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Chapter 3 : Voldemort's Legacy
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"Let's wait a little while." replied Harry, "Keep watch, Ron. Maybe Worley will just deduct her a few house points and leave her."
"Name and house?" asked Professor Worley sternly. She flicked her lit wand and the light sphere floated free and high. She pocketed her wand and drew out notepad and pen with her freed hand.
"Lovegood, Ravenclaw." replied Luna timidly, not for herself but because she was so anxious to get to the meeting and also did not want to be instrumental in having the meetings banned.
"Lovegood you say?" asked Worley, startled. "You are ... Luna Lovegood?" She looked at the slender girl with the long straggly blond hair carefully.
"Yes Miss." replied Luna who was now even more worried.
"Sorry, Miss Lovegood. I don't yet know all the students by sight. It would be petty to apply the curfew to an honorary such as yourself. Your courage in the defence of Hogwarts and other battles is well known." Worley smiled and nodded her head with respect. "I'll carry on with my rounds and see you in our next class together. Don't stay up too late. Goodnight to you."
Worley walked off and the light chased and rejoined the tip of her newly-raised wand.
"Goodnight Professor." replied Luna. She stood staring after the teacher for a few seconds then decided she had better leave just in case. Hero or not, it would be strange to be standing around in a Hogwarts' corridor after curfew and not actually going anywhere and she daren't go straight into the old classroom; she did not want to draw attention to it. Luna felt she had little choice but to follow Worley as if she were heading to the Ravenclaw common room and wait for a chance to sneak back in a few minutes.
"What they saying, Ron?" asked Ginny.
"I can't hear - but it looks like Worley's leading Luna back to her dorm. I guess she is in trouble. Hope she doesn't get detention."
"It's my damn fault." Harry grimaced, "I should have set the time earlier - I just didn't think. I'll apologize tomorrow."
"Nothing we can do about Luna now. Come on. We'll have to manage without her. We can sneak in now." said Ron.
They entered the old class room. Ron began testing the old door ward using a spell from the afternoon's defence lesson. It was also a good way to test the new spells that Worley had taught them. He wondered if he might even improve the ward security - but it had been more than good enough for their needs, mostly convenience. It recognized them all so they could just walk in but nobody else but an advanced wizard could break it.
Hermione was asking, "So what's this all about, Harry?" She was gesturing strongly to Ron to leave the door for now and join the discussion.
"I'd like us to quickly have a short mind session first. I want to check something and I don't want to put ideas in anyone's head. I want to see if anyone else sees anything unusual. Ron, would you lead the session as usual, please?"
"Sure." replied Ron.
Neville pulled his usual chair up close to the others. It wasn't essential but it helped them focus as a group. They all sat down and began the relaxing preparations and soon Ron was quietly chanting the spells to lead them into the mental realm. They were deeply into this, eyes closed, when Luna came back. She was surprised to find everyone had started. It was only just after nine. She wondered if they had forgotten about her. Her own chair had been pushed back out of the way and she felt that way herself - like she had been pushed out of the way.
Had Neville forgotten her too? Luna had so looked forward to being a part of this. She had been so happy to be part of the group. An unusual wave of loneliness passed over her. The young girl recalled that Neville's first thought on returning to Hogwarts was to speak to Hannah Abbott. Luna looked at her books and papers on the little table lost in shadow. Sadly she picked them up and crept out of the room and returned to her dormitory. She told herself she was just being silly but her heart would not listen.
Outwardly the five were still, unmoving but inwardly they explored the endless resources of the mentasphere first presented to them by David Grey. It was the normal world but experienced completely differently. All mental life was there simply by thinking of it. It could never be defined in human language which is mostly limited to the spatial, physical, and visual world. It had to be felt.
How does one describe that which is indescribable in normal human language? To say the five witnessed a vast landscape of living entities and ideas might conjure up a vision of wide spaces populated with creatures. However, there were no spatial dimensions at all. All was substance - yet not physical substance. This was the substance of ideas, of knowledge. It might be said the realm consisted entirely of the consciousness of creatures and their attitudes, concepts, values, and impressions. There was no specific penetration of individual thought but rather an experience of the general way in which creatures are aware, perceive, and know.
In some ways the mentasphere was like imagination - yet vivid and tangible. There was no need to travel to Africa to see an elephant. Here, Africa was an idea, grand and complex, solid, substantial yes - but an idea. To behold an elephant - an actual elephant - one simply thought of it and observed. But most creatures could not observe you because like humans, their attention was completely absorbed in the physical sense of being.
The prominence of creatures was proportional to their intelligence and character not their size as seen by physical sense. Humans were giants here; trees mere wisps. Yet the idea of what a lowly plant is might be great even if its own sense was miniscule.
Most new knowledge came about through perceiving that which was related to what was being experienced. Occasionally discoveries came about spontaneously - something just simply occurred to the beholder.
Through it all, the five very experienced youngsters kept in touch by remaining always aware of each other. As other life attracted their attention they had learned from long practice to always keep some part of their mind ever-drawing back to the group - and most especially their partner if they had one. One could get lost in the mental realm just as one can get caught up in a daydream.
They communicated with ideas not by words. They had no verbal or visual thoughts here. They conveyed pure concepts to one another as needed - especially to keep them 'together'. David Grey had described this as 'hand-holding'. Most especially, Ron Weasley, as leader, was exceptionally good at holding them in touch and eventually drawing them out of the realm together.
For the young wizards and witches, special magical spells worked within this realm. They could not change factual ideas but they had been able in previous sessions to affect the balance of good and evil which in a way constituted the fabric of this place - or at least, pervaded it as an essential quality of its being.
Each experience of it was unforgettable. Because there was no work to be done here now they simply enjoyed it and observed for half an hour until Ron led them all out. They rarely spoke about the nature of the experience because it was so difficult to discuss. It remained unspoken but known to them all. But they did discuss the relevance of their experiences and excited chatter almost always livened up the old classroom when they ended a mental session and opened their eyes to physical sense again.
"That was great!" said Neville, "but it's not quite as exciting and vivid for me without Luna here. Her mind is just so inquisitive and rich in ideas. We always sparked off each other. Our..." Neville tailed off sounding rather thoughtful. Whatever the nature of his bonding - his sense of 'togetherness' with Luna in the mental realm had actually been - it had certainly been powerful and absolutely reliable and Neville had missed that.
"No sign of Voldemort." was the first thing Harry said, absorbed with his own concerns.
"Harry! He's dead for sure. Surely that's not what you..." began Hermione.
"No, no. I know. I already knew for certain he's dead. Fully, totally dead. About eight times dead actually. No, it was just instinct for me to look. I didn't really need verification but it was kind of satisfying anyway!" replied Harry.
"But something is wrong." muttered Ron.
"Yes, I noticed too." said Neville.
Harry waited, waited for them to say it. He had confirmed it himself but he wanted them to say it.
"The substance is still unbalanced. There is still some evil outweighing good. What can it mean?" pondered Ron.
"Harry? What is it that you know? What can you tell us?" asked Ginny.
Harry sighed. "I've not mentioned this before because so much was taking place at the time. I was kind of preoccupied."
"When was that?" asked Ginny.
"When I surrendered to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest."
Apart from the crackling and sparking of the log fire there was silence in the room and they were all very attentive. They had all heard what happened but perhaps not every detail and it was not a subject any of them had wished to pressure Harry about.
"I knew I was going to die. As the death curse hit me a whole lifetime of events appeared to me. It wasn't a rapid sequence; all of it, every event, happened simultaneously in a split second. It was too much to take in. Then I ... then I died."
There was still complete silence for many seconds. Then Hermione spoke.
"It's not uncommon Harry. Many people have reported that their whole life flashed before their eyes in extreme danger or in a near-death experience."
"Yes, but it ... it wasn't my life I saw, Hermione. It was Voldemort's. Remember, part of his soul died within me too and he collapsed temporarily. I guess it was his near-death experience." explained Harry.
After a long pause Neville asked, "What did you see, Harry?"
"Almost all of it is forgotten - just fragments; nothing we don't already know or unimportant. But there was one thing... at the time I ... had that experience with Dumbledore and then that final duel - I wasn't myself really. I guess I mean I was totally focussed on what was happening at the time and no time to consider anything else."
"Yes, of course. It's understandable you wouldn't think about that ... that near-death thing again." suggested Hermione.
"Exactly. Oh - I'd thought of it casually a few times much later but it seemed unreal. Then when Malfoy said this morning, "It's not over ... Not for you nor all your mudblood and muggle friends!" it reminded me of something. Something that if true would affect all muggles. In fact probably all witches and wizards too."
"What was it Harry?" asked Ginny very quietly.
A candle on the mantelshelf exhausted the last of its wax. It sputtered and flared for a few seconds, then went out.
"He cursed everything, Ginny. Voldemort cursed the whole world."
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