I Have So Many Names
Just after the fall of Sauron, at the Beginning of the Fourth Age…
Gandalf Greyhame stood on a veranda at Minas Tirith, a stooped and bent old man dressed in white robes, a smoky-grey cloak, and a pointed white hat that was a coarse mockery of the old blue one he had lost in Moria. He sighed, running his craggy hand through his long white beard and moustache almost absentmindedly as he thought.
He turned toward the voice, still a little on edge from the battle that was only days, felt like hours, and seemed only minutes, in the past. He relaxed slightly, but raised his bushy eyebrows curiously at the newcomer, as the voice's owner registered in his brain. Elrond Half-elven. Why does he come here?
"Yes, old friend?" Gandalf replied tiredly. His exhaustion did him no good, even in the fair White City, old Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun. Nightmares of all the wars he had seen, all the friends he had lost, all the innocents he could not save, saw to that. His millennia-old conscience would allow Gandalf no rest until darkness claimed him…
"Are you all right? You have seemed… off… since the battle." Worry was the only emotion he could hear in Elrond's tone.
"I am fine."
"You will always say you are fine, Mithrandir. You said you were fine when Gwaihir the Wind-Lord brought you to Lorien, naked and fatigued. You said you were fine when all hope was seemingly lost in the War, and you believed your friends dead." Amusement tickled through Elrond's tone as he thought on the saga of fighting evil, threaded together with near-death escapes, that was Gandalf's life; the irony of this was just too funny for the old elf. "You will always say you are fine, even if you are near death."
Gandalf chuckled, despite himself. "You remind me very much of the third friend I ever had." Memories threatened to overwhelm his consciousness for a few seconds, but he managed to Occlude them behind the dam again before he was engulfed.
"You have never told me of your life before I met you, other than you had a Dark Lord to destroy." Curiosity got the better of the old elven lord. "I know nothing of you, other than you came to the Shores after the other Istari, months later…"
Gandalf pulled off his hat and ran a hand nervously through his white hair, making it even messier than normal, and that was saying something, as on the average day it looked like birds had nested in it.
"You are right." Gandalf began softly as he gazed piercingly to Elrond. It would have been a disconcerting stare, had Gandalf actually been looking at Elrond, but now he seemed to be seeing something else, a memory perhaps…
He shook himself physically, bringing himself back to Middle-Earth. "I have been called many names, and many titles. I was called Gandalf, Mithrandir, Icanûs, Olórin, Tharkûn, Baleygr, Farmagûd, Fimbulthul, Fjolnír, Harbard, Hroptr, Vafudr, and so many other names. I was called the Chosen One, the Boy who Lived, the Man who Conquered… the list is too long to recount. Few know of my proper name, in this day and age.
"I was born over a thousand years ago, in a universe parallel to this one." Seeing Elrond's comprehension, he continued. "It was a place called Britain, where those with magic, like me, have a government separate from that of the Muggle one."
"Muggle?" Elrond inquired confusedly.
"Someone without magic,"
"Anyway, I was born to a witch and a wizard, she born of two Muggle parents, he born of a mostly-Wizard line. At the time, a Dark Lord was plaguing the world, and hope was lost. The resistance was outnumbered ten to one by the Death Eaters, the followers of the Dark Lord, and they were being killed before they could help save the world.
"Just when the world was at its darkest, the Leader of the Light overheard a prophecy. This would not have normally been a very big thing, but this was not your average prophecy that just tells you whether or not you're going to die tomorrow.
"This was a prophecy that foretold of the end of the Dark Lord." Gandalf stopped, as if the memories he pulled on were excruciatingly painful to remember.
"What did it say?" Elrond asked softly, fearing the answer.
"'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…'
"It meant that the only one with the hope for destroying the Dark Lord, who in my universe was called Voldemort, was born at the end of July to parents who had fought Him three times, and surviving each time. He would be 'marked' as his 'equal,' but he will be able to use power that Voldemort never could. Eventually, only this boy had any hope of defeating Voldemort, because while he still lived, Voldemort would chase him, and if he intended to live without fear, then he had to destroy his enemy,"
Gandalf stopped to breathe. "There were two boys who could have fit the Prophecy's parameters. One was a boy I grew to admire for his courage and stout heart, named Neville Longbottom, son of Frank. The other was Harry Potter, son of James; I am he." Gandalf's eyes, green as the Ithelien grass, blazed with the fire that comes from wielding one's true name.