Previously on Ragnarok…
"Harry- let him down." Dumbledore spoke, although his voice was slightly stern.
Harry let the man go, who stepped back and adjusted his collar- "This is war, Potter, and no matter whether you like it or not—it will have casualties. Hagrid is simply the first of many."
His knees wobbled, as Harry felt himself fall down on his knees, as he saw the corpse of his first friend in the magical world lying down in front of him.
"You will pay for this, Tom Riddle. You will bleed by my hand. You will."
"Harry, I'm so, so sorry about what you might be going through, but you have to understand."
The rage bubbling inside his head at the loss of his beloved friend suddenly turned cold, and drove inwards- he felt his Occlumency shields buckle and send warning signals in protest, but it was to no avail. The righteous anger that had once flooded his mind was now replaced by a cold blizzard of vengeance.
"This…. is all your fault." Harry replied finally, his voice bordering on Parseltongue as he spoke. His aura flickered dangerously, a black shade twisting into his silver- as he slowly looked up from the mutilated body laid in front of him, into the deep, blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore. For reasons inexplicable, Albus Dumbledore stepped back.
"This is your fault, Albus Dumbledore. Don't try to deny it." Harry refuted back before the Headmaster could even try to explain his stance. "You did not raise a finger when the restrictions on magical creatures were brought into action. You kept silent when the giants were hunted and restricted. You are just as responsible as Fudge or any of the bigots there at the Wizengamot, and now my friend is dead because of you and your selfish reasons."
"Potter," Snape barked, "-control yourself. Is that how pathetic your Occlumency has become?"
Harry slowly turned his head and stared at the Potions Master, who recognized the look Harry had in his face. It was the cold, emotionless look that the Dark Lord always had before he was about to kill someone in cold blood. The discussion about the innate magical connection between Potter and the Dark Lord- the one that he had sat discussing for days with the Headmaster the previous year, now came to mind. He glanced quickly at the Headmaster and then back at Potter.
"Potter, you have to control your emotions. You have to control-"
"I am in control. Professor Snape. Had I not, things would have been different by now." Harry answered coldly. Turning towards Dumbledore, he stood up. "Tell us, Headmaster. Tell us the truth about what you did, and your reasons behind them. Tell us all about the muggleborn commission."
Albus Dumbledore blanched for a moment, before controlling himself. The sudden psychological attack had caught him off-guard. "How… do you know that?"
"I have my ways." Harry tilted his head over his shoulders, preening at him.
Albus Dumbledore considered the situation. While he had been grief-stricken at the death of Hagrid-the little man who was almost like a son to him- the lack of anger on the boy's part was more alarming, more so considering that he was being taught Occlumency. Like a double-edged sword, Occlumency had the potential to bestow great powers to a person, and should misfortune strike one- turn them into an emotionless husk, a sociopath. Deep inside his heart, he always had a lurking suspicion that perhaps it was the natural affinity for Occlumency that had somehow propelled young Tom Riddle to the paths that led to the creation of Lord Voldemort. Now again, there was another, a boy who had, coincidentally lived a similar upbringing, swaying down the same path.
I have to get him out of the vicious loop.
"Tell me, Albus Dumbledore, why I am behaving like this? What is it that I know, and why you want to keep it all a secret?"
This was not how I expected it to unfold. I should have seen it coming when Harry was spotted with the Zabini boy. Clearly, Serena Zabini had… oh Merlin, what has she done?
"Headmaster, what is he talking about?" Snape asked. Even Mcgonagall was looking inquisitive.
"I'm afraid it is classified information. One which I cannot divulge in public in such fashion." The Headmaster replied with whatever dignity he had left. His eyes turned towards Harry- the black sliver in the boy's silver aura attracting his attention…. "Perhaps you would accompany me to my office?"
Harry Potter, it seemed, had other plans.
"It's classified because you do not want the world to know about the heinous crimes you have committed, do you, Albus Dumbledore?" Harry sneered. Professor Watson had also come down by now, and was standing behind Snape.
The boy is going to be difficult.
"I'm not what you are accusing me to be, Harry." Albus replied sternly. "I know how it must appear to you, but there were reasons behind why I did. what I did." Albus defended.
"Voldemort also had reasons when I started the attack that ultimately led to my parent's deaths." Came the frosty reply.
The nerve of that boy! Then again, I have done little to help matters anyway.
"Headmaster." Professor Watson intervened, her voice lined with a tone of warning. "Secrets are not worth more than lives. I believe we have had this discussion previously."
Should have known that Miss Granger would team up with her best friend.
Snape turned towards the DADA professor in surprise, realizing that the Headmaster had kept him out of, what was possibly another of his private ploys. Albus had always digressed, whenever any questions regarding the DADA professor rose between them during their meetings.
"All right," Albus ceded, "I will, but in my office." He turned towards Harry, who looked coldly at him, "-if you will, please accompany us to my office. Minerva-" He glanced at the Transfiguration Professor- "please maintain all decorum until I am back."
Minerva Mcgonagall looked aback at the surprising command. She nodded quietly, inwardly wondering what mess had the old man created this time.
"I am waiting."
Dumbledore frowned at Harry's tone, but this was no time to chide the boy for behaving how he did, considering that there were more pressing matters at hand.
"What do you know about the Commission, Harry?" he tried, fishing for information. The technique worked well, most of the time anyway. The boy was nowhere ready to get all the information in his hands without any preparation.
"Enough." Harry sneered. "Now-"
"Control yourself, Potter." Snape barked. For some reason, the action seemed to have quietened Harry who just glared at the old man. Emma was just sitting down on a chair, waiting for the Headmaster to begin.
"It is essential I know what you know about it, Harry." Dumbledore pressed.
"Very well," Harry returned coldly, "-what do you want to know? About how you stole the inheritances from young, unassuming children to gain power and control the Wizengamot?"
Ah. Very subtly played. Telling him about the events. Now only if I could explain my reasoning-
"Ah. Very well, I assume you got your information from the Zabini's."
"Yes." Harry answered. There was no reason to even lie about it.
Dumbledore stood up from his chair, and walked towards the bookshelf. "My mother… Kendra Ornith, was the last of a long line that descended from the ancient family of Aldor, a line whose existence predated the Wizengamot. The Trelawneys are also a brother line to the Orniths. Before she died, she passed a message to me—something that had been passed down the Aldor line ever since it was born." He paused, "-a prophecy. One that spells the end of the wizarding world, as we know it."
"Does that mean-" Snape was now struggling to accept what he had just figured out from the old man's words- "that the Dark Lord will win?"
"This isn't about the Dark Lord." Emma answered, "isn't it?"
Not for the first time, Snape felt a discomfort writhing through his mind. On several occasions, it had bugged him- Emma Watson knew way too much about the ongoing events- for a person with zero past history to have such knowledge made Severus keep a distance from the woman. Luckily enough, even Dumbledore had asked the same of him- not that the woman tried any approach to converse with him in person.
"I'm afraid not." Dumbledore answered. "It is something much more terrible."
Snape muttered a soft expletive under his breath. "Go on."
"According to what has been passed on, there was once a great war, thousands of years before the Wizengamot was even born- when the Lord's gathering was the supreme head of the magical world- there was some kind of cosmic incident and a magical being had entered our world from the Dimension of Death itself. A being, one who is revered in ancient history and mythology as the son of Seth and the guardian of the underworld- a mythical wolf named Amarok."
Emma could see where it was going.
"The being was unstoppable and went on to bring about a massacre that killed thousands of sorcerers, until Atticus Slytherin, the then Lord of Slytherin and Ignotus Peverell, the then Lord of House,"—Dumbledore glanced at Harry sideward-"Peverell-"
Just as expected!
Harry's eyes dilated instantaneously at the mention of the Peverell name. Hadn't the Peverells been the founders of the Knights of Walpurgis? That single reaction was enough for the old man, who continued-"-defeated and locked the beast away in some other dimension. However, before such a thing could have happened, the wolf had somehow latched itself to the very essence of the raw magic prevailing in our world, as a failsafe to keep on surviving, and feeding on magic despite being imprisoned in the eternal prison into which Ignotus Peverell had thrown him."
Dumbledore paused. "It was soon after that, that one of the Aldors made a prophecy…" He lifted a thick tome from the shelf and dropped the heavy thing on the table, opening it and turning over to the page he wanted them all to see. It was written in some kind of runic language, but as Dumbledore muttered a translation charm, they changed into words Harry had never seen before.
"When the great wolf howls in fury, it is time for the descent of the Dark God…
The venom that bound him, would release him to run amok…
The Midgard serpent shall swerve and strike,
As the realm of the Gods falls before Ragnarok…"
"The Dark… God." Harry spoke at last, his eyes devouring the text as he read it again and again, trying to make more sense out of it. "Like a Dark Lord?" Even his anger had receded somewhat in light of the recent discoveries.
"My ancestors have derived explanations and theories to account for it, and so have I. There is one thing that is certain and that is that it is certainly not talking about a Dark Lord." Dumbledore returned.
"How is this connected to-?"
"I'm coming to that." Albus replied, shutting him up. "I have lived a long, and fruitful life, Harry—and during all my time, I have met many gifted seers and magical shamans, asking them to shed more light to this prophecy, but all I could get was no different from what I initially believed." He took a breath. "Sometime in the future, the Dark God shall arrive and destroy all of wizardkind as we know it."
"What is this… Ragnarok?" Snape asked curiously, eyeing the page once again.
"The term in magical myths, refers to an event leading to the Death of the Gods." Dumbledore explained in a professor-like tone. "However, I have certain… assurances that Ragnarok in fact, is an entity and not an event."
"This is something about Gods." Harry snapped. "How is it related to-"
"Harry, I understand that you are grieving over Hagrid's demise, and that it had affected you deeply. That said, do not think of this as some half-baked story told to digress away from the questions you have asked. While I personally think that it is not time yet for you to know it- your erratic, for the lack of a better word- movements have led me to tip my hand into the matter."
"Considering what the sorcerers of old could do, they could very well be referred to as Gods." Emma spoke slowly, "I mean- everyone considers the Hogwarts Founders as some sort of demigods anyway."
"Precisely." Albus supplied. "And with due reason, it refers to the end of the wizards, or the wizarding world."
"In the hands of a wolf?" Snape asked brazenly. "How can you be so… sure?"
"We will get back to that, later." Albus evaded the question. "As the one carrying my mother's secret and the duty of her lineage, I did the best I could to reduce the possibility of a… Dark God."
He took a deep breath. "I have always believed that there is nothing impossible for a man to achieve should he want it. I had played with the idea that there must be some wizard, stepped so deeply in the Dark Arts, that he had risen to powers beyond the reach of any mortal. As you well know, Lord Voldemort is proof of that statement, that with the necessary conviction, one could even cheat Death."
"The ban on Dark Magic." Harry muttered to himself, remembering the discussion he had had with the Zabini's.
"Yes." Albus nodded gravely. "In my foolishness and my sudden grandstanding after my victory over Grindelwald, I thought that if I could ban practice of the forbidden arts and confiscate the most dangerous books on magic, it could… statistically, reduce the chances of another Dark Lord rising, and certainly, prevent someone from attaining a God status."
"Then how did…the Dark Lord gain access to the forbidden magics that he wields so freely?" Snape asked sceptically. "The ban on Dark Magic was passed in 1950. All families except the original Dark Alliance had agreed to part with any magical tome that could be classified beyond Alpha-Grey."
Harry and Emma both glanced at him in surprise.
"I had History of Magic as one of my NEWTS." Snape muttered, scowling.
Harry shook his head blankly. Now that he thought on it, he had been given information about what had conspired back then. He had no idea about the reasoning behind the events. In a round-about way, he had simply listened to one end without checking with the other- just like he had all those years ago on entering the wizarding world.
I'm back to square one, once again. First year it was Ron versus Draco, and now Zabini versus Dumbledore.
Dumbledore was speaking again. "To be honest, I have no idea. Tom Riddle vanished away for more than a decade after he quit working for Borgin and Burkes in 1958. I did try to look into his history, but found nothing. It was almost as if he… disappeared from the earth. Wherever Tom found the means to dive deep into the forbidden arts, it was not in Wizarding Britain."
Harry's eyes widened, as he looked down onto the table. The Knights of Walpurgis. Tom was inducted by my great-grandfather then. That could mean that everything he knows was learnt from….
"Harry?" Dumbledore's eyes turned towards the young man who seemed to be in some kind of discomfort. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." Harry gritted his teeth.
"Right," Dumbledore returned, frowning inwardly at the boy's behaviour, "—and that brings us to the main point- the muggleborn commission."
Harry nodded slowly.
"The commission was a move that I enacted for the Greater good of the greatest number- a principle I have always believed in. I know why you might feel… betrayed, but I can swear that I did it only to keep potential Dark Magic out of the hands of the wizarding populace." He paused. "The commission was initially created as a side-project under the discretion of the Department of Mysteries with my support- to find out if the muggleborn population were the descendants of squibs from magical families, and the results were fascinating indeed."
Emma looked at Dumbledore in surprise.
"It was found that every single muggleborn was indeed, born out of squib branch of some magical family, and in some situations, of families that had been declared extinct by the Ministry of Magic."
"Every single one?" Emma emphasized.
"Every single one." Dumbledore answered, staring back at the woman who looked at him with something like anger.
"The results would cause immense turbulence in the wizarding society. The DOM feared, and I agreed with them, that if the results were declared publicly, it could cause chaos. The Dark Alliance could twist everything to suit their own… sinister purposes, while the general Pureblood community would never allow the knowledge to be passed on to the muggleborn candidates. They feared that the muggleborn, on finding power, would topple the existing system- not that they could be blamed, considering the amount of bigotry against them."
No one said a single word.
"It would be chaotic- not something we all needed when the world was only trying to get back to running in the aftermath of the Magical War against Grindelwald. So I did what I decided would be best for everyone. I took the commission and put it under the discretionary wing of the Chief Warlock."
Harry narrowed his eyes.
"Before I could come up with an acceptable solution, the wizarding world found itself within another political mess- with the new Pureblood Propaganda rising as a new political party, headed by the Lord Gaunt, also known to everyone as the Lord Voldemort. I tried to reason with him, and there were even some… occasions, when I met Riddle personally in an attempt to come to a mutual agreement over the issue. However, as I have repeatedly learnt from life- ambitious people do not share power."
"What about the muggleborn inheritances?" Snape asked. Harry could understand, knowing very well that Snape was the last of the Prince family.
Dumbledore looked fleetingly like a little child caught in wrong-doing. "I became selfish. I thought to use them to promote my own fight against the Dark. I checked through the list of candidates, and sorted amongst them- bringing them up to their heritage, once I was sure that he or she did not have any bigotry or destructive tendencies."
"A pawn." Harry answered.
"I wouldn't use that word, but in a way, yes. It was only for the Greater good of the people."
"You mean, that I could have had the Prince inheritance, but I couldn't, because you hid it from me?" Snape muttered angrily. Harry was surprised to see the professor lose control over his emotions for the first time. It was… strange.
"Yes." Dumbledore answered sadly. "You had an association with… Mulciber and Avery, and as much as I am proud to have known someone like you, things were very much different twenty years ago."
"You… you sanctimonious bastard," Snape snarled. "The sole reason why I joined the Dark Lord in the first place was because he promised the Prince inheritance to me after he conquered Magical Britain. An inheritance, which was mine by all rights, except that it was you who forcibly kept it away from me." He was fairly shouting at the end. "If I hadn't joined the Dark Lord, I wouldn't have had-"
"SEVERUS!" Dumbledore yelled. "Control yourself. I know you are angry, rightfully so, but control yourself."
Severus went quiet. "This is not over." He sneered.
"I'm afraid not." Dumbledore sighed. For once, he looked his age- as if the burdens of the world had finally got to him- "I understand if you hate me for what happened, but I'm a man, not a God-"
"Then don't try to be one." Emma snapped.
Everyone looked at her in surprise. "You know very well the reason behind my anger, Albus Dumbledore. You took it upon yourself to decide the fates of the muggleborn re-entering into the world that was rightfully theirs. Lives could have been a lot different had you just-"
"Just what? Allowed the facts to go public?" Albus Dumbledore sneered. Harry had to agree, it looked very odd on his face.
"And to what end would that have served?" Albus continued. "Do you think that the Wizengamot, which is essentially a pureblood fraternity, would allow the muggleborns, who had absolutely no idea about their traditions and their ways- to come and take over the world that had been theirs since time immemorial?" He sneered again. "I'm telling you what would have happened. A new law would be formed, scraping the results of the commission away from the general populace, and have it classified as a state secret. Also, it would increase the irrational fear they already have about the muggleborn, fearing that they would come to power and destroy centuries of traditions, adopting muggle practices in its stead."
Harry wasn't sure he would want that to happen. Then again, his own reason was biased because of his experience with the Dursleys. As strange as it was, he could see the point the old man was trying to make.
"I did what I could- a middle path of sorts. I took the commission under my own wing, and chose selective candidates to introduce them to their heritage, slowly and carefully, making sure that they wouldn't attract too much attention. I know it wasn't right but I did what I thought would be best." Dumbledore answered.
"Is that why Lily Evans remained a secret forever?" Harry asked coldly.
Dumbledore sighed. "Unfortunately, yes. A muggleborn Gryffindor, as the heiress of Slytherin, would have a detrimental effect to the political atmosphere."
"WHAT?" Emma and Severus uttered loudly in unison.
"Lily…. Lily was the heiress of-"
"Slytherin." Harry spoke solemnly. Turning towards Snape, he stated. "The Hat even chose Slytherin for me. I chose Gryffindor instead, because I didn't want to spend five years with the ponce."
Snape looked like he was about to faint.
"What about Hermione?" Harry asked. Emma instantly glanced at him, her expression filled with surprise. "Why didn't you tell her about her inheritance?"
"Inheritance?" Emma almost gasped.
"The House of Dagworth-Granger." Harry answered, missing the look of shock that flitted across her face.
"Miss Granger… is a possibility. I would have perhaps, discussed her heritage with her after she would have completed her NEWTS and would be able to undertake the inheritance ceremony, lest anything happened to puncture the event."
"I… understand." Emma answered. Harry narrowed his eyes at her reaction.
"Have I satiated your need for answers, Harry? I assure you I have all the time to sit and answer if need be. The wizarding world doesn't need us to be fragmented, especially now." Dumbledore answered.
"Just one. If you are so much against Dark magic, why did you allow me to study it?" Harry asked.
"Because…" Albus hesitated, "—because it is essential that you survive. That you grow powerful enough to put an end to the problem that will ultimately be Voldemort."
"Not that I'm complaining, but why? Why must it be me? Why not, someone from the International Wizard Council?"
"Lord Voldemort is obsessed with killing you, Harry. He will come for you and-"
"I know that," Harry stressed, "my question is… why? Why is he so obsessed with me? Why did he come to kill me when I was a baby?"
"Professor," Emma replied slowly, "—you will need to answer it. There is no reason to delay it any longer."
Dumbledore sighed, before he walked back to his seat. "Before you were born, there was an event—a prophecy about someone born with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord-"
"A… prophecy? About me? Voldemort wanted to kill me because of a prophecy?"
"You can tell that again." Emma muttered inwardly. Snape however, was surprisingly quiet.
"As unfortunate as it is, it is true. Lord Voldemort believes in the Prophecy, and with due reason. Whether for good or not, you are indeed born with a power capable enough of destroying the Dark Lord, and he will keep on coming back to you no matter what you do." Dumbledore replied sadly.
A long lost memory came to Harry, almost like something from a half-remembered dream. Something that Hagrid had said to him during his first trip to Diagon Alley.
"That ain't no ordinary cut on your forehead. A mark like that only comes from being touched by a curse, and an evil curse at that."
"What happened to Vol- to You-Know-Who?"
"Well, some say he died. Codswallop in my opinion. Nope, I reckon he's still out there, too tired to carry on. But one thing's certain, something about you stumped him that night. That's why you're famous, Harry, that's why everybody knows your name. You're the boy who lived."
Tom Riddle will keep murdering my loved ones, if only to get to me. He would just not stop until it was either me or him. No matter what the Prophecy said, it was of no consequence really. No matter if he wanted to fight or not, no matter- it would always come down to him or the Dark Lord.
"Who else knows about this… Prophecy?"
"For the moment, just me." Dumbledore answered.
"And where is this… Prophecy?" Harry asked slowly.
Dumbledore considered his question for a moment. "There is a prophecy orb in the Department of Mysteries, held under the strongest magical charms intended to keep it away from unwanted seekers."
"And Voldemort wants this… prophecy orb, I assume?"
An epiphany came to Harry as Dumbledore said those words. So, the thing that the Or- they are trying to guard is this… Prophecy orb, and… me? So…"
A thought came to him…. Something that Remus Lupin had once told him…
"We are guarding something… Something that You-know-who wants. Something that he didn't have the last time. A weapon of sorts…"
"A… weapon." Harry muttered audibly, his tone emotionless.
"What?" It attracted Dumbledore's attention. Snape however, was deathly silent, observing Potter's reaction the entire time.
"I am the weapon, ain't I?" Harry glanced at Dumbledore, then to Snape and back to Dumbledore. "That is why the Order- you all guarded me at the Dursleys and also guarded the Prophecy…. You believe I'm the weapon that can take Voldemort down."
"Be honest, Professor. Please." Harry replied softly.
Albus Dumbledore stopped in his tracks, unable to lie point-blank at the boy who had just discovered his fate, alongside the strings that were binding him and pulling him towards his destiny.
"Yes. But we never thought you as an expendable, Harry. You are the best chance that Magical Britain has, more than anything before." Dumbledore confessed.
"That is why you let me study Dark Magic, and you are training me." It wasn't even an accusation. It was a fact. A statement borne out of the truth about his life. The deepest, darkest, and yet, the most expected fact about his life… Something that he had always known, and now… he had his confirmation.
"Harry…." Dumbledore tried.
"Tell me something," Harry asked, still in his hollow, emotionless voice, "-let's just say that by some fluke, I manage to put him down. What happens then? Will I become just another Dark Wizard to be put down before he turns into a pest?"
"Harry…" Dumbledore was horrified by his suggestion.
"Come on, isn't it your pledge to the Aldors to prevent the rise of a dark God? What if I become that? Are you so sure?"
"I'm- I'm—yes, I'm sure of that, Harry." Dumbledore answered, stammering uncharacteristically, as he tried to digest the horrific suggestion Harry had just given him. Did he really think he would do that?
"Well then," Harry let out a deep sigh, "Give it to him."
"Excuse me?" Dumbledore questioned.
"Give. Him. The. Prophecy." Harry answered, punctuating each word, as if speaking to an extremely slow child.
"Harry, I'm afraid you do not understand the severity of the situation and-"
"I understand very well, Headmaster." Harry looked up. "May I'm not as skilled as him, or maybe I'm not as deadly, but whatever I have, it's all on him. He took away my parents; he took away Hagrid from me. I might not be able to bring them back, but I sure as well will avenge them."
It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but he knew, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did his parents - that there was all the difference in the world.