Albus Potter and the Dark Future

Reunited

Albus felt more angry than frightened. After all those decisions, all the people who had died, all the places he and his friends had gone to flee the Circle, they had still caught up with him in the end. All their best efforts had made no difference. It was so horrendously, monstrously unfair.

Albus looked around. The stars were hardly moving at all as they shot through space, but a few celestial bodies...which Albus knew to be planets and moons...were creeping across the heavens as the Stingers continued their flight towards the Sun...towards Victoria Perfectus. He could not breathe...although, due to some unknown enchantment, that didn't seem to matter. It was as though he no longer needed air. And, though he knew that outer space was freezing cold, he felt quite warm.

After a couple of hours had passed, the Sun was growing large and dazzling. “Obscuro Illuminatus!” he heard Vega and Whelmuran shout together, and everything grew dim. It seemed as though the spell protected them from the blinding glare.

Half an hour later, they were speeding towards the churning, fiery surface of the Sun. The star was so big that Albus had no real way of knowing how far away they were from impact.

Eventually, they broke the surface, plunging into a blinding sea of white. Albus felt only a slight increase in temperature. A few minutes later, they emerged into what seemed to be a bubble of emptiness, surrounded by brilliant light and swirling plasma. And, floating in the center of this bubble, there was a vast structure.

Victoria Perfectus seemed to be made of metal, and was shaped like an enormous sphere. Protruding from all over the sphere were what seemed to be towers of all shapes and sizes. It was almost as though the fortress was a miniature planet, and the towers were constructed all over its surface.

As they drew nearer to Victoria Perfectus, a circular set of doors became visible. The doors slid open as they approached, closing once more after the four of them were inside.

Whelmuran clapped her hands, and the ropes binding Kramer fell away and vanished. “Come with us,” commanded Vega coldly. “Do exactly as we say. If you resist, you will be killed.”

Albus and Kramer nervously walked down a long corridor, with Vega marching ahead of them and Whelmuran bringing up the rear. The corridor was made of dark metal, with small red lights inlaid along the tops of the walls, casting an eerie, scarlet glow. Albus had assumed that the walls would curve with the outer shell of the fortress, but it seemed to be the floor and ceiling that were curving. Then he realized that—of course—since the fortress was situated directly in the center of the Sun's core, the center of gravity would be in the very middle of the fortress, so everything would curve around that point instead of being oriented in a single direction.

They marched on, being driven deeper and deeper into the fortress by the two Stingers. Albus noticed that the ceilings and floors were curving more and more dramatically the deeper they went. Finally, they entered a hallway that seemed to curve right around itself in three dimensions—a large, hollow sphere which contained a smaller sphere within it. The gravity here was very peculiar; as Albus walked up the curving floor, it seemed to continually orient itself with the patch of floor Albus was standing on. There was no doubt in Albus's mind; the room they were approaching—the one in the very center of Victoria Perfectus—was the chamber of the leader of the Circle himself.

“Take the other one to the dungeons.” said Vega. Whelmuran seized Kramer by the hand and pulled him away. Vega turned to Albus, leering unpleasantly.

“Our master has specifically requested a meeting with you, Albus Potter.” he said, pulling open another door. “You should feel honored.”

Albus walked through the door, and it slid shut behind him. He was in a dark, spherical chamber with furniture on the walls, floor, and ceiling.

“Welcome.” said a voice. Albus jumped, and looked up. The individual who had spoken was standing on the ceiling, looking down at him. Most ominous of all, it was the exact same voice as the figure from Albus's dream, and the same robes. He was strongly reminded of his father's occasional glimpses into Voldemort's mind. “Have a seat.”

Albus felt strangely calm. It was as though he had somehow moved past his fear and anger. Or maybe they were simply so strong that he could not truly comprehend his own emotions.

“Sit down.” repeated the voice. Albus strode across the floor, which seemed to rotate under his feet until he was right next to the figure. He sat down in a chair in front of him, and the figure sat too.

The mysterious individual leaned forward. “Well...I must say I am overjoyed at this opportunity. I have been waiting a very long time to see you, Albus Potter.”

“Why me?” said Albus. “How do you know me? How did you know I came from the past? Why were you so keen to kidnap me? Why have you taken my friends? Who are you?”

The figure laughed. “Oh, but you already know me, Potter.” he said. “Though it has been years since we last laid eyes on each other...around twenty-three hundred years, as a matter of fact.”

“What...you...” Albus had gone white. His mind was racing furiously, and his heart was drumming violently in his chest. “But...you don't...you aren't...”

The man reached up, and lowered his hood. A long mane of straight, blond hair framed a pale, pointed face.

“Malfoy.” breathed Albus.

“It's all been sitting right in front of you the whole time, Potter!” said Scorpius Malfoy, seeming almost disappointed. “It should have been obvious.”

It had been obvious, Albus realized now, if only he had thought about it. All the clues fit together. Malfoy had disappeared right along with them because he had sent himself here too. The Circle had immediately known about him and his friends because its leader had sent them here in the first place. The Stingers were ordered to capture them because Malfoy wasn't finished with them. Come to think of it, even the word “Stingers” should have been a tip-off.

Neither Albus nor Malfoy said anything for several seconds. Albus finally said, more weakly, “Why?”

“I was young, Potter. Young and angry. The Muggles were at the root of so many of our problems...I could see that. They had persecuted us so brutally in the past, our abilities simultaneously coveted and despised, and we were forced to go into hiding because we had powers that didn't fit into their view of a perfect, orderly world. Now, even in our time, wizards work as hard as they can to keep to the shadows, never safe, always hiding. I knew things had to change. The tables had to be turned.

“Voldemort had strived for that, always. For all his faults, he came closer than anyone to the dream of a world safe for wizards. But I never got a chance to see that for myself. Your father killed Voldemort. Even my own father no longer believed in the vision. But I did...and still do.”

“Right.” snarled Albus, glaring at Malfoy. “So, what then?”

“At first, I wasn't planning anything in particular. I simply wanted swift, decisive revenge on you and your friends...to settle a dispute between families that goes back before our generation. I've always had a mind for magical machinery, and I thought a Time-Turner would be the ultimate means of achieving my goal; just send you to a distant time, where you would be out of the way.”

“But...?”

“But as soon as I had succeeded, I grew curious. Where had I sent you? What was the world like? Perhaps, in the future, the world would have become the way it should. So I sent myself into the future, too. However, I thought it over. I would not send myself exactly where you had gone. Instead, I sent myself forty years before that time.”

“Which is why you're older than we are.”

“Yes, exactly. But the more I found out about this future, the less I liked.”

“What's wrong with it?” said Albus angrily. “Wizards and Muggles live together in harmony!”

“Precisely.” snapped Malfoy, pounding the armrest of his chair. “Muggles have never been made to pay for their atrocities. And wizards came out of hiding to help them! The Muggles had the last laugh in this future world. It's despicable, and it's unfair. And I decided, right then and there, to change it.

“I wasn't a Hogwarts student...not anymore...but I stayed in the castle, keeping hidden from the teachers, stealing food from the house-elves down in the kitchens when I got the chance. And before long, I met another young man, precisely my age, who shared my views. We took to each other at once. We became more than friends; we were partners in a grand plan that we were only just forming.

“We ran away from Hogwarts and began to explore the world, to search for ancient clues...the ways of ancient Muggles, so that we might expose an old, forgotten weakness. But it was not ancient Muggle secrets we were to find, but ancient wizarding ones. And what secrets! They explained so much...they opened our eyes to a new world of possibilities.”

“What secrets?” said Albus, a touch of curiosity intermingling with his fury and contempt now.

Malfoy acted as though he had not heard the question at all. “With these secrets, we slowly concocted a great plan...a plan to truly bring glory to wizardkind once and for all. We may have been young, but we were charismatic, and it wasn't too long before our plans fell upon the right ears. Of course, we never revealed our deepest secrets, but our ideas were endearing to an enlightened minority. We gathered quite a following over the years.”

Malfoy grinned, apparently lost in memories. Then, his face darkened.

“Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. We were opposed not only by the Muggles, but by those foolish wizards whose minds were too clouded to understand the truth. Our peaceful rise to power failed.” He paused. “So we were forced to take a different approach.”

“You became terrorists.” muttered Albus, his hands curling into fists.

“We retreated into the sidelines, and began a campaign to strike fear and respect into the hearts of wizards and Muggles alike. I'm sorry to say that at this point, my longtime colleague got cold feet. But I am merciful; his betrayal did not change the invaluable service he had once provided me, and so I did not kill him. Rest assured, however, that he will never oppose me again.”

Malfoy laughed once more.

“This strategy has made us far more successful. We are on the verge of winning the war...closer to victory than anyone but we know. And the Feather of Fawkes is finished...though, if truth be told, they never really had a chance.”

“It's not over!” shouted Albus, springing to his feet. “You'll never win! Sure, you'll always have a small crowd of twisted lunatics who'll agree with your views, but you'll never sway the public opinion! The world has moved beyond that! You're no better than Voldemort!”

“Voldemort?” Malfoy roared with laughter, getting out of his chair. “On the contrary, I was always better than Voldemort. Voldemort was weak. He never took the time to learn...to open his eyes, or to move beyond his petty fears. That's why he failed. You cannot base a new wizarding order upon one man’s childish terror of death. But I have opened my eyes. I understand what is at stake, and the precise nature of the ideal for which I strive. I know secrets of magic that would have blown Voldemort's mind!” Malfoy collapsed back into his chair, breathing heavily.

After a few seconds, he said, “And I am offering to share these secrets with you, Albus.”

“What?” said Albus, confused.

“Join me.” Malfoy said. “Cast aside your misconceptions and look upon humanity as it truly is. And the rewards will be tremendous. I can teach you everything. I can teach you the fundamental nature of magic. I can teach you how to become more powerful than you ever dreamed of. And I can teach you the true nature of what exists between you and me, Albus Potter. For we are more interconnected than you can possibly imagine. We can be united in purpose, break the cycle of conflict that has ruled since the dawn of time, and rule the universe together...or we can be mortal enemies. It is your choice...and I pray you'll make the right decision. Join me, Albus. Join me.”

Albus stared at Malfoy, unable to believe what he was hearing, unable to find words strong enough to reply. Finally, he said, his voice low and suffused with hatred, “Never.”

Malfoy's face betrayed no emotion. He did not even move.

“All right...so Muggles wronged wizards a few thousand years ago. That's a wound that has long since healed! And Muggles have repaid wizards a hundredfold with ideas of their own!”

Albus jumped out of his chair and advanced on Malfoy, who continued to stare blankly at him. “You're dwelling in an era long since passed...a primitive, hateful era before even our time. Getting revenge doesn't matter—all that matters is that you're tearing down a beautiful society out of spite!”

Still, Malfoy said nothing, but this only made Albus angrier.

“The only reason medieval Muggles persecuted wizards is because they were uneducated and frightened. But they know better now. They're the ones who have opened their eyes! I don't care what ancient secrets you've discovered, Malfoy. You've learned nothing!”

Albus fell silent, breathing heavily. There was a pause, and then...

“I had hoped that I could make you understand.” said Malfoy, sounding disappointed, almost sad. “But I knew all along it was hopeless. I will make no more effort to persuade you; you are simply beyond reason.”

Malfoy rose to his feet again. “If only you knew what you could have had...what might have been averted between us.”

“What do you mean?” snapped Albus.

“You will find out soon enough.” said Malfoy. “It won't be much longer before it all ends.”

He pointed his finger at Albus, and crooked it upwards. Everything seemed to dissolve into smoke, and then...

He was lying facedown on a cold metal floor.

“Albus!” cried a voice. He rolled over to see Rose bending over him.

“I wondered when you'd arrive, Al.” said James, solemnly. “Your friend is already here.”

Kramer raised his hand, looking glum.

“Well, at least we're all back together again.” said Hugo.

“But how are we going to escape?” piped up Lily.

“That,” said Albus, looking around at the walls, “is a very good question.”

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