"did he not mock at the sabbath,
and so mock the sabbath's God?
murder those who were murdered because of him?
turn away the law from the woman taken in adultery?
steal the labor of others to support him?
bear false witness when he omitted making a defense before Pilate?
I tell you, no virtue can exist with breaking these ten commandments.
Jesus was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules."
They swam towards the agora, their conversation businesslike and focused solely on the present. Schools of fish danced around Atlantis. Harry and Alexio watched the darting silvery forms and leveled their wands towards any who swam too near. But no group approached too closely, they always veered away. Sometimes a school briefly split into two before inevitably rejoining along a path angled safely away from the two wizards.
Alexio and Harry had already encountered a Chinese wizard solemnly standing in Taoist robe and gently waving a hand fan made of crane feathers. He appeared in the distance, standing inside a large room-sized bubble that seemed to follow his will. Spotting them, the wizard pointed his fan towards Harry and Alexio and the bubble approached, perhaps propelled by advantageous currents, before stopping a respectful distance away.
The three considered each other for a tense moment of detente before Harry used his translating bauble (as Alexio called it) to negotiate a truce.
The Chinese Wizard proclaimed no knowledge of a mirror, and sought only the Seven Virtuous Herbs. After a brief exchange, they agreed to keep well apart. With a whisk of his fan, the bubble moved away.
The pair had less luck with a Scandanavian witch with short-trimmed blonde hair, sharp glances and bony angles. After negotiations stretched past a quarter hour Alexio simply launched a bewildering array of hexes at the woman. They didn't get past her shields, but after overcoming his surprise Harry sighed and joined Alexio's attack, pausing only to ask what had led Alexio to act rashly.
"Few can withstand our combined onslaught," Alexio calmly explained as he twisted his wand and two moray eels appeared behind the witch, quickly wriggling through the water and then gnawing at her shields. Alexio did not bother stopping, and launched into another spell.
"Those who made it Atlantis are not randomly selected," Harry snarled.
But if the witch's talents were exceptional, they did not manifest during battle. A minute later she floated limply in the water, an annoyed look on her face. Harry turned to Alexio, who simply shrugged.
Harry murmured "Boring conversation, anyway," as he placed a small branch underneath the woman's arm and snapped it. Then she was gone and the water rushed into to fill the void left by her absence with a sharp thud as they surveyed the situation. They could make out distant forms - human forms - moving throughout Atlantis. Time had become an issue.
Harry pointed at a large building, with its columned foyer reaching out into the water looking for all the world like an inviting mouth opened into a lecherous smile. "There?" he asked and Alexio nodded.
"The Centro Civil," Alexio said, swimming towards the mouth. "It will be there, if legends speak true."
Alexio felt the wave of pressure as something swam past, and started casting instantly as though his wand were connected straight to his autonomic system, without active control of his higher functions. Harry, slightly slower, shouted Ventus then repeated the spell to his left and right. Before the third spell resolved Alexio had caught on and followed suit.
The simple spell - a child's spell, really - worked profoundly well underwater. The gust of wind instantly impacted the waiting water and cavitated into thousands of small bubbles that swirled and churned and spun chaotically.
The bubbles not only formed a visual shield and provided cover, the currents would flip and spin anyone caught inside. The bubbles also obscured Alexio's vision but not before he saw the flash of a limb where nothing had been before.
Now he had a target.
Alexio fired off two spells, the first a simple Lagann. A child's spell meant as a distraction. The second spell was in a language that Harry didn't understand, but the magic made him shudder. Harry felt the force of the spell, an Ecaudorian spell of pain and maiming Alexio had taken from a warlord who fancied himself a dark wizard.
Alexio took no chances against unseen threats, and was smoothly transitioning into a third spell even as Harry shouted at him to stop.
The spells streaked towards through the water and then slowed to a stop in front of the form slowly resolving as bubbles floated up and out of the way.
"You always did have terrible choices in friends, Harry Potter. Except for me, of course," Hermione Granger said, as she grabbed for something unseen and stuffed it into a backpack.
Alexio's jaw set. In the back of his mind, Draco almost dropped character as Hermione Granger gently tugged on the strands of his spell, pulling it apart before looking up at them.
"So. Who's your friend?" Hermione asked as she made a flicking motion with her wand. Alexio's glowing spell throbbed angrily, then streaked away as though shot from a cannon, before disappearing up into the shimmering blue light overhead.
"Alexio, Hermione Granger," Harry said while waving hands between the two of them. "Hermione, just so you know we're in ... I don't know, a fixed point in time. Alexio and I come from different eras. Judging from the looks of you, I'd say you were from my past. Distant past."
Alexio looked at Hermione while she considered this, and Draco peeked out through his eyes. He hadn't seen her in the flesh since they'd been children.
Alexio had arranged to never share her presence during the Grand Convocation, when he'd trapped Harry. Hermione had somehow escaped. Of course she'd escaped, even when Harry hadn't. While he'd never seen her since the days of Hogwarts, the Girl-Who-Revived's celebrity status allowed Alexio to track her for decades without arousing the slightest suspicion. Hermione Granger's fans numbered in the millions, she'd had dozen of stalkers, and political operatives with any sense the world over followed her movements.
It would have seemed suspicious if a man in his position hadn't tracked her. Alexio had plenty of images of adult-Hermione to compare to.
That didn't make it easier. Hermione seemed practically ageless, once she'd reached adulthood. He couldn't tell. She hadn't seemed surprised to see Harry alive. On the other hand, she'd seen them first and may have gotten over her shock before deciding to play her prank. Had she not realized that sneaking up on them would provoke an attack? Impossible. Perhaps she worried that it was not actually Harry, some imposter with Polyjuice. Perhaps she worried he'd been Imperiused. It was too much. Too many variables to consider. And the "terrible choice of friends," was that barb directed at Alexio? Or Draco?
Alexio suspected that this version of Hermione predated his attack on Harry. He couldn't be sure. If she was younger, from his past, then she'd accumulated power at a rate that made him envious. Then again, she hadn't hid and built her powerbase from scratch. Alexio looked down towards the ocean floor beneath them, considering, as she answered Harry.
"That makes sense. From what you told me Chang's Process of the Timeless trapped Dumbledore. Wherever he is should be timeless, too," Hermione said as she swam down between them. Harry and Alexio swam smoothly, but it seemed like Hermione just willed herself into place with subtle gestures.
The effect was unsettling.
"So, Alexio," she asked, ignoring Harry, "What brings you to Atlantis?"
"I warn you, Hermione Granger," Alexio said, packing the words with as much machismo as he dared, "I am a married man."
Hermione glared at him, but didn't say anything, which was always a fine tactic for revealing little. Alexio laughed. "I apologize. I could not resist. It is just that you sounded like a pickup line."
Harry spoke up, quietly but firmly. "Alexio is here to rescue Dumbledore, like I am."
"Like we are," Hermione said, with a look of determination.
They swam along. As they came to the entrance, a submersible all rigid bubbles placed at impossible angles swam by. A surprised looking woman stared at them through a viewport. The angles distorted her face monstrously, like a funhouse mirror. Alexio suspected that device could handle depths much deeper than the coastal plains they were swimming through. A robotic arm waved hello and scrolling text appeared along the side that seemed to be an introduction in broken english, but there were letters Draco didn't recognize, and accents marks.
Harry shook his head and they ducked into the building.
"When he had so spoken,
I beheld the Angel,
who stretched out his arms,
embracing the flame of fire
& he was consumed
and arose as Elijah"
The three of them stared at the waterfall flowing rapidly through the transom in a thick billowing curtain. Behind the falls, which looked to be merely a foot thick, they could see an archway, and through the archway stood the back of the mirror. Alexio stared at it, looking exactly the same as it had so long ago. It was no more than fifty feet from them, but they were separated from it by the waterfall. Water flowed from just below the ceiling down to the floor and bounced in crashing waves of unnaturally cerulean blues. Vivid hallucinatory blues that bounced once or twice across the marble floor before disappearing. Blues that spoke of beaches and skies.
And if the waterfall noticed that the entire structure was underwater, that it flowed through ocean water instead of air, it gave no indication.
"It's like one of those hypnotic wave machines from my childhood, with two colours of water that never mix but just rock back and forth," Hermione offered.
"We could go through the transom," Harry said, but he sounded dubious. The water flowed out of the transom but there was a gap above the water. A small gap. It seemed so obvious to swim through the gap that it must be a trap, which meant that perhaps it wasn't.
"I doubt Hermione would fit. Myself? Never." Alexio said. He had half a foot over Harry Potter, and at least one hundred pounds. Probably more.
None of them approached the flowing water, or had approached close enough to risk getting splashed by any of the droplets. They'd cast a variety of spells in numerous languages. None even registered the waterfall's existence or affected it in any way. Harry had stopped looking at the waterfall and was now examining the rest of the room.
"If you don't mind my asking," Alexio said.
"We're not supposed to. Temporal Paradoxes and whatnot," Hermione shot back.
"No, not your past. Just ... where did you learn to stop spells? Physically stop them?"
"Hogwarts, of course. The famous David Monroe," she saw by his look that he'd heard of him. Most of the Wizarding world had, in the years following Harry's second defeat of Voldemort.
"David Monroe taught you that?" Alexio said, sounding amazed.
"Well... not exactly. He showed me it could be done," Hermione admitted. "I worked out the details on my own. What did you find, Harry?" she added, because Harry was waving them over. They swam to a side wall, which was covered in runes. Obscure runes, older yet similar to anything he'd studied. Alexio felt like he knew them. He realized he did know them, even though he'd never seen them before.
Runes that definitely had not been there when they first arrived.
"Negation," Harry said, pointing to the rune at Twelve o'clock.
"Identity." Draco said, pointing to the Rune at Three o'clock.
"Perfection," Hermoine said, not bothering to point at the Six o'clock rune.
"Unity," Harry finished. Nine o'clock.
"You never took Runes, Harry," Hermione said reproachfully.
"But I know what they mean," Harry said. "I don't understand it. I've encountered this before, but its definitely Atlantean magic. Not the same as before, but similar. Knowledge, without really understanding."
"I feel it, too. Your translation feels roughly right. Not correct, but how Harry James Potter would describe those runes. Each rune has too many meanings. Its like Ancient Chinese, each word could be a verb or a noun, singular or plural. In any case, its a contradiction. 'Negation is perfect unity' doesn't make sense."
Alexio looked at the runes, which to him felt like poetry and not maths.
Hermione started listing off interpretations "'Reversing the Self creates the universe', no. 'Opposing viewpoints resolve into answers', true but how does that help? 'Enemies are ...' I can't even figure out how to finish that, 'perfectly together.' That's more a mantra, like Imagine by Jon Lennon. 'Failure leads to true success.' It's like a bad philosophy."
Alexio smiled, as the translation coalesced in his mind.
"We now have a problem," Alexio interrupted. "For beyond this arch rests the mirror that has trapped Albus Dumbledore. Once we swim through it, Who shall he return with?"
"I'm the obvious choice, assuming that I'm correct in the most future timeline," Harry said, automatically. "To send him to my past presents problems."
"Ah, but Albus Dumbledore may be confused by the changes. No, he should go to the newest timeline, and hide himself from us until later," Alexio added. "We can tell him, before we depart, from when we each came."
"Why does he have to go to our time? Perhaps he's secretly Merlin?" Hermione said. "In any case, you seem to be ignoring the obvious problem of how we're going to get past this enchanted waterfall. Not to mention freeing the Headmaster."
"I cannot get past it," Alexio said. "But we? We three can simply swim through it together. After that, well, we each had a plan to free Dumbledore. At least one will work. I have no doubt."
"You got that from the Runes? That doesn't make sense."
"Unlike you, I am not always rational," Alexio admitted. "In my defense, I have the soul of a poet. And I have read this poem elsewhere - in English, no less! I think the Atlanteans, whatever else they were, understood people. They had a nobility, and these runes are a proclamation of it. It is not a warning. They have never threatened us. The real danger here has been others. Those wizards and witches we have seen. The Atlanteans will not hurt us, although they may vex us."
"You could sooner destroy the world with a block of cheese," Harry said. Alexio did not take the meaning, but he could see that Hermione did.
"You aren't serious considering this, Harry?" she asked.
Alexio smiled. "If you like, I can go first. If the falls consume me horribly, then you will know."
"Why are you smiling?" Hermione asked. Even though she was surrounded by a bubble head charm, the words escaped like hisses bubbling away.
"Because I have hope, and hope has been precious rare to me for some time. I prefer my translation to yours. You have captured the words, but not the essence."
"What is the translation?" Harry asked.
"I cannot tell her," Alexio said sheepishly. "There is information she must not have. Not yet."
Hermione glanced between the two of them, then abruptly spun and swam away to the other side of the room. Alexio cast several spells to ensure that he could not be heard, and Harry cast a few of his own, then put down his wand. Hermione could see them leaning together, just for a second, but the spells cancelled all communication, not just sounds. She couldn't make out the large man's lips as he spoke a few words. They had a conversation that lasted several minutes, but she couldn't read anything from it. She couldn't make out any detail at all that gave her a clue, it was a rare and infuriating experience.
Hermione saw them reverse their spells and swam back.
"I'm satisfied," Harry said.
"You can't be! It doesn't make sense. This isn't like you, Harry!"
"This isn't like me from your time, true. But I have privileged information. As Alexio has inferred, I know quite a bit about my past and your future. He explained his rationale for his actions, and gave me a nice translation that seems to be more than coincidence."
"At least tell me the source," Hermione said.
"For anyone else I would consider it, but you're too well read and with your memory ... well, you might make a few inductive leaps and then I've upset the timeline ... Anyway, you know how Time Turners work. All the laws of time travel indicate neither of you die or are seriously injured at the time. That, coupled with what I know about the mirror, makes me think think that worst case? We'll all pop back into where we came from. Have any of you ever heard of anyone questing for Atlantis and suffering physical harm? My research hasn't"
"A Scandanavian witch, Mamseil Arfvidsson, said that during her trip to Atlantis she was attacked by a pair of demons, one monstrous and terrifying the other delicate and cunning ... oh Harry," she folded her arms and glared at the two of them but mainly Harry Potter.
"We weren't that bad," Harry said. "We just stunned her."
"She started it," Alexio chimed in, shrugging his shoulders. "Indirectly, perhaps. No doubt she exaggerated to bolster her reputation and salvage something from the expedition."
"Well, If you two fools are going to go first, I hardly see any reason to wait around."
Alexio held out his hand and led the trio through the doorway, and as the water crashed around him, he smiled. He didn't know what the future held, but he had hope.
Harry smiled at both of them. "After we're finished, I have no idea what I'll do for fun."
Hermione just snorted bubbles, gently blowing her hair from out of her face. "I imagine you'll find something ... annoying," she said, as the swam off together towards the mirror.
"Note. This Angel,
who is now become a Devil,
is my particular friend."
- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Author's Note - This ends my epilogue, which I conceived about a half year ago as a way to continue my story (slightly) and also try to answer lingering questions on Draco's motivations and beliefs. I have beliefs (rather firm ones) about how the story continues, but these beliefs aren't about any specific facts as to "how" things happen, but about how the Trinity view each other.
I did not intend DMPOR as a depressing story, though some took it that way. The William Blake quotes contain much more of my true beliefs than I had imagined possible. (And, just for the record, I wrote my draft - with interspersed quotes - prior to the publication of the Significant Digits epilogue, which I was terrified would also have the rescue of Albus Dumbledore as a plot device. So, I dodged one bullet, but the similarity of running quotes is duplicated. Ah well.)
If you look through The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, you will find Draco's translation of the Atlantean Runes and understand why their appearance gave him hope. I tried to work it into the story, but the writing was clumsy, and after several months I cut it out and it works better if the reader fills in the details. But I have been too opaque in the past, hence this note.
Update 9/8 - It turns out that what I thought was the quote in MoHH is (in fact) not in every copy, and may just be the title of one of the engravings. It is listed in some copies, but not others. Given that, here is the quote in Rot13: Bccbfvgvba vf gehr sevraqfuvc