Into The West
by Abaddon

Once upon a time there was a boy, and he had loving parents. They cared for him, and they did their best. It was a time of blood and fire and war, and they were struck down by an evil wizard. The boy was raised by cruel and vicious relatives, who cared not for him, or his legacy, or the memories that he brought to bear upon them.

The boy grew, and became strong in power and might, and after a long and bloody battle, he cast the evil wizard down, and reclaimed his heritage. The land had been riven by suspicion and fear, and even now in the brittle calm that followed, the people cried out from amongst their hiding places, and all that had been kept secret was now open. There was much contention and argument, and both wizards and non-magical folk had to contend with one another, and the danger of further battle loomed heavy upon the future. Many turned to the boy, now a man, and offered him a crown to rule over this brave new world, and guide it from harm. Three times he denied the honour, and three times they acclaimed him, until due to his virtue and the renown of his weapon he finally relented, and on a Christmas Day was he anointed and crowned by the people to rule over them in harmony, and bring all manner of folk together as they had not been together before.

The new king accepted this responsibility with a graven heart, claiming that he would be simply the servant of the people, and he took to his side a dear and old friend of his as queen, and many of the world's bravest and wisest, both wizard and common folk flocked to his realm to be his aides, his companions, and his knights. For a while, peace reigned, and the king's justice was renowned throughout the world. In that land, a gentlewoman could travel from Land's End to the Orkneys, her pockets filled with gold and jewels, and none would gainsay her or impede her travel. The king's dearest friend became his most revered knight, known for his strategy and courage, and even his oldest rival was rewarded with a place at his table and in his government, for he was known for his intelligence and his cunning.

The king grew heavy with eld and the cares of the state, and there were whispers that his queen and his best knight cuckolded him behind his back. There were rumours too that the king joined in their revels, and no-one was certain as to which would be the most scurrilous. The king had sought to change much of what was, and make wizard and commoner equal, and that had rankled amongst many on both sides. For years, they had bided their time, but spurred on by his age and the whispers of the old rival (not content was he to wait for his time as anointed successor, but bitter and jealous his heart was always, and some said made black by a love he refused to name), and under cover of darkness and cloaked, privily, they made attacks on the king's realm and called him out to defend it. So as the king travelled out with his true companions, he left his dearest friend in charge of his home, for his queen to consult with. And consult with him she did, for the most impious and dastardly man in all the kingdom, the king's oldest rival, caught them together, and so charged the king to punish them for this affront to his nobliesse liege.

But the king would not, and so the rival damned him, and called him no king at all, and travelled off to gather his forces in secret. Then the land was torn by strife and rebellion, and the carrion crow of war called, its cry echoing in the sky as the king and his enemies met each other on the field of battle in a plain to the south, by the sea, and near a flowing river. Too late they were to stand aside, and turn back from the course they had set, both the king and his rival of equal pride and standing. And due to the accusations, the best knight in all the realm could not take the field, and the queen had retired to a place of learning, so that none would question her again. The battle raged for many hours, and the black water turned red with blood, and the king and his rival finally came to blows because all stories must have an end.

So under a tree, the king sat against the rough bark and looked out to sea. He was not young in years, but he had an air about him of youth, and the promise of spring forgot, for he had changed the world for a time, and made a paradise amongst men.

>From the battlefield strode a man towards him, not wearied from the fighting, and showing little signs of hurt or injury. "Harry," he called, and it was his old companion, who had swore to him to not take the field, "Harry, I came, in the end." He fell down on his knees beside the king, and was much grieved by the look in the king's eyes, and the flecks of blood upon his lips. "I couldn't stay away."

The king turned to him with a glassy stare, hand weakly clutching at his shoulder, and coughed away more of his life. "Ron," he realised with a small smile, "you broke your promise."

The best and fairest knight in all the world blushed as red as his hair, and looked at the fair green grass underneath them, unable to respond to the king's gentle chiding words.

"It is of no matter, my friend," the king assured him. "I do not hold it against you."

"Come, Harry," the knight pleaded, and attempted to raise him, but the king's body was broken, and limp, and he failed to move.

"My injuries are too great," the king said sadly, and kissed his forehead.

"The healers can do something, surely?" the knight cried, for his heart was struck most sore, and the king shook his head.

"How is my queen?" he asked, after a time, and the knight could well see how it troubled him to speak, and he attempted to make light of things, as if all were well.

"Hermione is content, Harry," the knight responded, with a forced smile. "She took refuge in the Archives, and swore to spend the rest of her days there in quiet contemplation."

"She'll enjoy that," the king mused, and coughed again, wincing. The knight tore off some of his finery, and mopped at the king's mouth, wiping away the blood and bile. Irritable, the king attempted to stop him, but he lacked strength, and so sagged against the trunk behind him. "How is mine enemy, Draco?"

"Dead," breathed the knight, for that name roused a most dreadful ire in him, "and I am pleased by it."

"Hush," the king murmured, and laid his hand on the knight's mouth. "He was only being true to himself. There were many times during the fight at which he almost had me." For a while, his eyes lit up with the memory, and it was if as the world was young and new again. "Oh, Ron. You should have seen him. He was on fire, and it was a glory to behold."

The knight sat by his side, and did not trust himself to speak. After a time the king spoke, and in his voice was a command and a geas most terrible to behold. "Now, Ron. Take my wand. For it contains power that should not be kept in this world, nor laid bare to the mercy of men. Voldemort's wand passed into history, and so should mine. Take it to the river, and break it in two, and throw it in. Do this and tell me what you see."

And so the knight rose from the king's side, taking that most hallowed wand, and he went to the nearby river. But his heart was heavy and he was wroth to do as the king commanded, for the knight hoped that in times to come such a symbol could be used to rally those who loved liberty and life, and help face back the darkness again. So he hid the wand in some bushes and came back to the king.

"So, what did you see?" the king asked, and the knight replied, "I saw the birds soar and the wind wail through the trees." And the king said, "You have not kept your word. Go and do as you have promised."

And so the knight went again to the river, and still could not cast it in. He went to the king, and the king asked, "So, what did you hear?" And the knight replied, "I heard the crickets cry and the waters babble." And the king said, "You have not kept your word. Go and do as you have promised."

So the knight went to the river again, in tears, and even though he was loathe to do it, he loved his king above all else, and so he broke the hallowed wand in two and hurled it into the river. And there came from behind the waters a light, and a most beautiful bird, wreathed in flame, burst from the surface and its cry was heard across the realm and the darkness quailed at its coming. When the king heard of this, he was most pleased, and he praised the knight. "For what you have done will ensure that the challenge I put upon this land will be picked up. When and by who I cannot say, but all those who follow will find succour in the memory of good deeds and our ideals. Ron, we have produced a time that not even the darkest age could extinguish, and what will did will be remembered, you'll see. Because of us, not all those who wander will be lost."

And the knight was much uplifted by the king's words, even as a strange mist settled upon them from the nearby coast. The king pointed out to sea, and the knight turned to see a ship sailing towards them out of the mist, and the knight thought he saw four people on the ship, cloaked and robed. To the knight, the mist seemed unseelie, and the people most worrisome, and the water that lapped at its bow like silver glass made fluid most unnatural. But the king cried out as if to a long lost friend, and begged that the knight would help him to the shore, and would not be dissuaded.

Lifting him in his arms, the knight cradled him close, and despite all his regrets he carried him from the grass to the rocks where the boat had beached itself, and the knight was much surprised at those who were revealed to be the passengers of the boat, as they were held to be long in passing from this world.

For in one corner of the boat stood Cedric the Valorous, with a broad grin upon his face, and in another stood Sirius the Brave, a dearly loved kinsman of the king who had met his death by foul accident in times past. Gathered there too was Virginia, the knight's own sister, who had fallen in the last great battle against the evil wizard of so long ago, and finally, the last personage made their way forward to stand by the prow, and removed the hood of her cloak. Slender was she, and beautiful, with pale, smooth skin and auburn hair, and luminous green eyes like the king, and an impish smile that made all well again.

And when the king looked upon her face he trembled, and called her mother. She gestured for the knight to lay the king's body upon the bier, and he did so, disturbed by the spirits yet grateful for their presence. And getting back upon the shore, he asked where they might be taking him, and the gentle woman with the green eyes answered, saying that the king would be taken home, to the sacred isle that lies beyond the seas, where he could be at peace and rest and healed from his hurts.

The knight's heart turned to sorrow, to be parted from one he most dearly loved, and the shade of his sister implored him not to cry, for in time he would travel into the west himself, to that home all men have in their hearts, and there would be no need for tears in that land. Then the knight grew joyous, and promised that he would see them all, in time.

With the help of the knight, the ship was pushed off from the shore, and as he watched, it faded into the mist, into history, into myth, and was gone.

As for the isle, no man may know its location, but it has many names. And it is said that the king still lies there, waiting for the time when the land and the people cry out as one for one to save them, and this is why Harry Potter is called in ages past, present and future Rex Quondam Rexque Futurus, the Once and Future King.


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