Chapter Five: Whys and Wherefores
The dark Lady nodded in recognition of the request and reclined in a restful position, as if a chaise lounge was behind Her all this time. She motioned for Sirius to sit as well.
Sirius felt rather silly as he bent his legs, but the empty blackness behind him solidified into the form of an overstuffed chair. He grunted in comfort and crossed his legs, silently wishing that he had known about this trick before now; it was rather tiring to be standing all this while.
The Lady took the time Sirius used to sit down to compose Herself. Sirius noticed that Her expression suddenly became grave, as if She carried quite the burden.
Perhaps she did.
“As I told you before,” said the Lady, “That the power of Magic is in danger of leaving the World. I have not mentioned why. I shall tell you the reason now.
“Long ago, when I gave the gift of Magic to the world, I knew that it was a gift not suited to just everyone. I specifically chose certain individuals that I deemed strong enough to work with this gift. Merlin, as you might have guessed, was the most famous of those. There were others; Margause, Morgan, Solomon, Absalom, Bathsheba—the list is not long, but it is very impressive.
“Those chosen created Tribes, you see, and they passed the gift of Magic to their descendents. Magic flourished for millennia—and then the Wizards began to abuse the gift. They subjugated the non-magicals—muggles they are called now. The Wizards hoarded the Magic and began a terrible habit of inbreeding to keep the Magic to certain families.”
The Lady paused to collect her thoughts, but Sirius hardly noticed. This was a story for the ages, and he would be the only one to hear it. He wanted to commit it to permanent memory, in the hopes that he could pass it along. Perhaps Harry would like to hear it?
“This practice of inbreeding did not harm My gift for a number of centuries,” said the Lady with a sigh. “The original Tribes of Wizards were many and wide-spread, you see. Each progenitor took his or her Tribe to different continents—and different regions of continents. It took a lot of time for the Wizards to kill My gift. And that brings us to this day and time.”
Sirius nodded in understanding. “So, since Lily asked Magic for the gift of a child…?”
“It was taken as a renewal of My original gift of Magic. Yes, that was it—at the start.”
Sirius stood from his seat and began to pace. “But something changed, didn’t it?”
“Yes,” She sighed. “Like all elements in the universe, Magic, and Me specifically, is subject to the laws of said universe. As a star dies eventually, so shall My Gift if it is not renewed. Since all of those who profited from My Gift thought it was theirs forever, they never thought to ask for renewal, because they took for granted that the Magic would always be there. And then, not so long ago, there was a prophesy that told of the defeat of the Darkness that threatens to decimate Magic for all time.”
“Wait,” said Sirius as he immediately halted his pacing. “You mean there was a prophesy about the end of Magic, and that’s why I’m tripping backwards through time?”
The Lady shook her head. “No, not exactly. The prophesy in question detailed the downfall of the Darkness that will bring the Gift of Magic to an end. Every few hundred years, someone from one of the original Tribes will gain enough power Magically, and enough followers with power, to make a convincing threat against Magic. I’ve managed, thus far, to hone a Champion to bring the Dark Wizards down enough for Magic to recover.”
Sirius nodded in recognition. “And we’ve had Grindelwald not long ago and Voldemort now. Is having two Dark Lords that close together really that big of a danger?”
“No,” refuted the Lady, “But Magic was damaged long before Grindelwald took power. There was too much inbreeding to keep the Magic strong. The muggle-borns and half-bloods are only at a fraction of the strength Magically that they should be to keep the Magic alive.
“And the war against Grindelwald saw to the end of many of the original Tribes. The prophesy that was given foretold that My Chosen One—one borne from a boon granted by Magic—would bring about the end of the newest Dark Lord, so that is a great cause of course. But this Chosen One will actually grow to bring about a rebirth of the Tribes. My gift of Magic, once again born into the world through Harry Potter’s Magical Core, will bleed into the world at large once a healthy Harry matures. He won’t need to be sacrificed, Sirius, so get that horrified look off of your face!
“His Magical Core will simply begin to leak pure, wild Magic back into the world once he is strong enough to control his personal Magic. He’ll be incredibly powerful, you see. He is now, even as he is still a child. He’s powerful enough that Voldemort would see him dead because he could not defeat Harry in a fair fight once Harry is fully matured. He’s powerful enough that he could be trained to become the perfect weapon…if a Wizard had it in mind to put forth the effort.”
Sirius retook his ‘seat’ and leaned forward to face Lady Magic. “So,” he said with confidence, “My promise to You, the one to protect and love Harry, was actually a promise to help him defeat Voldemort.”
“No!” shouted the Lady as she rose to her feet. “You silly ass! Do you really think I would be worried about a jumped-up dictator wannabe like Tom Riddle? His main enemy has always been himself and his hatred for his own upbringing!”
“I don’t understand?”
“The true Dark Lord—the one who takes my Gift and twists it to use and manipulate others so he can form his own idea of a ‘perfect society’—is the one who gave Riddle his power in the first place: Albus Too-Many-Names Dumbledore!”
“But,” Sirius sputtered, confusedly, “Albus Dumbledore is a great wizard!”
The Lady gave him such a look! Really, Sirius thought he was getting censured without any words.
He felt himself shrinking into his seat as the Lady towered over him.
“Really, Sirius, the word ‘great’ has many meanings. The Merriam/Webster dictionary says it means:
Large in size
Large in number
Remarkable in magnitude
Full of emotion
Principal or Main
Distant in relation
Markedly superior in character or quality
Marked by enthusiasm
The American Macmillan Dictionary says ‘Great’ is”:
And the Urban Dictionary says it is :A very sarcastic way of saying NOT GOOD.
That last one is My particular favorite.” The Lady frowned at him. “You should not get bogged down in definitions, Sirius. Dumbledore is not good for the world, nor is he good for young Harry.”
Sirius straightened in his seat as he listened to what She was saying. “But Albus Dumbledore had been fighting for the greater good of the magical community since before I was born. I really don’t understand how he can be bad for Magic. He’s the reason that James and Lily went into hiding in the first place, because he wanted to keep them safe.”
The Lady raised a sardonic eyebrow. “I see. And why did he send them into hiding?”
Sirius couldn’t see it, but he was certain she was tapping one foot under her dress.
He thought back to when James and Lily went into hiding. Dumbledore had come to them after an Order meeting, telling them that Lily was not safe because Voldemort was looking for them. But why?
Realization dawned. “Dumbledore said there was a prophesy….”
“Yes, he did say that, didn’t he? And did you hear the prophesy?”
“No, he never let us hear the prophesy. He just said it pertained to Voldemort and the Potters.”
The Lady stood straight and clasped Her hands in front of Her breastbone, as if She was ready to perform in front of a crowd.
Carefully, she began to recite: “THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES…BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE THRICE DEFIED HIM, BORN AS THE SEVENTH DIES..AND THE DARK LORD WILL MARK HIS 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” (excerpt from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, copyright 2003)
“As you can see,” She said when She finished, “It sounds like it could be about Voldemort. And I am certain that Dumbledore has convinced himself that is it about Voldemort. But there is one problem with his theory.”
“I can see several problems with that,” said Sirius. “But, what’s the one you’re thinking of?”
The Lady smirked. “That is not the actual prophesy that was given. It is very close, but it is not correct. Albus Dumbledore had heard that prophesy, told to him by Sybil Trelawny during a job interview, and convinced himself, and your Department of Mysteries, that the prophesy was about Voldemort and should have been labeled TR/HP via Trelawny in your Hall of Prophesies in your Department of Mysteries. However, Sybil Trelawny is many things, but she is not a true Seer. She can merely ‘hear’ the sounds of Magic around her but she does not always fully understand the meaning of those harmonics. What she spouts off is often wrong and frequently the result of too much sherry. The alcohol muddies the voice of Magic to her inner ear. Dumbledore could feel the Magical surge when the actual prophesy was delivered unto the world, but he could not reach it to see what it said. The Surge only indicated that the prophesy would show the end to a magical foe. He advertised a position for a Divination Professor at Hogwarts and managed to snag the grand-daughter of Cassiopeia Trelawny, who was a True Seer in her time. Then he provided wine at his meeting with Sybil—and why would he hold a job interview in a pub of all places anyway—and once she was under the influence, he took her drunken ramblings and made a prophecy out of them.
“The real prophesy was written, via a lightning strike in Cardiff, into the Ley Stone at the base of Cardiff Castle. Before you ask,” she said holding up one hand, “The Ley Stones are a sort of Magical batteries that keep Magic intact. Stonehenge is built from them, but even they are crumbling now.”
Sirius looked doubtful, but asked, “So what’s the real prophesy, then?”
The Lady regained her ‘lecturer position’ and again recited.
“THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH DARKNESS APPROACHES…BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE MANY TIMES DEFIED DEATH, BORN AS THE SEVENTH DIES…AND A DARK LORD WILL ATTEMPT TO CONTROL HIM, BUT HE WILL HAVE POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT…AND AS ONE DIES THE OTHER SHALL BRING FORTH LIFE, FOR NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES…THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARKNESS WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES.”
Sirius was dumbstruck. “That’s very close. That’s almost too close to what Dumbledore heard Trelawny spout off. I can see where there could be confusion.”
“Yes,” said the Lady. “There could be some confusion. But Dumbledore maintains that his prophesy could have meant either Harry Potter or Neville Longbottom, as both boys were born at the end of July. But Alice and Frank Longbottom never had trouble conceiving and carrying a child. Lily had had several miscarriages and two still-births in the three years between her marriage and the birth of her only son—a total of seven lost children. There is a certain significance in that number, do you not agree?”
Sirius nodded in consideration. Albus Dumbledore would not have known about the miscarriages and stillbirths. Hell, Sirius had not known, and he was closer to James than anyone.
Also, Albus Dumbledore was certainly concerned with doing what was right, and fighting against despots like Grindelwald and Voldemort was certainly right. But Dumbledore also had a habit of keeping secrets. Often he would send members of the Order of the Phoenix out on missions with very little information or half-confirmed intelligence.
Often James would complain about not knowing enough to finish a job, but they went out anyway.
And Dumbledore was the one to insist on the Fidelus Charm to hide the Potters for some reason, but he never mentioned why that prophesy was so important. If he thought that prophesy was about Voldemort, and that it meant that Harry was supposed to grow up and defeat Voldemort, then Dumbledore would do anything to make sure that Harry was a perfectly honed weapon, even at the expense of James and Lily Potter.
Sirius frowned as he thought of how Dumbledore kept Harry’s friends from writing to him after the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and that lowered Harry’s morale deeply. And Harry tried to contact him at Grimmauld Place several times, but Dumbledore told him it was best if Harry was left alone during school, so Sirius never replied. If he had, maybe Harry would never have tried to ‘rescue’ him from the Ministry of Magic, and he would never have fallen through the Veil.
Which leads him back to here and now.
“I’m beginning to understand how you could possibly think Dumbledore is a bad guy, but a Dark Lord? I may need more proof.” Sirius shrugged. “Sorry, but I work best with proof.”
“Of course. Do you need a timeline, or will a detailed list do?”
Sirius smirked. “Do you have something prepared?”
The Lady once again reclined on her invisible chaise, draping her arms across the back in a totally relaxed posture.
“In the 1920s, Dumbledore began to plot the wholesale genocide of muggles and muggle borns and half-bloods with his lover, Gellart Grindelwald, until the unfortunate death of his unstable sister Ariana forced him to abandon his plans. They called the movement the ‘Greater Good’ proclamation. After Ariana’s death, Dumbledore changed his public face, ostensibly working toward muggle equality. In fact, Dumbledore’s father died in Azkaban prison for the murder of three muggle boys after they beat and raped Ariana. Dumbledore’s hatred of muggles was born then, and all Arian had done to garner their attention was perform accidental magic when they startled her—while Dumbledore was supposed to be supervising her.
“In the 1940s, once the muggle world was embroiled in a World War, Dumbledore was forced to show some sort power, so he forced his former lover, Grindelwald, to give up his power and Magic, and placed him in Nurmengard Prison—where his lives to this day as a squib. Dumbledore told everyone that he conquered Grindelwald and he rode that fame into an Order of Merlin First Class and the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts—the premiere Wizarding School in Europe.
“Once he was in position as Headmaster, Dumbledore ransacked the library and removed all of the Books of Power. He then used his position to place Magical Sinks in all incoming students, so that he could siphon power from them for his personal use. Once he became powerful and popular enough, he parlayed for a position as Chief Mugwhump in the Wizengamot and he outlawed those same books that he removed from the Hogwarts library, so that no incoming students could gain that knowledge. This began to drain the Magic from the children of Magical Britain and thus the Magic began to disappear from the world.”
Sirius gaped at the Lady as she spoke, and he found himself sinking deeper and deeper into his seat as the true horrors of Dumbledore were revealed to him. The Lady leaned forward in her chaise and caught his eye.
“The worst part, Sirius, is that Dumbledore has managed to acquire through deceit two major artifacts that would allow him to become Master over Death. One of those artifacts is the Elder Wand, which was stolen by Grindelwald when he was a troublesome child and then taken by Dumbledore through Rite of Conquest. The other artifact is a Cloak of Invisibility, which previously belonged to James Potter—as was passed down through the Peverelle Family.”
Sirius’ eyes narrowed as he thought about what She said. “I know that. I know that story somehow. It’s a fairytale, right?”
The Lady nodded. “It is one of the Magical Allegories that have been passed down since time began, so that humans could understand the strength of my Magical gift. Dumbledore has made himself into a sort of god in the world of Magic, and if it wasn’t for the power of foreign Ministers of Magic, he would be prepared to rule the world.
“He might say he does not want power, but it is all that he craves. He is as Dark as they come. He can lie to everyone else, Sirius Black, but he can not lie to Me!”
Sirius began to pace again, thinking about James and Remus and how they blindly followed Dumbledore since their school days. They thought they were doing great things for the world of Magic, and they were really helping Dumbledore take the Magic away. “So he’s evil. That’s all there is to it, right?”
The Lady sighed. “There is no ‘Evil’, Sirius. There is no ‘Good’. There is only intent, and Dumbledore’s intent is to rule the world and subjugate the Magical people. Once he manages that, the Muggle world will also fall. I have ‘seen’ it happen, in many ways and at many times, and that is why your Vow in the name of Magic is so important. By declaring yourself a servant of Magic—of Me—you have brought hope that Dumbledore will not succeed.”
Once again, Sirius found himself with his mouth hanging open in a very undignified manner. He was now the servant of Magic? Well, he supposed that made sense. The Lady was very invested in making certain that Sirius made good choices when he was sent backwards in time.
At least She really hated when he acted rashly and without thought.
But now she was telling him that he was meant to act against Dumbledore! How was he supposed to do that? Albus Dumbledore was the perfect Leader of Light, seeking to eradicate Dark Wizards everywhere.
“Just to clarify,” said Sirius hesitantly, “Voldemort is really Dark, right? And we don’t want him in power?”
He recognized that look She was giving him. It was the same look McGonagall gave to him and James when they asked a particularly stupid question in class.
“Voldemort is Dark, yes, but he has yet to gain the power and influence that Dumbledore has. Stop him if you must, but your main goal always has to be the protection of Harry!”
Sirius nodded quickly. “Yes, yes, I have that! I promise—I’m not going to go rushing out to defeat Voldemort and leave Harry unprotected.”
The Lady raised her elegant eyebrow and Sirius sheepishly added “Again” to his statement. The Lady nodded and relaxed her posture.
Sirius, on the other hand, stood again, thinking quickly about how he was finally going to get things right. She did have a point in that he could not keep going back. Eventually he would forget what worked and what didn’t. Sure, he and the Lady discussed every trip so far, and he was perfectly sure that Her memory was not faulty, but he would eventually get confused. And with Magic getting weaker and weaker in the world, there could, possibly, be a chance that she would accidentally send him back to a timeline he had already visited—just a bit later than before, maybe. Or he would mess up and say something to his friends about time-travel and he’d ruin the whole thing.
No—he needed to make a plan. A clear, concise plan, that he could easily follow to achieve Her goal of protecting Harry as well as his goal of protecting James and Lily
And now he wanted to knock Dumbledore down a peg or three as well.
“Okay,” he said while slowly pacing around her seated form, “I’m going to need some information from you, and it’s going to be information that you might not want to share. But this is stuff that I have to know so I can make my plan before you send me back again.”
“Very well,” she said hesitantly. “What do you need to know?”
“I need to know exactly when Peter gets the Dark Mark.”
“Ah, well, that will be a problem. In your original timeline, as well as the timeline of your first trip back, Peter Pettigrew vowed obedience and loyalty to Voldemort one year after Lily and James Potter wed—which was coincidentally one year after Alice Greenway married Frank Longbottom. But the next time you went back, Pettigrew did not live to receive that Mark, nor did he the time after that. This most recent time, Peter did not hesitate in becoming a Death Eater before leaving Hogwarts, because his main protectors—you and James Potter—were deeply in mourning and he was left adrift.”
“Right,” said Sirius nodding. “We’ll have to work on the timing—and I’ll have to work on my control, so I don’t blast him through a wall when next I see him. Okay, then, when was the lightning strike that delivered the original prophesy?”
“That one is much easier. But I warn you, that prophesy will only be given if Lily and James live to be married. You all left Hogwarts in June of 1975, and Lily and James were married the following year—taking one year to get their bearings. That lightning strike occurred in June of 1979—one full year before Harry James Potter was born with My blessing.”
Again, Sirius nodded absently as he paced in his tight circle. In his mind, he was already plotting and planning. He began to mutter to himself, willing the plan to come clear to him.
“Getting Severus on our side worked in my favor before. In my original timeline, Snape was Dumbledore’s lackey in Voldemort’s inner circle. If I can take that away….”
“Sirius,” the Lady interrupted, “If I may? Albus Dumbledore held the job interview for Divination Professor in the Hogshead Pub, which is a very public place, and he knew that a Death-Eater could possibly overhear and take that prophesy to his Master. In your original timeline, Severus Snape was the Death-Eater that overheard the prophesy, and he, in turn, took that prophesy to Voldemort. You need to consider all the possible information before you finalize your plan.”
Sirius grimaced. “Well, that’s not good, is it? I can’t let Lily’s old friend be the one to lead to her death, even if it’s only incidental.” He nodded to himself again. “Right! So, I keep Severus in our little circle of friends and I keep an eye on Peter during school so that he is never, ever left alone where he could come in contact with vulnerable female students. Then I have to get us graduated and into our favoured jobs—and make sure Remus has gainful employment so Dumbledore doesn’t go about heaving him out of the country willy-nilly all the damned time. Then I have to make sure James and Lily hear of the prophesy before Dumbledore ‘overhears’ it from his Divination hopeful in that convenient job interview. If he’s as manipulative as you say, I’m sure he can arrange for another Death-Eater to be in that establishment anyway. Oh! And I have to drag Frank Longbottom along for the ride as well. That false prophesy could have meant his child, as I’m sure Dumbledore would have known. I remember the attack on the Longbottoms pretty well, and now it seems very suspicious.”
“Yes,” agreed the Lady. “Voldemort instructed his followers to find every child born in that specific time. Harry and Neville Longbottom were born a day apart at the very end of July in 1980, but there were three other children born between July twenty-fifth and July twenty-ninth that were also targeted; one pure-blood, one half-blood, and one muggle-born. They did not survive.”
Sirius’ lip curled in disgust. “I really want to kill that wanker!”
The Lady smirked in response.