"Well. That was fun," Harry said to break the silence after the stars had elongated into bright stripes and the Gryffindor shot into hyperspace.
The three women in the cockpit with him, who only now were coming down from the adrenaline rush of the past few hours, looked at him like he was crazy for the comment or simply stared at him in shock. All of the faces directed towards both Harry and Dobby studiously ignored.
"Dobby just hopes Master Harry gots all the bludgers." the house elf stated from the floor as he pushed himself up.
Harry narrowed his eyes at the creature who finally picked himself up and dusted himself off, "I know how many I enchanted. We collected them all."
"Master Harry Potter old, sometimes he loses count of things," Dobby stated.
"I do not lose count of things, Dobby." Harry replied with a roll of his eyes.
Dobby looked up at Harry with an overly innocent expression, "Then how old is Master Harry Potter?"
Harry opened his mouth to reply and then hesitated.
"Truly, Master Harry Potter's counting skills are amazing," Dobby stated triumphantly before he popped away.
"I counted, we have them all!" Harry half stated half shouted indignantly towards the back of the ship.
"I think he's actually getting cheekier," Harry muttered aloud to no one in particular as he turned back around and shook his head before he stood up and stretched his back
"Dobby was always a few ingredients short of a full potion," interjected the Sorting Hat. "Takes after his Master like that."
Harry rolled his eyes and reached over and picked up the hat, "You're going to keep being grumpy until you get on my head for an update aren't you?"
"Well, let's see. We're surrounded by three women with racial backgrounds I can't identify. Oh yes. And we're in outer space. Even for you I would say this adventure is beyond the norm," stated the Hat without apology.
Harry sighed and reached up and deposited the Hat on his head.
"Oooh," the Hat murmured contently as it seemed to squirm on top of his head to get comfortable.
"Yeah yeah, I better not hear any grumping from you in awhile." Harry muttered as he shook his head slightly, which did nothing to dislodge the hat before he turned to Ahsoka, finally acknowledging the people who had seen him accomplish the hitherto thought impossible for the past few hours straight.
Her only reaction was to simply stare back expectantly, waiting for answers to her unasked questions about everything he had recently done. Seeing the impending questioning present in her eyes, he turned to the other two older Jedi and cringed.
If Ahsoka was curious, both Aayla and Shaak Ti looked like they were just barely managing to keep themselves from going for a full blown interrogation on him.
"Let me guess. You have questions," Harry said dryly with a hint of resignation.
Ahsoka actually snorted, while Aayla rolled her eyes at the understatement of the century.
Shaak Ti was the only one who actually responded, "Several, in fact, Harry Potter."
"Yeah, yeah, okay. I did promise Ahsoka answers after all," Harry nodded in assent as he went to run a hand through his hair and stopped remembering there was a hat perched on his head, "It's not like my little robot invasion bonfire is gonna be a secret anyway. But… not here."
"If I'm going to be answering a long story then I'm going to be more comfortable," He shifted to move past them but froze, his expression fearful after his first step and backed up into the cockpit control panel.
It was an expression that caught all three women off guard, since it wasn't one they had seen on him to date. But the sheer terror there was astounding to them.
"Oh shite-" He blurted as he held his hand up in front of his face defensively.
"PREEECCCK!" came the sound of an indignant sounding bark.
He was suddenly set upon by a white bird who clawed and beat at him furiously with her wings.
"Ow! OW! Hedwig I'm sorry! Hey! That's my eye! Cut it out!" He protested as he continued to try and prevent the assault.
His protests were joined by the voice of the Hat, "Blame him not me, you bloody bag of feathers! AH! Sorry! No! Watch the lining!"
The protests and the assault went on for nearly a half minute, before the assault stopped and the bird turned away from him and landed on Ahsoka's shoulder with a flutter. The Togruta flinched slightly expecting similar treatment, but instead Hedwig nuzzled the side of her head once in reassurance before turning back to Harry and glaring balefully at him.
"Hey.. I'm sorry. We were in a rush, and I knew you could take care of yourself and get here," Harry said to the owl soothingly as he ran a hand over his cheek to check for blood. He was relatively surprised when his hand came back clean.
"That's not true! He-mmph!" The Sorting Hat started to say but Harry reached up and forcibly squeezed the mouth lining shut with his hand.
The owl shuffled and somehow managed to convey the fact that she was distinctly unimpressed with them both. She turned her head and began to preen herself. Clearly indicating that the discussion was over and that she was content on Ahsoka's shoulder.
To add insult to injury, Ahsoka reached up to stroke the feathers of her chest and the bird pressed into those fingers with a happy bark.
Harry sighed once more and shook his head, though he kept a hold of the Hat's mouth, as it continued to try and talk for several moments. "C'mon, let's go somewhere more comfortable to chat. You've been patient and if nothing else, Ahsoka at least deserves some answers."
He headed out of the cockpit and back toward the expanded hold of the ship. He walked back toward the back toward the mini study area not bothering to check to see if they followed him. He idly noted that there was a pile of trunks in the ship where none had been there before and realized that Dobby had brought most of them from the house. He wondered if that was simply to make sure they had them, or if those were ones they hadn't done and the elf was going to insist on organizing and labeling them.
Shaak Ti and Aayla followed with Ahsoka a few moments later, after realizing that the owl had no intention of hopping on her normal back of chair perch. Instead it seemed that Hedwig intended to stay with her for the moment and rode along on her shoulder easily.
Harry noted that there was only one chair in the hold so with a wave of a wand he conjured a couch and another chair. He flopped down on one side of the newly conjured couch and leaned back, throwing one arm over the back of the couch as he looked up at the three women who followed him out of the cockpit.
He looked like he was about to speak but was cut off by the Sorting Hat. "Very interesting Mister Potter. As always... quite the adventure with you."
After a moment, the Hat spoke quietly, in an almost uncharacteristic tone of concern after all the sarcastic and lewd remarks it had made thus far. "You honestly believe this… person may have a true lead for you and you're not just chasing Snorkacks again?"
"I don't, not really anyway," Harry replied, his tone honest as he took off the Hat and tossed it lightly on the desk that contained several books and scrolls and now sat right past the arm of the couch he was sitting against. "But sometimes chasing snorkacks is enough to amuse me. Especially for someone in my position. Besides… you never know what you might find in the process."
"Too true, Mr. Potter. Too true," the hat said after it had landed and seemed to shift and reorient to face Harry once more. "Sounds suspiciously like something Miss Lovegood used to say."
The Hat was silent a moment before it responded, sounding genuinely serious if somewhat melancholy. "So the trip to Nar Shaddaa and this 'Slicer' is another step on your search."
"Yup," Harry replied cheerfully, "As I said, it'll be entertaining if nothing else."
"Then I hope you find something besides false hope or leprechaun gold," the Hat replied, with his tone surprisingly serious.
"Wait a minute," interrupted Aayla as she stared back and forth between the piece of headwear and Harry. "How does the frakking hat suddenly know more about what's going on than we do? We've been around you the whole time and yet you've never done more than insult one another."
"Please. Those things I said to the walking combination of natural disaster and trouble magnet were hardly insults!" The Hat protested with a sound of pure indignation.
"The moth eaten collection of lint is right," Harry replied as he nodded in amused agreement, "It was more like social commentary."
Before they could argue further, he shook his head and kicked up his feet, then looked down in surprise when he realized that there was no table in front of him to do so. A wave of his hand corrected that, putting a foot stool directly in front of him.
"So… I believed I promised Ahsoka answers to her questions, and I know you have some as well," Harry asked with a half amused, half resigned expression as he met the eyes of the three looking at him.
The oblique reference to Harry's rather unorthodox uses of the Force seemed to embolden Aayla and Shaak Ti, though Aayla was the one who beat her to the punch, "I think that's rather an understatement."
They all saw him sigh a little bit, a look of resignation crossing his face. he had after all been rather evasive of any questions on his background. He knew the interrogation was coming sooner or later. He had also promised Ahsoka some answers the evening before, and could see from her expression that she was eager to ask questions, but could also sense that she would back off if he expressed much reluctance.
Ahsoka grinned as she looked at him, "I think I've been patient! I have lots of questions."
"Somehow, I'm not surprised," Harry snorted, before he seemed to shrug it off, and his mouth quirked slightly in amusement, "I don't suppose I could claim that the explosion this morning gave me temporary amnesia?"
"Nice try, Harry," said Ahsoka, after glancing at the chairs she hesitated several moments glancing at Harry and seeming to gather her courage before she stepped around the footstool and sat down on the couch next to him. When she saw that he wasn't shifting away from her she relaxed into the cushion behind her, incidentally resting her head on his arm.
"You know I started making a list of all the odd things I've wondered about you. It's become quite long," she said to push through any awkward silence, with an extremely satisfied grin on her face.
She was really glad that Harry didn't object to the close physical contact. Jedi weren't opposed to physical contact per se, but a part of Ahsoka that she had always ignored, one she recognized as a part of her Togruta heritage craved casual physical contact. Harry's hugs the previous evening had felt better than anything she had felt before, in part because she could feel the emotion surrounding them. But this was the first she had initiated the contact, when she wasn't an emotional mess. She ignored the way Shaak Ti and Aayla exchanged a look between the two of them at her actions but neither decided to say anything about her behavior.
Harry looked at Ahsoka in surprise for a moment and then chuckled softly as he glanced over at the hat briefly, before looking back at her a fond smile on his face, "Why am I not surprised that you have a list either?"
"How about we keep it simple before you give him a full-blown interrogation?" asked Aayla, her own interest was betrayed in her voice. As she settled in one of the chairs, she seemed slightly surprised that the chair actually rocked forward slightly.
"I figured I'd need to answer some sooner or later. Be advised, I won't lie to you, but I may not tell everyone everything," Harry said, mostly directing his comment to Ahsoka with a slight warning lilt to his voice.
His warning just produced an unrepentant grin from the girl, "That's okay, I've got lots of time to learn all your secrets. You're stuck with me, Master!"
Of course Aayla wasn't surprised at all when Ahsoka did not take a deferential stance or expression to Harry's admonition. Even when she was a padawan, she was hardly a paragon of submissiveness. That was something no doubt encouraged by her former Master. Harry certainly seemed to be an instructor in the same vein.
The hat on the table snickered a little bit, "I like her, you should let me sort her."
"Maybe later," Harry replied with a roll of his eyes, before turning his attention back to the girl resting her head on his arm, "Okay, I'm ready. Hit me with your questions."
"Where is it you come from?" Ahsoka asked immediately. She had been curious since he had shown her glimpses of his world in his memories.
"It can hardly be from a planet called 'Dirt'," Aayla added with a twitch of sarcasm, remembering the bounty hunter information that Master Kenobi had ready to the entire Jedi High Council.
Harry's brow furrowed for a moment in confusion at Aayla's comment, and after a few seconds he blinked in recognition, which was then followed by a full blown smile, "Oh! I take it someone has read my bounty hunter's guild membership application... file... thing."
Shaak Ti's voice was dry. "Yes, several of the Masters were definitely not amused when your list of prior aliases was read aloud, along with your biographical information."
"Not like the guild tries to verify anything. You pay dues, follow their rules which tend to be something along the lines of 'No mass destruction,' 'No messy disintegrations,' and 'No getting in other Hunter's business after they've captured their prey'," Harry listed off before he shrugged. "Though a lot of the really big names in the business don't follow that one, which is also why they're not part of any of the major guilds."
"Those kind of bounty hunters are the ones who are more terrorist and mercenary than an extension of the law," Harry mused quietly.
Shaak Ti tilted her head inquisitively, "So you see yourself as an extension of the law?"
"Hardly," Harry snorted derisively, "You heard my thoughts on some of the legal set ups in this galaxy. The only reason for being a member of the Bounty Hunter Guild and paying those dues is on the rare occasion some blowhard law enforcement officer stops me, I can wave my credentials in their face and just walk away without having to resort to mass obliviations, assuming the confrontation took place while I'm in public."
"Also assuming I haven't blown anything up," he said a bit sheepishly before he glanced over at Aayla, visions of her outfit during that morning's explosion coming briefly to his mind. "Of course, the latter happens more often than I care to admit."
Harry turned to Ahsoka, "Which is proved case-in-point by our little encounter with those two relics from your old Order. Those two broke so many laws it wasn't funny, then tried to bluff their way out of it. Once I said I was part of the Guild, and legitimately looked like I could verify that through credentials and licenses, they couldn't touch me."
"That's not the only reason," the Sorting Hat interjected in amusement.
"Yeah, well. It's the only one that matters," Harry responded sharply to the hat.
Ahsoka's eyes narrowed, she was sensing a bit of embarrassment from Harry, so she leaned forward slightly to look past Harry toward the hat, "What's the other reason?" she asked, directing her question at the Hat rather than Harry this time.
"Because he always wanted to introduce himself as 'Harry Potter, Bounty Hunter'. It's also much more effective than 'Harry Potter, Wizard of Questionable Sanity'," the Hat actually snorted. "And because where we're from, he never actually got paid once for catching all the bad guys he took down. He likes the irony."
Harry shook his head but didn't disagree with the talking hat, "No fair giving away my motives," he groused a little bit, though it was clear to all present that he was not really upset.
Shaak Ti's tilted her head thoughtfully. She debated following that train of the conversation, but changed her mind and tried redirect the discussion back to the original question. "So what really is the name of the planet then, Mr. Potter? Where is the planet located? What sector?"
Ahsoka piped up as she leaned back against Harry's arm, "That's really what confused me! Based on what you've mentioned… It's hard to imagine a Force-based… or magical culture existing undiscovered anywhere near any of the major hyperspace routes," she supplied with surety.
"Certainly not with the Jedi being completely ignorant of it…" added Shaak Ti, who suddenly began to speak quite rapidly. "Given what we've just seen, the Order should be able to sense mass Force-use on the scale you showed. What you did on the planet with that fire...was probably sensed easily by everyone in the entire system who was Force-Sensitive. So remaining undiscovered is unlikely, especially if what you did was a relatively common occurrence."
Harry raised an eyebrow at Shaak Ti and grinned a bit since her mannerisms and method of speaking thoughts aloud began to remind him of an old friend. "To be completely honest, I haven't the faintest clue what sector Earth is in. I seriously doubt I'll ever actually be able to go back,"
Aayla sighed a bit in frustration and looked disappointed, "What's the point of trying to find out more about you if you aren't going to be honest with us or are going to evade our questions?"
"Never promised you answers to every question, Blue," Harry responded with a grin, his eyes flicking purposefully to her still pink skin, before he then sighed with visible frustration, "But in this case I'm being completely honest and not being evasive in the slightest."
"Technically 'Dirt' is what the name of the planet means even in galactic basic. To be perfectly frank, the planet itself might not exist anymore, or even worse, might not exist yet, or in the worst case scenario, never at all," Harry frowned in puzzlement as he tried to figure out the proper verbiage
Shaak Ti tilted her head as she followed Harry's words before she followed up, "Would you be willing to explain what you mean by that?"
Harry blinked in surprise and then smiled slightly in approval at the older Togrutan Jedi asking for more information and not jumping to conclusions, "Well, yes, I can explain that, but it's likely to be a very long story. One you're not very likely to believe, to be honest."
Shaak Ti observed him dryly, but there was a small smile on her lips, "I'm certain I don't have anything demanding my attention this moment. I cannot promise blind acceptance, I will however listen, and try and do my best to suspend my disbelief at least for the time being."
"I just saw you call fire from the sky and destroy an invasion force and cripple over half a fleet, forcing the rest to retreat… and I've met Dobby. I think that buys you a bit of believability," Aayla said with a smirk.
"I trust you." Ahsoka said simply, resisting the urge to rest against Harry's side as he talked, though her comment drew looks from the other two and a brief flash of a smile from Harry.
Harry sat still for a bit, trying to figure out a proper place to explain his background, giving them enough information while still maintaining some personal privacy over his origins, "I came from a planet called Earth. Yes, as I said, it literally translates to 'dirt', don't ask me why the name was never changed over the years to something a bit more refined. Probably because at one point on our planet there were over three hundred nations and they probably couldn't even agree what to have for lunch, much less on a name for a planet."
"Also possibly because they were and still are, last I knew, under the delusion that they existed alone in the galaxy. Though to be fair, once more the last I knew, they still have never seen any evidence to the contrary," Harry chuckled softly.
"What about the Force users on your planet?" Aayla inquired, wondering if that might offer some better insight to Harry.
"Magicals or 'Force users' if you must, started organizing and learning about their abilities around seven or eight thousand years ago. And when I left, they were still in existence, despite some close calls with extinction," Harry replied.
"Really," said Shaak Ti looking thoughtful, "The Jedi Order has been around for roughly 25 thousand years, though the Order has nearly been wiped out several times in that time span,"
Harry looked up at her for a moment, but there was no hint of smugness or superiority in her tone or expression.
"As I said there was some close calls for our people too," said Harry, "but knowledge more often than not remained intact, At first it was simple parlor tricks, and then it expanded into rituals, potions, and combat. Though after a certain point, over time, selectively fewer and fewer had access to the most powerful and oftentimes useful spells."
"I have studied history extensively, it's one of my hobbies," Harry said, with a self deprecating tone. "For millennia, my people often served as advisors and leaders of the world, but that all changed around oh… three and a half or four thousand or so years ago,"
"A religion sprang up, inspired by a Magic user of all people. One who faked his death, twice. In the 'holy' books written by his followers, who weren't magical, there was a passage which, as it was translated through a few languages, a drunk orator or five, and possibly a few bad games of charades, eventually came to read as, 'thou shalt not suffer a witch to live'," Harry shook his head in disgust. "My people became hunted, even though the normal unwashed and uneducated people who lived just about everywhere had no chance of doing anything to even the most basically educated magical adept."
"Still, it was the fact that my people, who largely were responsible for most of the medical advancements and preservation of recorded history of the world, were now seen as demon worshippers or worse because of our abilities. We started getting blamed for anything and everything from famine, to drought, to disease and plague, to simple bad luck," Harry shook his head. "Of course my own people didn't exactly help matters by their own levels of arrogance and condescension in regards to mundanes. It kind of made them easy to blame."
"Eventually, it was decided that our entire society would go into hiding, two thousand or so years ago, through a worldwide law that made the use of Magic a secret. So, the society became rather insular, now that they no longer mixed with the mundanes of the world. Of course, as it tends to happen to cultures in isolation, innovation in their small society promptly ground to a halt," Harry smiled ruefully, "New ideas were something they had a severe aversion to."
"Move ahead about three hundred years from that point, to the time when I was born," He saw and ignored all three of the girls as they frowned and start to work out the math on what he just said.
Shaak Ti's eyes widened in surprise first, with Aayla's and Ahsoka's both following a moment later.
"Seventeen hundred years?" Aayla asked first.
"Give or take a few dozen," Harry replied, enjoying their reactions before he frowned, "I think."
He ignored the snickering he heard from the hat beside him.
The three Jedi looked back and forth between one another as they processed the words. That wasn't the oldest species they heard about, but for a human to claim that was more than a little startling. Though then again they had all seen that the Force tended to extend the lives of its wielders, and there had been some Jedi Masters who seemed to stop aging completely based on their connection to the Force.
Ahsoka was less startled than the other two as she had gotten to know Harry better, though the actual number was still more than a bit startling.
"You weren't kidding about your kind being long living," Aayla stated.
"That's true, but their life spans average 200, possibly 250." Harry chuckled, "Even among my own kind I'm not exactly normal."
He was more than a little put out when there were snorts of amusement from all three women, and the sound of amused chuckling from one sorting hat.
"So why are you different?" Aayla asked, though she had a niggling suspicion already.
"I'll get to that," Harry said over the next snort of amusement of the hat. "Where was I?"
"Your auspicious birth," the Hat supplied helpfully.
Harry shot a glare at the hat. He felt it was having entirely too much fun at the moment.
"Yes. Right. That. Well… a Dark Lord was rising in my parents' little corner of the community. Of course he was just the latest in a line of them. They popped up every twenty or thirty years." Harry shook his head, "Centuries of isolationism from mundanes had led to a rise of extreme arrogance among the long-lived Wizard lines. And among a society that was already arrogant, that's saying something."
Harry once more had revulsion in his tone. "They had little to no contact with the 'real world' and thus assumed most people still lived in hovels, beasts of burden were necessary for transportation, and lights powered via electricity were a novelty or fad and one that would likely pass."
"This Dark Lord wanted to rule the world," Harry paused as he got a thoughtful look on his face. "Well… that's rather redundant. All Dark Lords seemed to want to rule the world for one reason or another. At least all the ones I ever met. I suppose there might be an exception somewhere. I just don't think I've ever met one."
Harry shook his head from his musing, "I'm not sure whether that particular Dark Lord really believed in it; but he used the cause surrounding the belief in purity of blood. That meant the only magicals who were worth anything in his mind were strictly human, could trace their lineage back at least five generations of purely magical human beings through both parents, and believed the same as him."
"Now, my world is unique, in that I'm aware of almost a dozen fully sentient species that evolved on my world. Humans were by far the most populous, and all other non-human species that I was aware of on the planet were magical in nature," Harry explained.
"Really? That many species? And there were no wars of supremacy or enslavement?" asked Aayla. "Usually if there are even two sentient species on a planet, one seeks to enslave the other, unless they inhabit areas that tend to be mutually exclusive to the other."
Harry shook his head quickly in disagreement snorting in derision, "There were dozens, even hundreds of wars, and some races were wiped out, and others enslaved, while others shifted into a tentative 'peace'. Unfortunately, it was pretty much always the human magicals who won those conflicts and set the laws that governed the others. I won't lie. Magicals were kinda shitty that way."
"Well, that Dark Lord I mentioned, along with a good portion of the society, didn't believe those same species were worth the dirt between their toes. The popular dialogue was that they were unthinking beasts, or 'Dark Creatures' which would turn on us at a moment's notice and kill us all," Harry shook his head quickly, well aware he could go on a tangent with little provocation, "In other words, the entire society, in its bid to save itself from the mundanes three hundred years prior, became corrupt beyond imagining."
"In the midst of all that, I was born to two lovely people. My mother, a first-generation witch who was born from non-magicals," Harry said.
"Lily," Ahsoka interjected, her hand reaching over to run over the wand holster still on her arm.
Harry glanced at her and his eyes flicked to the holster and he nodded once in confirmation of her unspoken question, "Lily..."
There was only a slight pause before he continued, "And my father, James, who could trace his magical lineage back over two thousand years."
"Due to a betrayal of the worst sort, from a friend of my parents', the Dark Lord killed them both, before the then tried to kill me. But my mother's sacrifice saved me and caused the Dark lord to lose his body and exist in wraith form for a time," Harry shook his head slightly, "I'm really not going to go into the wars that I was basically born into, but long story short, with the help of some amazing friends, I eventually stopped that Dark Lord after multiple confrontations including a final one that came down to him and me when I was seventeen."
"After that war, I decided to live my life," Harry chuckled, and pointed at Aayla and Ahsoka, "You've both met the portraits of my wives. Magicals held families as all important, and because I was the head of not one but two prominent families, I married twice at the same time. Not something I had envisioned, mostly because I never really expected to survive that long,"
"But, because I had multiple family lines with their own magics that needed to be individually passed on, I got married to two amazing women. One I got to know during the war, one afterward," He had a fond smile on his face as he clearly was reliving a fond memory.
A their incredulous looks at the idea of needing to marry twice to pass on 'magic' he held up his hand. "Trust me, it's true… took forever for them to actually convince me of the necessity of it. First glance it's an anachronism of a prominently male dominated society. But there were legitimate magics that wouldn't mix and would've been lost if I hadn't. Our society actually had laws set down to prevent ending of family lines so things like that wouldn't be lost."
"Not really that surprising or even that unusual, there are many races and cultures in which such arrangements are the norm, few of them male dominated." Shaak Ti interjected.
"Yeah, I've discovered that myself." Harry replied with a chuckle.
"Anyway, after I got married, I thought I was all ready to settle down the rest of my days with a nice, albeit complicated family dynamic. Unfortunately my life is never simple, or normal," The wry smile faded from his face and his eyes got a faraway look in them.
Two things stopped Ahsoka from snapping her fingers to get his attention. First was the melancholy look crossed his face. The second was the similar flash of emotions she felt coursing through him.
His smile slowly turned a bit bitter and self mocking. "No, Harry Potter doesn't do 'normal' or 'simple'."
Silence fell as Harry didn't say anything more, his gaze still far away.
"What do you mean by that, Harry?" Ahsoka asked quietly, shifting closer to him and nudging him very gently in the side with her elbow drawing him back to the conversation and not wanting to let him slip into memories.
Harry's eyes zoomed back into focus as he regarded Ahsoka searchingly, for several long moments before he spoke again. He seemed to brace himself. "Harry Potter doesn't do normal. Or as both my wives would say, 'Harry Potter wouldn't know what to do with normal if it walked up and punched him in the nose.'"
"Don't you mean walked up and stabbed you? Given your history I think that would be the far more likely outcome," the Hat offered helpfully.
"Eh, punched, stabbed, shot, you know. Whatever." Harry replied.
"It took us four… or maybe five decades before we realized something was 'off' about me. Magic users on my world were far longer lived than our non-magical counterparts. Our magic retards the aging process somewhat," Harry explained, completely ignoring the comment from the hat.
"A normal human lifespan averaged around seventy to seventy five years in those days," Harry grimaced, "As I explained, a healthy magical was expected to live to a two hundred years. Two hundred wasn't even considered extreme. An extremely powerful magical, who was of course healthy, could hit two hundred and fifty years with only raised eyebrows from those around them. We age, just much slower than everyone else."
"That was the problem though. I didn't seem to get much older. At first we joked I was simply 'well preserved.' A phrase from a famous book on my world. Then, after a few more decades, it became impossible to ignore. We realized I wasn't aging at all," Harry shook his head and glanced down at his hands.
"When we realized it, we tried to figure out why. Though it's mostly supposition and could be any number of different factors or even elements I was exposed to," Harry shook his head with a wry expression, "Because of a series of… incidents that occurred when I was young. it may be any one of those things that did it. As your tests showed, my blood is incredibly… different. So one of the explanations could be something that's in my very blood."
"Is that why you were so concerned about me taking your blood?" Shaak Ti asked, putting aside the idea of Harry claiming to be over a millennia old. It certainly wasn't unheard of, she knew of three sentient and humanoid species, including Master Yoda who were or had life spans that were that long.
Harry snorted indelicately, "Hardly. Isolating what is actually my blood and what is…. other magical stuff is pretty much impossible, but that's not what concerned me. Someone with a bit of magical blood can do some… very unpleasant things to that person."
"I learned that the hard way, after I experienced one such unpleasant time, namely the resurrection of the Dark Lord that had killed my parents using my blood, I eventually developed a ritual that prevented anyone from being able to take my blood and make any use of it unwillingly, even without it intending to be used, my blood is unique and offers me some protection, but I still don't give it around willy nilly." Harry explained.
"Which is why we couldn't get any sort of readings on your blood?" Aayla clarified.
Harry shrugged, "My blood has so many things, magical and otherwise floating in it at this point, even I sometimes have a hard time keeping track. By my count, my blood came into contact with several things that could have caused my aging issue, and those are just the chemical reasons," Harry shook his head, quickly cutting off the inevitable follow-up question.
"Once I realized what was happening, I began to work furiously in potions and alchemy. I didn't want to lose my wives… my family," His voice broke slightly and he swallowed thickly. No matter how long it had been he still had trouble saying it. "So I worked to try to find a way to keep them from dying,"
"That is an ever present danger and why all Jedi must be wary of attachments. Becoming so obsessed with what you're attached to that you lose touch with reality and attempt to do the impossible," Shaak Ti said levelly.
Aayla glanced quickly to Ahsoka who seemed to swell up in indignation a retort on her lips. She had already heard this rant on attachments from her and Aayla could see that Shaak Ti was about to be on the receiving end of the same rant. However, she was cut off by a dismissive snort from Harry that drew the attention of all three.
"Please… immortality... or at least the complete arresting of the aging process is hardly impossible," Harry scoffed, rolling his eyes.
"If what you say about your life span is true," Shaak Ti's response was slow and it was clear she was choosing her words carefully. She was somewhat relieved when Harry didn't take umbrage at her doubting his words, but rather content that she was willing to consider it. "Being long lived is not unheard of. Wookiees live for centuries. Master Yoda is nearly a millennium old. The Gen'Dai are known to live for several millennia. So being long lived is not a myth."
"Longevity achieved in complete defiance of a life span though… always raises concerns." Her voice was uncertain though since there were several people throughout the history of the order that had seemed to arrest the aging process. Though those who were in the Jedi were powerful, they had almost always died heroes deaths. Those in the Sith were usually destroyed.
"No, not long lived, I mean immortal, as in not aging. And it's not that unreasonable. Now that I'm older, and have truly explored magic, I know of at least…" Harry trailed off and scrunched his brow in thought. "Um…three? four ways? I start to lose track. Though two are incredibly dark, and two are involuntary, and one is sort of a only one at a time sorta thing… I think."
He seemed completely unaware of the stares he was receiving from the three women as he continued to consider the issue and count, "Five… six... though that one is sorta gross… I heard of a seventh way, but could never figure out how rubber bands, a liquid lunch and a particle accelerator could have that effect. But it certainly isn't the strangest I've heard of."
He seemed to cotton on to the fact that they were staring at him and snapped back to the conversation. "But yeah. I certainly wasn't going to go all dark and start murdering and sacrificing innocent souls. No, I was working on recreating an alchemical masterpiece. One of the things that might be the reason for my aging issue is contact I had with what my world called a philosopher's stone. Essentially, one of the purest transmutation mediums you can create. Among the numerous things you can produce with such a thing, is a way to preserve and heal someone's body so that they enjoy a quasi-eternal life."
Both Shaak Ti and Aayla exchanged blank looks at that statement.
"Quasi-eternal?" Ahsoka asked with a frown on her face trying to work out the meaning to that.
Harry nodded a bit. "Essentially stops the aging process and provides an overall improvement to general health and healing. But it won't like… prevent someone from killing them by cutting off their head or something,"
""I… think," Harry trailed off uncertainly, "I admit I haven't really tried that one on someone else."
He shook his head, ignoring the raised eyebrows from the people around him. "Anyway, the attempt to recreate the stone pretty much consumed my work for the next several decades. I learned all I could about potions, alchemy and what muggles understood of the human body. I didn't want to lose Daphne or Tonks to age. Our children either,"
Shaak Ti and Aayla both exchanged looks at that, it was the exact sort of thing that Jedi had to be worried about, becoming too attached to people that they would sacrifice anything in order to keep their attachments, often sacrificing who they were in order to do it. .
"It's ironic, I ended up completing it with a surprise burst of inspiration that I had been hoping and hunting for decades… around a year after burying both of my wives. It had been under my nose the entire time," Harry's expression was melancholy, but also one of resignation. He had come to terms with it a long time ago.
Ahsoka could feel those emotions in him and feel the loneliness that came with it, and it was enough impetus for her to give in and slid into Harry's side and slid her arms around her waist, giving him a hug, which caught him off guard but caused him to smile at her. Ahsoka blushed a bit and released the hug but stayed pressed against his side.
Her blush increased when he dropped his arm around her shoulder and squeezed her affectionately. She could feel the gazes of the two Jedi Masters but didn't look their way to meet their eyes. Harry however didn't seem to be bothered at all as he looked up trying to recapture his train of thought.
"Anyway. So there I was, immortal, a means to grant immortality to others, along with eternal youth to the women I loved with a single drink… and they'd both already lived to over the age of a hundred and seventy, and I completed a scientific impossibility and magical improbability a year after they died. One year too late," Harry was lost in his thoughts, he realized this was the first time he'd talked to anyone about himself, in… centuries. Even if he had to obliviate one or more of them later it was still cathartic in a way. He was talking to people who had no idea of his history and he could still tell the unvarnished truth.
"You… actually discovered the means to stop aging?" asked Aayla carefully.
Harry chuckled and shrugged, "More like re-discovered really, since someone else had already done it first. And others are thought to have done it, but they didn't actually make the knowledge of their achievement public."
He tilted his head to the side a little bit absently, and almost immediately and without any sort of warning, Hedwig had taken off of the chair she had made her perch, and landed on his shoulder, right by Ahsoka's head. The bird seemed to be over her anger, at least for the moment as she nuzzled the side of his head.
Harry reached up and stroked her feathers lightly. "Hedwig is how I know it works. She's the oldest owl in history as far as I know. She is the descendent of my first friend and when I went to find a way to experiment, with the stone and the Elixir of Life, she refused to let me choose anything like a lab rat. Started pecking me and refused to stop."
Hedwig let out a preck, that was either emphasis or pride but either way totally agreed with Harry's statement.
"You know it's funny," He stroked her feathers lightly as she nipped as his fingers, playfully this time. "After I moved past being upset, that it had worked, but only worked too late. I only told my two sons and my daughter what I had accomplished in the end. But none of them asked for the elixir. They were content to live out their lives with their families and friends. Though all three of them lead exceptionally long lives. My daughter lived to be 317."
"After I accomplished that I… gave serious thought to following my wives to the afterlife of my own volition," Harry shrugged a bit and offered a weak smile to the Jedi. "But it felt too much like quitting and I thought I'd be just giving up. I realized that I'd be disappointing them by simply ending it like that. It was pretty effective at staying my hand."
The hat harrumphed at that but didn't say anything in response.
Ahsoka stared up at him, she could tell despite his blasé tone that it was a sad topic for Harry, and she could also tell that he wasn't telling them everything about that particular portion of his life. But she could sense it wasn't an area that he necessarily wanted to linger on.
She wondered how low he got if he was considering attempting to kill himself. The idea that Harry would do that was so jarring to her and she found herself hugging him again, this time it was as much about giving him reassurance, as it was about her giving him reassurance.
Hedwig barked at Harry and fixed him with a glare as if challenging his statement and pulling him out of his musing. The Sorting Hat chuckled softly at the owl. "That wasn't the only reason though."
Harry sighed wryly, knowing that Hedwig and the Sorting Hat were keeping him relatively honest, though he knew he could silence the thing at any time. "Okay, I also still felt responsible."
"Responsible? For what?" Aayla asked curiously, keeping in mind what Ahsoka had originally told her about treating the bird like the smartest being around.
"Well, at that point in time, I had also become the defacto Dark Lord killer on my world. A Dark Lord would start making noise and I'd have to pop in and smack them down," Harry shook his head with a sigh.
"Tonks always told me I had an overdeveloped sense-of-responsibility gland. Another literary reference," He smiled fondly in remembrance "Daphne kept telling me that I was the self-appointed cure to the magical world's continually recurring case of cranial rectum syndrome. My best friend called it a saving-people-thing. Whatever it was, for a long time, when Dark Lords popped their heads up, I was the one the magical world started looking to in order to smack them down."
That caused more raised eyebrows from the three women at the table.
"What? You think your Jedi Order has the monopoly on stupid ideologies and self destructive tendencies? Hardly," Harry sneered derisively, though it was clear that he wasn't directing it right at the Jedi.
"Pardon me?" Shaak Ti interjected, and it was clear that he had managed to offend her. Aayla's expression was more resigned, as she had heard Harry's opinions on the Order more than once.
Harry focused his attention on Shaak Ti, and pointed at her with the hand that was resting over Ahsoka's shoulder,, "You, I might pardon if you continue on the path to independent thought. But I can hardly blame you for that reaction, though you might not like why. My society was precisely the same way. Arrogant, unable to learn from its own mistakes," Harry quipped before shaking his head.
"Anyway, it was practically like clockwork, every twenty or thirty years. Occasionally we'd reach forty years, but inevitably some moron would rise up, collect some followers, kill some non-magicals first, then move on to magicals, and think that he or she could then enslave the world."
"The first Dark Lord I fought wanted to take over and used the belief in blood purity dogma to support his bid for a goal. He was the last one to argue about pure bloodedness," Harry shook his head and his eyes drifted upward as he drifted into memory.
"Of course, after we had proved the idiocy of that particular concept and how it would eventually lead to destruction. It became about being able to trace some ancestry in the wizarding world. The next two or three supported those causes. Then it was about upholding the traditions that had been in place for generations," Harry rolled his eyes. "Like I said, stagnant."
"After that it was about whether or not to reveal ourselves to some of the non-magicals. A cause that my one of my own great granddaughters spearheaded. Of course I kinda lost track what their motives were after that. I didn't much care truth be told. Mostly it was some manufactured excuse for some arsewipe to try and lord his or her amazingness over others."
"Some of them would try to be embed their designs in political movements, some would be sneaky, others not so much. Eventually they would cross the line and start killing people and commit an atrocity or two to prove either their power or their conviction. If I wasn't particularly paying attention to the news, I'd get an owl or something pleading for help and take a couple of days and hunt the idiot and most of their followers down," Harry sighed a bit, "Of course it wasn't entirely a good thing,"
He met their gazes, with a weary one of his own. "To an extent that backfired too. The wizarding world slowly began to get complacent, and just expected me to always be there to save them."
"Why, were you the only one who fought?" asked Ahsoka, looking up at him, confusion easily shown on her face.
"There's a saying in part of my homeworld. Vigilance is the eternal price of freedom. The magical world though, never had true freedom. They were always ruled by the most powerful, the richest, or the loudest... in that order. Most were despots and tyrants. No one truly even knew what genuine 'vigilance' was in regards to their own liberties," Harry said, his tone slipping into that of an experienced teacher.
"So it wasn't worth fighting for others when they wouldn't even fight for themselves properly?" ventured Ahsoka after a few moments, which Harry nodded his agreement. Shaak Ti visibly didn't agree with this statement, while Aayla merely looked uncomfortable with the concept. Harry didn't stop to elaborate on this to convince either of the two elder Jedi.
"Anyway… I got tired of my only interactions with the rest of society being to beat down rising dark lords. First I started going incognito into the non-magical world. It was mostly to relieve boredom. I didn't really have anything I wanted to do. I just… sort of wandered," Harry reminisced as he chuckled a little bit. "I usually ended up doing whatever caught my interest. More often than not I fell into odd jobs that would keep me entertained for a few months. I once spent eighteen months on a deep sea fishing vessel."
"Being a bartender was always fun. Drunk people have the most interesting stories. And they tend to be entertaining, especially near big colleges. Also they'll drink anything with a funny name and alcohol in it," Harry smiled wistfully, "But even constantly moving changing identities and disappearing got old."
"When that bored me, I went through muggle school a few times. I even have a few doctorates stashed somewhere around here," Harry waved his hand carelessly towards the trunks Dobby had brought. "I did totally mundane jobs like worked in fuel stations or fast food places, just so I could force myself to keep abreast of modern cultures and not just turn into a complete hermit."
"So, I eventually started to take... leaves of absence I guess you could say," Harry frowned, the words weren't quite right but they were accurate enough for these purposes. "I turned back to my roots and just delved into magic itself. Research, experimentation, exploration. Anything so that I wouldn't be out in public, and watched with awe, or anger or fear wherever I went."
"Of course… I came out about once every twenty-five to thirty-five years. And usually they would have a dark lord starting to make trouble. After the inevitable fight, I'd take a year or so, immerse myself somewhere in popular culture or areas of non-magical research that interested me. I can say for certain that many fads are cyclical especially clothes and music. But otherwise, I had no contact with the world. My children had all passed, and so had their children, and their children as well. So I didn't really have anything keeping me engaged,"
"One time, because of an… accident... in my research, I actually went way more than my usual length of solitude," Harry grimaced at that admittance. "I lost at least two hundred years by my reckoning, though I'm a little fuzzy on exact dates."
"How do you just… lose two hundred years?" Ahsoka blurted with wide eyes.
Harry looked sheepish and looked down and mumbled something unintelligible.
"What was that?" Ahsoka leaned closer instinctively, with her montrals she had heard him mumble something that sounded like, "Bacon."
"I had an accident in my potions lab. I was attempting to see if a potion could be made to send a person back in time," Harry started to explain.
"Travel in time? That's… impossible…" Aayla blurted out looking stunned.
"Huh? No, not really. I used to have time turners; necklaces that could be used to take a person back about a day," Harry's tone was still embarrassed so he wasn't taking stock of the astonished looks once more directed his way.
"But after going back more than a day or so they get titchy and super unreliable. Apparently they have a nasty habit of exploding with… bad effects. Besides, I was trying to come up with a way that replicated the effect but rendered a person sorta out of phase with reality until they synced up back with their time," Harry ignored the disbelieving expressions on their faces. He realized how far out it would sound to them. "My goal was to observe big events in history without any danger of stepping on a butterfly and accidently sending history spiraling off course."
"Anyway Dobby brought me some bacon sandwiches that I attempted to eat while I continued working, only to accidentally have some bacon fall out of the sandwich, with still a bit of hot grease on the pieces, and one landed on a time turner I had sitting out on the desk. The extreme temperature change from the grease cracked the glass on it open, spilled the dust everywhere, including into the potion I was trying to make, and the entire thing exploded," Harry ran a hand through his hair in embarrassment.
"Miss Daphy always warned Master Harry Potter that eating and potions was bad mix. But did Master Harry Potter listen? Nooooo." Dobby's voice floated up, though he didn't seem to appear anywhere.
"Yes… thank you, Dobby," Harry said loudly with a resigned sigh. "It caused some sort of time dilation effect over everything under my wards. It also completely drained the power of all the time turners I had within the wards at the time, rendering them inert. Dunno why. For me it seemed to only last an instant. But when I left to clean up I noticed it was not only daytime, but also the middle of winter outside."
"I just hadn't realized how much time had passed. So I went to look… and when I ventured out into the world, I found among other things they were using this entirely new dating system based on stars and such, so I had no clue what the actual date was. Of course it didn't help that the planet was engulfed in a true World War either."
"I never did figure out what exactly happened in the explosion. But I figured the first time I meddled with time, I almost died but saved my godfather. The second time there was an explosion and froze me for centuries. I decided that it was just best I not meddle with time anymore. I'd hate to think what would happen if I did it for a third time," Harry smiled mirthlessly.
"Your planet was at war?" Ahsoka interjected, her voice stretched a little bit as she tried to focus Harry since she knew any discussion they would have on what he had just said about time travel would likely consume a large amount of conversation, preventing them from the answers they really were after.
"It was a turf war. A pair of wizards… brothers, went as bad… if not worse than the Dark Lord that killed my parents. Only now the muggle world was completely aware of magic. These brothers had completely involved the entire world in their dispute," Harry shook his head, "It had been done before. But not to this extent."
"The entire world was engulfed due to their little pissing match," Harry ran a hand through his hair with a weary sigh, "It was a true war, wizards using magic and muggles the best technology they could muster. Left entire regions of the planet decimated. Which was stupid because humans had only just begun to colonize a nearby planet at that point. And a journey between planets at a close distance within a solar system still took months."
"Not that non-magical armies were much of a true threat to those causing the war, just all those pesky innocent bystanders," Harry was momentarily distracted as Hedwig nuzzled into the side of his head again, causing him to reach up and stroke her feathers lightly. "As you may have gathered from my little display earlier… when a wizard who has skills and power goes to war, It takes a… great deal to stop them."
"These two dark morons… they were determined to conquer as they felt it was their right. They had killed… thousands, possibly tens of thousands each personally, and tens of millions through proxies in their bids for power," Harry shook his head, his expression filled with sorrow. "I was horrified. I didn't care about alliances or the armies they gathered. Neither ever seemed to be able to claim victory when they fought one of their seemingly monthly duels."
"I didn't even have to wait long for one of their duels. It was less than a week actually, if I recall correctly. They were fighting in a mountain range nearby on the continent that I lived. That sort of magical use, at least on that scale, is near impossible to hide. So I did what I had always done. I stepped in," Harry noticed that all three women seemed to be hanging onto the words as he described them.
"Of course my appearance was the one thing that seemed to be able to force the two Dark arseholes to work together. They were both powerful, and as I discovered in the fight, skilled and clever. Truth be told it was probably one of the hardest battles I ever had, save for the first Dark Lord, and I was a hell of a lot less skilled when I fought him," Harry shook his head with a weary sigh. "Not that it did them any good. In the end, I bested them both."
He looked up to meet the eyes of the women listening to him, as he paused for several moments, before adding, "Only to find out after I killed them both, that they were my own family. My many-times great grandchildren,"
Ahsoka gasped and put her hand to her mouth. Both Shaak Ti and Aayla had their brows raised in surprise but remained silent.
"Of course I hadn't figured out who they were. Mostly I just didn't care. And they didn't go by the name Potter or Black… at least not publically. But apparently their parents had married and rejoined the two families. Parents they had each killed one of." Harry gestured somewhat helplessly "I didn't do much of any research beforehand to figure out who they were, just enough on what they had done to make sure they were Dark Lords. Needless to say, butchering entire towns to inspire fear was kind of their modus operandi."
"And the names they went by certainly didn't tip me off. They had each made up these ridiculous sounding names for themselves. The mindset of 'I am an evil badass and my name should be impressive and intimidating' seems to be something of a rite of passage for Dark Lords, to make up their own names. I only know of two Dark Lords that hadn't done that, and their names were bad enough as it was," Harry shook his head and refocused on the topic.
"Anyway, their actions, and my re-emergence from hiding from what the public apparently deemed as my 'responsibilities to maintain the peace' was finally the excuse the entire world looked for to have another go at me," he said as he looked at them, an extreme sense of weariness about him.
"You'll find, eventually, that the world, media… everyone. They love their heroes, but even more than that… they love tearing their heroes down," his eyes fell on Ahsoka, and she flinched, realizing that was exactly what she had gone through.
"Ahsoka just finished experiencing that particular phenomenon. It happened to me all the time as a teenager and young adult, and I was surprised it took them as long as it did to do it to me again. Though I'm sure that had something to do with my wives' political acumen, and after they passed it had become cultural. But… after I killed the two Dark Lords there was an immediate demand from both magicals and mundanes that I show up and answer for the crimes committed by people I had never met but bore my name, and of course the crimes their followers committed,"
"So, I said 'screw it'. I was done saving these people. I saved them from the newest Dark Lords oppressing and terrorizing the entire planet… all in a matter of a week, when they'd been struggling to form an effective resistance against the two idiots for apparently more than twenty years. During the course of which they managed to destroy about half of the damn planet."
Disgust was once more prevalent in Harry's voice as he continued, "It was something they had been slow to stop initially, because a portion of magicals were eager to ignore events, mostly because the 'right kind' of people weren't dying. A definition that changed depending on who you were talking to,"
"Then, when I killed the two brothers, several families whose predecessors had disliked me and had obviously passed that on managed to convince the public that I obviously was too powerful to continue living. That I was obviously a dark and evil wizard using dark rituals to keep myself alive if I never seemed to die. Far past the age of what any other wizard had ever been recorded dying at without some sort of known artificial means to prolong their lives,"
Harry's voice turned sarcastic, "I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that, through the simple process of time, and having goblins manage my affairs, I had amassed a significant percentage of ownership of things in their economies. A percentage that only increased upon the deaths of my wayward however many greats grandchildren. Enough interests banded together to bribe enough people to order a hunt for me."
Harry chuckled in amusement to himself as his eyes got a faraway look in them, "Rather stupid considering they couldn't take out the two Dark Lords that I had just destroyed for them. But no one ever accused the masses of brilliance."
SIlence fell after that comment as the three Jedi waited for him to continue, but he did not continue.
It took nearly a minute but Ahsoka realized that Harry had spaced out on them again. She exchanged a look with Aayla, who met her gaze with a concerned one of her own. Rather than snap her fingers, or nudge him in the side with her elbow Ahsoka decided to try something else. She concentrated on the connection she felt with Harry, and tried to give him a little bit of a mental nudge through it.
It took several attempts for her to figure out a way to do it. When she did though , the effect was immediate. Harry seemed to snap out of it with a shake of his head. He glanced down at her quickly and actually looked embarrassed for a moment before he continued as if he hadn't paused at all. Though he did hug her gently around the shoulders in thanks.
"At that point I decided I had enough. I had neither the desire or interest to fight a full scale war with the various governments. Governments filled with the descendants of people I knew. And a war that would cost them a lot of lives, and one that, even while holding to my principles, I thought they would very likely lose. I realized that I had done my part. It was about bloody time for them to grow the hell up."
"I decided to leave," Harry slumped a little bit and his eyes downcast, clearly remembering, as his fingers tracing patterns on the arm of the couch. "I… used an artifact I have, to summon the spirits of the dead temporarily to speak to my wives. I apologized to them for killing the final offspring of the family we made."
"They both scolded me for blaming myself…"
Then Harry snorted, "Well, that's not quite right. They called me a bloody moron for even considering the mass murdering psychopaths family in the first place considering how much they'd spit on everything our family had stood for. And they made me promise I would stop living exclusively for others, and try to find my own peace and to try and be happy for myself, and not try and acquire happiness by granting it to others," Harry spoke softly.
"How's that going for you?" Ahsoka asked, genuine curiosity in her voice.
"Heh…" Harry smiled wryly, "Let's just call it a work in progress,"
"Artifact?" Shaak Ti echoed. "You have an artifact which allows you to commune with the dead?" She was really struggling to keep all of her doubts down. Not aging, time travel, and now connecting with the dead. He talked about it like it was so commonplace and not these fantastic stories of amazing achievements. Similar to the things that were regarded as near myth in the Jedi Order.
"Yes, but that's another long story for another day," Harry waved that question off. He saw the looks of discontent that spread on both Shaak Ti and Aayla's face at his dismissal of that question, though Ahsoka's eyes flickered in understanding. He was sure they wanted to ask, but he had warned them he wasn't going to answer every question that they had of him.
"But… that brings me to how I got here," Harry grinned a bit.
Shaak Ti nodded, she was keeping quiet and trying not to press too many questions, time travel, immortality. If she hadn't been given such a warning about keeping an open mind she would have long past reached the point where she was willing to listen to the stories. "I'll admit to still being very curious about that. You've said several times that your people were still pre-hyperspace in technology?"
Harry nodded and actually chuckled a little despite his seriousness a moment earlier. "Yes. Easily several hundred years away. Ships didn't have shields. Artificial Gravity wasn't even a glimmer in their mind's eye. Given the wars, especially the recent wizarding one they hadn't advanced very far into space travel yet. The people on our world had only recently landed on the nearest planet in an attempt to colonize. And from what I gathered that was a bloody disaster."
Ahsoka tilted her head curiously as her fingers rain over one of her lekku in consideration, "Then how did you get off planet… and here?"
"And where in the galaxy is your actual home?" Aayla added.
Harry shrugged slightly, "To be honest like I said earlier, I haven't the foggiest. I have yet to find where my home planet is on any star map. I can't even find key nebula and larger stars that were part of the major constellations that match those visible from my planet in our galaxy within this galaxy. The constellations would obviously look different from other places in the galaxy, but major nebula should be somewhat easy to identify,"
"I remember seeing an estimate of where Earth was located from some of my astronomy classes, and it was in one of the outer arms of the galaxy, which would easily place it at the furthest edges of wild space since it's not in any of the known sectors of the galaxy," Harry explained and then looked sheepish, "Though I probably should have paid a bit more attention in astronomy. It just bored me to tears."
He shook his head, and stroked his fingers through Hedwig's feathers as he turned to Ahsoka, "As for how I got off planet. I stepped through a magical portal that I had always found myself drawn to. One that our people called the 'Veil of Death', as anyone who stepped through supposedly was sent on a one way trip to the afterlife."
"Why would you do that?" Ahsoka gasped after a second of considering his words. Her voice breaking slightly. This was the second time Harry had mentioned actually attempting to off himself and it was quite jarring to her. The idea of him wanting to die… she felt a deep pang in her heart at the idea of him even contemplating it.
Harry chuckled and ran a sheepish hand through his hair, "Well, I wasn't sure if it was a one way ticket to meet the maker or if it was something else. But as I mentioned, I was always drawn to it and I spent years and years examining it and tossing things through. Over my years researching it, I pondered the possibility that it was a portal to someplace else, and the only reason people said it lead to one's death was because no one had come back from it."
Harry chuckled mirthlessly, "If I was wrong, it was no big deal. I'd certainly lived long enough, done enough good deeds. Hell... I'd certainly tried other ways of offing myself in the name of pure experimentation."
His statement elicited more raised eyebrows all around the table, but Harry didn't seem to realize he let that slip, and didn't stop to address the concerns the comment engendered, "I lost my Godfather through that very same magical portal… for lack of a better phrase. Whoever had built it was long since lost to the extreme distant past of my world. Ten thousand years or more. All we knew about it is… we didn't know where it went, and that anything that went in, didn't come out,"
"For a long while, it was called the 'Veil of Death', simply because some moron got it into their minds that since nothing came out of it, that it must be a divine gift for the magicals to judge wrong-doers, and that evil people wouldn't return, and if they ever threw an innocent person in, they would be returned," The looks of disgust on the faces of the three Force users present gave clear portents as to what they thought of that scenario.
"But me, I wanted to know if it perhaps led somewhere else. I wanted to crack the mystery of that thing. I wanted to know where my Godfather went. I wanted to see if I could find what happened to him," Harry elaborated as he shrugged a bit uncomfortably.
"I had spent decades, on and off, over the years cloaked, warded, and silenced in front of that thing, studying it, tossing objects through it, poking it with sticks, all without anyone knowing I was even there, in the deepest most secure area of my government," Harry chuckled a little bit remembering that he had indeed at one point been poking it with sticks.
"My world continuing to be stupid was simply the last nudge I needed so I finally decided to find out where it lead. It turns out, it certainly wasn't a system of judgment at all. Nor did it send me to my death," Harry looked around suddenly. "Unless of course this is the afterlife. And… I kinda doubt that."
"It was a Gateway. A Portal. Leading definitely to somewhere 'else'. It was one that didn't obey the rules of space, time… anything. At least no laws of governance that I'd ever been exposed to."
"Of course when I left, I ultimately decided to take everything I owned," he waved his hand airily around the ship, "As I definitely wasn't going to leave all my money to the people who now blamed me for their lack of backbone."
"That includes me!" the Hat interjected, sounding a combination of amused and irritated.
Harry got a sheepish look on his face, "Yeah I found the Hat in the vaults that I emptied out. At the time, I had no idea how it and a bunch of other artifacts got there."
"Many portraits and items were magically sent there from the castle right before it was destroyed," The Hat explained plainly. "We were sent to be held in trust by the last living person who had pulled Gryffindor's sword from within me. In the hopes that we would be restored at the next institute of learning created for Magic. Not that we'd all get dragged along with some crazy-ass wizard on a trip through the Veil."
"Not my fault. I didn't even know you were there at the time or I'd have left you behind. I don't really need an animated dishrag," Harry responded with shrug.
"Hmmph. Not like the magicals had listened to us in centuries anyway," the Hat grumbled, "Too many families complaining when I sorted them into a house their family didn't want them to be."
Harry shook his head and refrained from responding, instead continued with his story. "Before I went through the Veil, I attempted to set spells up so that others wouldn't be able to follow. Trying to hide the Veil, make it disappear. I wanted to modify it so I couldn't ever be followed, but something around the Veil itself prevented me from doing so."
"Perhaps it was preventing me in case others might someday want to make the same journey. I'm not sure. I guess it's a small comfort that even now there are still things I have to learn about magic," he had a small smile as he said that. It was clear that it was very reassuring to him.
"Without any fanfare, I stepped through the Veil, Hedwig and Dobby in tow… by their own insistence. I think they both wanted to keep me out of trouble," Harry said. The bird perched on his shoulder barked and then whacked him on the side of his head with her wing as if to scold him for being stubborn.
"The journey was… insane," he turned to Aayla and Ahsoka, "Imagine getting drunk and then taking one of my portkeys… only ramped by up a thousand times. That's kind of what it was like."
All three women blanched at that, remembering their singular experience with portkeys.
"I eventually found myself in a place I'd never seen before, and obviously on a world much more advanced than Earth was. That was nearly twenty or so years ago," Harry shrugged, "Of course I found myself standing on what I discovered was a ship, and standing on some hot tea on the floor. Mug and all."
"That observation was only important because it was the same mug of tea I'd thrown through the Veil a long time earlier. So either physical laws worked differently, or time passed differently on different sides of the veil. Which leads me to believe this might be another dimension," Harry looked particularly pleased with that deduction.
"Of course, by the time I get my bearings I've got these weird robots all over the place surrounding me," Harry shook his head.
"You found yourself standing on a ship with droids everywhere?" Ahsoka asked incredulously.
"I know, for a moment I thought heaven or hell was just really bloody weird," Harry nodded, "Then one of the robots fired a gun at me. That at least was something I was familiar with. I figured that was just the Harry Potter luck,"
"I was dodging swipes and potshots from guard droids, and I had no idea where I was. It turns out I was on a planet and ended up on a ship that was on the ground at a spaceport. Couple of the bots fired at the three of us. I certainly didn't like or approve of that, so I blasted them back," Harry snickered a bit. "Didn't seem to get the point. More seemed to keep coming,"
"Thankfully before I stepped through the Veil, I was at least a little prepared. After I realized that I wasn't dead, I quickly took a special potion I had that was called felix felicis, or if you prefer… Liquid Luck," he turned to look at Ahsoka expectantly, always enjoying her incredulity at the naming conventions of wizards.
"Liquid Luck?" asked Ahsoka, definitely amused at the name, as she shook her head slightly, "Does that actually do what the name implies?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah, it's a ridiculously difficult potion to brew. Takes preparation steps that are down to the second over a multi-month period. Any mistake turns it into a deadly poison, or worse,"
"In my experience there is no such thing as luck," Shaak Ti couldn't stop herself from interjecting.
Harry was about to say something when he glanced at her, then chuckled before he muttered, "I guess that answers that question,"
As Harry continued to quietly laugh to himself, Aayla couldn't help but ask, "What question?"
He looked at her, the smirk of mischief firmly in place on his lips, then said, "Clearly she's never gotten lucky."
Ahsoka didn't even bother to let the joke settle, nor allow either of the Jedi to possibly voice their objections to the lewd question, she just nudged Harry lightly in the side with her elbow, that he took good naturedly, before she asked, "You said if you mess it up, that it turns into a deadly poison, or worse. What's worse?"
"There are, after all, far worse fates in the world than death…" Harry said ominously.
"Like?" asked Aayla, who was obviously intrigued about the consequences of a badly brewed 'potion'. Nor was she put off by Harry's sudden ominous demeanor.
"Well… in this case, bad luck for the rest of your life. Like, extreme bad luck." Harry shook his head, "You'd be forever plagued by slipping down stairwells, having doors opened into your face, stabbing and cutting yourself while you eat. Stuff like that,"
"For the rest of your life?" echoed Ahsoka faintly.
"Yeah. My first potion's instructor. I pretty much assume he brewed a bad batch at some point. Would explain the pathetic life he lead. Honestly, dying a forty year old virgin," he repeated, doing his best to not look at Shaak Ti and point out the obvious parallels. "Thankfully despite a rough start, mostly thanks to his non-teaching, I happen to be a rather skilled potion maker."
He shook himself, "So there I was, no clue where the bloody hell I had ended up, much less how to operate anything other how to not stall a low-tech atmo-exclusive aircraft, when I took the potion."
"Suddenly, I found the urge to just start running instead of standing my ground and taking on wave after wave of automatons. I found myself inside a room with a lot of buttons," He snorted, "I just thought it was a good idea to then start pressing said buttons."
"I managed to get the ship into the air, then left the atmosphere, somehow evading all the ships launched to stop me. Then, unknowingly, I managed to hit enough buttons randomly to key in a hyperspace course…. with no vector or coordinates from a navicomputer, all without even knowing I was actually plotting a hyperspace route…. or even that there was such a thing."
Gasps came from both of them, and Ahsoka just barely beat Aayla in shouting, "You did what?"
He smiled, a smile that seemed like it fit on the face of every spice smuggler who managed the Kessel Run near the Maw and managed it under fifteen parsecs. "I didn't even know what it was. I knew it was going up. Then I was in space. Then suddenly… going really fast,"
At their disbelieving stares, he huffed slightly. "Liquid luck does exactly what it sounds like,"
"Not only did I live through the hyperspace jump, but I found something shocking and interesting when I let the ship revert to real space on a whim," his eyes twinkled
When both of the two females looked at him, egging him on to continue the story, he smiled benignly "Oh come now. You can't expect me to tell you all of my secrets, can you?"
He chuckled at their looks of frustration and shook his head, "Anyway, I spent the next two years, in relative privacy figuring out exactly what Harry Potter had gotten himself into this time."
"I was learning about the ship I'd sorta accidentally on-purpose stole," Harry snickered a little bit. "Thankfully I wasn't stupidly ignorant of the non magical world before I left, like so many witches and wizards I once knew, otherwise I probably would have blown the ship up or something,"
"I had to teach myself well… pretty much everything," Harry shrugged, "Luckily the ship had a lot of instructional vids that helped. Plus I ended up emerging in a place that had tons of fuel just laying around not being used at the time,"
"Dobby as always kept me fed," Harry grinned. "After I felt confident enough to continue piloting I went on about my way exploring this new galaxy. That was nearly seventeen years ago."
"That be twenty two years ago," Dobby's voice once more interjected.
"Thank you Dobby," Harry replied with an exasperated sigh and roll of his eyes.
"I admit that I do tend to lose track." He said somewhat sheepishly at Ahsoka's smirking gaze. Then he sat back slightly prepared for their responses, a small smile on his face as he looked at their different expressions.
Ahsoka spoke slowly, "You came through a Magic Portal? One you thought might kill you or might take you somewhere never to return?"
Harry smiled wryly and nodded wordlessly.
Shaak TI's reply was slower and more deliberate. "When you first started your tale I thought that perhaps years passed far faster on your world than ours. That is why you claimed to be so old and live so long. But… that doesn't seem to be the case.
Harry shook his head, "Actually that's one of many odd coincidences I've found in this galaxy. It's lead me to some… curious hypotheses."
Shaak Ti's eyes narrowed in consideration. "Curious hypotheses?"
Harry shrugged slightly, "If I tell you you're going to think I'm completely insane, especially as I haven't any solid proof."
Aayla snorted and crossed her arms over her chest as she leaned back in her chair, "Oh please, the background establishing you as an immortal wizard, wielding magic, stepping through a magic death portal, and drinking liquidized luck was totally logical."
She then gestured airily with one hand, "But this is the part where you think you're going to sound crazy?"
Harry managed a smile, her tone wasn't derisive, rather amused. So he took it in the tone it was intended. "I think that Wizards… or maybe people from my world have been coming through the portal for a long time. And they've had an impact on your… galaxy,"
"How do you figure?" Ahsoka asked, looking very interested.
"In part it's just a bunch of coincidences and a hunch I have but… look," Harry said as he sighed slightly. "You use nearly the same calendar as my world. Our calendar has three hundred and sixty-five days, yours has three hundred and sixty-eight,"
"That doesn't mean anything, the rotation of your planet matches standard time, so do several major and culturally significant planets," Aayla responded with a furrowed brow. "At least ones that were probably around and prominent when the galactic calendar was determined."
Harry looked up at her and raised an eyebrow speaking deliberate with deliberate emphasis, "A year separated into twelve months and into days that are twenty-four hours long?"
That seemed to catch not only Aayla but the other two off guard as well.
"Then there are the units you measure for distance, meters and kilometers as well as weight, grams and kilos and such. The exact units of measure developed on my world, in a country called France, not long after the Statute of Secrecy came into effect," Harry gestured around, "But it's the exact same here, accepted as the galactic standard."
Harry gestured at the three Jedi, "Then there's the language you're speaking,"
"Galactic Basic?" Shaak Ti clarified. "It has been in use in the Republic for millennia."
"Sounds like English to me," Harry replied. "Now there a lot of the other languages I've never heard before, but English is what I grew up speaking. We trace the origins and evolution of it on my world to its original Latin roots. But somehow coincidentally, the same language has become standard here, though supposedly its roots are from Coruscant with portions of entirely different languages present."
"Galactic Basic is written using the Aurebesh alphabet. The symbols of which I grant are completely different from our world… at least at first glance," Harry gestured toward one of the books on his table. ""Until you look deeper and realize that there are 26 symbols for individual letters, and a further eight for the most common English combinations that make different sounds than their combinations would indicate. The former of which is exactly the same as on my world. The latter of which just makes very great amount of sense."
"I haven't dug through all of my books yet, but what I have show that the symbols share characteristics with some writings from my world, Egyptian, Sumerian, and heavy mandarin influence," Harry tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair. "But one thing I am definitely not is linguistic expert. So again, possibly all supposition and coincidence."
"Then there's the Jedi," Harry stated. "I've considered the notion a time or two in the past, but never looked far enough into it. I was more focused on history and exploration, but several things Ahsoka has said have made me more suspicious than ever,"
"How so?" Shaak Ti asked, glancing over at Ahsoka who was looking thoughtful as she considered the conversations she'd had with Harry and the comments he had made.
Eventually, after a nod from Harry that she could speak her mind, she slowly made her own observation out loud, "Yeah, you've said a few times that it's like a wizard handed someone else an occlumency book. That person only got through the first chapter and then sorta worked out a limited amount they could do from there."
Harry snapped a finger at the statement and gave Ahsoka a look of triumph as he pointed at her an approving smile on his face, "I've wondered if a wizard without his wand may have come through and originally tried to replicate what he could do with a modicum of skill in wandless magic. Because that seems to be basically all that Jedi are capable of. Well… that and a frightening obsession with divination and seeing the future," Harry shook his head, disgust tingeing his last comment.
There were doubtful looks on two faces, while Ahsoka's eyes were narrowed in thought.
Harry shrugged in response, "Like I said, it's just a hypothesis without any proof beyond many things that can be chalked up to coincidence. But, you know what they say when there are coincidence after coincidence occurring…"
"So you're saying you believe someone from your planet, kick-started not only the Jedi Order twenty five millennia ago, but they also standardized most of the units of measurement still used today?" Shaak Ti said a bit incredulously.
When Harry nodded, Aayla pounced on the biggest hole in his theory, "But you also said that your Force-based society has only been around for around seven and a half thousand years."
"That is a whole lot less than twenty-five thousand," added Ahsoka added with a smile, thoroughly enjoying playing devil's advocate.
Harry nodded agreeably, though a resigned look crossed his face. "Here's where it gets confusing,"
"Oh? We're just now getting there? Good, I was worried Master," Ahsoka asked, amusement in her voice as she looked up at Harry.
Harry laughed, some of the tension leaving his face at her teasing tone. "Possibly… because I don't think the Veil was a linear path anywhere."
At the frowns of confusion on their face he nodded expectantly. "When I was studying it. I sent things through the Veil."
"Sent things through?" echoed Aayla slowly, suspicion painting her features. "Like the drinking cup you mentioned earlier?"
"What sort of things?" Shaak Ti clarified, also watching intently.
Harry shrugged, "Lots of things. Things with tracking charms on them. Tracer spells, beacon spells, things I designed myself. But also regular objects. I tried a video camera once and it completely fried it when I pulled it back out, after partially putting it through."
"Occasionally… I… err… got frustrated and tossed things through," He said with another sheepish look on his face.
"On one of those occasions, right before my potions and time accident, before I came through, I tossed a cup of hot tea Dobby had just brought me through the portal. When I came through on my own journey I found that specific cup of tea on the ground, cup shattered, tea still wet and warm," Harry explained. "And before you ask, I'm sure it was my mug because Dobby had given it to me for my birthday and it had my name on it,"
"Just your name?" Ahsoka asked.
"Well, 'Great Master Harry Potter', with the 'e' and 'a' flipped in great, and Harry spelled with one 'r', and Potter spelled with one 't'," Harry said, looking abashed. "I was investigating that cup, half standing there in absolute shock, when things started shooting at me."
That caused frowns on all the faces there but Harry pressed on. "When I thought about it, I first thought that maybe time itself traveled differently in the portal. But that didn't make sense either since none of the other things I had sent after the cup had been around too."
"I remember as an experiment that I once spent a few years, tossing in a thousand galleons in at the pace of one a day, each one with a number etched on them. All of them with a powerful tracking charm. Including one I sent a few hours before I took my own journey," Harry's expression twisted into a wry smile.
"I discovered several on Kashyyyk. Some were in the ground, some in the trees, and one was in the trunk of a tree 100 meters north of my home. The tree had grown around it showing that it had been there for a very very long time. Millennia even. I make a habit of checking for tracking charms on the objects I sent through. I must have sent about fifteen hundred galleons, plus a few dozen other items. Some with messages and such on them that I hoped someone might be able to respond to."
"I've discovered ten of the galleons… and the cup of tea," Harry explained.
"Five were on Kashyyyk at different points around the planet. One was being sold on a trinket from a vendor in Nar Shaddaa that he hadn't even realized was in his shop. It was one of the first ones I sent through over a millennia ago by my reckoning, but the weak notice me not charm I was still applying hadn't even worn off," Harry shook his head. "Something that should have happened centuries earlier,"
"Of course I later stopped putting notice-me-not charms on them in the hopes that they might be noticed by non-magicals," Harry chuckled a bit. "One was on this bloody desert planet that I hope never to see again. Another on this swamp planet that was miserable as well. No interest in going there again anytime soon either."
Harry's eyes rolled to the ceiling as he mentally counted them in his head, "One was on Coruscant, not far from the Jedi Temple."
"I found one on the volcanic planet of Queyta. It was under some flowing lava, if it hadn't been magical it would have melted," Harry said as he shook his head. "You Jedi were having one of your dust ups with one of those Sith, so you made quite a bit of noise."
"But yes, based on those facts, I don't think it was a linear path through the Veil, and I think it's rather obvious that it does not come out in the same place all the time. I think things that go through arrive in different times, and different places," Harry explained quietly.
Ahsoka snapped her fingers suddenly. "That was what was on the list you gave the slicer?" Her eyes had narrowed shrewdly, as she looked to Harry for confirmation rather than asking the question.
"Sharp as a tack," Harry raised an eyebrow impressed she put it together. "You are correct, mostly. I had all the historical records I could find of anyone that went through the Veil, as well as any objects myself, or other Unsp- magical researchers sent through. I gave it to the slicer with detailed descriptions to see if he could unearth anything anywhere. Historically or not."
"You're looking for someone specifically though," Ahsoka pressed, remembering the amount mentioned for one of the names.
Harry regarded her thoughtfully for several moments before he finally nodded. "I'm looking for traces of my godfather, Sirius Black. He went through the Veil when I was fifteen. Though based on what I've learned on the that means approximately nothing here."
Aayla however was frowning, "So.. you're hoping he hasn't come through yet? Or you're hoping that you'll find news of him? Mostly… based on a cup of tea?"
Harry smiled wryly. "To an extent, mostly I'm just hoping I may find out what happened to him,"
Shaak Ti spoke softly, her voice without judgment. "You realize if your theory is correct," she emphasized the if, "It's possible he materialized somewhere dead? Or is somewhere unconducive to life?"
Harry nodded though a small smile crossed his face that she didn't immediately dismiss his words "I do realize that…. though there is one other bit of information that hopefully counters that possibility,"
All three women raised their eyebrows expectantly.
Harry regarded them thoughtfully before shrugging slightly. He held up his hand on the arm over Ahsoka's shoulders, with palm facing himself. A ring adorned his hand where they would have sworn his hands were bare before. "This is the Potter family ring. It adorns the acknowledged head of the Potter family."
"I abdicated and passed the head of both the Potter and Black lines to my two eldest sons. The rings continued on down from father to son from there. When I killed the two dark wizards… my descendents, the rings returned to me, signaling that I was the last person capable of actually wearing them," Harry scowled a little bit. It was the reason that he had realized exactly who the identities of the two brothers were and that they represented the last of his family, because they had killed most of the others.
"Not really something I expected. but as I remained in the family even if I had passed them on… I was left as sort of an emeritus position in case the rings could not be passed on. Anyway, I wore both rings when I stepped through the Veil," Harry looked somewhat sheepish. "I'll admit, it took awhile to notice but when I arrived here, I only had one of the rings."
He waited but the response wasn't what he expected.
"You could have merely lost it on the journey or misplaced it…" Aayla ventured.
Harry shook his head. "Nothing short of removing my finger will move this ring. And if that happens, it will simply relocate to another finger. It's magically tied to the head of the Potter family.
Aayla frowned, "So…" clearly she was not following, and from the looks on the others faces they weren't either.
Harry slumped a bit. "So I'm hoping that it's not on my finger because there is another head of the Black family somewhere out there… recognized or not. Maybe Sirius arrived and had the life that was robbed of him with a wife and kids."
Harry got a faraway look and smiled fondly. "Or, knowing him, no wives and lots of kids with lots of angry mothers who may or may not already be married… as well as whose names he struggled to recall."
Eventually he looked at the table before him, a mixture of despair, resignation, and weariness on his face as he quietly said, "A long shot… I'm well aware, you don't need to tell me. But… I hold out hope."
Shaak Ti snapped her fingers suddenly, "That explains the bounty hunter application,"
Harry blinked a moment and then tilted his head to regard her, his expression, "I'm afraid you've lost me."
Aayla turned to her friend, not following, "You've lost me as well, Master Ti."
"It has bugged me, someone who seemed to want anonymity, especially from the Jedi, put information that could identify him on his ship's registry and something easily obtainable like bounty hunter's guild registration information," Shaak Ti explained, her tone filled with a bit of satisfaction.
"That, along with a name that appeared genuine for the most part. That was all done in order make a visible presence in case someone who may have known you or your time period searched for you as well," Shaak Ti posited.
Harry blinked and looked stumped for a moment. "Huh. Honestly... I never thought about that,"
He looked abashed and actually blushed. "The application was mostly to amuse myself when I was bored during a trip through hyperspace."
Ahsoka giggled a bit though Shaak Ti and Aayla both regarded him blankly, though Shaak Ti looked as if she had developed a small twitch above one of her eyebrows. When Ahsoka saw the two Jedi's faces, she lost all composure and fell against Harry giggling helplessly.
Harry shrugged, "I never thought about someone actually looking for me. Remember, the Veil was considered a one way step through death. Even despite the evidence to the contrary I've found since coming here, that's still been on the forefront of my mind regarding this place."
Aayla was frowning, but could tell Harry was closing up on this topic. Trying to keep some of the information flowing she switched topics. "Can I ask about Dobby?"
"What about him?" Harry asked, at the non-sequitur.
"He's… very unique. Can I ask… Where did you find him?" Aayla inquired.
Harry chuckled softly a genuine smile on his face. "Truth be told… he found me."
"I have known Dobby since I was twelve years old. Since he tried, several times, to kill me," he said with a fond smile, before he was startled by a pop.
"Dobby's not be trying to kill Master Harry Potter. Dobby's be trying to save him," Dobby interjected as he appeared on the arm of the chair Harry was sitting in with a drink in his hand, which he promptly handed to Harry.
Harry rolled his eyes a little bit at the old argument. "Right. Which is why we have some very clear guidelines on appropriate methods for 'saving' me now."
He turned back to the three women, pausing to take a drink from the glass Dobby had provided, "Needless to say, he's a very good friend,"
Dobby bobbed his head and beamed at Harry, all traces of teasing gone.
"I freed him from his old abusive master. He bonded himself to me. By choice," Harry emphasized once more with his eyes flashing slightly. "Dobby knows that I would free him without hesitation at any time he wishes. But that would kill him."
"As I mentioned when I came through the Veil, Dobby and Hedwig insisted on coming with me," Harry gestured at the bird on his shoulder as Dobby nodded vigorously.
"Dobby not be leaving Master Harry Potter alone," The house elf insisted. "Master Harry Potter would get into too much trouble without Dobby,"
"Yes, like you being around has kept me out of trouble," Harry replied dryly.
"Dobby is good, but nobody being that good," Dobby retorted. "Even Missies Daphy and Tonky never manage that."
Harry sighed and shook his head. "Anything else you want to know about Dobby you have to ask him. I don't like speaking for him in situations such as this. He can answer his own questions."
Harry glanced at Ahsoka shook his head slightly. "I think that's enough interrogation for the moment."
He had noticed the deeply thoughtful looks on each of the women's faces. He was preparing to stand up, intending to go back into the ship, to check for any damage the bludgers may have caused to the ship when they impacted, when his attention was snagged.
"Harry?" Ahsoka asked, gripping his arm and holding him in place next to her.
He paused, expecting another question.
Ahsoka waved her hand slightly, obviously reading his expression "No, no more interrogation, can you help me with something else?"
Harry raised an eyebrow curiously in response waiting for her to continue.
"I need your help picking out a crystal for my lightsaber," She said someone timidly.
Harry frowned, "What's the problem?"
"All of the gems you showed me, or at least all of the ones I looked at, have the F- are magical in some way. But I don't know what one might work," Ahsoka admitted.
Still, she really wanted a lightsaber again. She still felt partially naked without it, and she didn't want to feel like a liability should they find themselves in another situation.
Harry opened his mouth to tell her to just pick one, when she continued.
"I… picked out a few, before… my outburst," She trailed off in embarrassment. She winced slightly as she remembered her actions from the previous night. But Harry seemed to be genuine about it not being a bad thing. And, truth be told though she had pretty much collapsed into an exhausted sleep the night before, it had actually been one of the better night's sleep she had ever had.
Since she had been up that morning, she also had to admit that she just… felt better. It was a bit like a large weight had been removed from her shoulders. One that she didn't have any idea she was carrying about. She still held some anger to how she had been treated by the Order, but it was no longer this overwhelming sense of rage that made her want to lash out at Shaak Ti for being a constant reminder of what she had gone through.
She shook her head slightly and refocused the conversation. "But I don't want to just go with one chosen randomly in case whatever magic on them interferes with the saber… or if the piece has historical value or something,"
Harry snorted, "I told you, it's more likely to have a history than any sort of historical value. But if you're that concerned we'll have to wait till we can go back to Kashyyyk and talk to Daphne's portrait. She was the last one to sort through that stuff and examine their history."
Ahsoka looked crestfallen, not knowing when they might get back to Kashyyyk to do so, when Dobby popped in immediately and interjected. "Master Harry not have to do that. Dobby brought empty portraits with him!"
Harry actually looked taken aback by that, "Wait… you what?"
"Master Harry say to Dobby to get everything ready to go. So Dobby got everything!" The little being said proudly.
Harry actually blinked several times as he processed that, before he chuckled, "You'd think after all this time I'd learn to phrase my requests a bit less literally."
"Alright Dobby could you get the alternate frames for my wives and put them on the wall over here?" He gestured to the wall above his desk.
"If anything happens to the ship, after the lives of anyone else, including yourself, protecting and saving them becomes a priority," He added as an afterthought. He wasn't really worried considering how much time and effort he put into making his ship sturdy. If the frames were destroyed he still had the original ones in his house on Kashyyyk. But creating frames that were linked to specific portraits was time consuming and tedious.
Dobby snapped his fingers twice in succession, the first snap had both portraits appear above the desk, and the second seemed to affix them to the wall.
The portraits seemed to come alive after a moment. Tonks, spoke first, "You had us moved?"
Harry smiled wryly, "Dobby was being Dobby again and brought out your other portrait frames."
"Ah." Both portraits said in understanding and in unison.
Harry was completely unaware that Shaak Ti was staring up at the paintings on the wall as they both were crossing their arms and staring down at him.
Daphne's portrait peered down at him still in the robes he had donned for war, "You don't seemed to be wounded in the slightest. Easier than you expected?"
"Not really, it wasn't a magical threat." Harry answered.
"Didn't stop Master Harry from ruining his favorite coat when he lost his arm two days ago!" Dobby popped in to say before popping out again.
"Dobby!" Harry growled.
"Lost your arm?" Daphne asked with a raised eyebrow, while Tonks just sighed and shook her head.
"Little accident with a bad wand and a grenade thing, it was fine. I took care of it. I even took a bit of potion to speed things along and it was good as new. Literally." Harry held up his arm for display.
The two portraits looked at each other and nodded a little bit before they sighed in resignation in unison. "Do try and be more careful," Daphne said, though it seemed more perfunctory advice that she knew he wasn't going to take.
"Was that the explosion we heard earlier? We didn't get a chance to ask before you went and dressed for war." Tonks added after a moment's silence.
Harry frowned as he tilted his head in confusion, and started to respond but his confused response was cut short by Daphne's more wry voice. "I think that likely the more appropriate question is 'what exactly were you doing when you caused the explosion we heard?'"
"I think they mean this morning, when you woke us up." ventured Ahsoka.
"Oh, Oh!" Harry realized, and looked a little bit sheepish, after the events of the past few hours that had seemed like a much longer time ago, "I was experimenting with a potion,"
Daphne raised an eyebrow. "Experimenting with what?"
Harry grinned a bit. Daphne was the person who had actually taught him potions. and always had an interest in his experiments. "I was attempting to use a magical tree sap, one that seems to have several different properties, including one that may encourage condensing. I was trying to see if I could come up with a way to turn both blood replenishing potion and pain relieving potion doses into tablet form," Harry explained.
He knew the portrait wasn't really his wife, but it would respond the way his wife would when presented with a problem or information. He had long ago become comfortable conversing with it especially when it came to things like this.
The portrait of Daphne regarded him for a moment and then raised an eyebrow once more expectantly.
"I… used too much sap," Harry said sheepishly, running a hand through his hair. "The result was rather more than I expected. But the sap doesn't seem conducive to converting and condensing the potion."
Daphne looked thoughtful as she mused in response, "I'd… have to see the properties of the sap. But if the sap is magical, the wood itself should be too. You may want to consider using the wood in powdered form. It may act as a hardening agent.
Harry considered that as he tilted his head and seemed to get that far away look. "I'm not sure if that would condense the potions the way I want without completely changing their properties."
Tonks sighed audibly at the two and looked at the audience, "Don't mind them. They start talking potions or chemistry and I guarantee Harry won't notice if you set his hair on fire."
"That only happened one time… and I noticed eventually!" Harry replied scoffing a little bit.
"Not before you were nearly bald," Tonks retorted.
"You show up to one event with a bad hair day, and she never lets me live it down," Harry said ruefully before he shook his head. "Sorry, not actually what we came for. Though we did need Daphne's help, not with potion advice though, we sorta need her knowledge of family history."
Daphne's expression of interest morphed from one of idle and musing curiosity to one of focused interest as her eyes flicked to the different people in the room. "Oh?"
Harry shrugged a bit, "Just need to see if you remember about the histories and origins of certain pieces of the family jewelry and heirlooms."
Daphne and Tonks both blinked and then leaned forward, as if they might jump forward out of their frames, with excited looks on their face.
"Are you finally getting married again?!" Tonks blurted out first.
"Huh?" Harry blinked and actually blushed and more than a little bit taken aback, "What? No!"
That clearly disappointed both portraits. Tonks merely let out a dejected "Oh." And her hair went from pink to dark and seemed to wilt a bit in the painting
"What in Merlin's name gave you that idea?" Harry demanded.
Daphne's voice was quiet and calm as she followed up, "Harry, you may be capable of many many things. But you can't spend forever alone,"
"Yeah well, It's not like I had much of a choice, in the matter," Harry groused, his tone more resigned than truly depressed.
"Not to get all Dumbledorean on you but there is always a choice Harry be-" Tonks added only to be cut off.
"Yeah yeah. Right. Easy. Yeah. I know. I know. However I make it a point not to apply Dumbledorean philosophy to my personal life whenever possible," Harry responded dryly, wasn't getting upset, in fact he was rather amused by the conversation, a familiar one between the two of them, his grin turned lecherous and he winked at them, "Besides, easy can be fun."
Daphne and Tonks both sighed, and rolled their eyes, it was clear to all present that this was a familiar and ongoing argument that was going to lead them in circles. So they changed the topic.
"If you're not going to get yourself married again… Then what are you doing mucking about with the family heirlooms and jewelry? You hate dealing with jewelry, almost as much as the Goblins. Only without the risk of starting a war," she demanded returning to the topic at hand. "In fact, I seem to remember you claiming you'd rather be stuck in a room with Draco Malfoy discussing hair care tips than deal with any jewelry."
"This coming from the woman who refused to wear almost any jewelry at every function ever?" Harry shot back with a grin, making it clear that the argument hadn't dampened his mood for any considerable time.
"You know she speaks the truth. Don't try and distract everyone from your abhorrence to everything related to jewelry," Daphne spoke up as her eyes fixed on the girls who were watching the back and forth. "Did he tell you how he proposed to me?
"He took me to dinner and just offhandedly said that we should get married. I assumed he was joking and that no one in their right mind would propose like that, so I told him that proposals usually came with a ring. He shrugged and told me 'There's all sorts of rings in the family vault for you to chose from or you can get one made if you want.'" Daphne shook her head in exasperation.
"Hey! I did get better, being locked in a cupboard for my formative years hardly provided great templates for romance," Harry retorted.
There was no sympathy from either one of the portraits as they regarded him, it was Tonks that spoke, "Oh, Harry. You long ago passed the point where playing the whole 'I was an abused child locked in a cupboard for years' card was effective. Besides, you're right. You did get better."
"We trained you well. It only took a decade or two," Daphne added shot back. "It was definitely a concerted effort."
"What do you mean trained? Wait… you know what? I don't want to know." He held up his hand to ward off responses to his own question. "Anyway putting my complete lack of interest in totally useless, and functionless baubles aside… we're actually looking to make sure none of the gems she picked from the Black heirlooms have any particularly 'nefarious' history."
Tonks snorted, "Fat chance of that happening, my entire family was nefarious."
"Sure, if that's another way of pronouncing 'batshit insane'," Harry muttered.
Daphne ignored the back and forth as her expression was once more curious, "What do you need to know about family jewel history for?"
Harry shrugged, "We're going to strip away the metal and use the jewels to make lightsabers,"
"Light sabers?" Tonks asked playing with the unfamiliar word.
"It's pretty much what its name implies. A sword made out of light and plasma focused through a jewel. Ahsoka's was taken by a buncha crotchety old men. And I figured I'd give it a whirl," Harry glanced over at Ahsoka who was actually looking nervously up at the portraits as if they'd judge her for it.
Though Harry's pronouncement drew her attention as she looked at him in surprise, she couldn't help blurting out "You're going to make a lightsaber?"
"Yeah, It would be something you could actually teach me and I figured the experience would be interesting. Out of curiosity if nothing else," Harry smiled at her.
Ahsoka felt a brief surge of pride and a bit of excitement that she was actually going to teach Harry something. That wasn't really something she had the chance to do before, as a padawan she was always the learner and never the teacher. Yet Harry seemed to have no problem letting her teach him something new, nor did it seem to sting his pride to do so.
"Oh Harry, playing with swords again?" Tonks sighed dramatically. "Didn't your last experience with them teach you anything?"
"Hey, I got pretty good with them." Harry protested.
"Yeah, but the first time you picked one up was a bloody disaster," argued Tonks.
"Even your Mum agreed… that chandelier was ugly. It practically had it coming," Harry replied with a grin.
"And that antique mirror, and the window, and that poor owl's tail feathers,... and of course there was Kreacher," Tonks added.
"That blasted elf definitely had it coming. I still maintained he jumped in front of the blade mid swing in an attempt to have his head on the wall," Harry stated indignantly.
"That was also roundabout the time of the incident when you stabbed Smith's foot," Daphne supplied helpfully.
"Meh. He always was a prat and he propositioned our daughter, even after she made it clear she wasn't interested in someone thirty years older than her and four times her body weight. Served him right," Harry replied sounding unconcerned
He had done some of his own research on lightsabers the night before, after leaving Ahsoka to sleep, mostly because he was curious to know what he could find out about building them on the holonet.
Aayla looked torn between amused and offended by the overall tone of the back and forth while Shaak Ti looked too engrossed in figuring out the portraits to be really paying attention to the conversation.
"Harry, you already have one shiny sword. You spent a couple decades learning to use it and a bunch of other pointy weapons so you didn't accidentally stab yourself. Why do you need another sharp object to play with?" Tonks asked with a roll of her eyes and an exasperated tone.
"I did not play with them. I learned to use them. I figured if I was going to kill Dark Lords and other assorted bad guys that it might be useful to have a sword. By the time I realized it was pretty useless… well... then it was just fun and it's not like I had anything better to do," Harry groused in protest.
Harry suddenly grinned with a sidelong look at the Jedi. "Besides, this sword is different… this one glows in the dark!"
Daphne and Tonks exchanged a look, "Men," they said simultaneously with an eerily similar roll of their eyes.
"So you need my help picking out something suitable," Daphne sniffed after refocusing on Harry.
He rolled his eyes and chuckled, "Well Miss Tano actually requires help. I've already got mine picked out,"
Harry removed a gem from his pocket and tossed it in the air, catching it carelessly. The gem was dark red as it rested in his palm, but when it was in the air, it seemed to gleam with its own power. It was currently uncut and about the size of his fist. Ahsoka noticed that it did not seem to be any of the pieces that she had looked at last night, it was cut too rough and looked harsh and jagged.
Daphne blinked and narrowed her eyes, as they focused on the gem Harry was tossing in the air, "Is that..."
However she didn't even have time to finish the question before Tonks started to giggle helplessly.
"For a sword? Really?" Daphne's look however was somewhat less than amused. Harry just grinned wider at her reaction. Her eyes narrowed at his cheeky smile. "You're just curious as to what will happen,"
"Yup," Harry responded, popping the 'p' sound, as he nodded unrepentantly.
"According to you it's properties tend to be unique… what if it blows up in your hands?" Daphne asked with a long suffering sigh.
"Wouldn't be the first time something like that happened. Wouldn't even be the first time this week, truth be told," He shrugged and then changed the topic before any further discussion could happen and held up his hand.
"Ahsoka here has some requirements for the lightsaber. She doesn't want the gem to be responsible for any crazy deaths or anything, or being worn by any dark lords, ladies, or crazy minions and since we're chopping up the Black family heirlooms for it…"
"That's a reasonable concern," Daphne finished dryly.
Tonks however burst out into laughter. "Oh Harry, my ancestors are probably rolling over in their graves… and my Mum is probably torn between laughing her ass off while cheering you on and scolding you."
Daphne however remained focused on the matter at hand, her eyes on Ahsoka with more than a bit of judging in her gaze, as she raised an eyebrow expectantly once more.
Ahsoka blushed a bit wondering why she was feeling intimidated by the glaring woman who wasn't even a woman, just a portrait on the wall. However she kept those thoughts to herself as she looked at Harry sheepishly. "I.. actually don't have the gems we picked out last night I left them in the room after the whole… you know…"
"Before you blew up my room," Harry supplied helpfully.
"Yeah. That. I didn't think to pick up the ones I-" She was cut off as Dobby appeared.
"These be the ones Miss Soaky had picked out," Dobby supplied helpfully and dropped several items of jewelry in her hands before disappearing with a pop.
Ahsoka blinked several times looking down at the items in her hand which were indeed ones she had set aside the evening before she looked up at Harry.
He shrugged looking unsurprised, "Don't worry, you'll get used to him knowing things you want a day before you actually ask for it. Are those the ones you picked out?"
Ahsoka nodded and Harry gestured for her to set them on the desk in front of the portrait, which she did, laying out five pieces in all.
Daphne's portrait almost immediately pointed to a bracelet with several gems on it. "You definitely want to avoid that one. Goblins could never find curses on it, but it was deemed incredibly bad luck. People who wore it always seemed to experience bouts of poor decision making and numerous unfortunate debacles."
"I recognize that one. It isn't really bad luck. She's just saying that because that was a favorite piece her sister had," Harry chuckled, "It never brought bad luck to anyone else that I know of."
"I would say being married to Draco was enough of a precedent." Daphne sniffed imperiously.
Harry glanced at it and then shook his head. "Yeah, I think we can avoid that,"
Daphne winced slightly. "That necklace, with the topaz gems in it?" She pointed toward the piece Ahsoka had put in the middle. It contained one large dark orange gem and two slightly smaller ones in a gaudy necklace piece that was likely designed to cover most of one's chest and collarbone.
"If you're really concerned about history… I would not chose that one," Daphne said dryly.
Harry raised his eyebrow in curiosity. "I don't think it was cursed, Dobby and I both checked…"
"No… but it was Walburga Black's favorite piece of jewelry. She even requested to be buried in it," she said dryly. "However, Sirius was Head of House by the point she died. He never approved it so she couldn't be buried in it. I am not certain whether his written request that the goblins exhume her body, perform an exorcism, douse the bones in holy water, burn them to ash, and then flush the ashes down the toilet of a muggle train station."
Ahsoka turned her questioning attention from Daphne to Harry who was scratching his cheek thoughtfully, before commenting "Yeah, Walburga Black was all sorts of crazy. One of the meanest most vindictive people you could ever have the misfortune to meet. And I only had the… 'pleasure' of meeting her portrait."
"On the other hand, just because she wore it doesn't mean it was imbued with thoughts of crazy or something," Harry grinned. "I also can't think of anyone more deserving of an unhappy afterlife, especially if you were to use that to fight the forces of evil"
"She would be screeching in outrage!" Tonks nodded vigorously between fits of giggles.
"That piece would be ideal to destroy, it was always gaudy and without taste, much like much of the family, and I never cared for the color scheme either," Daphne stated.
Harry nodded, "Yeah I know, but we have to be a bit careful of colors and such. I still haven't quite broken Ahsoka of all the silliness she was indoctrinated with."
"Oh?" Daphne asked curiously.
Harry shrugged. "Where she comes from, most of the good guys used one or two colors of lightsaber, while the bad guys apparently all use another."
"Ah… so basically the same thing as Hogwarts houses. Green and silver are evil. Because all Slytherins are evil snakes?" Daphne said with some distaste.
"Yup, and all Gryffindors are amazingly brave and utterly selfless heroes. Pretty much the same thing here. And it's a message propagated by a group of people so Gryffindor they even make me cringe," Harry offered.
"That's quite the achievement." Tonks murmured in amusement.
"Lovely. A Dumbledorian era all over again," Daphne opined with a larger grimace.
"Only this time it's on a galactic scale!" Harry nodded brightly, his expression obviously exaggerated. He paused a moment and then pouted a little bit. "Though the colors are reversed. Apparently red means 'evil bad guy' and blue or green means 'totally heroic and always right hero type'."
"Serves you right. Now it's your turn for your Gryffindor colors to be all evil!" Daphne responded with a small smile that bordered upon a sneer.
"Speaking of indoctrination that hasn't broken," Tonks rolled her eyes at the two of them.
"There is more to it than a simple color," interjected Shaak Ti finally. She had yet to figure out what was going on with the portraits though she could sense Force presence in them. Daphne and Tonks eyes were both drawn to her as she continued. "Red is the color of the blade that nearly all synthetic crystals will produce when the easiest possible method of producing a crystal is used."
"It represents everything that is wrong with the utilization of the Dark side of the Force," Aayla added, finally being drawn into the conversation, having just been observing it mostly in amusement as she noticed how Harry seemed comfortable interacting with the portraits of his dead wives.
"That's what they call Magic," Harry clarified with a helpful eyeroll to Daphne and Tonks. "The Force."
Shaak Ti gave him a half-hearted glare for the interruption, and continued. "By using a red colored blade, that person is essentially announcing to all present that they embody everything which is the opposite of the Order."
"That they have no patience to search for a crystal themselves. That they chose the quick and easy path to power, rather than undergo the journey properly, which anyone who knows about such things realizes that is the most important part,"
Aayla spoke up to clarify, "Normally a Jedi will journey to one or two planets, which the Order has managed to keep the locations of somewhat secret. The journey, once there, is quite arduous, and that's before they even get to the underground caverns that house the crystals."
"Then, a Jedi must attune themselves with the Force in order to 'find' a crystal that's suitable. It's a journey, and a test at the same time. To simply follow a recipe like a cookbook, and skip all that is something no true Force user with the discipline necessary would do," Shaak Ti finished fixing Harry with a stare.
"Well good thing I'm not a Force user then. I'm a magic user," Harry said, unconcerned. He knew he could talk about the decades of work and effort that went into creating his stone. But was actually more interested in seeing the creation of a lightsaber. "And Ahsoka's apparently done her journey once already. No need to reinvent the wheel."
A lot of things he had seen on the holonet the evening before said that even schematics out there only worked half the time, and even the successes were rarely truly successful, having a history of failing. The Jedi's must have kept some secret about their creation
Harry didn't really need a lightsaber, but it was a sword… and it was shiny. "I'm just curious how your little toy actually works mechanically."
Aayla and Shaak Ti shared an indrawn breath at this, both of their expressions closing off.
Shaak Ti spoke first her tone flat. "A lightsaber is a responsibility and a controlled and powerful weapon. It can be incredibly dangerous to its wielder and all those near the wielder whether or not the user is skilled or not. It is the weapon of a Jedi, and one of the most recognizable objects in the galaxy,"
"It is not a toy, Harry," Aayla's voice summed up a little more harshly than she intended.
"Seems to me the use is rather limited, but whatever you say, Blue," Harry shrugged apathetically, not particularly awed or intimidated by either of their tones.
Ahsoka was quiet as she listened to the discussion. She could easily see the difference in opinions between the two Jedi Masters and Harry. Her attention was mostly on the pieces that she left on the desk. One of the portraits picked up on her attention.
Daphne was looking thoughtful. "Honestly, the necklace laying there is probably by far the best bet," She pointed at the fourth piece lying on the table, it was not as large as the previous one that Walburga favored, and it was nowhere near as gaudy. It contained four gems of decent size that lay in delicate and finely wrought white gold chain. The piece had a look of elegance and class rather than overwhelming ostentation.
"That particular piece was a gift from Charlus Potter to Dorea Black while they were courting," Daphne smiled and inclined her head, "To the best of my knowledge there is nothing that pertains poorly to that particular piece. It also came from Harry's family originally and was given to the Black family during the courtship."
Ahsoka glanced up at the portrait and down at the necklace she indicated. She reached out to run her fingers over the necklace slowly, reaching out her senses once more toward the stones. She could almost feel the disapproving gazes that fell upon her, or at least one of them, knowing Shaak Ti in particular was incensed by Harry's previous comment and attitude.
For her part, Ahsoka could see both sides, having been raised and knowing how important and how much emphasis was placed on the step to getting a lightsaber during the Jedi training process. For him to dismiss the weapon so readily was a bit jarring, but at the same time, Harry obviously did things differently. He also seemed to have no objection to her carrying one.
However, she had thrown herself into this, and wasn't going to start siding against Harry now.
Especially not when she agreed with him.
"My lightsaber has always been green. But… that was the old me. I think I should go for something different," she said as her fingers brushed over the yellow gems that were so pale they were nearly clear.
Harry grinned and rubbed his hands together, "Okay, let's get started!"
Ahsoka chuckled, "Well this is just one piece needed to make the lightsaber. The rest of the pieces are easier, but I hadn't gathered them all yet, and I kind of doubt I'm going to find material for a grip or a power source just laying around."
Harry gave a mock hurt look. "Please, you would have thought I was unprepared!"
He summoned a pouch out of his pocket into his hand, and upended it. Out of the pocket came a whole pile of stuff that overflowed the desk and tumbled onto the floor with clanking pieces. Metal tubing of various lengths and thicknesses, different wires and a whole lot of miniature power sources
Ahsoka looked up at him questioningly.
Harry shrugged, "You were concerned enough about building one last night, so I went looking for parts after you went to sleep. The pieces required were on the information I got from the holonet, and if we need more than this we can always raid Dobby's spare parts stash here on the ship. I'd be very surprised if we couldn't find what we were looking for there if something's missing."
"It didn't say what else was needed besides the pieces," Harry continued, his tone apologetic, "and the schematics I downloaded from the holonet said they weren't always successful at working so I don't know how helpful they were going to be."
Ahsoka had raised her eyebrows for entirely other reasons. "You went looking for pieces while I was asleep?. When exactly did you sleep?"
Harry shrugged, "I sleep when I need to."
"He sleeps when he's about to fall over unconscious and only just then. I'm guessing the only reason he's eating and hasn't shriveled up to an emaciated zombie is because Dobby insists on feeding him," Tonks scoffed.
Harry actually looked somewhat betrayed by the statement, and responded befitting someone of his age and experience. He stuck out his tongue and blew a raspberry at the portrait of his wife.
He turned his attention back to Ahsoka "Where do we start?"
Shaak Ti sat in the pilot's chair as she initialized the surprisingly advanced Holocom station Harry had in his ship. Aayla was sitting next to her in the copilot's seat. She was staring out at the star lines and seemed lost in thought. Shaak Ti thought about asking her what she was thinking but given her level of concentration, she decided best to leave her alone.
They both had left the hold where Ahsoka was constructing a pair of lightsabers for herself, while simultaneously teaching Harry to do the same. They had watched for several hours while the two fussed with gems and then began putting the sabers together. While Shaak TI was impressed at Harry's focus as he listened to Ahsoka, she was rather irked with the blasé way Harry seemed to be treating the chosen weapons of the Order and knew Aayla felt the same.
But as Shaak Ti promised she was trying not to rush into any snap judgments. Though she was relatively certain the importance of the lightsabers was not being significantly impressed upon Harry, as Ahsoka seemed to be more amused by Harry's comments than offended.
Aayla's thoughts mirrored her companion's to an extent. A part of her was worried about Ahsoka instructing Harry, instruction from half trained padawans or Jedi in the past had gone very poorly. Then again, she doubted anything Ahsoka was going to do would actually cause the same outcomes as had historically happened in the history of the Jedi Council..
Shaak Ti had asked Harry if it was okay to use his comm system to contact the Jedi Council, and all she had gotten was a disinterested wave. Obviously he was unconcerned that they planned to report in. She had taken her leave from the hold and gone back to the cockpit to reach out to the Jedi Temple, Aayla had followed her a few moments later.
It had taken rather longer to connect than normal though she was uncertain as to why. However, once she established a connection she realized that it would be several minutes before it started. Several other Masters were already present or, like herself and Aayla, present in holographic form. She could hear the murmur of rather animated conversations between different masters. Shaak Ti greeted several of the masters politely.
Rather than take time to engage in the conversations or determine their nature, Aayla used the minutes to gather her thoughts as she knew that she had rather dramatic and earthshaking news to present and wanted to make sure she laid it out in the clearest manner possible. It didn't help that she was unable to clear her senses as she normally did, the very Force around her still seemed to be active and... bubbling as if it boiled in the area around Harry. There was nothing nefarious about it that she could sense, but Aayla had never felt anything like it before so it was an entirely new experience. Occasionally, she even felt invigorated by it. As if taking a free breath.
Aayla's attention was drawn in the holographic display as Master Yoda walked into the room slowly, aided by his gymer stick and followed by Master Windu. Master Windu took his seat and everyone waited the time it took Yoda to make it to his seat and get settled as well.
Yoda rapped his stick on the side of his chair to get the attention of the council. He had to do it several time to get everyone's attention given how intense some of the whispered conversations seemed to be.
Aayla noted that several of the Master's were remoting in from other worlds. It was a more full council meeting than most, then she did a double take; it was not a mix of Council members and those who had business or some function of the war they were particularly engaged in as a topic of discussion. All twelve Masters officially on the Council were there either in person or remotely. The five permanent members, who accepted a lifetime commitment to the council, the four long term members, who served until they chose to step down and the three limited-term members who sat on the council for specific terms. Shaak Ti was one of the latter category.
This was unexpected and had Aayla considering the reasons in the back of her head, while Shaak Ti seemed to take it in stride.
Once he had everyone's attention the little being spoke. "Much we have to discuss. Understand I do everyone's chief concern."
"Felt, we all did the disturbance in the Force?" The little being asked as he looked around one by one to the different Masters for their assent.
Aayla's eyes widened at that and she exchanged a shocked look with Shaak Ti who glanced her way, but managed a perfunctory nod when he looked at her before he continued around the circle. She had no question as to what he was referring to, but she hadn't grasped the idea that Harry's actions had not just reverberated around the system, but the entire galaxy.
"We didn't just feel it! Whatever it was nearly incapacitated every unit, battalion and battlegroup we have deployed as the Jedi in command of them often fell unconscious while on duty! Sometimes it even happened mid-battle. Do we even have numbers yet on our casualties due to this… this... Force Storm?" demanded Master Tsui Choi, a non-Council member who was one of the numerous Masters brought into the meeting.
A grunt of annoyance was heard from Mace Windu, "We are still ascertaining the final count of casualties. Some of our members are with troops behind enemy lines and are subject to jamming. We have no idea how they fared in those situations."
"And the rest?" asked Master Plo Kloon, obviously quite keen to know the number they did know that they lost.
Windu hesitated a moment, then began to speak. "All told our losses were manageable. We lost two light cruisers and had to abandon a Venator-class destroyer that had likely been salvageable if not for the abrupt turn in fighting. Outside of the losses incurred there, we lost upwards of 10 thousand clone troops including several entire battalions in various skirmishes. The droid armies took advantage of the confusion in the chain of command and inflicted severe damage in several areas to our ground troops, with at least two worlds we may have to pull back from..."
"What of the Jedi casualties?" Master Ki-Adi-Mundi demanded impatiently.
Aayla found herself unconsciously nodding slightly in agreement, her own impatience there as well, she wanted to know about the Jedi casualties, those were most important in her mind. The fact that they had to abandon two worlds at least temporarily was problematic, but it was possible they could be regained in the near future. The destruction of the fleet ships were worrying, though replacements were on the line and being pumped out as fast as possible. The loss of clones was in a similar vein, it would take two or three months to replace the clones.
Aayla froze as that thought lingered in her mind. She wouldn't have hesitated on it at all, but the discussion with Harry from the previous night regarding the use of clones was brought back to her mind by the mere mention of them.
When did she become so callous to that loss of life? When did she start seeing them as unimportant? She considered Bly a very good friend, and yet she found herself casually dismissing the loss of thousands of clones just like him that she had never met.
She prided herself in her compassion for others, despite the reputation and admonishments it often gained her from the Council for getting 'too involved.' To so casually dismiss their sacrifice, even in the depths of her own thoughts was anathema to her. Aayla knew she would feel disgust if anyone mentioned thinking that way, so why was she? A glance over at Shaak Ti showed that the other woman was focused on the conversation at hand and didn't seem to be plagued by the same thoughts.
And as she consciously thought about it she knew it wasn't like it was the first time. She had thought that way for awhile… could remember feeling that way in briefings and when she plotted out strategy..
For a moment she wondered if she was overreacting, and responding to the hells of war by acting as almost all Generals do, seeing numbers and not people in their troops. Her conscience seemed to want to accept that reasoning and move on. It was easier and less troubling.
She put her fingers to her head and closed her eyes. Something was very wrong.
Aayla was so lost in her thoughts, that she missed several comments before she focused once more on the conversation.
"-Jedi because of this incident. Save for a single incident, which Master Swan will report on, those Masters and Knights who were fighting at the time, were all pulled back by their troops when they recognized something was wrong." Mace Windu was saying.
He leaned back heavily in his chair. "No, the losses we incurred were all Padawans well away from the front. All had Masters who were incapacitated, leading to confusion amongst their troops, and in each case, the enemy managed to recognize a break in the flow of battle and took advantage of it. The one padawan killed in the line of duty, hadn't seen combat yet, and was performing rear guard duties when their positions were suddenly overrun."
Silence met this. When no one moved to reply, Yoda spoke up. "Master Redath-Gom your report, would you give."
Master Que-Mars Redath-Gom was a male Weequay, a humanoid species that appeared incredibly wrinkly to human eyes. However their skin was a tough hide that provided a natural resistance to blaster fire. Their race was ideal bounty hunters and bodyguards the galaxy over. Aayla knew that was only part of the reason that the Jedi who had recently attained Master status was known for surviving rough scrapes.
He was there via holocom, so his image grew larger in proportion to the others in the holocom when the focus turned to him. Aayla examined him and saw that he had clearly been in a battle. and had been injured significantly judging by the sling his arm was in and the burn on his cheek.
He spoke up, his clipped accent gathering people's attention. "Yesterday, while I was here picking up reinforcements, the Separatists launched an assault on Rothana, specifically Rothana Heavy Engineering and the largest of their production facilities."
Aayla stiffened and glanced at Shaak Ti who had a similar expression on her face, an expression that was mirrored around the room. Grievous was one of the Jedi's most implacable foes, and had been responsible for at least a dozen Jedi deaths, that they knew of.
"General Grievous infiltrated the facility, which was partially underground, while his flagship exchanged fire with the planetary defense force," Master Redath-Gom continued, giving his report in firm quick tones. "Myself, Master Swan and Master Saxton along with Jedi Knights Thasla and Parasia confronted him at the facility."
"He managed to critically injure Master Swan during the fight and she was forced to withdraw. Then in mid-battle, that Force storm hit, and the three of us were staggered. Knight Thasia was cut down almost immediately as it seemed to affect him most, Master Saxton fell a few moments later." Master Redath-Gom shook his head before continuing, his single braid shifting in the air as he did, "Myself and Knight Parasia were left in no shape to fight and vulnerable, however apparently the explosives they planted were on timers, as they started to go off. Grievous didn't seem to have time to get to me due to burning metal that fell between us. When he saw there was no easy way through, he didn't wait around to try, he returned to his command ship and fled."
The Weequay master shook his head "I managed to regain my senses enough to get myself and Knight Parasia to safety as she had caught part of an explosive blast and suffered burns on one of her legs."
"What is the status of Master Swan?" inquired Obi-Wan with concern in his tone.
"Master Swan is currently in a Bacta tank and will probably need at least another twelve hours," Master Redath-Gom responded with a slight bow of his head.
"Sorry are we to hear about the deaths of Master Saxton and Knight Thasla," Master Yoda said solemnly.
"Do we know what caused this yet?" Master Plo Koon asked quietly.
"It obviously didn't just happen!" Anakin Skywalker spoke up from a seat on the Council. "And it's still being felt. The Force around us is different. We're not just feelings ripples from a disturbance, the Force itself feels fundamentally changed! "
Aayla frowned a little bit as she looked at his image. His presence was not uncommon at the meetings, but he was sitting in the chair of a Master on the council. She wondered when he had gotten both promotions. Not that he didn't deserve it in her mind, given his service and actions, though she still had concerns about his ability to let go.
"Is this the work of the hidden Sith Lord?" inquired Master Tiin quietly.
Aayla's eyes narrowed briefly at the Jedi Master who she had bickered with at the last meeting, and whom Yoda had forced to leave.
"No, caused by the Dark Lord of the Sith this was not," Yoda said quietly. "Sensed his presence nearby, I did. Here on Coruscant he was. In Senate building he was."
"Very powerful is this Dark Lord. Sensed that, even in the brief moment felt him I did." Yoda looked around slowly, "However just as surprised and caught off guard by events was he. Caused this he did not."
"Uncertain are we," summed up Yoda honestly, "Never felt anything like this we have."
"Master, I believe we have the explanation for what happened," Shaak Ti spoke up.
That certainly got the attention of everyone there. Yoda seemed to settle down further into his chair and regarded Shaak Ti with curious eyes.
"Please, Master Ti. Share with us what you know," Mace Windu added after a few moments pause.
Shaak Ti glanced over at Aayla briefly, but Aayla shook her head slightly. She wasn't sure what she could or couldn't say to the Order given the oath Harry had insisted on. However Shaak Ti hadn't given any oath and so she was free to speak as much as she wanted.
"We know exactly what… or rather who caused it." Shaak Ti repeated, and rather than waiting for the inevitable question, she continued, "In fact, the origin of the event occurred not ten feet in front of us on Kashyyyk. The disturbance in the Force was caused by the Bounty Hunter you had Aayla make contact with, and that I was sent to offer medical treatment to."
There was the briefest moment of silence as the attending Jedi digested this information. None dared speak, as random outbursts had been cracked down upon in light of some of the commentary issued during the Jedi's first exposure to Harry. All turned to Yoda, to see what the ancient leader of their order had to say in reaction to the news that had been so abruptly delivered.
"Hmmm," Yoda grumbled in a contemplative manner as he stared at the floor, idly drawing invisible lines on the floor with his Gymer stick. With a creased forehead, he turned to Shaak Ti and gestured, "Details you can offer?"
Shaak Ti nodded in acknowledgement and began the tale of what Aayla and company had witnessed on Kashyyyk. Everything was described in detail. From her arrival on Kashyyyk, to her descending to the ground level, to Harry's house. She didn't give specifics on Ahsoka's training after a glance at Aayla but she did describe Harry was connected with the some of the Wookiees on Kashyyyk itself. to the way the description of the manner in which he single-handedly halted an invasion force.
"He called down fire from the sky?" Mace Windu asked, leaning forward intently.
Shaak Ti tilted her head to regard him, surprised slightly by the intensity in his voice, "Yes, that's just one of the things I've seen him do that I would have said were impossible."
Master Windu leaned back and seemed to contemplate this.
"Master Secura, anything to add to Master Ti's account you have?" Yoda asked.
Aayla jolted slightly, she had still been puzzling over her own reactions and the way her mind had seemed to be so callous, that she had only half been paying attention to what was being said. She shook her head a little bit and was about to reply that she really didn't have anything but she was cut off.
The door to the Council room opened with a woosh and a female with short hair and an odd tattoo on her forehead rushed in, looking a little bit frantic. "Masters… a youngling… it's impossible… you have to see!"
Mace's voice was the first to respond, to the sudden intrusion, "Master Fy-Tor-Ana what is it? Is one of the children injured?"
Aayla and Shaak Ti glanced at each other. They were both passingly familiar with the Jedi Master. She had trained both of them and many many more when they were younglings and knew she had trained many older masters as well. However the woman never seemed to age. She was somewhat of an oddity among the Jedi in that she trained the younglings but never took a padawan for herself.
Nor did she ever spend much time or seem to befriend any of the other masters. Though she and Anakin Skywalker seemed to get on well together.
Unbeknownst to the two masters in the ship, their thoughts and opinions were shared by a majority of the council. They had never seen her so frantic before, indeed she was usually unflappable.
That brought up Fy-Tor-Ana short, and she shook her head, "No Master, I… he… did something impossible!"
"What did he do?" asked Obi-Wan quietly. He too remembered being put through the Master's infamous obstacle course as no more than a youngling.
"We were working on teaching the basics of Force jumping and… he… he... " Master Fy-Tor Ana shook her head slightly again, "It would be better to just show you. Pull up the video for about 10 minutes ago in training room 16."
Obi-Wan keyed some information into a datapad, and a three dimensional video appeared in the middle of the room. The now far more calm Jedi Master took a few steps back to make sure everyone had a clear view.
Shaak Ti touched a few buttons on the console and brought the video into closer view for both herself and Aayla who was watching with equal interest.
Aayla recognized the room as the one they usually used to teach force jumping to younglings. It had a series of platforms in the room of varying heights, and was padded with foam so falls and tumbles were unlikely to hurt.
They watched quietly as the video clearly showed Master Fy-Tor-Ana working with a group of four younglings, Aayla clearly remembered her first attempts in that room as well.
She watched as all four younglings whose age she guessed between five and seven, took turns attempting to jump onto a platform that was nearly ten meters in the air and only managing to get a few feet in the air, in purely natural jumps on several attempts. Hardly surprising. Few managed to get it in their first few attempts. It was quite a bustle when Anakin Skywalker had leapt successfully on his first attempt.
Then she watched as one of the younglings got a familiar look of frustration on his face. She could almost hear the lecture that was about to come after he tried and failed once more. Master Fy-Tor-Ana would remonstrate him about letting frustration get the better of you not being helpful.
Only this time the Rodian youngling leapt up and disappeared.
There was a quick intake of breath as he reappeared nearly two meters above the platform. It was clearly not planned because the youngling immediately let out a cry of shock as he fell to the platform beneath him, stumbled and was unable to keep his feet so he tumbled right over the edge to the ground below.
Master Fy-Tor-Ana was too stunned to do anything as the youngling hit the ground with a soft thump. However given that the entire room was padded with softening foam on it, the landing wasn't harmful and the youngling would only suffer a bruise or two.
"How did he do that?" demanded Anakin Skywalker as the recording froze.
Master Windu's voice cut across the growing murmurs of incredulity. "Ancient Sith were known to have the capability to teleport. But I'll banish the first person who even dreams of suggesting a youngling somehow managed to recreate a lost Sith technique on their own while attempting a supervised Force Jump session within our very own Temple."
Silence met this proclamation, as there were, no doubt, a few who were about to suggest this very thing. In lieu of commenting, many returned their eyes to the screen and watched the unbelievable event repeat itself.
"So… how explain this do we?" asked Master Yoda, who's eyes had not yet left the replay of the Youngling's unexpected ability.
"I've seen such things before," stated Shaak Ti after a visibly deep breath.
Aayla glanced at her friend, unsure how she felt about Master Ti outing Harry's abilities like this. But, if a Youngling were able to suddenly do much of the same as Harry, then the Council would likely need as much information as it could get.
"Let me guess," Anakin asked in a dry tone devoid of any humor, "Once again, our Bounty Hunter?"
Shaak Ti merely nodded, "Harry has repeatedly teleported, both by himself and with others in tow."
"That's how he made it to his ship that was docked thousands of kilometers away when he was originally here on Coruscant!" exclaimed Obi-Wan as he quickly put pieces of information together.
"This man, time and time again, displays the potential to be an incredibly dangerous individual," commented Mace Windu.
Anakin, his thoughts always a hair-trigger from Ahsoka, was quick to grasp on to this line of thought, "So what will we do? I can't let my Padawan stay around such an individual unsuper-"
But he was cut off by Aayla, who felt that the first hand information they had about Harry, much of which could alleviate some of the suspicions about it, were being ignored, "She is not unsupervised. She has myself and Master Ti present in case our former member encounters something she cannot handle, or to offer advice in case she has questions on how someone who was still a member of our Order might handle things."
"Because if you've all somehow forgotten," Shaak Ti added at this point. "Ahsoka Tano is no longer a member of this Order. By the grace of the Whills, this Order still has two members in close contact with her and someone who is apparently making massive waves on a galactic level. Because I will also remind everyone that he is someone we have no official oversight or legal authority over."
That seemed to silence everyone there. Whether by the enormity of the statement or the reality of it.
"I would like to know more details about the assault force on Kashyyyk. Give us a better idea of the scale we are talking about and what he might have done. The Separatists obviously suffered a massive defeat there. We need to figure out just how big it was," Obi Wan mused as he stroked his fingers through his beard, "Perhaps hope the Wookiees may have visual recordings of the event. That may give all of us a better idea of what we're dealing with."
"As I am on Harry's ship at the moment, I will ask if I can share the sensor data from the battle in space that his ship may have picked up," Shaak Ti offered after a glance at Aayla who shrugged.
Harry hadn't been concerned when she and Ahsoka were going through the computer, but that was just a file search, this was sharing sensor data and giving it someone else.
Shaak Ti's statement was met by murmurs around the chamber, and it was Master Tiin that spoke up. "If he is letting you use the holocom you can simply send us the information now."
"Not without permission, this is his ship and I am here at his sufferance. I would prefer not to test his welcome with something that could be arranged simply by asking permission," Shaak Ti responded dryly.
"That would be appreciated, but at this point, untangling the mystery this man presents has clearly become a priority for us," Mace Windu interjected, cutting off a response from Master Tiin, "If he is unwilling to share details, the best source of any information might be the Wookiees themselves. They might be able to share more details, not just regarding the battle, but perhaps tell more of their history with him. "
"If the Wookiees were attacked, they are likely to be very unhappy," Anakin offered in what was probably the understatement of the year, "I don't know how willing to share they might be at the moment. I do know one thing though. I'd hate to be anyone affiliated with the Separatists right now. I would say that if they managed to get their claws on any of the people responsible, they would be lucky if the Wookiees just tore their arms from their sockets."
"And if they were unlucky?" Master Adi Gallia asked, showing that she had yet to spend any significant amount of time in close contact with the tall furry sapients during her career as a Jedi.
"Then the Wookiees would interrogate them… extensively first," Anakin said without much humor. "Few people come out of that in one piece… some not at all."
"I would say their methods of interrogation are uncivilized but effective," muttered Obi-Wan as he covered his eyes..
"Interrogation methods aside," interrupted Mace, "the Wookiees are a known quantity that apparently has considerable contact with this individual in the past. We may learn far more about him from his interactions with them then we have from his deliberately revealed information on the Bounty Hunter's application or within conversations with Masters Secura and Ti.
Yoda leaned with a nod at this, "Take time to make diplomatic inquiry it will. Dismissed for now you all are. Meet again we will in four standard hours."
With a wave of his hand, the projection ended, leaving Shaak Ti and Aayla alone in the cockpit of Harry's ship. Shaak Ti turned her full attention to Aayla who was still staring out at the stars, "You barely spoke at all during that. What troubles you?"
Aayla's eyes flicked to Shaak Ti as she chewed her bottom lip before she came to a decision, "I need to talk to Harry. Something doesn't feel right."
Harry and Ahsoka had spent several hours together putting together lightsabers, thought a great portion of that had been taken up by Harry making comments about societies that chose phallic-like weapons for themselves.
Aayla and Shaak Ti returned from the Council meeting in the middle of another discussion about that very subject, causing both to don a disapproving look at the insinuations Harry was making. As time moved past, even a forcibly stoic Shaak Ti found herself almost smiling at some of the banter, by which point Ahsoka was on the floor laughing while Aayla genuinely smiled despite herself.
Despite the humor expressed during the lightsaber build, both active Jedi felt that the use of the readily available crystals somehow cheapened the experience of making a lightsaber, and while they hadn't spoken thus aloud, both Harry and Ahsoka were well aware of their opinions.
Neither cared in the least.
Harry was attentive to Ahsoka who seemed a bit timid about instructing on the creation of lightsabers. Not on the actual imparting of knowledge, as civilians had been taking apart random lightsabers that had been found for millennia and dissecting how they were made, almost always failing miserably when it came to recreating the weapons themselves.
Instead, Ahsoka's hesitance and lack of confidence stemmed directly from the fact that she was the one on the teaching side for once. Harry was an extremely attentive listener and never once dropped the focused and serious manner in which he memorized every tiny nuance of what she did.
The fact that this academic Harry was so far from the norm actually made her more nervous than it would have with the normal teasing, blatant flirting, or lewd comments that normally flowed out from him without hesitation. The teasing existed, sure. But for now, it was directed solely at Shaak Ti or Aayla whenever they wandered near and the itch to say something offensive finally became too much and directed itself towards the older women.
Eventually though, the lack of distractions allowed her to focus more explaining the steps they would need to take to create her own lightsaber as well as instruct Harry on how to create his. The lesson became less of the clinical technical explanations behind the weapons function and more about the spiritual journey that the Jedi felt the weapon's creation represented.
The long explanation delving into the spiritual side of lightsabers actually was necessary, as it took that long to prepare all of the various components necessary for their future weapons. Casing, power regulators, plasma conduits. Hundreds of specifically shaped and molded pieces that would fit together just right to create a cylindrical weapon that utilized upwards of 95% of the free space inside of it. It was perfection personified, and something that only someone with the ability to telekinetically control the various components could ever hope to assemble properly.
Everything had ultimately been easy to procure, inspect, and declare ready for assembly. Everything but one part.
The focusing gems.
The gems were the hard part all around. Harry had to free the three crystals from the necklace, Ahsoka had chosen, destroying any enchantments along the way so that there would be no chance of damaging the crystal if the magic resonance decided it didn't want to be parted with the piece of crystal. As they were goblin-made it took a bit of doing to get them out without damaging them. The entire process was quite time-consuming, and became an impromptu lesson on curse-breaking as Harry explained every step he needed to take, even going through unneeded steps that would've been more useful if the object had more nefarious purposes.
Harry's gem took almost as much effort, but from an entirely different perspective. Taking the large fist-sized gem and cutting it down to three smaller gems took far more effort than anyone had anticipated.
The loss of the stone itself, which even uncut, likely could have fetched millions of credits seemed unfathomable to all three Jedi. All three had sworn themselves to a life of few possessions, but even they understood just how recklessly destructive Harry was being with what they assumed was a goldmine in front of them.
The fact that it literally was a goldmine was something Harry didn't reveal to any of them just yet.
When asked why he felt the need to cut that specific stone, one that was obviously well known to both of his wives' portraits, he responded cryptically, "There are plenty more where that came from."
As for Harry, he tried to be as attentive as possible while his 'apprentice' taught him something a Jedi pre-teen learned while at their temple. It still surprised him to no end how quickly the Jedi picked up highly technical explanations and extremely difficult and abstract concepts to help them in their duties.
With all the components finally ready, it actually took less than fifteen minutes for the two to completely assemble their lightsabers. Once they closed up the lightsabers Harry was ready to fire his up immediately, but he was stopped by Ahsoka when she told him the final step was to let the force flow throw the lightsaber; helping make it work as one flowing piece of equipment rather than just parts. Ultimately, the action would fix all the small minute flaws, making it a capable weapon.
Harry's eyes narrowed at that description but he sat back and let her demonstrate the process for him.
Ahsoka flushed slightly, feeling his gaze on her and attempted to focus. She closed her eyes, and as she did so, the lightsaber on the desk in front of her lifted off the desk and hovered in front of her.
Shaak Ti and Aayla who by now had both returned from the cockpit, remained in the background during the final steps of the assembly process. They watched as Ahsoka sat there and allowed the Force to turn and twist the lightsaber. Of course even now they could feel the difference in the Force around them, it didn't just softly fill the air, it seemed to wash over them. similar to the way it did when Harry was using his magic. .
However their attention was pulled away from Ahsoka as she concentrated on the lightsaber in front of her, when Harry's eyes began to glow as he watched her intently. He said nothing as the lightsaber gently turned and spun in the air and seemed to glow with energy even to the naked eye before it slowly set back down on the desk.
Ahsoka opened her eyes with a pleased grin to look first at her finished lightsaber. Working with Anakin she naturally had to rebuild her lightsaber more than once. Of course it wasn't something he could scold her on often, since even Skyguy admitted he tended to go through them pretty quickly.
She reached out and picked up the first of the two lightsabers she was constructing and moved her hands over it slowly before turning to look at Harry. His reaction was definitely not one any of them were expecting.
"Are you freaking kidding me?" Harry's voice demanded in a combination of amusement and horror as he stared between Ahsoka and her newly created, though yet to be ignited lightsaber.
Ahsoka looked at him with confusion. "What is it?" Her voice was puzzled he sounded as much shocked as he was amused.
Harry gestured at the lightsaber she had in her hands, "All that spiritual mumbo jumbo, all of that connection...and that whole… 'making it work better and fixing minute flaws' and such… that's almost… a reparo charm."
Harry shook his head, "No, not almost, it was exactly a repair charm in super slow motion."
"A what?" She asked blankly, it wasn't one of the things they had gone over before.
Harry tilted his head to look at her and gently reminded her, "Does exactly what it sounds like…" He said leadingly.
"A repair charm… repairs things," Ahsoka offered feeling a little bit silly.
Harry chuckled and flicked his wand into his hand and gestured at the single lightsaber that he had been working on with her for the past few hours.
There was a brief surge of magic and a few clicks from the lightsaber he had constructed under her guidance. But the surge lasted less than a second and was obviously much shorter than Ahsoka's touch of several minutes. "That." he said shortly.
Ahsoka frowned and didn't know what to say looking at the lightsaber she had in her hand, Harry's lightsaber, and the second lightsaber she had constructed for herself but had yet to use the Force to finish yet.
She looked between Harry and the lightsaber still sitting there several times. Harry didn't seem to be giving her direction one way or the other and just watched her curiously. She looked once more at Harry before she set the completed lightsaber down for the moment.
With a movement of her wrist her wand slid into her hand and she asked Harry with determination, "How do I do it?" She could feel the fact that Harry was pleased, whether by her choice or her determination she was uncertain.
"Well, it's similar to how we were working with transfiguration." Harry smiled, "Granted, this one is more complicated since you're not entirely certain what you might actually be fixing. To be on the safe side, you may need the incantation here. It will help your general focus."
He gestured toward the lightsaber, "Focus your magic on the object and will it to fix all the flaws, the incantation is 'reparo'. The incantation can sometimes help learners focus on more general things like this."
Ahsoka nodded and her brow knit in concentration and she pointed her wand at the desk. She wasn't entirely sure what he meant by willing the magic to fix the flaws, but tried to do it the same way. She waved her wand at the desk, and focused on fixing all the flaws. She didn't use the incantation because she hadn't seen Harry use them and was determined not to be handicapped.
She felt the Force move for her and the lightsaber seemed to glow for a second, but then again so did the desk underneath it. She lost her concentration as what looked to be a genuine wood desk, and one that was clearly older suddenly changed. The dark color of the wood lightened a bit and various little nicks and chips seemed to fix themselves.
Her brows furrowed in confusion as she turned to Harry for an explanation.
He seemed more amused than anything. "I told you the incantation may have helped with the focus there. You repaired everything in that area."
"Yes, but you didn't tell her to focus specifically on the lightsaber. So she repaired everything in the area Harry." Daphne's voice came from the overhead portrait correcting him meticulously.
"Note to self, no teaching in front of the wives." Harry murmured in amusement.
"Did it work?" Ahsoka asked curiously, ignoring their banter.
"I daresay it did." Harry replied, "Considering you repaired the antique desk to brand new. But there's only one way to find out."
Ahsoka nodded a bit, taking a moment to slide the wand back into the holster. Then she picked up both lightsabers.
With an indrawn breath she ignited the first one she had completed, there was a distinctive snap-hiss as a blade of light sprung to life. The saber was a very pale yellow, nearly white and the soft hum filled the air.
Ahsoka turned her head to the other lightsaber and ignited it as well. A moment later a matching blade extended in the air, with the same pale yellow color.
"They feel good…" She grinned and experimentally swung the blades through a few experimental twirls, becoming familiar with them. "And it feels good to be armed again."
Harry just watched her with an amused smile on her face as she stepped back and spun, and he had to admit she moved with a competence and grace that spoke of an immense amount of time training and wielding such weapons. His gaze was entirely appreciative of the amount of time and work it took to achieve that skill, and had nothing to do with his appreciation for her figure.
She stopped a few moments later, shutting down the sabers and turning to meet his gaze. "Aren't you going to try yours out?"
"What? Oh… yeah." Harry responded sheepishly. Without quite the fanfare she had done, he picked up the lightsaber turning it a bit in his hand to get familiar with it, then he ignited it.
His lightsaber also ignited with a snap hiss, and a hum filled the air as the blade extended away from him.
There was silence as Harry examined the blade, "Huh…" he spoke eloquently.
Ahsoka burst out into giggles, "Harry… your.. your lightsaber is… pink!"
"It's not pink!" Harry defended, the clearly pink lightsaber hummed in front of him merrily as if taunting him.
Tonks guffawed loudly out of her portrait, "It's definitely pink, it practically matches my favorite hair color!"
Even the refined and restrained portrait of Daphne snickered at that.
"Yeah Master," Ahsoka taunted, through giggles, ""What was it you said… oh yeah… what kind of girly man uses a pink lightsaber?"
Harry scowled playfully before it morphed into a smirk, "Just remember my dear apprentice, Turnabout is fair play."
He ignored the look she gave him questioning and instead gave the lightsaber a few experimental turns with his hand making it hum through the air. He did so with an uncommon grace but was left feeling clearly unimpressed.
"Well, it's interesting I guess," Harry said, shrugging a little bit and shutting the lightsaber down. "I don't think I'll be using it though."
"Even if you possess no skill with a lightsaber, you never know what the Force has in store for you. It might just come in handy." Shaak Ti interjected.
"It just… it isn't me." Harry was weighing the lightsaber in his hand. It had been an interesting exercise to build it… he just didn't feel like it fit him. He looked at Ahsoka apologetically.
Ahsoka met his eyes and smiled, "Hey you said you didn't mind me using them, despite you teaching me something else. I'm hardly going to complain about you not using one. Though I was hoping maybe we could spar you know… physically, sometime."
"I didn't say we couldn't spar physically," Harry grinned, emphasizing the last word, "Just that I'm not going to be doing it with a lightsaber, a weapon I'm unfamiliar with and don't much care for."
Ahsoka found herself blushing brightly at that comment as she tried to puzzle out the rest of that statement.
Shaak Ti stepped forward, looking pleased, "I must say Harry Potter, that I'm pleased. It takes a great deal of maturity to recognize when a weapon does not suit someone, much less when it doesn't suit oneself."
"Right…" Harry blinked at her statement, and then looked away, "Dobby!"
Dobby snapped into existence next to him, looking much refreshed compared to what he had been, "Yes Master Harry?"
Harry didn't even bother asking why Dobby was now wearing white overalls stained with grey splotches and had a paintbrush over his ear. "Here you go Dobby," He handed the little being the lightsaber.
Dobby took the lightsaber without complaint and turned it over in his hands a few times before pressing the button to once more ignite the lightsaber's pink blade. Dobby looked at the lightsaber for several moments before looking up at Harry in confusion. "Dobby can see in the dark. Why Master Harry give Dobby a pink light?"
Harry froze at the mention of the color and shook his head, "It's not pink.. and it isn't a light. It's a lightsaber. It is really hot and it cuts things."
"It looks pink to Dobby…" Dobby said in confusion as he turned his head left and right as he moved the sword experimentally. Harry had to jump back slightly when the being incidentally swung it his way.
In the end Dobby seemed to shrug and look up at Harry, "Well… Dobby guesses he can now slice bread and make toast at the same time."
He disappeared with a pop.
"Harry… are you sure Dobby should…" Ahsoka trailed off, not entirely sure how to phrase her question.
Harry waved it off, "Dobby maintains the ship, I doubt he'll hurt anything, and like I said this way it's getting some use."
Shaak Ti took several deep breaths, wanting to make any number of comments before she seemed to gather control of herself. She set aside his blatant disregard for the lightsaber for the moment, "Harry Potter, we just spoke to the Jedi Council."
"Oh? Am I 'Undesirable Number 1' again?" Harry asked with a quirk of his brow.
Confusion spread over Shaak Ti's face but she shook her head slightly, getting the general quirk of the message, "I was wondering if you would allow me to share the sensor data the ship took during the battle in space and share it with the Council."
"Because they're hoping to learn more about me? Or for strategic war purposes?" Harry asked with a challenging eyebrow.
"Both," Shaak Ti answered immediately and honestly.
Harry smiled slightly, pleased she was at least being honest with him. "Sure, knock yourself out. Send whatever sensor data you want to them."
Shaak Ti nodded and then looked at him for a second, hesitating, "The Council was also hoping that they could speak to you... in person." She ventured.
Harry's gaze cooled a little bit, "You mean they want to interrogate me."
"In part," Shaak Ti answered honestly once more. "But… whatever you did seems to have had an impact on the entire Force. It feels different to us now. Feeling the Force now is so much more now."
Harry was merely confused at that statement, "I'm not sure what you mean." He confessed.
She turned to Aayla for help, tearing her away from her thoughts for the moment, "Where before it was like drawing water from a placid lake, now it's like drawing water from an ocean that is experiencing a violent storm."
Shaak Ti nodded with Aayla's statement, "I thought it was just being around you and the… magic you used. But they described feeling the same thing all the way on Coruscant. And… and we had a youngling do the same thing you can do when you teleport."
Harry had been turning away but his gaze whipped back to look at her, his gaze sharp once more. "What do you mean?"
"I mean… he was trying to Force jump, and after several attempts without success attempted it and teleported. Only… he didn't mean to and didn't know how he did it." She explained, "We've never seen anything like that before. Certainly not by a youngling!"
Harry turned to lean against his desk, "That… sounds almost like accidental magic… under stress."
"See, that's more than we know, We were hoping you'd be willing to talk to the Council, share your insight." Shaak Ti explained.
"I'll consider it… maybe," Harry said shortly, without much enthusiasm, "But not right now. Maybe when we have time. We're on our way to Nar Shaddaa."
Shaak Ti bowed her head slightly in understanding, "Of course," That was far more than she had hoped to get, at least it wasn't an outright refusal.
She turned away, she was going to return to the cockpit. The meeting wouldn't take place for several hours but she was going to use the time to meditate. She was stopped by Aayla, not so much by her, but by the tone of her voice.
"Harry?" Aayla spoke up quietly.
Harry had turned slightly to say something to Ahsoka and turned back to Aayla, but any comment that he was going to make was cut short by the expression on her face.
When she saw she had his attention she continued, "You've mentioned several times being able to look in someone's mind, which is part of what you were teaching Ahsoka to protect against."
Harry nodded slowly, concern etched on his face now. "That's right,"
"How… good are you at it?" Aayla asked quietly,
"I'm very good with mind magics," Harry responded, his tone even and careful as he examined Aayla. His voice carried no boasting, just seemed to be stating a fact. Instead he was looking at her with concern. "Why are you asking?"
"I mean… could you tell if someone's thoughts or… well.. their emotions had been tampered with?" Aayla asked, her blue eyes meeting his.
"I could…" Harry said carefully, "Do you think yours have been tampered with?"
"No… yes... I don't know." A faint note of frustration entered her voice. "I mean, it did happen once where I was drugged and had my mind wiped and I still don't remember everything I lost. But.., this is different."
"How so?" Harry asked, he was aware that the attention of both Ahsoka and Shaak Ti were on Aayla but as she seemed to want to have this discussion here he wasn't going to shoo them off.
"I mean, I just sat in a Council meeting and heard of the deaths of ten thousands clones. And my instinct was that, it was disappointing because it would take a little bit to replace their numbers but otherwise it wasn't important… and that … that doesn't sound right. I mean… at the same time I'm a general and know the realities of war. But… I wouldn't have even thought anything of it if we hadn't had that discussion of slaves in the Republic. And… it just feels wrong." Aayla was wringing her hands slightly, a sure sign of stress as she tried to explain. She saw Shaak Ti's frown as the woman considered Aayla's words.
She wasn't certain something was wrong with her mind, and her urge was to dismiss it, not share it. So she felt silly doing this. but there was something that felt inherently wrong.
Harry looked at her for several moments, "Are you asking me to check to see if that's the case?"
Aayla hesitated before she gathered her courage and nodded, "Yes… please."
Harry examined her expression before he spoke seriously, "You realize if I do this, and do this thoroughly, I will conceivably see every thought or memory you've ever had. I am not understating it when I say that doing this without your permission would be the worst and most extreme invasion of privacy."
Aayla swallowed in her suddenly dry mouth as her stomachs clenched, She nodded a little bit anyway.
Harry tilted his head as he examined her, "If you are uncomfortable with me. I could have the Sorting Hat look into your mind. He might be able to do the same job, and he is magic bound to protect your secrets from everyone."
Aayla took a moment to look over at the hat, still sitting next to the couch. It seemed to perk up and squirm a little bit in excitement at that thought.
That made the decision for Aayla, given her very short exposure to the hat, "No, It's... okay. I'd rather have you do it."
Harry was a bit surprised by her willingness, realizing how seriously she was taking this. Of course his first clue had been how she hadn't even seemed to scowl at him when he had given Dobby his lightsaber. "Okay. This sort of thing is best done sitting down."
He gestured and lead her over to the couch he and Ahsoka had been sitting on when he had talked about his history a few hours earlier.
She sat down and looked more than a little nervous as she looked down, "So… how do we do this?"
Harry gave her a reassuring smile, and reached over and with a gentleness that surprised Aayla lifted her chin to look in his eyes.
She was just thinking to herself about how startlingly green his eyes were, when she suddenly felt his presence inside of her mind.
Harry met Aayla's blue eyes and instantly dived in with a legilimency probe. Instantly he was awash in her thoughts and feelings. This wasn't like Ahsoka who had been organizing her thoughts at an unbelievable pace. Emotions and experiences whirled past him at the speed of thought.
Harry had long ago learned to navigate minds like this though and wasn't overwhelmed by the experience. Just like Ahsoka, the mind wasn't human, but similar enough that much of his legilimency techniques worked unaltered. He had wondered in the moments leading up to entering her mind if, since much of her long-term memory was stored in the rather attractive Lekku that adorned both sides of the back of her head, it would be much difficult to navigate across her thoughts.
However, it proved to be an unnecessary worry, as her thoughts streamed just as clear and fast as they would had she possessed a standard human mind. The memories were however more orderly. Years of being taught to clear their mind and push away thoughts and feelings had left many things far more compartmentalized than they might otherwise be.
Harry passed through the memories at the speed of his own thought. He was checking for anything that might scream mental manipulation to him on the surface of memories before he plunged deeper into the workings of her mind.
From her perspective, Aayla was able to instantly feel and view the same snippets of her life that Harry did. They flashed by her own mind's eye at an unbelievable pace, so fast that she wondered how Harry would be able to comprehend anything with no point of reference for the vast majority of them.
It was like nothing she had ever experienced in her life. She had experienced Dark Side acolytes attempting to read her mind before. She had also seen Jedi control the will of others when they wanted information. Jedi would forcefully exert their will to get information needed from whomever they were interrogating. Usually that felt like someone was bashing at her head with a battering ram.
This was completely different. His touch was feather light, but she clearly felt him, though she got the impression that was by design and that he intended for her to be able to tell where he was in her head. She could feel it as he peered a memory, examined it and then moved on at a dizzying pace. She could tell that not only was he observing the memory itself but feeling her associated emotions and thoughts regarding those memories.
It was like he was examining her entire emotional state at every given moment in her life.
Eventually though, she stopped worrying about Harry's presence and skills while in her mind, as she became focused on what she saw. She could, peripherally feel his gentleness as things came to the forefront of her mind that had not been focused upon in years. She remembered bits from her very young childhood on Ryloth, long-forgotten words of wisdom during her classes as a youngling, all superimposed over the feelings that she had slowly started to acquire during this trip.
It was then that she realized her own thoughts could influence the stream of conscious thought, as her brief thought of the current trip and the wild ride it had been. That had inevitably lead her to thoughts to the visions she had gotten. As she relived the darkness and death that she had seen. Of course those had also included the visions of sexual intercourse she foresaw her and Harry partake in flashed repeatedly in her mind, much to her own mortification and humiliation.
She tried desperately not to think about them or linger on them but it was self defeating, by trying not to think about them specifically she brought them back up repeatedly, causing her to be further humiliated in a vicious cycle.
She felt a mental push in her mind, as Harry purposefully moved past those thoughts and pulled them both out of that cycle. Curiously she also felt a wave of comfort emanate from him that seemed to soothe her rising panic and indeed was the only thing that allowed her not to freak out and try and flail about and cast him from her mind.
His gentle touch of reassurance, even as he moved past those memories allowed her to refocus and follow him deeper into her thoughts as he continued to search for something.
Finally he seemed to stop and just hover in her mind, without examining any memories. Idly she wondered if there were any more memories in her mind for him to examine. He had seen so much, and her entire life had been laid bare. She could tell he was still there but she couldn't tell if he was doing anything or not.
Harry's presence suddenly shifted in her mind. To Aayla's point of view, it felt like he had gone from moving through her mind at a singular point to the feeling that he was everywhere at once. She felt his presence practically surrounding her and examining her entire being.
Then, with an almost feather-like quality, the presence receded, and Aayla found herself staring into Harry's eyes again as his fingers left her chin.
"That's… very... strange," he muttered to himself as he continued to gaze at her, though after a few seconds Aayla realized he wasn't truly seeing her at the moment.
With his presence no longer in her mind calming her, the fact that Harry had obviously witnessed the full scope of her vision of the two of them mid-coitus came back immediately, causing her to flush a darker pink. The fact that she knew he also seen all of her emotions, doubts, and desires associated to the possible futures also left an extreme sense of unease within her.
Eventually, as she registered that he still had not said anything else, and that he gave no indication that he intended to she whispered, "What did you find?"
His eyes refocused on her, and he gave her a bit of a sad smile, "I did find some blocked memories, though they were definitely not caused by anything magical in origin. The blockages themselves felt thick and sludgy. I'm going to hazard a guess and say they were not trauma or self induced. It was probably some combination of chemicals that were behind it."
Aayla nodded almost absently at this, as he'd only confirmed what she already knew. When she had been kidnapped earlier in her career as a Jedi and brainwashed, some of the memories the glytteral suppressed still had not been recovered.
"However," his voice interrupted her thoughts as it turned puzzled, "There were some subtle but very strong compulsions. Some of them designed to encourage some things, others to subtly discourage others."
Her own worry over the implications of such a thing quickly became overshadowed by the feeling of true frustration that she felt from him through her empathic abilities.
"I just don't understand how they got there though," he said with no small amount of irritation and confusion in his voice, "The compulsions are buried in the mind. Almost at the point where your conscious thought ends and the subconscious mind begins."
Harry saw that his verbal stream of thoughts had attracted the attention of both Ahsoka and Shaak Ti, both of whom had quietly watched the entire examination of Aayla by Harry.
He directed his words now at all three women, "The only way I've ever known anyone to accomplish such a thing is through active direct casting, and usually even that wouldn't be as deeply entrenched as what I just found in Aayla. That means years of direct continuous exposure to whatever is doing this. And you have no memories of anything like that."
"A similar effect could be replicated by long term exposure to an object you keep with you that was laced with compulsions. The problem with that is that those compulsions would be more on your conscious thought patterns, and easier to discern. Your unconscious and subconscious would reject the compulsions and that's not happening here." Harry rubbed his chin, "And I know for a fact you don't have any objects with compulsions on them because my wards and protections would have warned me."
Her ability to sense him suddenly cut off as he frowned and looked strangely contemplative. He turned to Ahsoka, "Do you mind if I check your mind over again? I need some basis for comparison."
"Go ahead," The younger Togruta agreed immediately with his request with a brief nod as she looked into his eyes. Harry didn't even move from his spot on the couch next to Aayla. He merely peered with purpose into Ahsoka's eyes from where she stood ten feet away with her extinguished lightsabers in that she had apparently clipped to her belt in the scant minutes it had taken to scan Aayla's mind.
Aayla felt the extremely tight controlled burst of the Force issue forth from Harry, one that almost immediately stopped. He looked annoyed for the briefest of moments before he said aloud, "She doesn't have anything similar to what you did. I didn't think I missed anything the other night, but I'd rather be safe than sorry."
Harry's frustration was almost palpable now as he ran a hand over his chin as he seemed to consider the problem at hand. He gave off a very dangerous vibe even if Aayla couldn't quite put her finger on how.
It was curious to Aayla to see his reaction. Since she had met him she had seen him confronted with the unexpected several times. From Ahsoka's control and use of her magic, to Shaak Ti's appearance outside of his home in the depths of Kashyyyk. He had usually reacted with interest, and even excitement when faced with the unexpected or unknown. He had quite cheerfully admitted to not knowing everything and seemed to like that fact.
However, he was visibly irritated and even upset. In fact the times she had seen him like this had been when faced with a potential danger to Ahsoka, or when confronted with the slavers or later the invaders on Kashyyyk. She had seen the defensiveness and response he had when those he cared about were threatened.
It hit her then like a fully loaded freighter that the response he was feeling now was because something malicious had been done to someone he cared about. The idea that he was acting protective of her. That he cared for her caused a little thrill to go through Aayla. Not enough to make her smile given the circumstance, but something to be examined later.
"What does that mean, Harry?" Ahsoka asked quietly. "Can you fix it? Like you did with my memory block?"
"I… don't know," Harry admitted after some pause. "I mean, yeah, I can fix it. Things in that area can be a little bit tricky, but I can do it. But, if I do it without knowing how it happened, I'm liable to miss something, or I'm just curing a symptom of something while ignoring the root cause."
"Hell… if I knew why she had them and you didn't, that would be helpful," Harry muttered as he ran a hand through his hair.
"So… you're looking for the differences between us?" Aayla asked as she watched Harry's expression.
"There are any number of differences between the two of you that might or might not account for this," Harry shook his head negatively, "You are different races, different ages, from different planets. She's damn near mastered occlumency. She's had bursts of accidental magic. She was a padawan, you are a Master. You've been drugged and had portions of your memory blocked. Any number of those could account for differences."
"But for this sort of level of embedded compulsion? It takes years of exposure and I'm at a loss as to what has caused it. If I knew why you have it and she doesn't, I could figure out how it was done, which is as important as clearing it up in the first place," Harry stated as his eyes flicked back and forth between the two as if looking at them alone could determine their differences.
"Would it help if you examined me?" inquired Shaak Ti.
Harry glanced over at the woman who hadn't said a word since Aayla had brought the topic up. He made no attempt to hide the surprise that was on his face, instead he just regarded her thoughtfully.
Taking his silence for uncertainty, Shaak Ti moved forward slightly, her voice even, lacking uncertainty. "While I realize I do not know you as well, perhaps if you read me, you may be able be able to eliminate many of the variables."
"You're certain?" Harry inquired carefully, knowing she had heard the warning about privacy and not thinking he needed to repeat it. He also knew that it would be helpful for him to figure things out.
"Aayla is my friend and if she has these compulsions you describe this will help you better determine why Ahsoka and I do not have these compulsions, and Aayla does." Shaak Ti replied without a hint of concern for herself in her voice.
Aayla gave the other Jedi Master a grateful look. She was doing her best not to panic, after her experience with glytteral, having her mind messed with was one of the few things she truly had not been able to get past completely. Even to this day she had nightmares where she had never returned to the Jedi Order, where she had remained a slave. Where she was still watching her body go through motions not knowing who she was, while a part of her, the part she was in the nightmare screamed for herself to remember. Though she had to admit Harry's demeanor was helping her as well. He wasn't freaking out, and seemed to be dealing with it calmly and rationally.
Harry regarded her for a moment, then shook his head before he said, "Bloody Gryffindors the lot of you."
"I can't think of a better example of the pot calling the kettle black, ever," Daphne's voice chimed in from the wall where she and Tonks had observed the process.
"And I'll thank you to leave the sorting to the professional, Mr. Potter," the Hat grumped from the table.
Harry rolled his eyes and ignored both comments as he waved Shaak Ti over to the couch. The Jedi Master moved over and sat without complaint. She turned and met Harry's eyes without hesitation.
"You heard the warning I gave her?" asked Harry, as he wanted to be certain she had heard him.
"I did, and am aware of what this will entail. Proceed, Harry Potter," she said quietly, yet firmly.
Harry nodded and then met Shaak Ti's dark eyes.
Shaak Ti wasn't aware of it, but her experience was the exact reverse of Aayla's, where she felt Harry's presence suffuse her entire being for several moments. Then she felt his presence narrow to a singular point as he began searching through her memories.
Shaak Ti reflected that this did not feel like a personal violation. Harry was methodical but didn't' seem to dig into her mind as was the sensation she was expecting. She didn't know how long it had taken but felt Harry pull out of her mind after searching her mind and memories.
When he withdrew she was surprised to see his gaze was now pensive.
"Did you find something in my mind?" Shaak Ti asked curiously.
Harry shook his head and abruptly stood up, pushing up from the couch. "Not… what I was expecting," he answered as he stood up and looked down at the ground with his eyes shut after only a few steps, one hand on his forehead and the other on the back of his head after it had gone through his hair.
"Did you find something that explains why she has these… compulsions in her mind and we do not?" Shaak Ti asked, more intent now as she watched him move.
Harry glanced back at her, "That's just the thing. You both have compulsions in your mind, right along the area where your conscious and subconscious meet, bridging it."
"You… are certain?" Shaak Ti asked, her composure looking shaken at the very idea.
Aayla looked stunned and Ahsoka wasn't far behind, though her eyes were following Harry. She could feel her master's puzzlement and determination as he seemed to be turning it over in his head.
"Yes, I'm positive." Harry replied, "But the bizarre thing is that neither of you have any memories of being subjected to such compulsions. And with the level and depth that you both have it's been going on years. Not only do I not see how the compulsions got entrenched where they are in your mind, but I don't see how they were applied in the first place."
Shaak Ti now looked uncertain, "But… I did not feel what Aayla described. I felt sadness for the loss of the clones. Each individual is a terrible loss. I still feel that."
"That's the other weird thing," Harry admitted, "The compulsions on you are different… to an extent. As in they're pushing different things… sort of. While to an extent both of you have magic that seems to be… not so much restricting as it is making it harder for you to consciously use your 'Force'. They also seem to be slightly muting emotions in general for both of you. But there are differences as well."
"On Aayla, the compulsions seem to be trying to mute her empathy. As well as strengthen subconscious insecurities she has about her heritage as a Twi'lek." Harry scratched the back of his head, "On Master Ti, it seems to mute the need you mentioned having for groups, as well as an aversion to youths or instructing them?"
"That in itself is weird," Harry mused as he scratched his cheek, "Since I could see the impact that hoarding knowledge might have, but why mute something that would actually make it easier to follow your Jedi code?"
Harry shook his head, not certain of the answer for that before he continued "The one thing I'm relatively certain of is that whoever did this to both of you, is the same person."
That had both of the Jedi Masters looking at him sharply, "How do you know that?"
"Every person's use of magic is subtly different. Think of it… like a fingerprint. No two are the same, and both sets of compulsions have the same taint of darkness," Harry explained, almost distractedly.
"What I don't understand is how," Harry muttered as he again ran a hand through his hair absently. "How the compulsions could be implanted without either of you having memories of it?"
Abruptly Harry reached out his hand and the Sorting Hat flew from the table with a startled cry. He wasted no time in putting the hat back on his head, not even breaking his stride as he did.
"Well, of course I'll help you, Mister Potter." The Hat stated grumpily, "Especially after you're asking so nicely! I'll be happy to provide the insight of another expert." The sarcasm practically dripped from his tone.
"Oh shut up," Harry replied shortly.
"Hmm, well that… is most interesting," The hat mused, ignoring Harry's grumpiness. "You are right, the same magic with no memory of how it is applied hints at it being some sort of object. But… nothing on them, and nothing in your apprentice. And the compulsions are in the wrong place in the mind."
Harry nodded, "Exactly my thought."
"It's as if… their mind was accepting the compulsion…" the Hat continued, "Mutating based on their thoughts. That's why it was making such inroads to the unconscious."
"Right, but how was it applied?" Harry questioned, his brow furrowed well aware of but ignoring all eyes on him currently.
"Mm. Do you know what it most reminds me of?" The Hat inquired, "It's not exactly the same, as the compulsions are rooted far more deeply here, and from your own perspective seem more varied in how they were affecting the minds of the two…"
Harry's eyes went upward, "Yes?"
"Do you remember the compulsion wards in the Slytherin male rooms that were discovered shortly after your daughter started Hogwarts?" The hat inquired.
"Yes, Voldemort had added a curse that affected people the longer they were around it, they became more aggressive, had a tendency toward dark magic and increased tendency to follow someone more powerful," Harry replied slowly. "Really subtle, but otherwise very sloppy truth be told. I thought he was experimenting. I wasn't even sure he realized that he succeeded."
"We always assumed that because it was on the boys side only it must have been done when he was a student," Harry added after a moment's thought. "You think something has been done to the Jedi Temple then?"
"It's possible…" The Hat replied though there was doubt in its voice. "But then… I would expect to see signs of time when those compulsions were not present, leaving breaks in how they impacted the mind. There's also the fact that it's rooted so deeply in the subconscious. So… I highly doubt that it's been done to the temple."
"Then why doesn't Ahsoka have it?" Harry replied.
"I don't know," The Hat squirmed and shifted on his head, "It would really help if I was allowed to examine it firsthand. Perhaps I can see something you did not."
Harry hesitated and then turned to Aayla and tilted his head, "Would you allow the Hat to do the same?"
"Do you really think it will help?" Aayla asked eyeing the hat doubtfully.
"I think it wouldn't hurt." Harry replied carefully.
Aayla hesitated and glanced over at Shaak Ti who seemed to be handling the possibility far better than her Twi'lek counterpart.
It was the work of a moment for Harry to move over and set the hat on her head.
Aayla cringed slightly expecting to feel… something when the hat was placed on her head, but though she sensed the Force, she really couldn't feel another presence in her mind like she could when Harry was there.
"Mm… Haven't got to do this in awhile. Too bad This one is easy. Gotta be… Gryffindor!" The hat bellowed suddenly, startling everyone there save for Harry.
"I told you, now can you move on to what we're doing here?" Harry demanded impatiently.
"The formalities must be observed Mister Potter," the Hat replied primly. "My apologies Aaylas'ecura, it is part of the magic that created me."
Aayla was startled at being addressed by her proper name as she looked up at the hat perched on her head and then to Harry who had stopped pacing and was watching with a curious expression.
Harry rolled his eyes, "It's his way of saying you're brave of heart."
"It's… okay?" she offered eventually, forgiving the Hat for whatever it had just apologized for.
"Hrm. Most interesting," the Hat muttered, seeming to ignore the reply, "You realize that these are going to be… more than a little challenging to remove?"
Harry waved it off, "I'm aware. Are you seeing anything that I might of missed?"
"It's interesting that there doesn't seem to be any specific pattern of progression in the conscious mind that we can follow." The Hat replied. "No way to determine a timeline of any sort."
After a few moments of silence, the Hat offered with a rumbling tone, "I can tell you that there is no correlation between location and strength of compulsions."
"So then it can't be localized to something like the Temple," Harry replied.
"Correct, Mister Potter," the Hat offered. The hat seemed to shift a bit on Aayla's head. "It would help if I could examine young Miss Tano as well. See if I could figure out why she wouldn't have it while the two other ladies do."
Harry looked at Ahsoka with a raised eyebrow, and she just shrugged in response, not seeming particularly bothered by the prospective. Harry reached out and snagged the hat from off of Aayla's head and moved to set it on Ahsoka's head.
The fabric shifted slightly as it settled on her head. "Ooh, what an interesting mind this one has. Difficult… very difficult."
Harry sighed and crossed his arms with an impatient expression on his face.
Ahsoka just looked at him with a questioning expression. "He has to sort you. It's how the magic works. Then he can be of help." Harry explained.
"This one is even tougher than your sorting Mister Potter, but… in the end it has to be… Hufflepuff!" The hat stated triumphantly.
"That's great. Woohoo," Harry said without any sort of excitement in his tone, "Now can we get on with it?"
"What's a Hufflepuff?" Ahsoka asked curiously.
Harry looked at her sharply and then his face softened to amusement, "Hufflepuff's valued loyalty and hard work. Trait's that are fairly obvious that you've shown in abundance."
"Mm. Quite the occlumency skill this one has. Most impressive." The hat interjected as it ignored Harry's explanation, "You are correct, she doesn't have any of the same things imbedded in her mind."
"Which we already knew," Harry said impatiently.
"Yes… but you don't know why. And I do." The Hat responded in a snarky tone. Without waiting for the inevitable follow-up question from him the Hat continued, "It's possible she had them not long ago. But right now she can't, and in a sense, that is your fault Mister Potter."
"Given that you have an Apprentice Bond with this one," the Hat explained, "To the best of my knowledge, the bond will not allow that sort of effect on. Essentially no one else is allowed to have a hold over your Apprentice. A fact that has remained true throughout history."
"Unfortunately, all traces of anything that might have been there are gone," the Hat summarized, "You can chalk that up to her amazingly quick mastery of occlumency, your own presence in dispelling magic her mind, or her impressive burst of accidental magic. Anyone of those things could have erased the traces."
"Great, so we know she's not and we have ideas as to why she's not infected, but we have no idea if she was. Nor do we know how it's happening," Harry sighed in disappointment.
"The crux of the matter lies in the fact that it's able to delve so deeply into their unconscious and subconscious. Whatever is doing it… it's like the Jedi are consciously, trying to accept it, even if they are unawares." The Hat replied.
"Which makes no sense, how are they accepting it without realizing it's happening?" Harry asked.
"What if it's the Dark Lord doing it?" Ahsoka suddenly interjected.
"There's really no question that It's definitely someone whose presence is tainted. We already knew that," the Hat replied with irritation and even a trace of condescension in his voice. "But we don't know who or how. Which if you haven't followed is what we're trying to figure out now."
Ahsoka ignored the Hat on her head entirely, and addressed Harry, "I mean what if it's like the Dark Lord clouding the Jedi's visions of the future? Making it so they're unable to trust their own instincts... Could it be like that?"
Harry opened his mouth to reply and then froze. His mouth worked soundlessly as he considered Ahsoka's statement.
The Hat shifted on Ahsoka's head, looking down at the woman whose head he was sitting on and then back to Harry. "Your Apprentice is an exceptionally perceptive one, perhaps Hufflepuff was hasty, Ravenclaw truly might have been better."
"If this… Dark Lord of theirs is doing something to cloud their visions of the Force, affecting their sight... it's possible that it's doing more..." Harry worked through slowly, "But that doesn't explain how the compulsions are so deep. A mind has natural defenses against that sort of thing, and while a Jedi's mind isn't necessarily secure, they are somewhat more organized than most and have experience exercising their mind and will."
"My question is, how are you not affected?" Shaak Ti ventured, "Whether you call it the Force or Magic, it is still the same power. No matter what you name it."
"Mr. Potter has always has a unique connection to magic, Miss Shaak Ti. Because of the nature of who he is, he just would not allow that sort of thing," the Hat answered for Harry. "But… that brings to mind an interesting thought."
Harry turned to regard the Hat, still perched on Ahsoka's head, "What's that?"
"I believe, the answer may lie in how the Jedi utilize their so called 'Force'," the Hat said slowly, as it seemed to be working it out on the spot.
"What do you mean?" Aayla asked.
"In your mind the central lessons include letting the Force guide you," The hat replied, "And of late the mysterious Dark Lord has thrown a cloak over it so it affects your visions…"
There was a pause as Harry seemed to realized the same answer the hat had come up with, and found himself agreeing with the logic, "Clever bastard…"
"Indeed," the Sorting Hat agreed without any sound of joking or humor, "Even if the Force works differently from magic, if he is able to do it on this scale, then he is incredibly powerful as well. You should be cautious in any confrontation, Mister Potter."
"What is it?" Aayla demanded, feeling like she was missing half the conversation.
"If my theory-," Harry began.
"Ours!" interjected the Hat.
"-is right," Harry continued ignoring the Hat. "The magic is in your mind so deeply because of how you use the 'Force'. You let it fill you and guide you. You consciously allow it to control your body, your thoughts and your impulses."
"Yes…" Aayla said slowly.
"So you're allowing it to guide you and training your mind to follow it's urging. But it's been affected by whatever this Dark Lord has done, so you're accepting its guidance despite the fact that you know it's been touched by darkness," Harry said slowly. "You're letting it in consciously. Your mind is still resistant to foreign ideas but you're weakening your own defenses consciously… and you're doing it every time you use the Force that way."
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" Ahsoka asked slowly.
"I'm saying that, if our theory is right, and it's the only one we have where the pieces fit," Harry hedged, his voice grim, "Then across the galaxy, any time a Jedi uses or seeks guidance from the Force, they're allowing compulsions focusing on their Force connection and weaknesses a little bit deeper into their mind."
"It's like there's an airborne plague, and every Jedi is running around without breathing masks," Harry concluded.
The room was covered in blackened and scorched walls, and droids that lay in smoldering heaps as cleaning droids moved the pieces away to be scrapped.
The sound of cold and cruel laughter filled the air.
He had retreated to the privacy of his quarters and from there to a secret passage to one of many hidden rooms. This one a training room. A place he could use his powers without fear of being discovered.
Palpatine held both of his hands in the air in front of him and watched as flames ignited a few centimeters over the palms of his hands. The fire burned with only the slightest application of his will.
He negligently threw his hand and the fireball smashed into yet another training droid, causing it to explode and melt in a matter of moments.
While the Force had changed, it had also opened up… so many new avenues. Avenues the Sith were unafraid to explore while the Jedi fretted about what it meant.
The explosion in the Force had briefly interrupted the shroud he had over his presence. That was easily re-established. He simply willed his Force-presence not to be felt outside of his body.
The rest… was harder. The Force felt so much different now. It was more. Stronger. More potent. Re-establishing his clouding of the Force seemed more difficult as if he wasn't able to affect it like he did before. even though his grasp was stronger.
However as he kept abreast of the Jedi comings and goings, he learned that they were barely able to meditate to seek answers without feeling overwhelmed. So he had time to spread his shroud once more.
Palpatine also found his own abilities to see the future clouded, the Force didn't give answers like it seemed to. He wasn't sure what to make of that yet but assumed it was just a matter of time. Despite this lack of vision he already was making contingency plans in case his identity was discovered at least a year before he had originally planned.
He had not even had to send out spies to find out what had happened to cause all of this. The Jedi Order had provided all the answers. It seemed like the catalyst was the bounty hunter who had taken up with Skywalker's former apprentice.
He had let his apprentice know that he wanted the man caught and detained and to spare no effort in doing so. Palpatine was not going to let the Jedi get their hands on him to learn all his secrets.
Even if three subhuman Jedi were already traveling with him, that was easily rectified by pushing up the bounties even higher on them, and having his apprentice send any and all acolytes after them.
The Dark Lord of the Sith had reviewed what he had discovered from the Jedi at the same time as discovering the catalyst. He knew things were different.. but this…
He steeled his will. If a youngling at the Jedi Temple could do it, so could he.
Palpatine narrowed his eyes and focused and concentrated on being in another spot in the room. He felt the Force build up around him and then felt himself grabbed and squeezed and heard a pop. He stumbled as he found himself on the other side of the room.
He turned and with burst of will and power, teleported back to the other side of the room. This time the movement was easier, at least the landing anyway.
In a rare loss of composure, Palpatine threw his head back and laughed in delight. This was just the start, and though his responsibilities would pull him away shortly, he was to determined to find out exactly what he could do in any spare moment he could find.
No matter how it had happened it was clearly a blessing from the Force itself.
1) Hell of a chapter! I apologize if it felt like a lot of exposition, but we needed to get some of it out there. Truthfully we were going to keep going but the chapter would have gone on to probably twice this size. But you have the History of Harry in this chapter. To an extent. Obviously not everything… but kind of bares more light on it. You also have an idea that the Dark Lord might be more clever than expected.
2) Sorry to those who were screaming for an update. Between working on this and other projects as well as you know.. school. Means I never promise anything and update when I can and think something is ready.
3) Plums Piddlings: This chapter has been roughly "done" for about 2 months, but the last 3-4 scenes were what held up everything. Plus, writing in a ridiculous number of distraction-stories between the two of us.
Our shared Google-drive space is an absolute mess.
This is also the final destination of the "history of Harry" we said you all eventually would get waaaay back in like, chapter 2. This little conversation has bounced around a lot, and it finally ended up here.
Kat: Seriously. Random stories and chapters seem to appear every day. But it's fun… and in some of our down time I got him to update Last Second Savior. If you haven't read that… you should RIGHT NOW. GO GO.
Alternative Chapter Titles:
"History of Harry." - Ahsoka Tano
"That would be the most boring series of books of all time." - Harry
"In which the Order gets even more interested in Harry Potter." - Shaak Ti
"I told you in chapter one. Perverts. The lot of them." - Harry
"I knew Aayla had a kinky mind." - Harry Potter
"Speaking of perverts."- Aayla
"Harry's BAMF lightsaber… is pink." - Ahsoka.
"it's not pink… it's lightish red." - Harry
"They have a word for that. It's called pink."- Ahsoka. (RVB quote)
"And he struck down on thee with great vengeance..."- Mace Windu
"Oh shut up." - Harry.
"Pink." - a snickering Mace Windu.
"Dobby becomes a Jedi."- Dobby
"Your are not." - Harry
"Dobby has lightsaber. And saves people and beats bad guys. That makes him Jedi." - Dobby
"Dobby…" - Harry
"Ah ah… it be Master Dobby now!" - Dobby
"I made Kenobi say 'civilized'! My record remains intact!"- Plums
"Sorting Jedi!" - The Sorting Hat.
"Seriously. I think you just make all that shit up and either go with the most irritating possibility or you just pick randomly."- Harry
"You're just angry I didn't loudly declare Miss Secura should be part of a strippers house." - Hat
"I always heard that was Ravenclaw." - Harry
"Well… you know what they say about the quiet ones." - Hat.