THE LAST ENEMY
The Hallows were not an ending. Harry returns to the Forbidden Forest after the Battle and finds the Stone – the start of his salvation and the path to his damnation.
Everyone wants their piece of him – to celebrate or cry with them. He has defeated Voldemort and routed his followers. Yet the victory tastes like ash in Harry's mouth as he gazes upon the bodies laid out in the Great Hall. Luna provides the distraction and Harry dons the Cloak, the Elder Wand held tightly in his grip.
One step after the other – he walks back to where he died. Perhaps there in the Forest he can be closest to the ones that fell – his penance for those he had been unable to save. He stumbles and falls, catching himself with a hand. It grasps something and Harry unfolds his fingers, revealing a black Stone.
Wand, Cloak, and Stone.
The moral of the Bard's tale had been to keep the Cloak, the other Hallows too dangerous for their bearers. But Harry remembers.
'You'll stay with me?'
'Until the very end.'
They had promised. And Harry would take them up on that offer.
Weeks pass after the Battle and he's still talking to his parents and the others – Sirius, Remus, Tonks, sometimes even Snape. He remembers the warning the Bard gave, of Cadmus's cruel fate. He limits himself to using it once a week, but it's so tempting.
Once a week becomes twice becomes daily becomes every other hour. He's the Master of Death, isn't he? He still has the Wand, the Cloak, and now the Stone. Cadmus had never united all three Hallows but Harry has, so that should count for something. Shouldn't it?
There are so many lost through space and time, forgotten between the footnotes of history – so many of them far more interesting than the ones still alive. Why would he spend time with the living when he can have tea with the likes of Queen Victoria or Admiral Nelson?
Why would he look at the latest speculations in Time when he can have a face-to-face conversation with Princess Diana herself? And, once Harry brushed up on some Old English, who knew that Helga Hufflepuff was such a gossip? Why would he pull out children's stories for Teddy when he can get the tales from the Bard himself? Robards might know a thing or two about combat, but he doesn't compare to someone like Grindelwald.
It is no surprise that Binns has no talent for teaching history – as a ghost, he is a mere imitation of it. But what Harry sees in the Stone is the real thing, or as close to it as one can get.
He talks to Dumbledore again. The old man is disappointed – 'The Stone will only bring you sorrow, Harry' – but his words are wind. Dumbledore raised him to be a pig to slaughter. Is he so surprised then that Harry finds the dead more fascinating than the living now? Dumbledore is just one voice among many, and ultimately not that interesting. Harry moves on to chatting up Marilyn Monroe.
Harry roars with laughter at the latest tale from Sirius – he and Remus had played such a brilliant prank on Mary McDonald in their fifth year. Lily fondly reminisces about the first time she and James Potter had kissed. Tonks can still pull off all kinds of faces – apparently death doesn't affect the Metamorphmagus's ability or creativity. Harry never bothered to interact with Lavender Brown when she was alive, finding her loud and annoying – now she regales him with stories of the wicked exploits she shared with Parvati Patil.
But, Harry isn't blind. He starts to see the shadows in Sirius's eyes. Diana is more reluctant to open up the next time he calls her. Hufflepuff seems to only go through the motions these days. Remus and Tonks exchange troubled glances when they think he isn't looking. Lavender wrings her hands in anxiety. Queen Victoria is distressed when he has tea with her this time.
Naturally, it's his parents that try to level with him. They worry about him: Harry has been spending more time with the dead rather than the living. His friends don't know what to make of him – the Stone occupies almost all of his free time these days. He still hasn't told anyone (living) about the Stone.
'But you promised you'd always be with me,' Harry protests.
They echo Dumbledore back at him: 'It doesn't do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, Harry.'The next time he calls Hufflepuff she has no stories for him. Diana gives him the cold shoulder. Sirius looks apologetic but doesn't speak. Marilyn stays silent. Snape, who delighted in taunting Harry even in death, says nothing. His parents don't bother to show up. Damnable Dumbledore simply stares at him with sad, accusing eyes.
Was this what happened to Cadmus in the end? Did his beloved finally stop answering his calls and begin to ignore his pleas? That even the dead were somehow capable of betrayal?
In a way, since they were dead, Harry thought he could always rely on his parents. Being dead, no one could affect their love for him. Even as bad as things got with the Dursleys, the fact that his parents were dead made them untouchable. In an odd way, it meant that he could never doubt that they supported him.
A few of the regulars still show, but he can see that it takes more and more out of them with each visit. His parents continue to avoid him and now the others start to as well. He turns the Stone thrice one evening and no one comes at all.
He goes to Godric's Hollow and he prostrates before their graves. He shouts, he screams, and he bloodies his hand against the white marble. He curses them, he cries for them, and he shouts his voice hoarse. Yearning turns to resentment turns to craving once more and Harry is no longer sure if there is even a difference.
'I show not your face but your heart's desire.'
He is still the same, all these years after the Mirror. He hadn't realized how much seeing them and the others had had slaked his most deeply held wishes, until they were gone again. He had become too accustomed to their presence and now he feels like a man dying of thirst, with no water present for miles and miles.
How can he forget their faces, when they are all that he sees in his dreams? Remus, Tonks, Sirius, Fred, Lavender, Colin – his parents. Even Diana, Marilyn, and the others have come to haunt his sleep.
But why should he care only about them? Harry isn't so selfish to believe that only his loved ones matter. How many billions have passed into the lost annals of antiquity, taken before their time? Not just the Rembrandts, the Einsteins, or the Shakespeares of the world, but also the old grandmother that used to live on Number 15 or the schoolgirl that ran into the middle of Oxford Street last week. Why not them as well?
The Stone has taught him history's human face and it is a lesson Harry finds difficult to forget.
He turns the Stone in his hand once more but nothing happens.
'The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death.'
The inscription on his parents' gravestone mocks him, taunts him – a lie with no indication of its truth. The Stone feels like ice in his grip and he barely restrains himself from throwing it away with all of his might.
Harry is supposed to be the Master of Death, but he feels more like its puppet.
'Hallows, not Horcruxes'How foolish Dumbledore and Grindelwald were – the Hallows were never a way of conquering Death. At best, it is a means of worshiping it. A myth, a legend, a fiction blown out of proportion. How can he have expected wisdom and truth out of a book of mere children's tales? Harry curses the Bard and wishes he can still call him up to spit in his face.
Death, that damnable, contemptible, detestable, ravenous beast. It consumes and consumes without limit or end. Hasn't it been enough? Haven't enough lives sated its hunger? How many more need to be lost or families torn asunder for its satisfaction?
But, what if Harry could change it? That Harry could turn back Death itself?
That Harry could bring them back?
Bring them all back.
'No spell can reawaken the dead,' Dumbledore had said.
But, Dumbledore wasn't infallible – Harry sees that clearer than ever before. Doesn't Harry live in a world where dragons roam the skies, giants romp about in the mountains, and creatures borne of fairy tales dwell in the forests? A world where even schoolchildren can treat physics more as a vague set of guidelines at best, rather than immutable law? A world where time itself can be rewound with scarcely an effort of will?
So many things that Muggles judge impossible are everyday occurrence for a Wizard. But, can't the same be true for Witches and Wizards – are there truly limits to magic or limits to what a Witch or Wizard can imagine?
He appreciates Luna more than ever now – she always had a way of keeping magic magical. Where someone like Hermione saw limits and rules, Luna saw possibilities and loopholes. A Wizard dismissing the potential of finding a Crumple-Horned Snorkack was like a Muggle dismissing the possibility of unaided levitation. Even if she were wrong about her creatures, it would be immaterial – it was Luna's approach to magic that was truer to its nature than Hermione's or so many other contemporary Witches or Wizards could ever realize.
Death cannot be reversed? Death cannot be forever postponed? Magic cannot give rise to life? To Harry, all that sounded a little like claiming that surviving the Killing Curse was impossible. He lived in a world where the impossible was regularly made reality. Why not just a little further then?
Harry would destroy Death. He would make Death its own last victim – that even Death could end.
But, where to start? Harry's experience with the Stone taught him an ironic lesson: he learned to appreciate history. He knows now that Dumbledore and Grindelwald's path with the Hallows wasn't the answer – the Stone bears no hope for ending Death.
He will need to pursue knowledge from a different direction. He can no longer rest on his laurels with the Stone, as he had. He needs to learn his enemy inside and out. Harry will need to eat, sleep, and breathe Death in all of its forms. That means studying hard. That means starting with the basics. He will have to begin then with the most obvious symptom of the disease.
It isn't anything much at first. Who would notice a couple of bodies missing from the DMLE's morgue? Who would want to fill out the paperwork? It is such a low priority compared to everything else in the end. But it isn't enough. Ironically, the DMLE seems to be doing quite a good job these days and so Harry has fewer and fewer subjects for his education.
He moves onto cemeteries. Harry has long dismissed any propriety surrounding corpses – his time with the Stone had seen to that. The skeletons beneath his parents' tombstone are not truly his parents and the bodies he liberated from the graves here are not their previous inhabitants either. At the end of the day, funerals are about the living, not the dead.
The Black library turns out to be quite useful. Why had he never come up here again? Creating an Inferius proves to be surprisingly easy – had Harry always possessed such a talent for the Dark Arts? Why had he ever wasted so much time with Divination and Care of Magical Creatures when he could have been pursuing this instead? As a mere teenager, Tom Riddle had already taken his first steps in his journey to conquer death. How much time Harry had wasted – how far behind in his task he already was.
A distant part of Harry notes that he was quickly delving into the most forbidden of the Arts now – that he was navigating through waters that even some of the Darkest witches and wizards dare not touch. Necromancy in all of its forms still bore an enormous negative stigma in the Wizarding World. Unnatural, profane, corrupt, blasphemous, and ultimately, Dark.
But, can't even the purest of magics be perverted to Dark ends? One of the Dark wizards Harry previously called had told Harry how he and three others used their Patroni to corral a flight of Dementors and directed them to utterly devour a Muggle village. The same wizard had later used a Cheering Charm to make it easier to coerce a father to brutally murder his own daughter.
If even the Patronus Charm can be used for the vilest of deeds, if the magic of life and love can be twisted into a mockery of its essence – then can't the magic of death and destruction be turned upon its own? Hadn't Harry recovered the Horcrux at Gringotts through using the Imperius? Later, he wielded the Cruciatus in defense of Professor McGonagall. Finally, hadn't he indirectly allowed the Killing Curse to end Voldemort?
If even the Unforgivables can become eminently forgivable, then Harry sees no obstacle to necromancy, the magic of death, being used in service of life. He has to know his enemy to defeat it, after all. All he needs is the will and conviction to stay the path and keep constant his purpose – and Harry hadn't been a Gryffindor for nothing.
He is ready to delve deeper however. Mere animation of these cadavers isn't what he was after. It is simply the receptacle, the vessel to be ensouled. He needs to understand the process of death – the moment where man or woman became corpse, when the soul passed beyond the veil. He cannot do that with just these shells.
It is time for live testing.
The Death Eater is a good first choice. No one will miss him. People would sooner cheer Harry than condemn him, if it was true what this Death Eater has been accused of committing. He isn't really a person – just a collection of flesh and bone wrapped around a disgusting mass of hate and debauchery. Another piece of scum off the streets, and just what Harry needs to progress in his exploration of the Art. Everyone wins.
Some American physician had once tried recording the change in weight in a dying person to determine the mass of the soul. Harry likes to think that he has a more educated approach. Not all of those silvery devices on Dumbledore's desk had been useless, Harry had discovered in his studies. There existed obscure methods of visualizing human essence, one of which Dumbledore had used in Harry's fifth year.
Harry watches the Death Eater die. The poison acts slowly, the instruments whir and whine. The Death Eater's hands clench, mouth open in a silent scream, and his eyes begin to glaze over. Harry takes notes – he doesn't want to lose any second of this. Then – there! – it's the most fleeting of moments, like the gap between past and future, a blink-and-you-miss-it instant. The Death Eater's hands slacken, his chest stops rising, and his eyes stare aimlessly.
There's something inordinately fascinating about watching the man's soul depart. Is this why Tom was so fond of the Killing Curse? Harry feels privileged to be part of something larger. His Enemy has saluted him and Harry feels obliged to return it. He needs to conduct different tests.
He needs more data.
'STRING OF UNEXPLAINED DISAPPEARANCES IN KNOCKTURN ALLEY,' the Prophet proclaims.
Harry wants to giggle when Robards assigns him as one of the lead Aurors on the case. It would be enormously inappropriate to do so, Harry realizes, but the world does have a sense of humor. Harry wonders if he should take a page from Shacklebolt and claim that the perpetrator fled to Tibet. Harry does good work at the Auror's Office – surely they'd trust his word?
He still sees Ron and Hermione on a regular basis. Ginny is seeing someone else now though. He can't blame her – she's still caught up with life and he's caught up with death. Their relationship was just another sacrifice he'd made in service of the Art. If she's still alive when he conquers Death, he supposes he would see to it that she was one of the first to reap the benefits. He owes that much to her at least.
Harry's knowledge and mastery grows, but so does his dissatisfaction. What good is raising a corpse or knowing the magical viscosity of the soul? He has learned that his Enemy has many facets and edges, but he's still not any closer to uncovering its weaknesses yet.
The Stone was no help, as he had bitterly discovered. Perhaps a different Stone then? Didn't Tom want to use that one to recover his body? But the only known Philosopher's Stone was long since destroyed and no one had any idea on how to recreate it. The Elixir can perhaps serve as part of the solution to forever delaying Death, but he isn't sure how it can help to reverse it. Harry will have to revisit that approach later.
Neither Stone will help Harry now. Still, there was another artifact that bound Death to some extent. He had seen it at the Department of Mysteries after all. When Sirius fell through the Veil, he had passed from alive to dead in an instant. But, he had heard the voices in the Veil, hadn't he? Luna did as well for that matter, so it wasn't just a trick of his imagination. If one can pass through the Veil into death, can one pass back out?
However, Harry wouldn't have an opportunity to study the Veil as long as he was an Auror. How short-sighted he had been in McGonagall's office back in fifth year. For every dark wizard Harry catches – or studies – another rises to take his place. It is a career that won't make any real changes. He doesn't even find the work challenging – he still has the Elder Wand. Harry will only languish in the Auror's Office. Even Hermione's work in politics won't truly make a difference in the end – people lived, people died. Everyone had ignored the real Enemy.
A career change is in order.
His friends are surprised when Harry turns in his badge and applies the same day to the Department of Mysteries. Harry smiles and explains in half-truths and evasions – he's gotten quite good at those recently. Harry finds it hard to relate to his friends anymore – their struggles and worries seem so far removed from the real Problem. He finds it hard to look at people as people – it's only when they're dying that they tend to catch Harry's eye these days.
The name of 'Harry Potter' continues to command respect in the Wizarding World. Before long Harry is an Unspeakable and is assigned to the Death Chamber, as requested. He had surprised them when he traded theories on magical resonance and metaphysical harmonics during the interview – it was part and parcel of his education in the Art.
He continues to take live subjects, test theories. He has grown more liberal in his choice of subjects as well. A petty thief here, a beggar on the street there. He knows their type: their lives tend to be short, painful, and ultimately pointless. In dying they serve a higher cause – in fact, the highest cause there ever could be.
In the end, everyone dies – for now – so what if he hurries along the process for a few no one would miss? Death leveled out all of the extraneous differences. One cannot carry their wealth, station, occupation, or power past the Veil. The only real criterion Harry needs is whether or not he can avoid discovery in his practice of the Art. Eventually, he would reverse the damage anyway.
Sometimes, he even makes progress towards his goal – another piece of the puzzle locking into place. He gets his first real breakthrough when he brings back a recently dead subject. That same subject dies three days later and resists further resuscitation, but progress is progress all the same. The work in the Chamber is even more exciting – he and the other Unspeakables work on determining methods of communicating through the Veil, and even attempting to recover objects they send through.
Things go well for a couple of years.
But, once more his progress plateaus and Harry starts to become frustrated again. He had hoped the Department would be different – that they would realize that they were part of something much larger than themselves, much larger than any individual.
But, they continue to be bound by an ethical code that pays lip service to banal and frivolous niceties, rather than the bigger picture. They lack the courage to do what needs to be done. His superiors ignore his suggestions and proposals. His colleagues whisper worriedly when they think he isn't around.
He had forgotten that at the end of the day, the Department was part of the Ministry and subject to all of its vices. Joining the Department was supposed to have granted him more freedom and opportunities, but now he feels trapped and bound.
He even struggles in his independent studies. Harry's most recent project involving two pregnant women had ended in failure – he had tried to record the conception and development of the new souls throughout the pregnancy, as well as tracking their departure when he terminated the two infants.
He had learned much about the dynamics of soul germination, but it hadn't helped him when it came to soul recovery, let alone entrapment or any of the other approaches Harry wanted to pursue. The experiment took the better part of the year as well, and Harry knew future tests along the same route would end the same way.
He begins to suspect that the Veil will only be part of the solution at best. He has accomplished what he can at the Department for now. Being an Unspeakable will only restrain him from achieving his aims. Harry has come up against the limits of mortal magic – it is time to exceed them.
But what will Harry do then? What avenues will Harry now pursue? What magics can he find that he wasn't able to discern at the Department? Dumbledore and Grindelwald had pursued Hallows, but that had been the failure that started Harry down this path to begin with.
Then again, Harry did know another wizard – one who had made significant strides in the war against Death and one that Harry was intimately familiar with.
'I who have gone further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality. You know my goal – to conquer death.'
To some extent it was true, wasn't it? Hadn't Tom Riddle, in his own way, utilized a method of conquering death? For all of his faults, Tom Riddle was not wrong to fight against Death. For all of his vices, he pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible with magic. He was not mistaken to journey in the Art. He was short-sighted to some extent, true, and power-hungry, yes, but he was not wrong.
Harry does not desire personal power. He has no ambition to have dominion over all the peoples and nations of the Earth as Tom Riddle had. His Enemy is more fundamental and more abstract than that, an Enemy that Tom Riddle had lost sight of. But just because Tom Riddle had stumbled off the path did not mean that Harry had to. It was true – Tom had gone further than anybody before towards conquering Death.
Horcruxes, not Hallows.
But even that is just another piece of the puzzle – a means of delaying Death, but at the cost of another, and not a means of reversing it. Tom had traveled far and wide in his study of the Art. He had scrounged and scavenged the most obscure and most ancient of magics. It would only be fitting that Harry follow in his footsteps. And then, surpass him where he had failed.
He goes back to the Hogwarts on a whim. He avoids the castle and heads towards the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid is delighted to see him again and Luna is visiting. He stops by for tea and cracks a tooth on a rock cake.
Luna smiles at him all the while, her blue-grey eyes sad yet understanding. She gives him a brief hug but says nothing. Harry has a feeling that she knows exactly what he is now. She always did have a knack for seeing what others overlooked. That was what he had always liked best about her and Harry feels an odd pang in his heart as she leaves. It fades and he thinks nothing of it.
He convinces Hagrid that he would be fine visiting the Forest alone. He's no longer the eleven-year old child he was when he first came here.
He runs across one of Hagrid's unicorns in the Forest. It stares at him, head held high and its face screwed up in what would be disapproval on a human face. An idle flick of the Elder Wand sends it cantering away. Unicorns are reputedly pure and innocent creatures – meaning that they were sheltered and ignorant of the concept of sacrifice. He does not need their approval nor does he want it.
He sees other creatures. The Acromantulas, so eager to feast on his flesh in his second year, now shy away from him and he can see their obsidian pincers between the trees. A hippogriff passes around him, giving him a wide berth. The centaurs wait atop a hill, armed to the teeth and silently watching his passage.
A group of thestrals await him along the steps of where he had once walked to his death. Their skeletal forms nuzzle against him, white eyes unblinking as they recognize him as kin of sorts. Harry can see them because he has witnessed death. Can they See him for what he is because of their connection to death as well? Hagrid always said that thestrals were cleverer than most thought.
They quietly trot alongside him as he retraces his death march, lined up like a funeral procession. Harry is going back to the place where he died, the place that made him into what he was now. The thestrals stop just before the clearing. This part he has to do alone.
Harry enters the clearing and he stops at the same spot where he had fallen before. He can feel the magic of death here. His chest clenches but he feels no pain, an atavism from when Voldemort struck him down with the Killing Curse.
He takes out the Stone, examines it. He hasn't used it in years, but it looks the same as it always has. And yet, he knows that something is different now – a charged anticipation seems to leap from the Stone. A distant part of Harry protests, an echo of the boy he once was, but he ignores it. He's long since burned away the child – that Harry had been naïve, ineffectual, and weak. He is something better now, something greater.
He grips the Stone firmly, feeling the rightness of it, knowing in his heart of hearts what to do next.
He turns it once, twice, thrice. He waits and listens to the autumn breeze.
'Back again, Harry?'
He looks to the spot where Voldemort had stood all those years ago and sees him. He doesn't have the monstrous, snake-like face he had when they last met. He looks like Tom Riddle from the Chamber but older, like a man in his late twenties – he's taller, his chin is more angular, his shoulders are broader, and there are no traces of his boyish charm. Harry realizes that this must be what Voldemort looked like before a lifetime of abusing the Dark Arts and magical transformations forever altered him.
His eyes burn still red however. He looks at Harry expressionlessly.
'You've changed. You've grown… strong.'
Harry bows his head. 'I've become what I need to be. I've studied the Art – I practice the true magic. But, I need to know more, Tom. Can you teach me?'
Tom's mouth curls upward. It's not the sneer he's come to associate with Voldemort for so long, but rather a genuine smile, a little quirking of his lips as if greeting an old friend.
'Of course, Harry. We'll begin with the first lesson I tried to teach you a long time ago – there is no good or evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it…'
Tom isn't like the other shades Harry had spoken to in the past. There are no shadows in Tom's eyes, no straining on his face. He makes no attempt to end the conversation, no move to return past the Veil. In an odd way, Tom seems more alive than any of the ones Harry had summoned before.
Harry supposes they had still been drawn to the other side of the Veil and had become acclimated to Death – it was life now that distressed them. But Tom had always hated Death – it had been the one thing he ever truly feared. Being summoned by the Stone like this must have been like a reprieve from Hell and Tom relishes every moment of it.
They talk for hours and it's the first time that Harry has met someone else who truly understands. Why had he never done this before? All that time prattling about in the Black Library and speaking with those Unspeakables – how much further along the path would Harry have been if he had just talked to Tom from the beginning?
Tom is a true genius, a once-in-a-generation prodigy with an intellect that dazzles and amazes. Still, Tom is impressed by the feats Harry has achieved in his own study of the Art and they exchange theories and proposals back and forth like trusted colleagues. In Tom he has finally found a brother-in-arms, an equal, and a fellow warrior against Death.
His sense of direction is renewed, his hope is revitalized. The next stage in Harry's path becomes clear and he knows what preparations he must make.
'I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things – terrible, yes, but great.'
Yes, Harry would become great. He is already doing terrible deeds and he would commit even more terrible ones in the future, but they are and would be in service of a greater good – the greatest good there is.
He turns in his resignation papers to the Department of Mysteries and the Ministry by the end of the night. He leaves Britain and crosses the Channel over to France before anyone notices – he doesn't bother to tell his friends and he has no desire to. By the time he comes back, would they recognize him? Would they even want to?
He knows that Dumbledore wouldn't approve, but his opinion hasn't mattered to Harry for years. More importantly, Harry is aware that his parents wouldn't approve – but he has unshackled himself from their memory long ago. His parents had been human as well, not the flawless idols he had constructed in his mind. They did not understand, but Harry supposes that they would once he was done.
He curls up in a corner of his seat, watching the autumn sunset as the train just passes the border into Italy. He could have reached Albania faster with an International Portkey, but Harry is patient. He is willing to take his time and savor the journey.
The Stone is warm in his hand, the round obsidian almost embedding itself into his skin. He is no longer the same person he was since he first took up the Stone and he wonders how much more he will change in the days to come.
It does not matter however. In the end, he would become great. By the time he came back, he would master the Art, and in turn Master Death. He would make the impossible possible – that Death itself could die.
Harry closes his eyes, mouth drawn in a slight smile as he clasps the Stone tight.
'Let's go on an adventure, Tom.'
A/N: So that's The Last Enemy, my first real attempt at a Dark Harry story. The story is heavily inspired by the Dresden/Kumori conversation in Butcher's Dead Beat, for those familiar with the Dresden Files. Many Dark Harry stories rewrite Harry's personal backstory or invoke something like the Scarcrux, but here I've tried to make the argument that Harry is capable of succumbing to the Dark on his own merits. His own hopes and fears, as I've tried to express with his obsession with the Stone and the vision in the Mirror, provide the seeds for his fall. You be the judge if I pulled it off. Much thanks to the DLP forum for their kind commentary and critique, especially to Newcomb and salts over there. This story wouldn't be what it is without them.