The Root of All Evil lies in the hearts of every man. Wealth, beauty, fame - they are all a lesser part of the bigger evil. Man wishes himself to be in the history books as a name never to be forgotten. Man wishes for songs and ballads to be written about him, his name toasted and his family always respected. Man is afraid of dying. They are afraid of dying without having made a lasting impression on the world. They are afraid of dying without a legacy. Man, wizard, or something else, their desires are all the same.
Immortality is a pipe dream to most, nothing more than a fanciful idea. To some though, the mere possibility is too enticing to ignore. Some men would do anything for the chance to live forever. The most benign of men can turn into the most evil, the holiest of men can turn into the most blasphemous, and the most loyal of men can turn into the most traitorous. All for the chance of being remembered for all of eternity… and to be around for eternity. To some, there is no price too high.
So what of the man who sacrificed himself to save the world? The one man, the one wizard, who was not afraid of dying, and accepted it? The one wizard who was so selfless in his actions, that in return, he became something that everyone else wanted?
That wizard, of course, is Harry Potter.
He was ready to die. He was looking forward to finally meeting his parents and his godfather.. Instead, he got something unexpected. Something that guaranteed the remembrance of his name for eternity, one way or another - the chance to purge the Root of All Evil.
All books have a beginning, but not all books have an end. How are we to know where to start when the book is infinite? All we can do is take it one chapter at a time.
The Root of All Evil
Harry could feel his wand against his chest, but he made no attempt to draw it. He knew that the snake was too well protected, knew that if he managed to point the wand at Nagini, fifty curses would hit him first. And still, Voldemort and Harry looked at each other, and now Voldemort tilted his head a little to the side, considering the boy standing before him, and a singularly mirthless smile curled the lipless mouth.
"Harry Potter," he said very softly. His voice might have been part of the spitting fire. "The Boy Who Lived."
None of the Death Eaters moved. They were waiting: Everything was waiting. Hagrid was struggling, and Bellatrix was panting, and Harry thought of everyone he was doing this for, all his friends. Ron, Hermione, and -
Voldemort had raised his wand. His head was still tilted to one side, like a curious child, wondering what would happen if he proceeded. Harry looked back into the red eyes, and wanted it to happen now, quickly, while he could still stand, before he lost control, before he betrayed
He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone.
The Nothingness engulfed Harry as he awoke, tired and exhausted, yet full of energy all at once. The Nothingness was a room, colorless and odorless, but somehow it had substance - a tangibility of sorts. There were no walls to the room, yet he felt like he was enclosed, but the understanding was out of his grasp. There was no light, for none was needed - the room was adequately illuminated with an otherworldly glow. There was nothing of note in the area, as he could not call it a room. The word 'room' denotes a size, a shape or an enclosure, but for all he knew, the area was infinite.
Panting, the young sacrificial wizard felt like he had a bad nightmare. Yet he did not even have to breathe in this place. His body seemed intact, or at least what he remembered of it. Perhaps it really was just a dream?
Harry noticed a man sitting in a chair. He wasn't sure how he missed it before, the man or the chair, but one second there was nothing, and in the next, he was no longer alone. The man looked very old, but he felt familiar. Harry felt like he should have known who this was. The man was wearing a heavy cloth robe, in a mix of earthly grays and blues, along with a worn blue, cliché, wizarding hat. Harry, however, was drawing a blank. He walked up to the man, stopping a foot short of touching distance.
"Am I dead?" Harry blurted out. He had no idea what was going on, and that question was the first thing he thought of to ask.
"Ah, a good question," replied the old man. "That answer depends on you."
"Where am I?" Harry tried again.
"That, again, depends on you. This place exists, and doesn't. It simply is."
"Wow, you sound like Dumbledore," Harry grumbled. "So I got hit by the Killing Curse. What happened next?"
"Hm, straight to business then," the man said, sitting up in the chair. "Very well. Yes, you did get hit by Voldemort's Killing Curse," the man confirmed. "But something happened that neither one of you had foreseen. You were Tom Riddle's unintentional seventh horcrux..."
The man got out of his chair and started pacing around.
"The Killing Curse is a fascinating spell. It works in ways most mortals cannot comprehend, but simply put, it severs the bonds that tie a soul to the mortal plane. The Killing Curse destroyed the Horcrux that was within you. Destroying the soul leaves no outward damage, you've seen what Dementors can do. But Voldemort's soul fragment was attached to your own… two souls partially intertwined within one body.
Harry reflexively touched the scar on his forehead. "My scar?"
"Correct," answered the man. "However, that bit of soul was so entrenched with your own, after seventeen years of symbiotic relationship, it attempted to take your own soul with it."
"And?" Harry asked, subconsciously leaning in closer to the man.
"The result is something that should not occur in the mortal realms, not naturally at least, so I have intervened."
"So who are you?" Harry asked.
"I am a being of magic, no longer bound to this plane of existence, an emissary of sorts. I was once known as Myrddin Emrys – Merlin for the common folk. Magic is all around us. We breathe it in, we smell it, we use it every day. Anything and everything can be done with magic."
"So I was brought here by magic?"
"Not just any magic. - your magic. Someone of lesser knowledge than me may call it fate. To the eyes of a normal mortal wizard, fate and magic may be indistinguishable. But to someone like you, who has experienced it, will know better. Magic is our life, and our very existence. Fate is what you make of it."
"So, uh, how did you become an emissary of…magic?" Harry asked. He wasn't in the mood for philosophy lessons from a barmy old... whatever he was.
"Well, it was the wizards who did it really. Society still remembers my name after nearly two thousand years. As long as people continue to believe in me, I will continue to exist. However there are more important things here. You have two choices."
"I'm listening," Harry responded, not really understanding what was going on.
"Your first choice is to die," Merlin said bluntly. "However, Voldemort is still alive, with a Horcrux left, not to mention his immense magical prowess. Even if he had no Horcruxes he would be a very tough opponent. You can hope that your friend Neville finishes off the snake, and then hope by some miracle Voldemort gets killed. I would estimate the chance of success is about ten percent."
"And the other?" Harry asked, not liking where this was going.
"You live. But you are going to be sent back to a time before you become a Horcrux."
"What? Time travel?" Harry gasped, astonished. "You want me to relive my entire life? Ten years of the Dursley's?"
"You will retain all your memories and magic. And your body… probably. However it is not as simple as that. You will be sent back before the first real Horcrux is made. The very first," exclaimed Merlin.
"One thousand years ago. A once noble wizard fell down the dark path experimenting with magics that are better left untouched. He may not have created the first Horcrux, but he was the first one to document his research, allowing others to copy his work. Work that promotes murder in order to gain immortality. He was a Parselmouth, and the ancestor of your arch nemesis.
"No…" said Harry, horror apparent on his face. "Salazar Slytherin?"
"Correct. You have to go back to the age of the Founders and prevent the idea of Horcruxes from ever being known. They are a blemish upon nature, distorting the natural order of the world, and disrupting the balance. Their effects reach all the way into this plane of existence. The soul is not meant to be split."
"So I am being sent back a thousand years into the past... Do I get any help?" Harry asked, still unbelieving of what was being told to him.
"Before I answer that, there is one more thing you need to know. Prophecy. You have heard it, and time traveling does not change the fact that it still applies to you. "
Harry blinked his eyes a few times, trying to process what he just heard. "Are you suggesting that I still have to defeat Voldemort? A thousand years after I complete this Salazar business?"
Merlin nodded his head gravely. "There is no deadline on Salazar, but history has a tendency of repeating itself. Voldemort will be born again, no matter how hard you my try to prevent it, I guarantee you that."
"If that's the case, wouldn't that be, and this sounds weird to my own ears, the future Harry Potter's problem?"
Merlin made direct eye contact with Harry. "You are not the type of wizard to just dump your problems on another, are you? No, you are not. You never were, and you never will be. You are not even twenty years old, yet you have faced more in your years than most men do in their entire lifetimes. You would not put that burden on another if there was something you could do about it."
"It's a bit unsettling to hear someone actually say that We are talking as if there are two of me, and if what your saying is correct, I have a thousand years to worry about that. I'm having trouble even believing this is happening, let alone a future me that is not really me." Harry paused a few minutes to collect his thoughts. "I now understand why time travel can be confusing. Ok, so how am I going to live for a thousand years? I can't even imagine myself at that age."
"Listen closely. It is possible to take some items back in time with you, but it has to be a precise amount. Seven is the most magical of all numbers and the most stable, so you will be able to take seven items with you, with some limitations. They can be anything that you have personally owned, past or present. Choose wisely, because there are no second chances. " As he said that, seven chests materialized in the room. They were large and ornate, with tarnished metal overshadowing the aged wood.
"What! How am I supposed to live a thousand years?" Harry asked again. "And what am I supposed to do to pass the time?"
"Well you know the answer to the first part if you think about it. And to the second, there will always be another person to take the previous Dark Lord's place, such is the nature of our society. I suggest keeping our world in balance to be a good motive, while keeping your existence a secret to the majority. Your task is vital, but even the knowledge of the nature of your task must remain as much of a secret as possible."
Harry walked up the chests and started to mentally make a list of what would be useful, while secretly hoping he was having a bad dream. The situation was beyond real. Nothing in his life had prepared for him for this, but that was the harsh reality of it all. When has he ever been prepared? And now, he was having that exact opportunity.
"Hmmm, well, I think a method of travel would be important, so I will take my Firebolt." Harry reached into the first chest and pulled out his beloved broom.
Merlin was not impressed by Harry's choice, but he said nothing of it.. "And your second choice?" prompted the emissary.
"My invisibility cloak," Harry replied after a few seconds deliberation. He grabbed the silvery cloak out of the second chest.
Merlin nodded his head in approval. "Good. Five choices left. You might want to think of how to survive for so long. You can't escape a prophecy with time travel, once you've heard it, you've heard it. There's a reason most of them are self-fulfilling," Merlin reminded him.
Harry scratched at his chin, deep in thought. "Well, I suppose a Philosopher's Stone would do the trick." Harry reached into the third chest, but pulled out nothing.
"Good idea, but you never technically owned one."
"Ugh, how else can I live for that long?" Harry asked, put out. He had yet to realize the actual scope of what was happening to him. Living for a thousand years was not something a teenager could comprehend. Not many people could.
"Think about it, you have the answer already."
Holding the few items he already chose in his hand, Harry though quite hard over his predicament. If becoming immortal was so easy, more people would be doing it. The only methods he could think of were Horcruxes, the Philosopher's stone, and if the legends were true, then the Deathly Hallows as well.
Upon realizing that he was holding one of those very Hallows in his hand, Harry knew he had the answer. "I would like the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand."
A smile came across Merlin's face upon hearing that answer. "You do own all three, and they will accomplish what you need them too."
"How do I own the wand?" Harry asked, surprised. He'd never even held the thing.
"The wand only has the stigma of being unbeatable. But once it does get beaten, it changes its allegiance to the victor. Its unique in that aspect, and very powerful, but it is not perfect. Draco had won the wand from Albus Dumbledore when he disarmed him on top of the tower, before Snape killed him. And you, just a few hours ago, disarmed Draco, and in the process, won the wand from him, and he didn't even know about the wand's special attributes.
"So, I somehow own a wand that I've never touched and currently is in Voldemort's possession?" Harry asked, summing up what Merlin just said.
"Was, in his possession, you mean. Magic works in mysterious ways, especially magic dating back before the formation of modern society."
"Yes, I can see that," Harry replied dryly. He reached into the new chest, and pulled out the two Hallows, completing the set. Right away, he could feel a strange magic coalescing around him, foreign, but not unpleasant. Holding the delicate wand in his hand, he took a minute to revere it, contemplating the power it held and its very bloody history.
"Such is the nature of old artifacts like these Hallows. Such powerful artifacts are difficult to understand for the everyday witch or wizard. Artifacts like that are hard to find, but they can be easily lost. Dumbledore held the wand for fifty years, but I suspect you could control it for much longer. He had hoped that his death would nullify the wand's power, but that plan did not work out."
Putting the Deathly Hallows off to the side, he gave his full attention to Merlin once more.
"You have three more choices to make, and I would choose carefully."
Continuing to think about the kind of items that would be useful during the time period, Harry realized he needed a good way to destroy Horcruxes. The answer to that was an item that he already knew would work. "I want the sword of Godric Gryffindor, so I can destroy a Horcrux if I am not quick enough with my quest."
"Very well. The sword isn't what destroys a Horcrux, it is the basilisk venom it is imbued within with from your encounter in the Chamber of Secrets. Also, the sword is not unique. Its creator, Ragnuk the First, is still alive in the time period, and is a master swordsmith."
"That's good, right? If I run into Godric somehow, he won't be suspicious."
"True. But, the sword is highly magical. It was crafted by Ragnuk so it can take on several different shapes should the wielder, for example, be more proficient with axes than swords."
"Useful," commented Harry.
"It's more for the Goblin's benefit than anything. If they sell a sword to a human, it has to be big enough for them to use. But when that human dies, they take back their weapon. What good would a five foot sword be to a four foot goblin?"
"That makes sense, in a morbid way." Harry finally went up to the chest and pulled out the glimmering sword. It was a perfect length for him now. He distinctly remembered it being far too cumbersome for him when he was twelve, but perhaps it was the magic of the sword in action. As he inspected the sword, it seemed to shift from its silver color into that of a darker, almost obsidian, sheen, but still obviously metallic. The handle got a similar treatment, turning from silver and into a golden bronze color. It didn't look anything like Godric's sword, especially now that his name was no longer on it. Harry's own replaced it, curling elegantly up the side of the blade, for about four inches above the hilt.
"So be it," said Merlin. "The sword has taken on your identity."
"What about my name though? Surely there are other Potters? I know my family is pretty old."
Merlin shrugged. "What is a name? It is what is on the inside that matters, in your heart, in your mind. Harry Potter is not exactly a rare name, and there are more than one Potter family that are completely unrelated to each other. Your name will not bring any suspicion to wherever you go, as long as you don't pretend to be a part of a family that you are not. I severely doubt that anyone in the future would make a connection to a Harry Potter from a millennia in the past, to what you will become."
"And what exactly will I become?"
"Who am I to say? What you become is your choice. It has always been your choice. Your fate has always been in your hands. You have the tools to sculpt a destiny. How you do that is your choice."
Harry listened to Merlin's words and their heavy impact, but they sounded almost surreal. "I don't think choosing between dying or time travel is much of a choice, if I'm honest."
"But you always do the right thing, don't you? That is your choice. You could move on, see your family and friends in the afterlife, your mother, father, Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Dumbledore... That would be the easy way out, and no one could begrudge you for that choice. But I know you would not leave Voldemort alive in the world, not while you still had the opportunity to do something about it."
"Again, that sounded strange coming from someone else's mouth," Harry replied dryly. "I don't think about any of that when I make my choices, I just do what I feel is right."
"It's the truth. It is one of your defining characteristics. It's what makes Harry Potter, Harry Potter."
"Right. Well, I guess I should decide on my next two items."
"There is no rush. No matter how long you take here, you will end up at the same time in the past. But deciding sooner rather than later would be preferable."
Harry nodded his head. "I think I am going to need some money. Since I will be virtually unknown, money will speak more than words."
"Sound logic. When one lacks political or military power, monetary power can often change the balance. But, you will have to be careful. It would be too easy to disrupt the economy of the time."
"I bet a Galleon would get me quite far. I think I will take my vault." Harry reached into the sixth chest and pulled out a heavy sack containing several thousand galleons. It was clear to him that the sack was either magical, or gravity was off. The sack should have weighted hundreds of pounds,
"Very smart," said Merlin. "One hundred Galleons would have been considered a large fortune back then, and you've got a lot more than that. I'm sure the interest that gold will get over the course of a thousand years will be nice. Gringotts, of course, has been around for many thousands of years. I'm not saying that you couldn't do something else with that money though, create your own… business opportunities."
Harry voiced his acknowledgement. "I see. One more item then... I think it will take more than money to survive. It is going to take knowledge that I don't currently have as I know nothing of that period of history. I think maybe a repository… the Black family library?"
"If that is your choice, it will be done," Merlin said carefully.
Harry nodded his head one last time. "Yes. I want those books."
An almost disappointed look came across Merlin's face, but it disappeared as quickly as it came. "I don't think these books will be as helpful to you as you think. You've always been a better hands-on leaner."
"True, but a collection of historic references could be useful."
"It could, if history happens to repeat itself. There is no guarantee of that. Nothing happens when you expect it to, such is the nature of time, if it happens at all."
"I will take any possible advantage I can get. I just don't think I know enough about the time period to survive. Anything is better than nothing."
"That's your choice."
Harry nodded his head. Reaching into the chest, he withdrew a box full of miniature, shrunken books. Again, the weight seemed negligible. Inside the box were hundreds of books, if not thousands.
"Very well. I will tell you a few things, some advice and various bits information that you may find useful, before sending you off. You will find some things in time, no matter how hard you try, cannot be altered. Some events will play out the same, regardless of what you do. That is the nature of the universe; everything is bound to happen eventually. But, this may be less apparent to you, as you know very little about the history of your world."
"Not by choice," Harry retorted. "But by necessity."
"Regardless," Merlin continued, "Do not be surprised to learn that everything you have chosen to take with you already exists. You are bringing these items into a world in which they do not originate from. Those books have not yet been written, and broomstick flying is far from standard. The world does not revolve around you, remember that, but your actions can affect the development of society. Tread carefully."
"Oh, and I have something for your journey." He handed Harry an ordinary, inconspicuous looking bag. "It is called a 'Bottomless Bag'. It can hold anything, in any amount, as long as it doesn't surpass the magic's limit. I suggest you store your items in it, at least until you have safe residence."
"Useful," responded Harry. He inspected the extra-ordinary bag for a minute before placing his items in it. It looked worn, as if it had been used before, but perhaps that was just so it would fit in with the times.
"Are you ready?" Merlin asked. Harry nodded his head, at a loss for words. A thousand years was a hard thing to comprehend, no matter how understated it seemed. And then it was worth at least a few seconds to think of what would happened after he finally accomplished his goals and vanquish Voldemort once and for all. A life with no tasks, no missions, no quests… a life without Voldemort. For Harry, it seemed like his work was never done, and although he knew it wouldn't be easy, he was ready for the next challenge.
"Then heed these words carefully. Never forget yourself, never forget your morals, and never forget your past. Follow your instincts - they are usually good."
"Tell me one last thing. Are you real, or has this just been happening inside my mind?"
Merlin gave Harry a smile. "All because this happened inside your mind, doesn't mean I'm not real."
With that, Merlin snapped his fingers and Harry disappeared in a flash of smoke.
"Maybe this time, this Harry will actually pull through," Merlin muttered to himself.
Author's notes: Well here you have it, the first chapter of the rewrite of "Harry Potter and the Root of all Evil." I would like the thank Joe6991 and OnTheImportanceOfLungs for helping me slog through what seems like a dozen rewrites of this chapter alone.
As you can see, there are some big changes. The biggest one is not giving Harry a retarded name. Merlin, while cliche, still plays a minor role in the story, and I saw no real reason to take him out. I like the scenes with him, and he ties in with the plot in the later chapters. I don't write plot elements just for the sake of including them, you can be damn sure its going to pop up again when you least suspect it. When utilized properly, cliches can be a good read. But, there's wasn't really that many in the story to begin with, and after rewriting, there will be a few less. I hope you find this chapter to be better than the previous incarnation, because that is my overall goal. As for everything else, well, I guess you'll just have to wait for the next update.
If you see any grammar mistakes, typos, poorly worded sentences, etc, please tell me where so I can fix them. I'm always trying to better myself as a writer.