Chapter 12: The Big Mistake Forgotten

When Jack came to his senses, he found himself in the misty world. The smoky mist was thicker than ever. It felt as thought it was suffocating him. He felt lost and a little afraid. He couldn't believe it. He survived the two words of death. He survived Wormtail with the saber. He survived Aku. Would this mist kill him?

Then, he saw a bright light. Could it be true? This may have been the first time in this dream world that Jack had ever seen a real light. He was drawn to it. He felt as though he was flying on an invisible broom. He flew closer and closer and closer. He wanted to touch that light, see if it was real. As he reached the brightness, he stretched out his hands and grabbed something.

The light came from a pair of glasses. Jack had his hands on a pair of moonfaced spectacles resting on the nose of Dumbledore. Only then did Jack notice that he was in the hospital wing. He sighed and fell back down into his bed, feeling rather weak.

"Good morning, Jack," Dumbledore greeted with a smile.

"You are free," Jack whispered.

"Yes."

"Sirius? The Weasleys? Remus? All of them are also free?"

"Yes, they are."

Jack smiled. He was glad. "How long have I been here?"

"Five days. Many had feared that we had lost you." Dumbledore indicated a small bedside table covered with cards and goodies. "Tokens from friends and admirers. After Undertaker's 'reign of terror' ended, I allowed all the upperclassmen to enjoy a day at Hogsmead. I think many of your Gryffindor friends took advantage of that simply to gather some sweets for you. I had no idea until Hermione found out that the Three Broomsticks served ten flavors of non-alcoholic Sake."

Then Jack remembered the stranger, and he looked at Dumbledore sternly. "You lied to me."

"I did not. I had withheld information."

"It comes to the same thing! I was deceived."

"Are you so sure?"

"Yes! All this time, I believed that the One Who You Fear, the one you will not name in public, was Aku. I have seen people in the future who hold Aku in that same esteem. But that night, I have learned that most of your people do not know who Aku is, and I still do not know who is the one who you really fear."

"His name is Voldemort. Years ago, he terrorized Muggles and wizards alike. He is a torturer and a murderer."

"Why did you not just tell me?"

"I did tell you to concentrate on Undertaker, didn't I? But yes, I kept Voldemort's identity secret for a reason. You see Jack, in many ways Voldemort and Aku are the same."

"No! I distinctly saw them that night as two people."

"Think, samurai. They both have insurmountable ambitions. They are both governed by the powers of evil. They are both feared by millions. If I am not mistaken, they have a certain respect for each other, even though they hate each other. If I told you who Voldemort was from the start, you would not completely understand. But I knew that you knew Aku. I knew if I kept his name silent, as others do, you would assume that we spoke of Aku. And so for once I did this. I wanted to concentrate on Undertaker and learn who he truly was. But, if you happened to meet Voldemort, you would fight him with the same mentality you would as though he were Aku. I was right, wasn't I? You destroyed his wand."

"I suppose you are right."

"It was also for your friends, especially Harry. They needed to understand how dangerous your foe was. It would be perfect if they understood it in the context of Voldemort."

Jack nodded. He wasn't sure he agreed with Dumbledore, but Dumbledore was a wise, old man. "So, you knew the truth about Undertaker?"

"Of course."

"How is it that you did and no one else does?"

"I'm one of the few who make it my business to know what is happening outside our world. Many wizards want to cut themselves off from the Muggle world. They do not always pay attention to what is happening in that part of life." Dumbledore paused and shook his head. "Oh Jack, I fear the day is coming soon that they will see how foolish this is. For since Aku rules primarily rules over Muggle nations, he is only portrayed in the Muggle media."

"Well, if you knew, why did you call on me? I was under the impression that you were a powerful wizard, even Aku acknowledged it."

"I told you why, Jack. Do you not remember? There was one thing you could do that magic could not."

"But I really didn't do anything."

"Did you? You did it that night. You were the only one who could take the dark power Aku had put into their souls without hurting them."

"I am? How?"

"It is not quite clear, but it has to do with your sword and your determination to destroy Aku. Of course, you could not do it on your own."

"So it was right for me to call on--"

"No, not even your ancestors could do it. The children had to give it up willingly."

"That must have been difficult."

"I am sure it was, but you got them to do it. That night, you said two most powerful words that I believe have ever been spoken in this castle. It echoed from the astronomy tower to the dungeons, and I felt it make the walls shake."

"This cannot be. I know no magic, and I spoke no magic words that I know."

"It was no incantation. The words were 'I care.' I think at those words, the students woke and realized that though Aku could offer them power, he would take away their emotions. He did not care about their well being, but you did. They let Aku's power go in a way appropriate to their character developed by their houses. Ernie grew weary of what Aku forced him to do, so he sweated it out. Draco had to fight his greedy ambitions to force out hate, so he coughed it out. Cho, who had long discerned the troubles of being in the bonds of one so evil, cried in shamed and washed it out with her tears. As for Harry, the power flowed out of the spot where it was placed, in his scar. He bled. He was almost in the Hospital Wing for as long as you were, but he got out a couple of days ago. It was not pleasant for any of them, but they were willing to do it because of your concern."

"But what of Professor Snape?"

"What about him?"

"I saw him that night as well. He was helping them guard. I believe he volunteered his services to Undertaker."

"You don't know? Professor Snape was my spy. He pretended to help Undertaker to see what he was really up to. It worked. When Sirius was attacked, he listened to the other three who cast the charm. Then when they were distracted, he used the secret words to free Sirius and me, and we were able to free the old crowd as well. If I'm not mistaken, he tipped off Myrtle that you were in trouble as well."

"But that does not make sense. Just a few days ago, he and Undertaker worked together to frame me at the Quidditch match."

"Do you have proof of this?"

"Yes, but it is rather . . . I'll tell you about that later."

"Well, to answer your question, for a long time Professor Snape had been interested in Undertaker's plan. He's always had a fancy for the Dark Arts. I do not know how long they had been conspiring together, but just recently Professor Snape told me that he felt Undertaker's offers were too good to be true. So, we set this up instead."

"Very well. Tell me, how did I renew the curse?"

"Now that I can't readily explain. Perhaps your ancestors or some kind of supernatural force did have a hand in that in response to your pleas. But something summoned all of us who had been attacked to fight with you. I even saw many of Voldemort's victims, including Cedric Diggory and Harry's parents."

Jack smiled. His vow had been fulfilled. "So, I was not losing my mind as I feared. But why did I put it on the line?"

"Did you really think you would lose your sanity by protecting these children? But even at that, you were protected. Your sword is not a wand at its base like other magic weapons. I believe that it is pure magic. It is one of a kind, and that's why I called for you. You had the sword in your possession, and the discipline and the heart to use it. Even in some circumstances, you could have access to that magic."

"I see. Does Voldemort know the truth about me?"

"Well, it's probably not very hard for him to find out, since you showed him everything that night. Why?"

"He threatened me before I lost consciousness. He said that he will find me, regardless of where or when. I need to know when I travel through time again, just in case he finds me in that time so that I will be prepared."

Dumbledore smiled. "It is possible that Voldemort knows the truth, but I would not worry about it."

"Why?"

"You saved his life. When a wizard saves another, it creates a powerful bond between them. I would dare say it is even stronger when a Muggle saves a wizard's life because that is so rare."

"I do not understand."

"Yes. It is magic at its deepest, most mysterious and unbreakable. Trust me, Jack. You have nothing to fear. I daresay you might even feel that connection the next time you see Draco, Ernie, Cho, or Harry. You not only saved their lives last night. Jack, you saved their souls."

Something about the way Dumbledore said that filled Jack with wonder and amazement. But then Dumbledore looked at him seriously. "However, Jack, I feel it is fair for you to know. Draco coughed several times, and the first time he swallowed."

"So, there is still a little bit of Aku in him?"

"Exactly."

Jack sat up straight in his bed. "What should I do?"

"Nothing."

"But Aku still exists within him! That means--"

"He will still have a fighting chance. It is possible that Draco will return to Aku and open the door to him again."

"I can't allow that! You can't say I will be idle!"

"Do you not see, samurai? Draco has made his choice. It is sad, but there is nothing you can do. One day he will reap the consequences of his choice, and he will learn how foolish he has acted."

"But what about the rest of mankind, especially your world?"

"Jack, drive it from your mind for now. All things will work out. I only thought you should know."

Jack found it hard to keep from thinking about this ominous news, but then another thought entered his mind. "I have completed my task. Will you now send me home?"

Dumbledore sighed. "Alas, I have still more to do to prepare. I am afraid that I will not be allowed to send you straight home, but I will find a way to at least get you closer. I will send for you when I am ready."

"I understand. May I ask you one more question?"

"Go right ahead."

"Ever since I have come here, I have dreamed dreams. I've never had visions like them before. I even dreamed when I was awake, and I believe at one point Sirius and I had the same dream. They were so vivid, so mysterious, and they led to one message. They led me to the truth."

Dumbledore nodded. "Dreams are strange things, are they not? I find it intriguing that Aku chose to work through dreams."

"Where do you suppose my dreams came from? Why were they so intense?"

"There is another mystery. It's possible that when Aku was putting his plan into motion, part of you was tuned in. Perhaps you knew through intuition. I know such strange dreams that tell truth are not uncommon here. Harry's dreams often show him the truth, as do mine at times."

"But does that mean that I . . . "

"That you are not a Muggle after all? It's possible."

"But I am content being a mortal. I have already learned enough. I do not need to know the skills of magic as well."

"Again, this is something that need not trouble you. If you truly have magic power, you can handle it yourself, for it is probably only a small dose. I think you are fine Muggle. I am honored that you came to our aid."

Dumbledore bowed his head, and Jack bowed back.

Jack read through the cards, which basically said, "Get well." They made him smile. He tried some of the sweets, and they were all right. Among other things, he found a box of chocolates with no name. Lavender and Parvati were probably responsible for that. He tried Hermione's Sake, and that was good. He liked Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans; the first bean he tasted was sushi flavored. He then found a small scroll among the cards.

Jack,

I would say goodbye in person, but now that Remus is right as rain again, I'm hiding at his place. He sends his regards and thanks to you. I hope you are well. I wish I could talk to you in person. Mainly, I would like to hear more about that thing Undertaker became. Dumbledore said it was an Aku. I'm sorry I don't know much about what that is. I reckon I probably will soon.

I just want to say thank you for taking care of my godson. You'll see what I mean; he isn't like how you knew him. He's back to his old self now.

I'd say bon voyage, but Hermione tells me that the correct term in your case is:

Sayonara,

Snuffles

Jack was glad to see that his friend was well again, but thinking about it urged him to say a final farewell to all his friends and acquaintances. He got out of his bed and began to leave.

Madame Pomfrey stopped him right away. "Where do you think you're going? Get back in bed! You need rest!"

"I have rested for five days. I need to get my strength back, and a walk will do it much better than sleep."

"Very well, but if you collapse, don't come crying to me."

Jack wanted one last look at the castle, from the dungeon to his own common room. So he went down a couple of flights of stairs to the dungeons. He took a walk around the drafty Potions room, looking with interest at the creatures in jars. Then someone cleared his throat behind him. Jack turned to see Snape standing in the doorway, his arms crossed.

"No class today, Samson. Final exams are over."

"I was hoping to see you," Jack answered. "I know that you framed me at the Quidditch match. You taught that specific potion so that you could--"

"And what kind of evidence do you have?"

"Let me speak. I know that you worked with Undertaker for a time. However, I know that five nights ago, you worked on my behalf. You even rescued me from Aku's clutches. Therefore, I forgive you, and I thank you."

Jack bowed low before the professor. As he stood erect again, the professor shook his head. "You are strange one, Samson."

Jack walked closer to him and hissed at him as he walked out, "That's Samurai to you!"

He walked passed the potions professor and moved for the stairs. Then a plain gray wall slid out to reveal three students.

"Well," a familiar voice sneered, "if it isn't the Mudblood murderer of Undertaker. Wait Crabbe and Goyle. Did I say Mudblood? Oh, I can think of a stronger word than that. MUGGLE! MUGGLE, MUGGLE, MUGGLE!" Crabbe, Goyle, and several other Slytherins screamed the word over and over. They advanced on Jack with their wands brandished. Jack silenced them by beginning to draw his sword. The sound of sliding metal got them on edge.

"Yes, Draco, I am a mortal man, but I am proud. Do you know why? Because I am more than you will ever become, now that you have sold your soul to Aku!"

"Fool!" Draco yelled. "Let me show you what I can do!" He flung his wand, but Jack charged at him and kicked the wand out of Draco's hand. Draco looked very pale with Jack in his face.

"Take me advice. Think before you judge me," Jack said solemnly. "Farewell."

Draco turned, looking for his Slytherin friends, but they had already run off. Draco nervously backed away and joined them.

"Hey Jack!" Ernie and Hannah joined Jack on the staircase.

"Ernie. Are you well?"

"Yes sir. Hey, I really didn't know that anything was going on. I remember waking up and finding myself in odd places, but that was it. I didn't know--"

"It is all right, Ernie. I don't accuse you of anything. It was not of your will."

"Well, thanks for getting me out. I didn't want connections with Undertaker or You-Know-Who."

"We only wish we got to know you better in MS," Hannah blurted out in a trembling voice.

"Yeah, just what I was going to--Hannah, why are you looking at him like that? Are you blushing?"

Hannah turned away and giggled. Ernie frowned.

"Goodbye, Ernie, Hannah. I enjoyed having class with you."

"You're going?" Hannah said.

"I'm afraid so."

"Well, maybe we'll see you," Ernie said.

"Maybe. Farewell."

"Bye," they replied in unison.

Jack continued his tour without seeing much of anybody. He quietly walked around the Great Hall and his old classrooms. A few people he didn't know greeted him. He stopped on the second floor to talk to Myrtle one time. He thanked her for getting him free from the web and forgave her for the Ouija incident.

"By the way. When you said on the board for me to look out, what did you mean?"

"Well, you have to keep your eyes open. Death is always around the corner, and it will come for you when you least expect it."

"I . . . will keep that in mind."

Just outside the bathroom was a suit of armor, still shaking and still shouting from within. Jack shook his head and opened the visor. "All right, you can come out now." Peeves flew out overjoyed. "But you must promise not to hurt Myrtle's feelings."

"No problem, governor," Peeves grinned. He clearly had his fingers crossed behind his back. Jack began to whisper the incantation again. Peeves evidently recognized those words because he shrieked and flew away before Jack could finish.

Jack walked on until he found the Shakespeare statue. He waited outside for a while until somebody finally came out, a young man wearing a badge. "What are you doing here, Gryffindor?"

"I was just wondering if I could see Cho Chang."

"She's been in her room these past five days. She won't see anyone."

Jack hung his head. He had hoped to speak to her. "Very well. I understand she has been through much. Could you just tell her that I said goodbye?"

"Sure."

"Thank you."

As he left from there, he was surprised to run into the sibyl. She looked more disheveled than usual, and she was out of breath. Evidently, she had been running.

"My dear, thank goodness I have found you."

"What is it, sibyl?"

"I have been so troubled, so I was crystal gazing, and I saw you! In the future!"

Jack held his breath. Had she actually found something? "What happened?"

"I have one important message to give to you."

"Yes?"

She came closer and said softly and dramatically, "Beware a woman in a green dress."

Once again, Jack was disappointed. "Oh? Why?"

"It is not my place to tell you. Fate will reveal it to you in good time."

"I will remember. Thank you." He bowed to her and went on to the Gryffindor common room.

"Password?" the Fat Lady asked.

"Dragon . . . dragonfly!"

"Close enough. I know it's you." Jack mentally kicked himself for getting it wrong, but the picture opened up to let him in.

"Hey, look who's alright!" a voice cried the second he came in. Several Gryffindors crowded around him, applauding joyfully. Fred and George moved up to the front of the crowd.

"We knew Strong Man would rebound!" Fred announced.

"Yeah, he wouldn't stay away for too long," George added.

"So, you have forgiven me for what I have said about your friend?" Jack asked.

"Sure," Colin answered. "I mean, it wasn't his fault, and you got him out."

"Thank you. I think I'll go to my room now."

"Hey Jack!" two voices called to him after he was going for the stairs.

"Hello, Lavender, Parvati."

"Did you get our box of Conjured Chocolates?" Lavender asked.

"You better have and liked them," Parvati added. "It cost us a fortune!"

"They were good," Jack said. He only had a couple; then he started to feel woozy. He imagined they had some kind of potion in them.

"We almost didn't send them," Parvati said, "after what you suggested for us to do to tell your fortune."

"And for what you said about Harry," Lavender added.

"But we talked about it and decided you're scary . . . "

"Disgusting . . . "

"And a little weird . . ."

"But you're also handsome . . . "

"Brave . . . "

"And most importantly--"

They said together, "Our hero!"

Lavender giggled and kissed his cheek. Parvati, who was a bit taller, kissed him on the lips. Jack frantically pulled away.

"Uh, you young ladies are nice."

"Hear that?" Parvati said. "He says we're nice."

"I'm leaving now." As he went up to the dorms, he could hear them argue over whose kiss he liked better. So crazy.

Ron and Harry were sitting on a bed playing a card game. "Hey!" Ron said with a smile. "Alright, Jack?"

"Yes."

Harry turned around and also smiled. "Wanna play Exploding Snap with us?"

"I think I will pass. I'll watch."

"It's not hard to learn."

"And it's a lot more fun when you're playing with more people," Ron said.

Jack thought about it and decided that maybe it will be the best way to talk. "Very well."

He took a seat in between the boys, and they showed him how to play. They all felt much better laughing and playing together.

But after the third game, Harry got serious. As he shuffled and dealt the cards, he said, "Jack, I'm sorry. I've been a complete git these past few weeks, and I really didn't mean it. I don't know why. I thought you were cool, but I felt like something was keeping me from saying it."

"Aku's evil can taint good hearts. I forgive you."

"Yeah, what exactly was that thing?" Ron asked. "Word's going around that it killed Undertaker when you summoned it by name."

"Undertaker never existed."

"What?" Harry said. "But he--"

"Harry, you do not understand. Aku is a shapeshifter. He can take on any form he wishes, and Undertaker was just another form."

"So you're saying that Undertaker was Aku all along?"

"Yes."

"Why didn't I figure it out? Why didn't--"

"His disguises are crafty. He has even fooled me. I thought Undertaker was Aku's servant. SNAP!" Jack slammed his hand on the card pile, and it exploded under his hand. Everybody laughed. Jack's hand was singed, but it was still amusing.

"I have to admit, though," Harry said, "I'm still rather disappointed. I mean, I was this close to killing Voldemort."

"Don't say that name!" Ron said through gritted teeth.

Jack shook his head. "Do not dwell upon it. Thinking of what could have been will only give you misery. Fate has appointed one day for evil to meet its end. That day will be soon. Just have faith."

"Yeah," Harry nodded. "Dumbledore and I had a long talk a couple of days ago, and he essentially said the same thing." He sighed and put down his cards. "Jack, I hope you make it to your home one day, but until you do, would you like me to send a letter to you by owl?"

Jack shook his head. "You can't."

"Don't worry. Hedwig will find you."

"Harry, unless your owl can cross the barriers of time, it cannot reach me."

"Wait, you're saying your home is from another time?"

"Yes. When I first battled Aku, before I could cast the final blow he used his dark magic to send me to a distant future where he ruled the world. For so long, all I have desired was to find a passage back through time so that I may return home."

Ron, who was cutting the deck, dropped all the cards and looked at him in fear and astonishment. "Well, this is just splendid. It's the end of the world!"

"What?"

Ron added a nervous giggle. "We're all going to die!" He jumped up and ran out of the room. Jack and Harry ran after him, yelling at the same time. He looked down from the stairway of the common room. "Hermione! Hermione!"

Her head poked out from behind a chair. "What Ron?"

Ron yelled back at her, "Hermione, the world's coming to an end! YOU WERE WRONG!"

"What?" Hermione called back up. "Come down here! There's no need for us to shout!"

Ron and the others did so. "You were wrong," Ron explained. "Jack didn't come here by means of 'Exilio.' He was sent through time."

"You were only joking?" Jack asked.

"Sure. Hermione's never wrong about anything."

"Oh, come off it Ron. I've been wrong about things before. Can't remember when, but . . ."

"What do you mean?" Jack asked.

"Well, Hermione said that the reason you couldn't go home was because You- Know-Who, or maybe it was the other one, put a powerful spell on you that exiled you from your home."

"I see. It was not your fault."

"Yeah, Jack wasn't exiled," Harry said, "but Aku was."

"How do you know?" Hermione asked.

"Because I did it."

"Really?"

"I think I did. When Jack resisted my spell and called for aid, I felt something inside of me die. I saw Aku for the monster he was, and I saw Jack differently too. He was too weak to carry on what he was doing, but I was pretty weak too. Then that spell came to mine. I barely whispered it. I wasn't sure if it worked, because right afterward I passed out."

"So, it was you," Jack said softly.

"That's a pretty strong spell," Hermione said. "You should be proud of yourself."

"Wait a minute," Ron broke in, "if Jack wasn't under that spell, that means . . . Jack was never confunded!"

"Nope," Hermione answered.

"Then how come he'd been acting so strange?"

"Didn't you figure it out?" Hermione whispered. "Jack's a Muggle! He's a samurai, a soldier from Japan. Most of them don't know magic."

"A Muggle? Here? How was that possible?"

"Well, evidently, he was the only one who could stop Aku." Hermione turned to Jack. "You know, I've seen Aku on the news every once in a while. I always thought he was wearing a mask. I thought it was weird, but I figured it was part of a religious ritual."

"No, that's the way he looks like," Jack answered.

"And he really does have magic powers? People keep saying that, and everybody assumes that they're just scared of his authority."

"He does."

"I just have to ask, why exactly did Aku pass all those ridiculous regulations?"

"Well, he told me it was so everyone could be in one place, so that his protection could be spread to everyone," Harry answered.

"Maybe he wanted to keep you from figuring out who he is," Ron suggestion.

"I think he was preparing you for his conquest," Jack said. "He wanted to crush your hopes and your joy."

"Then why did he allow Quidditch?" Harry asked.

That was a good question. Jack thought for a little bit, and an idea occurred to him. All of the students Aku chose were star Quidditch players. Perhaps after choosing Harry and Draco, Aku used the Quidditch matches to find two more suitable students for his plan. He was not completely sure, so he decided not to tell them. "He really looked as though he enjoyed Quidditch. Who is to say?"

"We could have used that time turner about now, Hermione," Harry said quietly. "That way we could have sent Jack back to his time."

"Well, I'm sure we'd have to turn it billions of times before we got the desired year," Hermione answered. "It would take a much more complex magical rendering, maybe some kind of potion."

"Could you at least make some kind of spell so that Hedwig can owl him a letter every once in a while?"

"Harry, even if I could, I can't! You know that is a very strict wizard law!"

"But I want to do something to make up for these couple of weeks of hate toward Jack. You know, like with Snuffles. I want him as a friend. Besides, on his journey home, he's going to be lonely."

Jack put his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Harry, never fear. Dumbledore told me that there is a kind of bond between us because of what I have done for you. I feel as though we will see each other again, and the next time we shall be on the same side."

Harry looked back at him and smiled. Jack knew that he had finally earned Harry's trust and respect. Yet somehow, when Jack looked into Harry's face, he could tell what Dumbledore meant.

At that moment, Professor McGonagall came up. "Jack, Professor Dumbledore is ready to see you."

"Awe, you're going to miss the Leaving Feast," Ron whined.

"There is a better feast prepared for me," Jack answered. "Goodbye Ron." He shook Ron's hand. Then he turned to Hermione. "Hair-um, Herme-no, uh . . . "

"You know, Hair-me-own-nee has a ring to it," she said, "and I like Greek. But only you could call me that, Viktor, ok?"

Jack laughed and shook her hand. "Oh!" He pulled out of his robe a book and handed it to her. "Thank you for letting me read this."

"No problem."

"Harry . . . " Jack was at a loss for words. Finally, he bowed before Harry in respect. Harry returned his bow. They looked at each other soberly for a few minutes then Jack turned away.

The Gryffindors that happened to be in the common room burst into applause as Jack walked out the room. "Come back and see us some time, Strong Man!" Fred called out.

"Yeah, don't be a stranger!" George added.

******************

"Ah, Jack!" Dumbledore greeted. "I have a few friends that I would like you to meet." He indicated the small crowd standing in the room. "This is Remus Lupin. This is Arabella Figg. This is Mundungus Fletcher. And these are Arthur and Molly Weasley." They all took turns shaking his hand. Arthur would not let go, and he started asking Jack a dozen questions. Jack finally managed to break free.

"I know all of you," Jack said. "You sacrificed your freedom so that I may reach Aku. I thank you."

"Yes," Dumbledore said. "And now for some unpleasant news. Jack, I'm sorry, but I'm not able to send you directly home. The Ministry will not allow it."

"I was always sure I knew how the Ministry would take it, Albus," Mundungus said. "They probably thought that next you would, oh say, write a seven- part tell-all book series about Harry's years in Hogwarts and release it to the Muggle public."

"Which would sound like a smashing idea, but I know the Muggle market a little better. I know such a series would never sell. Oh Jack, don't look so melancholy. The Ministry will let you go back to the time from whence you came. My friends and I have concocted a plan to get you home quicker."

Remus unfolded a map. "We're going to send you to the western United States. If you follow this map from the place where we send you, you will find something worth finding."

"Of course, you'll need information," Arabella said. "It's probably best that you get it from a local in the town. Owners of restaurants are a good source to look to."

"But this being the west, he'll probably have a greed streak a mile wide," Mundungus added. "So, give him this. It's a bag of leprechaun gold. It vanishes after a couple of hours."

Jack took the bag of gold, but he made a point to throw in a few gemstones that he had found just to remain honest. "Thank you."

"No, thank you Jack," Arthur said. "I only wish we had more time to talk. I mean, it's not every day I meet a Muggle of your caliber."

"And Jack, dear," Molly added, "the western United States are hot, so try to stay indoors where it's cool, alright?"

"Very well." Jack stored the items away. "I am ready, Dumbledore."

"Good. Bring him in." Remus opened a door to let in a somber-looking wizard in gray robes. "Jack, this is an Obliviator. I'm afraid the one condition the Ministry applied before I send you back is that first this wizard would . . . remove your memory of this place."

Jack was stunned! He thought Dumbledore wanted him to remember everything he saw here. And what if Voldemort found him again or if Draco contacted Aku? He wouldn't remember anything about what had just happened! But he remembered how strict this world was about mortal interaction and decided it was not his place to argue. "So be it."

He knelt down and looked at the Obliviator. The wizard raised his wand high above his head. "Obli--"

"Wait!"

The wizards turned around to see a girl in the doorway. "Cho!" Jack said with surprise.

"What is it, little girl?" the Obliviator sneered.

"I'm a young lady, thank you. I heard I missed Jack's goodbye." She turned to Jack. "I just missed you at the Gryffindor common room, and the portrait told me that you were here, so I came to look for you."

"Well, I appreciate it, Cho," Jack smiled. "I would like my final memory of this place to be a pleasant one."

Cho turned to the Obliviator. "You're going to erase his memories? Why? There is no need."

"Well, of course there is! He's a Muggle!" the Obliviator answered.

"Maybe, but he will be a part of our world someday, a rather vital part at that."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes sir. I can show you. First, let me say goodbye."

Jack stood and extended his hand, but Cho ignored it altogether. She gave him a hug. "I was so honored to meet you. Thank you for everything."

Jack backed away. "It was an honor to meet you as well, Cho. May your ancestors forever smile on you."

"Oh, they do."

They bowed to each other. Dumbledore was standing in front of a portal shimmering on the wall of his office. Jack silently bowed to him, and Dumbledore returned his bow. "Good luck, Samurai Jack."

"Luck will not aid me," Jack answered. He stepped into the portal and vanished.

"Now, Ms. Chang, what exactly did you mean?"

"I must show you," Cho answered.

****************

Jack fell out of the portal and hit his head on a rock. He rubbed his head and thought. He had just been to a wonderful place, but how did he get there? It had magic. Jack was able to make potions and fly. He remembered people who could turn into dogs and wonderful creatures. And he remembered children. Who were they? And there was one awful person, almost like death incarnate. Who was he?

Jack got up and thought himself delirious, but part of him was sure it would all come back in time. Some of it was starting to come back. He knew he had a map that could lead him to something that will take him home. He remembered he was supposed to look out for something. What was it again?

Jack shook his head and went toward the town. His quest must continue.

*************

"Cogi--Cog--oh, could one of you say it, please? I'm too excited!"

"Cogito, ergo sum," Dumbledore spoke.

Cho led the wizards into the Ravenclaw common room. Quickly, she ran up to her room and grabbed an old, tattered tapestry. "Just a few days ago, something came up on it that I know wasn't there before."

In the bottom corner, completing the story, was a picture of the samurai and the young girl of the tapestry holding hands. The samurai was dressed in imperial robes, and the girl was dressed as a bride.

THE END

Thank you to everyone who reviewed, especially my most loyal reviewer "chickens" who I believe reviewed every chapter. OK, after I read "Order of the Phoenix" I'm probably going to rework a lot of this. I'll either put it up here, on fictionalley.org, or both. Right now, I got to concentrate on more serious things.