Leading several Wizards and Witches, Albus Dumbledore stormed into the home of the Vernon and Petunia Dursley. Completely ignoring the sputtering aunt and uncle of Harry's, Dumbledore proceeded up the stairs to the Harry's bedroom. Once there, he paused to stare at the numerous locked on the door for a heartbeat before opening it. With the now crowded hallway behind him, Dumbledore stood silently in the doorway as he took in every little detail about the small room.
The small room was spotless with every item in it's apparent place. Harry's trunk was sitting in the corner of the room closest to the window. The bed was made but there was an indentation in the top blanket indicating that someone, probably Harry himself, had been lying on the bed at one point. On the small table next to the bed sat a thick book and a pair of eye glasses.
Worry flashed in Dumbledore's eyes as he stepped into the room. Motioning for everyone to stay outside, the Headmaster walked around the small room. His eyes roamed about as his fingers lightly trailed over the bed covers. He then picked up the book off the table, recognizing the photo album that held several wizarding pictures of his parent and friends. When Dumbledore opened it however, a cloud of dust was released from it's pages. The old Wizard sneezed once and then waved the rest of the dust away with a flick of his hand. His eyes widened slightly as he began to leaf through the blank pages in the book.
Dumbledore turned to find Mad-Eye Moody standing just inside the doorway. Behind him were Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. The Auror's ever-moving magical eye was strangely calm, as it moved in tandem with the man's normal eye. That was almost as unsettling a sight for the elder Wizard as was the photo album in his hand.
"Are you feeling well, Moody?"
"This room is dead," was the Auror's gruff reply.
"What do you mean?" Dumbledore asked, dreading to have his suspicions confirmed.
Moody shuddered visibly. "There's no magic in this room. Actually it's more than just the room, the whole house is magic dead."
"That is what I feared," Dumbledore softly said. "When Tonks first informed me of Harry's disappearance, she had mentioned trying to cast a couple of different spells in hopes of finding Harry but to her surprise, both spells failed completely. I did not fully understand the implications of this until we entered this house. I could feel the difference the moment we walked through the door. Something has literally drained all the magic out of the structure, including the wards."
"The wards," McGonagall whispered in fear.
"Yes Minerva," Dumbledore sighed. "The blood protection wards that had kept Harry safe during the summer these many years, are no longer active."
"I don't care about the wards," Remus broke into the conversation. His body was trembling with restrained fury as he pushed his way into the room. "Where is Harry!"
Before Dumbledore could answer, he noticed a thin object sticking out slightly from under the pillow. Setting the book onto the bed, he reached down and pulled out a slender piece of polished wood that everyone recognized immediately.
"Albus, is that ..." McGonagall trailed off.
"Indeed, this is Harry's wand," Dumbledore answered softly. As he rolled the wand in his fingers, he adopted a thoughtful look. "and I'm afraid that the Phoenix feather that was the magical core of it, no longer exists."
As if to prove the point, Dumbledore turned to the small table by the bed and lightly tapped one end of the wand on the wooden surface. That slight pressure caused the wand to snap into two pieces, leaving the rest of the room's occupants stunned. Then Remus quickly opened Harry's trunk, digging through the clothes and books until he found what he was looking for. He pulled forth a large piece of material, only to have it dissolve into nothingness in his hands.
"That was Harry's Invisibility Cloak," Remus said hoarsely.
Dumbledore nodded, "And just like his wand and photo album on the bed, it too has been robbed of it's magical properties."
Remus looked up to the Headmaster of Hogwarts, shock written all over his face. "What in the name of Merlin could have caused this?"
"Truthfully Remus," Dumbledore looked around the room once more before turning back the werewolf. "I have no idea."
Remus looked at the room one more time before turning abruptly and pushing past Moody and McGonagall. The Werewolf then elbowed the blustering Vernon Dursley out of the way as he reached the top of the stairs,
"Where are you going, Remus?" Dumbledore asked as he moved to follow.
"To find Harry," was the only reply Dumbledore received as Remus ran down the stairs and out the front door.
"You should stop him Albus," McGonagall spoke up. "There's no telling what kind of trouble he could find in his state of mind."
"I'm afraid that Remus is the least pressing of our problems."
Albus ignored the questioning looks directed at him and followed Remus out the door. The others also exited the house to find Dumbledore watching Remus, as he came out from behind the house only to begin pacing around the yard. It was obvious the everyone that Remus was becoming desperate to find any clue as to what happened to his best friend's only son. Dumbledore merely stepped in front of Remus, stopping the former Professor as he waved his wand over the front lawn. Glittering motes of light blanketed the area revealing several sets of footprints.
"Now, if I'm not mistaken, those belong to young Mr. Potter." Dumbledore spoke, pointing at the smaller, but brightly glowing prints that lead out into the street. "We should follow them. Hopefully we'll find Harry soon, safe and sound."
However once they left the property, everyone's hope at finding Harry died because the footprints that they were following, completely disappeared.
Ron sat in his bedroom at the Burrow, staring blankly at the folded piece of parchment in his hands. He was in the middle of doing chores when Hedwig first arrived, and was very happy to see the snowy owl come through the window but that did not last long once he read the letter. Ron opened the letter and let his eye glide over the rough writing once again.
I've come to a decision about my life. I can't keep running off half-cocked with
little or no information and having someone die for my lack of knowledge. It has also
been proven that I can't trust our Professors to provide the needed help in that regard,
so I have decided to take matters into my own hands. I need information that others
have been reluctant to give. So I got to thinking, if I can't at least get the information
that I need second hand, then maybe it's time to take it straight from the horse's mouth,
so to speak.
Don't try to send Hedwig back. I've forbidden her to ever return to this Hellhole.
Please give my apologies to Hermione and the rest of your family. You all have meant
so much to me these past couple of years. Also don't worry, either I find what I need
or it simply won't matter anymore.
Take care of Hedwig for me.
Ron crumpled up the letter and threw it against the wall. As soon as he had showed the letter to his mother, she had immediately fire-called Dumbledore. At that point, Ginny walked into the room wondering what the commotion was about. Ron remembered her trying to ask him what was wrong but he was too much in shock to answer.
Once Mrs. Weasley was done talking with Dumbledore, she told her youngest children that Harry was indeed missing but they were to stay at home and not to go looking for their friend. That caused Ron's anger to spike dangerously, snapping him out of his lethargy. His best friend was about to or already did something very stupid and instead of trying to find him, he was expected to just sit here and do nothing. Ron could not remember a time where he was more furious with his mother than at that moment. In a feat of wisdom, he decided that instead of saying something that he was sure that he would regret later, he marched away from his mother and up to his room.
Ron was startled out of his memories by a light knock on the door. Looking up, he found his sister peering at him through the open door. "C'mon in Ginny," he said with a sigh.
Ginny slowly entered the room, reaching down to pick up the crumpled letter that laid not for from the door. She looked at her brother with a question in her eyes. Ron just shrugged, then dropped back onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. Ginny carefully opened up the wrinkled letter, frowning as she read the contents. Once she finished, she turned to her brother with a look of bewilderment.
"He went after Voldemort? By himself?" Ginny's voice climbed with each word. "Is he MAD?!"
Ron winced at the mention of Voldemort's name but simply shrugged.
Ginny plopped down hard onto the wood floor, dazed while her brother continued counting the cracks in the ceiling. They stayed where they were for the next hour, each worried in their own way about Harry, unaware of the conversation taking place downstairs between their parents, Remus and Tonks.
"What do you mean, there's no trace?" Mrs. Weasley demanded, glaring at the three other people sitting at the table. Mr. Weasley was at the head of the table while on his left sat a very tired looking Remus with Tonks next to him. They had just spent the last couple of hours searching the town of Little Whinging for any sign of Harry.
"From what Dumbledore said," the young Auror Tonks spoke up. "They tried every trick that they knew to find out where Harry was but they found nothing."
"What about his Aunt and Uncle? Do they know anything?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"No," Tonks answered.
"According to his Aunt, Harry had been basically catatonic since they brought him home," Remus told them. "Petunia said that she had checked on Harry only to find him asleep before going to bed herself. Shortly after that, Hurricane Tonks came blowing through the house and woke them up."
"Hey!" Tonks shouted indignantly, getting up from the table. "Excuse me but I was a bit more worried about Harry than I was about the muggles waking up."
Remus stood up and placed a hand on Tonks' shoulder to calm her. "That's not what I meant." Then he grabbed both of her shoulders and turned Tonks to face him. "And it's not your fault."
Tonks twisted out of Remus; grasp and slammed a fist down on the table. "I should have know that something was wrong. I had not seen Harry at all during my shift and I should have checked up on him."
"I'm afraid that is something that we're all guilty of, Ms. Tonks," a gentle voice spoke up from behind them. Everyone turned around to find Dumbledore's head floating in the fireplace. "If you must blame yourself, please do not believe that the blame is yours solely."
"Albus," Mr. Weasley stood up and approached the fireplace. "Have you determined what has happened to Harry?"
"No," Dumbledore shook his head. "There was no sign of forced entry, other than Ms. Tonks', and there was no evidence of mental manipulation of the Durseys. Whatever happened to Harry was swift and powerful. There's no explanation for what was discovered in his room."
"What about the wards? Why did they fail?" Tonks asked. "How could they fail?"
Dumbledore closed his eyes and sighed. "There's no way to truly know but it looks like the wards were drained of their power from within the house."
"Could You-Know-Who have smuggled an artifact into the house without our knowing it?" Remus queried.
"That was an idea that came up but a part of the ward was set up to detect magical signatures and the only one that was recorded before Tonks entered, was Harry's." Dumbledore replied. "That means that if some object were placed inside the home, it either arrived with Harry or a muggle would have had to do it before hand."
"Why a muggle?" Mrs. Weasley spoke up.
"Because Molly, the wards had not been breached." Dumbledore explained. "It would have to have been someone that did not know or hate Harry, as the core of the wards are set up around emotions and intent. Any Wizard or Witch that hated Harry and wanted to hurt or kill him, would not be able to enter the house."
"What about Snape?" Remus came closer to the fire. "Does he know anything about what happened Does You-Know-Who have Harry?"
"As far as Snape can discern, Voldemort does not have Harry." Dumbledore shook his head. "The confusing thing about all this, Snape said that there was no Death Eater activity planned that night. What's even more curious is that since that night, Voldemort has isolated himself from his followers, except for Malfoy and Lestrange."
Dumbledore disappeared from the fire for a second before returning. "I have just received more company so I will have to cut this short. I just wanted to let you know what I had found out." The old Wizard's forehead crinkled up in thought. "Maybe it best if you return to Padfoot's place in a couple of days. I'll let the Grangers know of the change in plans."
Then the fire winked out, leaving an empty fireplace. The four adults glanced at each other for a second before Mrs. Weasley returned to her cooking, obviously trying to keep herself busy instead of taking her worry and guilt out on her husband and friends. Tonks and Mr. Weasley sat back down and started making plans, leaving Remus standing. Then he grabbed his stuff and paused in the middle of the room.
"Where're you going, Remus?" Tonks called out.
The werewolf looked over his shoulder. "I need to check on something." Then he disapperated with a pop.
"I'm worried about him," Mr. Weasley said.
"Me too," Tonks agreed. Remus had been too quiet in her opinion, even for the reticent werewolf. She just hoped that Harry would show up soon, before Remus got himself into trouble.
"Now," Dumbledore spoke as he turned to his visitor. "How may I be of help?"
The Minister of Magic strode up to the Headmaster's desk with three Aurors trailing behind him, and demanded, "Where is Harry Potter?"
"May I ask why you wish to know his location?"
"Because of the enormous spike of his personal magical energy that was registered." Fudge began pacing back and forth. "Look Dumbledore, my people tell me that the Dursey's home has been render magically inert. They tell me that such a swift and complete magical depletion of this magnitude should not be possible." The Minister stopped pacing. "I have questions that need answers."
"Please believe me when I say this Minister," Dumbledore began. "I do not have the answers you are looking for. I also do not have Harry."
"What? Where is he?"
"That I do not know," Dumbledore leaned back in his chair.
Fudge was flabbergasted, "Surely you must have some idea of where the boy is."
"I am looking into it, even as we speak. Now I really must get back to my duties, if you don't mind."
Fudge bristled visibly at the obvious dismissal. He then turned on his heel and marched out of Dumbledore's office, motioning the Aurors to follow as he passed them by. Once the door closed behind them, Dumbledore sighed loudly. He needed to Harry and soon. Opening a draw to his right, he pulled out a copy of the last letter that Harry sent the Weasleys. Quickly his eyes locked onto the part of the message that worried him the most.
"So I got to thinking, if I can't at least get the second hand information that I
need, then maybe it's time to take it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak."
It had hurt to read that Harry no longer trusted him, and by extension, the Hogwarts faculty. It spoke volumes of the mistakes that he had made over the years, especially this last one. Dumbledore had hoped that Harry would eventually come to understand why he had withheld certain information from him but apparently Sirius' death had hit Harry harder than the boy had let on.
Dumbledore sighed once again, feeling the weight of his many years. He had a good idea about what Harry meant by that last part but he prayed that he was wrong.
Yes, he definitely needed to find Harry as soon as possible.
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