Chapter 1 : The Horrible Cross
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THE HORRIBLE CROSS
It was time.
The challenge rang through the ears of all the living and resonated within the dead that scattered the grounds. Harry knew this, because at this moment he could feel the strange pulling sensation of souls being sucked into the fog of the veil. The Hallows were in his possession, but he was skeptical of the concept of a Master of Death. After hearing the voice of his nemesis offer armistice, a sudden, hollow emptiness swallowed him.
Harry brought his lips to the golden snitch, letting it know his intent. As he made his way inevitably forward, somewhere in the back of the mind he laughed cynically. He was going to die a pure, sacrificial virgin just like they used to do in the good old days. He knew that this was such a bad decision to make, gambling on the fact that he needed Voldemort himself to cast the killing curse.
Hagrid, restrained by magical ropes and brought down to his knees, cried his name when he made his way into the clearing. Harry paid him no heed, knowing that any sort of distraction could make him lose his resolve.
"Harry Potter... the boy who lived," announced Voldemort. "Now, he has come to die."
Harry closed his eyes as the flash of green sent him to the nether.
The next time he opened his eyes, he was in a place of foggy illumination, an ethereal version of a deserted Train station. Empty rail way channels bordered either side of him, with obscure platforms on each side of the tracks. This pattern continued as far as the eye can see.
The weightlessness of his body against the floor was disconcerting. He got up, and from the periphery of his vision, a bench caught his attention. Underneath it, a bloody, shriveled human effigy almost made him empty his stomach. Fascinated, he peered at it, and was once again made to jump when a deep voice called him.
"Harry! Harry!" a figure called him, emerging from the fog to materialize into Albus Dumbledore. "Come, my boy. That was such a brave thing to do ... but deep inside I knew you were the only one who was capable," he said solemnly.
"Professor," said Harry, thankful and relieved not to have to stare at that thing anymore. It seemed to have a connection to him, but he could not fathom what in the world it was meant to be. "What is this place?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Dumbledore replied. "I will answer, but first, tell me, what do you think?"
"It appears to be King's Cross, except...well, cleaner," said Harry, lacking a better description.
"Hm, yes. It is a transit of a sort, Harry," he said sagely, folding his hands into the opposite sleeves. "A place... it appears, some gifted people can interact with," Albus winked.
"The hallows..." Harry deduced. "People who have interacted with them... masters of death?"
"If such a being exists, this may be quite the place where they exercise that ambiguous title. I will say that powerful wizards have tried many different ways to escape, hoodwink, or even control Death, whatever we perceive that to be..." Dumbledore mused. He shook his head ruefully. "Present company included, I admit to it."
"The philosopher's stone," Harry said. "Was that the secret Professor? Most of my friends did find it interesting you were so old," said Harry with a smirk. "I guess they thought it just went with the territory of being the most powerful wizard alive," said Harry. Dumbledore chuckled, nodding his head in amusement.
"Always keep your levity and ability to laugh Harry," Dumbledore said as he approached an empty bench. His voice abruptly turned serious. "The Dark Lord did not fully understand what he has done. Or if he did know, it is truthfully the most dangerous, and powerful magic ever created," he added solemnly. "Have a seat, my good man. You have an appointment," said Dumbledore. With a profound slowness and almost reverent aversion of his eyes, Dumbledore turned his back to Harry while at the same time indicating to the bench with an open hand. "Ask your questions, answers will come forth, but I cannot interfere," said Dumbledore as he faced away, humming a merry tune lightly under his beard.
Harry had a feeling that no matter how inexplicable this place appeared to be, this aura seated at the bench did not belong.
A faded black robe, almost gray with age, sat with head bowed, the hood almost drooping to its chest. A tall figure with arms interlocked within sleeves, it appeared to be looking straight down through its torso and past the floor. The figure appeared to be sitting , yet it was not interacting with the bench nor the environment. It simply was there, yet it was not really here in this reality. An entity of significant importance acquiescing to meet with mortals. Harry sat, keeping as far away from the edge of the robe as possible on the small bench.
"Distorted," a voice came. It did not speak. The voice manifested. "Time, Fate, and Magic," a whisper came forth, louder and louder. "Coiled, my siblings squabble."
"What?" Harry said dumbly.
"It is abomination!" the voice seethed. "Neither alive, neither it is dead," a rant began. "This cannot occur. The Curse, somehow empowered beyond my realm of purview. The Horrible Cross, an abomination!"
"The Curse…what?" Harry said, his heart racing at the words emanating throughout this place.
"Life... it is now being twisted," it said slowly. "Life is either present, or it is not. After Life, I will come." Harry closed his eyes, even though he knew the answer to his next question.
"Is that why I am here?" asked Harry.
"Not yet. Time is not ready for you." The grey robe paused, rubbing his sleeves together. "There is something you must see," the Gray robe said, with a hint of excitement. "Come, look," it commanded. The figure turned its hood and faced Harry, who saw pure emptiness, a vast black hole of never-ending nothingness. Then suddenly, the infinite stars of the universe emerged from a pin point within the hood and swallowed him.
He was now standing in a dark bedroom, the pale moonlight showing the sleeping forms on the bed. Harry recognized himself sleeping, his glasses and wand on the bedside table. A woman lay next to him, staring straight at the ceiling with an ear to ear grin on her face. This reality was not clear, it reminded him of a pensieve memory, but he was pretty sure that the shock red of hair belonged to Ginny. However the maniacal smile did not belong, neither was that solid red gleam to her eyes.
Harry stepped closer; wanting to make sure the vision was not playing tricks on him. As he neared her side of the bed he noticed a picture of three teenage children, presumably his family, he couldn't see himself sleeping so peacefully in another man's bed with Ginny, of all people.
A red eyed, wide awake Ginny with a grin that was too big for her face.
She shot up from the waist, her hair falling over her eyes as she reached under the book on her bedside table for her wand. She pointed upwards and made a miniature lasso-movement turn of her wand. The windows to the bedroom swung open and a cold bitter wind flew in , the curtains billowing across the room.
Sleeping Harry eyes flashed open as the howling wind made a eerie sound throughout the house. Harry watched in frozen horror, he knew that wand movement was a general un-warding spell. Ginny must have brought down whatever security was in place on the house. Without hesitation his older self grabbed his wand off the table, madly scrambling for his glasses just as three more figures apparated into the master bedroom. A quick disarming charm from the female intruder and a body bind jinx from the red haired man made Harry helpless. His eyes grew wide as Ginny got out of bed and joined Hermione, Ron and Neville as they surrounded the bed. All four of them had that solid red gleam to their eyes.
"Harry Potter... the boy who lived..." all of their voices said in unison. "Finally, I have returned." There was a simultaneous flash from their four wands of that awful green light and Harry Potter was struck dead instantly.
At that moment Harry was warped back forcefully into the bench. He tiled his head back as he stared at the unnatural ceiling, sweat pouring down his face and his breathing coming in hard gasps.
"Is that, a divergent path, or some kind of alternate reality ...or future? Or is it my... is it truly what is in store? My destiny?" he said, once he had the nerve and the composure to speak once again. He addressed himself; he could not bear to look into Death's cowl again. Voices rang out, booming from every direction.
"Death says true," the seething voice confirmed.
"Fate says true," another voice emanated.
"Life says true," yet another.
There was a pause.
"Magic, says false," a female voice challenged. "Luck is interfering."
"Luck is laughing at us," another voice agreed. "However, Time will accede to the Master Of Death," this voiced added.
"Luck is not to be disregarded, or taken lightly," Death challenged the other voices. "How is it that two mortals who exist on different planes, virtually the same age, have cheated me, at the same time?" Death seethed.
Across from Harry a similar, almost identical scene was playing out. The man was sitting next to another gray robed figure, virtually a mirror image of Death beside him. The man was wearing a heavy fur-hide cloak.
"Who is that?" Harry said to no one in particular, and Dumbledore shrugged, shaking his head side to side.
""The Bastard with two names," said Fate. "Both of which he does not know." The man far across the tracks tilted his head back, almost the same gesture as he had done when he saw his futuristic death. Probably that was exactly what he was doing.
The figure seated next to him on the bench, moved fractionally, so small a movement it appeared a shudder. "The effigy you saw, it unravels this place. It is an abomination! We cannot remove it! "The voices echoed throughout the station. Harry got up at once and stepped away. As he thought about it, he was insane to sit down next to Death in the first place.
"Professor, can you tell me what all this means? The Bastard with two names?" Harry pleaded, desperate for clarity.
"Another gifted one, it appears. He seems to be doing negotiations just as you are …." Dumbledore mused. "I wonder who that may be as well, however, I cannot cross," he added, indicating the tracks with a wave of his hand. "I must stay on this side. " He added, softly stroking his long beard. "You heard them. Death has given me reprieve to speak with you, but as the voices said, what you saw is the path of Fate, Life, and Death. Time and Magic do not agree, and may have a hand in helping you to remove ...that-" Dumbledore pointed at the bloody effigy that somehow seemed close even though the bench was at the very edge of the fog. "And that man may also have an important role to play."
"So what should I do?" Harry said at last. "I just need to destroy Voldemort and Nagini, right?" even as he said it, it seemed much harder now, now that he thought about it. Having visions of your death put a lot of ambition on hold.
"I was mistaken, Harry," Dumbledore sighed. "Alas, I do not know how to destroy the horcrux. What we did was simply destroy the physical vessel." Dumbledore paused, a bit taken back with himself. "Interesting place this is, that seemed to have come out quite bluntly, not my usual style, I must say," he chuckled. "I must be losing touch."
"What?" Harry breathed, another take your breath away and sweat bursting from the pores moment immediately set upon him. How could Albus Dumbledore be wrong? "What, does this mean..." Harry swallowed; his mouth suddenly full of cotton. "That this," he waved at himself and the weird train station, "Was all for nothing?!"
"You saw their faces, Harry," Dumbledore sighed again. "Their eyes. It was them, him, together. The Dark Lords... all of Gryffindor, no less," Dumbledore whispered, his eyes growing bright with sorrow.
"What I saw was the future, which means it can be stopped, right! Right?" Harry pleaded to the open.
"This particular path is determined," said Fate, being asked directly.
"My summons is true. It will occur as you saw it," Death seethed.
"Life has been ended at that point," Life chimed in. "No return."
Harry swore internally. All these Riddles, when all he needed was a way to stop one Riddle.
"I laugh at you three," Time interjected. "I am able to correct where Life has faltered, and pluck possibility out of Death's embrace. Magic, what say you?"
"Luck seems to be with these two," Magic said. "So be it. You two will correct this abomination. A hint; young Harry: curses activate the Horrible Crux. This, you shall remember. "
"You two?" Harry whispered, confused. "And what is that you meant about curses?" he demanded.
Suddenly, the other man was catapulted from his seat; arms and legs flailing as he flew through the air. Dumbledore calmly sidestepped as the body came hurtling towards their side, colliding with Harry and knocking them both through the bench and unto the station floor rolling haphazardly in a tangle of cloak and dark hair. Dumbledore watched dumbstruck as the two young men rolled off the edge then vanished. Exeunt stage left was an understatement.
"We will be rid of this abomination yet. You may cheat Death, but you cannot cheat us all," Magic declared, with Time laughing in the background.
Albus Dumbledore wished he could go back and give Harry the help he deserved, now that new knowledge confirmed that his plan did not succeed. That blasted Tom Riddle has caused so much suffering. His eyebrows furrowed into his brow as he pondered a way. Presently, his body was fading into the fog. There must be a way to still offer assistance before it was too late.
He needed to treaty with these entities once more.
Harry kept his eyes shut as he woke up. He was having this awful dream of being in a bright place and Dumbledore was there and being target practice for a human slingshot. He also had a bad kink in his neck and a cramped right arm as if he slept on it whole night. He tried to stretch but only managed to bounce his toes against something hard and tangle up his limbs in a few old jeans and socks with his feet and a couple hangars. He opened his eyes only to realize he was in a closet, curled up awkwardly in a fetal position with his head braced by the wall.
A single line of light was shining through the doors. In his line of vision he saw another set of feet sprawled awkwardly across a toppled chair through the gap.
"What the hell!" Fully awake now, he must have hit every corner of his blasted closet before he got out with a mad scramble. He untangled himself and his glasses from a couple hanged shirts and threw them away from him digging in his right back pocket for his wand. He pulled it out, only to observe it had a sizable crack running along the length of it, from tip to the decorative carvings on the handle grip.
"Shit.." he murmured, stamping his foot but at the last moment silently easing it on the ground at the same time, so he not wake the intruder, which in turn effectively compounded the anger that spiked through him. He gripped his hair in frustration.
The boy on the floor was wearing clothes way too large for him, drowning him in the heavy fur and over sized boots he wore. His rear end was in the air, his body halfway folded over the toppled chair, his hands splayed awkwardly to the sides over his tiny bedroom floor at privet Drive. Harry circled him slowly, looking for any signs of playing possum , most probably waiting for the moment to strike out at him unawares. Trying to launch an attack from that embarrassing position would be totally laughable, but even more embarrassing is if he did manage to disarm him or take him down. Harry felt useless with his wand being damaged . Touching him tentatively with a hangar did not stir him, so Harry nimbly stepped over him and cracked open his bedroom door to peek outside. The voices were loud, yet at a familiar conversational level, and thankfully not shouting, so he assumed the Dursleys were none more the wiser. As he closed the door he glimpsed himself in the mirror hanging on it. Another of those breath taking moments grabbed him.
He was twelve.
He pressed his fingers into his face.
He looked down at his oversized t shirt and jeans.
He didn't feel twelve, just he looked twelve.
Was it possible to feel older or younger than your body told you it was?
Maybe, this was some sort of polyjuice age altering potion prank played upon him in revenge for that time when he…
No.. that's not right.
His memories took him back to the path to the acromantula nest- the golden snitch... the hallows...
He was seventeen! But the mirror was definitely saying twelve though. It must have something to do with this guy here. Harry dug around his clothes for a long sleeved top and a belt. Trying his best to maneuver the boy's arms he sort of got them tied in a hopefully strong enough knot with the long sleeve sweater, then used the belt as a final means of securing the wrists together. He righted the chair and sat down on it, staring at the figure tied up in his bedroom.
He was around his age (his current age, Harry grimaced) and had curly, uncombed black hair, long and trailing down his neck. His skin was pale, far too much so, it seemed to have a blue tinge to his face, and Harry came to the conclusion that wherever he was before, he was freezing cold. There were suspicious crusty-looking areas on the front of his weird clothes, it reminded him of something Viktor Krum would wear, except black, and creaky, and maybe not too comfortable either. Harry waved his wand without casting or even thinking about any particular spell to see what was the effect of the damage.
It surged from a slight shocking sensation to making his wand arm vibrate painfully within a span of a few seconds. Harry cursed again. Broken wand, a sleeping intruder, twelve again, what else could possibly happen?
A high pitch wailing howl came from outside. Then it became a yip yap bark of a small dog. Harry opened his window and looked down. There was an ash gray pup barking underneath his bedroom window. His tail was wagging and he was turning in circles between each barking salvo.
"Shhhhh... you here with him?" Harry hissed downstairs. The dog actually stopped barking for few moments, tail wagging, as if to confirm that he was indeed with the guy inside. "Hold on, and be quiet yeah? I'm coming just wait a moment," Harry said, resigned to quell this noisy problem before the Dursleys went investigating outside. He dug in his trunk quickly and took out his invisibility cloak and made he way out the front door. When he got around back the dog began to snarl, sniffing the ground but not seeing where the person approaching was.
"Easy boy, good boy..." said Harry as he crouched and lifted his cloak. The dog began to charge at harry, then jump back, then hop, spin, then charge again, then snarl in a manner only puppies can; with much vigor and misplaced bravado. Harry took off his cloak and scooped up the dog in one swift motion. The pup squirmed for a full ten seconds, then just like that, it stuck his head out and panted happily. Harry wasted no time and made his way back around the yard and through the front door, opening it carefully after looking through the front window. As he got in and closed the door behind him, he spotted the intruder in a low crouch, stealthily advancing behind Dudley who was sitting on the couch with what appeared to be a fire poker at his side, with the tip held in a knife grip, ready to strike a fatal puncturing blow to the back of Dudley's fat neck.
Harry was almost ready to stun him senseless when at the last moment he realized his wand was broken. With an awkward one handed underhand throw, he launched his wand at the intruder with the hope that he did some miraculous thing like turn and catch it without making a sound. How he was going to get this to end well he had no idea.
The intruder did manage to notice something approaching him in his periphery vision and flinched, ducking even lower as he brought up the fire poker in a defensive swing. It hit the wand solidly and Harry grimaced as hit made a wooden cracking noise. Harry made a frantic motion of a finger against his lips. The intruder understood and for a fleeting moment he looked confused, and then used some neat foot work to cushion the wooden stick before it fell on the floor. Harry was impressed, maybe more so than if he had actually caught it out of midair unawares.
Both boys were frozen in half crouches, eyeing each other warily. One was balancing a broken wand on the instep of a dark boot a few inches above the ground, a fire poker held in the ochs low stance. Harry was crouching with a finger on his lips with a happy puppy head panting excitedly, floating with a body out of his armpit.
They remained there for a full five seconds, both frozen in stance. Probably the most impressive standoff ever, considering the circumstances, Harry thought.
Harry indicated a calm motion downwards, and nodded his head up, beckoning to come follow him upstairs. The intruder nodded, once, then twice, a bit more certain as he gingerly picked up the wand from his boot and quietly followed Harry back up the stairs.
Harry waited anxiously for the intruder to get back inside and closed the door behind them.
"You are yet not even a man," the intruder noted, a strange aristocratic accent with a hint of puberty – induced awkwardness. He cleared his throat. He frowned as he watched Harry and the headless dog. "Ghost?" he croaked. The dog actually yipped at that. Harry shhhed the dog, somehow thinking it would listen to him. "You executed my direwolf with beheading, sir?" the intruder accused, his face turning pale.
"No no, its a magic cloak look!" he lifted the body-less head to demonstrate. The intruder did a back-step in reflex, before leaning forward as if to attack. This reaction caused Harry to literally jumped back a few steps. "Here, take, yeah?" Harry released the puppy and it immediately ran to sniff the intruder's boots, tail wagging in glee.
The intruder, surprised to see the dog fully functional and so small, got even more confused. He looked around the room within a few heartbeats, and even eyeing the window as a viable escape. "What, 'magic' occurred here?" his brow furrowed, his posture straightening. "Speak, who are you, and what is this place?" The intruder growled as he stood tall, the fire-poker now held loosely in his hand.
"Alright, I'm Harry, and this is a long story, but you got to not go crazy with that thing, ok?" Harry said, both palms facing down. "And keep it down, your voice travels," he whispered.
"Oh...kay?" the intruder asked, never hearing that term. "No I am not suffering under madness, it is you with your wits misplaced," the intruder countered. "Is this some poison you have brewed to belittle my senses, and what did you do to my speech, I sound newly squired!"
"Quiet," Harry re-inforced. "It's, complicated, but we got ..." Harry paused. He didn't want to say re-incarnated, he felt woozy thinking of that fateful trek into the forest. "Another chance to..." Harry shook his head again, he didn't want to do that gamble of life and death again, shouldn't have done it in the past, nor would he in the future.
Just never again.
"We got turned back into twelve," he said with resignation.
"Twelve! As in years! Surely you jest!" the intruder argued, but was following Harry's finger pointing at the door behind him. "What..." The intruder turned behind him and looked into the mirror that was hanging behind the door. "By the gods..." he cursed, walking closer to the mirror. "What is this..." he murmured as he touched his face, just as Harry did not even ten minutes earlier. He began to push his fingers in his clothes, finding gashes and holes peppering all over his torso. Without warning the intruder began to unbuckle the rib buckle harness and his shoulder cross straps. "Am I dreaming or am I delusional? It must have been Tormund's blasted sour milk..." he said, prodding.
Did he just say a man's sour milk? Harry thought.
"Anyway, why are you doing that and are you going to tell me your bloody name?" Harry stressed.
"It's Jon," Jon breathed as he ran his fingers over his torso. There were closed stab wounds all over his body. "They turned on me..."
Harry closed his eyes briefly. "They got me too..."
"Was it the Night's men? Men of the Black?" Jon asked as he stared into the mirror. "Or the wights?"
"Wights?" Harry asked.
"The dead arisen," Jon replied, his chin touching his chest as he took inventory of the destroyed armor.
"No," Harry replied. "It was the Death Eaters themselves and Voldemort, not their bloody ...things...Inferi...whatever they called them..." Harry did not want to think of the fifty or more strong of Voldemort's inner circle, neither the lake in the cave. "Voldemort was the one who..." Harry stopped right there.
"This brigand's name is Voldemort?" Jon, said. "The white walkers never put name to their existence, it is paramount concern to North, everyone has heard the tale of the ones that attacked Wildling bay," Jon nodded grimly, positive on his theory. "We must raven word, and quickly!"
"Jon, hold up. Just think about this for a second, mate," Harry said.
"I am NOT your mate," Jon declared, all ready to attack once again. Harry rubbed the corners of his eyes with thumb and forefinger.
"It's a slang, a manner of speech, it means, friend, or buddy, pal, that sort of thing..." Harry explained. "Let's get this straight. You are the one more out of place than me. Well come on, your gear, speech and how you move all remind me of the dark ages, and... to sum it up, we both died." Harry sighed. "We were both returned to this age, except you are here, in my uncle's house. Do you know where you are?"
"No, but this..." he touched the mirror, "Must indicate you have master glass-smiths to craft such an incredible image on this looking glass. I assume we are in Slaver's bay?" Harry looked to the ceiling. It could go wrong. It just did. He's not from here. As in, he is not from this Earthly reality.
"What year do you think this is? What country?" Harry asked, exasperated.
"We are in the tenth year of Summer, of the ten-gross score of the Old Men. Within the next few moons, Winter is Coming," Jon said tiredly. "Slaver's bay is in Essos, if I remember my lessons well," Jon nodded.
"Okay then," Harry said in a low whistle. "Before we go further, let's really get introduced. Harry Potter. Originally from Godric's Hollow, but really more like Devon if you look on the map. You?"
"I am Jon, of the North, bastard of the now deceased Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. My house allegiance has been forsaken through willing vow as I took on the Black. I was Commander, briefly ...but now it seems my watch has ended," Jon added in afterthought, reality now sinking in. "I have... reasoned, that this place is not, my place, and your place, does not know my place, for we are but strangers, chatting over the impossible, " Jon said slowly.
"Yes, that's about..it..yeah I guess," Harry said with a shrug.
"Tell me, Master Harry," Jon cocked his head to the side. "Are you a lord of House Hollow, or of some noble birth, or is this place just too, perfect for my imagination?" Jon ran his finger along the factory painted smooth edge of the door. "Such an even square edge ...And what is this material?" Jon picked up the long sleeved sweater from the discarded chair on the ground, stretching it. "I had much hope that this wasn't used for a pleasurable restraint while my virtue was ravished while I was sleeping off whatever they poisoned me with," Jon said with a straight face.
Harry just stared, his lips moving slowly as he mouthed 'virtue was ravished'.
Jon sighed loudly.
"Are you a boy lover?"
"No!" Harry said, shocked. "No! I didn't, I woke up just before you did! I swear!"
"On the Old Gods or the New?" Jon asked, his tone most serious.
"We," Harry made a grand circle motion to encompass this reality, "don't know your 'gods', remember?"
"So you did not?" Jon accused.
"No I did not," Harry echoed.
"Ghost," Jon said. "Does this boy speak the truth?" Jon petted the little direwolf.
The direwolf pup did nothing but dribble some more on the dusty floor and sniff at Jon's hand. Jon looked into Harry's eyes with a cold glint in his stare.
"I am jesting you, Master Harry. You look ready to squat on the chamber pot!" Jon laughed his eyes still murderous. "You tremble easily as the wind trembles the trees."
"Right," Harry breathed out, not even knowing he was holding his breath. Harry was trying to get a bit more understanding of the humor and slang, or at least he hoped so. He knew he can't be too lax around him. That poker was still very deadly in his hand. "Can you give me that stick?" Jon gave him the stick that he was holding in the same hand as the metal poker, and Harry saw that now with the longitudinal crack, there was a snap along the middle of the wand, the phoenix core visible in one or two places. "Great."
"Looks like it meant something of great import," Jon nodded.
"I probably shouldn't have thrown it at an assassin about to stab fat-ass downstairs," Harry resigned.
"What is it?" Jon indicated.
"A wand," Harry sighed. "Was," he corrected.
"I am sorry."
"It was broken from before," said Harry. "It wasn't you."
"You a mummer?" Jon raised his eyebrows. When Harry looked at him with a blank expression Jon explained. "An actor, of folly, humour, laughter," Jon said. Harry shook his head. "Only they carry such things, pretending to cast magic and foul ailments on the stage act," he explained. "For the townspeople to enjoy," he added, "also to spread tall tales based in truth of real events at the town square. "
"Magic? Well yeah, I can do real magic, I'm a wizard," Harry said without really thinking how odd that sounded to someone from a completely different reality.
"By the gods," Jon laughed loudly, "You are even more delusional than I am!" he laughed even louder.
"Keep it down up there!" Dudley screamed.
Harry wanted to send an ass-itch hex down from his room to shut him up before he alerted his uncle and aunt but knew that wasn't going to happen now with his broken wand. "What do you know about wizards?"
"Just tales...some are frightening children stories to keep them awake, or if it is the more well-known ones, charming bedtime stories of jolly old men with long beards and fancy clothes," Jon shrugged. "They are numerous history stories of the Old Gods and Men, the First Men, Wargs and Shamans beyond the wall, Dragons with riders. Some are true, some the Maesters claim are pure folly, but the tales of Wizards are rubbish. Who would believe a single man could do all such powerful lore? Tales of Wizards are borne in taverns, drunkard musicians with great songs of heroic deeds and magical spells," he explained.
His voice dropped low. "Some are tales are of men of unbridled hatred who were feared, these are the ones the children like to spread. Tales they hear when they get to go in the lands with the hunting men. Tales best said around the night fire." Jon smiled fondly at the distant memories.
"The latter," Harry deadpanned, sitting down on the chair.
"You are hated, and much feared?" Jon asked, caught off guard.
"Hated, oh yes," Harry nodded readily. "Feared?" Harry began to shake his head, but then eventually nodded just as readily. "Yeah, that too I guess," he explained in a much lighter tone. "By the first to third years, and the Daily Prophet if I remember," he put his finger to his chin. "Maybe it's the talking to snakes thing they fear, or maybe it's just me...whatever," Harry shrugged it off.
"You do this..." Jon asked, his head tilting "...You talk to snakes?"
"You wave a stick and cast unspeakable pain and body changing ailments?"
Harry nodded sideways, tilting his chin side to side.
"You, ride through the clouds on winged chicken headed- horses?" Jon smirked, holding in his laughter.
"Watch it, I have done that, actually," Harry agreed, a smile also creeping at the corners of his mouth.
"You, enchant unmoving objects to hold power, and make people revere them? Cast spells to bind people into a merry fellowship?" Jon laughed now.
"Voldemort did something similar, but I'm not like him, though," Harry explained.
"Then Voldemort is a Light wizard, while you are the bad, stone heart wizard who rides chicken headed horses and send men and fair lady alike to rapturous fear, and hatred," Jon confirmed. "I like this version of Harry of House Hollow much more," he nodded. "He Who Uses Wizardry to make people fascinated with un-moving things is a typical boring children tale. A tale of the Light wizard. The Hard Wizard tales are what Bran and Rickon love to hear from their little friends," Jon smirked.
"Your House Hollow has failed you in your preparation, for the Light Wizard is typically weak but somehow he has slain you, while we know the stone-heart wizard always wins in the end!" Jon laughed as he sat abruptly on the bed, toppling back and hitting his head on the wall when the mattress sunk in softer than he expected. "Such a soft bed for a Hard Wizard, no wonder you were killed." Jon chuckled, rubbing his head.
"You seem pretty casual about dying and coming back," Harry said, crossing his arms and leaning on the two back legs of the chair. "Why they turn on you? Your jokes need work, but that can't be all..." Harry replied with one eyebrow raised.
Jon shrugged, and his shrug looked more impressive with the heavy fur lining his shoulders.
"I have thought this through in that bright place. This is what I know. The cold makes men prone to anger, and fighting. Fighting men are also very hungry- the training leaves us weak. Fighting men, with no wenches readily available, tend to escape the guards and sentries, to seek release in a woman. Cold, hungry, stiff-spined-blue-balled fighting men who are want of various forms of action and suffer the curse of boredom. The 'lucky' ones are assigned to the easy dusk to dawn and dawn to dusk south of the wall ranging. These are supposed to be honorable men who patrol in search of wild-lings. We are sworn keepers of the peace , defenders of the realms of men."
"Sounds like they are Knights to me," Harry chipped in. Jon shook his head sadly.
"These so called honorable 'knights'; which mind you, all head to Mole town one way or the other, now are employed into prison guard shifts. Some are forced to squander their precious meat with a few hundred more, and in close proximity to females that they are forbidden to touch upon the penalty of flaying then crucifixion," John smiled again, that strange smile where you think he's laughing, but in reality he is deciding if he can just arrange for you to be sent to man the crenellations alone without oil reserves and tinder.
"Now those men... Those men are the best kind, it seems," Jon smiled as he rubbed his head. "I have passed instructions which are to be considered law, for peace between men who were once sworn enemies. But we are still men, in the realms of the living. The Night King is undead, not mortal like us. They did not understand what we face, and will face." Jon closed his eyes as he took the pathetic excuse for a pillow and plumped it behind his head as he stretched out on the soft, soft bed. "Traitors will find a much darker place than me..." he sighed loudly. "Much darker, by far," he mumbled, crossing his booted feet at the ankles.
"How old were, or are you?" Harry asked.
"Am going to be twenty, next moon," Jon responded, uncomfortable. He fidgeted with the leather armor that felt awkward and too big on him. "It is fitting that a soft hearted Hard wizard wear this," he kicked up the long sleeved sweater at the edge of the bed. Sitting up, he removed the hard leather outer armor with practiced ease and the softer wool-and-hide under protection. These two bulky items he placed carefully at the foot of the bed. There was a ratty blood stained long sleeved tunic underneath, which he promptly removed. Harry noted that he was muscular and wiry, much more defined and in proportion than his skinny self. He put on the faded long sleeve sweater of a cartoon image of a man in gold and orange armor, long beams of light blasting from each limb.
Harry was angry. The blasted thing fit him like it was his all along.
"I do beg your pardon, Harry of House Hollow," Jon said. "Might I wear this?" he asked, closing his eyes and folding his arms behind his head before Harry had a chance to even respond.
"Yeah, sure," Harry said, getting up to change out of his dirty clothes. "And it's just Harry... from... um, house Potter if that makes more sense to you." Harry got a few items of clothes from his cupboard and some from his trunk. "You are Jon Stark of House Winterfell?"
"No," Jon replied with regret. "It's just Jon. That's my only real name," he said softly. Harry figured that this was a sore spot for him. "Snow is my bastard name. Use it only if you must."
Harry got the impression that using it lightly, or in jest, was quite a serious affront. Definitely don't play with Commander Jon and his bastard name. It could mean the end. Harry grinned.
He'll definitely use it every time he can as soon as he got a wand.
"Don't leave the room," Harry warned. "And don't attack, kill, or threaten them downstairs," he added as he walked out the door. "We'll figure this out, Snow," he grumbled. "Give me ten minutes. Don't you do any squatting or whatever it is you like to do. You'll get your chance in a real toilet, after I take a bath. " Jon grunted in annoyance. The door clicked closed.
The direwolf crawled up under Jon's armpit and circled a couple times before finding a spot to sleep.
"Well Ghost. Maybe we will have tales of a wizard to tell the people ..." Jon said as he petted the animal with his eyes closed. "When the stranger comes a-knocking. Again."
AN: Thank you for the feedback on this chapter which I must admit was lacking. I fixed the speech patterns. It really needed to be fixed. The original document was lost so I had to re-download it and edit it.
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by Era Lupus