Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Baldur's Gate and its associated mods, or anything else you recognise.
A/N: A bit shorter this time. I was going to wait until I had more to add, but I feel this chapter ends in exactly the right place. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed, and I hope you enjoy this next instalment.
Thanks also to my Beta reader, Calanor.
"If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years."
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)
"And what will you do with Tom, once you have him in custody?" Dumbledore asked the question Harry really didn't have an answer to.
He knew what the old man wanted to hear. Hell, he knew that pretty much everyone in the room wanted to hear the same thing, perhaps with the exclusion of Xan, Alis and the Doctor. And maybe even Snape.
The truth was, he didn't want to kill him.
Not just because he didn't want to have Tom Riddle's death on his conscience. But because Walburga had put the damned idea of redemption in his mind. He really didn't think it was possible, not with Voldemort the way he was now. However, one of the Doctor's tales had given him an idea. It was absolutely crazy, but it did have some chance of actually working.
A long time ago, the Doctor chased down an enemy of his who had been threatening the existence of the Earth. Bizarrely, because of him being a Time Lord, the events which led to this threat wouldn't actually occur for about nine years or so from now. Harry didn't like to think about that too much, as it made his head hurt. Even so, though her death was justified, he couldn't bring himself to kill her.
Because of an accident with a rift in time, which was actually located in Cardiff, the Doctor's enemy had looked into the living heat of the T.A.R.D.I.S. – its soul. When that happened she was regressed into an egg. She had been given the chance to live her life again, with her own choice to make between good and evil.
Everything that Harry was longed to give that chance to his parent's murderer. He had no proof that the result of Tom's upbringing wasn't his own fault. Walburga had hinted that something might have been done to him, but Harry was fairly sure there was no way for him to ever know if it was true, or to find any evidence of that.
Similarly, he didn't know if the same thing would happen to Voldemort if he looked into the heart of the ship, or even if the Doctor would agree to his plan. Now, in their present company, was not the time to discuss it. They could wait for later, in private.
So, with everyone looking at him expectantly, he gave them the answer they wanted to hear.
"I'll kill him." He replied and saw the look of satisfaction he was expecting in the faces of nearly everyone present.
While the Order were talking amongst themselves, some more jovial about the whole thing than he was comfortable with, Harry reached out a hand and squeezed the Doctor's arm. Trying to push his thoughts along the link formed by the living ship, he attempted to reassure his friends and godfather that he had no intention of becoming a murderer, if it could be avoided.
A moment later he felt an answering squeeze, and could only hope that meant that his message had been received.
Sometime later they were back in the bridge of the T.A.R.D.I.S.
During the chaos which had followed the meeting, the Doctor had slipped out and moved the ship into the bedroom which had been set aside for him. Some of Xan's enchantments stopped curious listeners from eavesdropping or even approaching the door when the five friends piled into the room and from there, into the ship.
"I assume you have an alternate plan, Harry. Care to share?" Sirius asked, crossing his arms and looking at his godson expectantly.
"I do, but it's a bit rough around the edges, presently." He looked at the Doctor. "Ever since Walburga asked me if I had had any suspicions about the 'source of the Dark Lord's malaise', I haven't been able to stop thinking about Margaret Blaine." He said, and waited.
With the Doctor being who he was, it didn't take long for the penny to drop.
"I see. You realise it might not work. That there might not be anything left of him after judgement." He pointed out and Harry nodded. He was well aware of that, and he also admitted that part of the reason he wanted to try was that even if the Dark Lord was destroyed in the attempt, Harry's soul would feel lighter because he had at least tried.
"Am I missing something here? Who is Margaret Blaine?" Asked Sirius, and the Doctor explained. The two elves had known who Harry was speaking of, since they had heard the story with him, the first time around.
"You have something of Ilmater in you, my young friend." Said Alis, and Harry smiled sheepishly. Ilmater was a god of her world, known as the being who wanted to lessen other people's pain. He was also known for his immense capacity to forgive.
"It is not completely altruistic motives which move me. If we agree on this plan, and I'm not commanding anyone here to go along with it if they don't want to – this needs to be a group decision – but if we do, I will find myself a lot easier to live with if we gave him a chance." He explained and looked to the Doctor.
Despite what Harry had said about it being a group decision, the whole thing pretty much rested on him. It was his ship after all. Plus, he was far wiser than Harry, and the young man knew it. If the Doctor thought it was a bad idea, then it probably was.
"Then you also know it is possible he may end up being given another chance. You know what happened to Blaine – she turned into a Slitheen egg. While I don't think you'll end up with a foetus, he might turn into an infant. Are you truly prepared for that? Because if he does, the people out there cannot and must not know about it. You saw their faces when you said you would kill him – they were pleased! Pleased! They will not give him another chance, even if he is an innocent baby. So, I suppose what I am asking is, are you prepared to be his father, Harry?" The Doctor demanded and Harry swallowed.
"Yes. Yes, I am." He replied, knowing what it would mean. And also answering the question his friend didn't voice – Are you prepared for what might happen if he chooses darkness again? Seemingly convinced, his friend nodded.
"Well and good then. I think you should change his name though. I might even have a book of them around here somewhere, though the reason why escapes me at present." The Doctor replied and Harry laughed. He was startled out of his merriment when he felt someone's hands on his shoulders, turning him around.
Sirius looked at him, his face grave.
"Harry, I know you are more compassionate than anyone I have ever met. And, I know you are a man now, more mature than me, most of the time. Well, all of the time. I'm not going to ask you if you're sure. You are, or you wouldn't have said it. I just want you to know that, even though this has to be the maddest idea I've ever heard, you can count on me. Even for the late night feedings. OK?" He said, the hard look in his eyes fading, to one of pride and love. It was something the scared, lonely orphan which still lived inside Harry had been longing to see for his whole life.
"I love you, Padfoot." He said, embarrassed by the intensity of his feelings, but needing to express them anyway. And these were people he trusted, people who had been there when he had hit rock-bottom, more than once.
"I love you too, Harry. I know I've said it before, but I love you like my own. I'm so proud of you. Heh, our DNA might not match, but I'm sure Prongs won't mind me claiming you as my son." Sirius replied.
A loud sniff brought their attention to Alis, who was dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief supplied by her husband. Said husband was standing next to her looking rather bemused by the whole thing.
"It's so beautiful, isn't it Xan? I'm just so happy for them!" She wailed, and her husband looked at her strangely.
"Are you alright cormamin? It was a very touching moment to be sure, but you're ever so flushed. Come to think of it, you've been looking a bit peaky, on and off for the last few weeks. Are you ill?" He asked and she smiled again.
"Do you know what he just called me? My heart! He called me his heart, isn't that lovely?" She said to the others, beaming at her husband and then blowing her nose loudly.
"Very attractive, I'm sure." Said Harry in an aside to Sirius. "Have you just been repressing your romantic, girly side or something Alis? Because I've never seen you like this before." He said with a frown.
Xan too, looked rather confused at her display. Alis glanced at them all and the dropped the simpering, fluffy act and stamped her feet in frustration.
"Oh, alright! Fine! I was just trying to enjoy a beautiful moment, but you men had to go and spoil it! When are we going to get some more women around here anyway? Have you any idea how irritating it is to be the only woman on this ship? With you men and all your scratching and belching and other wind related noises!? Honestly! A girl can't even have a mood swing in peace!" She said stomping off out of the room to who knew where.
"Wind related noises?" Protested Sirius indignantly.
The Doctor smiled knowingly at Xan. The enchanter looked really rather flustered. The whole effect was quite comical on the usually ultra composed man.
"Oh no, don't say it! She's not… Seldarine give me strength!" He said, scurrying after his wife.
"She's not what? Hey! I'm talking to you!" Sirius shouted, but at a look from Harry he didn't go after the two elves.
"Pregnant, Padfoot. She's pregnant. Well, it was only a matter of time with the way those two carry on. I'm surprised it took so long, to be honest." Harry told him and his godfather gaped. After a second, he closed his mouth and shrugged.
"Well, they deserve it. Aren't they just the definition of transcendent love? Rather them than me, though." Sirius declared. Shrugging again, he turned the conversation back to the main point. "So, I'm thinking, if we do go ahead with this plan, we're going to have to provide them with a body, however it turns out. And it can't just be transfigured. It's going to need a lot more than that."
"I can help you there."
"Ah, I was wondering when you were going to join in with this conversation." Chirped the Doctor happily.
"I was having a nap, however, all the hormones and histrionics woke me up." The ship complained huffily. Harry wondered whether she would be pouting if she had lips.
"So, what do you think?" He asked, rather nervous of the answer.
"It is a fine idea. I knew you were special, Harry Potter. That is why I came to you, in your hour of need. However, I cannot tell you what the outcome will be until I have met him. But I can provide you with the substitute you require. It will stand up to your wizard tests."
"Thank you. I'm very grateful to have your support. All of you. Now we just have to work out a way to make the switch." He said, and the other two nodded.
"I've been thinking. Should we get Snape and Malfoy in on this? And maybe Remus?" Sirius suggested. The others looked at him curiously. "I mean, Snape and Malfoy have inside information, right? And Remus, well. I don't know how much he can offer strategy wise, but I'm worried about leaving him alone too long. He's really fragile right now." He explained and they thought about it.
"I think we would benefit from their input, but we would have to have a way of ensuring their silence on these matters. This is far more risky than Harry's travel plans." The Doctor said, and the others nodded.
"Absolutely. We could get in very serious trouble over this. The sort where they hex first and ask questions later, preferably when they've banged you up in Azkaban." Harry agreed.
"An Unbreakable Vow? With those two involved, you'd have to be pretty sure of the wording." Sirius mused.
"Xan, do you know of anything? I seem to recall studying something like this, but I don't remember all the particulars." Harry asked and the elf shook his head.
"Nothing that wouldn't require constant maintenance. Melamin, do you know of any such spell?" He asked his wife, knowing that she had retained a large portion of the knowledge she had gleaned from places like the Library of Carsus where she and Harry had first met.
"I think I know what Harry is referring to, but the memory is hazy. Can we not combine spells? Is that difficult to do?" She queried and the magical people in the room frowned.
"We'd have to get the Arithmancy exactly right." Sirius cautioned.
"Gentlemen and Lady, may I remind you. This is a Time Machine. If you don't have the answer here, go out and find it." The Doctor said in an exasperated voice. The four friends smiled sheepishly when they heard the ship laughing in their heads as well.
"Alright, fair point. Carsus first?" Asked Harry, and the Doctor nodded, already tapping in the coordinates.
"Hold on tight!" He said with glee, and the ship lurched forward.
They stepped out of the T.A.R.D.I.S. and back into the bedroom assigned to the Doctor about five minutes after they left it. They had really been gone for about four days. It really was awfully convenient having a time machine at their disposal.
The spell they were looking for was a bit complicated, but now they had had some practice either Xan or one of the two wizards were be able to cast or reverse it. They had also agreed there was no point in delaying speaking with the two spies and Remus. The sooner everything was taken care of, the sooner they could be outta there!
A few hushed conversations later, and the two pseudo Death Eaters and the werewolf were sat on some conjured chairs in the Doctor's bedroom. The T.A.R.D.I.S. was hidden from their view for the moment as there was no need to divulge all of their secrets at once.
They hadn't asked permission to cast the spell which would protect their minds, since they could foresee a lot of wrangling going on before any of the three would agree, and that would waste unnecessary time.
So it was that Remus, Draco and Snape were sitting in their chairs and glaring at Harry and friends. It probably wouldn't be the last time they were in this situation either. But in a certain light, the three of them did look rather funny.
"Apologies for taking you by surprise like that gentlemen, but we need your help. Unfortunately, we need your silence on certain matters, so we had to be sure you would not be able to either voluntarily or involuntarily give away secure information." Xan told them, and they only scowled stronger.
"Explain yourselves, now." Snape snapped menacingly, and it stirred something almost nostalgic in Harry.
"Very well. I have no intention of killing Voldemort once he is in my power, if I can avoid it." He stated boldly and waited for their reaction.
"Sometimes I think you do that on purpose just to shock people." Said Sirius and Harry nodded.
"Course I do. Well, gentlemen?" He replied, turning back to their three guests.
"Surely, Harry, he deserves it? I mean, your parents! Everyone else he – surely he, more than anyone else, deserves it?" Remus protested vehemently, unable to conceive of the notion that Harry might spare Voldemort.
"I know. I'm not saying I haven't thought about it. Or that I wouldn't take satisfaction from obtaining my revenge in such a direct way. But honestly? I don't think I could live with that on my conscience if I didn't try and find another way." He told them, and watched them closely to try and work out what they were thinking. Easier said than done when it came to people like Snape and Malfoy.
Lupin, in his turbulent state of emotion was an open book. Harry didn't have many doubts about persuading him, however. But he was not above containing the man if necessary. No, it was the other two who worried him.
"While I can understand the desire to maintain a clean soul, or at least preserve it in its current state, your statement implies that you consider the Dark Lord redeemable in some fashion, and I am shocked that you could still be so incredibly naive. There is nothing human left in him, Potter." Snape said, and Harry was alarmed but unsurprised at the self loathing evident in the man's voice.
"Severus is right, Harry. He is too far gone. And giving him a chance to convince you he isn't, is not just stupid, it's suicidal. As soon as you turn your back on him, he will stab you in it. Repeatedly." Draco said, a hard edge to his tone.
"I know all of this. I realise I have not spent time with him as his servant or ally, but I have been inside his head and believe me, it is not somewhere I enjoyed being. But you are not operating with all relevant information. Doctor, if you would?" He said, gesturing to his friend.
"Now we come to the part which warranted such paranoid security measures. Gentlemen, I am a Time Lord, and this," He pointed in the direction of the T.A.R.D.I.S. "This is my ship."
Some rather incredulous outbursts and calm rebuttals later, and the three guests were in possession of the salient facts.
All three of them thought Harry was crackers.
While they could appreciate the compassion that was driving him, along with his own selfish desire to remain untainted, the Doctor and his technology were both so beyond their ken that they found it hard to put any faith in them.
After a while, Harry got sick of all the bickering.
"Listen, Snape, Draco, and Remus – you don't have to believe it will work. None of us know what will happen when Tom Riddle looks into the heart of the T.A.R.D.I.S. However, I am prepared to accept the consequences of whatever does happen. That is all you really need to know. We need your help in getting him to the ship and making sure he is subdued. Then we'll take it from there. Whether he is killed or returns to infancy, we will need proof for the rest of the world that he is dead. And even though the ship has assured us she can provide a believable body, there are many who are going to want to witness his downfall. I can think of one particular old goat that is going to be suspicious if he is not there." He was calm as he explained this all to them, but he couldn't help scowling at the thought of his former Headmaster.
While he was feeling more forgiving towards some of his former friends than he had initially thought possible, the old man would be receiving no absolution from Harry. In some ways, he was willing to admit a man as old as Dumbledore was bound to make mistakes. But that didn't excuse the way he'd treated Harry and his family.
A person should be willing to take responsibility for their own actions.
If their faculties were failing with age, they should have the courage to face that fact and remove themselves from a position where their mistakes might hurt other people. In no way did he think that it would be an easy decision to make, and he understood that many would not be able to confront such weakness in themselves.
That was why he believed that people in high positions like Dumbledore should be held accountable by others. It was of course possible, that if the old goat was suffering from some kind of dementia or decline in his mental powers, he was hiding it exceptionally well.
Added to that, the man did have an enormous amount of charisma and a sterling reputation to back it up. It was entirely possible that while some might question isolated incidents, they may well be persuaded to overlook them as singular, important threads in whatever grand tapestry the man was weaving.
All of this he knew.
But whatever mitigating circumstances the man might claim, he had done wrong. And because of that wrong, and its direct consequences for Harry, their relationship was irrevocably broken. There would be no redemption, no second or third chances. Maybe in death, Harry would be able to grant him forgiveness, but not before.
It did strike him as odd that he was offering more mercy to the one who took his family from him than someone who claimed to be his friend. But Voldemort had never smiled to his face and then attacked him when his back was turned. The Dark Lord might have done such a thing if he had found himself in that situation, he definitely might have. But he had not patted Harry on the head and sent him back to an abusive home and neglectful guardians, year after year.
He had not pretended to be his friend while manipulating every aspect of his life, and hiding things from him he damn well had a right to know.
He had not let Harry's beloved godfather go to prison without fighting tooth and nail to get him a fair trial.
He had – Harry shook himself out of his deep cogitation before he ended up working himself in a fury. Calm, he needed to be calm. Dumbledore would get his, one way or another.
When he looked up, it was to find everyone staring at him, as if waiting for something. He gave them a rueful smile and straightened in his chair.
"I'm sorry, I was just going over things in my head. So, Snape, Draco, Remus – friend or foe?" He asked.
"Friend." Said Remus, a touch affronted.
"Friend." Draco declared, crossing his arms, the beginnings of a genuine smile forming on his face.
There was a long pause while Snape looked Harry in the eyes. There was no brush of Legilimency, Harry felt no attempts by his former Professor to try and break into his mind. Whatever assessment he was making was based on something else.
"Friend." He said softly, and that strange, lopsided smile broke out again. "And perhaps, under the circumstances, you should call me Severus." He offered and Harry chuckled.
"Very well. I appreciate the sentiment. Severus then. You realise this means you'll have to call me Harry now?" He replied and Severus frowned.
"Indeed. I suppose I shall have to bear it stoically, along with all my other crosses, Harry." He said, with a long suffering sigh. This time Harry laughed unrestrainedly, which only served to make the potions master sigh even louder.
"You and Xan should have a sighing competition! The odds would be pretty even, I reckon." Alis said, and her husband sighed. "See what I mean?" She said, pointing at her mate, who huffed. "No, no, no, melamin. Sigh, not huff. Try it again, with a bit more breath!" She teased and he crossed his arms, not making a sound. "You never let me have any fun." Alis pouted, and everybody laughed uproariously.
That night, as Harry was preparing for bed, he took a moment to sit and think about the plans they had set into motion.
He had told the Doctor he was prepared to become Tom's father if it came to it. And though he was convinced he would take the infant Dark Lord in as his own, the prospect was more than daunting.
He truly wasn't sure what would happen when Voldemort looked into the heart of the T.A.R.D.I.S. And he also wasn't sure which outcome he favoured – death or rebirth.
For a very long time, since finding out about the wizarding world and his own place in it, he had believed he would be sacrificed in the war. He hadn't been pleased about it, but he had felt he had little choice. Then, when he was offered an alternative, he had jumped on it.
As the years passed, he had begun to make plans for his future. A family of his own was something he dearly wished for. And, if rebirth was the fate in store for Tom Riddle, Harry would be firmly on the path of being a family man, albeit a strange and unconventional one. He didn't really want to be a single Dad, but that prospect looked rather likely at present.
Being Tom's father would be anything but easy. Even if the process brought him back to a time where he was merely an innocent baby, Tom Riddle was a brilliant child. A prodigy, one might say. Being parent to such a person would be challenging, that was for sure.
The Doctor was right as well, no one could know that his child was the self-styled Lord Voldemort. He would have to give him a new name and a new identity. Luckily, since he didn't plan to stay in the wizarding world when this war was done and dusted, creating his identity would be a lot easier. Perhaps Xan and Alis knew a way to disguise him? He remembered reading something about elven glamours. He made a mental note to ask them about it as soon as it was convenient.
Dumbledore and Ginny Weasley were the only two people likely to recognise Tom as Tom Riddle and then make the connection to Lord Voldemort. It would be fairly easy to avoid both of them, so it wasn't a big a problem as others they would face.
The big question that was really worrying him was, would Tom suffer from the lack of a mother? Alis was a wonderful woman, and she would definitely help in any way she could. However she was having her own child, and he didn't know how long she and Xan would want to travel with the Doctor when their baby arrived. He knew the Time Lord would welcome them all for as long as they wanted to stay, but maybe they didn't want that kind of life for their little one?
Well, there was no way to know for now and speculating with very little information would prove pointless.
Of course, a mother was a great influence in any child's life, but he would never form a relationship with someone based on that reason alone. There was no point in forcing a union for such spurious reasons as it would likely do more harm than good.
He did long for a companion of his own, but he had never met anyone, save for one person, with whom he'd felt that spark. And now, because of his travels, there was a significant age gap between them. If they met again, today, would he still feel the same? Would she feel anything for him? And would she be willing to leave everyone she knew behind, travelling with him and the Doctor? Could he even ask her to do something like that?
He snorted and got into bed.
His thoughts were whirring through his mind at an alarming speed and he knew he would never get any sleep at this rate. Chances were, he would not bump into the girl he was thinking of, and so he would never have the chance to see if they even liked each other, anymore. She might even be with someone else, by now.
That thought made him really unhappy.
Clearing his mind in the way Xan had taught him, Harry turned off the light on his bedside table, and went to sleep.
As was often the case, when one is thinking about something or someone just before going to sleep, his dreams were filled with the girl in question.
Especially her dirty blonde, waist-length hair, and her protuberant silvery grey eyes.