Chapter 30

The Joining

The breakfast feast that took place the next morning in the Elven Realm was a memorable event. Like the one before, it was a day of celebration. The guests were invited into the circle after breakfast to tell their own stories. Mr. Weasley told of his meeting with his wife's brothers on the Island of Souls and how they would be at the Joining Ritual in the evening. "It is Heaven, Molly! It is truly Heaven!" Mrs. Weasley wept with joy at the prospect of seeing her brothers once again.

Elsbeth had a tent waiting for her son so that he could sleep. He needed to regain his strength for the final ritual that would take place at dusk. She only woke him for lunch, then allowed him to go back to sleep. In the evening, supper was another feast, and Harry ate everything his stomach would hold.

At dusk, Queen Elsbeth opened the portals for the magical creatures that wished to witness the last ritual to enter the Elven Realm. The House Elves stood at the portal, watching sadly as all the others entered.

"Wait here," the Queen told them. "We may be able to find a way for you to enter."

She disappeared through the portal to return a few moments later with Harry, Lucius, and Dumbledore. Just then, Percy, who had gone to retrieve his younger brothers and sister, ran toward the group followed by Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione.

"We made it!" Ron said, breathing heavily.

Harry grinned at them. "Barely," he said, hugging his friends. "Wait here for a moment, then we shall enter." He turned to the group of House Elves that were waiting.

Dobby was in the front of the group, and when Harry had appeared, all the House Elves had knelt. Harry walked over to Dobby and knelt in front of him.

"Do you wish to be free, Dobby?" Harry asked.

The Elf looked up into his King's eyes. His own were filled with tears. "Yes, King Sethrael. Dobby wishes to be free."

Harry turned to Lucius. "Give him a piece of your clothing," he instructed.

Lucius took off his belt and knelt in front of Dobby. He wrapped it around the waist of the House Elf about six times before buckling it. "You are now a free Elf, Dobby," he said, and the House Elf burst into tears.

Harry took Dobby's face between his hands and looked into his eyes. "The season has not yet come for the freedom of our brothers and sisters, but because you truly desire to be free, I believe we can break your bonds of forgetfulness. Look into my eyes, my brother, and remember."

Harry sent images of the Realm of Elves into Dobby's mind. He showed him the image of Mithrael. "This is what you are," he said. "See how tall and beautiful you are. Remember the thrill of the hunt. Remember the joy of freedom. Remember the wisdom of Eldartha. Remember your people. Remember the Realm of El. It is in your mind, my brother. The memories have passed down to you from your ancestors."

As Harry continued to send images into his mind, Dobby began to change. His face became longer and slimmer. His eyes began to get smaller, forming into the almond shape of the Elves. The color slowly changed to silver. His ears got smaller with small points at the top. Hair and brows began to grow. The color of his skin faded into a healthy pink. Slowly, he grew taller and taller, and Harry had to reach up to continue holding his face.

Finally Harry stood and reached out his hand. "Arise and enter the Realm of your people. Welcome home, my brother."

Dobby stood and looked down at his body. He was now a tall, slender, handsome Elf with long pale hair and beautiful silver eyes. He unfastened the belt, which was not too tight and draped it around his neck. "I remember," he said. "And I shall need a new name. Dobby is the name of a slave."

"I would be honored to give you a name," Harry said. "Our people will call you Correth, which means Heart of the Lion. You have shown much courage by overcoming the bonds and wishing for freedom."

Correth bowed his head. "I am honored, King Sethrael, and I will endeavor to live up to my name."

"You already have, my brother. Go, now. Enter the Realm of Elves."

Correth entered his home for the first time in his life. Hermione and Ginny wiped tears from their eyes.

Harry turned to the others. "Are there any of you who wish to have their freedom now?" he asked.

None stepped forward, for the bonds of slavery were too strong in them. They would have to wait until the Season of Freedom to become a true Elf.

Harry gave them a gentle smile. "Do not be discouraged, brothers and sisters," he said. "I am surprised that even Dobby was able to overcome the bonds. The Season is upon us, and before long, you, too, will walk into the Realm of Elves. It is my promise to you." He bowed to them, then turned, and entered the portal. The Queen, Witches, and Wizards followed him, closing the portal that led into their Realm.

To the confusion of all who were present, except for the Elves, the Ritual began with a funeral for Lord Voldemort.

The Soul Glass was laid on a bier beneath Eldartha and covered with a purple silk cloth. The Elves gathered in a circle around it and began to toss flowers and handfuls of dirt onto the bier. As they did, the children sang.

Rest now, our brother

Enter the womb of the Mother

Be healed and be born again

The Mother comforts the wounded

The Mother creates new life

Weep not, Children of El

For our brother is only sleeping

He sleeps before his birthing

He sleeps in the womb of the Mother

He shall be born again.

Rejoice, Children of Light

For in the Realm of El

All darkness shall be erased

Our brother will have a new body

He shall enter the Summerland.

Laugh, Children of El

For in the Summerland

Our brother will live forever

Our brother will be with his people

Our brother will live in joy.

Sirius turned to Remus and whispered, "Is it just me, or do you think we're being a little hypocritical by attending the funeral of the most evil bastard that's ever lived?"

Remus snorted, then quickly covered his mouth with his hand. "Don't start, Sirius. At least he's going to be dead."

"That's my point!" Sirius whispered back. "I'm glad he's going to be dead, and they're singing all happy-happy-dark-lord-live-forever!"

"It's their culture. Just shut up and go along with it."

Sirius rolled his eyes, but kept quiet.

"I'm with you, Sirius," Mr. Weasley whispered from behind him. Sirius turned and grinned at him, and then started to make a comment, but an elbow to his side from Remus made him turn back around and behave.

Harry and Queen Thespa walked to the front of the group. At the Queen's signal, the Elders raised the bier, and the children formed a line. The children followed the King and Queen to the portal, followed by the Elders carrying the Soul Glass on the bier. All the other Elves joined the line, and then the visitors.

They approached the portal, and then entered the Realm of El. The children continued singing as they slowly walked down the hill into the valley, then over the footbridge and onto the island. They took the well-worn path to the cove where the souls of Elves and of Voldemort's victims awaited.

The bier was placed in the center of the cove, and everyone formed a circle around it. Harry, wearing a white robe trimmed with gold, his sword, and his crown, stepped inside the circle. And then the Elders scattered a circle of salt, sage, and herbs around him and the bier as they had done the night before. This time, however, they made a path leading from the circle to the River of Purification on the Summerland side of the island.

When they were finished, the Elders joined the others outside the circle. Harry went to the bier and lifted the purple cloth, uncovering the Soul Glass. He drew his sword and backed away from the bier.

Holding the sword in both hands, he raised the tip skyward and called out:

"Elohanmi! Elmithmi! Elsethmi!"

As it had on the day he received his sword, a bolt of lightening appeared from the heavens and struck its tip. The Wizards and Witches in the crowd gasped or screamed in fear.

"Do not be afraid," Harry said, lowering his sword. "It is El who touches the sword."

He pointed the tip of his sword toward the Soul Glass. "Soul of Tom Riddle known as Lord Voldemort. Hear me! The pieces of your broken soul are trapped in the Soul Glass. There they will stay forever in the Realm of El. However, if your will allow me to reunite the pieces of your soul, I will free you from the Soul Glass. Show yourself in the mirror and give me your answer."

The face of the Dark Lord appeared in the mirror. "I will allow you to reunite my soul," he said.

Harry aimed his sword at the glass. "El ohan mi! Seth isa satra! Thetus isas hothet! Kreeah isa ona!" A bolt of lightening emerged from the tip of the sword and shattered the Soul Glass, forcing the soul of Voldemort, which was now reunited, out of the mirror.

Harry and Voldemort stood in the circle facing each other. Harry raised his sword and pointed it at the Dark Lord. Voldemort looked around at the people who were standing on the outside.

"What is this?" he asked. "Where am I?"

"You are on the outskirts of Heaven, Tom," Harry said. "Your body is dead, but your soul still lingers. It is time for you to rest. We are here to help you cross over into the Summerland."

Voldemort let his gaze rest on Harry. "How very kind of you," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "However, I do not wish to cross over into your Summerland, Elf."

"You do not have a choice," Harry told him. "You are no longer in the Human Realm. You are in the Realm of Light on the threshold of the Summerland. You cannot turn back. You must cross the river or be destroyed."

"You brought me here," he said. "And you will leave again. If you can leave this Realm, then so can I."

Harry shook his head. "Your body is dead and only your soul remains. Only those with living bodies can cross back over the bridge and leave this Realm. We have performed the funeral ritual and carried your soul where it belongs. We have reunited the pieces of your soul. You can never leave this Realm. You must cross the river, Tom."

"I will not cross the river! If I can't leave, I'll stay on this island."

"You cannot stay on the island, but you can come back after you have crossed the river."

"I do not believe you! This is a trap! You are trying to make me destroy myself!"

"Cross the river or be destroyed, Tom."

"I am a soul. How can you destroy me? Do you plan on using your sword?"

"Yes, but not the way you think. This sword has been touched by El. El is Light. It will destroy all that is not Light."

"So, you plan to stab me with your sword?"

Harry moved his sword to the side and a bolt of lightening came out of the tip and hit the ground near the Dark Lord. Voldemort jumped away from where it had struck the ground.

"I do not need to stab you," Harry said.

Voldemort looked down at the circle of herbs. His gaze followed it to the path leading to the river. "What happens if I step into the river?" he asked.

"All that is not light will be destroyed. Is there any light in you, Tom? Has your entire soul become dark?"

Voldemort looked at him. "I don't know. I don't think there is any light in me."

"Perhaps that young part of your soul that was once Tom Riddle still bears some light--the piece that you placed in the diary."

Voldemort frowned thoughtfully, then shook his head. "I don't know. Perhaps. I'm not sure there was ever any light in me."

"There was light in you when you were born, Tom—when you were a child. Do you remember ever feeling love? Have you ever loved anyone or anything? Have you ever felt pity or mercy?"

Voldemort shook his head. "Never."

"You have been loved," said a woman in the crowd. She stepped forward, and Harry saw that it was one of the souls from the Summerland. "For nine months, I carried you in my body, and I loved you with all of my heart."

Voldemort looked at the woman. "You are my mother?"

She nodded. "I am."

"Do you know that I killed my father?"

She nodded. "I do."

"And you are forgiven," said a man stepping out of the crowd. "I am your father, and I wronged you and your mother. I am sorry for what I did, and I forgive you for what you did."

Voldemort looked at him without emotion. "I do not want your forgiveness," he said. "I am not sorry for what I did."

"But you have it anyway," his father said. "Without asking for it or desiring it."

"That doesn't mean anything to me. You lived in a mansion while I starved in an orphanage. I do not forgive you." He turned to his mother. "And I do not forgive you for leaving me in that place."

"I forgive you, too," Lily Potter said, stepping out of the crowd. "I forgive you because the things that matter in the Human Realm do not matter in the Summerland. Everyone suffers, Tom, and we all must die. When or how or why or who no longer matter when you live forever in peace and love and joy, when you know that one day you'll be reunited with all those you love. If there is any light in you, Tom Riddle, find that light now. That is what will cross over. Your hatred, your lack of forgiveness, your darkness, the wrongs you have done in your life will be destroyed in the River of Purification."

"But that is all I have!" he cried. "I have nothing left but hatred and darkness! If I cross the river, there will be nothing left! Everything I am will be destroyed!" He turned to Harry. "Destroy me with your sword. I do not wish to cross the river."

Harry lowered the tip of his sword. "I believe there is still some light in you, Tom, hidden deep within your soul. Your soul has been separated since you were a child of 17. I believe that the young Tom Riddle may have some light left. Cross the river, Tom. Allow your mother and father to cross with you. If you are to be destroyed, at least have the courage to do it while crossing the river."

Voldemort looked down the path that led to the river. The children moved out of the crowd and stood on either side of the path and began to sing:

Rejoice, Children of Light

For in the Realm of El

All darkness shall be erased

Our brother will have a new body

He shall enter the Summerland.

Laugh, Children of El

For in the Summerland

Our brother will live forever

Our brother will be with his people

Our brother will live in joy.

Fear not, Child of Man

You shall live in peace

You shall live in joy

You shall live in love

Forever in the Summerland

Voldemort hesitated, watching the children who were singing. His parents waited for him outside the path. Harry went to him. "Come, I will walk with you, Tom."

Slowly, they started walking down the path toward the river, Tom and Harry inside the herbs and Tom's parents outside. The children continued to sing. Soon, the other Elves picked up the song and began to follow them down the path.

At the edge of the river, Tom hesitated and looked at Harry. "I am afraid," he said softly.

Harry nodded. "I know. But your parents will be with you. They will keep you safe."

Tom nodded and stepped into the river. His mother took his right hand and his father took his left and they waded out into the water.

The End