Chapter 12~ Power not Truth
"All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth."
Six years, it had been six years and Dumbledore felt a curious mix of anticipation swirled together with a deep dread. He turned his eyes to the pair that brought him such a deep seeded feeling of trepidation and part of him regretted that he had ever laid eyes on the two of them. Harry had blossomed three years ago and she could no longer hide her gender then. It had startled Dumbledore badly that he had seen so much of himself in the girl, though he wasn't very surprised by this in the end. Dumbledore focused on Tom and watched as those around him fell to his charm.
Tom reminded him of another boy, a boy that had grown up to be a terrible man and yet a man he still begrudgingly loved. Dumbledore didn't love Tom though, Tom reminded Dumbledore of everything he should hate about the other man…the man he couldn't hate. Tom was as cunning as Gellert, but he had something Gellert had not…his eyes turned to Harry again. Harry was what Dumbledore could have been had he stayed at Gellert's side during his conquest and it always disturbed him to look at her since he had come to this realization.
Harry was like the whet stone that Tom sharpened his blade upon and focused what would have only been a blunt powerful hammer into a precision instrument. Dumbledore was sure that it must have been Harry that had somehow divined the Blitz, the danger that was coming to London and then Tom was the one that had turned it to their advantage. Tom who turned tragedy into triumph by ensuring the evacuation of every magical that had resided in London and earning the both of them the Order of Merlin first Class at only thirteen years old. Daigon, the Ministry and St. Mungos had all been moved magically to Grodic's Hollow during the year the Blitz had rained fire and hailstone down upon London.
The two of them had ensured the safety of the muggleborns, their families and the disenfranchised squibs. They had even sheltered some in their home and from what he heard some had even stayed on afterwards since their homes had been destroyed. The two of them had become something of the people's heroes since then and had shined a light on the two of them. They had not faltered under the pressure either, only seeming to grow more impressive by the year and their following only continued to grow.
It wasn't only the pure bloods either, the Muggleborn and the half bloods as well. Dumbledore's eyes were drawn to Rubeus Hagrid as the giant of a boy waved at Harry from the Gryffindor table and regret swamped him. If he had realized how woefully Hagrid had been for school perhaps he would have made time in his busy schedule to tutor the boy but at the time it had inconceivable to him how…uneducated Hagrid had been. Dumbledore was used to being so vastly above his peers in intellect that he had honestly noticed how…lacking Hagrid was in that department until Harry had already had her hooks in him.
Where Tom was a sword, waiting to swing down on the exposed neck, Harry was a siren's call on the wind…you knew death awaited but you hoped you were wrong even as you followed it to your doom. Last year the two of them had disappeared for two days and when they came back Dumbledore knew they had done something irreversible to themselves. He could not rightly tell what it involved but he had his suspicions. Harry had come back with an almost glowing golden tan and Tom was almost luminescent with his pale white skin that shone like the full moon on a cloudless night.
They had done something, Dumbledore wasn't sure what but he knew in his bones that it would not bring anything good to them. Before his eyes Dumbledore knew he was watching the next threat to the wizarding world grow and he could do nothing. Nothing to stop them from this path they were walking and nothing to counteract them. They had painted themselves with light, they had honeyed words and kind deeds. What could he say against them? That they weren't genuine…that they were plotting something? People would think him mad.
People were already grumbling about his continued avoidance of joining the fight, of not taking up arms with his brothers and going to war. They would never understand, he could not be trusted with power like that because it was too easy. It would be too easy to sweep his wand across the battlefield and have the dark armies would fall to his might. It was too easy to kill, to end a person's life and if he did that Dumbledore knew he would fall. Because once he started down that path there was no going back for him…it was why he had not acted on his suspicions of Tom Riddle.
Soon, Harry and Tom would be leaving to take their Newts a whole year and a half early. If they passed then they would be leaving Hogwarts, Dippet had informed him of this only a few short months ago. Dumbledore had been stunned, it had been a long time since someone had opted to take their Newts early and it also filled him with dread. Tom had something planned and somehow he was certain that it was going to bring nothing but pain onto the world.
Eileen was waiting in the common room for her only friend and a big part of her was hoping that some miracle happened. That somehow Harry had failed her Newts and would be staying here with her. When Harry and Tom came through the door her heart plummeted when she saw Tom's smirk. They had passed. Of course they had passed. Eileen couldn't hear a word that was coming out of the smug mouth of Tom Riddle, her heart was pounding in her ears and she felt an icy grip of panic on her lungs.
What was she going to do without Harry?
Harry was patient and kind. Harry was so smart and so willing to help her as she muddled through everything besides Potions. Harry that kept her brother away from her when he was in one of his moods that brought nothing but pain to her. Harry that gave her courage to ask about the muggle world. Harry that was her only lifeline.
She couldn't do this.
Eileen was sure that she was going to have a break down right then there was a warm hand on her shoulder and Harry was smiling at her again. "You can do this you know," Harry said looking her right in the eye with no hesitation, "you are a lot stronger than you seem to think." Eileen wasn't sure why a few short words made her feel so relieved and she was sure that once Harry was gone that relief would leave as fast as it had come. For now she wouldn't cry.
"You have Hagrid to look after," Harry said, "I always found that it was easier to find strength for others when I cannot seem to find it for myself."
Harry wrapped her in a warm hug that had her tensing and then relaxing into Harry's arms. "You'll write?" Eileen choked out somehow.
"Of course," Harry said smiling warmly into her neck and not for the first time Eileen wished she had truly been a boy. If Harry had been a boy then Eileen would have married her and Harry would protect her always. As Harry pulled back and moved to pack her things with Tom. They were going to leave right away even though there was still five months left to sixth year. Eileen supposed it made sense, they had their OWLS and NEWTS, why stay and take classes for things they didn't need. It didn't make it any easier to watch them go though and so Eileen left to hide in her dorm room.
Eileen felt so trapped.
Her father was already having talks with Rosier for a marriage alliance and Eileen knew that her husband would be just like her father…just like her brother…the pain would never stop. She would never have a voice in this world, not with her father alive, not with a pure blood husband. No marriage would occur before the end of seventh year but after Hogwarts she would have to submit to her dedicated path.
She swallowed a sob. Tears in Slytherin was like throwing blood in the ocean before going in for a dip. Foolish and suicidal.
Then Eileen had an idea…a terrible idea…it had been lurking there since she had met Harry and learned about the muggle world from a native. Maybe she could run away? Maybe she could hide there and escape this cage? If she managed to marry a muggle no pure blood wizard would have her and then her father would never be able to control her again. She would be free from her family and their expectant cruelty. Sure she would be married to a magicless person but how bad could it be?
If you asked him, Tom would say he wasn't nervous and then he would make you regret asking. No one asked. Abraxas watched him with quiet amusement and said not a word as Tom paced. He wasn't suicidal. A muggleborn boy, John something, came into the study and said nervously, "Its time," then he scuttled out just as quickly. Tom was frozen in place so Abraxas lightly touched his elbow jolting him into movement to avoid the touch.
Only Harry could touch Tom without injury. Only she was allowed.
Abraxas followed Tom out to the backyard of Riddle Manor and took in the beauty to be found there again. Before them were hundreds of eyes as they looked at Tom with anticipation and there was a quiet hush at his appearance from the house. The audience was sat in neat little rows facing the Archway made of entwined rose vines of white that Tom stepped under with Abraxas at his side. It was March 20th, 1944 and Tom Riddle was getting married.
There was a Classical music band set off to the side with a pianist, harpist, violinist, and cello player…all squibs of course. Tom was of the thought that squibs were an unused resource that needed to be tapped, Abraxas couldn't see it but he didn't question him. They were playing a peaceful little lullaby at the moment but then the tune changed and as one everyone in the audience (pureblood to squib) turned to look at the tent not too far off from them.
Eileen Prince stepped out in a pretty dress the color of blood and walked forward spreading white rose petals from her wand as she went. Anticipation built and everyone's eyes were turned waiting for Harry to emerge as well but Abraxas resisted keeping his on Tom as subtly as he could manage. He knew the moment Harry stepped out, not from the gasps of the guests, not from the change to a wedding march, not from looking either even though he wanted to but from the look in Tom's eyes. There was a fire there Abraxas had never seen, a burning need that shook him because Abraxas had been so sure Tom would not react like this.
Tom felt his eyes and that fire was shut behind impassive blankness. The unguarded moment was over and Abraxas turned his eyes to Harry. He gasped feeling like he had been punched in the gut because Harry was breath taking. Her wedding dress looked like it had been spun from starlight, her skin glowed, her long red hair was a flame behind her curled and cascading down her back. Flowers and pearls stood out in vivid white against the deep red of her hair. She was the most beautiful woman Abraxas had ever seen.
Their plans were coming together so flawlessly and Tom was so satisfied. Immortality was so close at hand, true immortality and not some cheap imitation either. The problem was that for so long Tom had thought he had to do it all at once, becoming a god made flesh in one single moment to leave his humanity behind. It was only once Tom had broken the process all down that he realized his mistake and they had begun to walk the path to godhood.
The first thing Tom had figured out was eternal youth, an important piece considering he didn't want to be trapped inside a prison made of his flesh. It had been surprisingly simple to concoct the ritual that gave them their youth and a beauty beyond imagining. They had done it the last Spring Equinox, a risk while they were still at Hogwarts with Dumbledore watching them so closely but it had been worth it.
After that Tom only had to adjust their brains so that they had the capacity to work forever. The mind is a delicate thing and Tom didn't want to risk either of them living so long that their brain degraded in their pretty youthful faces leaving them useless shells. Tom suspected it was why Harry's previous incarnations always ended up dead fairly swiftly otherwise Tom was sure that her mind would not be what it is now. The human mind was not meant for eternity and so Tom had to make sure to adjust it. He was still in the process of figuring that out but it wasn't as vital as what came after eternal youth.
The next step of course was to bind their souls together; this was the most important part for Tom because it would ensure that Harry would never be parted from him ever again. Even if something were to happen to one of them after this and one of their bodies were destroyed they could follow each other in death. Together for eternity. Tom would remember as Harry remembers and forever there could never be one without the other.
Soul magic was widely considered dark; research materials on it were so rare that Tom had not been able to actually find anything concrete but then in the most unlikely of places Tom found his answer. Marriage. In an ancient Egyptian text Tom found his solution, and he had been so smug about it as well. After all ancient Egyptians had been obsessed with the afterlife, and with souls. They were a people that truly believed in death, they were obsessed with it, and when Tom had managed to get his hands on the book of the Dead through his squib contacts he had been in raptures.
The ancient Egyptian book of the dead had long been banned in the magical world, all copies burn, its teachings forcibly scrubbed from history but in the muggle world that was not the case. His rapidly growing squib network had managed to track down a copy hidden in a muggle museum in Cairo and with a little magic Tom had gotten his copy. Most of it had been fascinating but useless for his cause of course because they were more concerned with their afterlife than preserving their present. However, in their marriage ceremonies Tom had found what he had been looking for…a way to bind them together for time without end.
He had to make some adjustments to the ceremony to fit his purpose, had to add things and take some away but in the end he had done it. Then he told Harry they were getting married and told her what he needed her to do. That was what led them here, to this moment, to this perfection before him because Harry was perfect. The spring Equinox was coming to the height of its potency soon; it was a time of rebirth and fertility. It would add a significant power boost to their ritual and with so many magicals gathered they would be able to chain their souls together.
The ceremony was in six parts; the guest only contribution was magical power that was channeled through the stones in their hands that had a khat carved on the surface that matched the ones that Tom and Harry had hanging around their necks. The Egyptians believed that the human soul was in five parts, jb (the heart), sheut (the shadow), Ren (the name), Bâ (the personality), Ka (Vital Spark). The jb they believed was given to the child at the moment of conception from the mother to the child to create a heart with one drop of her blood. The sheut was literally their own shadows. The Ren was the name given to you at birth and Bâwas what they believed lived on after death represented often by a human headed bird. Ka was the difference between someone alive and someone dead…the essence of life.
Tom had to design this using only the bare bones of other soul rituals and in the end he had made something completely new. He was confident in this ability to join their souls forever and so as Harry stood before him he smirked confidently. They began by exchanging two red vials, to everyone else it might have looked like a small amount of paint but in fact they were symbolically exchanging one single drop of blood between them.
The amulets at their necks began to heat up as they opened the vials and with each other's blood they drew a heart at the base of their necks. This was as important as the act of taking and giving their blood to one another. They each had to do this to themselves as a symbolic gesture of complete consent because without it the ritual would not work. Nothing but completely consenting surrender to each other would bind two souls together it was not something that could be forced on one another. They entwined their hands next lacing their fingers together and they were positioned in such a way that their shadows intertwined when they did.
"Tom" Harry breathed slowly.
"Harry" Tom responded as their amulets got almost unbearably hot on their chests and they each felt a horribly uncomfortable feeling in their chests. As if something was reaching inside of them and pulling something inexpressibly intimate and theirs from them. It was too late to go back now and they leaned closer to each other even as that something tried to repel them from each other as if there was an invisible something trying to keep them as separate. The ring he had taken from his Uncle flared painfully on his finger as they pushed through putting their forehead together.
They were panting from the effort it felt like they trying to force together two opposing forces and if they backed off even a moment it would break them apart. Tom knew Harry was feeling as much pain as he was at the moment because in this moment they were one but separate. He could feel her touching something in him that had never…would never…touch anyone else after this. It was almost done only one last step.
"I am yours and you are mine," Tom said his words reverberating through their very souls and something inside him reached for something of Harry's.
Harry shivered against him feeling something like a hand slip into her chest and wrap around her heart. "I am yours, and you are mine." She returned her soul reaching for Tom and she knew it worked when he shuddered against her.
Together they said, "For eternity, OURS." The last word echoed strangely and it felt like the whole world sucked in a breath. Everything was still, timeless, foreboding.
Their lips came together and a flash of light sparked from where their lips met blinding their guest as the stones in their hands and the amulets heated to an impossible degree. The pain was indescribable, Tom felt half of himself leave him and it felt wrong wrong wrong. Then before the pain from it could overwhelm him enough to force their lips apart Tom felt her. The part Tom was missing was filled…filled up with her and they became one. There was no place where Tom ended and Harry began. Tom was still Tom, still separate from her, but only in body. Their souls were as one…he could feel that part of himself that he was sure he would never get back inside of her and she could feel herself inside of him.
As the Ouroboros they forever would cycle each other, taking even as they gave, becoming more together then they could ever be apart. It was finished and yet Tom still kissed her as if he could drink her in and swallow her whole. After a good long while Tom pulled away from her and they exchanged rings, a stylized Ouroboros for each of them. He almost wanted to laugh at the irony; he didn't realize how appropriate his ring selection would become until this moment. His amusement shined inside of Harry and fed her own.
They turned to a standing ovation of their guests; the magic was heavy in the air and made everyone giddy. They danced, heady with it all and reveled in the spring equinox as magic rang through them all. Eventually they made their way inside their guest spread out to their assigned tables and Tom moved to an elevated platform in the center with Harry by his side. The hall had been buzzing with chatter but slowly it died as all attention focused on them.
Tom grinned wickedly, "Honored guests," he began, "I cannot tell you how pleased we are to have you here to witness our union. However, that wasn't our only motivation in bringing such a diverse group of people together." Squib, Muggleborn, Half Blood, and Pure Blood eyed each other knowing without the need to say the words that the only reason they were together in peace was before them.
"You see we brought you all here to share with you our plans, and ask for you to join with us in the pursuit of our goals. We have had a vision, a vision of a united world where all of magical descent from Squib to Pure blood share this world with equality. A world where we are united with each other, all of us from mermaid to witch. There is a threat out there my people, a threat that we cannot ignore," Tom smirked knowing how they would misinterpret his next words, "Grindelwald's army grows in power every day, how long until he turns his eyes to Britain? How long must we allow this mad man to slaughter our own? Magical blood should never be split between us, and it's our intention to face his threat head on. Harry and I will be going to the front soon and ask who among you would follow?"
Tom felt glee looking at them; they had no idea that he could care less about the Dark Lord because he wasn't the threat…not the true one. Tom admired Grindelwald, approved of his actions and his ambition to subject muggles to their rule. However, Grindelwald was an important lightening rod, a tangible foe that they could fight and face with ease. The Muggle issue was going to take several lifetimes but they needed something to unite them first before facing their true enemy. They need to submit, willing, it was the only way that any of this would work. A few among the crowd stood immediately coming to kneel at their platform to show their allegiance and Tom noted their faces in his mind. They were the most loyal but it mattered little…after all he had incentive to give to the rest.
"My good people, I hope you know we would not ask of you something so grave without have the appropriate reward in mind. For any who follows us, who prove their worth, who show their absolute loyalty, they will receive the gift of eternity from us. We have discovered a way to grant anyone a perpetual youth, as long as you serve, as long as you are not struck down, death shall never touch you. You need never fear death, for it is only the beginning and for those who follow us We Do Not Fall!" Tom said as the crowd before them roared.
"We Do Not Fall, we will not fall to Grindelwald, we will not fall to the old ways of thinking, we will not submit to being lesser than we are, we will not fall to doing things only because that is the way things are. We will be the change we want to see in the world, we will bring new innovations, and nothing will restrict us from pursuing our dreams! For we will be eternal, we will bring about a new, better world, where every magical from the lowest House elf to the highest Pure blood can pursue their dreams without fear. We will not fall or bow to preconceived notions of Light or Dark for we are one! There is no good, no evil, only power and those strong enough to seek it! WE DO NOT FALL!" Tom's voice rang out like a thunderclap.
"We will show you what it means to swear to m-us, to give us your trust and earn your place at our side. John Woodman please step forward," Tom said and from the crowd an older man stepped forward. His hair was white from age, his face was wrinkled and leathery from the sun and while he wasn't bent from age he was on the brink of it. "John, as I am sure some of you know, has been our Stewart for the last four years and in that time he has shown his loyalty. He is a squib but as my published dissertation in the Prophet discussed extensively his blood still holds magic. I highly recommend reading it if you had not, what this important fact means for John though is that we can bestow our gift to him." Tom motioned for John to join them on the platform.
Once John was kneeling at his feet Tom felt such power rush over him, "John, you have shown us you loyalty before, but I ask you once more…do you swear your fealty to us. Do you swear to do everything in your ability to help us pursue our dreams and accomplish our goals. Do you submit to us John," Tom asked.
"With everything I am Milord, I am yours," John nodded.
Tom smirked, "Then bare your left arm to me," and John raised his arm up to him. Tom had gotten this idea from what Harry remembered of the Dark Mark; Tom had improved it of course and added so much more to it than his previous incarnation had ever thought to. Harry came up to him and wrapped her hand over his own as he raised his wand and Tom felt the delicious rush of her magic joining his own as he pressed his wand to John's arm.
It bloomed across his skin like a drop of blood across freshly fallen snow, red and vivid a mighty crimson dragon came to life on John's arm. It was reared back and roaring, the flames coming from its mouth spelling out every so often We Do Not Fall. Harry stepped back and handed him a potion. John was grunting from the pain of the mark upon his soul but he showed only discomfort not the true depth of pain he must be feeling. "John," Tom said forcing John's face up by his chin to capture his grey eyes with his own, "do you wish for eternity? To be Young and Strong forever?"
Tom's voice was seductive and everyone around him leaned in as if yearning to be near him. "Yes, Milord," John said.
"Then, I must let you know, as I said earlier death is only the beginning for us. You have proven your loyalty, you have sworn to serve, to trust, so I ask you now are you ready to go through unimaginable pain? To submit to death at my hands so that I may remake you from the ashes and give you life eternal? Death is only the beginning, my servant, are you willing to face at my side for your desires?" Tom grinned wickedly.
"Yes, of course Milord," John said decisively.
Tom nodded and uncorked the potion. John tipped his head back and allowed Tom to feed him death. It tasted of death and John screamed as he burst into flame. Everyone else screamed as well as the flames seemed to consume him whole until they could not see him only fire. Then before they could truly panic, the flames formed someone new, the flames died and where an old man once knelled now a beautiful young man remained.
His hair was black as the night, his face smooth and unblemished, skin golden. He opened his eyes revealing familiar grey. "Rise John and show everyone the mercy of your lord. Your lord that rewarded your unfaltering loyalty with eternal youth and beauty." Tom said turning John to the crowd. A cheer like the roar of the ocean or thunderstorm rang out as John spread his arms and laughed as he marveled at his youthful hands. "Now, who here will swear to us as John has, who else here will work to prove their fealty and earn eternity?!" Tom asked.
Tom felt Harry's amusement ring through their soul as everyone as one knelt at their feet and bore their arms for him. Tom looked out at them and smiled.
"Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in."
~ Billy Sunday
A.N.: Lol I sort of had this revelation that Dumbledore is like the Batman of Harry Potter, hear me out. He's this character that deeply distrusts himself with power, yet has it anyway even though he tried to pretend to deny it, he knows that if he crossed the line and killed someone he wouldn't be able to go back. They both take advantage of abused disenfranchised little boys that they train to fight for their belief of good and instill this willingness to sacrifice in them. And they both think they are the smartest men in the room and only they could possibly know whats right and wrong. Lol like a said…BATMAN XD
In other news here's the new chapter, get ready guys this next chapter coming up is gonna be really crazy and different from the last few. As always I appreciate your input and thoughts. Somehow this chapter got away from me, I was going to wait for the whole getting married thing between Tom and Harry but somehow here we are. Somehow I feel like it works though because it's just like Tom to turn something that is typically seen as a romantic loving gesture into a tool he can use to accomplish his goals. Lol I fondly think that Tom does things that other perceive as utterly romantic and loving of him but are in fact completely clinically thought out. Somehow its hilarious to me.