Acknowledgements: Many thanks to my wonderful betas over the course of writing this fic: Rachel (aka GobletEnchantress), Pam, James, Joe6991, Jessica, Alison, ChocolateTruffle and Vanishing Act (aka Amena), Ugly Duckling and Bluezy. A Promise: Have you ever started a great fic which you loved and then it just stopped in the middle? Or had to wait months for the next chapter ... and found that you’d lost the plot ... I promise it won’t happen with this story. This fic is now complete (all 34 chapters + Epilogue). I will be putting them up as I do the HTML formatting. At the present time, the last couple of chapters are still with my betas ... but they will soon be up!
Chapter 1 ~ The Boy Who Died
Albus Dumbledore stared thoughtfully at the ancient wooden box lying on a shelf in the Founders cabinet, between the sword of Godric Gryffindor and the Sorting Hat. The box was long, thin and decorated with tiny griffins, flying about in intricate geometric patterns. After a few moments of deep contemplation, he waved his wand at it, uttering an incantation which caused the lid to hinge back. A glow of pure white light surged from the box for a moment, and then a dark brown wand rose gracefully upwards, floating into his outstretched hand.
As he felt the gentle surge of power running through the wand he knew with certainty that the ‘dream’ from which he had just awoken was not just a dream, but a vision; a communication from the world of witches and wizards long departed from this earth.
He had dozed off, as was his wont, when the demands of the world permitted such luxuries, in the late morning warmth of his sun-filled office. Slowly, he became aware of a beautiful, yet strangely haunting, song which seemed at first to come from far away, but grew gradually nearer. A white glow appeared all around him. Then slowly it began to coalesce, finally taking the form of a wizard. It was a wizard, whom he knew very well, from the many pictures and sculptures of the Founders that were displayed about Hogwarts. It was Godric Gryffindor – or perhaps more correctly, the spirit of Godric Gryffindor.
“I come bearing a message from the spirits of the great witches and wizards of the Light,” said the spirit, in an unearthly voice.
“We are very concerned about the rise of Voldemort and the forces of the Dark. The Light is in very grave danger. The very future of Wizardkind hangs precariously in the balance.
“As you must know, we of the spirit world are unable to act directly in the world of the living. We have, however, devised a way to help those on the side of the Light, in the momentous struggle which lies ahead.”
“But how is that possible?” asked Dumbledore.
“The soul of a boy, recently departed from the world, has been selected for the purpose. Each of the great witches and wizards of the Light has blessed that soul with their own particular powers and magic. It was a formidable challenge, to find a soul that was worthy of such gifts, one with qualities of goodness, compassion, bravery and selflessness. The temptation to abuse such enormous powers will be strong.”
“But who can it be?” mused Dumbledore. “Someone recently died? I cannot think of anyone with such outstanding moral qualities.”
“Ah, but he is not from your world; and yet he knows all about it. I think you will be surprised. He will appear in this very office at midday. You shall call him by the name of ‘Rick Godfry’. I would like you to give him my own wand which has lain these past thousand years in the Founders cabinet.”
With that, the image of Godric Gryffindor was gone, and the vision ended.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Albus Dumbledore placed the wand of Godric Gryffindor on his desk. It was midday; he felt great anticipation, but more than that, he felt a sense of optimism and hope that he had not felt for many months. After the events of the last school year that had culminated in the confrontation with the Death Eaters, and finally Voldemort himself, at the Ministry of Magic, the wizarding world had slowly descended into darkness.
Although Fudge had finally been forced to acknowledge the return of Voldemort, his response had been far worse than his previous policy of pretending it was all just a fairytale invented by Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter.
Fudge immediately declared a ‘State of Emergency’. He issued a decree dissolving the Wizengamot and all judicial bodies. He issued decrees dissolving all Ministry committees and vested all powers in the Minister of Magic – himself, Cornelius Fudge. He imposed total censorship on the media, so there was no longer a platform to voice dissent or criticise these authoritarian measures.
All of this was done in the name of security. But, in fact, Fudge was doing nothing at all to resist Voldemort and his Death Eaters. The Auror division had been decimated, all but the few ‘yes witches and wizards’ who were prepared to do Fudge’s bidding, with ‘no questions asked’ had been removed. Those that remained were not engaged in battling Death Eaters, but enforcing Fudge’s draconian ‘State of Emergency’.
Most of the Death Eaters involved in the battle at the Ministry of Magic had claimed to be under the Imperious Curse and had been pardoned by Fudge – who was rumoured to have received barrow loads of gold from Lucius Malfoy for his ‘mercy’. Only those like the Lestranges, who had recently escaped from Azkaban, were convicted, but no one knew what had happened to them or where they were. Most likely, they were back in the service of Voldemort.
The only opposition to Voldemort was from the Order of the Phoenix. Fudge had issued a decree outlawing the Order and declaring them an ‘Enemy of Wizardkind’.
“What on earth is Fudge’s game?” was a question frequently bandied about in the Order. Albus Dumbledore doubted that Fudge was a Death Eater or even particularly sympathetic to Voldemort’s cause. But still he was clearly in their pocket, or more precisely Lucius Malfoy’s pockets, which were deep and lined with gold. Fudge was rumoured to have stashed away a mountain of gold in his Gringotts vault. But Dumbledore considered it was probably more than plain avarice which motivated Fudge – it was his lust for power. Fudge was determined to keep hold of the reigns of power, no matter what, come hell or high water – or Voldemort. Perhaps he had decided that the Dark Lord was likely to win in the end, and if he was compliant, and did the bidding of Malfoy and Voldemort’s other proxies, he would be seen as an asset by the Dark Lord and left alone to his little empire.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Dumbledore’s reverie was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a very startled-looking boy, standing just a few feet away from his great desk. Dumbledore rose to greet the boy, who jumped back from him with an expression on his face of utter disbelief and shock. “Albus ... Dumbledore?” he muttered to himself. “How can that be? No ... this is just a dream.”
“Oh, no,” said Dumbledore, “this is not a dream. I am most certainly Professor Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and it is my great pleasure, Rick Godfry, to welcome you to Hogwarts.”
“Rick Godfry?” said the boy. “My name’s not Rick Godfry, my name is, err ... um ... my name’s ... um ...” After some moments of anguished thought he finally said, “How is it that I can’t remember my own name – and yet I know yours, how can that be?”
“Well Rick,” mused Dumbledore nodding his head thoughtfully from side-to-side, “Death is perhaps the greatest mystery of life. There are many theories speculating about the journey of the soul upon death, but no one really knows with any certainty, what happens.”
“What?” said the shocked boy, “Are you telling me I died....” He paused for a moment and then looking around in astonishment, continued, “... and this is Heaven?”
“No, Rick,” laughed Dumbledore. “Our world – the wizarding world – is not Heaven. Sadly, it is very far from that happy state at this time. But yes, it is true that you died. Can you remember nothing at all about your death, or your previous life?”
The boy stood lost in thought for a minute or two, slowly shaking his head from side-to-side. He was trying to grasp at the elusive memories of the life he had lost, but they seemed to slip away and dissolve as he reached out towards them. Dumbledore took the opportunity to scrutinise the boy standing before him.
About sixteen, he thought to himself. Yes, of course, they chose someone the same age as Harry Potter, for surely they will become comrades. He was a handsome boy, with dark brown hair and warm affectionate brown eyes. His height and physique were average. He had more the look of a scholar than an athlete. It was difficult to say exactly what it was about him that was so attractive, yet he had a palpable charm, an inner glow, almost. A gift from Helga Hufflepuff perhaps? thought Dumbledore.
“It’s very strange,” said the boy, “but I can remember hardly anything about my life. I can’t even remember my parents or if I had sisters or brothers. All I can remember is sitting in the back of a car, driving down from the mountains. I must have lived in the mountains, I think. I remember that I was on my way to town, to see a movie, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’.”
Dumbledore looked a little surprised at this, but allowed the boy to continue. “What is so baffling, is that while I can remember nothing of my own life, I can remember everything about the world of Harry Potter, all the books and movies, and the countless fanfics.”
“Harry Potter books? What on earth are you talking about? Movies? I’ve heard that word before ... ah, yes, those funny moving picture things that Muggles find so entertaining. But why would Muggles have books or movies about Harry Potter? Surely they know nothing about him.”
“Well, actually Professor Dumbledore, I’m a Muggle. What I can remember from the world I came from, is that there were no wizards or witches – and no magic. Those things were make-believe – they only existed in stories. The most famous of those stories, was about a boy named Harry Potter. About his friends, and his battles with the Dark Lord, Voldemort, who killed his parents when he was just a baby.”
“How utterly extraordinary,” murmured Dumbledore, shaking his head, his eyebrows shooting up in astonishment. The universe never failed to amaze him.
“You have no idea how popular Harry Potter has become in my world,” said the boy. “Some people have become quite obsessed with him and his world.”
“And if I am not very much mistaken,” said Dumbledore smiling at him, “you were one of them. Am I correct?”
The boy nodded. He had indeed been obsessed with Harry Potter and the wizarding world. Apart from the books and movies and the endless fanfics, he could recall spending many of his waking hours daydreaming about that world, imagining and wishing he was part of it.
“Professor Dumbledore,” he asked thoughtfully, “do you think it’s possible, that my obsession with your world has somehow caused me to ... appear in it?”
Dumbledore mused for a few moments before answering. “Life is a great mystery, my young friend. As I said before, no one really knows what happens when we die. Some people believe that our soul reincarnates, passing from one life to the next. They believe that the thoughts and desires we have during our life actually create the world into which we are subsequently reborn. It seems to me that something like that may have happened to you.”
“But that doesn’t make sense,” said the boy. “Firstly, you get born as a baby, not a teenager; and secondly, this world already existed, so how could I have created it.”
“Well, to answer the second question first: If we do create the world we are born into, from the desires and volitions of our previous life, that world must have already been in existence – or we could not be born into it. I know it seems like a contradiction, if you think of time as linear, with events following one after the other.”
“But, perhaps time is not linear. Perhaps before I die I will dream longingly of a peaceful world in which men and women have lived in love and harmony for hundreds of thousands of years – and that very desire will make it real, bring it into existence, as if it had always existed. Yes, what a wonderful idea, I think I might just give it a try – and that world will have the most wonderful, delicious sweets imaginable....”
“You mean to say, that if a person is obsessed about some imaginary world and daydreams about it, and all the people in it, that their thoughts might somehow ‘create’ that world for them to be reborn into after they die?”
“Yes, indeed. There are whole religious systems of belief based upon such ideas.”
“What about the answer to my first question?” asked the boy. “People are born as babies, but I am obviously a teenager.”
“Ah,” said Dumbledore, “perhaps you should sit down.” He waved his hand to summon a chair for Rick. “You see ... you were not actually born into this world ... you were sent here.” He then proceeded to explain what Godric Gryffindor had revealed to him in the vision.
Rick just sat there with his mouth agape after Dumbledore had finished. Although he could remember nothing of the personal circumstances of his previous life, he was quite certain that he had been a Muggle and had never performed a single act of magic. Why would the spirits of the great witches and wizards of the Light have chosen him, or his spirit or soul or whatever it was for such an important task? It just didn’t make any sense and he didn’t feel especially magical or powerful, so it must all be a huge mistake.
Did he even have the qualities of goodness, compassion, and bravery that Godric Gryffindor had spoken of to Dumbledore? Rick had no idea. He just couldn’t remember anything about himself in his previous life; not even what he had looked like. Perhaps it was exactly the way he looked now or perhaps it was totally different. For all he knew he had might have been a girl. He didn’t think his name had been Rick Godfry anyway. It just didn’t feel right. The only thing he could remember was his obsession with the world of Harry Potter and then he realised that he must have been a boy. He clearly recalled an infatuation with one particular witch.
Dumbledore smiled gently at Rick, seeming to understand the doubts and confusion that were churning through his mind. Picking up Godric Gryffindor’s wand, he handed it to Rick, saying, “Perhaps this will help to convince you.”
When Rick’s hand touched the wand it was as if a switch had been thrown within him. It was like somehow being connected to unknown forces or beings, beyond his own body. Perhaps they were the spirits of the great witches and wizards of the Light that Dumbledore had spoken of.
It didn’t feel so much as if they had entered his body, but more like his mind and soul had somehow expanded to merge with theirs. He could not identify who or what these powers or beings were. But it felt to him, that he could know anything that they knew or perform any magic or use any power that they had, if he needed it. He smiled and nodded to Dumbledore to acknowledge that what he had told him must indeed true.
Dumbledore told him about recent events in the wizarding world, of how the Ministry of Magic was under the influence of Lucius Malfoy and of Fudge’s single-minded attempts to retain power at all costs.
“The Order of the Phoenix is now the only thing preventing Voldemort and his Death Eaters from taking total control. But dedicated as we are, our numbers are too few to withstand the forces of the Dark – which are daily increasing – if Voldemort should choose an all-out confrontation.”
“So what’s stopping Voldemort from launching a final attack?” asked Rick.
“The Prophecy,” said Dumbledore. “Voldemort spent a great deal of effort trying to obtain the full prophecy, as he only knew the first part. When it became clear that Lucius Malfoy had Fudge and the Ministry in his pocket and that the power of the Dark Forces had become almost unstoppable, I decided, upon one last desperate gambit. I allowed Voldemort to acquire the full prophecy. It goes....
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.”
While listening to Dumbledore, Rick had put Godric Gryffindor’s wand back on the desk, noticing that the effect from holding it had not ceased. That initial touch had initiated the link with the unknown forces, but it did not seem necessary to keep hold of the wand to maintain it. Rick was about to ask Dumbledore why he had wanted Voldemort to know the full prophecy, but as soon as the question appeared in his mind, so too, did the answer.
“You hoped that Voldemort would become so obsessed with killing Harry Potter, that he would make it his top priority. He would be afraid to make his final move until he was certain that Harry Potter was dead, once and for all, and no longer posed a threat to him. Because Harry Potter is the only thing that stands between him and his most cherished goal, Immortality....” said Rick, wondering how he knew all this.
“My goodness,” said Dumbledore. “You appear to be blessed with an unparalleled ability for Legilimency, which can only have come from Merlin himself – for those were my very thoughts. Although I am highly skilled in the art of Occlumency, you read them perfectly, without my even noticing. I suggest that you try to hide this skill. It will be very, very useful to you ... but, should it be known, it might make you somewhat unpopular. Most people feel very uncomfortable at the idea that another person can read their thoughts. I suggest you learn how to control your Legilimency and use it only when required. Otherwise you may find life a little chaotic – I am sure you will not want to be deluged with the unspoken thoughts of everyone in the Great Hall at breakfast each morning.”
“Err ... no,” said Rick, feeling a little embarrassed at his unintended invasion of the Headmaster’s mind. “I guess I am going to have to learn how to control all the powers I have received, so that it just looks like the normal magic of a sixteen year-old wizard. But how am I going to explain my sudden appearance at Hogwarts, sir?”
Dumbledore had obviously though about this. “At the Welcoming Feast, tomorrow evening, you will simply be introduced as a sixth year student who is joining Hogwarts from the remote mountains of New Zealand, where there are no schools of magic. From your accent, you could very well be from that part of the world. When asked, you will say that you are an orphan, brought up by Muggles. You can say that you do not know who your real parents are – that way you cannot be traced or have your story challenged.”
“You will say that a few years ago, a friend of your foster parents, who turned out to be a very powerful wizard, recognised your magical abilities, and began giving you private instruction. However, because there were areas of wizarding knowledge that he was unable to teach satisfactorily, he decided to enrol you at Hogwarts to complete your magical education.”
“This will help account for any surprising magical abilities you may show, particularly if you perform magic that is not in the Hogwarts curriculum or known to your professors. It will also cover any initial deficiencies of knowledge in other areas, such as Potions, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures etc, although I suspect that you may turn out to be a fast learner.”
Rick looked horrified as he realised how much he didn’t know that a student who had spent the past five years at Hogwarts would know. Sensing his distress, Dumbledore carefully selected a large book from a bookshelf.
“Let us try a little experiment, shall we, Rick?” he said, handing the book to Rick with an encouraging smile. “Try to ‘absorb’ its contents.” Rick looked at the huge tome in his hands. It was ‘Hogwarts, a History’.
Concentrating on it for a moment, he suddenly became aware that he knew everything that was in it, as if he had studied it for months and memorized every word and picture. “Amazing,” he said. “This gives ‘speed reading’ a whole new meaning.”
“Just as I thought,” said Dumbledore smiling, “Rowena Ravenclaw has blessed you with her gift of ‘speed reading’ ... as you call it.”
“But it is time for you to leave. I do not want any of the Hogwarts Professors to discover you here. It is not that I don’t trust them, but our greatest weapon is to keep your true abilities secret for as long as possible; and the best way to do that is to hide them from everyone, Hogwarts Professors, fellow students, even Harry Potter. In fact, especially from Harry. Until you absolutely have to reveal yourself to him.”
“But why? Protecting Harry will be one of my main objectives. Surely I can be more effective if he knows.”
“Protecting Harry is your number one priority,” said Dumbledore. “Since I ‘leaked’ the Prophecy to Voldemort, Death Eater activity has diminished to very occasional attacks on strategic targets. I have it on good authority that Voldemort will not make his move while Harry is still alive. Harry Potter is all that stands between us and the ‘Deluge’.”
“Harry has been very angry and somewhat unstable since the death of Sirius Black, for which he blames himself. I am afraid that I have not helped by hiding things from him over the years, even though it was with the best of intentions. I am not sure that he fully trusts me any longer. Now, with his godfather gone, he has no one he trusts enough, to turn to for help.”
“Hiding things from him was a mistake ... but perhaps revealing the Prophecy to him was an even greater mistake,” said Dumbledore sadly, letting out a heart-felt sigh. “For now he knows that he must kill Voldemort or die in the attempt.”
“It is not the fear of death that is playing upon his mind, for he is as brave a Gryffindor as ever walked the halls of Hogwarts. Rather it is his fear of failing the wizarding world and being responsible for the untold deaths and misery that would be the certain consequence of Voldemort’s victory,” he added.
“This sense of responsibility is, I fear, crushing Harry. You must convince him with deeds – not words – that he is not alone – that help is at hand, and victory over the Dark Forces is possible.”
“So where will I go, until school starts tomorrow?” asked Rick.
“You will go to Diagon Alley, where you will buy all the clothes you will need – including your Hogwarts robes – your books, and other school supplies,” said Dumbledore, handing him his sixth-year booklist.
“While you are at Flourish and Blotts, I suggest that you go to the curriculum section where you will find the required texts for each year at Hogwarts on a separate shelf. Perhaps a little ‘speed reading’ may be in order.... You will take a room at the Leaky Cauldron tonight, and Apparate directly to platform nine and three-quarters at King's Cross station tomorrow, around ten-thirty.”
“But ... but I don’t have any wizard money; and I don’t know how to Apparate; and what if they don’t have a free room at the Leaky Cauldron?” protested Rick in alarm.
“I have taken the liberty of owling a reservation in your name to Tom at the Leaky Cauldron,” said Dumbledore in a reassuring voice. “Please remember, Rick: you have the powers of the greatest witches and wizards who ever lived – I think you will be surprised at your magical abilities. For example, if you put your hand in your pocket wanting to take out some Galleons to make a purchase, I am sure that you will always find them in sufficient number there. It is an ability you will have inherited from my late friend, Nicolas Flamel.”
“As for Apparating – all you need to do is concentrate your mind on wherever you wish to be – and you shall be there. Of course, I must warn you that you are not yet of a legal age – nor do you possess the required licence – to Apparate. So I would advise you to make yourself invisible first. Then, upon arrival, when you are certain no one is watching, you can make yourself visible again. Like many of the great witches and wizards of the Light, you will have the ability to perform wandless magic. In order to conceal this, you must remember to wave your wand when doing magic.”
“In fact, until school begins, you are subject to the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. In your mind project a shield around your body which is impenetrable to the minds of others. This is a very advanced Occlumency skill, which will also serve to protect you from whatever means the Ministry have of detecting underage magic.” Dumbledore paused a moment while Rick closed his eyes and followed his instruction.
“I see that you are a little sceptical,” said Dumbledore, smiling reassuringly at Rick. “I am quite certain that you have these, and many other powers, besides. I know the witches and wizards of the Light who manifested them, and I know that they have blessed you with them. You will, no doubt, have noted during your ‘perusal’ of ‘Hogwarts, a History’ that it is not possible to Apparate to or Disapparate from Hogwarts – however, I think you may find that it does not apply to you. Godric Gryffindor possessed the ability to Apparate, unharmed, through all magical wards and barriers – I am certain he has bestowed this skill on you.”
“There is one final thing I would like to add: You are not omnipotent – your magic is limited to the powers that were bestowed upon you by the great witches and wizards of the Light. For example, you will be totally incapable of performing Dark Magic. While the nature of your ‘birth’ and your great magical abilities are unusual, to say the least, your life henceforth will be subject to all the usual laws of nature of this world. You are not immortal – and you cannot return to your previous existence. You will age, perhaps raise a family, and eventually die in this world, like other witches and wizards.”
“This is another reason that I would counsel you to keep the circumstances of your ‘birth’, and of the blessings bestowed upon you, a secret from as many people as possible. Since you seem to be familiar with the story of Harry Potter, you will be aware of the unpleasant burden that comes with fame.”
“Assuming we win the coming war – and you survive – you have a long life ahead of you. If the truth about you were known, you would probably find the fame and notoriety, unbearable.”
With that, the Headmaster rose to his feet, and handed Gryffindor’s wand back to Rick, who tucked it into the inside pocket of his Muggle jacket. Dumbledore extended his hand, grasping Rick’s firmly, and said, “Take things slowly, you have a lot to learn. Good luck and goodbye, for now.” Rick smiled at him and Dumbledore noted with satisfaction the look of brave determination on his face, as he disappeared from his office.
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