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Arthur entered the seldom used shared workspace with slight trepidation.
Eames had summoned him and his whole demeanour was so serious and un-Eames-like that it put Arthur on edge before he even knew what the issue was.
When he saw the mess that had been made of the area, his orderly nature was horrified. He wanted to get right in there and clean things up. He itched to ensure everything was numbered, labelled and filed. But then, he generally, wanted to bring order to the chaos Eames inflicted on his surroundings.
Eames was poring over some blue prints spread out on his side of the holographic viewspace. A number of open files were scattered within an easy distance and several images were moving in and around him, displaying their results at various times. Eames moved through the entire mess seamlessly, somehow able to consult and compare several forms of media and data, a system that would drive Arthur up the nearest wall.
Arthur’s involuntary noise of pain when one of the holographic distributor graphs looked like it was catching fire brought Eames’ attention back from whatever had been holding it. By the looks of things, it was the layout and background data for the seed he’d been nurturing for the last few hundred cycles.
“There you are darling!” Eames said distractedly, carefully tinkering with a small item Arthur hadn’t seen in ages, a device used to calibrate leylines. “Come over here and have a look at this, would you?”
Arthur gingerly made his way through the detritus to where Eames was carefully constructing his world.
It was clearly an Earth replica, copied and adapted from Arthur’s original, this one currently around two millennia after the events he’d set in play had officially finished.
(It was one of his more spectacular numbers as well. He and Eames had been working together for the most part, and together they had managed to spawn a religion that was still going strong over two thousand years later.
Arthur was always a bit horrified at how the self-regulating organizations that had since sprung up had perverted the message he’d tried to spread but Eames thought it was hilarious.
“It’s humanity, darling,” he’d chortled when he saw some of the bigoted ideals being attributed to Arthur, who had truly only said ‘be nice to everyone’. “They’re the most invidious and insidious organism I’ve ever seen. I know we agreed that ‘in our image’ would be sure to have extremes from both our natures, but I think, over all, that ‘Earth Standard’ was a win for me. Don’t you think?”
Despite his annoyance, Arthur had to agree. Humanity leaned far more towards chaos than order. Despite the majority of life on Earth Standard conforming to a more orderly existence, the dominant life form was undoubtedly a win for Eames.
Earth Standard was the preferred template for both of them, it allowed so much scope for adjustment.)
Arthur looked over the data Eames had accumulated.
“Magic?” he asked dryly. “Didn’t you get enough of that sort of thing with that Elemental Nations world you built several cycles ago?”
Eames waved his hand dismissively. “That wasn’t magic. That was chakra. A combination of physical and spiritual energy combined just right to produce tangible and controllable results outside the body. No, I want to play with magic, Arthur. Here, I’ve gone back a couple of thousand years and introduced a dominant strain into what the current crop call ‘Ancient Greece’.
“Then I left it alone, to see how things would play out without further intervention. They’ve created their own society, Arthur. They’re keeping themselves almost entirely separate from those born without inheriting the strain from either parent and from those who have a blocker attached.
“Those blockers are amazing, darling! It’s like the magic has gained a level of sentience. It punishes the magic users for various infractions by blocking the ability to manifest magic for a set number of generations! It’s fascinating!”
Arthur felt a headache coming on. “So, it doesn’t take an inductive genius or a leap of intuition to come to the conclusion that this is what you’ve picked for us this time around. What, exactly, do you need me here for? We usually just drop each other into the deep end and sort things out when we awaken. Providing we actually do awaken and aren’t killed in some freak accident or natural disaster.”
Eames sat back and gave Arthur his most serious ‘no fooling’ look. He had yet to actually use it to pull one over Arthur, so for the moment he was inclined to accept it at face value. While keeping in mind at all times that Eames was an experienced and very effective con-artist, of course.
“I want you to go over these plans with a fine tooth comb, Arthur. So far, I’ve set the entry parameters very loosely.
“One of us will enter as what’s known as a pure-blood, the other a half-blood. I considered choosing a muggleborn, which is what they call those born to parents who show no signs of magic, but in reality are the last in whatever magical line to be punished by that block I spoke of. But the truth is the usual human ability to discriminate is incredibly rife. Especially in this community. And since a number of ‘muggleborn’ are tracked down and killed each year to prevent them from ‘infecting the pure’, I thought it better to play it safe.
“We’re set to be inserted at the beginning of the twentieth century, where we can have quite a bit of fun without having to worry too much about the magic-less interfering. They won’t yet have the technology to make themselves a nuisance, as these projections here, here, and over here too, show them doing a bit later.”
“Okay.” Arthur was still a little puzzled about why Eames needed his input. It looked like he had everything under control.
Eames gave an exasperated sigh. “I want you to know the ins and outs so that you can see that I’ve nothing nefarious up my sleeve, darling. This way, if any funny business happens that is outside the parameters that have been set you’ll have incontrovertible proof that something untoward is going on. Once you’re sure, we can do something about it. Something is messing with us, Arthur, and I really don’t like it.”
“If you insist.” Arthur tried to hide his worry, in case this was just another prank.
But Eames looked so serious.
Arthur hadn’t seen that flinty eyed expression since they’d first clashed as enemies, two opposites in a never-ending struggle against each other. It had been so long Arthur had forgotten just how nervous that look on Eames face made him.
So he carefully examined all of Eames work, resisting the urge to make changes and tidy things up here and there. When he was done and they had both worked to bring the seed to the point of readiness for insertion, they stood together in front of it.
They usually each put their hand in at the same time without touching. This time, they were hoping that proximity would reduce the chances of interference.
“So,” Eames said as they waited for the device to finish charging. “We’ve both done our utmost to make this as impenetrable from outside as possible. Once we’re inserted, nothing gets in. Nothing gets out, until we’re both dead. Are we agreed?”
“We are agreed.” Arthur responded formally. Then, as the device signalled its readiness, they joined hands, Together plunged them into the centre of the whirling vortex.
James Potter held his newborn son in his arms protectively, his newly awakened mind whirling. This was more proof than he’d ever wanted.
Not only was the time period somewhat later than he and Arthur had planned for, they were supposed to be the same age! Not father and son! What’s more, the blood politics had exploded into open warfare, and as a result the wizarding world was on the verge of exposure to the muggles at least a hundred years earlier than all his simulations had predicted.
The only thing for it was to get through this life as best they could. Then they could deal with what was happening.
There was no way that Arthur could pin this one on him. Not when he’d overseen so much of the preparation.
Eames put the full weight of his magic on the curses he called down upon Petter Pettigrew and Albus Dumbledore as Voldemort blasted open the door to the cottage in Godric’s Hollow.
At least Eames had one advantage over every other magic user on the planet. He knew exactly what could and couldn’t be done with magic, and he knew exactly what the limitations were. He was perfectly aware that a wand was not the necessity or even the tactical advantage that most magic users assumed it was.
At present, the only constraint he was under was the size of his core compared to Voldemort’s. Eames was certain that he wasn’t going to win this fight. Not unless the Dork Lard did something incompetent, which was unlikely, or incomprehensible, like throwing the fight. Very shortly, Eames was going to be removed as any kind of player from this world.
Luckily, he had overridden Dumbledore’s (and Lily’s) objections and chosen Sirius as godfather. At least Harry was ensured a good life with him, even if the old dog wasn’t the most stable of parenting material. James knew that Arthur’s own orderly nature would balance things out nicely. They’d get on fine.
He internally cursed himself and his overconfidence. He and Arthur should have left a back door of some sort, some way to allow one or other of them to assist if they were thrown out early. But Arthur was still unsure if Eames was pranking him and Eames had thought ‘how bad could it be?’
He and Arthur had a lot to do when this life was over. In the meantime, he wasn’t going to win this fight, but he could ensure Harry’s survival. Lily had found the spell and it called for two sacrifices of blood. They’d started the ritual soon after their son’s birth. Now it was time to finish it.
James Potter gathered up his magic and faced his death.
Bring it on, you evil bastard.