Chapter 26 ~ Time and Time Again
Rick was beginning to worry. With only a day to go until the Spring Equinox, he had heard nothing about his forthcoming initiation as a Death Eater. With Barty Crouch’s mysterious disappearance from school, there was no one to ask. Finally, a message arrived with Pansy’s silver owl, requesting Rick to visit her that evening. As before, it included her Portkey brooch.
When Rick arrived in Pansy’s apartment, she was not in a good mood. She was pacing back and forth with an ugly scowl on her face, muttering obscenities under her breath. “Blasted Draco!” she railed. “Do you know what that little bastard’s gone and done? He’s got his slimy father to postpone your Death Eater initiation!” she growled.
“What happened?” asked Rick, trying to hide his alarm.
“Well, Daddy got you on the list for the initiation. But, as head of the Secret Security Service and also Commander of the Death Eaters, Lucius Malfoy naturally sees the list and has to approve it. Apparently, when he saw your name on it he asked Draco about you. Draco discovered it was Daddy who pushed your initiation forward, and realised it had been at my request.”
“Does Draco suspect there’s something going on between us?” asked Rick, becoming worried.
“Of course,” said Pansy. “Draco tried to get you removed permanently from the Death Eater candidate list. But since Daddy endorsed you, Lucius Malfoy can’t do that. But he was able to get your initiation postponed until the next ceremony in six months’ time, pending an investigation.”
“Investigation?” asked Rick, trying hard not to betray his growing anxiety.
“As Commander of the Death Eaters, Lucius Malfoy was able to insist that since nothing is known about you, the Secret Security Service needs to investigate your background in New Zealand and check your bloodlines and all that nonsense before you can be initiated. I’m sure it will all be OK; it’s just a delaying tactic by Draco to spite me.”
But Rick knew perfectly well that it would not be OK. If the Secret Security Service investigated him, as it seemed they would, he was dead. What on earth am I going to do now? he asked himself, beginning to panic.
“Draco was so unbearably pleased with himself when he told me. I absolutely loathe and hate him – that gloating, malevolent little bastard!” swore Pansy, stomping her foot in fury. She carried on her tantrum, fuming and swearing for several minutes before finally bringing her anger under control. She was determined not to let Draco ruin her plans. She placed her arms around Rick’s waist, drawing him close, and gave him her most seductive smile. “Rick, darling, I can’t wait another six months ... no one will possibly find out about us. Why should we let that horrible, nasty, mean little prat, spoil our pleasure?”
“Err ... Pansy,” said Rick, nervously, as he extricated himself from Pansy’s embrace. “If Draco already suspects us, there’s no way I’m going to risk it. Draco has the resources of his father’s Secret Security Service at his disposal to spy on us. If he manages to expose us, I’d have Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, plus your father, all after my skin. I’m sorry Pansy, but it’s way too risky.”
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The following day was the Spring Equinox. Just before midday, Pansy and Draco set out from the castle for the Hogwarts gates. They were both dressed in exquisite ceremonial black robes, made of the finest silk. Draco was swaggering, with a smug grin on his face. Pansy was furious at him for blocking Rick’s initiation and was attempting to ignore him, while simultaneously throwing him dirty looks from time to time. When they reached the gates, two large black hawks alighted – one on each gatepost, extending a leg, one to Pansy, the other to Draco. Attached to their legs were Portkeys to take them to the initiation ceremony. The Portkeys were in the shape of coiled-up snakes. They were jet-black, with blood-red eyes – glinting menacingly. Pansy stood in a huff, with her back to Draco waiting impatiently for their Portkeys to be activated. Fortunately, it happened quite quickly.
Pansy and Draco found themselves in a small valley, which formed a natural amphitheatre. The sides were packed with more than a hundred Death Eaters. There were also members of the upper castes of the Magistocracy, who had been invited to witness the initiation of Pansy and Draco.
On one side of the valley was a specially raised platform. Seated upon it was the Minister of Magic, Cecil Parkinson and his entourage, which included his wife, and other members of the Parkinson family. Opposite them on the other side of the valley on another raised platform sat an arrogant and haughty Lucius Malfoy, his wife Narcissa, and their entourage. Most Death Eater initiations were short ceremonies, without large audiences. Usually they were witnessed only by a dozen or so Death Eaters. The Eternal Emperor was not fond of pomp and ceremony. In fact, he did not enjoy public appearances at all. But today, the heirs of the two leading families of the Magistocracy were to be inducted as his servants, so a little show to reinforce the primacy of Magistocracy in the scheme of things was unavoidable.
Pansy and Draco found themselves standing at the lower end of the valley with an escort guard of fifteen Death Eaters, all standing stiffly to attention behind them. Opposite them at the head of the valley was an elaborate stage, with a series of steps rising up to an enormous black throne. Fanned out on either side of the empty throne, were a dozen Death Eaters, standing motionless, like statues. Pansy surreptitiously took out her wand and pointed it at her arm where the Dark Mark would be burnt. She muttered a numbing charm. “What’s the matter, Parkinson?” sneered Draco. “Afraid of a little pain?”
“You know very well that it’s not a little pain, it’s utterly excruciating,” said Pansy, glaring hatefully at Draco. “I know Death Eaters are supposed to enjoy this kind of torture and are not allowed to block the pain – but Daddy got special dispensation for me to use a numbing charm. He had to – because I told him it was the only way I was going to be getting the Dark Mark. It’s bad enough that I’ll have that unsightly thing disfiguring my beautiful arm!”
“Shut up, Pansy!” spat Draco. “You’re such a wimpy little Daddy’s girl. Just wait till we’re married! I’ll teach you the meaning of obedience!” he said, smirking threateningly. “You won’t be able to wrap me around your little finger – like you do with your precious Daddy Dear!”
Pansy glared hatefully at Draco, and was about to tell him exactly what she thought of him, when a terrible wailing sound suddenly echoed through the valley. A loud explosion shook the ground, and an enormous Dark Mark appeared in the sky, casting a shadow over the small valley. The Dark Lord materialised upon his throne. The Death Eater on his right, who appeared to be the master of ceremonies, cried out in an amplified voice, “Fall to your knees, ye faithful servants of the Immortal One – our great and fearsome Eternal Emperor!” Everyone obediently went down on their knees and lowered their heads. For over a minute, they stayed motionless, kneeling in submission. The Eternal Emperor surveyed them all, grovelling before him, with a cruel, self-satisfied smile.
Finally, the Death Eater to the right of the throne cried out “Rise up, faithful servants of the Immortal One!” Everyone quickly resumed their seats. “Candidates, approach the throne!” ordered the Death Eater.
Pansy held out her arm regally to Draco, muttering to him under her breath, “Try to carry this off with some semblance of style and dignity, you little prat – we’re supposed to be putting on a show for the Magistocracy, you know ... the noble first family in waiting and all of that.” Draco didn’t reply. He dutifully took Pansy’s arm, assumed the appropriate facial expression of dignified superiority and smug self-importance, and led Pansy along the path that led up the valley to the foot of the stage, followed by their Death Eater escort. When they reached the stage, the master of ceremonies summoned Pansy to come forward.
Pansy obediently ascended the steps to the great throne and stopped, as directed, several feet in front of it. “Pansy Parkinson,” said the cold emotionless voice of the Eternal Emperor. “Approach!” Pansy stepped forward, keeping her eyes lowered subserviently. “Prostrate yourself before me; swear your undying loyalty to me; and beg to receive my initiation, to become my faithful servant,” said the haughty imperial voice of the Eternal Emperor.
Pansy obediently prostrated herself as ordered, lying down flat on her front. She raised her head up towards the Eternal Emperor, and faultlessly repeated the ritual incantation, swearing life-long loyalty to the Eternal Emperor and begging him to make her one of his own elect Death Eaters.
“Rise!” commanded the Eternal Emperor, coldly. The master of ceremonies led Pansy to stand directly in front of the throne. He took her left wrist in a firm grip and pushing up the sleeve of her robe, extended her arm towards his master. The Eternal Emperor dispassionately touched the tip of his wand to the flesh of Pansy’s arm and exclaimed in an imperious voice, “Te Connecto Ego!” Despite the numbing charm, it hurt, and the smell of her own burning flesh disgusted Pansy’s. It took all of her breeding not to flinch and run. She followed the ritual formula of going down on her knees and kissing the hem of the Eternal Emperor’s robe. Then she thanked him for the great honour he had bestowed upon her. Finally, Pansy again swore fealty to him, before rising, and keeping her head bowed low, descended the steps backwards. It was forbidden to turn one’s back upon the Eternal Emperor.
When she reached the bottom of the steps, the master of ceremonies called Draco to come forward.
Draco ascended the steps to the great throne with dignity, stopping several feet away from it, as directed. “Draco Malfoy,” said the cold, harsh voice of the Eternal Emperor. “Approach!” Draco stepped forward. “Prostrate yourself before me; swear your undying loyalty to me; and beg to receive my initiation, to become my obedient servant,” said the Eternal Emperor, arrogantly. There was an impatient note in his voice which indicated that he was becoming irritated with this ceremony and fed up with the pomp and self-importance of the Magistocracy.
A small gasp escaped the lips of some of the audience, because Draco did not prostrate himself as ordered. Instead, he stood staring at the Eternal Emperor. “No, I don’t think I will!” he said in a loud, bold voice. No one moved. Everyone was utterly stunned.
“Why should I, the heir of one or the Noblest Families, from the highest Pureblood caste of the Magistocracy prostrate myself before a Half-Blood like you?” he yelled. The stunned silence continued. The audience sat transfixed, holding their collective breath.
“How dare you speak such libellous treason?” demanded the Emperor, in a fearsome fury.
“But it’s not libel – it’s perfectly true,” retorted Draco, confidently. “Your father, Tom Riddle, was a Mudblood – you are the son of a Mudblood – your blood is filth. Members of the Magistocracy – purest of the Purebloods – why do you bow down to this filth? Why do to you take orders from one with polluted blood, who should have been exterminated along with the rest of his filthy kind, long ago?”
The Eternal Emperor seemed to be having a fit, as he sat silent, his face red with fury. Everyone sat frozen, shocked into silence by Draco’s outrageous speech.
“Father! Minister of Magic Parkinson! All of you of that generation, why do you play this absurd charade?” demanded Draco. “Have you all been memory-charmed or are you all too afraid to speak the truth? Surely you know that this person is no God! This is Tom Riddle, the Half-Blood, who was a student at Hogwarts many years ago. This is Tom Riddle, the Half-Blood, who changed his name to Lord Voldemort and waged a war against the Mudbloods, the Mixed-bloods, and those deluded Purebloods who defended them. Yes, it’s true he did us Purebloods a great favour – he got rid of the Mudbloods and Mixed-bloods who were polluting the wizarding world – but he didn’t quite finish the job! Today, I ask you all to rise up with me and finish it! Let us rid our world of this last piece of pollution ... this last bit of filth!”
Finally the Death Eaters on the stage recovered from their shock and moved towards Draco. “Halt!” ordered the Eternal Emperor, rising to his feet in an apoplectic fury. He pointed his wand at Draco and yelled, “Avada Kedavra!”
It was hard to tell what happened next. There was a flash of green and then a ball of fire and light engulfed the throne and Draco. It began spreading outwards, forming a whirlwind, which twisted around itself for a few moments, before ascending into the sky and disappearing. As it began to dissipate, the stunned Death Eaters and members of the audience were able, once more, to see the throne. It was empty. There was no sign of the Eternal Emperor – or of Draco Malfoy.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The first thing Rick did when he arrived at Godric’s Hollow was morph back into his own form and transfigure Draco’s elegant ceremonial robes into his old Gryffindor uniform, which he hoped desperately would turn out to be the appropriate attire for where he would eventually end up. Rick was shaking nervously, from his encounter with Voldemort. The whole thing had been utterly nerve-wracking, from beginning to end.
It started when he Apparated, invisibly, to Draco’s apartment, shortly before Draco was due to start out for the Hogwarts gates with Pansy, to await the arrival of the Portkeys. Rick found out about the arrangements for getting to the initiation ceremony by scanning Pansy’s mind the previous evening. He had stunned Draco, and then morphed himself to look exactly like him. Having a model right in front of him had been very helpful. He then dressed himself in Draco’s elegant ceremonial robes, before going to meet Pansy at the entrance to their chambers.
Rick was trembling inside the whole time, afraid he wouldn’t be able to carry off the pretence of being Draco. But, he had to try it – there was no other way to get close enough to Voldemort to get his wand back – before he was exposed. Pansy was so angry with him – well Draco – that she hardly looked at him or paid him any attention. Rick was ready to memory-charm her, if necessary, but fortunately, his impersonation of Draco was good enough not to rouse her suspicion.
Rick’s plan required Voldemort to cast the Killing Curse on him. He knew that nothing else would work. With Slytherin’s cloak protecting Voldemort, Rick wouldn’t be able to touch him with any spells at all. In this reality, the cloak had not been damaged – yet. Nothing would penetrate it, not even a Summoning Charm on his wand. Before beginning his tirade against Voldemort, Rick had put up shields to deflect both curses and physical attacks – in case any of the Death Eater guard tried to attack him. But he was careful not to deploy his Reflecting Shield until the last moment, just as Voldemort was about to curse him.
Rick had considered Squibbing everyone present – bar Voldemort, whom he knew he couldn’t Squib on account of the cloak. But in the end he decided against it. He didn’t want Voldemort to suspect he was anyone other than Draco Malfoy, who represented no serious threat to him whatsoever. If Voldemort discovered that everyone had been Squibbed and that Draco was not, in fact, Draco, but some other wizard with great – and unknown – powers, he could have simply Apparated or Portkeyed away. That was Rick’s greatest worry. He had to leave Voldemort feeling physically and magically secure – yet at the same time infuriate him to the point that he would want to personally kill ‘Draco’ – rather than simply ordering one of his Death Eaters to do it.
It had worked out pretty much to plan. His Reflecting Shield had sent Voldemort’s Killing Curse back on him. Hidden by the resultant pyrotechnics, Rick had grabbed Voldemort’s wand and Apparated directly to Godric’s Hollow, which was once more in ruins and overgrown with weeds as it had been when he last left it. Rick reverently inspected the wand. There was no doubt; it was his wand – well Godric Gryffindor’s wand, really.
Rick made himself invisible, then held up the wand, twisting it slightly as he closed his eyes and concentrated on going back in time. He decided to go back to just a few minutes before Voldemort cast the Killing Curse on Harry. He definitely didn’t want to witness the tragic death of James and Lily Potter all over again – once was more than enough.
Rick paid careful attention to the process. He remembered Hermione’s theory that he was, in fact, going into some timeless dimension, and he wanted to see how that stacked up with his experience. It felt like he had stepped out of the present time and place to somewhere that was no-where and no-place. The analogy with stepping out of a compartment on the Hogwarts Express into the corridor, and then entering another compartment, was a good one.
The really interesting thing he discovered on this occasion was that if he wanted, he could stay in the corridor. He didn’t have to enter another compartment. In Hermione’s terminology, he was hanging out in the timeless dimension. It was a very strange dimension, because all he could perceive was his own mind. There were no other sensations whatsoever. He had no sense of having a body, there were no sounds, and there was nothing to see. It was just his mind, in a void. Interesting, thought Rick, but I’ve got a job to do – a very important job – it’s time to go!
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The first thing Rick saw was Harry, crying over the form of his dead mother. Voldemort was speaking to Harry, saying exactly the same words that Rick remembered from the first time he had been here.
Rick decided to Disapparate without immediately Apparating, as he had done the first time he travelled back to this night. He didn’t want Voldemort to trip over him or to hear him. Then he was struck by a very strange thought. I must be here already, from the first time I travelled back in time to this night. How weird! I have to make sure that not only Voldemort doesn’t notice me, I also have to make sure that ‘I’ – from the first time – don’t notice me. But since I’m invisible and without a physical body, there’s no chance of that, Rick mused.
The only way the ‘me’ from the first time, could know I am here is by projecting a magical map. But, ‘I’ didn’t, so I suppose that means ‘I’ won’t, thought Rick, bewildered, but fascinated, by the ramifications of being here twice. Anyway, I’m not sure a magical map would even show me in this bodiless state. I know – I’ll try it!
Rick projected a magical map in his mind. Besides the names of Harry Potter and Tom Riddle, he saw his own name – twice. In fact he jumped a bit to his left because he was almost standing on ‘himself’. Wow! I’m glad I didn’t think of projecting a magical map the first time I was here! I would have seen myself on it twice and been even more confused than I was already about what was going on ... and what I was supposed to be doing, thought Rick, shaking his head.
His thoughts were interrupted by Voldemort, who was talking to a distraught baby Harry. “Now, according to Pettigrew, she’s used some blood magic on you, so perhaps I had better be careful. She wanted me to kill her – that much is obvious. Probably, she needed me to kill her – to activate the protection. But what does it do, I wonder? Pettigrew said that I would not be able to touch you; but there’s no need to touch you to kill you with a curse my little enemy.”
“I know – I’ll try putting my mark on you, first. If I can do that, then I’ll certainly be able to kill you.” Harry was looking up at Voldemort, as he spoke to him. Voldemort pointed his wand at Harry’s forehead and said “Signum Ego Concateno”.
Everything happened exactly like the first time. Harry recoiled, writhing on the ground and screaming in agony from the pain. A bleeding zigzag lightening-bolt shaped wound appeared on Harry’s forehead. Voldemort’s thin lips curled into a cruel, self-satisfied smile as he prepared to cast the Killing Curse.
With a sense of great destiny, Rick cast his Reflecting Shield around baby Harry.
Moments later Voldemort pointed his wand at the baby, lying curled up in the foetal position and crying in pain – his little hands clutching at his forehead. “Avada Kedavra!” cried Voldemort victoriously. But the evil grin changed to an expression of horror and disbelief as his curse rebounded from baby Harry and came rushing back towards him. Voldemort instinctively tried to turn, but there was no time to dodge the curse. Rick saw the rebounding green light strike Voldemort on the side of the chest, four inches beneath his right armpit.
The effect of the rebounding curse was almost identical to the one that Rick had just witnessed in the other reality, when Voldemort had tried to kill him – thinking he was Draco Malfoy. Voldemort was engulfed in a ball of fire. Then a strange white light began spreading from where he had stood. It formed itself into a whirlwind, which twisted around for a few moments, before disappearing into the sky.
Rick breathed a huge sigh of relief – Finally, I got it right – I hope! Baby Harry had been distracted from the painful wound on his forehead by Voldemort’s impressive pyrotechnic display as he departed his mortal body for a long and unhappy exile from corporeal existence. Poor little Harry looked terribly confused and unhappy, apart from being in physical pain from the scar. Rick desperately wanted to pick him up and comfort him and tell him that everything was going work out alright – eventually. Of course he still had ten unloved and unhappy years of childhood to endure with the Dursleys, until his eleventh birthday, when he would finally discover the truth about who and what he really was – well, part of it, at least, thought Rick sadly.
No, I have to go, Rick told himself. I’ve done what I had to do. I haven’t been thrown back to the future this time; I’ve still got my wand – so everything should be just the way it was when I left it, he thought, apprehensively. Goodbye little Harry, Hagrid should be here before long to take care of you. See you soon ... I hope!
Rick twisted his wand and travelled back to his own time. He didn’t linger along the way to observe the process of Time Travel, he was anxious to get back – and, hopefully, find the world just the way he’d left it. Godric’s Hollow was again in ruins and overgrown with weeds. It looked just the way he remembered it, from the first time he had Apparated here from Hogwarts. So far, so good, thought Rick, before taking a deep breath and Apparating to the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Rick looked around, and then breathed an enormous sigh of relief as he made himself visible. Professor Dumbledore, Harry, and Hermione were all there, looking exactly the same as they had when he’d left them. He had to fight hard to resist the urge to throw his arms around Hermione and hug her. He was so happy to see her, he just grinned at her stupidly. They all looked at him expectantly. To them, it was no more than a minute since he had gone.
“You have no idea how happy I am to find you all here like this,” he said, letting out another huge sigh. “It feels like I’ve been gone for so long – well, it has been about five weeks for me,” he said, by way of explanation.
“But how is that possible, Mr. Godfry?” asked Dumbledore gravely, rising from his seat. “I do hope you heeded my very clear warnings, and changed nothing.”
“But I had to Professor,” said Rick imploringly. “I didn’t change anything the first time – only the second time. I had to – it was the only way to put things back the way they were ... supposed to be – and to get back to this reality.”
“The second time?” asked Dumbledore severely. “What on earth have you done, Mr. Godfry? Please sit down, and explain what happened – everything!” said Dumbledore, resuming his seat and fixing his eyes piercingly upon Rick.
Rick explained what happened the first time he went back to Godric’s Hollow – on that fateful Halloween night. He related the conversation between Harry’s parents, which revealed that they had not found a way of protecting their baby from Voldemort. When Rick got to the point where Voldemort arrived, Harry became visibly tense. Rick tried to stick to the bare facts, and avoid describing the intense emotions he had witnessed – and experienced himself – as Voldemort first killed Harry’s father and then his mother. When Rick mentioned that Voldemort had deliberately put the mark on Harry, Dumbledore interrupted him.
“What? Are you saying that Voldemort put the mark on Harry deliberately, as a test?” asked Dumbledore, intrigued.
“Yes sir, exactly,” replied Rick. “Pettigrew warned Voldemort that Harry’s mother had used some blood magic to protect him. Voldemort wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t stop him from cursing Harry.”
“Yes,” mused the Headmaster, with a gleam in his eye, “that is a far more plausible explanation than the scar mysteriously appearing on Harry as a result of Voldemort’s Killing Curse. I wonder why that possibility never occurred to me before ... please continue.”
Harry was becoming increasingly tenser as Rick drew closer, in his account, to the fateful moment when Voldemort cast the Killing Curse upon him. When he explained how he had been mysteriously thrown back to the present time just as Voldemort cried out the lethal words, the Headmaster interrupted again. “So, you didn’t actually see where Voldemort was struck by the rebounding curse?”
“No, not the first —” began Rick.
But he was cut off by the Headmaster. “You say you were thrown back to the present. That can mean only one thing: Something changed! It was the change that threw you back to the present. And yet, we are all sitting here, fifteen years later and nothing is different – how very curious....”
“Professor,” said Rick sighing, “everything changed! I Apparated back to this office, and none of you were here. Professor Snape was here – or, should I say, Headmaster Snape.”
There was a collective gasp from the Headmaster, Harry, and Hermione. Before they could ask him any further questions, Rick quickly began to describe his conversation with Headmaster Snape. They sat entranced for over an hour as he described the whole horrible, inhumane world he had lived in for the past five weeks, and how, disguised as Draco Malfoy, he had finally managed to get his wand back from Voldemort and return to Godric’s Hollow to cast the Reflecting Shield.
When he had finished, the three of them sat completely stunned, attempting to assimilate and understand the meaning of what had happened to Rick.
Finally, Dumbledore snapped his fingers and a spread of sandwiches and pastries appeared on a low table before them, along with large glasses of pumpkin juice. “I think we have missed lunch,” he said, smiling. “Perhaps we should all indulge in some refreshments while we chew over Mr. Godfry’s amazing story ... tuck in!”
Hermione, gulped down a couple of sandwiches, but she couldn’t restrain herself any longer. “Professor, do you think Rick was somehow, always there on that night? I mean, that it was always him, who protected Harry with his Reflecting Shield?”
“Indubitably, without a doubt, Miss Granger,” said the Headmaster smiling at her calmly, his blue eyes twinkling. “In fact, I think you – or at least the Hermione Granger in the other reality, explained it rather well. Can you please repeat exactly what she said to you, Mr. Godfry?”
Rick quickly swallowed his sandwich, before speaking. “She said, ‘Everything will happen the way it was supposed to, in your reality. You’ll see where the curse hits this evil wizard – just like you planned – and when you return to your own time – everything will be the way it was when you left it. Nothing will have changed. Not only will it be true that you had always gone back to that night and saved Harry, but it will be true that you went back twice, and that in between you lived a while in this other terrible reality.’”
“I couldn’t have put it better myself,” said Dumbledore smiling at Hermione. “Yes, it was Rick who saved Harry – it always was. Of course, we didn’t know back then, that in fifteen years’ time the spirits of the great witches and wizards of the Light would send us Rick Godfry to help fight Voldemort – and that he would go back in time to save Harry. We always thought it was his mother’s protection that had saved him.”
“But ... that’s simply mind-boggling,” said Hermione, shaking her head in disbelief. “They sent Rick to a world that would not be able to exist unless he appeared in it, and then went back fifteen years to save Harry. How can that be possible?” she asked, perplexed.
“The trick, my dear,” explained the Headmaster, “is not to think of time as linear. Think of it as a road that you are walking along. Your experience is only of that part of the road you have walked along, and of those parts even further back, that others have walked upon and spoken of, or written about. Although no one knows anything about the road ahead, it already exists. Its nature is wholly determined by the past – the part of the road that is known. Time Magic allows one to move instantly between different points along the road.”
“But that still doesn’t explain how the spirits of the great witches and wizards of the Light could send Rick to a reality that did not exist – that could not exist until he had appeared in it and had gone back and done something fifteen years in the past,” argued Hermione.
“Ah,” said Professor Dumbledore, “but the spirits who sent Mr. Godfry are not in time as we mortals are. To them, Time – past, present and future – is all happening at once. They perceive the entire road, if you will. Their decision and action in sending Mr. Godfry, changed the road. But, it was independent of time. It did not happen in 1996 any more than in 1981.
“Now I understand why the spirit of Godric Gryffindor asked me to give his wand to Mr. Godfry. It was with the express intention that he should use it to go back in time and save Harry from Voldemort’s Killing Curse. Saving Harry and averting the Nightmare Reality, was, I believe, one of the primary reasons for which Mr. Godfry was sent to our world.
“The very act of sending him, ensured that this reality, rather than the Nightmare Reality, would come to pass. Hence, it was possible to send him into this reality – even though its very existence depended upon him appearing in it – and then going back in time to make it possible.” Dumbledore smiled delightedly at the wonder of it all. For a minute or two no one spoke, as they tried to wrap their minds around what he had said.
Finally, Harry broke the silence. “So, despite your warnings to Rick, to change nothing, he was supposed to change the past. Should he have cast the Reflecting Shield the first time?”
“No!” gasped Hermione. “Absolutely not! Rick didn’t change the past, he just did exactly what he had always done – it just took him a while to find out what it was. And he definitely shouldn’t have cast the Reflecting Shield the first time!”
“Precisely!” agreed Dumbledore, nodding his head approvingly at Hermione. “Mr. Godfry discovered that he had to protect Harry with a Reflecting Shield for this reality to occur. So, casting the shield was not changing the past – it was enacting it, exactly as it had to occur. Although your sojourn in the Nightmare Reality was most unpleasant,” he continued, looking at Rick, “it has, in fact, provided us with crucial information. Firstly, we have learned that Voldemort has a secret spy in our midst – Madame Hooch. Secondly, we have discovered that Harry cannot kill Voldemort.”
“What do you mean?” demanded Harry. “If I can’t kill Voldemort, because of this scar,” he said, pointing to his forehead, “that means Voldemort will kill me. One of us has to kill the other – that’s what the Prophecy says,” said Harry, sounding worried and confused.
“Ah, but the Prophecy is only that – a prophecy,” said Dumbledore. “It is not an immutable truth – which must occur, no matter what. Prophecies do not always prove to be correct.”
“But wait,” said Harry. “According to what Sna — err ... the Headmaster in the Nightmare Reality told Rick, this scar won’t actually stop me killing Voldemort – it just means that if I do, then I’ll die as well. If it’s the only way to rid the world of that monster, then I’ll just have to do it. If I don’t kill him, he’ll kill me, so I’m dead – no matter what I do. If I’m going to die anyway, then I’m going to do my damnedest to take him with me....” said Harry with fatalistic determination.
“No, Harry! That’s utter nonsense!” said Hermione passionately. “You’re mixing everything up! The Prophecy could be completely wrong – and considering who gave it – it probably is! You may not be the one who kills Voldemort. And it may not be true that neither of you can survive while the other lives. In fact you have both been alive for sixteen years since the Prophecy was given – so how can it be correct?”
“Yeah, mate,” said Rick. “Just because Voldemort believes it, and is obsessed with it, doesn’t mean it’s true.”
“Exactly!” said Hermione. “But, Harry, what Professor Snape told Rick about your scar almost certainly is true – if you kill Voldemort, you’ll die. I know you’ve come to believe that it’s you who has to kill him; but apart from Trelawney’s ridiculous Prophecy, who says it has to be you? Please, Harry, don’t try to be the hero – let someone else get rid of Voldemort!” Turning to Professor Dumbledore, she continued. “Professor, it seems as though Voldemort – in this reality – is not aware of that particular side-effect of Harry’s scar.”
“Yes, Miss Granger,” said the Headmaster, staring off into the distance, thinking it over. “If Voldemort knew, he would certainly have let Harry – and everyone else – know. He would be crowing over his coup. This will, of course, have to remain a secret among the four of us.”
“Umm, Professor Dumbledore,” said Harry slowly. He was obviously still thinking over what he wanted to say. “This morning, when Voldemort pulled Rick and me into the future and we were standing right in front him, my scar didn’t hurt at all. I couldn’t even feel it. It really surprised me, because every other time I’ve been anywhere near him, it’s been unbearable. Do you think it might have something to do with Time Travel?”
“Yes, of course!” exclaimed Hermione, jumping in before the Headmaster could speak. “Your scar connects you to the Voldemort in this time and this reality. That future Voldemort would have a connection to the Harry of his time, but not with you. That must be the reason, Professor,” said Hermione turning to the Headmaster.
“Yes, most probably,” agreed the Headmaster. “Although, it is hard to be certain – the scar which links Harry to Voldemort is quite unique. There are no precedents to go by.”
“So,” said Harry, “if I went back just a little way in time – perhaps just fifteen or twenty minutes – I might be able to kill Voldemort without —”
“No, Harry.” said Dumbledore calmly, but forcefully. “That would be most foolhardy – for two reasons. Firstly, we do not know for certain that it would render you immune from that particular property of your scar. You were not only in a different time this morning, you were also in, what I hope will transpire to be, a different reality. You might well die as a result of killing Voldemort. Secondly, you would be making a fundamental change to the past – the consequences of which could be disastrous.”
“But, you said yourself, that if one goes back no more than an hour or two, and acts cautiously, it’s possible to make a change, without causing any serious side-effects,” protested Harry.
“Harry,” said Dumbledore looking at him sternly. “It is not just a matter of the length of time one goes back. Voldemort’s death – whenever it should occur – will be a pivotal event in the history of the wizarding world. It is not some minor peripheral event – such as when you and Miss Granger saved Sirius’ and Buckbeak’s lives. Too many chains of cause and effect in our world run through that critical point – Voldemort’s death. To precipitate it by travelling back to the past, even a short way, would unquestionably, be courting calamity.”
“In any case, Harry,” said Hermione, “our priority, from what you and Rick learned this morning from Voldemort, is to find a way of dealing with the Dementors. If we can’t solve that problem then ... well, you saw and heard yourself, what will happen....”
Everyone was silent for a minute or two as they focussed on the spectre of the destruction of Hogwarts.
“We probably have a little time up our sleeves,” said Dumbledore, finally. “My guess is that Death Eaters with children at Hogwarts will request that they be allowed to come home for the Easter holidays, and then prevent their subsequent return to Hogwarts at the commencement of the final school term. The attack will, I believe, come immediately after the Easter holidays, as the absence of the Death Eaters’ children will be a clear indication that an assault is imminent. Voldemort will want to strike quickly, before we have time to take defensive measures.”
“Umm, Professor Dumbledore, why do wizards celebrate Easter?” asked Harry, curiously. “I know it’s nothing to do with what we’ve been talking about, but it’s always puzzled me. I mean, wizards aren’t Christians, are they?”
“That’s a very good question, Harry,” answered the Headmaster, smiling. “Witches and wizards do not believe in the bible – or the God of Christianity as revealed by it. And, of course, only a minority of magical folk live in Christian countries, anyway. However, almost all magical folk do believe in a unifying energy or intelligence of some kind in the universe. I like to think of it as the same thing that Christians call God, Moslems call Allah, Hindus call Brahma, and so on. Every religion has its own name for It, and its own particular ideas regarding its nature.
“Probably, none of them are completely correct in how they describe It – nor, for that matter, completely incorrect. Everyone, I believe, both magical and non-magical folk alike, is able to experience It – this cosmic presence – to a greater or lesser degree. However, because it cannot be directly perceived, it is depicted in so many different ways by the various religions of the world.
“It never ceases to amaze me that so many Muggles born in Christian countries believe unquestioningly in Jesus and the God they have been taught about; while those born in Muslim countries are equally unquestioning in their belief in the Prophet Mohammed and Allah. It never seems to occur to them, that if they were born in a country of another faith, they would believe in it just as fervently. If only they didn’t have to fight for their sectarian beliefs ... the world would be a far happier place.”
“But, then why does the Wizarding world celebrate Easter, Professor, if they don’t believe in the bible?” asked Hermione, puzzled, as she attempted to steer the Headmaster back to the original question. The sectarian religious beliefs of Muggles and their disastrous consequences in history, was a topic of particular fascination for him.
“Because Jesus, like Moses, Mohammed, Zoroaster, the Buddha, and many others, who are revered as great prophets, saints, and the like, by the world’s religions, is considered by the wizarding world, to have been a great wizard,” explained Dumbledore.
“Of course!” exclaimed Hermione, as the penny dropped. “All the miracles he performed were magic! Walking on water; the loaves and the fishes; healing the sick. My goodness! Perhaps it was Jesus who blessed me with healing powers!”
“That is indeed very likely, Miss Granger,” said Dumbledore smiling. “Wizards consider Jesus to be the greatest Healer in history. His crucifixion is viewed as akin to witch-burning. The Muggles were afraid of his magical powers and attempted to kill him. But of course, being a very powerful wizard, he survived both crucifixion and entombment, giving rise to the Christian belief that he died and then rose from the dead. What the wizarding world celebrates at Easter is that Jesus did not, in fact, die. There are, of course, many stories from various parts of the world, where Jesus was reported to have lived at various times after his crucifixion – including England. It can be assumed that he lived a very long, happy ... and magical life.”
“Speaking of Easter ... I would request the three of you to remain at Hogwarts over the Easter holiday this year. Until then,” said the Headmaster, looking first at Rick and then Hermione, “please focus your minds on how we might deal with the Dementors. I, too, shall be researching the subject. Harry, I would like you to continue working hard on your Animagus transformation – it remains our plan of last resort, to deny Voldemort that which he desires above all else – your death,” he said gravely. Then, rising from his chair, he added, “Now, if you would please excuse me, I need to have a little chat with our ex-Flying Mistress, Madame Hooch.”
As Harry, Hermione, and Rick rose to leave, Harry asked, “Who will referee tomorrow’s Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, Professor?”
“Oh, dear,” said Dumbledore. “I believe I shall also have to have a chat with Professor McGonagall. She was a very fine Chaser in her day, you know, renowned for her speed and agility. Now, what was it, they used to call her on the Quidditch pitch?” he asked himself, stroking his bearded chin, as he searched his memory. “Oh, yes, now I remember – Nimble Minnie ... although I would not suggest that you address her as such,” he added, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
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Coming up: Chapter 27 ~ Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw
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