Monday, February 10, 2014

Fiction: When Mister Carrol Came By [Harry Potter fanfic]

This story at Fanfiction.net. 
At Archive of Our Own. 

Also included this week:

Part of the Stories from the India War series: Voldemort wasn't the end of war, just as he wasn't the beginning. There was Grindelwald before him, and after him there came the war in India.

Homecoming, Homegoing: You can take the Veteran out of the India War, but you can't take the India War out of the Veteran. Ao3 link.
On Coming Home Again: There was a war. People fought in it. Not you. Other people. People you could forget about, even if you had to fill the hole somehow. This is how it started and how it ended, and this is how they were forgotten. Ao3 link. 

When Mister Carrol Came By

Jacobin Carrol remembered quite clearly when it started; he had been reading Walden Two in his office, while he should have been unpacking in preparation of the beginning of the school year, coming up in just a month. He was a procrastinator sometimes, though, and it wasn't as if he didn't have plenty of time to do it, anyways, and he had been meaning to get around to the book for some time now.

There was a knocking on the door, and then the Headteacher of the school walked in. His head was hung low, and his hands were clasped together, and he was accompanied by a bright-eyed government representative, identifiable by his blue gloves.

"Is something wrong?" asked Carrol.

The Headteacher answered slowly. "We've come across an unregistered sortiary, eight years old." He paused, and sighed. "A Foundling."

For a brief time Carrol could do nothing but stare. Foundlings- muggleborns, they were called in many countries- weren't common in the New World. The land wasn't good for them, even if it had other advantages.

"You're sure?" Carrol asked, and he received a firm nod in response. "Give me the information."

---

Wizards had many nations, spread throughout the world, and each of them had slightly different degrees of separation between themselves and the muggles, and each of them had different methods for enforcing that separation. Carrol's people kept themselves entirely cut off from the Others' world. Occasionally, though, a child was born who displayed an Imbued nature despite having entirely... untalented relatives. It was rare that they were born, and rarer that they were found. The ley lines of the New World made it difficult to find them. Carrol had worked with only a handful since he had begun teaching at Wollstonecraft, but nevertheless it was his job, once the government found them, to convince them to join his world. If he failed, well... The complete separation of the two worlds had to be complete at all costs.

"Make it look like a robbery gone bad," he'd been told, his very first time.

He rang the doorbell, and the door was opened by a young boy. "You must be Victor Pozzel," Carrol said.

The boy stared up at him, cautious but unafraid. "Who are you?"

"Jacobin Carrol. I'm here representing Wollstonecraft School, to offer you an invitation." To the point, that was how Carrol liked to do it.

"I'm going to get Mom." Responsible lad, he was. A fine addition he'd make, Carrol was sure of it.

"I'll wait," he said, and soon a young woman in her late twenties came into view. "Hello madam. Might I come in?" Looking into her eyes, he Read her thoughts. He got ready to insert a desire to let him in the moment she decided to close the door, but she opened it entirely and allowed him entry inside. This was not a poor neighborhood, but was certainly something like lower-middle-class. She had good reason to be a bit suspicious, Carrol granted, but she had apparently come to the conclusion that nobody would be as dressed up as him and then go around asking to come in just to do something horrible.

The gun in her pocket probably didn't hurt her confidence in the safety of her and her son, either.

"I've never heard of Wollstonecraft before," she said.

"We're rather low-key," he responded, "but we're very good, I assure you." She opened her mouth to say something else, but with a quick motion of his hand she suddenly stopped moving. "I did it," he said, turning to Victor.

"Magic?" asked the boy, staring alternately at his mother and Carrol.

"In one," Carrol admitted. "My talent is more in minds than anything else, though. Legilimency. You've magic, too."

"The car," Victor said, and Carrol nodded. Indeed it was. Children were more accepting of the "You have magic" line than most gave them credit for. They'd often write off incidents that they couldn't explain, like anyone, but the car smashing against an unseen wall, instead of him, would be dredged up the instant magic was mentioned. "Is there really a school?"

"Indeed there is. The biggest and best in our country, and expanding all the time, located in hundreds of different buildings, with some doors providing connections to places up to five hundred miles away." Carrol took a seat on a nice and comfy, if well-worn, chair. "We will be offering you an education unlike any other you might experience, and not just focused on magic. A proper grounding in the sciences, after all, is necessary to use magic as well as possible. We especially prize our psychology courses." He smiled broadly, his face full of pride. "Ours are the foremost legilimens in the world. Mind magic," he clarified.

"You have to know how the mind works in order to manipulate it," Victor said

"Exactly." Then, there was the usual question about dragons ("No"), and "There is, however, a problem we must address."

"What?"

They had to know the consequences of agreeing, but couldn't be told the consequences of declining, in order to make sure that the child wouldn't agree just to avoid the consequences and then one day commit unlawful contact or even revelation.

"In our country," he explained slowly, "we don't involve ourselves with the Others, those that don't have magic. Like your mother. If you come then her mind will be Written with legilimency so that she believes you to have died in a horrible accident, and you will be barred from making all but the most transient contact with any Others. You can eat in their restaurants and shop in their stores, but this'll be frowned upon, you must understand, and anything more will leave you open to possibly breaking our laws. We must remain apart from them."

"Why?"

"Security. For both worlds."

Nobody wanted to pick an Other's pockets when that could land you forty years. And very few could even work up the nerve to have the opportunity, when any interaction was so frowned upon. It could destroy a man's reputation forever were it learned that he had been consorting with Others, let alone abusing them.

"No."

"Why?"

"I don't want to leave Mom." Straightforward. Carrol appreciated that.

Carrol closed his eyes. He taught psychology. He should be able to handle a child. But to best figure out what approach to take...

He opened the child's mind to his senses and sighed. Carrol could usually found it easy to entice the children once he had Read them. It was why legilimens, feared as they might be in some parts of the world, were almost always responsible for this job in all but the most heavily-regulated countries. But there wasn't anything that this child could be offered. Victor could handle leaving for a decade, but not leaving forever.

It was foolish to Write the desire into the child's mind. Especially with the education he'd get at Wollstonecraft, there was a chance that he'd one day look back on this day, and realize what had happened.

But he didn't want to kill the child. So he chose the foolish route. It would be twenty-five years before he wished he hadn't. Perhaps it was Carrol who was responsible for the mentoring that Pozzel gave to the younger students. For the contributions that Pozzel made to the field of legilimency and dark science. For the reforms that Pozzel had patiently worked toward even before he became a Senator. But if that was so, then it was even more true that Carrol was responsible for the civil war that would follow, the war that had nearly torn apart the country and dissolved the separation that was so vital to the safety of wizards and Others alike.

But even so, Carrol couldn't regret sparing the life of a child. One life saved over how many destroyed, but he had saved it anyway.

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