Imtheochaidh soir is siar
A dtainig ariamh
An ghealach is an ghrian
Imtheochaidh an ghealach's an ghrian
An Daoine og is a chail 'na dhiadh
Imtheochaidh a dtainig ariamh
an duine og is a chail ne dhiadh
(I will go east and go west
from whence came
The moon and the sun
The moon and the sun will go
And the young man
With his reputation behind him
I will go wherever he came from -
The young man with his reputation behind him)
Clannad, theme to Harry's Game
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
Once war has started, none but philosophers and historians remember the 'why'. In the very first minutes of conflict, that 'why', which was so all-important, fades to the background, leaving with the combatants the deep notion that what they fight and kill and die for is more important than the whole universe – and none of them will remember what it is.
In this story, as in so many, the why is the why of many pretty cages. By closing the Wizarding World off from the Muggles with the Statute of Secrecy, in essence the Ministry of Magic locked itself in a cage. A pretty, exciting and rather spacious cage but a cage nonetheless. And not all birds thrive in captivity.
Rebellion was sown into the hearts of a few citizens at first – why should they be the ones to hide when the barbarous practices of the Muggles were to be condemned? Was it not a crime to remain complacent instead of gaining back the freedom lost? Magic was a powerful ally. The Muggles would yield to it, they would have to. Then the freedom fighters would dictate the terms instead of being forced into hiding. Magic would do that for them, and they were the privileged ones to have it at their disposal.
Slowly, over time, only that knowledge remained – Magic was powerful and could be used to subdue. The desire to break free of the cage, the why was lost over time and the soldiers at war remembered only that they were fighting for something of gargantuan proportions. They were right. The others were wrong. Their long-forgotten why assured them of it.
Of course, said others objected. They gave their own arguments, and eventually gave in to the war. Their 'why' was equally important to them and gave them all the reason they needed, though they too barely remembered it.
Both sides brought forth champions, men and women of great power and ability. People who would rather not be on opposite sides of the conflict found themselves drawn in and divided. War continued to corrupt, turning athletes into assassins, diplomats into spies and children into adults long before their time.
And at the fringes of such a conflict, the edges will blur.
One of these blurs was born Tom Riddle. Whatever hyphenated title he might give himself in later years, he was born Tom Riddle and he was determined to be a champion for his side. With great care and skill he gathered the pureblood side of the conflict to him and revitalized them. Not with the why; he too did not remember that. By now, however, both sides held enough hatred and mistrust to demonize each other. And war is but the ultimate ad hominem attack.
No war can last forever and this one had gone on too long. Fate itself, one might say, must by necessity intervene at one point. Harry James Potter was born without choice as to what side of the conflict he would be on – it would forever be his mission to destroy Tom Riddle. Fate had so decided even before his conception. He would be forced to play his part in a game not of his choosing. The game would be Harry's, and Harry's alone to play. And Harry would never know why.
How does one assassinate an assassin?
Anonymity would be a first requirement for that. Harry was to have none, his reputation following him since before he could walk and talk.
Years of experience would also not be amiss. Harry's job began when he was eleven years old.
War knows little objectivity or reason. Harry was taught to hate, to mistrust until he saw that the side of the conflict Fate had assigned him was the right side, for everyone. It was clear that Tom Riddle had to die, and Harry had been assigned to perform this deed, in whatever way he saw fit.
There were casualties, of course. No war is without them. Harry's enemies captured his friends and killed his family; Harry's friends killed the families of the enemy.
Fate had decided the game Harry would play as well as the outcome – all that had been left to Harry was how to play it. Harry worked alone, often on the edges – slowly pushing the fight towards his opponent and taking the war to their own backyard. Literally, when he finally came face to face with Tom Riddle on a cold January morning when he was seventeen years old.
The battle was gruelling and in the end, Tom Riddle lay dead. It was then that Harry's side entered the scene to find a dead body and a dying boy.
"He had to die, Harry. Don't you understand?"
Harry looked up at them for the last time, and finally, at the end of his game, asked the question that no one could remember the answer to. Why.