The Sugar Quill
Author: cranston  Story: Majority Rule  Chapter: Default
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Majority Rule

Majority Rule

 

Disclaimer:  The character or characters in this story belong to J.K. Rowling, near as I can figure.

 

A/N:  This is being published before the release of Deathly Hallows.  It can’t be right.  But if it is, remember you saw it here first! 

 

Thanks to Discordant_Harmony, to J Forias, and especially to Zsenya, who bore the full, impenetrable obscurity of the first version of this story.

 

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“I find myself standing in awe, here at the end of my career at the Department of Mysteries, of the progress that has been made in understanding the soul.  At the beginning of that career, even in the callowness of youth, I could scarcely have envisioned what we would know by now, nor could I even have imagined the questions that remain unanswered.

 

“We now know that the soul operates on a plane of its own, distinct from that of the mind.  It makes use of the mind to become aware of its surrounding, and while it does not speak directly to the mind, the mind may respond to its promptings.  This is the main known mechanism by which souls communicate, although there are strong indications that direct communication between souls is also possible under certain conditions.  I must point out here that the mind often does not respond to the promptings of the soul, and I venture to say that this is the main mechanism by which souls fail to communicate!

 

“Time exists for the soul, in the sense that the soul, like the mind, seems to experience events in chronological order.  We have no evidence of its being able to see into the future, for example.  That said, time does seem to flow differently for the soul than for the mind:  at times (so to speak) it can run much more quickly for one than for the other.

 

“Although the soul exists on a plane different than that of the mind, let alone that of the body, occurrences on those lower planes can affect it.  For example, a variety of potions are now known to have deleterious, even grave, effects on it.  Tragically, the use of some of these potions has become fashionable among Muggles, with consequences for their society that are all too obvious.  If my own work on understanding these effects has contributed to wizards’ avoidance of such things, then I count my life well spent.

 

“It has long been known that the use of Dark spells causes permanent and often severe damage to the caster’s soul.  In the past several decades we have had, regrettably, more than ample opportunity to study these effects; one can only hope that the resulting knowledge may convince more and more of us to foreswear such magic.  The first-discovered, and consequently best-known, example of this damage is the rending or splitting of the soul resulting from commission of murder.  The two fragments of the soul seem seldom to coexist peaceably in a single person, and in most cases insanity ultimately sets in unless death liberates the soul fragments from one another’s company.  The Muggle expression ‘beside oneself’ displays (probably fortuitously) an unusually prescient understanding of this condition…”

 

– from the preface to Soul Man:  Reflections on a Life of Studying the Most Human of Mysteries, by Gwyndaf “Enaid” Jones

 

 

I.

 

I think they really like me!

 

“Of course they do,” the woman replies.  “I’ve been telling you that people would.”  And she always has been, as I well remember.

 

“Don’t be fooled,” the man warns.  “They’re just trying to get something from you.”  It’s pretty much what I expect of him; unlike the woman, he always seems to have something discouraging to say.

 

“Who asked you?” she barks at him.

 

“No one, same as asked you,” he shoots back.  “I just thought that someone ought to talk some sense to him, and it certainly doesn’t seem like that someone is going to be you.”

 

“Oh really, then?  And what would you know about sense?”

 

“I know what he can do with these people who claim to ‘like’ him.  I can show him – here, let me show you how to get what you want from them.”

 

I don’t think I like that idea.

 

“Oh, no, you’re not showing him any such thing!  He knows not to treat friends that way, and I’m not going to let you change that.”

 

“Oh, spare me.  Look, boy, at what ‘not treating friends that way’ did for her.  Is that what you want?”

 

“I have no regrets, if you please.  Except that I’m stuck with you, and more importantly that he’s stuck with you as well.  I wish you could just leave.”

 

“Terribly sorry, but I have every right to be here – more than you do, I might add.  If anyone is going to leave it should be you.”

 

“Ohhh, no, I’m not going to go and leave him with the likes of you.”

 

“You couldn’t leave if you wanted to, and you know it.”

 

“Fine, then.  But I’ll thank you not to bother him with your nonsense.”

 

“You’ll thank me, will you?  That will be a first.”

 

“Right, it will be the first time I’ve ever had anything to thank you about…”

 

Just another argument like all the others.  Those two can fight perfectly well without my paying them any attention.  Besides, I have real friends out there now, and they’re much more interesting!

 

 

II.

 

“Idiots!  Damned idiots!  Why must I be surrounded by idiots?”  It’s the man, of course.  Sometimes he just seems so damaged.  “This is all your fault!”  He seems to think I’m all the idiots in the world rolled into one.

 

But that girl needs my help.  She’s in a lot of trouble.  And besides, she’s –

 

“She’s none of your concern!  You had no business bothering with her in the first place!”

 

That boy was being mean to her.  I couldn’t just let him!

 

“Of course you could have let him.  Everything would have been fine if you had just done as I told you and let them be.  But no!  You had to get involved.  And now –”    Did I say sometimes?  No, he always seems damaged.

 

“He did the right thing,” the woman says brusquely.

 

“The right thing!” he spits.  “Well, it didn’t help her any, did it!  And now look at the predicament we’re in.  Thanks to you, and you, and to that idiot out there too.”

 

But she’s saying something to me quietly as he rants.  “Destroy the book.”

 

Why?

 

“What did you just say?” he hisses.

 

She ignores him.  “You’ll see.  Just destroy thmmmfff”

 

Owww!” he roars.  “What was that for, you bitch!”

 

“You were trying to shut me up, I had to do that.  And watch your language, there’s a child present.”

 

“I don’t care about any idiot child, bitch!  I’ll–”

 

I don’t really mind the foul language.  I’m used to it by now.  But I do seem to be destroying the book, like the woman suggested.

 

Oh, so that’s why.

 

 

III.

 

Can’t someone get rid of them?  They’re so scary – I’m so afraid they’re going to come and take me away from here.  And then what would happen to me?

 

“I know some ways to take care of them,” the man offers, but the woman cuts him off

 

“It’s all right, you don’t need any of that.”  She’s consoling me, like she always does.  But I’ve never been this frightened before.  “You’re a big boy now, you can make them go away.”

 

But it’s so scary when they’re around, like they can reach in here and get me.  And the screaming – it’s like a nightmare, but loads worse and I can’t wake up from it.

 

“That’s because it really happened.  You’re not dreaming it, you’re remembering it.”

 

I can’t be remembering it.  I don’t even know who it is that’s screaming.

 

“It’s hard to remember, because you were very young then, but it was your Mum.  Someone was hurting her.”

 

“It could have been worse,” the man suggests.

 

Who?  Who was it?  And why was he hurting my Mum?

 

“You needn’t worry about that.  It was a long time ago, and she’s all right now.”

 

“Oh, that’s what you consider all right?” the man taunts.  He sounds amused.

 

“She’s just fine,” she replies haughtily.

 

People say I have my Mum’s eyes.

 

“No doubt you do.  Do you remember that Muggle saying?  ‘The eyes are the windows of the soul.’”

 

“I can fix those eyes for you.”

 

“Not if I’m here, you won’t.”

 

I love my Mum.  I hate her being hurt like that.

 

“You probably can’t even remember how much she loved you,” she says, a bit dreamily.  “I’m old enough to remember, though.” She almost seems to be talking to herself.  “But then again, perhaps you can remember, … if you can just think back a tiny bit before that bad memory …”  It’s worth a try.

 

Oh.  Ohh!  Yes, I think I can!

 

“Then I’m sure you can make them go away.”

 

… And the next time I try, I really do make them go away.

 

Wow, it’s a stag!

 

“It’s lovely,” the woman breathes.

 

“It’s venison,” the man says with spite.

 

I’ve never known her to tear into him the way she does this time.

 

 

IV.

 

I don’t get it.  Why did he want it to wait ‘just a little longer’?

 

“Because he’s being an idiot again,” the man replies.  I haven’t known him to be this worried since two years ago.

 

What do you, mean, again?  How can it be ‘again’ when we’ve never even seen him before?

 

“Oh. Sorry.  My mistake.”  What, does he think I can’t recognize sarcasm?

 

Fat lot of help you’re being.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get away from him.

 

“At least you got that right,” the man says dryly.  “So if you’d do something about it now …”  This is getting annoying.  Let’s see how he likes sarcasm on the receiving end.

 

Thanks for all the great ideas.  Here’s one of my own:  I won’t run away, I’ll just kill him now.

 

The man laughs at me.

 

“Kill him?” the woman asks warily.  “Why?” 

 

Come on, isn’t this obvious?  He killed my parents.  I loved my parents.  So I’ve got to kill him.

 

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” she says gently.

 

“No, it takes three,” the man interjects.

 

“Shut up!  You shut –”

 

“But the third one has to be really big.

 

But wait.  I don’t get it.  If I’m not supposed to kill him … what am I supposed to do?

 

She has a suggestion, as always.  “Wouldn’t it be enough if you could make him … not a threat to anyone any more?”

 

Well, I suppose … maybe …

 

“I think that would make a nice memorial for your parents, don’t you think?”

 

Yes, but how do I …

 

Try taking away his wand.  Do iiiit … now!

 

Well, it nearly worked – but I certainly didn’t expect that to happen.  Did you know that– hey, it … it’s my mum!  I’ve seen the pictures – it’s her!  And Dad!

 

“You should listen to your parents,” she suggests.  I do what they tell me, and presently we’re all safe.

 

That voice – Mum’s voice – somehow it sounded familiar.

 

Strange, I would expect the woman to have something to say about that.

 

 

V.

 

I’m going to hurt her!  I’m going to kill her!

 

“Good, good.  Do it!”  Why does the man suddenly want to coach me?

 

“Why do you want to hurt her?” the woman asks.  She can be really maddening when she’s calm like this.

 

She killed him!  He was my friend, he was my parents’ friend, he was my godfather, and she killed him!  And I didn’t get to say goodbye, or even see him come out!  I want her dead!

 

“Vengeance isn’t love, you know.”

 

Well, what am I to do, then?

 

“You want justice done, of course.” 

 

That’s what I’m talking about, in case you haven’t noticed.

 

“No, it isn’t justice if you take it into your own hands like that.  It’s revenge.  That’s hate, not love, and if you do it out of hate, then how are any you better than she is?”

 

Arrrggghh!  Why is it always so difficult?  I’m not supposed to take revenge on her because it isn’t love.  I’m not supposed to take revenge on him because it isn’t love either.  Maybe I should just give it up.  I mean, judging from what I’ve seen this year, love doesn’t seem to be anything worth the time it takes anyway.

 

“Excellent,” the man says.  “You’re learning.”

 

And to top it all off I find out that Dad was some kind of jerk.

 

“Now waaaait a minute,” the woman drawls.  “I knew your father quite well, lad, and while he certainly was a bit of a hellion, I assure you there was quite a bit more to him than that, and he was anything but a ‘jerk’.  And what was this about love not being worthwhile?”

 

“Sense, for a change,” the man tosses in.  “He’s finally growing up.”  But she’s only paying attention to me, not to him.  I don’t know why she wants me to come out and say it – she saw it all herself, after all.  Oh, well, I guess she’s going to insist.  Here goes …

 

Cho Chang.  Satisfied?

 

But she’s actually chuckling!  If she’s laughing at me over this ...  “Oh, don’t worry about that.  You were both just trying to figure out what love is, and you didn’t get it right the first time.  Nothing to be ashamed of – hardly anybody ever does.  She wasn’t the one for you, you weren’t the one for her.   Evidently she thought you were attractive, and you thought she was pretty?”

 

You saw.  Oh, all right – yes, I thought she was pretty.

 

“Those things don’t really matter, you know.”

 

Mum was pretty.  So don’t go saying things like that.

 

“It didn’t matter to your father, though.  And he was handsome, too, but that didn’t matter to your mum.  They loved each other for much more important things.  You’ll find out about that sort of thing yourself.  All in good time.  Now as for dealing with Voldemort.”

 

The man interrupts.  “Naming him!  Aren’t you the brave one?”  He’s one to talk, isn’t he?  For years I’ve really thought of him as only half a man.  If that.

 

“Yes I am,” she retorts icily.  Then back to me.  “As for Voldemort, you certainly should deal with him.  I’m just saying that you’ll need a better reason for it than revenge.  If revenge is your reason, you won’t be any better than he is, and then you’ll fail.”

 

Then what kind of rea–  What?  What’s happening?  Aaaaa!

 

“How dare you!”

 

“I’m here!”

 

“You get away from there.”

 

“I’m here, I say!”

 

Leave him be!”

 

It’s over.  Finally.  What was that?  It came so close – it shouldn’t be able to get in here, should it?

 

The woman is absolutely incensed.  But I’ve never heard the man so gleeful.  He’s practically singing, “Hah, I’m getting out of this rat-hole, and soon!  And then you’ll be dealt with, wait and see.”

 

 

VI.

 

You were right about Cho Chang, you know.

 

I didn’t give her any preface, but the woman has her answer ready.  “I did know, in fact.  Why do you mention it?”

 

Well …  It’s the same thing again this time, isn’t it?

 

“What makes you think so?”

 

It’s just that … that Ginny’s … pretty.

 

“And?”

 

Cho was pretty, but that’s all it was.  And Ginny’s pretty, too.  More than Cho, even.

 

“So you think she can’t be the one, then?”

 

Not if it’s like last time.

 

“Remember, you said your mum was pretty.  But it seems your father managed to love her in spite of that.”

 

Yes, very funny, but I don’t see what that has to do with Ginny.

 

“Does it matter that she’s pretty?”

 

I don’t know.

 

“Think, then:  If something happened to Ginny so she wasn’t pretty anymore, would you still want to be with her?”

 

“Hm, an excellent idea,” the man says, as if to himself.

 

Of course I’d still want to be with her!  She’s –

 

“Then it doesn’t matter that she’s pretty.”

 

So are you telling me … I mean, is this what love is like?

 

“Well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself, but I suspect that it might be.  One kind of love, at least.”

 

“Interesting … perhaps there is some use for this ‘love’ drivel after all,” the man is musing.

 

It’s ironic, isn’t it?  I mean, all this happening with Ginny at the same time I’m learning about what he did.

 

“You mean Voldemort and those Horcruxes?”

 

Ugh, yes.  And how Dumbledore and I need to get rid of them before we – before I can take on Voldemort himself.

 

“Yes, they’ll need to be got rid of … I take it you’re still intent on killing Voldemort?”

 

“A fine idea,” the man offers.  “Just trying will solve all your problems.”  I’m getting terribly tired of listening to him.

 

I am going to kill him.  I have to.

 

“Why?”

 

What do you mean, ‘why’?

 

“Why do you have to kill him?”

 

Because the prophecy says –

 

“The prophecy says that only you can do it.  I’m asking why you want to do it.  Why you say you have to do it.”

 

Because … what happens if I don’t?  Lots of people will suffer, lots of people will die.

 

“Dying’s not necessarily the worst thing that can happen to someone.”

 

But what about everybody else?  What about the ones who are left when people they love die?  When Voldemort killed my parents, that did something to me too, and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.

 

“He certainly did do something dreadful to you.  More than you realize, in fact.”

 

What do you mean?

 

“Do you ever feel a mite, er, cramped?”

 

Cramped?  That doesn’t make sense.  I don’t see what you’re talking about.

 

“This place is only meant for one, you know.  You saw that teacher all but saying that.”

 

Only one.  But we have –

 

“Do you remember before he was here?”

 

You mean the man there?

 

“That half a man, yes.”

 

You’re right, I do sometimes think of him that way.

 

“And you’re right to.  But do you remember when he wasn’t here?”

 

No, he’s always been here.

 

“No, he hasn’t, and I know for a fact that you can remember a time before he was here.  It’s not easy to remember back that far, but you’ve done it before.”

 

But that must mean that there was a time that he came here.  He talks about leaving, though, and I don’t think he can do it.  Why can’t he?  And if he can’t leave, how could he have come?

 

“I think Professor Dumbledore’s told you most of that.  Now you just need to work out the rest.”

 

 

VII.

 

“Happy birthday, young man!”  The woman is in a good mood.

 

Thanks, but I don’t think ‘happy’ is quite appropriate.

 

“No, I dare say not, but it sounded a lot better than ‘important birthday’, don’t you think?”

 

All right, you have a point there.  But then, how important is a birthday, really?

 

This birthday is very important – you’re of age now.  Now you can do all manner of things.”

 

Well, I certainly hope I can.  Things like defeating Voldemort.  Oh, and before that, … let’s see … finding and destroying one stolen Horcrux and three that are still protected.

 

The man snorts yet again.  He’s really been insufferably smug about all this for well over a year now, and it’s getting pretty old.

 

Conspiratorially, the woman whispers, “Two.”

 

What?

 

“Two protected Horcruxes.”

 

No, three!  Dumbledore said.

 

“Two,” she repeats.  “What did Dumbledore tell you about the murders Voldemort used to make his Horcruxes?”

 

That he only used his most significant ones.

 

“Right.  And what could be more significant that murdering the person who is prophesied to be able to defeat you?”

 

But he didn’t.

 

“Right again, but he tried.  He killed your parents and then tried to kill you, but failed.”

 

And?

 

“Don’t you think he would have been planning to use your murder to make a Horcrux?” 

 

Of course.  Um … where is this going?

 

“Voldemort brought a special object with him to Godric’s Hollow.  Just before he was going to kill you, he cast the spell to prepare it to be a Horcrux, but by then your mum was screaming at him and I guess she distracted him.  He killed her, but then when he tried to kill you the spell went wrong.”

 

I’ve heard that story.  And I’ve remembered the screams – the Dementors made me remember them.

 

“Apparently his Killing Curse wasn’t the only spell that didn’t work properly in all the confusion.  The preparation spell must have been miscast as well.”

 

Yes?

 

You became the Horcrux.”

 

What?  But that can’t be!  If I … no, it can’t.  You couldn’t possibly know about that anyway, even if it were true.

 

“Believe me, I know.  I was there.  I saw it all.  It’s true.”

 

No.  No, I just can’t believe it.  You’re joking and it’s not funny.

 

“I only wish I were joking.  Now you know who he is.”

 

Half a man, you said.  He’s half of a soul, then?

 

“If that much.”

 

But … oh, bloody hell!  That means it’s all over, doesn’t it?  The prophecy says that only I can kill Voldemort, but if I kill him he doesn’t die because he still has a Horcrux – me.  So I have to destroy myself to make him mortal, but then I’m not around to kill him.  Either way he wins.  It’s just no use.

 

“No, there’s another way.  You’re of age now.  If you don’t want him here, you and I can overpower him.”

 

You mean we can get rid of him?

 

“Not exactly.  It’s more that you can get rid of us, with my help.”

 

You mean –

 

“You wouldn’t be powerful enough to expel him by yourself.  But if you expel me, I won’t fight it – and I can force him to come out with me.”

 

And that would leave me free to … Wait a minute!  Who are you?

 

“Well, when you were being made into a Horcrux, Voldemort’s soul wasn’t the only one that was on the move, was it?”

 

You mean, because he had just killed two people?

 

“Right in one!  It seems he made his little mistake at just the wrong time.  Or just the right time, depending on how you look at it.  I was able to follow him in here, so you wouldn’t be left alone with him.”

 

And that’s why there are three of us here in this place that you say is only meant for one.

 

“Precisely.”

 

And you tell me that I can make the two of you go away.

 

“Yes.”

 

Tell me … Do you want to go?

 

“To be completely honest, yes and no.  It seems a shame to leave.  But then, I don’t really belong here, and he certainly doesn’t.  Besides, if I take him with me, then after all these years I will have finished doing my part to defeat Voldemort.  And I would like to see your father again, you understand.”

 

I understand.  But – this is going to sound selfish, I know – but I’m going to have to get used to being alone.  That’s a pretty scary idea.

 

“Don’t worry.  You know that this place is only meant for one soul, not three, so you’ll just be putting things back the way they should be.  And as for being alone, … you’ll not be alone.  Far from it!”

 

And I’ll still have the chance to deal with Voldemort then …

 

“Yes, and prevent all that suffering.  Happy birthday, son.”

 

Thanks, Mum.

 

 

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A/N:  I’ve seen the various arguments about whether or not Harry is a Horcrux, and I haven’t found any of them to be convincing.  This in itself is a tribute to JKR’s writing!  But the “In the confusion at Godric’s Hollow” argument got me thinking about what else might be true if that was.  I figured that this would go some way toward explaining why Harry always seems to find the right thing to do in impossible life-or-death situations, and why he has his mother’s eyes.  Also, if you accept the idea that your Patronus reflects that which you love (which I saw in potterhead37’s fic Expecto Pure Disappointment), then it bears on why Harry’s Patronus is a stag.

 

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