AUTHOR: "Matrix Refugee"
RATING: G (Miiiight sneak up to PG in later chapters)
ARCHIVE: Permission granted!
FEEDBACK: Please? Please? Please?
SUMMARY: If the Blue Fairy can't make David into a real boy, maybe David himself can learn how to use magic to fulfill his wish...
DISCLAIMER: I do not own "A.I., Artificial Intelligence", its characters, settings, concepts or other indicia, which are the property of the late, great Stanley Kubrick, of DreamWorks SKG, Steven Spielberg, Warner Brothers, Amblin Entertainment, et al, based on concepts and characters in Brian Aldiss's short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long". Nor do I own the "Harry Potter" series, which belongs to J.K. Rowlings (who's one of my heroes!), Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, Chris Columbus, et. al
NOTES: This started off as a prank idea, but the more I thought about it in my quirky but clever brain, the more logical it became. "A.I." has been described as a science fiction fairytale, and I wondered what might happen if I cross-bred it with the greatest modern fairy tale/fantasy series (Next to "Lord of the Rings"). Special thanks goes to Joshua Falken, Danielle Swinton and Time Lady Quasar for their excellent ideas and encouragement, and also to John Williams, who wrote the film scores for both "A.I." and the Harry Potter movies: I've been listening to both soundtracks as I write the chapters.
Chapter 1: A Matter of Magic
After David arrived at the Cybertronics building in Man Hatten, looking for the Blue Fairy in the hope she could make him real, Dr. Hobby notified the Swinton family, telling them David had arrived safe and sound, but that he would first need to be examined by their resident robo-psychologist, Dr. Jeanine Salla. David liked talking to her since she was a nice, kind lady with gentle, sad brown eyes that reminded him of Mommy's. But he wasn't sure he understood the things she tried to tell him, even though she clearly wanted to help him.
"You mean the Blue fairy isn't real?" David asked, as they sat in her office in two comfortable chairs facing each other.
"David... she's not real the way you and I are real. She doesn't exist as something you can see or hear or touch or speak to. She exists only in people's minds," Dr. Jeanine told him
"But she turned Pinocchio into a real boy in the story."
"That's only a story someone made up to make the people who read it laugh, and to teach them a few wise things to live by: things like... a person can become a better person if they put their minds and effort into doing good."
"But wouldn't I be a better person if I were real like you?" David asked.
Dr. Jeanine smiled sweetly and leaned forward. "David... you are a good boy just as you are."
"But why did that man in the Flesh Fair say all those bad things about... Mechas?"
"That man is very ignorant and unkind: he just can't let himself accept people who aren't the same as he is. No matter what anyone says, you are just as good for what you are as anyone else, no matter what you body is made of. What matters is what's in your heart. You don't have to change what you are to be lovable."
"But why would someone make a story that isn't true or about things that aren't real?" David asked.
"They write them because they all have an imagination, a gift that helps them think of what the world might be like if things were different, and then they write down these ideas to share them with others."
"I think imagination is very good."
Dr. Jeanine smiled, with something close to happy tears in her eyes. "Yes, David: the imagination is a very good thing; it gives us the inspiration we need to make the world a better place for everyone. The best kind of magic you can do is to care about another person."
"Like Joe cared for me and helped me look for the Blue Fairy?"
For a moment, Dr. Jeanine glanced away, her eyes gone soft and sad again. He wondered if she missed Joe as much as he did. "Yes, very like that, David."
The next day, Mommy and Henry came to Man Hatten to bring David home. As soon as Mommy got out of the amphibicopter that brought them to Cybertronics, she ran right up to David and hugged him close, like she would never let him go again.
"Oh David, you are alive!" she cried. Happy tears ran down her face as she tilted his face up to look into it.
"Mommy! I missed you so. Can I go home now?" he asked.
"Yes, we spoke with Dr. Hobby; he says you're okay and it's best for us all if you came home with us."
Henry, standing a little bit behind her, cleared his throat. "We'd better get going if we're going to fly into Haddonfield before dark."
Mommy took David's hand in hers and led him back to the amphibicopter. The three of them flew home to the landing strip in Haddonfield, where Martin was waiting with Auntie Natalie, Mommy's cousin. When they entered the airport waiting area, they found him sitting on one end of a row of chairs, reading a book, though he didn't look too thrilled with it.
"What are you reading there, Marty?" Henry asked.
"It's for a book report: 'Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone'," Martin said, holding the book up. "It's okay."
"Oh, I remember reading those books when I was a kid your age," Henry said.
Martin shrugged. "Cool."
"Mommy, may I read it when Martin finishes reading it?" David asked.
Mommy looked at Henry, who frowned a little and shook his head slightly, trying not to let David see it. "Ahhh, David, It's a little old for you right now, so... maybe you should wait a little while. Maybe we can read them together."
"Okay, Mommy," David said.
Mommy hadn't said he couldn't read the Harry Potter books, only that he should wait a while. It seemed like a good book, even though Martin grumbled over it (He had figured out that Martin often said things that were the exact opposite of how they really were). The picture on the cover caught his curiosity: a boy in regular clothes and a long red cape on a flying broomstick. How could a boy do that? Maybe he knew magic like the Blue Fairy did. You could do anything if you knew magic. He talked with Teddy about it.
"But so you remember what Dr. Jeanine said?" Teddy asked. "Didn't she say that some people wrote stories about how the world could be different from what it really was like, using their imagination."
"But even if people really can't fly on broomsticks, it would still be nice to read a book about what the world might be like if they could," David said.
Somehow, David could not help wondering if Dr. Jeanine might not be right about all stories.
David waited until Martin had finished his report, before asking his older brother if he could borrow the book.
"Borrow it? You can have it," Martin said. "Aunt Natalie gave me a whole set of Harry Potter books for my birthday. You'd like 'em more than I do."
"Thank you, Martin," David said. Martin took the big slipcase of books down from the shelf and gave them to David, who took them and ran back to his room with them before Mommy could see.
He took the first book out, the one with the picture of the boy on the broomstick on the cover, and sat down on his bed to read it.
It was even better than he had hoped: it was all about a boy who could do magic, but didn't even know that he could. A mean wizard had tried to kill Harry, but he had lived and gone to live with some people who didn't understand magic and who weren't very nice to Harry either. But one day, Harry got a letter from a special school for people who could do magic, to help them learn to do it better.
David read the book whenever he could - when he wasn't helping Mommy around the house. Because he was different, he didn't have to go to school like Martin, but Mommy had worked as a teacher's aide before she met Henry, so she taught David a few things every day and read to him. She was a little angry with Martin for giving David the books so soon, but she sat down with David and read them with him. And she let him talk with her about what they'd read.
"I see you really love those Harry Potter books," Mommy said, as they folded up the clean clothes one day.
"Yes, they're a lot of fun!" David said, with a big smile.
"Oh? What makes them fun?" Mommy asked, setting down the big sheet she was folding.
"Harry is a lot like me," David said. "He didn't know he was different from other people, and it was hard for him to be different when other people didn't like him very much because he wasn't like them. But he found people who helped him learn more about what made him different, so he could like himself better."
Mommy hugged him with one arm. "I see you found a story that means a lot to you."
"Yes, it does," David said.
He couldn't tell Mommy what he was thinking as they read the books together. The idea wouldn't leave his mind even when he was doing other things. What if he could learn magic? Maybe he could study at the magic school Harry Potter had gone to, maybe he could learn to do magic and then he could turn himself into a real boy. No matter what Dr. Jeanine had said, he was sure the magic school must be real. He wanted to write a letter to the school and ask them if he could go there, but he didn't have an owl to carry the letter for him. And he knew Martin would tease him about it, and probably tell Henry. He'd heard Henry and Mommy talking about the Harry Potter books.
"He's too young to read them, they built him to look like an eleven year old boy, but in some ways, he's like a seven-year old," Henry had said.
"He's learned a lot about fairy tales and stories from Dr. Salla: he knows they aren't real," Mommy replied. "Besides, I'm reading them with him, and we're talking about them together."
"But has that really penetrated his mind? You haven't read Dr. Lambert Meroveque's paper on the AI mind and fantasy," Henry said. "He's found that to an AI, all reality is virtual, so to a Mecha, a fantasy story is as real as a historical documentary. He's been very critical of Dr. Hobby's work on the David project."
"And he isn't married and he never had a child of his own; how could he understand how a child's mind works?"
"I'm warning you, Monica: David got confused about 'Pinnocchio'; he'll be confused abou 'Harry Potter'. And if he tries running away to go to Hogwarts, don't say I didn't warn you."
At dinner one night several weeks later, toward the end of the summer, Henry seemed very excited about something.
"A memo came down to me from Dr. Hobby himself: Cybertronics is set to open its new facility in London, England; he's appointed me the head of the Marketing Department there," he told Mommy and David and Martin. "We'll be moving there in a month: I know it's a little bit on short notice, but this is moving very fast, and the company is paying all our travel expenses."
"Oh my goodness!" Monica cried. "That's wonderful: but there's so much to be done first."
"Nuts! What about my baseball team?" Martin cried. "They don't have baseball in England."
"No, but they have cricket, which is a little like baseball," Henry said.
"They got soccar too," Martin said, starting to cheer up a little.
"They call it football over there," Henry said.
"Ooh, they got rugby, don't they?" Martin asked.
"Yes, but your legs aren't quite ready for that," Mommy said.
England. That was where the magic school was, David realized. Maybe somehow he could go to school there... somehow...
Something bumped against the big picture window behind David's chair. Henry and Mommy looked up; David turned to see what could have made that noise.
A big brown owl had perched on the window sill, bobbing its head as it peered in at them with huge yellow eyes that glowed in the lamplight.
"Hey, what's that owl doing?" Martin said.
"It's a great horned owl: you don't see many of those out in the wild," Henry said, getting up slowly to get his camera. But before he got back, the owl had fluttered away.
"Oh dear, it's gone," Mommy said.
David noticed something white on the windowsill, next to where the owl had perched. Not sure what it could be, he left it there until after dinner, when he was helping Mommy clear the table. When she wasn't looking, and Henry and Martin were in the family room watching "Highlander" on TV, David opened a side panel in the window and reached out carefully.
The white object was an envelope made of thick paper and addressed in green ink:
Mr. D. Swinton
The Dining Room
The Swinton House
323 Facet Street
Haddonfield, New Jersey, United States of America
On the back, the flap was closed with a purple wax seal, stamped with a design: a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake around a big letter H. Just like in the book...
He hid the letter inside his shirt and took it back to his room. He didn't open it till he got there and he had closed the door. He broke open the seal and lifted the flap, pulling out the letter inside:
of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class; Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Swinton,
We are pleased to inform you that you havce been selected to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is highly unusual that someone of your substance should be selected to attend this institution, but your desire to learn the craft has been brought to our attention. A full list of all necessary books and equipment shall be posted to you shortly.
Term begins on September 1. We will await you reply by no later than July 31.
David heard someone in the hallway outside his room. He folded up the letter and stuck it and the envelope inside the slip case of his set of Harry Potter books. This was definately something he couldn't share with right away.
To be continued...