body together. Any moment now something would break and his thoughts would stretch outwards in all directions. Life was flashing before his eyes, getting stuck on the biggest and stupidest things. His visions. So wonderful.

    So dumb! War that happened on a different earth so it didn't matter. Ancient fake gods that might be aliens, as if he cared about that instead of seeing something actually useful to not ending up where he was now. Ectoplasm in his eye, spelling a secret – a Secret keeper's secret! He could see the other end of that secret, and there was nothing there but an old skull sitting on a plinth in the darkness. And that cosmic vision about a board game, that was the worst! He could literally see himself flying to the other side of the planet just to watch some old man jotting down rules for how to kill monsters with dice games, why was he still here? Just to suffer?

    I don't want to die, Harry thought desperately. I don't want to die. This isn't right. This isn't fair, I don't want to go, I don't want-

    Two ancient snakes twitched in their sleep on the Atlantic floor. The skull's eyes came alive with the green of death. Far across the pond, a jolly-faced man raised his head in surprise and looked right at him.

    Harry crashed awake back in his stone paralysis. I'm going mad, aren't I? Harry could feel his body tight like a dead shell, as hard as it was weak. The only thing left now was the drip by drip by drip of the water seeping from outside, make it stop, make it stop. It hadn't rained. There were no streams on the Hogwarts grounds. The Hogwarts plumbing didn't even use much water, the magic vanished all the waste as soon as it was out of sight. Where was the water from? Am I under the lake? Drip by drip by drip was his only answer, make it stop, how long has it been, it feels like years, is nobody looking for me, make it stop make it stop make it stop-

    "Beyond the shadow you settle for, there is a miracle illuminated."

    Harry crashed awake all over again.

    "I hope you don't mind me dropping in. Turnabout is fair play. A trespass for a trespass, you understand."

    There was a man there. A man right next to him. Tall, strong and old. Venerable-old, not decrepit-old. The man. The man from the dream he'd just crashed out of. The… American?

    "I live in Canada actually." The man said mildly, looking from Harry to where Harry was stuck looking for… for- "Four days, looks like."

    Four days!? But it felt so much longer! If this was just four days, what will he be in a week?

    "Oh how you don't know, that beyond the lake you call home, there lies a deeper, and darker ocean green, where waves are both wilder and more serene. Would you like to travel there? To its ports? I've been there, you know."

    No, he didn't want to die! Who was this man come to…?

    …. Was this death?

    "No."

    Oh. That's… good? But then what-

    "Who."

    ... He was hallucinating, wasn't he?

    "A hallucination, am I?" The man walked around to stand in front of him. "Think that's a nice thing to say to someone, do you? Hallucination, hah!"

    Well sorry, Harry thought snappishly. It's not like I just imagined snakes in a jar and screamed my head off at a dead man's skull down in London or anything!

    "You saw Bran?" The stranger balked delightedly. "Imagine that! Something brand new under my sky!"

    Saw who? His what?

    "Don't worry about that, it hasn't been literal in a while," What? "What happened to you, Little Homebody?'

    Harry was instantly reminded of where and what he was and felt like he was about to break down again.

    "That's it?" The man exclaimed, nonplussed. He absently tugged at his long beard, like a befuddled grandpa mistaking it for platinum and trying to spin it into thread. "You mystics are so spoiled these days. Used to be you actually had to train to see what you were doing, grow a whole new soul part to even see the aether, never mind grabbing it to weave your spells with your rambling minds. Now look at you, going crazy just from a bit of sensory deprivation. Wizardry was supposed to be a force multiplier, not crippling training wheels!"

    What was he talking about?

    "You think magic's supposed to be so simple? You think that tools are all the same? Not all of them are meant to make things easier, some are supposed to teach. To train. You don't think it's strange that wands are given to children? You think it's a coincidence that wands can't do jack shit for the hardest magics out there? That ancient magics don't even notice when they're there?" The man moved around him until he stood behind Harry, back to back. Looking at the wall. His lips curled in a smirk. "Think it's your eyes seeing me now?"

    Harry was startled. He felt like he almost fell out of his body for a moment there. How did he see behind him? Through the man even?

    "That's it, now you see. Don't mind the pun, I'm literally their father you know." What was he talking about? "Now, can you look anywhere else? I don't mean here and there, I mean inside. What do you see?"

    Harry could, in fact, look in. It was actually pretty easy. There wasn't much though. Other than all the points of light dashing in and out from outside through space and the planet, and there was all the… missing electricity? Were those nerves? And the things around it, muscles and bone, they looked so strange made of stone. He didn't remember ever seeing them anyway else, but somehow he knew what they were supposed to look like. This wasn't it at all.

    "There we go, you finally got it," the stranger said from where he'd sat down at some point to draw. "Call me Ed."

    How long had he stalled out there, wait, call him Ed? That didn't narrow his actual name down at all!

    "That's nice," Ed said distractedly, charcoal sliding across the paper. "Now look at your forehead."

    Harry looked at his forehead from behind his forehead. The golden light under his skin backlit a flayed and mutilated baby.



    WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?

    Prongs came alive inside him, roused by Harry's panic and shock. It saw what Harry was looking at and charged the freakishness like a comet of starlight. The world erupted in ripples in his path. The pearly waves washed over and through the darkness within, illuminating blackened tendrils spread from head to foot. When the mighty antlers gored the monster, Harry's whole being shook like he was about to come apart. The black coils were grown right through his seams, pull wrong just once and he was going to fall to pieces. Flesh might endure but stone was brittle.

    Prongs backed away, standing between Harry and the creature, braying angrily. Unhappily. Digging grooves in Harry's soul with its hoof.

    "What is that?" harry thought hysterically. "What the hell is that, what's happening, what am I seeing, what am I supposed to do!?"

    "Have you done all you could with the things you already have?"

    Harry's panic faltered. Those were the Flamels' words.

    "Sleep paralysis is itself a dream."

    Nicolas' words.

    "I believe you can do it."

    The Patronus is a messenger! Harry finally remembered, his entire being filling with a mad surge of hope. Prongs, get help!

    Prongs brayed victoriously and erupted from his flesh-turned-stone, lighting up the Chamber of Secrets for one glorious moment before he vanished through the walls.

    Harry could still see it. Could see through it and around it as it blitzed through the wall, hundreds of feet of ground, then a dozen more walls straight into the Purple room where Nicolas abruptly stopped pacing. Harry said something, or Prongs said something, or maybe didn't. It was strange, the farther away Prongs got, the less Harry recalled even though he was perfectly aware of what was happening in the moment. Nicolas somehow understood, though. Used his own patronus to summon help and immediately commanded the stag to lead him where Harry was. Dumbledore caught up half-way to the bathroom. Ron and Hermione were already there when they arrived, looking tired with bags under their eyes next to the place where the defective sink used to be. No words were exchanged, the four just watched as Prongs spoke in the tongue of snakes for the passage to ~OPEN!~

    The wall behind the used-to-be-sink vanished, opening the way.

    Barely ten minutes later, there was once more light in the Chamber of Secrets.

    "Harry?" Nicolas called, his voice hushed but urgent and relieved to his bones. "Harry, where are you?" His calls were soon echoed by three others, hopeful and desperate behind their Lumos lights. The braziers came to life, but still nobody found him.

    Oh, I'm still under the Cloak!

    Harry guided Prongs over to where he stood.

    Ron made it first, pawing at the air until his hands found the cloak and pulled it off. "Harry!" His voice was hoarse, just like Hermione's. "Shite!"

    "He's been petrified!" Hermione gasped, wiping eyes wet with tears.

    "Oh you foolish, lucky child!" Dumbledore breathed, a wand of elder wood held tight in his hand. "That's why none of our patroni could find you. Even with all my spells, the work of death yet confounds the living."

    "It's not his fault," Ron cried angrily, hesitating to touch him, before turning to Dumbledore accusingly. "He wouldn't even be here if he didn't have to do your job for you!"

    Nicolas was walking around Harry's statue-like frame, his rune stick glowing in his hand as he gazed upon him with eyes glinting golden beneath his great blue hat.

    "How did a basilisk even do this?" Ron demanded. "That skin out there's huge, but it's definitely a snake! It can't be anything else!"

    "Colin saw the basilisk through his camera," Hermione mumbled. "Justin saw it through Nearly Headless Nick. Mrs. Norris… she must have seen its reflection in the water on the floor! And I gave Neville my mirror so he could hide in the stall. That's it! A direct gaze kills, but no one saw the eyes directly!" This time, she turned on Dumbledore. Triumphantly. "Do you see? The Cloak saved his life!"

    Justin was – wait, Ginny got Neville!?

    "Who!?" Nicolas called sharply, stepping forward to look down right in Harry's eyes as if he'd just heard- "Harry, are you… are you conscious in there?" Yes, yes, yes, yes, please- "By the stars, child, have you been aware this whole time?"

    Yes, Harry screamed mentally. It sucks!

    Hermione breathed in horror. "Oh, Harry…"

    "You mean the patronus wasn't just accidental magic?" Ron was just as horrified. "First you get petrified by accident and now you can't even turn to stone properly? What the bloody hell, mate!"

    "Ron! How could you say that?"

    Dumbledore turned from the rest of them and began to steadily walk around what parts of the chamber weren't underwater, waving his softly glowing wand with every step, eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

    "Harry," Nicolas said, eyes flicking between him and Ron so fast that Harry probably wouldn't have seen it with his… well, eyes. "You should know Miss Weasley is in the hospital wing, unconscious and fading from no discernible cause."

    Shite. So they still didn't know who the heir was? But she was possessed, why weren't they using the spirit binding spells on her? Was it too dangerous for the host soul?

    "Possession?" the thought appeared from nowhere, and Harry recognised its foreign nature as easily as he had Gryffindor. "You can hear me even with your brain turned into rock. I did not expect this." Nicolas was looking into his eyes intently. The world slowed to a crawl as their conversation occurred at the speed of thought. "Harry. I'm going to do something. Tell me the moment you want to stop."

    Eh?

    Nicolas Flamel drew his wand, pointed it at Harry Potter and cast an animation charm.

    Harry's mouth opened. What?

    Nicolas then made Harry bite on the rune stick and put his great blue hat on Harry's head.

    Harry suddenly knew all the answers to all his questions, knew where everyone was on the grounds of Hogwarts, could see thirty meters in all directions and five meters into the ground, and knew what everything and everyone in Hogwarts was talking about. He knew what his dead father's spell had done. He could see exactly how a prank spell had been adapted to trigger Harry's latent metamorphmagus ability like a huge flaming sign. He knew what thoughts were. He knew what memories were. He knew dreams were. What they weren't.

    Dreams weren't fancies of the brain. The brain was just part of the body, and the body was just one part of everything else. One of eight. Dreams were the mind leaving the rest to see and do and will and dream things with everyone and everything else. And sometimes, very rarely, they stood in for memory. Memory of everything outside his body's memory. Things happening far off. Everyone else's dreams he ever touched. Lives he never lived. Except he did.

    All his dreams of past lives carried by his soul settled into his mind with full and crystal clear recollection, up to and including every hindsight about how he'd have done things properly.

    Prongs. We've one more ride to ride.

    His spirit companion emerged from within him, alive with light. He glowed out of Harry's eyes, then from all of him like a nimbus with a crown of light. But this time, when he charged into battle, Harry grabbed tight onto its antlers and rode his spirit animal away from body, chamber and company straight up.

    The earth was dark, but Harry didn't need light to see. The lake was barely brighter, but the patronus cast its shine like a rising star as Harry Potter rode his mighty steed up through seaweed, merpeople, and schools of curious fish whirling excitedly around him and past the giant squid's enormous, startled eye.

    Like the moon rising out of the sun's reflection, Harry Potter rode the White Stag out of the water and turned to where he could sense the darkest, foulest dream.

    They crossed the castle grounds in a trail of radiance, soaring over the gawping fliers around the quidditch pitch, over the greenhouses and the magical creatures class, straight through the wall of the hospital tower to find the Weaseley family screaming in shock at the sight of him all around Ginny bed. Harry stopped in place, but Prongs didn't, lowering his head and barrelling right through a dumbstruck Arthur Weasley and into his daughter's tiny, prostrate form. Harry Potter's ghostly feet touched the ground just as Ginny Weasley arched in her bed, moaning in her sleep and then gasping awake as Prongs gored Tom Riddle Junior's unliving shade right out of her.

    The leech choked on blood that didn't exist, because he wasn't so much mind or soul as it was just a memory, hands clutching at the gaping wounds in its form, bleeding green smoke and ichor. It had fed well, though, and recovered from the shock of its sudden expulsion fast enough to run out the infirmary before the Weasleys could react. Prongs made chase, but its form dispersed into white gossamer before it reached the door. Harry could already feel his spirit weakening, struggling under the sudden load of too much too quickly. There were good reasons why the diviner's path took years to walk, and Harry knew all of them now too. Not from any memory, but from the stick of glowing runes between his far-off teeth, and the hat now on his head, neither of which was made by human hands. But he still had strength. He still had time.

    He had allies.

    Prongs manifested beneath him this time, growing out of the floor to bear him forward, past the chaotic babble of the awestruck living without losing more time. As they gave chase through classrooms and corridors, Harry clung tight to Prongs' antlers and reached out with his mind. Hogwarts didn't stir for him this time, but it didn't have to just to share a dream. Hogwarts had already done more than enough for him, Harry didn't need it to do anything, he just wanted the ghosts.

    It was mid-way through their charge through the potions classroom that the Bloody Baron emerged through the wall right in the shade's path and stabbed it with his sword.

    "Nooooooo!"

    "Phantasma Claudo," Harry intoned, chains sprouting from Draco Mafloy's wand that was conveniently forgotten on the desk, when the Slytherin drew back screaming like everyone else in the classroom. The spell caught the shade mid-scream, tying it in spectral chains whose loose ends were caught by the headless hunt. They burst on horseback through the walls and ran the creature down, trampled it, circled it, clapped its chains to the saddle of the horse belonging to the Headless Knight in Black.

    Harry glanced at the wand, amazed at holding it aloft for all that he was unsurprised. Wands had spirit. Enough for a ghost and even a memory to touch.

    He dropped it back on the table and looked around. The mixed Slytherin-Ravenclaw Potion class was staring at him in open-mouthed shock. Even Snape. Harry smirked at the sight and felt his spirit grow just a bit stronger.

    Then he nodded to the Black Knight – even though he had no idea what the Headless Hunt was even doing here – held his hand out and grabbed Prongs by the antler mid-charge because he had little time left before he broke apart under he strain. Little time to do the one last thing he needed that was even more important than saving Ginny.

    They blitzed through walls and corridors towards the one other thing he knew would have enough spirit for him to grasp even without flesh hands.

    There was still a dozen or so students of all years camping at the sport where the Sword of Gryffindor was still stuck in the wall. Every day people would try and fail to pull the sword from the stone. Harry hadn't tried. He did now though. Walked up to the wall while everyone was staring in complete dumbfounded disbelief and took the sword hilt in his spectral hands. It didn't budge, but he could feel it. He let go and looked up at the portrait. Gryffindor stood proudly in his frame, watching Harry encouragingly.

    Harry walked past the sword and put his hand on the canvas. Gryffindor mirrored his gesture. Harry could feel his own spirit like roots drawing power from the aether, sustaining his soul and memory and his wandering soul-mind, just like the physical body took in food, water and air to sustain itself and the emerging identity of the conscious mind. Harry could also feel the rune stick pulling hard on his spirit, diverting that energy to weave and reweave the connection between his mind and soul and memory. He was too young and untrained for this, but needs must, and though the two objects were blatantly not a good fit for anyone but their winner, they held all the memory of when and why and how Nicolas did what Harry was about to do next.

    For the first time, Harry pulled on the power of his spirit deliberately. His grasp on his memories frayed, and he was sure his body would have suffered if it wasn't a statue. I won't remember any of this, will I? But he did it anyway, extending the connection into the portrait. When he pulled his hand away, Gryffindor came out with it, his image in the painting pouring out like paint into an orb of light that Harry shoved into his chest.

    "You are unwell, little shaman," Godric Gryffindor murmured in his mind. "Your enemy is a parasite become a pulsing sore inside your bone. I will help you lance it." Harry's feet moved back, his back straightened, and his hands grabbed the hilt on their own, the right hand near the guard, the left hand on the pommel. "Watch and learn now the Two Horned Guard of the Taurus."

    The Sword of Gryffindor thrust even deeper for a moment, then back to wrench free of the stone with a ringing song.

    Harry Potter turned away from the wall and marched past the awestruck onlookers that had tripled in number at some point since his own arrival. They felt shocked, amazed and embarrassed. Why would they – ah. They'd looked at his disappearance and took it to mean he was the Heir of Slytherin. Lovely.

    Harry scowled at the lot of them and decided that his father had the right idea.

    Prongs returned to him but did not ask to be let out again. The strain was almost overpowering now. Harry walked as quickly as he could without losing his shape. Gryffindor flowed apart from him to walk on his right, his hand on the sword hilt to share the load. On his left, the Headless Horseman cantered up, the bound and gagged memory of the teenage dark lord dragging on the floor behind his horse. The tide of gawkers felt almost overwhelming behind him, but the headless hunt streamed forth through the wall to bar their path. The brave few who pushed through the riders were called to halt by the House Ghosts, and those who chose to ignore even them were left behind when the staircase moved away from their path the moment Harry was on it.

    When he finally reached the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets again, Moaning Myrtle looked one gasp away from babbling awkward invitations to share eternal unlife together and fainting. Also, Headmaster Dumbledore was just coming out of the pipe. When he saw them, his grip went so tight that the paper drawing in his hand creaked – wait, where did that come from, it looked like a weird tentacle ship, wasn't Ed just a – no, not important.

    "Headmaster," Harry said, not pausing his step and thankful that wizards could hear Ghosts without him having to put effort into that too. "It was Voldemort's diary horcrux. The Black Knight can take you where it is."

    Right?

    The Black Knight inclined his shoulders in agreement, though Dumbledore didn't take him up on the offer. At least not immediately.

    Harry didn't have it in him to pay attention to his surroundings anymore. He left the Hunt to wait and paid no mind to the headmaster turning to follow him back in. Feeling his growing distress, Gryffindor gave back what he still had of Harry's life force and surrendered his shape to overshadow his sword outright. The sword seemed to lose all weight and Harry was grateful. The strain was easing the closer he got to his body, but it was still worse than when he started.

    "Harry!" His friends cried on seeing him, but they stopped before they could run up to him when they saw his face and the thing he was carrying. The green of death shone from the once red rubies ever stronger.

    He walked up to his body, paused, and turned to look at Nicolas meaningfully. Beseechingly.

    Nicolas clenched his fists and thinned his lips. He obviously had no idea why Harry was asking what he was asking, and he felt this had already gone on too long to risk. But all the same, the immortal alchemist nodded sharply and turned, raising an arm to halt the others as Dumbledore drew near. "Come away, children. You too, Albus. We need to get out of the way."

    "Nicolas, explain."

    Harry ignored everyone, turning instead towards his own body. He looked terrified like this. But he wasn't surprised. He felt terrified too.

    Reaching forward, he felt a surge of gratitude at finding that Nicolas had prepared for all possibilities and animated his fingers loose enough for him to pull his wand free. It was much gladder to see him and serve its purpose than Malfoy's. It was a shame he couldn't spend more time like this, but he had a meeting with death to narrowly miss.

    Sticking the sword tip-first into the floor, Harry Potter pointed his wand at himself and cast an animation charm. Then he tossed his wand up, let go-

    And caught his wand with his stone hand.

    This is so weird, Harry thought as his joints ground like millstones with his every move of his walk to the middle of the chamber. But waste not, want not. Harry raised his wand, closed his eyes, excluded them from the animation magic, and called all he could remember of this incident, and all the lessons and experience in magic he collected in the other two lives he could remember.

    Influunt Sicut Ego. With a jab and wave of his wand, the flood water rose up off the ground, like a crashing wave in reverse that then spun like a whirlpool in front of him until he thought Glacius. The water became a sloping tunnel of shimmering ice that spanned the distance from Harry to the mouth of Slytherin's statue. Caligo. A jab to the side raised a massive wall of smoky fog between him and the rest of the Chamber.

    Harry holstered his wand, pulled out Gryffindor's sword, paused at the suggestion Gryffindor gave him, pulled his wand back out and cast a second, smaller Glacius at the floor beneath him before holstering it again. The Sword of Gryffindor was in his hand. The rune stick was in his other hand. On his head was a dwarf's hat.

    I really wish I had a rooster right about now, Harry thought. But it would be useless without the basilisk being out in the sunlight.

    He hoped and dreaded that the two most powerful wizards on Earth really would stay out of this just because a twelve-year-old said so – oh, they weren't. They had wands out and supersensory charms up and were ready to intervene at a moment's notice. Harry's fog wasn't hindering them at all.

    Gonna have to take them by surprise, Harry thought with the wry patience of a different life. But that's for later.

    ~Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four!~

    The ceiling groaned. The ice creaked like a hundred rusty hinges in front of him. The stone slab concealing the statue's mouth started descending as he heard the same ominous snarling from inside. Prior experience didn't seem to have put a dent in the fear Harry felt, but he had no flesh throat to go dry or lungs to start hyperventilating as the basilisk shrieked "Hungry!" from within just like before. He put the stick of runes back in his mouth and braced himself. The stone slab concealing the statue's mouth stopped descending. A split second afterwards, the Basilisk emerged from the darkness. The creature was still a monster, a gigantic serpent of titanic size, dark green scales, and only its deep yellow eyes cast any light before it now as it spotted him at the other end of the icy tunnel. Harry could literally feel dark magic on his face, but the windows to his soul were shut and he could see through walls.

    This is it, Harry thought.

    "This is it," Gryffindor agreed, his serious tone at odds with a deep-seated sense of absolute irony. "Observe and learn now the Short Guard of the Serpent."

    Harry laughed as the basilisk lunged straight at him.

    Harry's knees bent, his back stiffened and his hands moved on their own, the right on the hilt and the left grasping the blade, then he stomped on the ground. The basilisk smashed into the floor where he'd just been, mouth agape. Harry Potter's backwards slide on the ice ended in just the perfect place for him to stab the monster in the snout.

    The blade barely pierced. His momentum was all backwards and the basilisk's hide was strong. But the Sword of Gryffindor flashed and filled the Chamber of Secrets with the green of death, shimmers reflecting off the ice as the unforgiveable curse was released.

    The monster fell dead with nary a death throw. The king of serpents slid bonelessly out of the icy shaft, naught but its sheer weight pushing it forth until its sightless eyes stared at Harry's face from its place at his feet. Even then, the head alone came up to Harry's chest.

    Silence.

    Now that he was paying attention, Harry realised there had been shouts and screams behind the fog. He only noticed them now because they stopped. Even that was getting hard.

    I'm pushing it.

    "Hurry and claim your prize," Godric urged.

    "I claim this beast as spoils."

    He could practically feel when 'deadly beast' became 'mighty trophy' in the eyes of Magic. It didn't really feel any less dangerous, but he had a Hogwarts Founder and at least two lifetimes that said claim was important. Hopefully he was right because otherwise this was going to be the stupidest way to end the day.

    The others were calling his name again, but Harry ignored them. He stepped forward and found himself absurdly grateful for the unexpected strength of his statue-like body. He doubted he'd have been able to pry the basilisk's jaws loose without it.

    "Before you let go, that palate looks mighty soft."

    Harry stabbed the sword through the roof of the basilisk's mouth and decided to leave the sword there for Gryffindor to enjoy since he liked the idea so much. If the sword absorbed more venom than the last time he did this, it would probably be even more helpful later. Maybe Gryffindor liked eating brains when he was alive?

    Harry's joints creaked reaching out. The basilisk fang came loose with a loud SNAP just as Nicolas emerged from beyond the fog and froze in horror as Harry Potter stabbed the basilisk fang into his forehead.

    "Harry, NO!"

    CRUNCH.

    A pinpoint flash from Dumbledore's wand sent the fang blasting out of his hand the opposite way, but it was already too late. His scar erupted in pain he didn't need a body to feel. He felt like his head was melting, like malice was a tangible thing slithering over his soul. Harry would have fallen to his knees if the basilisk venom hadn't destroyed the animation spell on him along with so much else. All else that had been sheltering the flayed and mutilated splinter of a mad soul that now tried to crawl away from the venom deeper in him. It found no way. Flesh might endure, but stone just chipped away.

    An unholy scream shattered the silence as a black cloud burst out of Harry's lightning bolt scar trailing blood and ichor black as pitch. It burst and sizzled as pale moonlight from his guardian spirit blended with the golden glow on Harry's skin to sink deep into every crack and tendril, pushing the corruption out like an infection finally lanced open. The foul blood mixed with the basilisk venom still eating through his skull like acid and washed it away.

    Not all of it, though, and not fast enough. He was on his back now, Harry noticed. Nicolas had animated him again and was desperately holding him in place. Dumbledore was casting freezing and stasis and summoning charms as fast as he could wave his wand, but the venom just ate every spell. Harry tried to reach out mentally to someone, to say-

    "FAWKES! TO ME!"

    Dumbledore pre-empted him. Maybe he wasn't so bad after all. Completely bonkers of course, but Harry didn't have a leg to stand on there, especially with what he was about to do now.

    Drawing inward, he looked at his forehead from behind his forehead, past the golden light to the traces of his father's spell and followed them all the way back to the latent metamorphmagus talent beneath his red hair.

    Change, change, change.

    Stone turned to flesh.

    Harry James Potter's last memory before darkness took him was of a phoenix crying while everyone he loved called out his name.
     
  10. MoonCliff

    MoonCliff The moon god

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2020
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    103
    GODAMM!! That’s a Harry Potter worthy of a prophecy.
     
  11. Knived

    Knived Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2019
    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    1,944
    Whats the statgate hook in all of this?
     
  12. Inv1ctus6243

    Inv1ctus6243 Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2016
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    499
    Later, were not that far yet.
     
  13. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2018
    Messages:
    2,363
    Likes Received:
    21,693
    Hot damn!
    That is a worthy fight...
    Guided by the Spirit of a Valorous Man...
    Against a Beast of Sudden Deaths...
    Worthy of song and prophecy indeed!
     
  14. suikofan

    suikofan Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2021
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    3,541
    That was great! Gotta admit a lot of the references I'm still trying to figure out. So Bran the Blessed is an undead guardian of Britain?
     
  15. Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    Snakes on the ocean floor.
    That's his intended role in the Mabinogion. You can decide for yourself if he's actually doing the job, and what the reasons for that could be I'll leave to speculation for now.

    Glad to see the extenuating circumstances managed to sell this chapter as not too much SOD to lay on a twelve year-old.
     
  16. Threadmarks: Chapter 7: Short-Term Memory Loss Is a Misnomer
    Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    [​IMG]
    Chapter 7: Short-Term Memory Loss Is a Misnomer

    "-. February 20, 1993 .-"

    Harry woke up in the hospital wing. Which confused him. Why was he here? He felt great! Why am I in here, Hogwarts?

    Hogwarts didn't reply. It was still fast asleep. Which was more than fair.

    "Don't move too quickly."

    Nicolas was at his bedside.

    Harry shot up in bed so fast that all the blood rushed out of his head. The world promptly floated away from under him and he collapsed back with a groan and his vision a blur. He shut his eyes in the hopes of riding out the dizzy spell. Great. He got to feel great while everything else felt horrible at the same time, score another world's first for Harry Potter, everybody.

    Nicolas' warm hand laid over his forehead. "I did say not to move too quickly, little one."

    Harry brought his hands up to hold it, just to make sure it was real. To make sure he wouldn't pull away too soon. "How did I get here?" He barely strung out the words, his tongue was so heavy. It felt like just minutes ago he was still a statue down in the Chamber, but at the same time it felt lifetimes away… "What happened?"

    Nicolas gently thumbed Harry's forehead. "What do you remember?"

    "I was a statue for…" An all too vivid hallucination came back to him. "Four days I think?"

    "Let's try something else. What is your name?"

    Eh? "Harry James Potter."

    "Parents?"

    Harry blinked his eyes open in confusion. "James Potter and Lily Potter. Why are you asking this?"

    Nicolas went to withdraw his hand but Harry tightened his grip before he could think about it. He promptly pretended he needed the leverage to help himself to a sitting position. Nicolas thankfully didn't comment on his embarrassing clinginess.

    "You've just suffered severe head trauma, Harry." Nicolas compromised by leaving his hand over Harry's on the bedside. "This is me running a cognitive test. What day is it?"

    Harry opened his mouth, then closed it. "I don't know, how long since I clocked out? Wait, when did I pass out? I only remember up until you dropped your hat on my head and then…" Then it was all…

    A dream.

    "It is February 20 of 1993. That means you've been in here for…" Nicolas trailed off leadingly.

    Harry searched Nicolas' face. "… Two days?" He hedged, then felt relieved when he got a nod. He opened his mouth, then closed it and looked around. His bed was surrounded by dividers and no sounds seemed to be coming from beyond them. That… that was a relief actually. "What happened?"

    "What do you remember?"

    A whole lot of being paralysed, terrified and going crazy and then suddenly – no. No, not suddenly at all, but he couldn't remember almost any of it. There was just one sight he didn't need to struggle to remember among the many fading from his mind. "Did I stab myself in the head?"

    "Starting strong, I see," Nicolas said drily. He watched Harry for a moment, then raised his other hand entreatingly. "I would like to use legilimency. Is that alright?"

    "… As long as you keep asking, I guess it's fine." Harry was sure Nicolas always would, but it felt important to say it aloud for some reason.

    "Thank you, Harry." Nicolas pulled his chair closer and locked their eyes together. "Relate the events in your own words."

    Harry thankfully recalled everything up to looking in the Basilisk's eyes almost perfectly. He remembered his time as a statue almost as well, but for that he wasn't thankful. His words came increasingly haltingly the further he tried to describe what going mad with paralyzed terror felt like, until he had to take breaks to drink water and wait for his hands and knees to stop shaking.

    "We can take a break."

    "No," even Harry's breath was tight, but he could do this. He had to do this now, he… "It's alright if it's-" It's alright if it's you, but Harry's words caught in his throat. "I don't want to do this twice." It was the sort of weakness Harry had learned the hard way to never show, but…

    "Then I am honoured."

    Nicolas guessed what Harry was thinking even without reading his mind. Harry didn't know what the feeling was called, but it was… It was good.

    The rest of what Harry remembered was not as good. It was more confusing than anything.

    "You were visited by a geriatric Canadian," Nicolas flatly summarised. "A geriatric Canadian that either translocated into the Chamber of Secrets in full defiance of Hogwarts wards, or astrally projected. Immediately and spontaneously in response to your accidental intrusion. He also somehow left physical evidence of his passage in the form of a drawing. Made in charcoal on paper, neither of which was conjured."

    "Really? That sounds-" wicked "-powerful."

    "Well intentioned as well," Nicolas said pensively. "His apparent power and insight into you and your situation is daunting. But he also invested time, energy and goodwill into averting your descent into madness. He even left a physical sign that you had not hallucinated, though that is not the most remarkable thing. What is noteworthy is that he departed without demanding payment, just as the situation turned sufficiently muddled that Magic did not know to initiate a life debt. It's enough to make me wonder if he came up with an agenda in those few seconds after he became aware of you, or if he's just mad."

    "I thought all old wizards were mad," Harry muttered, then blushed at inadvertently calling Nicolas crazy too.

    Nicolas didn't say anything though. Just watched him patiently.

    It made Harry feel all warm and fuzzy and tongue-tied. He needed a while before he was able to string words together again. The wait also worked to bring out another vague impression of a new memory. The worst and best of all his memories. "There was another wraith, wasn't it?"

    "There was," Nicolas said grimly. "The wraith in Ravenclaw's Diadem was a horcrux, a splinter of Tom Riddle's soul that he broke off through ritual murder to prevent his soul from passing on upon the body's death. During your out-of-the-body experience, you intimated that the diary of Tom Riddle – the item that Ginevra Weasley was under the control of, it seems – was another such item. They have both been destroyed as of yesterday. You have already deduced the rest."

    "I had one in my forehead," Harry breathed. "I had a piece of my parents' murderer inside me. Inside my head." Now that he knew it, he could actually remember some things after his return to his body a bit better. But a bit better wasn't much improvement over nearly nothing. "I can remember everything that happened after I was petrified up to when you found me." Harry said, desperately trying not to think about the fact that he had apparently been the host of Voldemort's soul his whole life. "But not afterwards, even after I… returned to my body apparently? I must have done it, if I did… that."

    "You did. After you rode the White Hart to perform an exorcism on Miss Weasley, led your own version of the Wild Hunt through half the castle in broad daylight, captured the malignant spirit in the middle of Potions class, then promptly followed this by improvising a shaman's spirit channelling to draw Gryffindor's sword from the stone in front of a quarter of the school. You used said sword to slay the basilisk shortly after, in case that hasn't come back to you yet."

    Harry didn't reply. He was too stunned.

    "The swordsmanship could be explained via Gryffindor's assistance, but you also displayed spell mastery well ahead of even a full Hogwarts education. I assume this means you were able to draw on those past lives you mentioned in your letters, which doubtlessly compounds your inability to recall things now."

    "What?" Harry could only stare in open-mouthed shock. "What?"

    Nicolas reached into a bag next to his chair and pulled out a rolled up sheet of paper. "Do you recall this at all?"

    Harry shook his head in a vain attempt to get a hold of himself. "… I remember seeing him draw." Harry said slowly. "But everything after is a blur, except for when I… stabbed myself in the forehead with a basilisk fang apparently. I was trying to get the thing out of my scar, wasn't I? Why can't I remember?"

    "Long-term memory self-actualises by assimilating from short-term memory, and short-term memory amounts to only about ten minutes. Breaking free from the confines of the flesh lets you dream entire lifetimes in moments, but you still only retain ten minutes' worth when you return and 'wake up' as it were. You've yet to overcome this limitation."

    The penny dropped. "Is that what the rune stick and hat are for?"

    There was an approving glint in Nicolas' gaze. "The diviner's path does indeed rely on overcoming this limitation, but I will refrain from influencing your path any further."

    "You've got to be kidding," Harry balked in complete disbelief. "It's way too late for that!"

    "I've been guiding and teaching, Harry. Only what I did the other day was an overstep."

    "Says who? I don't!"

    "Nevertheless, I stand by my decision," Nicolas was firm. "You've saved innocents, saved the school from closing, slain a thousand years-old class five monster, and used the spoils from that feat to destroy a living horcrux without killing said first living horcrux for the first time in history. You even had enough gumption at the end to use a heretofore untapped metamorphmagus talent to defeat what was probably the strongest petrification curse of the last thousand years. I cannot even begin to think of a better balance of help and restraint on my part. I would be mad to change my approach now."

    Again with using not being mad as a defence, was Harry truly so lucky that he got the only old wizard that wasn't crazy? Wait, no, don't tempt fate!

    "It's alright Harry." Nicolas squeezed his hand, smiling reassuringly while completely misunderstanding Harry's internal crisis. "You saved the girl. You slew the demon. You expelled the parasite. You even redeemed your reputation and that of all who believed in you, building an immortal legend in the doing. You're alright now, better than ever. Take a moment and bask in your accomplishment, little one. You deserve it."

    "That's not the point!" Harry cried, and wait, why was he freaking out? "That's not it at all, don't change the subject! I didn't - Immortal legend!?" Harry shrieked as embarrassment did what everything else had failed. Shrieked! "I don't want an immortal legend!"

    Nicolas turned stern. "If you keep screaming at me it will hardly get any smaller."

    Harry snapped his mouth shut and blushed.

    Nicolas crossed his arms and waited, but his patience felt a lot less emboldening now.

    Harry's heart sank. "I'm sorry, sir. I shouldn't have yelled at you."

    Nicolas softened back to his usual self. "I forgive you. If it becomes a habit, though, I'll not be as lenient."

    "Yes, sir." Harry muttered, then mentally slapped himself for acting like Nicolas was Uncle Vernon. He thinned his lips, sat up straight and looked Nicolas in the eye. "It won't happen again."

    "Oh I'm fairly sure it will, you're a bullied child that's regained just enough self-worth to push boundaries." How did grownups make you feel good and bad all at once? "But the spirit of your promise is appreciated. Here. Your drawing."

    Harry blinked and accepted the rolled up paper. And the change of subject. When he unfurled it, he found a very detailed schematic – not sketch, schematic – of what could only be one of those weird tentacle spaceships that Colin and Justin had told him about. "What the h-?"

    "Ahem."

    "-Heck," Harry amended quickly. "… I have no idea what this means. I mean I know what it means, you just told me what it means, I just don't know what drawing this specifically and leaving it behind means."

    Nicolas sat back, peering at him knowingly. "I think you do."

    Harry made a face. "There's no way the biggest and baddest of all visions was about some board game."

    "Prophecy manifests through the observer's frame of reference, and you're a child that's been short-changed on playtime your whole life. It's farther from impossible than you think."

    "No," Harry said stubbornly. "That can't be it. If it's my frame of reference that matters, then I say that's not it."

    "Oh I agree," but he'd just-! "And I'll try to look into any 'Ed' connected to this game of your muggleborn acquaintances. Hopefully he won't take offense. I'm surprised, however, I'd have thought you'd appreciate the possibility that you might have overestimated the scope. You've certainly done your best to minimise the scope of all the other visions. Quite effectively too."

    "Only because it made the most sense." Harry huffed. "And I still got petrified and almost killed. Fat lot of good the Walk did there." Actually, that was a really good point! "Wait, why didn't I get any useful visions about all this? Getting petrified and killing a basilisk in ghost-possessed statue form is a pretty huge thing to miss!"

    "A diviner can never divine his own future." Nicolas told him.

    Harry sputtered in outrage. "That's the stupidest rule of Magic I've ever heard, and I know Gamp's Fifth law!"

    "Gamp's law is there by design." What? "But this is no rule at all, Harry. It's the observer effect. Once you know the results of your choices, you change your choices. Some change in behaviour and attitude is inevitable. Knowing the consequences of your choices leads to further refined choices, or bad choices based on events even further out. And so on and so on in an infinite feedback loop. An infinity of changed futures means no future to see."

    "That-" That doesn't make any sense, Harry wanted to say, but he disagreed with his own knee-jerk reaction the moment he thought about it. But still! "I can only see everyone else's futures but not mine? That doesn't sound fair."

    "Isn't it? It's not some law imposed by a cruel higher power, Harry. It's informed decision-making. Free will, Harry. Do you regret having it?"

    "Oh." Harry felt like he had just experienced a revelation. "I didn't think of it like that."

    "Don't beat yourself up over it, most people don't think about it either, but they still act by their own will anyway, even if just to choose to think and do what others tell them. You are well ahead of most in this regard. You should feel proud."

    "Should I?" Harry wondered, because he seemed to be going all in on this pushing boundaries business, even if it meant arguing for the sake of arguing because he needed something to stop him from exploding from all the praise. "I thought pride was a sin." He joked. It was a joke, right?

    "Unearned pride is hubris. Earned pride is the ideal state of man, it means you're accomplishing your best self. Granted, people usually don't go about it so literally, but that just goes to show that I am a very good judge of character."

    If he ever took on the job of an educator, Nicolas Flamel would drive every other teacher out of business. "Hold on," Harry frowned. "You're wrong. I did see my own future."

    Nicolas raised an amused eyebrow. "Is that so?"

    "I did! I saw my duel with Draco Malfoy."

    "You didn't see your future, you saw Draco Malfoy's." Nicolas spoke with the sort of confidence that Harry barely dreamed of possessing. "The fact you saw that vision speaks to the lack of control you had over that outcome compared to all other forces and actors at the time. And you saw for yourself how little even that amounted to in the end, once you observed the ultimate driving force behind that future."

    "Oh," Harry frowned. "I thought it was like a fixed point in time." Had Hermione's dad's science fiction marathons lied to him? But then fixed points couldn't be changed at all-

    "There is no such thing," Nicolas declared with all the confidence of six hundred years, which meant Mister Granger's hobby had lied to him, how could he do such a thing? "There is only the past and the present. Even they have gaps that have yet to be filled, and everything else is up to us to create. Notice how the duel with young Malfoy is the only future you managed to outright prevent? That's the full extent of your leeway. You've already considered that you might not have acted by your own will there. Consider also that it might not even have been you in that vision at all. Occam's Razor would suggest it was, but your frame of reference would certainly allow otherwise. Polyjuice Potion is just one of several ways to impersonate someone, and you yourself just achieved a second."

    The life-altering revelations just didn't want to stop.

    Harry decided to just roll with it. They were just more things to add to the list of why his life was great and he should feel great.

    Then he promptly experienced what Nicolas had meant way back, when he said that the best ideas come out of nowhere after you've already thought yourself out. "You can't divine the future of other diviners either, can you?"

    The pride and vindication in Nicolas' eyes made Harry's breath catch. "Very good, little one."

    There was even more to dig under that epiphany, somehow Harry was sure of it. But he found that he couldn't think any thoughts at all when Nicolas was looking at him like that. It wasn't fair, Harry didn't want to make a fool of himself, why was Nicolas trying to make him cry? "So," Harry quavered, then forcefully cleared his throat so he wouldn't choke up. "What now?"

    "Now I ask you if there's anything else you want to ask me before I hand you over to your friends. I'm afraid Mister Longbottom is still petrified, but Mister Weasley and Miss Granger are anxious to welcome you back among the hale. I've also prevailed upon Albus to make a perfunctory appearance, hard though it might have been. You'd almost think he regrets that Malfoy Sr. has finally stopped being a nuisance.'"

    Headmaster Dumbledore didn't want to see him? "What did I do this time?" Harry demanded, feeling more annoyed than ashamed for once. "Why doesn't he want to see me?"

    "I believe that watching you stab yourself with the razor-sharp fang of the darkest of dark creatures, which was incidentally dripping with the most corrosive substance on Earth, has poor Albus rethinking all his life's choices. Watching a twelve year-old child commit suicide is bad. Being the one who drove that child to suicide is worse."

    "I'm not suicidal!" Harry balked, aghast.

    Nicolas didn't say anything.

    "I'm not!" Harry insisted. He wasn't suicidal. He wasn't!

    Nicolas still didn't say anything.

    "I'm not suicidal," Harry said more calmly. Talking calmly made you easier to believe, right? "I may not remember all the details but I'd definitely remember that!"

    "And yet it would have been suicide if Albus was any slower on the uptake. You know it. You knew it then. You know it now." Nicolas beheld him with eyes so intense that Harry belatedly wondered how distraught he had to be right now. "I don't believe for a second you didn't know what you were doing. The risk of death was far higher than the odds of surviving long enough for the horcrux to unravel, if it even did. But you chose to leap regardless. You were ready to die, Harry."

    Harry dropped his head, but then straightened again. He knew what he was doing. He remembered enough of what he felt to know that much. He wasn't the one in the wrong here. But then why couldn't he meet Nicolas' eyes? He crossed his arms and averted his face. "It was worth it."

    "I disagree."

    His head snapped back in surprise.

    "Harry. There was no immediate danger. Your mother's magic had the parasite so tightly locked that none of our spells could even see it through the golden glow. The White Hart is aware now also, cross-contamination was well and truly halted. But it didn't occur to even your best self that you could wait."

    "Wait for what?" Harry insisted stubbornly. "Wait for Voldemort to get resurrected? Because that's what's going to happen!"

    "Wait for better conditions perhaps?" It was a question, but Nicolas' voice was unusually flat. "Petrification, basilisk venom, a sharp knife, all of those could have been replicated later. Perhaps when we had some forewarning that you will need an immediate dose of phoenix tears or you'll die in my arms."

    Harry gripped the blanket in his tight fists. He knew he'd shock them, but it was over and done with, and everything was fine. Why would they still be upset? "I knew you'd want to stop me," he admitted. "That's why I couldn't give either of you the chance. I knew it would work." It had to work. "And I was right."

    "Oh Harry…"

    Harry swallowed and blinked rapidly, desperate to stem the tears. He thought Nicolas might be angry, he could have dealt with it if he'd gotten angry, but he wasn't. He didn't even sound disappointed, he was… he sounded…

    Heartbroken.

    "Perhaps it's better to rip the band-aid off all at once," Nicolas murmured. When his voice came again, it was wrought in iron. "If, after all this and whatever else happens, you still decide in favour of coming under my guardianship, you will not continue at Hogwarts."

    Harry Potter's head snapped up and he stared at Nicolas Flamel in open-mouthed betrayal. "What!? What do you mean? How can you say that!?"

    "Your dead mother wove her fortune and spirit into yours to keep you safe. Your dead father has been acting across timelines to slay your enemies and give you a home to live in. I can never compete with that, nor would I want to." The matter-of-fact words cut at Harry's… everything. He hadn't considered any of that when he decided he was ready to throw everything away. Hadn't considered- "But I still have my best to do by you. And my best does not include letting you spend more time in a place where you suffer routine attempts on your life."

    "But…" It only happened once, was what Harry was about to say before he remembered it was actually three times, and those were just the ones he knew of. Somehow, he doubted Nicolas would consider it a good argument. "That's…" That's not fair, Harry wanted to say, but Harry couldn't get that past his tongue either. "It's… It's Hogwarts…" It felt like that should be enough to win any argument, so why did the words feel so empty all of a sudden?

    "Well, apparently Hogwarts is going to get so much worse that you were ready to commit suicide at age twelve to spare yourself the pain."

    It wasn't a joke, and it didn't feel like one, but it was one. The most absurd cosmic joke in the universe, that was his life. Harry didn't feel like laughing.

    "I'm not making you choose," Nicolas said quietly. "You can accept. You can refuse. You can choose your Godfather instead. I will teach you all I can regardless. I will do all I can to let you maintain your friendships regardless. You will not be going back to your aunt and uncle regardless. But just as I settle for no half-measures as a teacher, I will not give half-measures as a parent."

    Harry just kept staring at Nicolas with the same soul-tearing betrayal. There was a feathery tightness inside his chest. His heart seemed to try to burst out and his blood pounded in his head. He had no words for the feelings Nicolas had just ignited in him. It felt like the whole world had collapsed from under him.

    "I know Hogwarts feels like your only real home." Nicolas made to reach out, but Harry drew back so he clasped hands together instead. "But home is not a place where people try to routinely murder you. And tell me honestly – does this home come with a family? Truly?"

    "Yes it does!" Harry bit out, even though he knew it for a lie the moment he said it. The House you got sorted in was supposed to be your second family, but none of them acted like it. He'd paid in literal blood and sweat for all his friendships, and everyone other than those five people still assumed the worst of him when the going got tough. Even McGonagall never did the right thing despite using him for her own gratification in Quidditch. She even let Snape bully him and so many others and called it staying 'neutral.' She was the Deputy Headmistress, she was the Gryffindor Head of House, she wasn't supposed to be neutral, she should be being fair.

    The closest thing to a family were Ron and Hermione, but the three of them were barely anything like the Weasleys. There was a tight bond of trust between them, loyalty forged on the battlefield even, but friendship and family were different things. He would do anything for them, but he was an orphan. If he weren't, if his parents still lived, would he feel so strongly?

    No. No he wouldn't. Already he didn't feel for them nearly as strongly as whatever he was feeling for Nicolas right now.

    Nicolas watched him. Waited for him to gather his words. Words that actually meant something.

    Harry never thought he'd resent him for it. Never thought that someone's patience could feel so oppressive, he never thought he'd receive respect and only want to throw it back in someone's face. He never thought he'd be so angry at him. That he'd finally have a grownup give him everything he ever wanted and only feel angry for it.

    This wasn't fair. This wasn't fair, none of this was fair.

    "That is all I had to say," Nicolas finally spoke when Harry proved unable. He waited a moment longer to see if Harry would say anything. When he didn't, he nodded somberly, stood and waved down with his hand. Suddenly, Harry could hear all sorts of noises coming from beyond the dividers. "I'll be there for you when you're ready to talk again, if you wish. I'm glad you live and were able to make a full recovery. I hope you won't be so quick to throw your life away from now on."

    Nicolas pulled the drapes apart and left for the infirmary exit, where Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore were not so subtly blocking the door against a veritable crowd of gawkers from all four houses.

    No, this isn't over, wait, don't go, come back! But Harry still felt too angry and betrayed to get any words out as his friends did everything short of tackle-hug him a few seconds later.

    "-. .-"
    Harry barely listened to his friends speaking over each other. He wasn't losing out on anything. They'd get frustrated and bicker and stop in embarrassment, then start from the top all over again. He instead looked at his two friends intensely, memorising their voices and faces. It was still months before he had to make a decision, but it already felt like he'd never have the chance to do this again.

    When they fell silent, Ron and Hermione fidgeted in place and looked at him strangely. Relieved and happy enough to cry – which they still were, sniffles and everything – but weird all the same. The fact that Harry was more upset now than on Valentine's day was apparently suspicious.

    Harry greeted them, reassured them, dismissed their worries about his sorry state. Revealed nothing about what he and Nicolas had just talked about. Admitted nothing. Hinted nothing. Especially not how he wished Nicolas had dropped his bomb and immediately left like he did before, instead of sitting and waiting for Harry to try and completely fail to find his own piece to say. At least then Harry could stay properly angry at him, instead of spending however long it took to meet again facing the fact that he had not even one counter-argument.

    He couldn't leave his bed fast enough.

    "What happened while I was out?" He asked as soon as his head stopped floating and his feet didn't feel like they'd fold under his weight. He wanted an update, he told himself, it wasn't just to distract himself.

    "Ginny's alright," Ron said hoarsely. "You saved her, mate. First Fred and George and now her! I was there when you – I saw it, it was the most amazing thing I ever… You were like the Erlking! You came up riding the White Hart of legend, and then your Patronus just… it was just…" Ron broke into tears. "You owe me ten galleons!"

    Harry suddenly felt stupid for thinking his friends would ever have trouble distracting him from his woes. Also. "What?"

    Ron sniffled, took out his wand and warbled– "Expecto Patronum!"

    A great white stallion charged out of Ron's wand, luminescent as the moon and toweringly massive. It proceeded to canter all over the infirmary, leaving lingering trails of stardust all through the air, drapes and petrified students.

    Harry watched, awestruck. That was three years ahead of time! "Wow, Ron! That's an easy O on the DADA owl!"

    "You owe me ten galleons." Ron sobbed, voice hoarse with half-swallowed feelings.

    "Sixteen galleons," Hermione quavered too, hastily wiping her own tears. "One for succeeding, five for the mist, ten for making it corporeal."

    "Sixteen galleons then." Harry could hug them both. No, not could have. Would have. He hugged them both.

    They all but squeezed the life out of him in their huddle.

    When they finally broke apart, Harry already felt a hundred times better. He resolutely did not think about what it meant for his future hug prospects that he might not be returning to Hogwarts next year. "What about the other victims?"

    "The mandrakes haven't matured yet," Hermione wiped her face with her handkerchief and joined him with Ron to stand at Neville's bedside. He was on his side, still stuck in that half-kneeling position with a hand reaching low. "He was looking through my mirror from under the stall door when the basilisk gaze caught him. Ginny never even knew he was there."

    Harry was able to check on Colin and Justin too, before Madam Pomfrey finally materialised and shooed them off after one last diagnostic spell. Harry caught his reflection in a mirror on the way out. There was no trace of a scar on his forehead anymore, but his hair was red even now. Scowling, he wished it would finally just turn- oh, it was black again. Finally! Maybe now Snape would stop looking at him so strangely.

    Actually, no, never mind. Who cared about Snape? Certainly not him!

    The headmaster was just outside the door.

    "Mister Potter," Dumbledore said calmly, hands clasped behind his back. "The harrowing events of the past week are a matter of utmost secrecy. So, naturally, the whole school knows."

    Of course it did, why would it be anyway else? Harry scowled. "For the record, I never wanted and still don't want an immortal legend."

    "I am afraid you failed in that regard."

    "Well that's just perfect."

    "It was obviously the ghosts," Hermione muttered behind him. "Nothing else makes much sense."

    "Nah, it was the portraits for sure," Ron disagreed, not even trying to keep his voice low despite the crowd of gawkers that had only grown bigger over yonder. "Gryffindor's portrait's been looking like he ate a huge canary cake all by himself."

    Was nothing ever going to go his way? "Do we at least know how Ginny got the diary?"

    "I will tell you what has been deduced. We believe the diary was slipped into Ginny Weasley's cauldron after the brawl between the Lucius Malfoy and Arthur Weasley in Diagon Alley. Naturally, this has been vehemently denied by the former, and alas, there is no proof available to push the matter, at least without any further developments." Dumbledore's sight lingered on Ron briefly there, and why – oh, the 'anonymous' tip! "The consciousness in the diary proved most resistant to interrogation as well, unfortunately, and such would have been useless in any case. Any incriminating account from that corner was rendered null and void with the pardon at the end of the war. I will mention that Lucius Malfoy looked rather aghast when I explained exactly what the item was, and doubly so when I invited him to witness its destruction. He even tried to argue for its handover to the Department of Mysteries."

    Which would have been a complete disaster, though Harry wasn't sure why he felt that way about something he was only now learning about. He was pretty sure he'd never heard about the Department of Mysteries before. Was it his dreams again? "Well, I'm glad it's gone."

    "Quite." Dumbledore's tone made Harry tense. The headmaster was watching him every bit as intensely as Nicolas had, near the end there. Harry didn't feel like his mind was being ransacked, but- "I have decided to try your suggestion."

    "Huh?" Harry was completely thrown? "My what?"

    "You suggestion during our dinner with Nicolas."

    What was he- oh. Oh. "… Are you sure? It's probably dangerous, isn't it?"

    "I believe I can mitigate the risks well enough." Dumbledore nodded then. "The evening feast will be starting soon. I trust you will make it?"

    "Sure?" Harry was practically ravenous already, why would the headmaster need to ask? "There's not still people on the 'Harry Potter's the Heir of Slytherin train' are there?" He still wasn't clear on how that happened in the first place.

    "Oh, I dare say you don't have to worry about that."

    That didn't make him feel much better at all!

    Dumbledore was watching him. Lingering there for some reason or- "Sometimes, disagreements can seem insurmountable." No. "But they never are. And if I may be so bold, you will find no better advocate than him."

    Dammit.

    "Have a good day, Harry. Mister Weasley, Miss Granger."

    Dammit.

    "Same to you, sir," Ron said when Harry failed to speak.

    The crowd of students parted like waves before a barge as Dumbledore turned around and left, and Harry braced himself for his friends to-

    "Like Wild Hunt's ghosts before the Erlking didst the gawkers split," Ron muttered as if he hadn't even been there for Dumbledore's blatant… whatever that was and since when did Ron-? "Behold the hero rendered bare, to the hunger most ravenous of thirsting plebeians."

    What the hell?

    "As now they are, and making practised smiles as in a looking-glass, and then to sigh, as 'twere the mort o' the deer." Hermione too!? "O, that is entertainment my bosom likes not, nor my brows!"

    Ron gaped at Hermione, outraged. "You so totally stole that!"

    "It's Shakespeare, Ronald," Hermione huffed, turning her nose. "Honestly, don't you read?"

    "So you admit it!"

    Hermione scowled at him. "You're hardly in a position to throw stones."

    "You wish!" Ron scoffed. "Unlike you, I don't need to steal lines from other people."

    "You mean you just made that up?"

    "Duh! You mean you didn't?"

    Hermione gaped and flushed red. "You're impossib-AH!" Then she shrieked upon turning away only to kiss Ron's Patronus right on the lips.

    Ronald Billius Weasley cackled gloatingly. It actually spooked the first wave of well-wishers some. It took quite some time for Ron to notice Harry's stare. "Fred and George have been going Thespian on everyone in sight since you disappeared," Ron admitted. "Seems to piss the bigger morons right off." He turned his scowl upon the encroaching mass. "Doesn't seem to work as well for me though."

    They were promptly overrun soon after.

    Shockingly, Harry and his friends weren't trampled to death by the mob. In fact, the mob was actually smaller than it seemed at first glance. Also, it was entirely made of the immediate friends of the petrified victims and their immediate friends. The upside of which was that Harry didn't know any of them personally, so he didn't need to put time and effort into playing nice. Well, no more than politeness demanded. On the other hand, this also meant that these students – almost all of them upper years – cared just as little about what he wanted to say. The result of which was a total deluge of talking over each other demanding answers to their questions. Harry seriously considered keeping his mouth shut and pushing through them to escape, but…

    Does this home come with a family? Truly?

    Harry planted his feet and began answering questions from pure spite. Yes he was alive. Yes he'd been petrified. Yes he had unpetrified himself. Yes he knew how to explain it. No he wasn't going to explain it, as if he'd ever mention the metamorphmagus thing, he wasn't crazy no matter what everyone else thought! What do you mean he was being an arse for keeping it to himself? It wasn't something that would work on someone else! Even he didn't understand it, what do you mean am I the heir of Slytherin after all, how the hell are you still on about that!?

    "The truth is scarier to them, Harry Potter," came the absently cheery words as Harry grit his teeth at the busybodies that were now shying back from the sight of him. He didn't know how his sparking wand had appeared in his hand. All he knew was that it felt very, very right somehow. But now there was a tiny girl in front of him. Ravenclaw. Long platinum pale hair fluttering in the air with every bounce. An eerily familiar first-year girl with an almost vacant look on her face as she skipped forward and gave him a newspaper. The Quibbler. February 20 Special Edition.

    HARRY POTTER – INOCENT CHILD OR WALKING DEAD?

    By Xenophilius Lovegood

    For twelve years Harry Potter has been believed to be a simple child of age with our own children just starting Hogwarts. None of us have ever questioned that the many epics written about his early life have not even a grain of truth to them. Yet word out of Hogwarts has cast doubt on the fictional nature of the Harry Potter biographies. No doubt the vast majority of them are still complete nonsense, but one fact is now undeniable: Harry Potter has been dead this whole time! The Harry Potter we know of was just a homunculus double meant to distract from the preparations for our hero's true triumphant return! In spirit!

    "Daddy's completely wrong of course," said Luna Lovegood as she tucked her hair behind her radish earring. "You were obviously taken in by the Wild Hunt and have been receiving secret training to fight the evil spirits in charge of the minister's secret army of heliopaths. A very good plan of course, otherwise they'll be subverted by the forces of darkness when they return. Which they will of course, they've tried to kill you too many times to stop now."

    What was she - how was any of that- what did she mean it was obvious, completely loony is what – wait, what forces of darkness was she talking about?

    "I'm glad you don't take your body with you for it though. What happened to King Herla was the last straw for Merlin, did you know? If the little fairy king hadn't deprived the Britons of their greatest king and besmirched the reputation of the dwarves by pretending to be one, house elves might not exist as we know them today."

    King who?

    But Luna Lovegood was already skipping away. Barefoot. Just like she had when…

    She was there, Harry remembered. She went on the yearly walk just like I did! And she was loopy as all get out. Is that going to happen to me?

    "King Herla sounds vaguely familiar," Hermione grudgingly confessed as she bravely interposed herself between the others and Harry as they made their escape. Harry did the polite thing and waved goodbye even as they made tracks as fast as they could without breaking into a run outright.

    "He's the Elrking," Ron revealed as he interposed himself between the others and Hermione. "It's in the Tales of Beedle and the Bard."

    "Well I haven't read them yet," Hermione declared ever so primly. "I've had slightly more important things to research than children's fairy tales."

    "And now you just look silly," Ron smirked at Hermione's affronted look. "What? It happens so rarely, let me enjoy the moment!"

    "Hmph!"

    Ron spent their walk arguing with Hermione for a while. Hermione explained how King Herla must be from somewhere else because she could only have come across the name in the muggle world. Ron avoided conceding the argument by somehow derailing the whole talk into brainstorming a strategy for becoming a straight-O student. Somehow, bribery got involved. And self-hypnotism. When Hermione shot both down, Ron challenged her to come up with a better method to avoid studying his brain to death. When Hermione failed to convince him that that didn't mean what he thinks it means, she put up the merits of not ending up maimed, crucioed or possessed as motivational factors. Ron groused that he'd already thought about that, thank you very much. In fact, he'd already owled his brother Charlie about a summer job at the dragon reserve in Romania. Hermione praised him and encouraged him to refine his plans by the time their career counselling meetings with McGonagall came up.

    "You think she'll have a problem with it?" Ron asked. "I get to make money and play with man-eating baby dragons that like to bite and spit fire at the people shovelling their mom's manure."

    Hermione scrunched her nose. "How you could possibly consider those to be positives is beyond me."

    Ron nodded sagely. "It's good to know your limits." And there they go again.

    Career counselling meetings. It had completely slipped his mind that those were a thing.

    Harry looked at his two friends, doing his best to sear their voices and faces in his mind. It was still months before he had to make a decision, but it already felt like he'd never have the chance to do this again. In a betrayal of everything he'd ever wanted, Harry Potter wished Nicolas Flamel had given an ultimatum instead.

    Being forced to choose would have been less painful than this.

    He needed a distraction.

    And he got one.

    When it finally came, though, it was nothing Harry had expected. Which made sense, and at the same time didn't. The past few days should have left him more prone to off-putting deja vu than before, not less. Then again, it was supremely unlikely that the distraction in question would repeat itself. Ever.

    "This is not the entry hall," Hermione called out, coming to a stop. "Where are we? The hospital wing is literally right across the hallways from the Great Hall. How did we get lost?"

    "Blimey, we're on the seventh floor!" Ron realised. "Look at the portraits. What the hell, we didn't even climb any stairs! I knew Hogwarts changes on you, but not this much!"

    Well. Harry knew a lure when he saw one, and this one was as blatant as they got.

    Sure enough, Godric Gryffindor was waiting for them when they reached his portrait. Harry took his time to study the Founder for once. The man was big, tall, broad and muscled like three men in one. His tunic was made of a rich, burgundy material lined with gold at the seams, but did little to conceal the man's bulky frame. Red hair, red beard that fell like a lion's mane all the way to his chest. Great crimson cloak around his shoulders. And at his side was his sword in its sheath, handle held in his grip.

    Gryffindor beckoned and set off through the portraits.

    What else could they do but follow?

    The founder led them all the way to the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy and promptly walked out of the scene into the real world. Harry could only stop and stare.

    "Where'd he go?" Ron asked, peering all over the tapestry. Could he not see him?

    "He just vanished," Hermione echoed, because neither of them could apparently see Gryffindor right there out with them.

    Gryffindor watched them mildly, then turned to Harry with a warm, meaningful smile. Walked soundlessly across the hallway and paced in front of the wall three times.

    A door melted into view. The grinding of the stone attracted his friends' attention. Gryffindor sent Harry one last glance and walked through the wall.

    The three exchanged glances, and agreed wordlessly that Harry should go first.

    After the Chamber of Secrets, Harry had expected something grand. But the room was nothing like that. It wasn't exactly tiny, you could probably fit their whole dorm inside, but it was pretty unremarkable, with round walls and simple masonry. There was hardly any room to care about any of that though, when the first and last thing you cared about was the thing in the middle.

    A big round stone with Gryffindor's Sword sticking out of it.

    "Bit on the nose, isn't it?" Ron breathed faintly.

    Harry stared at the sword. The silver gleamed in the semi-darkness and the red rubies were large as eggs. He hesitated.

    Then walked over and grabbed the hilt.

    Gryffindor faded into view in front of him, so full of color that you could almost swear he was alive again. He reached out for the hilt as well. When his hand laid over Harry's, it felt as real as flesh.

    "You did well, Little Warrior," the man murmured. Well, what passed for a murmur on such a loud and larger-than-life man. "But your skill is atrocious. A stain on the honour of my house. 'Tis most egregious!" The grin came clearly through that bristling mane of red. "You do mean to correct this failing, I hope?"

    Harry, thankfully, was only almost stunned to the point of speechlessness. "Uh… sure?"

    Gryffindor's smile turned warmer. "You don't need to agree if you don't want to, child."

    "I do!" Harry blurted. He was panicking, why was he panicking? "I really do, I think. I mean, after what happened and, well…" Harry felt frustration overcome him. "Ugh, this is all Slytherin's fault. His bloody pet knocked me stupid and now I can't even string two words together."

    A shadow passed over Gryffindor's face. "Don't be too hard on him. He had good reason to build the chamber and put a monster in."

    Harry looked back at in disbelief. "What reason could possibly be good enough?"

    "The Norman invasion."

    "Oh." That was a big deal in Britain's history, wasn't it? "Sorry."

    "It is not your failing that you've been educated falsely," Godric sighed. "But enough of such somber topics! This is a good day! I trust I don't need to say what you're supposed to do?"

    Harry grinned, planted his feet and pulled the sword from the stone. The blade cut the air with a ringing song that Harry remembered crystal clear even though he didn't remember anything else of that memory.

    "Good. Now watch closely because I'm not usually one for showmanship either." The man turned translucent and flowed over and through him, taking something of Harry and extending it, overlaying it until he and Gryffindor both overshadowed the sword.

    "Just a moment," the Founder's thoughts were almost too loud in Harry's mind, "I can do a fair few things on my own, but Wizardry is still the province of the living. Here we go."

    The Sword of Gryffindor shimmered, made a soft – SWISH – and transformed into a fountain pen.

    Thankfully, Harry's seeker reflexes were their own entity these days. The pen was made of silver with the rubies small and sparkling in a line along the barrel. Was this really happening?

    "The quill is not mightier than the sword, but it's still useful, wouldn't you say?"

    The pen felt natural and real in his grasp. Harry then felt a mental prompt from… the possessed sword?

    "You can call me Godric, Little Warrior."

    Then I'm honoured.

    Harry thought it would hurt to use the same words, but even angry at Nicolas as he was, paying forward only made Harry happy.

    Taking a deep breath to banish those feelings, he turned the pen between his fingers and it became a quill. Turning it again changed it back into a pen. With a bit of focus, he found he could make it change just by wanting it hard enough.

    At the far end of the room, a wooden post appeared.

    "Observe and learn, now, the Daring Guard of the Archer."

    Harry grabbed the hilt in a reverse grip, let the sword move his arms and threw it like a spear.

    Godric drove so deep into the wood that the tip burst out the other side.

    "Now reach in your pocket."

    He could still hear him? Harry reached in his pocket and pulled out the Pen of Gryffindor. Startled, he looked up to find that the sword had vanished. It had vanished and returned to him on its own. "Wicked!" With a nudge of his mind, the pen became the sword once again. This was the third, no, fourth bestest thing ever!

    "I'll go off haunting when we're not doing anything, or if you just need privacy."
    Voice didn't come through in mental communication, you just knew what the thought was the moment it happened. But Harry still fancied he could hear the deep rumble of the man as he spoke. "But I'll be there for you whenever you need me."

    I'll be there for you when you're ready to talk again.


    Harry clenched his hand around the hilt and bit his lip. If he didn't, he might cry. Or whoop up and down the chamber until he collapsed from exhaustion. Probably both. Was there anything that wouldn't remind him of Nicolas?

    "Bloody brilliant."

    "I can't believe the Sword in the Stone lacked so much gravitas!"

    Oh right, his friends were still there.

    Harry turned to them, sword in hand, but found he had no idea what to say. He turned Godric back into a pen and put it in his pocket. He still didn't know what to say. What to think.

    Ron didn't know either. Hermione didn't know either.

    The space between them inflated like an invisible balloon and spat out a tiny spelljammer crewed by hamsters.



    What.

    Harry's mind promptly experienced the equivalent of double vision as his soul-deep wave of disbelief found itself in good company. "…Starting our partnership strong, aren't we? I thought we'd get at least a decade together before you knocked me stupid again."

    Harry Potter and company watched in dumbstruck silence as the little flying ship flew slowly closer until it hovered in front of Harry. They continued to stare as the hamster crew squeaked and chittered at each other until the one with the top hat cheeped loud once, climbed up to the crow's nest, pulled a megaphone out of nowhere and- "Delivery from Unspecified Benefactor of Obsolete Origin! Are you Harry Potter!?"

    Harry gaped, speechless. The hamster sounded like your stereotypical butler, but… but… but he was a hamster! "Who the hell are you!?"

    "I am Captain Boo of the Nutcracker!" Captain Boo tipped his hat. "Miniature Giant Space Hamster, at your service!"

    "Miniature what?" What the bloody hell? "Holy shit, am I seeing this?" He looked at Ron and Hermione desperately. "Am I seeing this? Are you seeing this?"

    "If by 'this' you mean a tiny flying ship crewed by talking hamsters, certainly not, Harry," replied Hermione with all the confidence of the clinically insane. "After all, that would be impossible."

    Ron had only slightly less to say. "Don't look at me, this isn't the craziest thing I've ever seen, Scotland's national animal is a unicorn you know!" Oh God, Ron had already cracked!

    "Hellooo the Giant!" Squeaked… the miniature giant space hamster. "Are you Harry Potter or not?"

    "… Yes?"

    "Excellent! Now, your package had to be resized for the trip, which means it will unshrink the moment we leave, so please handle carefully! We do not guarantee returns!"

    A little disk of light appeared next to the ship. The… sailor hamsters loaded it up with a little square item. Then the disk flew over to a stop in front of Harry's face.

    Harry almost didn't take it, but what would that get him? What would they do if he refused? What could they do? The Basilisk didn't think a tiny human child could do anything either, and look where that got it! What if the hamsters got upset?

    How was he seriously thinking those words right now?

    "I'm proud of you for not disregarding the interpersonal element of strategy," Godric dryly said in his head.

    Harry slowly reached up and, with all the confidence of someone deciding this was a dream and therefore nothing out of the ordinary, plucked the little… whatever it was and rolled it onto his palm. It looked like a gift box wrapped in polka dots.

    The space in front of him inflated like an invisible balloon and ate up the tiny spelljammer crewed by hamsters.

    Harry stared stupidly. Then he turned his eyes away from the empty space in front of him and looked at his friends just as stupidly. "Those were clearly toys under an animation charm."

    Hermione practically squeaked. "Definitely."

    "No doubt about it," Ron nodded furiously. "Nothing but toys, it's Merlin's honest truth."

    The tiny box wrapped in polka dots became a book-sized box wrapped in polka dots. There was a thread wrapped around it. And a note.

    Harry took a deep breath, took out the note and read.

    Little Homebody! Heard you might be in the market for a training venue! I've got this tiny little pocket dimension just gathering dust on my shelf ever since its intended recipient imprisoned his ultimate nemesis in a volcano instead, it's unconscionable! Mountain's not even active anymore, has a big old lake on top and everything, can you imagine the cheek!? I've idiot-proofed it so you don't get trapped inside by mistake, but just in case you still manage somehow – I know your type! – I tossed in three extra doors that you can drop practically anywhere. This way there's always a way for someone to come save your sorry hide when you next try to sacrifice yourself on the altar of youth's stupidity. Try it out, it's got dinosaurs!

    Harry calmly thought absolutely nothing as he quietly read the note. And then not so quietly read the note again aloud so that Ron and Hermione could equally calmly think absolutely nothing or they'd all go absolutely bonkers together.

    When reality went on being reality despite all evidence to the contrary, Hermione slowly looked up from the paper she had taken out of Harry's hands at some point. "Harry, where do you find these people?"

    Harry tried and failed to find a good answer all the way to the Great Hall.

    Then he had his entire thought train derailed for the third time in the same day when the very loud Great Hall fell absolutely silent the moment he was through the doors.

    Harry Potter stopped in his tracks and looked up from his navel-gazing to find that everyone in the Great Hall was staring at him.

    Shite.

    Then Fred and George jumped to their feet and began to clap.

    It was like a ripple. Gryffindor House stood up to clap. Then Ravenclaw. Then Hufflepuff. Even the Slytherins joined in, clapping politely even though they refrained from rising to their feet. Far ahead at the staff table, Albus Dumbledore stood and began to applaud, prompting all the other teachers and staff to rise and join in. Professor McGonnagall, Professor Flitwick, Professor Sprout, all the other teachers too. Hagrid's claps sounded like thunder above all of them, and next to him even Snape had gotten up to slowly clap with the most disgruntled look on his pale face. The sounds and the cheers that rose from all directions made the walls ring and Harry's entire body shake in place.

    He should have flinched, but he was too wrung out to be startled. He would have shied away, but his absurd day had cured him of that too. He felt himself blushing, but the impulse to look down and hide never came. Hogwarts was the closest thing to a reflection of the entire magical world, and all of it was cheering for him now. It felt…

    It felt…

    Beyond even the farthest table, right by the staff entrance, Nicolas Flamel leaned against the wall. Watching. Smiling earnestly. Hopefully.

    What was this feeling?

    "Victory, Little Warrior," Godric murmured. "Bask in it. It's yours."

    Go bask in your accomplishment, little one.


    Harry Potter stood amidst a standing ovation like none Hogwarts had seen since its first founding.

    Then he walked forward to bask in his accomplishment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2022
  17. Superiorshortness

    Superiorshortness Making the rounds.

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2021
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    308
    Shenanigans!!! Very cool chapter. Not sure how I feel about the random spell jammer. But awesome great hall scene. Too many authors forget to put in an acknowledgement of a character. Did you steal Riptide (Percy Jackson) lol? This story is definitely one of the stories I'm looking forward to. Hope we start moving forward a little faster now that 2nd year is done.
     
  18. Destrark

    Destrark The Ebon Dragon. On vacation from Malfeas.

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2014
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    713
    Is that Elminister that's sending the pocket dimension to Harry? I know there was that old joke about Ed Greenwood coming up with Forgotten Realms by Elminister visiting earth and telling him about it.
     
  19. hitit.

    hitit. Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2022
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    7
    This is so good I can literally feel it in my stomach, thank you for sharing it.
     
  20. Jiopaba

    Jiopaba Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    2,176
    I find a story this engaging only once in a great while. Where it seems like there's whole undiscovered realms floating just below the surface of what we see, and there's just such amazing cleverness in the plots and world-building going around. I'll definitely be watching with great interest, few enough stories of this type ever seem to last half as long as I'd like.
     
  21. Threadmarks: Interlude, the Smaller: Not All Those Who Wonder Are Lost
    Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    A/N: The small ripples first. The wider ripples are coming up next, then a timeskip from a mystery box POV.



    [​IMG]
    Interlude, the Smaller: Not All Those Who Wonder Are Lost

    "-. ??? .-"

    The room had a concave floor that rose up into one round, edgeless wall outwards and upward so high that it tapered off in hazy darkness. But barely a spot of it could be seen past the bright, whitish silver light all around him, a cloud-like wind made solid, like light turned liquid moving ceaselessly. There was something in his hand. Raising it, he saw an unassuming wand made of unadorned elder wood with a handle formed of two conjoined spheres. The white mist tangled like gossamer at its passage. Curious, he waved a hand in front of himself. The effects were the same. Trying to catch the strands made them disperse like smoke. Doing the same with his wand tugged on his brain, somehow. Cradling his head, it felt bizarrely empty and light, though he didn't know why.

    He looked around. There was food and drink on a table to the right. There was a stone vault with a sign on the door designating it as a sanitary. Turning his head made him feel as if his skull was dragging along a snare built straight through his brain. The cloud-like light crimped at his movement as if tugged upon, making his hair and long beard seem as if they broke off into vapour.

    The light is the snare, the man deduced. It's rooted in my head. Or it came out of my head. Is coming out…

    The man noted mildly that he had a basic concept of everything around him even though he lacked any manner of memory. How very curious.

    For lack of a better idea and because he felt slightly peckish, he made for the table.

    He finally realised just what the gossamer mist was when it didn't move with him and his head overlapped the strands immediately in front of him.

    Oh, the man thought as his surroundings changed around him and he felt like he should be tumbling forward instead of just stepping up to the sight of a young girl running at three wizards with wands drawn.

    Now what could possibly be going on? Also, why was this going on?

    Actually, who was he for this to be happening to him?




    "-. Sirius Orion Black, Islington, London .-"

    OLDEST WIZARD IS 756!

    by Uno Highest

    Barry Wee Willie Winkle celebrates his 756th birthday in style today, and is determined to set the record that he tried and failed to achieve last year. This year's party promises to be an even more extravagant affair, with invitations sent to all the wizards and witches he has ever known, plus one! Sources close to the matter are confident in the intended recipient of the last and foremost invitation. Will Harry Potter make an appearance? We will brave the 30 million-long guest list (plus one!) to answer that very question tonight!
    The Daily Prophet had become an even slimier rag than before, if they dared use his Godson's name like this, especially so soon after their positively saccharine arse-licking at the end of February. Unless, of course, this was a ploy by the Ministry to both attract and distract from this eternal scam, while the DMLE worked to finally expose the culprit behind this blurb appearing in some form on the front page of the paper every year on the same day. A culprit that surely wasn't Nicolas Flamel. He didn't seem the sort, even before he had Harry to exploit like this. Also, this scam predated his birth by almost a hundred years.

    Sirius Black tossed the paper on the table in disgust and his eyes fell on the single newspaper clipping in that entire dreary house that was framed. Well, ever since he destroyed all the ones his not-at-all-dear mother had put up all over the house.

    HARRY POTTER, THE SECOND COMING OF MERLIN, OR BRITAIN'S HUNTER KING REBORN?

    By R. ALMEIDAS

    Sirius didn't even have to read it anymore, he knew it by heart. It had done a lot to let him keep his wits about him while the law slogged its way to his trial. While hearing of Harry being put in danger made him want to strangle everyone involved in his case, the news only ever reached him after the fact, so Sirius was able to keep a hold of himself. With some help from the fallout from that and everything else, all of which the Prophet kindly chronicled for him as well. Not with the usual slant either, even the press was confused about whose arse to kiss this time, though the Minister got the worse and worse of the deal as time dragged on. Complicit or Ignorant: The Minister's Dubious Job Record; Cornelius Fudge and the Fudged Obliviates: Malice or Just Foolishness? Did Fudge Fudge Facts by Obliviating Valuable Witnesses before the Aurors Could Take Statements?

    Now that he was a free man with a clean bill of health, Sirius was looking forward to meeting Harry again. Even if he wasn't looking forward to how that reunion would ultimately end. At the risk of his godson feeling betrayed to the point of not wanting to have anything to do with his own Godfather, Sirius Black wasn't any more inclined to let Harry stay in Hogwarts than Flamel was.

    Before that, though, he had the matter of claim to discuss with his benefactor.

    "The Alchemist's Outhouse!" He stepped through the Floo and came out the other side into a rundown shed whose only purpose was to house the Floo and whatever wards there were to judge newcomers. Flamel hadn't given him details when he shared the Secret. Exiting to the sight of a rundown forest cottage, he looked around for the overgrown cobble path. "He said fifth stone after the second gap in the kerb on the left." It took several tries – he hadn't spotted the right gap because of the dandelions – but eventually he found the right portkey stone. Now for the password. "Mistletoe killed the sun and mistletoe renewed the sun that ever walks in time, bright, mighty and deathless."

    The hook around his navel yanked him vaguely northeast.

    He landed just outside a pair of rusty, vine-covered gates. When he passed through them, they turned into a tall, pristine gateway of a sprawling property with a homestead far atop the central hill, next to a donjon without the adjoining castle. Sirius made for it, but Flamel's owl showed up before the minute was out and flew around him in a bid to follow.

    He found the alchemist behind the second hill, talking to burial mounds. "Alchemist!" He called dramatically as he always did when he needed to pretend he wasn't stressed. "I have come to – alright, what are you doing?"

    "Informing my descendants that they might have a visitor soon. Wouldn't do to have them torment little Harry too badly when he's sitting out."

    Right. Sirius carefully didn't ask. He'd probably get derailed before he actually got to what he came here for. "Whatever, that's not what I came here for."

    "No indeed."

    "I have just one question before I decide." Which is to say, decide whether they would collaborate or fight over Harry.

    "Go ahead."

    "What are you even doing here?" Sirius demanded, but he should probably be more specific. "I don't mean right here right this moment, I mean in general. Why did you move from France? To Britain of all places? We get along like cats and dogs." It might seem like a strange thing to get hung up about, but he'd tried every other avenue to find issue with the man – he didn't trust things too good to be true anymore – and this was the end of his rope.

    "Ah." Flamel stopped his French muttering and turned to him. His mood was… very grave. "That is a question with a very dark and simple answer."

    "Let me have it then."

    "I used to live in Vendée."

    Eh? "That tells me absolutely nothing."

    "You can find the answer in any public library. Or just ask a portrait. I'm sure your family has one dating back long enough."

    "Right," Sirius grunted. What did 'long enough' even mean? Six hundred years was a long stretch to guess through. "Thanks for your lack of help."

    "Bring some quidditch hoops when you drop by next. All I have is baskets."

    "Baskets!?" But that meant there hadn't been a single game of quidditch played on this property since early 1800s! "How do you expect Harry to live in this place!?"

    "With great attention and thoughtful care. Please have your final answer ready by then as well."

    Right.

    Later that day, when Sirius was back in his not-at-all-dearly-departed parents' home, he wondered at the strange turn his life had taken, when something like that was still less annoying than dealing with Dumbledore. Also, he still wasn't in on the secret of the Flamel property proper, despite visiting it several times now, which he grudgingly agreed was very good security.

    Guess he had some reading to do now.

    Sirius looked around at the old, dreary, decrepit state of Number 12 Grimmauld Place.

    Maybe some housecleaning first.




    "-. ??? .-"
    The strands of misty light were each a memory, and he couldn't seem to be able to hold more than one in his head at a time.

    Once he figured out he could will the things away from his head, he was able to take a closer look at the runes on the walls. They were many and intricate, but he could puzzle them out with patience, and there was nothing indicating that the memories should belong to anyone specific. He was an odd mess of amnesia and knowledge he didn't know he possessed until the environment prompted it to surface. He assumed the memories were his, because he was the common denominator in all of them. But he'd yet gone through very few, and he couldn't be sure it wasn't a coincidence yet, not when the memories were experienced in third person. For all he knew, these were not even all the memories of the same person. His brain seemed to be woven into this non-weaving, but most of the memories drifted alone, disconnected, often without any context at all. Though he'd begun to notice that they tended to spontaneously bunch up and form clouds of interconnected threads that nearly looked like something, in that short moment when he emerged from the latest experience.

    As he seemed unable to cast any actual magic wherever he was, though that could be due to his lack of knowledge of actual spells, he worked with what he had. This room allowed him to interact with the floating memories and little else. Some trial and error let him figure out (remember?) how to pull specific strands with his wand, so now he had some nominal control on when to delve any particular memory, even if they all looked the same from outside. The headaches he got during or after delving seemed related to how closely connected the next one was or wasn't to the one before. Also to their length and how long a break he took between viewings.

    He'd be more worried about all this, except the table got regularly restocked with new drink and food. He'd started to use it like a timekeeping device. Between the three meals interspersed with sleep in the bed that always appeared whenever he needed it, he was fairly comfortable with his current ability to count the days.

    Little emotion had emerged so far besides a vague sense of ennui. Something was keeping him calm. He'd have more intellectual misgivings about that if not for how confounding or outright offensive many of the memories were to his intelligence. He'd taken to experiencing and exploring each memory several times and then having a relaxing snack and even a nap after he thought all he could about them. The epiphanies that came to him in the hours after he stopped thinking about them were not entirely reassuring.

    If this was supposed to be a way to absorb and process information and experience without personal bias, it was definitely working.

    He was less sure about what this room was actually intended to achieve, though. The beginning of an outline of a preliminary observation was beginning to form in his mind, but contemplating it seemed least likely to cause any clouds of association to form out of the pale floating gossamer. Either that meant he was wrong, or whatever mind had been unravelled here had been weighed down by very much bias indeed.

    This would all be so much easier if whoever was responsible for this had at least left him a note with explanations. He could only speculate on why that was not the case. To avoid tainting the experience?

    Or perhaps the experiment.

    Hopefully whoever set it up was not too averse to unexpected results.




    "-. Lucius Malfoy, Wiltshire, England .-"


    HARRY POTTER, THE SECOND COMING OF MERLIN, OR BRITAIN'S HUNTER KING REBORN?
    By R. ALMEIDUS

    The boy who defeated He Who Must Not Be Named may not be a normal child by any stretch of the imagination. Shocking reports have recently come to light about Harry Potter's astounding adventures and capabilities, which cast doubt on all the theories that his parents were responsible for what actually destroyed the Dark Lord that night.

    Potter, the Daily Prophet can categorically reveal, regularly performs advanced feats, even spells from forbidden or ancient magics. On Halloween last year, Hogwarts first-hand witnesses say, Potter not only performed necromancy to subdue a belligerent intruder at Nearly Headless Nick's deathday party, but he also overcame the disguise magic of Peter Pettigrew is that same night and exposed him for the murderous imposter rat he is. This was immediately followed by a running battle through Hogwarts, which concluded with said Death Eater quite literally disarmed with the Sword of Gryffindor (see a summary of the ensuing Sirius Black Scandal on p.6).

    Potter then seemingly spent the following months investigating the matter of the heir of Slytherin, even past the point where everyone else, including Albus Dumbledore himself, dismissed the petrification on October 31 as a prank.

    Things, it seems, finally came to a head on Valentine's Day, though not in any way that readers who kept up with our coverage of Potter's disappearance might believe. Despite rumors that his vanishing meant he was the heir of Slytherin (which the double petrification immediately after seemed to support), the opposite has now turned out to be the case. Harry Potter, it seems, not only discovered the true identity of the heir of Slytherin, but defeated both it and Slytherin's monster!

    This all would be amazing on its own, but the manner in which this was achieved is more remarkable than the achievement itself.

    "Potter can astrally project," reveals Cedric Diggory, a Hogwarts fifth-year. "We were camping on the seventh floor, just studying while watching the latest attempt to draw Gryffindor's Sword from the wall, when Potter's ghost comes up riding a shining white stag, walks up and pulls the thing from the stone quick as you please. Godric Gryffindor's portrait gave his blessing and everything, right there for all of us to see. Even helped him slay the Basilisk later, way I hear it."

    "The faculty tried to hush it all up," added Cho Chang, a Ravenclaw third year. "But it's kind of hard when Potter goes and leads the Wild Hunt through half the school to exorcise an evil wraith that had been possessing that poor Weasley girl."

    The Heir of Slytherin, it seems, was not a Hogwarts student at all, but someone using a sentient dark object to possess a student for his own nefarious aims. Ginevra Weasley is the only daughter and seventh child of Arthur Weasley, head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office at the ministry of Magic. His youngest son, Ronald Weasley, is by all accounts Potter's best friend. Neither were available for comment, although their Mother told reporters to clear off or she'd set the family ghoul on them.

    A member of the Dark Force Defence League, who wished to remain unnamed, stated that he would regard any wizard who could walk around bodiless and lead the Wild Hunt astride the legendary White Hart "as either the second coming or inheritor to the legacy of either one or both of those legendary figures."

    The White Hart is associated with Herne the Hunter, a legendary king of the Britons (see page 3) whose disappearance drove Merlin to the edge of his patience and perpetuated the downfall of the last Fairy Kingdom and the punitive reduction of the Little Folk into the House-Elves of today (p4).

    Albus Dumbledore has, to date, blocked all our attempts to reach out to Potter directly, but a letter delivered by owl – a majestic Snowy Owl indeed – provided the alleged name of the heir of Slytherin, one Tom Marvolo Riddle Junior. Investigating on this former alumnus are only beginning, but preliminary information already suggest a potential link with He Who Must Not Be Named (p5).
    Lucius tossed the paper into the fire in disgust. Even the way the cinders danced in the flame seemed to mock him, so lively and jolly they were. "Dobby! Bring my tea to the study!" He was in too foul a mood to inflict himself on Narcissa right now. He also didn't want to risk her soothing him too soon, he needed the anger. He needed the anger or he'd go back to fear he felt when Dumbledore revealed to him just what his Lord had entrusted him with and was now-no, no. No.

    No. He wouldn't think of that now, he couldn't.

    Unfortunately, the quiet and privacy of his study did not give him the usual feeling of control.

    Curse Potter. Curse Dumbledore. Curse Weasley.

    If the blood traitor hadn't shoved his Muggle Protection Act down their throats, if the muggle-loving wretch hadn't used it as a pretext to conduct raids on their homes, none of this would have happened. Lucius had been perfectly content to remain within the bounds of polite backroom skulduggery, but as always the blood traitors just couldn't leave things well enough alone. No one else would have driven a Malfoy to the last resort of putting his own son at potential risk, but Weasley had to be discredited in the Ministry, and Albus Dumbledore had to be removed from his position as Headmaster of Hogwarts. The survival of their families depended on it. The continued existence of their world depended on it. If only his Lord had actually told him what the item was, instead of just claiming it was a charmed object that Lucius wouldn't think twice about-no.

    No. The Dark Lord had his reasons, and no doubt his own plan to use the… object to open the Chamber of Secrets would have been different from Lucius' own. It certainly wouldn't have ended with Lord Voldemort's soul anchor destroyed, making Lucius personally liable if the Dark lord ever returned and learned that Lucius had gotten it destroyed for his personal vendetta-

    His wine glass shattered on the floor, spilling wine every which way like blood as he fell to his knees in the shards. He felt lightheaded, his heart was pounding in his temples and he couldn't seem to get his lungs to pull in air.

    Breathe out! He mentally screamed. Breathe out, out, out.

    Barely, slowly, he managed to collect himself, using every last scrap of Occlumency to banish his newest, worst terror from his mind. When he could open his eyes without swaying, Draco's handwriting was in front of him. It had fallen off the desk when he scattered his paperwork on the way down. Even his son's complaints about Potter had changed in tone from annoyed to disbelieving. Fearful.

    Like father like son, Lucius thought bleakly. Then he truly felt angry. And angrier still when he realized he was feeling grateful for the anger.

    How did it come to this? Lucius seethed as Draco's words mixed with the Prophet's and Lucius' own memory of the ghastly experience that his meeting in Dumbledore's office on Halloween had turned into. Potter has no friends, no connections, no influence, but somehow he's protected and favoured by forces no man can stand against and live.

    Albus Dumbledore. The Wild Hunt. Godric Gryffindor from beyond the grave across a thousand years of history.

    Nicolas Flamel.

    What even was Flamel's stake in all this?

    Was I wrong to dismiss Potter? When Draco returned home from his first year at Hogwarts, he spoke long and loud about Potter's refusal of his offer for friendship in favour of his allegiance to the Weasleys through their youngest Ron. Lucius had been disappointed. Their hopes that Potter was another, better Voldemort had been admittedly wild, but it was still a blow to have them shattered. Did my son lie to me? He'd still discouraged Draco from seeming less than thrilled about the Potter boy, as open hostility towards him could prove potentially disadvantageous to their social standing. Now it looked like he might have been wrong to trust his son all. If even a tenth of what had come to light was true, Potter was everything but unremarkable.

    That Nicolas Flamel, of all people, was dabbling in politics for the first time in his eternal life was certainly a conundrum as well, but not as large as Potter acting out in such a spectacular fashion. Out of nowhere. Normal children did not do these things. And these things did not come out of nowhere. How did Draco miss all the signs? Had Draco missed all the signs?

    Was I wrong to trust my own son?

    No, Draco was loyal. His wife and son were loyal and devoted to the family name.

    Did I overestimate his discernment?

    That… seemed much more plausible.

    It didn't make the burning weight of his mistake any easier to bear. If Lord Voldemort ever returned, Lucius life would be forfeit. Morgana only knew what would happen to Draco and Narcissa then.

    Not long ago, he'd thought that seeing the Minister's career collapsing from all the revelations in Black's trial would be the biggest upheaval since the end of the war. He'd thought that playing kingmaker would be his biggest and most rewarding challenge of the decade.

    He'd been a fool. The power games hadn't just been swept clean, the board game had been flipped and smashed to pieces. That his whole life had come apart at the hands of a child was galling, but it was not the place of mortal men to argue with Old Powers.

    I need to get a handle on this, Lucius thought without knowing where to even start. But I can't do that by going ahead as normal. I need to watch my step.

    When Old Powers stirred, mortals stepped lightly or got stepped on. He was not going to be stepped on.

    Especially not by a child.




    "-. ??? .-"
    He had been here for many days. He'd made tremendous progress in that time, though he was certain said progress was not the progress intended by whoever was behind this experiment. Which was probably himself. It seemed more and more like something he would do. He was apparently fortunate enough to have wise friends and was himself wise enough to listen when they told him he needed to take a good look at himself.

    Eventually.

    Unraveling his entire memory to force himself to repeatedly and neutrally examine them was a tad extreme, but he was beginning to agree that it had been necessary. He was looking forward to remembering what spells or potions he devised to make the unraveling process benign and painless, instead of it being painful and potentially mind-destroying as memory extraction typically was.

    He wasn't looking forward to everything else.

    That he'd been planning for the murder of a child since said child was one year old was quite unconscionable. That it wasn't the worst thing he was actively aiding and abetting was much worse. That he was completely oblivious to the latter was a disaster rivalled only by the collective ignorance of everyone else.

    Voldemort wanted purebloods to rule all others, and eventually to stop hiding and take over the world.

    The wall was covered in snapshots of reports, assignments, newspapers and segments of his own experiences put to photograph. It made the entire bowl look like a detective's investigation board gradually mutated into the worst version of itself until it became one big conspiracy wall. Albus Dumbledore got the impression that his non-amnesiac self never thought much of muggle intellect. Occasionally, a detective, intelligence agent or even the odd tinfoil hat guessed the true reason behind all the strange turns of mind and action that their family, friends, local businessmen or political representatives exhibited. But he'd never paid them mind past making sure such intrepid investigators had their evidence and memories adjusted. Beyond that, he indulged in 'harmless' chuckling at the poor muggles' antics with the old crowd. Wishing them luck chasing their new interests in secret royals, banker bloodlines and aliens.

    It never occurred to him to consider the implications that those people were all right.

    The Magical World is a Global Shadow Conspiracy.

    Even on the surface, this was less hyperbolic now than it had been just twenty years ago. The Magical World would not be able to remain entirely secret without complete oversight of the muggle authorities and their avenues of information dissemination. Increasingly so the further their technology advanced. It was why there was no real concern over the increasingly destructive capabilities of muggle means of warfare – it didn't matter how terrible or how may bombs you had when the enemy was mind controlling the person with the hand on the button.

    Past the surface, though, the consequences of the methods used and abused to maintain the separation of the two worlds were disturbing in the extreme.

    The power dynamics in case of an unexpected masquerade failure were the first stunning blind spot. Albus hadn't yet regained his usual feelings on the issue, but the him of now was glad that the purebloods didn't know or disbelieved all claims of muggle weaponry and nuclear weapons. But not because he was worried about the outcome of a magical-muggle war. He wasn't. He was relieved because it kept the radicals and dark lords from taking those weapons for their own use. That Voldemort never did such a thing spoke to the single-minded obsession that ruled him in his later years. Somehow, though, it never occurred to anyone on the sane side to neutralise the threat in advance. All it would take would be to transfigure or switch the nuclear triggers for authentic-looking duds.

    But short-sightedness and ignorance underpinned their whole society, didn't they? How else could they, the masters of the mind and all its workings, fail to conceive that memory alteration and brainwashing on a global scale would have horrible repercussions?

    Perhaps he was being hyperbolic, but then his eyes fell on QUEEN'S CORGI TURNS INTO HAMSTER and it really didn't feel like it. That was the least tone-deaf of the myriad news, reports and confidential information he had spread on his wall, including the dozen directly linked to this very title. 'The International Federation of Warlocks is meeting to discuss the incident' is all well and good, as was 'The Daily Prophet will keep you up to date on further news on that story tomorrow.' But the follow-up was nothing more than 'situation resolved, here is the next scandal.' 'The real corgi of course will not be found' indeed. 'Muggle 'accidentally' gains entry to Diagon Alley.' 'Muggle 'accidentally' gets stuck in magical painting.' 'Muggle's fantastical accomplices.'

    We already have the ultimate extreme of the worst misrepresentation of Voldemort's lofty vision.

    When they had a criminal to find, wizards knew the moment a muggle communicated about them via television or telephone. When someone reported a magical to the muggle Crime Watchers Hotline, the Ministry of Magic Witch Watchers were immediately informed. When a new minister of magic gained office, the prior appointments of heads of state were rescheduled on a whim so that the new Minister or his toadies didn't have to wait on mere muggles. Every match in the Quidditch League came with rote brainwashing and abuse of the muggles who actually owned the land. Even Arthur Weasley's Muggle Protection Act was condescending by nature, treating muggles like quaint little creatures. And even that law was ultimately just a means for the 'muggle lovers' to indulge in some tyranny of their own for a change. Random raids on people's homes with no warrant or cause beyond blood status, what was Albus Dumbledore thinking condoning such a thing?

    Grindelwald himself didn't have ambition as brazen as this.

    The only saving grace of magical society was that they usually installed permanent controls only were they needed to. But that was the rub, wasn't it? The higher you went, the more it was necessary, to the point where the highest levels of muggle power were bespelled on the regular. Treated like toys on a playgrounds, even. Wizards played tricks on the Queen of England and saw no trouble for it.

    What effects could this be having on muggle society? Their cultures? Their politics? How much of the elected officials' failure to follow through on their mandates traced back to them? How much of the erratic behaviour of those in the halls of muggle power could be blamed on wizards? How many wars had been started because the US President's next appointment was rescheduled because wizards didn't feel like waiting to disclose magic to the Russian President, complete with obliviates and confundus charms to make sure he never thought they were of consequence? What happened when those so subverted and those who elected them had no one to blame for the consequences? Other than each other.

    What will happen if this goes on much longer?

    Gellert Grindelwald got the support he got because muggle wars had already caused collateral damage and death to wizards and beings. Do wizards think the same won't happen when their cavalier mistreatment of the mind's sanctity caused the breakdown of muggle society again?

    The Statute of Secrecy is destroying humanity.

    Albus Dumbledore turned away from the wall and beheld his free-floating memories. "I have contemplated enough."

    The food on the table made room for his private journal. Leafing through it, he found thorough and exacting explanations for everything that he had done to himself, from the potions he used to minimise cognitive risk, to a complete breakdown of the ancient runes and spell weaves he'd etched and cast to turn the Room of Requirement into a giant pensieve. Well familiar with how his non-amnesiac self worked at this point, Albus Dumbledore skimmed through the pages until he found exactly which of the runes on the walls to scratch out so that the unravelling could be reversed.

    Will I remember myself, he wondered. Will I care about any of this?

    Hesitating, he made a final circuit around the chamber, speaking aloud all his conclusions up to that point. He spent awhile writing it all down as well, with full referencing where at all possible. He felt ragged by the end, but also freer. He went back to the table then, conjured several phials and extracted the memory of his final summation, then as many more as he could of what he considered most important until he couldn't hold his wand because of the headache anymore.

    Then he had one last meal and good night's sleep.

    He'd find out how much of a death sentence the resumed continuity of his pre-amnesiac consciousness would be in the morning.
     
  22. Snooze

    Snooze Plant-person with facial hair

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2020
    Messages:
    664
    Likes Received:
    7,804
    For someone with a long life and an long memory, that would definitively do it.
    There was a genocide, the country is in the fifth iteration of the same regime that implemented it 200 years ago, and not even an apology was uttered.
     
  23. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2018
    Messages:
    2,363
    Likes Received:
    21,693
    Love the views and the reactions.
    Moving forward, things will be interesting in the world.
     
  24. Superiorshortness

    Superiorshortness Making the rounds.

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2021
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    308
    Did Dumbledore restore his memories? I think so, but I'm unsure. Thanks for the chapter!!! Looking forward to more soon
     
    !Renzie0 likes this.
  25. Cosmic Dream

    Cosmic Dream dreaming of utopia

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    35,881
    Thanks for your work. I adore the way you write the divination and bring in all kinds of new - but very appropriate - factors.
     
    !Renzie0, TmDagger and Karmic Acumen like this.
  26. suikofan

    suikofan Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2021
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    3,541
    Dumbledore made his own spirit quest, truly a brilliant man! I can't wait to see what solutions he comes up with? Sabotage muggle weapons then force the magical world to leave them alone, recruit an muggle illuminati to help bring both sides together? Probably way to evil for Albus but it would save the future, turn muggles magical at the cost of like 80% of the world, or just steal Harry's Spelljammer blueprints and get everyone off world? I suppose he could be truly mad and [gulp] talk things out.

    Don't know much French history did Flamel grow up in a part of France that accepted British claim to the throne during 'The Hundred Years War'? Or did he just leave France when his descendants died during the Revolution?
     
  27. Threadmarks: Interlude, the Greater: But All Who Lack Wonder Are Miserable
    Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    A/N: Wow, it sure took a long time to reach this point, didn't it?



    [​IMG]

    Interlude, the Greater: But All Who Lack Wonder Are Miserable

    "-. Nicolas Flamel, Devon, England .-"

    He had finished setting up Harry's room, child-proofing his laboratories and had even checked the safety charms on the quidditch pitch that Black had put together that morning. It seemed the man's passion for the sport did not make him lax on precautions. Good.

    Nicolas had also dug and bespelled a new cold storage for the basilisk corpse. He'd already harvested the time-sensitive parts that didn't take well to stasis charms, but the corpse was otherwise intact. Nicolas was unaware of any basilisks that grew so large in the past. Discovering new enchantment or potion uses for the corpse, maybe making clothing or armor from the skin, either would make for a good capstone when Harry was older. Even just coming up with a procedure to cleanse or transmute the dark magic without ruining the leather would earn him accolades. The shed skin was also in storage and was fairly tough even now, despite steadily losing the magic in it, so Nicolas was willing to be optimistic.

    That finished the modifications to what he already owned. Now to see about anything new. What would Harry need, want and not think to ask for even though he really should?

    "Replace all his school supplies," he murmured, making a note to buy new ones of everything. Except some of the books. And potions equipment, Nicolas made cauldrons and phials as good as the best on the market. They also owned several farms and menageries, and Perenelle maintained her own greenhouse, so they very rarely needed to purchase ingredients. Food either. "Perenelle will take him shopping for clothes, so that's covered."

    "I knew what it meant, you know, his poor attire," said Albus from across the veranda table. "His underdeveloped frame too. I decided it was a price worth paying because every iniquity he suffered at his relatives' hands meant he would love our world all the more."

    Nicolas hummed but did not reply because one did not interrupt soul-searching. One did, however, include as many hints as one could when they happened to be producing all the background noise. "Set up Harry's own workshop? No, teach him how to build one himself. Will double as ongoing lesson in practically applied magic and prepare him for renovating the Pottery with his own hands. Stock up on toys. Practice wands, board games for strategy, cards for counting and hand-eye coordination, lego for telekinesis and creativity." Or when Harry wanted to be left alone. "Take a trip to America for new magic-proofed electronics."

    "I'd never have countenanced such a thing," Albus lamented. "At this point I don't even know if I'd have opposed a technology-disrupting ward on Hogwarts, if that was the reason."

    That was merely Albus' self-deprecation talking, but one did not coddle grown men when they were feeling rightfully guilty over being willing to aid in murder. "It would never be proposed, it would affect the wizarding wireless as well."

    "It always goes back to self-interest," Albus said glumly.

    Self-interest was natural. Effective altruism lay in that self-interest being sufficiently enlightened. Nothing that couldn't be taught. Television would probably work against that, with the dross being passed off as culture, but Nicolas would probably get one regardless. Their current set was quite small and sub-par these days. Muggle game consoles might become a time sink, but only if Nicolas failed to make real life interesting enough. He was confident he could put more wonder in Harry's life than any muggle's best fantasy, and they'd work together to use any exceptions as inspiration. "… Leave schedule open for a trip to Lake Ontario." As far as pseudonyms went, 'Ed Greenwood' was quite on the nose. Especially when the public persona could charitably be described as self-indulgent. Nicolas had sent a request to meet through muggle post, but had yet to receive a reply. With anyone else he would drop by to spy unnoticed or just knock on the door, but the confoundingly ridiculous outcomes of his divination attempts made him wary. "Revisit investments on the muggle side. Will teach Harry how to make his money work for him. Also, where to go and what and who to enchant to make sure all paperwork is in order. Faking one's death and spoofing inheritance can be left for later."

    "I almost wish I was imperiusing myself back then as well," Albus groused. "At least that would explain some of my complete disregard of… everything."

    Clearly, imperiusing himself to stay calm at all times during his temporary amnesia had left an impression on Albus Dumbledore. This, though, was not the sort of thing you let fester. "That's quite the claim. Now find ten reasons why it's the biggest load of nonsense you said all day."

    Albus's face fell even further, somehow, causing Sirius Black to shift even more awkwardly than he had since they sat down for lunch.

    Not for the first time, Nicolas Flamel pondered British idiosyncracies. "You British people are a lot like ants, I've found." It wasn't even a jest. "You are loyal to your queen, love crumbling pastries, take things that don't belong to you back to your colony, and have an innate instinct to line up single-file and do everything in a queue." Both literally and figuratively. "But you also brought common law with you everywhere you went, which was the most humane in the world at the time, destroyed your malicious extranational mistakes like the East India Trading Company, and were willing to use the money and help from the rebels that kicked your teeth in to abolish slavery for the whole world. You have only just had your teeth kicked in." Perhaps not the best analogy for Albus having a second existential crisis over not being sure if his amnesiac self had been right to have his own existential crisis in the first place. "But it will pass. I'm looking forward to seeing what abolitionist fervor looks like on you."

    Albus said nothing to that.

    Sirius Black, though, bore awkward tension poorly indeed. "Is that why you repudiated the French people?"

    "I did not repudiate anyone." Though he would have been justified to. "I did, however, agree for personal reasons to give up my French citizenship in exchange for the British one."

    Not many conflicts were so grand in scope as to spawn a Voldemort or Grindelwald, but the French Revolution easily qualified. The French Ministry of Magical Affairs weren't feckless incompetents. They joined the Twelve Swords to the Raiment of Charlemagne to cast an Interdiction on the whole country, making all known methods of magical transportation impossible. Coupled with blanket Floo shutdowns, it worked to curtail foreign magical intervention and even crippled the mobility of that conflict's would-be Dark Lord long enough to corner and slay him. But that meant no one else could fly, floo, portkey or apparate for the duration of the Reign of Terror. And so Nicolas and his wife, who were abroad setting up a home away from home for just such an outcome, were stuck in Britain while all their children and grandchildren were butchered with gun and cannon to the noble refrain of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité."

    "I was ready to sacrifice you too, Nicolas," Albus confessed. The self-loathing was completely bare now. "The moment I went to you with my offer to safeguard the Stone, I'd already decided to destroy it if necessary."

    "I would have been fine, it's my wife you'd have been sacrificing." He could create another stone, but probably not fast enough for her. And it wasn't exactly something you could have multiples of. They took a very literal sort of personal investment. "I would have cut you out of my life completely."

    Albus grimaced and looked down at his hands.

    Nicolas was glad it didn't become necessary. Compared to what the French did in Vendee, and what they later became, the British were charming in a quaint sort of way. Even in their prejudice they were equal opportunity zealots, comparatively speaking. He hoped he never saw them lose that. He liked his adopted country as it was now, with their stiff upper lip and their love of beans and toast. "What is Harry's favorite food? Other than treacle tart."

    "I don't think he has one," Sirius replied. "… You're really going all out on this, aren't you?"

    "Naturally."

    Sirius frowned, not willing to put things off for once. "Alright, fine. I'll just ask. Why are you going so far for him? I get being his teacher. I can even accept you're old fashioned and understand apprenticeships differently, but this is more than that."

    He was only asking this now? "Harry impressed me and I have since grown fond of him." Honestly, was that not sufficient? "It's actually made me and Perenelle consider having children again, though naturally that will wait until the little one gets fed up with being my first priority." Going by Black's glare, that was apparently not good enough either. Enlightened self-interest then. "Do you know why seers go mad so often?"

    Black unclenched his fist and sat back in his chair. "I never had to wonder about it. I assumed it's because prophecies come at some nebulous cost to the soul, but you seem to be teaching Harry something else."

    "Divination is heavy on the soul, but not why you think. There is no bliss of illusion when you can see through all of them. There is much dark truth and action that visions reveal, more so the further one walks along the path. It is quite demoralising. It is not a path for the faint of heart. Indeed, even the strongest hearts wear down and break if there isn't enough good with the ill. And considering Harry's track record, he'll be seeing much ill indeed." Nicolas closed his notebook and hooked his pen back to the binder. "A seer must find what joy he can in the present, and so his life must be filled with love and happiness. As Harry is currently cross with me, he may not accept the former from me, for a time. But I can still provide him with the opportunity to find or make as much of his own happiness as humanly possible."

    There was quiet between them again, but this time it was a bit less heavy.

    Eventually, Sirius broke it. "Dumbledore. You're an arse and I hate you."

    Albus' face twisted in pain, but he quietly nodded acceptance.

    "I don't want you near Harry. I want you to have nothing to do with him. And yes, Flamel. If you want me to play nice, that is my condition."

    Nicolas met Black's eyes squarely. Black's point was valid, and Nicolas was even somewhat impressed. This was a much superior composure compared to when Albus disclosed the prophecy and a certain potions professor's complicity in events. But Nicolas had already said his piece to Albus and was not one for beating a dead horse. Besides, Albus Dumbledore was better than Sirius thought of him.

    "I do, of course, agree," Albus answered. The shadow on his face deepened. "There are other matters that require my attention in any case. I will stay away."

    "Unless Harry wants otherwise," Nicolas said mildly. "In which case we'll have to revisit the issue."

    Sirius' face twisted, but he nodded sharply in agreement. Surprisingly, he then softened some. "You need help, Dumbledore." He clearly didn't mean with politics. "I won't stand in the way of that. This place is big, and I'll want some time alone with my Godson every once in a while anyway. As long as you don't stick your wand where it's not invited, we won't have any problems."

    One could hope.

    "Right," Black said, rising from his chair. "Time to go break my godson's heart by telling him he was never going back to Hogwarts anyway. Just so you know, Alchemist, if he hates me for the rest of time I'm blaming you."

    "He won't." Honestly, did Black have no faith in the little one at all? "At some point he will realise that every good parent manipulates their children into not growing up to be savages, convicts or corpses."

    "I'm stealing that," Black groused. "I swear, being a Godfather shouldn't be this stressful. At least he's not a parselmouth anymore."

    Black left soon after, but Albus lingered until he lost track of time, so Nicolas invited him to stay the night. That finally startled the other wizard enough to break him out of his latest, soon to be discarded plan to upend the entire magical society. Albus demurred, though, and left to catch up on his paperwork back at Hogwarts. Unfortunate, but it wasn't time yet to insist. Things with him were still too raw.

    Nicolas Flamel was never without his own designs, however. The matter of 'Ed' had stalled, but there were two other leads he was following up on. Since Perenelle was off enjoying her leisure with her housewife friends, now was as good a time as any to resume on the lead closest to home.

    Drinking an invisibility potion and casting a strong notice-me-not charm on himself, Nicolas apparated to the tourist entrance of the Tower of London and then used a few short-distance apparitions to penetrate into the inner grounds. He then spent a while walking around the place, paying special attention to the basement entrances. He'd done this multiple times before, but he wanted to be thorough. Finally, he decided that the access likely wasn't on the surface, or it had been but later got built over. He broke into the underground levels, making sure to leave no trace of his passage behind.

    The basement and tunnels were less extensive than he'd assumed, allowing him to walk all of them at least once by sundown. Well, those strictly within of the hill itself. Unfortunately, he found nothing out of the ordinary, neither by muggle or wizard standards, even though he kept repeating over and over that The Blessed Crow keeps vigil under the White Hill.

    Either this was a special kind of Secret that only worked for the recipient, or this wasn't the right white hill.

    Nicolas Flamel returned home, pondering prophecies, burial mounds, spirits and secrets.

    The last matter he needed to follow up on involved no magical secrets. What's more, its potential scope dwarfed that of virtually all other concerns. Even Albus' newest fixation on the Statute of Secrecy that he could definitely use a break from lest it become obsession in record time.

    "Perenelle, my fair wife," he said at dinner. "How would you like to go on a cruise?" Say one that sails along the coast of New Jersey, for example. There wasn't time for a full trip by summer, but he didn't intend to linger so long regardless.

    "I would surely loathe it," sniffed his dear wife. "Have you seen what passes for socialites these days? The airs on those creatures make even your foulest potion fumes seem sweet and amorous."

    "I suppose Albus can be my plus one," Nicolas mused, not entirely joking. "Or Black. Perhaps both." Notice-me-not, some gillyweed and a warming charm should give them more than enough time to find what they needed.

    "I'm sure you boys will find your ulterior reasons to be eminently compelling, but I'd much rather stay at home with my flowers."

    "Alright. Perhaps next year."

    "Perhaps."

    Once upon a time, husband and wife had attempted to fly over the English Channel to their family's rescue only to nearly drown several times when every broom and carpet failed them. Since then, Perenelle hated the sea. Hated the very thought it. Couldn't stand the sight of it. The attic was still stuffed full with all the brooms and flying carpets they tried and failed to fly over.

    This was a positively mild reaction by Perenelle's standards. She was truly making an effort again.

    It was good to see his wife putting the last of her sorrow behind her.


    "-. Charles Gordon, Bright Falls, Washington USA .-"


    Doctor Flannhamr,

    I am writing to let you know I will not be able to join you at CERN. Prior obligations have caught up with me and I will be unavailable for the foreseeable future.

    I am grateful for your mentorship during my doctorate and hope we can remain on good terms.

    Respectfully, Charles Gordon.


    Bright Falls was a sparkling little township easily subsisting off the Cauldron Lake tourism. Charles hated the place, and he'd say so if it wasn't crass. Perhaps emphatically dislike could be more comfortably confessed, but no one ever asked, thankfully. His patience would have coped, but the constant whine in his ears was already enough to worry about.

    "Doctor!" The sheriff called in greeting, always jolly during their 'unexpected' run-ins that never failed to occur within five minutes of Charles emerging from the bus station. "Welcome back! Whose career are you here to ruin this time?"

    One day it might be yours, Charles thought as he removed his headphones. "I'd like to think even the Lodge would need more than three months to repeat that performance." Sheriff Frank Breaker had a bright smile on his face, so open and earnest you could almost believe he wasn't an agent of the Magical Congress of the United States. Charles usually approved of such competence, but not when it propped up shadow organisations so bad at psychological profiling that they didn't see through card-carrying psychopaths like the late and unlamented Emil Hartman. "But then I'm still hopeful this place will run out of bad luck one of these days."

    "Always with the cynicism, perk up man! What you've got here is the American Dream!"

    On reflection, competence certainly didn't come hand in hand with self-delusion. Perhaps he was overestimating the good Sheriff, it wasn't like the man had cottoned on to the fact Charles was on to him and his masters. "Dream is a good term."

    Charles bantered with the man until the sheriff couldn't justify keeping him any longer. He then carried on as normal until the town was behind him. Then he pulled the Microbee 32000 out of his bag and typed MINDSCAN. Ten seconds later, a chime notified him that no new mind alterations had been detected since last scan. As expected, but you could never be too careful with these things, especially with his personal history.

    He put his headphones back on and followed the Geiger-like sounds.

    Soon enough, Bird Leg Cabin was just one boat ride away. Charles always worried he'd tip over and drown. Much more so than usual because most other lakes didn't have a reality-warping eldritch horror trapped beneath them. Alas, as always it was a risk he had to take.

    There was no one to meet him when he docked on Diver's Isle, but that was fine. This was, as always, a surprise visit since he made a point not to transmit any signals in or out of this place just in case. Besides, he knew where the spare key was.

    Barbara was on the patio. She pretended not to notice him in favour of continuing to look through the scope of her Ruger AR-556 MPR 450 Bushmaster. "Can you even aim that?"

    It was a fair question. Since the 450 Bushmaster didn't come standard with a scope, it was probably throwing off her aim. And since an Anderson job wouldn't have such issues, she must have jury-rigged one herself.

    Barbara put her gun aside and rose to greet him. "Charles, we didn't expect you today. Tom's still writing downstairs."

    Oh, she called them by their proper names now? "Going native are we?" He made sure to breathe in before she reached him. Voluptuous women like her took your breath away when they got a hold of you. "Breaker was in poor form."

    "That's a surprise." She pulled away and straightened Charles's tie. "The good sheriff's had nothing but free time. I dare say he's even getting bored with nothing happening."

    They enjoyed the moment of levity, but Charles was here for a reason. "How is he?"

    "Carrying on. All the energy in his punches is going into the Arcade Machine now. I've asked him to take me out for a boat ride when he's finally finished writing."

    "I advise against that."

    "As you do every time you drop by." Barbara smiled slightly. "We will carry on until our last strength, then we will bait our enemy to spend his last strength. Either way, Thor will see us on to Vidblainn."

    Charles was determined not to expire before he was well and truly decrepit, but he was a man of the mind. His friends were people of passion and vigor, he wouldn't begrudge them wanting to have that in the next life. He'd already gone down the path of not valuing anything other than intellect. It was not a happy dead end, and he'd only come back from it because others had seen worth in his halfwit self.

    Barbara led the way to the basement, where Thomas Zane was using the Punching Keybag to punch poetry into the Arcade Machine. Charles' first proprietary invention was still holding on. It was perhaps an unorthodox hardware attachment to a coin-op cabinet, but better than the alternative.

    "Hackerman," Tom greeted gruffly, spin kicking the Keybag so hard that an entire stanza wrote itself in one strike. Arcade Machine whined in discomfort. "You're early."

    "I can get back to dry land and visit Tor instead."

    "Nah, it's fine, I was going to take a break anyway." Tom wiped his forehead with a towel and punched one last time.

    The Arcade Machine saved progress and the screen shut down. When it flickered back on, the unsmiling face overlaid the starting screen to The Epic of Kung Fury. Charles' lips twitched nostalgically.

    The 80s in Miami were wild.

    Only Tom would come up with the idea to write a reality-warping eldritch abomination into a harmless arcade game. Charles even approved of the theory. It was Tom and Barbara's chance to complete the plan that he doubted. The misqualified energy emanations from below had grown tremendously since his last visit. How bad was their sleep these days? Their dreams?

    But they'd long since talked that topic to death. Charles followed his friends up the stairs instead. "I see you're almost done."

    "Another few months and Thor's pecs will finally have some proper competition. Then I'll load that thing down under with so many horror vibes it won't even be able to walk in the sun."

    Despite himself, Charles almost wavered. It sounded like the sort of thing where they'd need his help. But he had a life debt to repay, and his curiosity wanted sating as well. "That's why I came. I don't think I'll be around for the encore. Or last hurrah, whatever it turns into."

    Tom turned around, his eyebrows high. "Is this talk gonna need Anderson's moonshine?"

    Charles thought about, it then shrugged. "May as well."

    It took a lot of Anderson moonshine and his memory was on strike when he groaned awake at mid-day two days later. But for once Charles was able to leave his friends with no unresolved feelings, and even sailed the lake without fear. Even the sheriff missed him on the way out.

    Charles entered the bus stop restroom, lifted the Microbee 32000 on his shoulder and typed PORTALHOME.

    Screeching blue lightning tore open a dark hole in space.

    Let's hope you have something good for me to bite into, kid, Charles thought as he stepped into his living room. "Alice, I'm home!"

    Almost thirty years ago, Charlie Gordon had gained everything, lost everything, and then been given everything back again after he walked face-first out of New York into an invisible door. The only price his benefactor demanded for the drink that literally regrew his brain was a date and a set of coordinates. All he had to do was be there at the given time, knock on the gate and ask for employment.

    Employment not for himself but a certain brain surgeon.

    Two for the price of one, Charles thought for the hundredth time. I'm not throwing him into the unknown by himself. Which his benefactor no doubt expected.

    Picking up the phone, he dialled a number from memory. Ring, Ring, Ring-

    "Hello?"

    "Doctor Strauss."

    "Retired Doctor Strauss. Who is this?"

    "This is Charlie. Pray tell, good doctor, how is Algernon's grave looking these days?"

    The good doctor shut the call on him. Of course he did, he was undeservedly disgraced in academic circles and thought it was a prank call.

    He didn't think it was a prank anymore when Charlie knocked on his door that same evening.


    Charlie,

    You can't do this to me. We finally have all the approvals for the collider, all that's left is to finalise ownership of the land. The paperwork is unconscionable, how will I cope without dropping all of the drudge work in your lap?

    And what about later? Whose hard work am I going to pretend to steal with you gone? Who am I going to argue with over coffee brands? Mankind is finally going to see how wrong they are about everything, how will I go on without anyone to gloat to around the water cooler? There are people here who actually think they know what universal heat death looks like, I cannot muster the proper amount of disdain for that on my own.

    I demand recompense for this emotional damage you inflicted upon my person, no, I demand to know who and how managed to steal you away.

    Do introduce me, won't you?

    ~Dougan.



    "-. Osiris, formerly of Egypt, lately shipwrecked off the coast of New Jersey .-"
    Awareness returned. With it, thought. Memory. Hate. The canopic jar was open once again. On instinct, he burst out of his prison with mouth bare, teeth and pincers out to spear skin and flesh, but there was no host waiting for him. Instead, he found himself in a glass vessel no bigger than three steps across. He was swimming in water. Water and nutrients not unlike those in his prison, and an energy charge just barely enough to keep him from death. What was this? Had Ra reconsidered? Had he decided an eternity of insensate imprisonment was not sufficient punishment for his defiance? Where was he? Where was Isis?

    There were three hosts outside the tank. He did not recognize their faces. He did not know their dress. He did not know their words. One of them wore a kara kesh, but he did not feel like kin. Osiris sensed no naquadah from any of them. Pretenders! They dared to garb themselves in the gods' raiment? Osiris reared up in rage, fins and teeth bared in a snarling hiss. Their suffering would last years for this offense once he-

    The one on the left pointed with his stick and flicked. Osiris' body lurched on its own, plastering him against the glass. A gravity tug. So they were not complete incompetents. He would keep that one alive the longest, just as soon as the one in the middle got close enough to claim. It was a fool if he thought this paltry strength could keep him pinned, the bodies of gods were not so flimsy. Just one more step.

    Osiris lunged up.

    He smacked into nothing so hard that he was dazed. What was that? There was nothing on top of the tank, why had he – a forcefield. How long had he been sealed away that even mere hosts had developed cunning? This was-

    "Legilimens."

    Osiris was violently thrown into his own mind, deep in the recesses of memory where gods could plan and build and dream of all who came before. There was a foreign will in there with him, stumbling in awe at the scope of a mind he would never be able to fathom in a million year. Osiris hissed in outrage, they dared? It dared! Osiris had endured a year of Ra's Rod of Agony and still the mind probe almost failed when Osiris was at his lowest. This lowly creature thought a god's mind would bend before such paltry probes unharried? Osiris almost let the fool to its fate, a god's mind was a whole indivisible, try to rip at it and the flood of knowledge would break all other minds, did this fool think he was somehow exempt?

    But every moment Osiris waited was a moment more for the intruder to bend and tease at the threads of thought and memory in a manner more insidious than even the most advanced memory recall device. How was it doing this? Osiris felt disquiet, then he promptly bellowed with rage at his own lapse and violently reasserted control over all parts of him.

    The Decrepit One stumbled back from the tank. Osiris banished all doubts at how difficult it had been to expel him and relished the sight of that weakness.

    "The hard way it is then."

    Suddenly Osiris was hoisted up by an invisible force, and this time it had no give. He emerged unwilling from the water and hovered mid-air, hissing and flailing indignantly. He was before the third one. The one mid-way in age between the others. The one with the kara kesh. The kara kesh pointed right at him.

    The red beam hit his head and he shrieked.

    He'd felt worse agony, but lesser agony was still agony. He could feel not one but three foreign wills set themselves against his own, but he refused to bend. He would expel these upstarts no matter how long it took.

    Osiris did not know for certain how long he was tortured. He refused to lose consciousness when it was finally over. He did not think of how this was most likely just the start.

    "This creature is vile." The Decrepit One was speaking. "That its kind could rise to become the apex race of the cosmos is an offense to all notions of sense."

    "I have no idea what I'm seeing here either,"
    the youngest said when the mind scouring beam finally stopped, voice unsteady. "It's… a lot of degeneracy to wade through, and I can't find anything useful. I feel filthy and disgusted just from five minutes, but I have this urge to dive back in because in the moment… while I was experiencing it… it felt good." Osiris still couldn't understand them, but the creature was surely lamenting its complete inability to see even a glimpse past Osiris' impregnable defences. "I… think I'll remove the memories after we're done here and never do this again, if it's all the same to you."

    "You know your limits best,"
    Decrepit One insulted the younger man.

    "It seems the void spawn are much older than we reckoned," said his poor excuse of a Torturer, clearly pretending to be unmoved lest the other two pounce on his weakness. Even now, hosts were never capable of more than aping their superiors. "And they pass everything on. Twenty-five thousand years of history, at least. No wonder they never broke the mould, they are each mere copies of the mould itself."

    "It will take lifetimes to make any headway like this,"
    Decrepit One said, lifting his rod aloft. What were those tools? They looked like mere wood, but they achieved feats not unlike the gods' accoutrements and their filigree would have passed muster in the highest conclaves of heaven. "And that assumes we even stumble on the tenth of a percentage of actionable knowledge scattered amidst all that… degeneracy."

    Torturer raised his stick, and Osiris rose with it until he hovered just out of reach of the host's face. He lunged and flailed uselessly anyway. "How convenient that the little one's off-the-cuff advice has provided us with the perfect alternative. As with everything else, it has proven prescient in more ways than one."

    "Yes,"
    Decrepit One nodded, raising his stick while his superior completely failed to realize it was being mocked. Such gall would never last in the Court of the Gods. "The day he runs out of ideas will be a sad one indeed."

    "For you two, maybe.
    " Youngest muttered with a disrespect that would have seen him flogged in Osiris' court. "I for one would have been glad if he – and thus me – had nothing to do with any of this."

    "You can back away. There will be no misgivings."

    "… No. This has to be done, and I want my pound of flesh after what I just went through."


    The three encircled him. They raised their rods. They reached forth until the tips touched the flesh of their God, how dare they-

    They pulled.

    Osiris' mind unravelled like a tapestry in reverse.

    "-. Sirius Orion Back, Hogwarts, England .-"
    Sirius waved the loose memories out of his face and floated the insensate space snake back in its tank. The thing landed with a splotch and just… floated there. There was no angry swimming, no hissing, no rearing up with head crest spread like a mad cobra. Sirius tapped on the glass with his wand a few times. The snake twitched at the sound. Not entirely brain dead then. On a whim he flicked his wand at one of the threads hovering closest and sent it to the creature. The snake shuddered and performed a weird watery crooning sound that immediately stopped when Sirius pulled the memory back out. The snake went meek and quiet again.

    "It should still retain its unconscious bodily functions," Dumbledore guessed, walking up next to him. "And its natural instincts. Perhaps it will even develop a new consciousness in time. Completely free of its forebears' legacy."

    Sirius didn't say anything. He instead went to the table, took a phial, put his wand at his temple and slowly pulled out everything he's just ripped from the snake's mind. It was almost too painful, Sirius could have sworn the memory spanned a time frame longer than his lifetime, but it was also dense and so tightly bound that his own mind almost eagerly let it go.

    When he was done, Sirius was glad to see Dumbledore and Flamel doing the same nearby.

    They turned to look at the loose shimmering threads that filled the Room of Memory to almost literal bursting. "Amazing," Dumbledore said, though his tone was grim. "The room's diameter is a few dozen times bigger than the first time."

    The Room of Requirement had created an instance of itself to integrate Dumbledore's additions, and it hadn't had trouble containing the wizard's full record in the so-called Room of Memory. Void spawn were apparently a lot more to handle though, and not just because their memory was eidetic. They didn't just have their own memories spanning thousands of years, but also all the memories of their forebears, leading to the equivalent of some twenty thousand years. Many times over.

    If not for the genius of the Founders and the sheer power running through the ground below the castle, this wouldn't have been possible.

    Sirius looked at the brain-dead snake again. It looked small and ugly and squalid, and it was all those things. Which made it all the more galling that it was so dangerous. It had managed to withstand three different legilimency attacks at once for quite some time, under torture, when two of those attacks came from two of the most accomplished mind magician alive. It hadn't even noticed the Confundus charms. If this was that a void spawn could do without a host and addled from eleven thousand years of stasis, Sirius could begin to see how they could dominate the world for so long, never mind technology so advanced it looked divine. Good riddance to the she-snake being already dead from exposure when they found her.

    There were theories that wizards had their own country before something happened to make them scatter across the world during the Bronze Age Collapse. The assumption was that the country was Atlantis, and the cause of their dispersal was the island's sinking and destruction. Osiris and its dead mate had been stuck in jars thousands of years before then, but for all that the oldest mummy was over nine thousand years old, there were no wizard mummies or cursed tombs dating earlier than 2,995 BC. Magicians were largely absent from muggle history prior to Mycenean Greece as well. "The International Statute of Secrecy isn't the first time we hid, is it?"

    "No indeed," Flamel confirmed, though he seemed preoccupied. Preoccupied and pleased. Happy, even. "Little Harry is truly blessed." What did that have to do with anything? "I have not seen so many good unintended consequences in one place in all my six hundred years."

    Sirius looked at the man incredulously. How was any of this good? Hopefully Dumbledore was still sane, and Sirius couldn't believe he'd just thought that when-

    "We are going to need help." Speak of the devil and he shall reply with a bewildering amount of sense for someone who'd spent his whole life keeping everything to his chest, never mind what it did to everyone else.

    Sirius might have certain unresolved feelings.

    "Very well educated help," Flamel agreed. "Intelligent help."

    Dumbledore hesitated, turning away from the threaded strands. "I do not think it can be found in the magical world."

    "For the moment," Flamel agreed as if it was no bother. "And in sufficient amounts, most likely never. Though it does strike me, entirely coincidentally of course, that the Supreme Mugwump can give special dispensations for muggles to know things whenever he wants."

    He could?

    They stood in silence, the memories of the inheritor of all the void's evil just a few feet away.

    "This will be the work of decades," Dumbledore murmured. The shimmering curtain backlit a grim and resolute, frail human being. "I will not live that long."

    "Come now, Albus," Flamel looked back, eyes bright with certainty. "We all know who will lead the future."

    They moved the void spawn to the Chamber of Secrets and set it up with an automated food dispenser before finally parting.

    Sirius was fully resolved to go bug Harry into lowering another one of the hundred walls he'd raised after Sirius' despicable betrayal. Alas, this was not to be because Harry was not alone. In fact, the entire the Golden Trio (plus one) were most definitely not alone. And it wasn't just because the end of the year was just two more weeks away and Harry very understandably wanted to spend what time he had left with his housemates. They and half of everyone else who had a free period were clustered in groups around the Hogwarts main Gate being inconspicuously conspicuous.

    Taking advantage of his grownup privileges, Sirius Black walked past the children and the forbidding presence of Madam Hooch that was nowhere near as forbidding as McGonagall and so no barrier to him. He only stopped when he was in front of the gates next to Hagrid. "What's going on here?"

    "Unexpected guests," Hagrid 'whispered.' "They look like muggles."

    Yes they did.

    That was about when McGonagall came down with Dumbledore and Flamel right behind.

    "Hello there," Dumbledore greeted with twinkling eyes. "Who do I have the pleasure of greeting."

    The younger of the two men scowled at the wizard and turned to his balding companion. "Don't look him in the eye, he reads minds."

    Sirius wasn't the only one taken aback.

    "Great," the older man groused, pulling his topcoat tighter around him. "Bloody perfect, why am I here again?"

    They were yanks.

    "Leopold?" Flamel breathed. He'd stopped in his tracks with something that looked remarkably like astonishment. The younger yank heard and looked at them. "Leopold Nilsson? Is that you?"

    "My real name is Charles Gordon." That told Sirius nothing, but it seemed to mean a lot to the Alchemist. "Good day to you, Mr. Hearth. It is nice to finally meet you properly." And as if that was enough to settle the matter of a six hundred year-old immortal being completely blindsided, the yank turned to Dumbledore and held out a sheet of paper.

    Dumbledore walked to the ward line and reached through. When the paper didn't make his arm fall off or anything else similarly sinister, he took and looked it over. "What are these?"

    "Our terms of employment."

    Say what?

    "I was told the position would involve ophiology and pyramid structures. That is the full extent of my instruction."

    Pyramids. Ophiology. Snakes.

    Despite himself, Sirius couldn't help but seek Harry out in the crowd because really, godson mine, how the hell did you pull this off?

    "… Let's take this to my office."
     
    AP999, Magiadept, wahrifson and 138 others like this.
  28. Superiorshortness

    Superiorshortness Making the rounds.

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2021
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    308
    If they were yanks.... they wouldn't say 'bloody perfect'.. They'd curse like an American. 'Fucking'. Etc.

    Im also a little confused a bit on who Charles and Leopold are. If they are going to be big characters, I think there was a need here to tell the readers more about who they are..... Also would have loved to see the muggles seeing Hogwarts as some eldritch field.

    Really looking forward to more!!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2022
  29. Karmic Acumen

    Karmic Acumen The long-suffering one

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,333
    Likes Received:
    67,179
    Sirius got it by their accent. Let's pretend Strauss uses 'bloody' instead of 'fucking' because he thinks it's less crass for an elite neurosurgeaon.

    Also, Leopold Nilsson is the name Charles had been going by since his 'disappearance.' That's why Nicolas was surprised.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2023
  30. Ghostcraft19

    Ghostcraft19 Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2020
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    2,356
    This is one of the most fascinating ficus I read but I am disappointed we didn’t get to see harry leading the wild hunt first hand
     
Loading...