First off let me apologize for the lengthy absence, I'm sure most of you know why and I am grateful for all the well wishes. I think my muse has finally decided to come back at least I hope so. Secondly thanks for all the reviews and comments and I hope that I haven't lost too many of you.
Many of you have asked that I not change some attributes in the story specifically surrounding Harry's abilities. With much consideration I have decided to continue in the direction I began with and not change that aspect of the story. I do still plan on going back and cleaning up some chapters that I felt didn't flow right and make some necessary grammatical changes.
I hope you all enjoy this next chapter of Dancing with Trees!
The quaintly decorated room with its gas wall lamps and rustic furniture had become a familiar sight to the boy who lived. For the last few years it had been a place of safety and instruction, a place where Harry was treated to a vision of a life that he could have had if fate had not intervened.
It was the mental representation of the home he had lived in when he was but a baby, the place he had spent the first year or so of his life. However it was only a mental representation and not even his own. It was the workings and construct of his mother, Lily Potter.
On that infamous night of All Hallows Eve's so long ago, his mother had performed an arcane ritual lost to time and magic that would protect him from an evil that was determined to end his young life. And as had been done by her kind for untold millennia she transferred her very essence and more to the mind and psyche of her young child just prior to her death. The act itself ensured her untimely demise, but she did so willingly and without remorse.
The process would imbue the small child with not only her memories and her knowledge but something much more tangible something only known to the species of magical known as Changelings. The transfer of memories from one generation to the next was a unique gift of the changelings a jealously guarded secret hidden from the rest of the magical world.
Harry was wandering around in the mindscape he found himself in and stopped in front of a door that did not fit within the styling's of the quaint little cottage he saw about him. This door was large and seemed to be made of iron with large rivets along the edges. Harry had seen this door many times here, but he had never been able to open it. He had received cryptic replies to his questions about the door from his mother which was becoming more and more frustrating to the young wizard.
Harry placed his palm on the door and immediately was bombarded with what sounded like a thousand voices whispering madly to him, each trying to call his attention wanting to be heard. Harry's head began to swim and he strained to make since of what he was hearing but the voices were too jumbled to just isolate one.
Abruptly the voices stopped as he felt a hand gently squeeze his right shoulder. He slowly turned from the door and stared up into the eyes that were identical to his own. The face was warm and inviting, and fiery red hair framed the porcelain skin of Lily Potter who stood smiling at her son tenderly.
"I see you have inherited your father's unceasing sense of curiosity." Lily chuckled. "How many times have you tried to open that door now?" She smiled at her son her eyes twinkling.
Harry blushed and averted his eyes from his mother that made her chuckle even more. "I know you're curious about what's behind the door Harry…but I'm not sure if you're quite ready to deal with what you will find. I know I felt overwhelmed when I opened my door." She stated with a slight shiver.
Harry looked at her speculatively. "You had a door like this in your mind as well?" Harry asked. Lily nodded slowly to her son.
"Oh yes. And like you I wanted to know what lay behind it, but at the same time it frightened me. I could hear them calling to me as well…begging me to let them out just as I'm sure you have. But I was very afraid at what might happen." She told him.
"But you were able to open it?" Harry asked.
"I was. I was a little older than you are now Harry. It was the summer between my second and third year. It took me all summer just to wrap my mind around what I discovered and it wasn't till almost my fifth year before I fully understood and could take advantage of the gift I was given." She replied pulling him away from the door and sitting down on the comfortable sofa taking him with her.
Harry turned toward her his face full of inquisitiveness. "What is this gift mum? Why did it take so long for you to understand it? And what are…"
"All will be explained Harry." Lily chuckled musically. "I can answer some of your questions, but one at a time love." She smiled warmly.
Harry's heart began to beat faster with excitement. His mother had always deflected his questions before and now here she was willing to answer some of them. He calmed his mind and ordered his thoughts searching for the question he most wanted to ask her.
"W-what are we mum? The Fey called me a changeling, Aoife called me undefined, and the sorting hat intimated that I was different as well. So I would like to know…what am I?" Harry asked softly and carefully. "What are we?"
Lily looked at her only child and took both of his hands in hers. "It's a rather long story sweetheart, but one we are willing to tell you if you choose to want to learn the history of our kind. But for now I will give you just a brief history with a promise that one day you will have all the knowledge you desire."
Lily took another deep cleansing breath before starting to speak. "We Harry are the guardians of magic." She paused. "We have existed since time began, since the first cave dwellers first felt the spark of magic within them. The origins of our kind however has been lost to the ages, our memories do not go back that far unfortunately.
Our memories, mine and soon to be yours, stretch back nearly six thousand years; oh there have been others of our kind that have memories that go back much further. Our calling has been the same since our kind came to this realm; we watch and remember and at times we are called upon to save magic so that it may be returned when it is near extinction."
"I don't understand mum." Harry looked at his mother in confusion. "H-how can your memories go back six thousand years?"
"That Harry is part of the gift that we, our kind pass on to one another. As each generation comes to the end of their existence, the gift is passed to the next generation everything that we are the knowledge that we gain is passed on to the next."
Harry looked back to the locked door. The voices were faint now, just a whisper, but his mind suddenly connected the clues that his mother was giving. "The voices…the voices are the memories of my ancestors…aren't they." Harry stated.
Lily grinned widely at him. "Very good Harry." She chuckled lovingly. "But you are only half right she stated enigmatically. Harry looked at his mother again his eyebrows knitted together in exasperation.
This only caused Lily to chuckle more. "Harry love…" she began again, taking both his hands in hers and giving them a gentle squeeze. "What do you see when you look at me, what does your heart tell you that I am, just a memory…or am I something else all together."
Harry stared for what seemed to be hours at the bright twinkling eyes of his mother. Was she just a memory or was she something more, something that he could not understand. She felt so real to him. She was completely interactive, she was intelligent and responded emotionally to him.
At the same time he knew that the mind was a very powerful thing, but he absolutely refused to believe that he was seeing some sort of psychological delusion. She had told him stories of her life and of his fathers, and was told things that he never had been privy to before. He had an absolute knowledge of Hogwarts; its classrooms, the library, greenhouses, and for some reason knowledge of where the roomiest broom closets were located.
Emotions, he felt her emotions and knew they were not coming from him. He felt her pride in him and her sadness that her life with him had been cut so short. But the most intense emotion was the love she felt for him it was in a word…overwhelming.
'No, she was definitely much more than just some memory locked in his mind. She was something else entirely but he still did not know exactly what she was.' Harry mused. Lily was quiet while she watched the internal workings of her only son. He was a bright boy, and thank the deities above more like her than his father James.
Oh she loved James, but in their youth James had been a bit of a snob and entitled, at first she had been repulsed by the handsome boy's pranks and superior attitude and his constant pursuit of her. Eventually James had realized that the object of his affection was not impressed by his childishness and came to a life changing epiphany that it wasn't she that should measure up to him but he that should measure up to her. James finally became the man that was worthy of the beautiful and intelligent…witch.
"I think you are more than memories…much more." Harry told her firmly. "But still what are we? Am I a wizard or something else? Are you, I mean were you more than just a witch?" Harry asked almost pleadingly.
"The short answer is yes you are a wizard, but the way you channel and use your magic is quiet different." She stifled a giggle when Harry just seemed more confused than ever.
"Let me explain…" Lily stated. "A normal witch or wizard calls upon their magic from what they call their magical core. Although an interesting way to phrase it, ultimately it is not so. You see every human born has a unique genetic code that determines a person's height, eye color, hair color, predisposition to certain ailments, etc. In the case of witches and wizards they have an additional genetic marker that allows them to pull some of their life force from themselves and refocus it and expel it from their bodies. With me so far?" She asked with a half grin at the glassy eyed boy.
"I think so, please go on." Harry replied.
Lily smiled and ruffled his hair. "Now as I was saying, witches and wizards have the ability to take some of their life force and expel it from the body. Some of the first magic performed by mortals was wandless magic but it was not very powerful and it was completely done by accident."
"Accidental magic." Harry stated with a nod. Lily smiled and nodded as well and then continued.
" Mortal magic is intent based Harry though most mortal magicals don't realize it. Many centuries passed before a clever Greek wizard discovered that by using a foci that had magical properties increased the potential and power of their magic." She stated.
"Wands." Harry replied knowingly.
"Actually staffs were created first, but eventuality wands were invented for those who did not like to be encumbered with something as large as a long tree branch. Soon wands became the norm and the staff faded into mortal history."
"So are staffs more powerful than wands?" Harry asked.
"In the hands of a powerful wizard, or in other words a magical who can access more of his life-force…yes." She told him. "But because it is more draining to use a staff than a wand it was more practical for the weaker sort to choose a wand.
"You'll learn that mortals will fatigue if they use their 'magic' for extended periods, this is because the more magic they channel the weaker their life-force becomes." She explained.
"Is it possible to use all of your life-force?" Harry asked his mother curiously.
"It is. In my time and during the last war many witches and wizards on both sides used too much of their life-force to cast over-powered spells and as a result died from what the mortals call magical exhaustion."
"You keep using the word mortals when referring to the magical. Are we not ourselves mortal?" Harry asked with a lump in his throat thinking of his mother sacrifice.
Lily pulled him into a hug, pressing his head to her chest and kissing the top of his head before releasing him. "We are mortal Harry and then again we are not." She stated cryptically.
"…Our kind Harry does pass on, however we also continue on." Lily told her son and then nodded her head toward the locked door. "The flesh may fall away but our essence carries on within our offspring. But we are much longer lived that most mortal magicals. Our people can live an average of three hundred years Harry. However we can be killed, we are not gods." She chuckled.
Luna's face surfaced to the fore of his thoughts, she was immortal and could technically live forever bar any kind of accident. Harry sighed heavily realizing that he would not be with her forever. Lily noticed Harry's change in demeanor and knew that his thoughts were on his bonded.
"Harry…" Lily began again. "Besides long life and the essences of our ancestors, our species have…other abilities." She told him grabbing his hands in hers again. Giving her a curious look she continued.
"As I said before we are the guardians of magic its protectors if you will. How do you think we guard and protect it and then restore it should it be endanger of going extinct?" She asked.
"I-I don't know. How?" Harry asked.
"Do you remember what happened to you the moment you crossed the wards surrounding Hogwarts?"
"Uh yeah, it felt like an immense weight had fallen on top of me and I also felt like my body was being struck by lightning over and over again." Lily nodded in confirmation.
"Do you know what that was?" She prompted him.
"I- I'm not quite sure." Harry replied.
"Think back Harry to your lesson with Aoife, she taught you and Luna how to identify…"
"Auras and…oh and magic! She taught us how to feel when magic was present either in a person, animal, or place." Harry told her, his eyes wide.
"So what you felt was…?"
"I felt the magic coming from Hogwarts itself!" Harry replied. Lily smiled widely at her son.
"Not only did you feel it Harry, but you absorbed it, or more precisely the knowledge of it how it works and the ability to use it. Harry our species absorbs ambient magic, what makes us different from the mortal magical is how we channel our magic. The mortals use their life-force to produce magic, but we Harry, we absorb the magic surrounding us and then use that energy to perform magic ourselves. We never tire Harry, from using magic, we don't become exhausted because we are not pulling the magic from within us but from without."
"So once we absorb the magic it stays with us, and we can use it?" Harry asked.
"Yes and no." Lily chuckled as Harry blew a frustrated sigh. "The magic does…speak to us and we gain an understanding of it, but understanding does not give ability Harry. Only time and practice gives ability along with magical maturity. Do you understand?" Lily asked raising an inquisitive eyebrow.
"Yeah, means I still have to study and practice." Harry grimaced eliciting a mirthful chuckle from his mother.
"That and your body and your abilities have to mature as well, some magic's will be beyond your ability to use them. Now this is how we guard magic so that the knowledge is never lost." Harry nodded in understanding.
"You also mentioned that we can return magic to someone. How is that done?"
"Not necessarily magic Harry, but a restoration of a magical ability that has atrophied or in other words has become severely weakened. You have already unconsciously done this several times now." Lily stated to the shock of Harry.
"When…How?" Harry asked.
"The first was Luna my dear." Harry stared at his mother in confusion; it was becoming a common look for him during their conversation.
Lily had to stifle another chuckle but her eyes sparkled with obvious mirth. "Luna, before you contacted her was already able to use some latent abilities from her Fae heritage, but not the full measure of her ancestry. It was not till you two came together that her other abilities began to emerge. The longer you are in close proximity to each other, the more aggressive will her Fae heritage assert itself until the more human side of her will be overcome by the Fae side."
"So, I'm responsible for her becoming a fairy?" Harry asked.
"You merely recharged the batteries as it were. The Fae heritage was already there just dormant. I suspect the same thing has happened to the Greengrass sisters and their friend Tracy. You unknowingly caused their elf heritage to become active." Lily told her son who was struggling to take all the information in.
"So the more time I spend with Daphne and Tracy the more their Elf heritage will come out. Is that right?" Harry asked.
"That's exactly right son." She smiled.
"Okay I understand that, but I'm confused about something." Harry stated with a pensive look on his face.
"What are you confused about love?" Lily asked, leaning back into the couch she was sitting on.
"Well, Luna's mother shares the same ancestry as she does, and you were best friends with Selene so why didn't she change?" Harry asked.
"A fair question. Several generations back one of our ancestors became disenchanted with the magical world and left it. We have a kind of symbiotic relationship with magic users, Harry. For our abilities to manifest themselves we need the infusion of magic within us. In other words we need a witch or wizard in our family tree with that extra genetic marker to trigger our own abilities.
When our ancestor broke from the magical world he married a muggle with no magic ability at all, and also the next two generations of our ancestors married muggles. Our ability was almost bread out us. I was born a squib as it were amongst our kind, not possessing the ability to activate my powers. However I was born with an active magical genetic marker and so was a witch.
I did develop some latent abilities, I was able to absorb magical knowledge and as such I became according to my professors a 'magical prodigy'. Sadly however, I never achieved the full abilities of our people. When you were born you received from your father a long line of undiluted magical blood and from me, all the abilities of the Changelings. I had hoped that you would regain all of our people's abilities but did not know for certain." Here Lily stared lovingly at her son.
"I'm proud to see, that you have indeed reclaimed all our families abilities." Lily nodded with tears in her eyes. Harry hugged his mother tightly again. "There is so much more to your heritage I want to share with you Harry. But I have limited knowledge there, so unfortunately I may have to allow another to come and instruct you on some aspects of our nature." Lily told him resignedly.
"Another?" Harry asked. Lily nodded and stood from the couch and slowly approached the large iron door. Lily placed her hand on the door and then turned to Harry.
"When the time comes for you to know more I will show you how to open the door and how to invite another to come forward." At Harry's confused look she explained.
"Behind this door Harry is all of your ancestors, going back six thousand years. Some are extremely knowledgeable and are more than excited to instruct you. There are those however…" Lily paused and her face noticeably tightened.
"…that are not so…nice. Some who are quite dangerous and would try and persuade you to let them out. Unfortunately we can't choose our ancestors and some were quite violent and malicious and they will try and steer you down darker paths. You must not give heed to those Harry, do not let them out. I will help you there." Lily said in a serious and at the same time concerned look.
"Okay mum." Harry reassured her.
"Good, well I think we have spoken enough tonight, but we will continue our conversation later." Lily informed him. With a gentle kiss Lily and the room disappeared.
Harry awoke from his visit with his mum and discovered that his eyes were covered by something, indeed most of his face was covered by waves and waves of blonde hair. As his level of consciousness surged he also felt a warm body pressed against his left side.
Using his right hand to uncover his eyes he looked down and quietly chuckled as he looked at Luna, she was sound asleep with half her body on top of his, her left arm wrapped tightly around his waist, her left leg crossing over his.
He hugged her to him and sighed happily, looking over toward the window he could tell it was still the middle of the night. He wiggled himself into a more comfortable position with Luna still clinging to him. He closed his eyes and soon found that Luna's rhythmic breathing was quickly guiding him to the land of Morpheus. Before oblivion finally took him he wondered briefly just how Luna had got there but in the end shrugged it off as inconsequential.
Chapter explanation: In regards to Harry's ancestors and their essence and memories being locked up in his mind, I took the idea from the Dune series, specifically the Bene Gesserit witches. Those of you familiar with the series will recognize where I am going with this. I hope you all enjoyed the chapter and would be so kind to leave me a Review or a Comment. Have a great weekend!