I Have So Many Names
"The next year was better, yes?"
Gandalf shrugged. "Yes and no. I was finally believed by the people and the government, but their support meant little as long as Voldemort wanted my head on a pike. That was the year I learned of the true value of the pieces of Voldemort's soul."
"He cut his soul into pieces? How would you do that?"
"Through murder." Gandalf's face was stony. "Through the act of killing an innocent person, the soul is ripped in two. A Horcrux – that's what the soul bit is called – is encased in an object, which acts as the soul's body. As long as that Horcrux is alive, so to speak, the owner cannot leave the world through death. The Horcrux must be so destroyed that it cannot be repaired."
"Can one make more than one Horcrux?"
"Before Voldemort, no one had ever tried."
"But he did?"
"Yes." Gandalf's eyes grew sad. "He made six Horcruxes on purpose."
"Yes, six. One was the diary I destroyed in my twelfth year. Another was a ring with a strange stone – Albus Dumbledore destroyed that one before his death. The third was a locket that belonged to Voldemort's ancestor, and a fourth was a golden cup. The fifth was a diadem of wisdom and lore, and the sixth was Voldemort's familiar, a gigantic snake called Nagini."
"You said your mentor died? How?"
"He had sustained an injury when he destroyed the Horcrux in the ring. It would have killed him within a year, so he arranged his death with the man he had spying on Voldemort."
"He arranged his own death?"
"Yes, and I was there to witness him fall during the attack on Hogwarts."
"What did you do after your leader was killed?"
"Ron, Hermione and I went after the other Horcruxes during what would have been our seventh year. One – the locket – affected Ron particularly badly, but he came back and managed to save my life."
"What about Voldemort? What was he doing?"
"He was trying to find a legendary wand of immense power, the Elder Wand, that would allow him to defeat any opponent in battle. He found that it was in Dumbledore's possession when he died, and so opened his tomb to steal the wand."
"So Voldemort had it?"
"Yes, but he was not the Elder Wand's master, and so he could not use it to its full potential; he would have to defeat its master in order to take control, and use it to full effect against his enemies.
"We weren't sitting on our hands during all this, either – by the time we had found out where the diadem was, only it, Nagini, and Voldemort himself remained of Voldemort's soul – or so we thought."
"You were missing a Horcrux?"
"Voldemort made you into a Horcrux?!"
"Not on purpose. During the night in which my parents were killed, Voldemort spilt his soul with his own death, and when he was blown from Wales to the Giant's Causeway, that fractured bit attached itself to my soul, and it became part of me, and it became as if it was my own soul."
"So you had to die to kill Voldemort?" Elrond attempted to wrap his mind around the concept.
"In so many words, yes. But Voldemort made two critical errors. The first allowed me to survive, and the other allowed me to defeat him.
"The first was when he used my blood to create his new body."
"Yes, I remember. 'Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken,' –"
"'You shall resurrect your foe,' yes. But, as long as Voldemort and the body lived, I could not die."
Elrond raised his eyebrows. "Indeed. What of Nagini and the Diadem?"
"The diadem was hit with magical fire that made it melt. The snake was killed by a man we all underestimated – my friend, Neville Longbottom." Gandalf smiled wanly. "Voldemort's second major miscalculation was when he attempted to use the Elder Wand against me."
"Who was its master?"
"First it was Draco Malfoy, my 'enemy' at school. He disarmed Dumbledore before the spy killed him. Then, about six moths later, I disarmed Draco Malfoy, and the mastery passed to me; the wand refused to act against its master, and when Voldemort sent a Killing Curse at me, it rebounded and killed him."
"And you were free."
"Yes, I was free for many years. Ron and I married Hermione and Ginny, respectively; they had two children, Hugo and Rose, and Ginny and I had three – James and Lily, after my parents, and Albus, after my mentor. Ron and I destroyed and remade the police force, and Hermione took over the government, making it far more efficient and moral than before."
"How did you come to be here?" Elrond asked. "You have told me about your past, but not how you came to be in Middle Earth."
Gandalf's eyes twinkled. "Near the end of my natural life – I was nearly two hundred years old, but still powerful and still strong in body and spirit – a phoenix came to me. It was Fawkes, Albus Dumbledore's phoenix. He spoke to me in thoughts and images, asking me to come to a different world, where they needed a mentor, a counselor, a teacher, and a warrior; they had need of a man like me. A great evil had arisen, and their need was great. Morale was allowing the Dark to win, and I could not stand by, watching them die, and know that I could have helped.
"I let Fawkes take me to this world, to Valinor. Manwë gave me my mission and a name, Olórin, and sent me to follow Curumo, Aiwendil, Allatar and Pallando to Middle Earth. Círdan gave me the elven-ring, and it heightened my ability to do fire-magic. And, my friend, you know the rest."
"How are you going to return?"
"I will go on the last ship to Valinor, and then Fawkes will take me to my dimension again, since my task is done. No time will have passed to them, and only my wife knew that I would go. I will probably pass away in my sleep, a few weeks from now."
"You're not immortal? After all, the Valar sent you back after you defeated the Balrog."
"No, I will die like all wizards do, in the end. The Valar only sent me back because my task was not yet done. Now it is, and I can finally rest."