31: A Step Forward
Chapter 31: A Step Forward
“Slowly, far too slowly,” Jareth replied swiftly, “she must be ready for what is to come!”
“Neither you nor I can make Harry, Sarah her or any other truly ready for what is to come,” Dumbledore replied, a frown on his face as he looked down from the tower towards the Quidditch Pitch, “we can push, we can lean, we can train, we can even suggest, but readiness come from within and sometimes you do not even realise you have it.
It’s not a measure of power or training, it’s a measure of who you are and your strength of will.”
“Power and training does help though,” Jareth replied, sighing, his expression wistful as he gazed upon the small, almost insignificant figures below.
“It helps,” he admitted, leaning his elbows on the crenulations of the tower, “but it in itself is not the answer.”
“Perhaps,” Jareth turned swiftly, banishing the longing from his eyes, “but is she ready?”
Dumbledore shook his head, “time will tell, but I must remind you that she is not the only concern I have.”
Jareth opened his mouth to respond, anger dancing in his eyes, but he visibly reined it in as the sound of children’s laughter filled the air from the rooms below, “No, I suppose not.”
“We all have much to lose if we fail here,”
Grimacing, the Goblin King turned back, leaning out across the stones to gaze upon Sarah below once more, “I have already compromised my position for her and there are those in my kingdom who believe I go too far for a mortal. Success will forgive a lot and strengthen my position. If she… if they fail, I may lose my kingdom.”
“And I will have lost mine,” Dumbledore replied, “and many thousands, perhaps even millions will suffer because of it.”
Jareth snorted, “That pure white save everyone line you spout is not the only reason you are so desperate to stop Tom is it?”
“No,” he replied, “As you are well aware, I have my own demons in the past to repent. At one point… I could so easily have become what Tom Riddle is now.”
“That just helps you understand him better,” with a shake of his head, Jareth turned his back on the cavorting children far below once more, and musingly continued, “we may use the white or the black as the occasion demands but we live in neither. In the grey…”
“Is where the hard decisions and true soul searching lie,” Dumbledore smiled, “sometimes I think it would be so much easier to be as black as Voldemort or as pure white as the Potters were.”
He just got a snort in reply as Jareth turned and slowly walked into the tower proper leaving the aging headmaster to his thoughts.
“Now that’s cheating,” Harry complained laughing, gazing amused on the wall that had just appeared straight in front of the Quidditch hoops just seconds before the Quaffle would have passed through.
“You sure about that?” Sarah asked calmly, her expression guileless, “I thought the rules just covered the use of sorcery….”
“The letter of the rules yes, but the spirit you just smashed,” he scolded in returned as George or Fred and he had no idea which, dived for the Quaffle.
“An entire team versus me?” a smirk crossed her face, “don’t you think I have a right to bend a few rules here and there…”
Harry laughed as the Wesley reached to grab the quaffle and his hands went straight through.
She chuckled at the aggrieved shout from the unamused twin then cancelled the illusions… revealing that the quaffle had in fact passed straight through the hoops.
“Damn,” Harry was impressed, “you cancelled out the gong sound of a score as well?”
He considered this for a moment, and then leaned down on his broom, dropping to his feet as he reached the ground. He stood swiftly next to Sarah and lowered his voice, “If you can do all this…”
Sarah gazed at him somewhat wary and confused as he paused, glancing quickly around the pitch, “I think its time we started acting.”
She shuddered, knowing exactly what he meant by that, “I can’t hold the illusions for long. I certainly don’t have the mastery Jareth does.”
Harry shook that off, mildly irritated, “Jareth has had centuries, maybe millennia to learn all he knows of illusions. Right now you know enough to make a difference though continued practise will help. It’s time to act,”
“Then,” Sarah replied with a shuddering breath, “I think its time you introduced me to your friends at the DA.”
Harry’s head whipped around, “how did you… no. I think I should have told you ages ago. Still… I’ll come collect you tonight at seven. Be ready.”
With that, he jumped back on his broom and rejoined the match.
“Jareth, where are you?” grimacing, Sarah glared around the owlry, waiting for Jareth to appear, “Damned bird.”
“I am no damned bird,” the voice sounded from behind her, “and do you know how irritating it is to be summoned?”
She glanced behind, puzzled, and then quickly hid a smile as amusement won.
“Oh,” she replied, “the other Jareth. Sorry, I wasn’t calling you.”
“The other?” taken back, he frowned, “who else in your acquaintance could possible be called Jareth?”
A screech filled the air, and her owl finally appeared, and the Goblin Kings jaw tightened as he recognised the bird, an angry glint appearing in his eyes as Sarah carefully smoothed the fur of the bird, “Sarah, I thought I asked you to get rid of that blasted bird.”
“What?” her expression amused, “perhaps I just liked the idea of having you on beck and call?”
“On beck and call?” Jareth replied aghast, amusement, irritation, fury and hurt pride. Then amusement won, or at least appeared too, and he laughed, “you girl will be the death of me.”
An evil glint appeared in his eyes momentarily and then he smirked, bringing his own illusions to the fore as he manipulated his own aura and appearance, turning charm up to somewhere in the regions of justifiable rape.
“Why Sarah,” he purred suggestively, “if you wanted me at your beck and call, all you had to do was ask.”
Her face turned bright red and she meeped, trying to hide behind a now chuckling owl. Grinning, the Goblin King turned and started to walk away but paused at the doorway, “but remember Sarah, I will get you back for his.”
“I thought you already did,” she muttered shuddering as he finally vanished, the frowned, “damn, now I’ve forgotten what I wanted you for!”