A/N: This is a story which will not move as fast as my other one. It is predicated upon something I don't remember having seen: An Alternate Universe with a good Dumbledore trying to fix the errors of a bad one. We shall see where this goes.
CURRENTLY UNDERGOING REWRITES ON EVERY CHAPTER - it became too ... pedantic and drawn out. Some inconsistencies.
A Great Man Passes Before His Time
Albus Dumbledore had lived a long life. He had grown up, explored the world, become a teacher, defeated a former friend-cum-rising dark wizard, led a disparate group of wizards and witches to overcome another dark wizard styling himself a dark lord, and finally retired.
Although he had been considered a defeater of Dark wizards and a powerful figure, he enjoyed much more his later persona of the aged confidante, the wise counselor, the beloved grandfather.
Circumstances had demanded a change. Prior to 1981, he had been Headmaster of Hogwarts and Warlock of the Wizengamot, a position given because of his Order of Merlin, 1st Class. He would have been Chief Warlock if Tom's supporters hadn't fought against it so much.
Long before he had been interested in political power in addition to being a voice of influence such as a beloved teacher could be. His desires had been changed by one incident: Tom Riddle's descent into Darkness.
When he had been Professor of Transfiguration and Deputy Headmaster, he had encountered Tom Riddle. Seeing the deplorable way he was treated in the orphanage he resided in, Albus had convinced a magical family to take him in and show him true familial love.
Tom had repaid that generosity by murdering the entire family for daring to 'hold influence' over him.
That murder of such a generous family had caused Albus' heart to steel against mercy for those that would destroy instead of aid others. He knew that Tom was unrepentant. Tom had violently rejected the generosity of others. To Albus Dumbledore, there was no greater crime than to return harm for freely given love.
And so Albus Dumbledore had taken a stance against Riddle and the followers he called Death Eaters. The efforts of Albus' own compatriots had resulted in a final duel.
Dumbledore had come to protect a family that he had come to love as his own grandchildren. Many of those that followed him had looked up to him and had chosen him as their leader. In return, he had returned their respect and affection in full. He fought viciously to protect them.
Four of his followers had escaped harm from Tom a number of times and as a result Tom had targeted their young sons. Dumbledore was incensed. He loved those boys, and he would die with his beard burned and his back broken before he would allow harm to befall him.
Dumbledore had worked with the Unspeakables to defeat his former student – once he ensured that there were no spies. His efforts had unearthed Augustus Rockwood, a highly placed member of that Department. Protocols being what they were, Rockwood disappeared and any inroads that Riddle had in that area had been quashed.
Albus' own knowledge of Tom's past had allowed the group to counter the dark rituals that Tom had used to prevent his permanent demise. He had not been certain of exactly what magics were being countered (the Unspeakables gave him only a rough idea), but he did know that the magics used were vile.
Whenever one of his Order of the Phoenix (which his group had named themselves) were killed, Dumbledore had got to great lengths to ensure that justice was served.
When Tom Riddle came to attack James and Lily Potter and their young son Harry, Albus Dumbledore had stood in front of their home and defended with all he had. On a cold Halloween night, he had fought an evil image of his former student and had destroyed him utterly.
Albus had been cursed in the process, losing much of his mobility for a time.
The time it was to take to heal had been significant and so Albus had decided to retire – after ensuring Tom's followers were punished thoroughly.
Some at the Ministry attempted to use this conflict to slander others to gain political power. Albus would have none of it. When Sirius Black had been accused of treachery by a scheming Barty Crouch, Albus had exploded on the smarmy git and had destroyed him politically and threatened him physically. Even with his infirmity, Albus Dumbledore was a figure that was respected and feared by those who would oppose him.
None misunderstood the lesson: Never threaten those that Albus held dear.
The young families had survived, and Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom had grown regularly visiting their Grandpa Albus. Several children from others that followed him had done the same. Sirius had married Marlene McKinnon and had two children. Frank and Alice had three. The Potters had four. The Bones had two. The surviving Prewitt twin had not had any, but doted on his sister's several children. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew were still single.
Peter was close to Albus. Albus had come upon him being recruited by followers of Tom. Tom's people had begun to threaten him. Albus had used every resource available to destroy them. Peter was very thankful as he felt he could not have held up without support.
Another former student had also come to him for protection as he was being heavily recruited after graduating Hogwarts.
Severus Snape had been a rival of James Potter for Lily Evans' affection. When the rivalry had become violent in the students' fourth year, Dumbledore had put his foot down. His students would behave like young ladies and gentlemen or they would regret it.
After a while it had settled down and Severus had realized he loved Lily like a sister and not a romantic interest. It also helped that Albus had taken note of the poor conditions Severus seemed to live in and had taken steps. He had rescued the boy and his mother from an abusive Tobias Snape. Eileen Prince had passed away when Severus was twenty but had lived to see her son get his mastery, younger than any other in history. Severus greatly respected and loved Albus Dumbledore like a beloved uncle.
Albus had been informed that Severus had even agreed to take over as Potions Master for Hogwarts in the coming school year, the first year for many of the older Order children. He would miss their regular visits.
It was only a little over a month until the birthday of one of his favorites, Neville. And the day after would be Harry's. His pleasant anticipation of the events was what he felt as he fell asleep.
The next day, his body would be found in his home in Godric's Retreat. A nation would mourn the passing of a great man.
Albus opened his eyes to find himself sitting in a waiting room. Curiously, he took stock of his condition and noted that the catalog of old aches and pains he had felt these many years had disappeared. He looked around calmly and noted that the room was full of people apparently waiting for appointments. It was a peaceful room, with little to upset the guests.
Apparently, Albus decided, this was the first step on his next great adventure. He was sorry that he would miss his grandsons' birthdays, but maybe the small bequests he left in his will would comfort them.
He waited patiently for his turn. Several of the souls who had been present when he arrived had been called in to the office. None had returned. When everyone who had already been there had disappeared and others had taken their place, he knew his turn was coming soon.
Finally, his name was called: "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore!"
He stood gracefully (he was very happy to be relieved of his mortal pains) and made his way to the door that the rest had passed through before him. He nodded at the caller respectfully as he passed inside to find a pleasantly neutral room. There were files and papers and books all round. At the back were doors. Facing the door he entered was what looked to be a man perusing a thick file that was on the desk before him.
Albus stood at the door (he was VERY happy to not be in pain) until the occupant looked up. "Ah, Mr. Dumbledore, Please have a seat. My name is Peter."
He thanked the man. As he sat down, the chair changed to his image of an ideal seat. "Thank you. I take it I have begun my next great adventure?" he asked with a smile. He really was content with his life by this time.
The man in front of him nodded a bit hesitantly. "Well, yes. It is the beginning of your next adventure. But your arrival poses a conundrum." At Albus's look of patient interest Peter continued, "You actually are a few years early. Unfortunately, your injuries of a decade earlier have come back to cause a premature death."
Albus nodded. "A small price to pay for the result in my opinion; what's done is done." He smiled again. "What choice do I have? I am here already."
Peter nodded. "Yes, I can quite agree from a personal standpoint. However, it's a bit of paperwork to take care of accounts when the unexpected happens; I'm sure you remember from your earlier days."
Albus chuckled, "Parchmentwork: Tne bane of those who are placed in positions of responsibility."
Peter smiled briefly in response. "In reviewing your case, I was looking at details and trying to come up with the options available. I also consulted those who decide. In the end we decided to leave it to your choice. Alright?" Albus nodded. Peter continued. "Here are your options: One. We return you to your body to live out your days as you would have done. We place the memory of your dying under heavenly seal and your life would go on as it has until you return at the proper time."
Albus considered that but then said, "I was content to pass on with a few small regrets. Any pains felt by those left behind would be felt later. There would be little purpose in changing circumstances beyond personal happiness and such is not as large a consideration as it was in my youth."
Peter nodded. "That option was our least preferred as well. You've done what you were meant to do, and we are very happy with your life and actions. Going back wouldn't change much and that option takes far too many resources for so little purpose. Which leads us to our second choice: We accept you have died and complete the paperwork. You would remain here until your scheduled time. It would be a bit boring as you are due no real penance and aren't slated to be invited to work in the office, but the schedule is the schedule and you would hanging about until the proper time to pass on to the next stage."
Albus asked curiously, "How long would the wait be?"
Peter sighed regretfully. "I can't answer that. The ways of God are beyond us mere souls and angels. God's decree is that no man shall know his time of passing to the next great reward – whether good or bad. That yours would be good should not surprise you and I feel confident in saying that as you are properly self aware enough to know your own character. My telling you that it is so really tells you nothing more than you already know."
Albus thought about that option. It would be boring, but he could wait it out if he had to. He had learned patience over his many years. He was curious though and so asked Peter, "Are there other options?"
At this Peter smiled. "There is one last option, and honestly my personal preference is you take it."
Albus was interested, "And that is?"
Peter hesitated and then asked, "Are you familiar with the idea of a Multiverse? Chaos theory? Superstring theory perhaps?"
Albus was uncertain but explained what he knew. "Chaos theory predicts that no one can predict the future because even looking at something changes things and therefore can produce a wildly different result. The universe is chaotic and cannot be predicted in concrete. Only possibilities can be defined, and even those are questionable and subject to interpretation."
Peter nodded. "A good explanation. Really makes divination rather a wooly subject, doesn't it?"
Albus smiled. "Superstring theory is not something I am familiar with. From what I have been told and understood, the Multiverse is based upon the idea that an infinite number of universes exists, each one based on the idea that a decision made one way will result in one universe but a different decision creates another."
"There are not an unlimited number of universes, but there are much more than the 10, 11, or 26 that have been postulated by different theorists. In effect, different universes are created by major decisions. Some split off and eventually self-implode when God decides that the result is hopeless. Some reintegrate when different decisions end up with effectively the exact same result. It accounts for some of the 'conflicting history' circumstances you hear about on occasion. To sum up, although there are an uncountable number of universes, it IS a limited number. Are you following?"
Albus nodded, fascinated.
"Now, can you imagine a world where you did not place Tom in to a foster home?"
Albus thought about that. "It could have happened – at times I think I should not have acted. I regretted what happened to the family I placed him with. It was a source of great pain for me."
Peter tut-tutted. "Actually, it was one of your better decisions. It led directly to a number of changes in the universe, most of them positive." Albus was very interested – he had regretted the destruction of the Dagworth-Granger family for a number of years.
"In other universes, you did not place Tom Riddle. He remained in the orphanage. He still went dark. He still created those foul devices. He still followed the path of the Dark wizard and styled himself a Lord. The Dagworth-Granger family still died out in main line. The difference, however, was not in what Tom Riddle did – but in your own actions." Peter paused for a moment to see that Albus was following. "Imagine a world where Riddle never killed his adoptive family. Riddle never had one. You were not the cause of the death in your mind. What was your philosophy then, as opposed to after?"
Albus thought back to his naïve years as he called them. "All can be redeemed. Any price can be paid to achieve redemption and find a lost soul. Now I know better – lost souls can be found, but it is not my place to try to create it. I was not a priest."
Peter nodded grimly. "Exactly. In many universes, such occurred. Some fixed themselves, some we have fixed, and some have imploded already. We do have one, however, which could be promising but resists all attempts at repair. For reasons various and sundry, this particular one is important – but currently is on the road toward a violent end. And because of Chaos theory our efforts to repair that universe have been overridden because of one talented individual."
Albus thought about it for a moment, and then had a horrible feeling. He looked at Peter with one inescapable conclusion. "Me."
Peter nodded. "You. Well, not you. YOU are entirely blameless. Your alternate, however (we'll call him Wulfric), has bollixed things up royally and we have had few options to repair it. Even though he is single-minded in his goals and particularly blind to the negative effects, he has been remarkably effective in his path." Peter's face took on a hard look. "We suspect someone from the downward circles has been meddling but has covered their tracks too well. It seems someone minor enough not to be watched by the upward circles but not so minor as to be completely without power."
Albus sighed. He couldn't imagine a world where he could screw up so many things, but he also was a realist. Idealists were happier, but realists were more effective. "And this leads to what possibility?"
Peter looked at Albus calmly. "You aren't required to do anything if you wish. The people from your universe will move on. The people from Wulfric's universe will move on. Although it isn't what God planned through his intermediary aspects that are worshipped as gods by the magicals and some mundanes, this does not require you to perform. I do not want you to feel forced in to this. If we fail to repair the damage, the resources needed to end the negative effects can be allocated. The heavens will move on."
Albus chuckled. "You know enough of me to know that I would fight, even if I would prefer not to. Idealism is wonderful, until innocent people are hurt."
Peter chuckled himself. "Yes, I suspected such when I proposed this to my superiors." He looked seriously at Albus. "The third option is as you might have guessed: We will replace your alternate with you. If you do this, your alternate will suffer as he is not headed for as pleasant a reward as yourself. He would be denied the chance to fix his errors – no matter how unlikely he would be to do so. Can you exist with that knowledge?"
Albus looked very old, but resolute. "I long ago decided that I must walk with the angels and fight the demons. If my alternate has not reached that conclusion and, even with good intentions, walks with demons then I have no qualms about sending him to his reward."
Peter really wished more Albus Dumbledores were like the one he found in his office at the moment. He pulled out a file. Before he handed it to Albus, he had one more statement. "No matter what happens in this universe, you will not suffer – unless you decide to do something completely outside of your character. Mistakes will be made, I am certain. The universe, due to Chaos, might be unredeemable and therefore self terminate. It is far enough along that path that if you hasten it by accident or deliberately it will not change your ultimate reward.
"You shall be limited by only your conscience. Your alternate believes he enjoys a free hand to remake the world in the image he idealizes and will not suffer because his intentions are pure. He is mistaken. You, however, will enjoy a truly free hand – you have already earned our trust."
Albus nodded. He always operated by his conscience, he needed no further goading.
"Succeed or fail, you have already earned your reward. Your efforts can only help because otherwise the dimension shall be lost anyway."
Albus shook off his weariness. "Let us move forward. I have a universe to save."
Peter handed him the file. "We have stopped time as regards the target. You have as much time as needed to peruse the file. We don't know everything – free will being what it is. When you arrive, you will be aware of Wulfric's decisions and actions – but not his thought processes as these reasons are the source of his misjudgment. Do you have any questions?"
Albus replied, "Ask me after I review the file."
Peter nodded and pointed Albus to a side room to give him space.
Albus was appalled at the history he found described in the file. It gave much of the decisions Wulfric had made, what he knew, what the results as could be seen from Wulfric's point of view. Many of those who were close to him in his previous incarnation were dead or not ever born.
Wulfric really, in his opinion, was a lazy, idealistic prick. Tom's followers were mainly unpunished. Some innocent were punished. Some who were innocent were now guilty. Corruption had taken over his beloved country. It would take years to repair the damage.
He could not swoop in and change everything. Many considered his alternate somewhat senile and if he pushed too much too fast he would lose his power. Wulfric had retained much power by non-confrontation rather than ethical integrity. He had allowed things that should not be allowed, and done things that should not be done.
Albus would have to rebuild the image of "Albus Dumbledore, Leader of the Light." If that didn't work - he could always kill that image and replace it with something more effective.
He returned to Peter. "When will I appear?"
Peter replied, "24 June 1991, the same day you died in your own universe. We cannot send you back. We can only slip you in. This is one reason that WE can't fix it. God only allows minimal time changes. A wizard time turner only moves back eight hours at the most and those returning cannot change what they know to be true. There is a reason for this. So, you have to deal with your alternate's bad track record as best you can."
Albus nodded. "What is, is. Let us proceed."
Peter stood and took Albus to a person standing before a great mirror. He turned to Albus. "This mirror is set to the alternate universe. By walking through, you will displace Wulfric. He will move on to his reward. This will alert the downward circles that we are watching and discourage any rogue elements from interfering further as the ones in authority don't take kindly to clandestine operations. I should mention that when you pass there, you will retain the right to move between the two in the afterlife. We would not cut you off from the new connections that you might make nor prevent yourself from enjoying the old. Are you ready?"
Albus nodded. He then walked through the mirror to a new life.