Training and Confrontations


Story Summary:
A sprawling tale set in many places and dimensions, as Harry finds himself, finds his abilities grow, and trains for that final confrontation with Voldemort. A H/L/Hr tale, with N/G, R/T, and a paternal Ron.

Chapter 52

Chapter Summary:
A sprawling tale set in many places and dimensions, as Harry finds himself, finds his abilities growing, and trains for that final confrontation with Tom Riddle. A H/L/Hr tale, with N/G and Ron/Tracy. Part VI (Chapters 51-53) shows that dealing with Voldemort/Riddle creates more problems, not less.
Author's Note:
Events spiral out of control for everyone

Chapter LII

"Tell me the gist of your tale before you leave that circle, Ninety-nine," the Dragon wizard known now as Forty-five commanded. Seeing Harry hesitate, he added, "Start by telling me exactly what secret society is after you." He feared he knew the answer.

"Have you ever heard of a group on our world who call themselves 'the Lords of Magic'?" Harry asked.

It was clear Forty-five had, and that he was not pleased to hear of them again. "Yes." This was not good. "How is it you have? And why are they after you?" He paused, looked thoughtful, and then said, "If they truly are out to get you, it is a miracle that you are here instead of dead."

"They don't want us dead, they want us to join them," Harry said bitterly.

"WHAT!" The wizard shook his head, as if to clear it. It did not help at all. He thought some more; it still did not compute in his brain. Finally, the wizard decided Harry must have misspoken. "You mean they want you to join them, Ninety-nine."

"No, sir. They want all of us to join their group." Harry then briefly told the Dragon the whole tale of what had happened since Harry, Luna, and Hermione had last returned from this world. The Dragon seemed to become more and more upset over the seven minutes it took to tell the precis. When Harry was finished, he sighed deeply and said, "You are all indeed welcome here for the moment. Are any of you injured, or in need of anything?"

"Err . . . toilet?" Ron muttered.

"Right, come along then."

"Sorry," Ron said meekly, "but we left in rather a hurry."

"I understand," Forty-five said sympathetically. "I will take you to a place of rest. Ninety-nine will then explain things in greater detail to the members of our Council who are currently present."

The group left the circle. After a few steps, another Dragon came up to the smaller group and led them away, while Forty-five led Harry off. The new Dragon did not introduce himself, but led them to a small cabin.

"Do you need anything else?" the Dragon asked as Ron sprinted towards the outhouse.

"Err . . . what day is it here?" Ginny asked.

"It is the Twelfth of November." The Dragon bowed and left.

"What do we do now?" Tracy asked.

"We wait."

After an hour, six Dragons showed up at the cabin to speak with Harry's friends. They took each teen aside and quizzed them separately, looking for every detail of their encounter with the Lords of Magic, and their opinions and feelings about it all.

"Can't you tell us anything?" Hermione asked for the third time, this time as the Dragons prepared to leave.

Five of the Dragons looked at the one who had been questioning Luna. He considered, and said, "We of course have long known of these so-called Lords of Magic. We knew of their goals for your world. We could of course never approve of those goals, but felt we had no reason to move beyond that generalized disapproval. After all, our ancestors left your world many millenia ago. It is no longer our world. However, we did not know they were doing anything beyond taking advantage of what seemed to us to be the recurring cycle of Dark Wizards in your world. Now it seems as if they are to some degree creating those Dark Wizards. This may call for more than mere disapproval on our parts."

"Why?" Ginny asked.

"They are certainly throwing the balance of magic off in your world to some degree, and that in turn might affect ours, and the other worlds."

"So, you might help us, in some way?" Hermione asked.

"For us to make such a decision, we needed all possible information and view points. We now have some of that information, thanks to you. It is not that we distrust your friend, for he is at heart one of us." Hermione and Tracy had both voiced that concern. "We thank you for answering our questions, and we ask for patience as we consider our options."

"Just one more thing," Hermione said. "Titus Sergius said that he had spent a great deal of time in this world. Do you know him?"

"We know the wizard you know as Titus Sergius very well," the Dragon said. "We believe, that is we hope, he has been unaware of how deep and dangerous a game these Lords of Magic have been playing with the fate of your world."

He looked at the others, and another Dragon took up the monologue. "There are nine connected worlds," he said. "Dark magic and Light magic canceled each other out on one world. Magic barely exists there, save on those rare occasions when people from one of the other worlds visit. Life itself seems to be slowly dying there."

"Dark magic triumphed on the second world, and it is now cut off from the other seven. The point is, Light magic also tried to play the same game of dominance on both those worlds as Dark magic always does. The Lords of Magic may, as we have always believed, be Light as heart, but they may yet serve the Darkness through error."

"We thank you for your help," the first Dragon intoned, and they left the teens.

"My goodness," Luna said. "Things are much more complicated than we ever thought."

"Do you think the Dragons can really take on the Lords of Magic, or get them to change their minds?" Neville asked.

"Take them on? Perhaps. However, those self-proclaimed Lords of Magic are all many hundreds of years old, some thousands," Tracy pointed out. "Somehow, I don't think flexibility in purpose is an inherent characteristic of the group."

"Eh?" Ron asked.

"These lords are a bunch of stubborn bastards," Ginny translated.

"Ah. I thought that's what you meant, but I wasn't certain," Ron said. "In that case, I totally agree of course."

"You don't seem terribly worried about it," Hermione said, a bit petulantly.

"No, I don't, do I?" Ron said with a trace of smugness.

"Why? Do you want their immortality, and their powers, Ron?" Hermione asked.

Ron gave Hermione a very dirty look. "We all die sometime, but I'm in no hurry," Ron said. "I admit, the idea sounds nice. But I wouldn't want the responsibility of trying to run the world, by myself or as part of any group. No one is that wise. I know I'm not."

"That's one difference between ourselves and the Lords, one that the Lords don't have, and that Voldemort didn't," Tracy said thoughtfully.

"What's that?" Hermione asked.

"Hermione, you are often telling people how to behave, although you haven't been nearly as insistent about it this last year. Still, do YOU think you would want to command an entire world how to act?"

"No," Hermione said. "I think I should be able tell people how I think they should act, but that doesn't mean I'm always right."

"Just usually right," Ron teased.

"More than I'm wrong," Hermione said. "But making people obey my ideas is also wrong. Even if I were always right about how I should act, which I'm not, that doesn't mean I would be always right about how others should act."

"And again, that's different than Riddle was and these Lords are. Riddle wanted full control and they want basic control," Tracy said. "It's fundamentally wrong, on every level."

"True, but why aren't you worried, Ron?" Hermione asked. Luna rolled her eyes, since the answer was obvious to her.

"Because I think one of three things will happen, if all these theories of balance are true," Ron stated with confidence. "One, Harry was not given his powers to stop Voldemort, but to stop these Lords of Magic. Two, Harry will help create a group to destroy the Lords. Three, if Harry doesn't have the power to do one or the other, someone else will be thrown up and will do it. One way or another, these superior bastards will be taken down at some point. They won't win, and I'm not going to make that task harder by joining them."

"Well said, Mister Weasley."

The group turned in shocked surprise. Finally, Hermione said, "Titus Sergius?"

"Yes," the Roman answered, walking into the cabin. "Or, as I am called here, Number One."

"YOU command the Dragons?" Tracy demanded.

The wizard shook his head. "No, not now. I have not for many centuries. However, I founded the Dragons, and still act as their chief advisor."

"I'm confused," Neville said.

"You're not the only one," Hermione said. The others could only agree.

"I had never seen any reason to stand in the way of the Lords of Magic. They could, after all, do without me, should they reach a membership of twenty-six or so. I have to admit, that while I have had my suspicions this past century, I had no evidence that the Lords were truly active in creating Dark Lords. I accepted their explanation of helping Riddle some forty years ago as a one time experiment. I know now I should not have. Which may prove Mister Weasley's point of any small group's incapacity to rule, in a sense. I was fooled, plain and simple."

Sergius shrugged. "Still, I had anticipated the problem. I just did not realize this was upon us already."

"Well, it is," Hermione snapped. "How can these people fool themselves into believing they aren't Dark in result if not in intention? Their interference created Grindelwald, and that created two world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, numerous smaller wars, famines. . . . My God! They helped cause the death of over a hundred million Muggles! Maybe close to two hundred million! And how many hundreds of millions more suffered because of them?"

"Yes," Sergius said sardonically. "Muggles are such an endangered species."

"That is not the point!"

"That is not the point to you," Sergius pointed out. "Yes, they enabled Grindelwald to cause trouble. However, Grindelwald did not have the Austrian archduke shot, nor had he, or the Lords, anything to do with the series of treaties, the arms race, the imperial conflicts, or other causes of the Muggle First World War. His people pushed a bit to keep it going, but the Muggles did at least ninety-five percent of that themselves as well."

"And that makes it right?" Hermione demanded, incredulous.

"Of course not. And of course he was involved in aiding the Soviets in tracking down magical groups that opposed him, and was associated with the Nazi SS as well. He also kept the Chinese and Japanese wizards at each other's throats. My point is, the Lords of Magic see themselves as using the material around them to create what they consider to be a good end result, good Utilitarians that they are. To you, Muggles are civilization, and the Magical world is something outside it. To us, we are the civilization, and the Muggles are outside it. To many in the magical world, including the Lords, the Muggles are something to be controlled, not a focus, and that will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number over a period of millennia."

"Disgusting," Hermione stated with contempt.

"Perhaps," Sergius conceded, "but moral indignation is not terribly helpful."

"It is not when trying to create a particular course of action, but it is when it comes to staying true to one's moral compass," Luna stated. "Few people ever call themselves evil. They either claim to be above mere good and evil, like the Lords, or claim good and evil do not truly exist, like Voldemort. The Lords must be stopped. Harry will stop them."

Sergius smiled ruefully. "Harry is far from powerful enough to stop the Lords."

"Harry does not succeed by acting by himself," Luna stated stepping up to face Sergius almost nose to nose. "Harry succeeds by inspiring others. I am inspired. I will fight the Lords. I will fight to inspire others to fight the Lords. I fight with Harry Potter, the Avenger of Light, a True Sorcerer, and the Restorer of the Balance of Magic!"

"I will fight with Harry," Hermione said, unsure of what Luna meant beyond that.

"I will fight with Harry," Ginny stated.

"I will fight with Harry!" Ron shouted.

"I will fight with Harry," Neville said firmly.

"I will fight with Harry," Tracy joined in.

"The six of you, or seven with Harry, equal perhaps four of the Lords," Sergius told them, "maybe five."

"The four or five most powerful Lords," Ron pointed out. "Which mean we could take most of the other eight."

"And what might Dumbledore do? And what about you?" Luna asked. "Or are you sitting this out? Again." Sergius winced at that.

"And how about your Dragons?" Hermione asked.

"Perhaps, although the Lords will not allow themselves to be caught easily, and any open battle could cause devastation beyond any Muggle-caused atomic doomsday."

"Then we shall just have to come up with a better scenario," Hermione stated.

"First," Sergius warned, "we will have to wait and see if the Dragons are interested in getting involved directly, and then we shall see what must be done."

Luna merely smiled. "Harry Potter has come to the center of events. Any good sorcerer who is not greedy for power, like the Lords, or as stupid as Cornelius Fudge was, will be moved to help."

Back at the Burrow

"So no one has any idea exactly where they are?" Molly asked.

"Not with any certainty," Minerva McGonagall admitted. The pair were sitting at the kitchen table very early in the morning, sipping tea. The pair's attention was attracted by a small noise at the kitchen door.

"Rosie? Rosie, dear, what are you doing up so early? Or late, or whatever?"

Rose Evans merely stared straight ahead. Molly frowned, but McGonagall put a hand on Molly's wrist, to stop her from standing up and going to the girl. McGonagall generally did not think highly of Divination as a branch of magic, and had an even lower opinion of the Professor at Divination at Hogwarts. Still, she was not totally ignorant of the subject.

"I hate to say it," McGonagall said, "but I believe she is about to deliver a Prophecy."

"Oh, my!"

Far to the north, Severus Snape was shocked in his monthly bubble bath when Professor Trelawney entered his well-warded secret pink-and-gray marble bath. He was about to scream at her in anger, when he saw something that terrified him.

Trelawney was about to deliver a Prophecy.

Worse, when she came out of it, he could tell she was going to tumble into the bath with him.

Across the Earth, twenty-five other seers found at least one other magical person to deliver the most important Prophecy ever delivered. One of them was one of the Lords of Magic. Across five other earths, twenty-seven seers on each one delivered the same Prophecy at the same time.

On the sixth, twenty-eight seers delivered the Prophecy, as Luna declaimed it to her friends, Harry, Sergius, and the Dragons.

The greatest sorcerers from across the seven Earths
Will gather to decide the future of all magic.
Three paths are open, and they hope to choose.
One path leads forward to war, and magic itself
Could easily disappear from one or all the Earths.

One path leads into an unknowable future:
Lords must forsake their ambitions,
And the Boy-At-The-Center must choose a fork.
One fork will lead to destruction from the best intentions.

One fork will lead to the same path,
Only it will come from the deceit of others.
Only the straight, narrow path may lead to a future
Where the balance of magic may be kept by all.

The final path leads not forward, but back.
The sorcerers must return to the Nexus,
And the Phoenix must go to his fall-back plan.
The Lords must disband, and the Earths separate.

Only the Roman shall stand guard, knowing how to act.
The Lords shall know they must disband.
Should they not, a Power will arise to end magic
On their Earth, as well as life itself

The balance they upset shall be destroyed.
The Dark Lord shall still be destroyed.
The Boy-At-The-Center may live, if he is clever.
All in command must agree on the path taken,
Else Magic shall disappear on all the Earths.

Rose collapsed, although McGonagall, who had anticipated the event, managed to catch her. "There, there," McGonagall said, awkwardly trying to calm the now-crying girl, "It's alright."

"No," Rose said, "it is NOT alright. The world is in terrible danger. Harry . . . Harry is in terrible danger."

"You mean . . . you mean, you remember the Prophecy you just made?" McGonagall asked in awe. Only the most powerful seers ever remembered any of their prophecies. That Rose could remember her first argued that she would be powerful indeed.

High in Tibet, the thirteen Lords, and Albus Dumbledore, considered what they had just heard.

"Is it possible?" Merlin asked. "Could we really have been serving Darkness in the name of making the world a better place?"

"You know it is more than possible," Dumbledore stated, "unless you can figure out some way a false prophecy could be induced into a very powerful seer."

"There isn't," the seer snapped.

"Does anyone doubt that?" Merlin demanded.

No one said anything.

"Fine, let's set that aside for a moment. We don't want a war which will destroy magic, do we?" Merlin stated, daring anyone to disagree. No one did.

Merlin turned to Dumbledore. "Tell us this backup plan. Then we had best decide on our course of action between the other choices, because some powerful sorcerers will be inviting us to a parle soon."

No one could disagree with that, either.

"Well," Dumbledore said, "it concerns the Half-Blood Prince. . . ."