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Tom stared at the young man lying in the bed, it had been three weeks since Harry had reappeared with Dumbledore's dead body and he had yet to wake. His magic had been drained dangerously low and he had lost a lot of blood, one of his wounds had also been cursed. He was healed but his magic was being slow to return.
Still, he was stable so all they could do was wait. Pomphrey had wanted him moved to St Mungo's but for security reasons they had moved him to the Malfoy estate. The wards had been raised fully, only the most trusted given access. Despite everything, there were those who wanted revenge on Harry for Dumbledore's death.
He had seen the Ring on Harry's finger, had found the wand hidden in his Triwizard uniform, if he was right, then Harry held the loyalty of all three Hallows….something never before done. Was that part of why he remained unconscious?
There was no way to know until he woke.
Sora blinked as they arrived, looking around in confusion. The roof was very low and….there was a giant toy ball beside them? "What in the world?" he asked as they walked forward, passed an equally oversized xylophone and soccer ball. "Where are we?" they moved out to find it hadn't been a roof but…a bed? He looked up to the larger-than-life bedside table and it hit him. "Oh my gosh! Have we been shrunk?! And...and look at us!"
Sora stared down at his body….he was plastic? What!?
"You know what the magic is for. We have to protect the world order!" Donald told him huffily.
"Border?" he teased shakily. Better to focus on that then the fact he was now…a toy? Definitely not a preferred form…he wasn't really alive at the moment, was he?
"I said, "Order"!" Donald yelled.
Something to their left caught Goofy's eye. "Gawrsh..." they followed his eyeline. "Who's gonna protect the order from them?"
"Heartless!" they cried in unison, summoning their weapons before running at the Heartless.
Susan sat beside Harry, holding a limp, cool, hand in hers. "Come on Harry, you have to wake up. Draco and Hermione insisted on putting the wedding off until you're awake. They can't have a wedding without the best man after all. Sirius is going insane, Remus can barely keep him under control. Dumbledore's remaining supporters are stirring up trouble too. We…we need you."
"They're all toys? So that's why we look the way we do," Sora murmured as he stared at the various toys as the milled around the massive bedroom.
"Excuse me," Buzz said, and Sora turned to face him. "You said that you've battled those intruders before. Tell us where and why."
"Oh... Well, uh...we are…"
"Order!" Donald hissed at him, and Sora grimaced, he hated having to try and explain things without breaking the World Order.
"Well? You must have come from somewhere," Buzz pushed.
"Take it easy, Buzz. What matters is that they got those intruders out of our way - for at least a little while," Woody spoke up to try and defuse the situation. "No need to interrogate 'em."
"Yeah, Buzz!" Rex agreed. Sora couldn't believe he was kind of meeting a dinosaur!
"Woody's right," the talking pig agreed.
"Noted. But still..." Buzz glared.
"Hey. Have those "intruders"-the Heartless-been a problem around here?" Sora asked before they could ask more questions he couldn't answer.
"No, they just showed up a little while ago," Woody answered.
"In fact, those "Heartless" materialized...right after our friends up and vanished," Buzz added.
"You don't think..." Donald whispered.
"Well, gee. It can't just be a coincidence," Goofy agreed.
Sora nodded and Woody gazed up at the window over the desk.
"It wasn't always this lonely. One day we woke up, and we were the only toys left here. Nobody's heard from Mom, Molly, or Andy..." Woody explained before sitting on a wooden block and lifting a foot to reveal the underside of his shoe where the name "ANDY" was written in faded ink. "We keep waiting for Andy to come home."
"You really care about him," Sora understood the feeling.
Woody nodded and stood up, re-joining the group. "Yeah... He's the best friend that toys like us could ever hope to have." He placed a hand on Buzz's shoulder and the toys smiled.
"All right. We'd better start looking!" Sora announced, grinning at them.
"Huh?" Woody looked at him, startled.
"Have you gotten any clues we can go on…any other strange things that happened?"
"Well... Hmm. There's one thing."
Neville sat beside Harry's bed, reading a Herbology book to him only to pause as he heard something out of place. He looked up but the room was empty. He heard it again and looked down, a grin spreading as he saw Harry's hand twitching on the quilt. "Harry? Can you hear me? It's Neville, you need to wake up," he pleaded. He reached out and gripped the moving hand, gently but firmly. "Come on, you've got everyone worried."
Merlin checked his home again, to make sure he had everything he may need. Events on Earth needed checking and he was going to do so while he had the chance. He didn't like leaving Radiant Garden, not with trouble beginning again, but something was different to how it should be on Earth. While that normally wouldn't affect the wider Worlds, if he was right about what he sensed, this time it could.
He double checked that he had left word for Leon and the group, as well as Yen Sid. Lea and Kairi did not need him watching over their shoulders at the moment, for now their training was going well.
Harry lay back against the pillows, enjoying watching as everyone talked and laughed around him. He was still so tired but at least he was awake and his magic was recovering. He tried not to think about the fight…about killing Dumbledore.
School was over and done with, he'd been given his N.E.W.T.'s based off his previous grades and performance in the Tournament, which he'd been declared the winner of. It was strange to know he'd never return to Hogwarts again. Everyone had definite plans to share…except him.
How could he tell them that he planned to leave the World to seek out people he had seen in ways they wouldn't understand?
The toy store was very different to the ones back home, the toys seemed higher tech, but the ones with him weren't….maybe these were the newest thing? And having everything so huge was very off putting. And the toys in the store…none of them were moving. "Hey, why don't these toys move?" he asked the group as they walked.
"I guess the haven't figured it out," Woody shrugged.
"Figured what out?" there was a trick to it?
"I can make it move for you," a voice called, and Sora spun…it was familiar, and he felt his heart sink to his stomach as he spotted the Dark Corridor opening.
A black hooded figure entered through it, lower his hood and revealing himself to be Young Xehanort.
"You're from the dream-the first of the Xehanorts!" Sora grimaced, shifting to a defensive stance even as he called his Keyblade.
"I'm so honoured you remember me," he smirked and Sora really wanted to wipe the expression off his face. He snapped his fingers and three Heartless appeared. One jumped into the helmet of the red Gigas and assumed control of it. Its claw arm started to move with clicking sounds and it leapt toward Sora.
Woody raised his hat to see better. "Oh no! He CAN move!"
Merlin was surprised by the headlines in the magical papers. This…this was not how things were meant to go, not at all. He could feel the magic of a Keyblade, confirming the presence of a wielder on the planet. Had their presence been what had changed the foreseen course? He couldn't get a fix on their location yet, those were some impressive and old wards, but he had a general idea.
Harry stood beside Draco, grinning at his dropped jaw as Hermione walked towards them on her Father's arm. She was beautiful, all those who teased her as a child over her looks had to be eating their words now. He was so happy for them, they were a great couple, they challenged each other in many ways but also complimented each other in just as many.
Seeing Neville and Hannah in the front row, he figured their wedding would be soon enough. Were he and Susan the only ones remaining single? All their year mates seemed to have paired off, even Luna had brought a date, one Rolf Scamander, grandson of the famous Newt Scamander. He just hadn't met anyone he wanted to date, and that hadn't changed, and even if he had…he doubted it would be accepted.
Sora and the group passed through the ominous portal, finding themselves in a hazy abyss. Buzz was hovering in the centre, Darkness coming off of him and spreading through the air. Young Xehanort waits for them, waves of dark energy covering the floor as pieces of toys were scattered about the abyss, floating on invisible strings.
"Buzz!" Sora and Woody yelled in alarm.
"Xehanort!" Sora growled.
"What do you want with my friend?" Woody demanded.
"Look... Such tremendous Darkness. All because he was ripped away from the boy who cares about him most," the white haired boy sneered as the wave punched upward.
"Does that mean...we'll all be like Buzz..." Woody stared at Buzz as the wave coalesced around him, but he didn't notice it. "...if we don't...find Andy?"
"Wrong!" Sora yelled. "Distance doesn't matter. Andy's part of their hearts, just like my friends are part of mine." He gripped the Keyblade tight, glaring at the younger version of Xehanort. "You can't rip that apart!"
Woody lifted his foot to look at the bottom of his shoe where Andy had written his name years ago, and then at Buzz's, just the same. Buzz was carried higher by the waves as Xehanort raised an arm.
"What? "Your friends are your power"? Ah... How very true. But if the light of friendship is a form of power...the darkness of being alone is a power...even greater. Darkness is the heart's true nature."
Sora stared at him, he'd heard the same thing from 'Ansem' and Xemnas…but if they were all versions of the same guy, was that surprising? Woody placed a hand on his shoulder and
Then walked passed him.
"Whatever you're talking about, I don't care. Put Buzz back the way he was, then get lost!"
"Or else what, toy?"
"Yeah, I am a toy. And a friend." Woody stamped down with his foot, breaking the waves of Darkness slightly, revealing the floor underneath. "My guess is no one's ever loved you before. Because you know NOTHING about hearts and love."
Sora joined him in their circle of light, both making steps forward. "There are hearts all around us, trying to connect. Your "loneliness" only made Woody and Buzz's connection stronger. THAT's the heart's true nature-to never, ever let go. Wherever they are, Andy and the other toys haven't let go either."
"Yeah! You can't keep us from Andy. We're going home no matter what. And taking Buzz!"
"Xehanort, you're so caught up in finding the shadows, you forgot about the light that cast them."
The force of light broke through the dark waves, tearing apart the darkness holding Buzz in the air. As it reached Buzz, it shone out with a brilliant light.
Sora, Donald and Goofy charged forward, forcing Xehanort to summon his Keyblade, blocking the three of them.
"Woody, now!" Sora yelled, struggling to hold him back.
Woody leapt forward over them, tossing out the pullstring from his back. It latched onto a Lego floating in the air and Woody swung around, using the momentum to snatch Buzz from his tangled perch. Sora smiled as Xehanort scowled as the pullstring retracted back inside Woody with a message of "Giddy-up, partner! We gotta get this wagon train a-movin'!"
Suddenly, Buzz opened his eyes, seeing Woody on top of him. Woody lifted his head and gazed back at his friend. He turned over and sat with Buzz, who held his head. "Woody... Wait, how did I get here?" he asked in confusion.
"Hmm. Oh, I don't know!" Woody elbowed him. "Maybe somebody switched you into "dark and stormy" mode."
"But I don't have a—" he stopped as he realised what Woody was saying. The cowboy extended a hand to him and Buzz smiled, taking it, getting to his feet. "Thank you, Woody."
"Good to have ya back, Buzz."
"Hey, hurry up!" Donald yelled, breaking up the reunion that Sora hadn't been able to bring himself to.
"We can't hold him much longer!" Donald agreed.
"Don't give up, guys!" Sora grunted in effort.
Young Xehanort knocked the three of them back. "So, even empty puppets can be given strong hearts. I am going to have to remember that."
Buzz aimed his laser beam at Young Xehanort. "Remember this-our hearts will always be connected to Andy's. No matter what you do!"
"And that's something you'll never understand, because you're hollower than any toy."
"But now I know a heart can be placed in the vessel of our choosing. For that, let me give you a parting gift to play with."
"Wait!" Sora yelled, a parting gift from him would not be good! He ran at Xehanort and slashed right through him.
"Find the hearts joined to yours," the black clad man whispered to him.
"Huh?" Sora blinked in confusion as Xehanort vanished and Donald leapt up, pointing at the sky where the darkness had begun to break.
Harry stood in a section of woods far from the Malfoy manor but still within the wards. Tom, Lucius, Amelia, Sirius….they were all dropping hints at what he should consider doing. He'd been given the all clear months ago and yet appeared to simply be drifting, not looking into a career, politics, anything. He just didn't know what to say.
He'd been attacked in Diagon Alley on one of his few appearances there, the culprit hadn't been a surprise, and Ronald Weasley was currently enjoying a Dementor free Azkaban. Thankfully, other than Molly, the rest of the family didn't blame him for what had happened. he knew there were others out there who weren't happy with him. They weren't happy with Lucius or Tom either. Trouble was brewing but his presence wouldn't stop it, in fact since he had killed Dumbledore he might make it worse.
Sirius sighed and leant back in his chair, sipping his Firewhisky. Remus walked in and collapsed in the chair opposite. "That bad?"
"Things are getting worse," Remus admitted, pouring himself a glass. "A lot of the old Order Members are talking, mobilising, and they're getting some traction with the more moderate traditionalists, the kind Dumbledore always appealed too by accepting Muggleborn and some of their traditions while keeping them out of the top jobs."
"Wonderful, and here we thought his death would mean averting another war," Sirius grimaced.
"They want Harry's head on a platter, Tom and Lucius locked up…you get the idea. Honestly, I think Harry staying out of the public eye is the right thing at the moment."
"It's not fair, he's young. He should be out having fun, finding a girl…."
"Doing everything the Marauders missed out on due to the war?" Remus asked gently, and Sirius nodded. "Honestly, I don't think that's what he wants."
"Oh! Hiya, Sora!" Mickey grinned as he answered the phone, laughing as Donald and Goofy shoved themselves into view, squishing Sora.
"Hey! Wha...? Wrong number?" Sora asked in confusion, and Mickey shook his head.
"No, Riku and I are visiting Radiant Garden. Actually, we were just about to call you guys, but it looks like you beat us to the punch."
Riku knelt down to his level so they could see him too. "Sora, is something wrong?"
"I wanted to pick your brain. In order for us to recomplete Roxas, he needs a body, right? And since we don't have Ventus' body, he needs one at least temporarily too, right?"
"Yeah, to put their hearts in," Mickey agreed. He hoped once they found Aqua they would be able to retrieve Ventus' body.
There was a moment of near silence among them while they thought it over, the only sound from the water fountain at Radiant Garden.
"Replicas..." Riku murmured.
"Huh?" Sora asked, leaning forward.
"Well, replicas are basically human," Riku pointed out.
"Oh, yeah... You wouldn't remember. The previous Organization XIII developed "replicas": realistic vessels to place hearts in. They're so real, in fact, that you'd actually mistake them for people. And with hearts, the replicas will BECOME people," Riku explained.
"Cool, but if we get our hands on a replica, will Roxas and Ventus look like themselves when recompleted?" Sora asked in concern.
"Yup. The replica takes the form of the heart inside it," he grimaced, and Mickey realised he was thinking of his own Replica, not that it'd been seen by any of their people since Castle Oblivion.
"That's perfect!" Sora grinned.
"I'll talk to Ienzo. He was in the Organization back then, so he might know more," Mickey offered. They might actually have a plan to get the extra Guardians they needed!
"Great. Thanks. Wait..." Sora turned to Donald and Goofy. "Do you guys think THEY'RE after replicas too?"
"No, they definitely said, 'a black box'," Goofy denied. Wait, who?
"Who's that?" Riku asked, leaning closer to the screen.
"The Organization and Maleficent," he looked down for a moment as the other two shifted uncomfortably.
"I guess we forgot to mention it," Donald admitted.
"Aw, it's okay. But there's something you guys should know about one of their members," Mickey offered. So much had happened lately, he didn't blame them for forgetting.
"Huh?" Sora asked so they explained about Terra.
"So, let the rest of us worry about Roxas, Ven, and Naminé for now. You journey on, and keep an eye out for Terra," he told them, shaking his head slightly as they once again blocked Sora from view. He was beginning to notice a worrying trend there…then again hadn't he been guilty of the same behaviour back at Master Yen Sid's? Only Riku had taken Sora seriously…but why? It had been Sora who defeated Riku's possessed body…who had defeated so much of the original Organisation and landed the killing blow on Xemnas, even if Riku had helped.
"Yes, Your Majesty!"
"Stop that!" Sora wriggled around and then the call cut off.
"They don't change, do they?"
"Nope, that's their best quality," Riku answered as he stood, a slight frown on his face.
"Welp, we gave Merlin the vestments for Kairi and Axel. Let's go stop by Ansem the Wise's study."
"Right," Riku agreed and they walked off, both lost in thoughts that were very similar…worry over the growing tendency of everyone to overlook Sora.
Yes, Donald and Goofy liked to tease and play with the teen but…he had the growing feeling that Sora didn't always laugh because he found it fun.
Merlin watched the boy as he moved, Keyblade flowing easily. He was god, very good. He finished and Merlin clapped, watching the boy spin around, green/blue eyes wide, hair moving aside slightly to reveal a faded scar shaped like a lightning bolt. Hmmm…he should know that. "You are very good," he praised.
Harry stared at the old man, recognising him from Ventus' memories. How? He'd never imagined that Merlin could be the Merlin from Earth's past, who many believed to only be a myth…but it seemed they were one and the same. Merlin who could travel through time and….between Worlds.
Rapunzel sobbed into her hands at the base of the tree.
Flynn walked over to her, with the trio following. "I notice you seem a little at war with yourself here."
"A little MORE than a little," Goofy butted in.
"More like a lot," Donald snorted.
"Yeah..." Sora felt sorry for her.
She stopped crying and turned to see them. She gasped and held out a frying pan toward Sora, Donald and Goofy. "Stop right there! Who are you?"
Flynn stepped in-between them. "I told you before: my sidekicks."
"Sidekicks?" Sora demanded.
"May I introduce, ehh..." Flynn rubbed the back of his head awkwardly.
"Oh, uh... My name's Sora," he introduced himself to her.
"And I'm Goofy. Pleasure, ma'am."
The chameleon appeared from under her hair, skeptical of them. "Sora, Donald, and...Goofy," she repeated, lowering the frying pan. "It's...nice to meet you, too. I'm Rapunzel."
"Yep. My sidekicks," Flynn grinned until Sora grabbed his arm and spun him around.
"Since when is THAT?" he demanded in a whisper.
"Look, she really wants to see the lantern show tomorrow night. Now, I'm a nice guy, so I've decided to help her. Only problem is those monsters might show up again. I can get her to the Kingdom - but you guys are clearly more cut out for combat," Flynn hissed back.
"That's cause we're heroes!" Donald agreed.
"And we're Heartless experts," Goofy nodded.
"Yeah, yeah!" Flynn cheered and they posed together.
Sora just shook his head and gave a small laugh. "Just leave it to us!" he gave in.
"Done," Flynn grinned, motioning to Rapunzel and leading her forward.
"Rapunzel is interesting..." Donald offered as they walked behind the pair, watching the way she admired everything.
"Yeah, her heart's pulling her all kinda ways."
"The outside world must seem so big and scary. I know how she feels. Lucky for me you two came along at just the right time-and the rest has been unforgettable."
"Awww..." Donald replied, and Sora flushed slightly.
"Yep, unforgettable...just like your face!" he pointed at Donald with a smile.
Sora laughed as Donald burst out in anger. He ran to catch up to Rapunzel and Flynn, putting his hands behind his head.
Goofy chuckled as Donald seethed. "C'mon, now." He ran after Sora and Donald followed.
"All for one, and one for all," Sora grinned at them as they caught up.
Harry sat on an old log while Merlin paced about, absorbing everything he'd told him. He half hoped the much older wizard had heard of someone like him before but from his expression during the explanation…he doubted it.
"Well…this is highly unexpected and had thrown things quit off course. A Keyblade wielder is not meant to interfere….however this is your home World. What to do…what to do…"
"I could leave," Harry offered, and Merlin stared at him.
"Not just could, you've been planning to, haven't you?" he asked, and Harry nodded.
"I don't…fit. I've tried but," he shrugged.
"HARRY!" a familiar voice yelled and Merlin vanished even as Draco skidded into the clearing, eyes wide.
"What is it?" he asked in alarm.
"There's been an attack! Harry, it's…it's Sirius."
Harry blanched and took off for the manor, able to sense Merlin watching them.
Hermione hugged Harry as the Healers retreated. She couldn't believe it, ten people dead, a hundred wounded….and for what? "I'm so sorry," she whispered, and Harry nodded, eyes dry. He stood and they moved with him, leaving the hospital.
Sirius Black was among the dead, Remus badly wounded, his curse having worked for him for once, werewolf biology keeping him alive until help had arrived.
Within hours it was all over the wireless and the Daily Prophet had put out a special issue.
Merlin observed everything sadly, young Potter had spared them a war with Lord Voldemort only for them to start another. Removing him from the equation would be for the best, one less person for either side to rally behind or against. Perhaps with the killer of their 'leader' gone, it would calm some of the so-called Order.