Be ashamed of yourself if you really thought Waver Velvet was a self insert, people. The brunt of the joke is that I resemble him before* his interaction with the Kings, so it's more of a grave insult than anything.
Well guys, I'm really excited. Because this is the chapter when I can really, really start writing. I've spent the entirety of this fic so far painstakingly setting this up, and now we can finally begin. There will be no more ethereal Kaleidoscope segments to set the atmosphere. I suppose this first segment is a bit of a red herring.
Welcome to Fractal.
The Wizard of the Kaleidoscope
Zelretch was scared. For more than a thousand years, he had protected this world and the next with this totalizing idea that it was simultaneously his fault and his duty.
That was because he was the Wizard of the Kaleidoscope, and in a moment of arrogance and desperation, instead of searching for that piece of knowledge like his counterparts had done... he had taken it by force. He had killed every other Wizard of the Kaleidoscope in every Universe in all of history - past, present and future - not for the power to drop the Moon on someone - please, that was trivial for someone of his caliber even at that age. He had casually taken the mantle of the only Wizard of the Kaleidoscope so he didn't have to bother with searching for this solution in the aether by opening doors in the multiverse and finding someone who had already done so. Because he couldn't be bothered to interact with other people, since he wanted to fight as soon as possible.
He couldn't even use this ultimate power, for fear of breaking his promises to Merlin! If anyone other than Flamel was aware of this, they would spit on his name. The Wizard of the Kaleidoscope was nothing but a casual murderer and a two-bit thug. Flamel was a better magician and a better man.
Zelretch paced frantically on a barren plain in Ireland, on a world far removed from his own, trying to ignore the slowly fading pain of a wound that Ortenrosse had given him and figure out this mindbending situation.
"Start at the beginning of this mess Kischur. Go back to Grindelwald." He closed his eyes and tried to remember the relevant information.
During the Great War, there lived two men who could have discovered this construct - neither capable of magic, but the very crystallization of the limits of what the human mind could achieve. They had went on to invent a weapon, instead, to end the Great War from a distinctly nonmagical perspective.
But when Albus defeated Grindelwald, the window was closed - after the Bombing of Dresden, 1945 - an event that no one remembered anything but the tragedy of, Flamel had theorized that the split between the Fae plane and their multiverse had been closed. Grindelwald was dead, and with him, the forbidden knowledge he had stolen from Universal Research, the alternative construction of magic theory which had been Livius's life work, and the desire to explore the ultimate power of the Hallowed Line, the Wand of Elder, had been, in that order, lost, forgotten and guarded by Dumbledore in the name of virtue.
But he wished it weren't so, that no one felt the need to discover that trifling piece of... Zelretch snorted and sighed, staring at the sun. He could have had some idea of what could possibly be occurring had either Oppenheimer or Einstein decided not to build the Bomb. But maybe it was fate. There was not a single Universe where they had found the Fractal, even if they had the ability to - just another sick bit of japery from the stars.
The evidence was mounting and creating a picture so grim that it could not possibly be reality.
He had heard the words come out of Merlin's mouth. Flamel had been there to bear witness and make his own promises, representing his piece. Dumbledore, and every single scholar or knight of Merlin's line - his friend Havelock, that sanctimonious Prewett boy, they'd all confirmed the same thoughts and ideas integral to the function of the First Blaze. Key. Fundamental. Unmovable, unmalleable, unmoving. Totalizing, omnipresent, set in every stone and every stream.
Zelretch roared in frustration, letting out a torrent of flames to release the roiling magic built up by his confusion and misery.
In every instance of the Fractal, every single world before and after Merlin - space and time were a Mobius strip which intersected at Merlin, after all - had one living human soul who carried one of the Thirty Seven. Called "Sumerian" runes by the crass humanists in Universal Research because the first human memory of these shapes were discovered by King Gilgamesh, inscribed upon a weapon which fell from the sky, they were inscribed into the soul of every man, woman and child in the world. And by some luck of Fate, some condition which differed for every rune, when someone who had activated the rune passed into the empty night or ascended to the golden throne... the next of the Fated would take on this mantle.
Before him, for a short period of time, the magician Agrippa had possessed the Kaleidoscope. Before Agrippa, Archimedes. Before Archimedes, someone - for as long as souls existed.
And as long as there were more than thirty seven humans alive...
The Thirty Seven was a contract with the Universe, a contract to fulfill one grand prophecy which would define loosely the shoreline of that river of Fate... which meant, in exchange, that the greatest right of humanity remained intact.
The right of free will.
Zelretch was the Wizard of the Kaleidoscope.
Flamel was the Wizard of the Truth, Blue was the Wizard of the Remove... he could name them all. He who knew all the Wizards were. And this was why he was so scared.
Who... no... what the fuck was Harry Potter?
Severus Snape was nothing like a bat, Harry Potter thought. Severus Snape was no warrior of the night, incapable of sight or depth. Severus Snape was a sort of sensory organ for knowledge. His mind was one part analytical and another part emotional.
He was also eight parts annoyed with Daphne Greengrass.
"You want me to discuss the Problem of Evil with you, Ms. Greengrass?" he asked, sounding less uncertain than irritated. Daphne thought she detected a current of 'what's that supposed to mean?' in his posture.
"I figured you might have a different perspective than Professor Dumbledore, sir," she said, deciding to tread lightly.
A flash of confusion passed over his face, then he closed his eyes and sighed. "In this issue, the vast majority of my thoughts are derived from those of the Headmaster's. I have had no experience with evil more profound than he, nor do personal engagements of any sort count for an unbiased view-"
He held up his hand, stopping her from cutting him off.
"And an unbiased view is important in any topic as delicate. Do you have concerns about less philosophical," he sneered, "subjects?"
"The Dark Arts," Harry supplied helpfully.
Snape paused, contemplating Harry quietly. He let a touch of despair leak into his tone. "And what use would first years have for the Dark Arts? Would Mr. Malfoy not be equipped," his sneer returned, "with the relevant knowledge?"
Daphne took a deep breath. "I want to formally study the Dark Arts this term," she clarified. "Harry does, but only on a theoretical level."
At this, Snape's eyes widened and anger overtook him. "You are asking for instructions in the practice of the Dark Arts?" he all but screamed.
"We have dueled three times a week for-"
"Should that not explain the inherent evils of the Dark Arts rather than attract you to them?" Snape hissed at Daphne.
Harry looked at the door worryingly. It was about to be curfew and students had just returned.
"I take it Longbottom and Malfoy disapprove of this," Snape spat. "And they would have good reason. Each of their families have been destroyed by the pursuit of Dark Magic, directly or indirectly." He rounded on Harry. "And if you believe in the canonization of James and Lily Potter," a fleck of spittle traveled onto his desk - his eyes were mad, his voice a crazed timbre, "then you would be sorely mistaken."
"I refuse to speak ill of thee dead," he continued, though Harry knew, for some reason, he only meant speaking ill of Lily Potter. "But if you knew the history of my generation's engagement with the Darkness, you would run from this room in tears. I would not have to tell the two of you to get out!" he finished with a shout.
Daphne rose to her feet in defiance, Harry with a touch of sheepish indignation and they both hurried out of the room.
Across the hall was a Hermione Granger, agape.
Harry and Daphne stood in front of the door, which slammed shut.
"What?" Daphne finally asked, an aggressiveness in her shoulders.
"The Dark Arts?" Hermione queried. Her hands shook, Harry noted. He thought she might be nervous suddenly.
"What are you here to see Professor Snape about, then?" Daphne asked with an acerbic smile.
"Potions?" Hermione supplied, wondering if the other girl had lost her mind.
"Yeah," Harry said unhelpfully, "we should get going." He dragged Daphne along with him.
"Mudbloods," Daphne muttered, as they approached the entrance to the Slytherin common room. Harry jumped back as if he'd been stung.
"What did you say?" he gasped, unwilling to believe it.
She looked contrite. "Sorry, I just know how Draco feels sometimes."
Harry stayed speechless as Neville and Draco gave them hooded stares. They sat across from them and Harry began a game of chess with the blond boy.
"Knight to H six checkmate," Draco said, after twenty minutes.
Harry groaned as the black king threw his crown onto the board and stalked off.
I Can Believe
Fleur was staring at his right hand and it was making him uncomfortable.
"That's an interesting color for a tattoo," she said. Waver bit his lip.
"There was magic there once," he said. "Look, I'm not sure you need my class. You're really very good at magic. And your sword makes other students panic."
She sat on his desk, staring down at him as he failed a student for not turning work in.
"Why are you teaching anyway?" she wondered.
Waver shrugged. "No money, obligations to the powerful and it pays well."
"So money, money and money? That's very materialistic." Fleur smiled, bright and sunny.
"I take classes during the day," Waver admitted without a care.
Fleur frowned. "Why do they let you teach?"
Waver was a little offended. "I was an amazing student. And a war hero. What have you done with your life, as a first generation magus?"
"I hunt demons."
Waver read another abstract, about the effects of the elements on personality and shook his head. He gave the paper points for existing, but noted in the margin of his planner to talk about the concept of Origins.
"That's completely wrong," Fleur said, reading the paper upside down with a wince.
Waver shrugged. "See, the fact that you know that means you don't have to be in my class. It's ten on a Friday night. Why aren't you headed out into town?" he asked, desperate to be rid of her.
Fleur was silent. Waver looked up and saw a peculiar expression on her face, an expression that scared him - an expression he had learned.
The face of a warrior born to bury a sword in the sand under the pouring rain. The face of a warrior born to weep when everyone laughed.
Fleur De France had something of what King Iskander called omega. She was born in the end, to the end. Waver closed his eyes, feeling for the magic which surrounded his world in a whirlwind, feeling for faith.
Wand of Elder, never prosper.
His only response to the stench of death was a perceptible tightening of his grip on his red pen.
Her body bubbled and flowed, it had seemed disjointed earlier, One, joy and love, two, roaring snares, three, dub plates, four, tides of sound. A hundred and twenty eight, pills and peace, a hundred and thirty eight, let's go get high because it was all the bad things, this was the end of the millenium approaching at full speed, this was the end of her dynasty, don't make me cry, sometimes living a normal life was not enough.
His only response to the stench of party was a sad shrug.
Flashing lights, a blond man laying spread eagle on a stage transfixed with a sword white and gold, he had no faith, he had a family, there were Four Hundred, a shocked boy she didn't care a whit about, found and now lost again.
His only response to the stench of vengeance was respect.
Fleur would have made a good King.