Disclaimer: Harry Potter © J. K. Rowling and Ranma 1/2 © Rumiko Takahashi
Author note: Thanks to my beta Blissfull Wulf.
Author note 2: Another chapter for the side series. I've had a lot of ideas what I want to cover next but decide to cover what happen during the time that Ryoga and Harry were lost in the wild so this chapter is solely based in the Harry Potter world. Next chapter when I get around to it will be with Ryoga and Harry again.
Chapter 2 - Meanwhile in the Wizarding World
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore sighed heavily as he slid his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his crooked nose. The weight of the war against Lord Voldemort, or as he would always be called in Albus's mind Tom Riddle, was weighing heavily on his mind. Between fighting and doing what he could to run Hogwarts and keep his students safe, the Headmaster felt weighted down by it all.
'And tonight is Halloween, Tom always had a flare for this day,' Albus thought as he slipped his half-moon glasses back on and looked down at the paperwork he had been putting off. A soft trilling noise from the golden perch beside his desk made him smile as the tension bled out of his shoulders.
"Thank you Fawkes," He said as he turned his head to look at the crimson red phoenix. The phoenix sang as she spread gold tipped wings out before tucking them back against her sides. (1)
Albus chuckled; he didn't know what he would do without the phoenix and her soothing songs. The elderly wizard jerked in shock as a high pitch whistle came from a set of silver instruments that sat on a table on the other side of his office. Fawkes squawked loudly in alarm, her feathers ruffled in the process, while Albus's face paled as he got up and ran over to the table.
"Who is it..." Albus asked himself as he looked at the instruments. There were two sets of devices, six in total each one tied to either the members of the Potter or Longbottom family. Dumbledore had set up the items as a way to monitor the health of both families as both had a young son that was the possible target of Voldemort’s because of a prophecy made by his divination professor Sybill Trelawney roughly a year ago. The prophecy stated a boy born at the end of July to parents that had trice defied a certain dark wizard would be marked by Voldemort as an equal and would have the power to bring the dark lord down.
The only two baby boys that seemed to fit the prophecy were Neville Frank Longbottom and Harrison James Potter. Albus had convince both boy's parents to go into hiding to protect both boys as one of Voldemort's minions had heard the first part of the prophecy and was determined to kill both boys. Albus's heart sunk as he saw that the silver instrument that had been tied to James Potter was now unmoving and dull in color.
'Sirius... how could you?' Dumbledore thought as he closed his eyes in pain, he had hoped like his cousin Andromeda Tonks nee Black, Sirius Black had escaped serving Voldemort but at last it seemed that in the end the boy was just like the rest of his family. (2)
Turning his attention to the other two instruments that were tied to Lily and Harry Potter, Albus held his breath hoping that somehow the muggleborn witch and her son would escape. But he was unsurprised as the instrument tied to Lily gave a similar whistle that James's had and a puff of black smoke rose from it as the color dulled and it stopped moving. Fawkes trilled sadly, her head hanging down. Turning his attention to the last instrument, Albus watched as the final silver device made a short whistle then started to puff red puffs of smoke, meaning that Harry was hurt but alive.
"So... Harry is the one who Tom chose as his equal," Albus said softly to himself. His mind was already running, thinking of ways to keep Harry protected. He didn't know what happened to Tom just yet, he needed to go to Godric’s Hollow to the Potter home, which Dumbledore now remembered where it was since the Fidelius charm was broken by its secret keeper, to see what he could find.
Writing out a note on a piece of parchment asking Hagrid to go to Godric's Hollow to rescue Harry from the house then he turned to Fawkes.
"Bring this to Hagrid would you my friend?" He asked as he held the note out to the phoenix. Fawkes trilled loudly then took the note in her beak before fire flashing away. Once that was done Albus plotted his next course of action. "I need to go to the Ministry," He said to himself, he needed to inform Minister Millicent Bagnold and the Ministry of Magic that Tom was defeated. Grabbing a handful of Floo powder out of a pot that sat on his mantel place and tossed it into the flames. The fire turned green allowing Albus to step inside safely.
"Ministry of Magic, atrium!" He called in a clear, loud voice before he was whisked away by the Floo network.
"NO!" Sirius Black yelled in agony as he came to a stop in front of the Potter home in Godric's Hollow. He quickly dismounted his bike and ran quickly toward the house, calling out James, Lily and Harry's names.
Sirius had been on his way to check on his friend and fellow Marauder Peter Pettigrew aka Wormtail at the other man's hideout. Peter had been chosen, at Sirius's suggestion, as the secret keeper for the Fidelius Charm that kept the Potter's hidden and safe from the Dark Lord Voldemort. Voldemort, who already held a grudge against James and Lily for the number of times the pair had fouled up his plans, also wanted to kill their tiny son Harry. All because of a prophecy which only Dumbledore knew all the words of.
As soon as Sirius had reached Peter's hiding spot he had become worried when he didn't see anyone inside. The house had been cold and it looked like no one had been there in days. Then suddenly Sirius knew where his soul family were located and could even repeat the address out loud. While he already had been included in the secret, Sirius shouldn't have been able to say it out loud which meant that Peter had broken the secret. If Peter had died the Fidelius Charm would have simply passed onto to the Potter's. It was possible that Peter had been captured and tortured until he gave the location of the Potter's but... the house, while unlived in looking, was still untouched and looked like Peter simply left.
That lead Sirius to where he was now, running into the Potter home at Godric's Hollow. He could see part of the roof was destroyed and the front door was blown in.
If Sirius had arrived a few minutes before he would have found Ryoga Hibiki and little Harry Potter before the younger man left with the toddler in an attempt to find help. But Sirius missed them by just a minute or two, leaving Harry to be watched over and protected by the Japanese teen.
"James!" Sirius yelled his voice thick with grief as he fell to his knees next to his best friend. The other man was sprawled out on the ground in front of the stairs that lead to the upper level of the house. James almost looked like he was asleep; his eyes closed and body fresh in death. "Oh Merlin... I am so sorry Prongs... It should have been me, I should have gone ahead and been your secret keeper. I shouldn't have doubted myself... I should have never trusted that little rat!" Sirius said as he leaned over James, his forehead resting on his friend's chest. A soft sob escaped him, this was his fault, he was the cause of his only real family's death.
"Harry... Lily!" Sirius said as he sat up, remembering the other two members of the house. He scrambled up the stairs and toward Harry's nursery, the door was blown in and a pool of dread settled in his stomach. "Oh Lily," Sirius said with a sob as he saw the red headed woman lying on the floor near where Harry's crib had been. He bit his lip to keep from crying and stepped into the room, looking for his little godson.
"Harry? Prongslet?" Sirius called as looked around worriedly, he was afraid his little beloved godson was dead like his parents. His fears eased a little as he searched the room but at the same time increased. He couldn't find Harry anywhere, not even under the crib that looked like it had been tossed across the room. He did find a pile of ash that at first worried him but he realized that it was too large of an amount of ash to be a toddler and plus it had a black robe next to it. Sirius did wonder who in the world the ash pile use to be but he had more important things to worry about.
There was no trace of Harry in the room at all. Which was good, that meant it was possible Harry was still alive but that meant someone took him and Sirius had no idea who that was. He also didn't notice that several of Harry's things, like his favorite stuffed animals and his baby book, were missing as well.
Sirius became convinced that someone had taken Harry and had a feeling that it had to be one of Voldemort's death munchers, maybe even Peter himself. He growled softly and took off out of the nursery and down the stairs, he was going to make Wormtail pay for betraying James and Lily! He was going to save his little Prongslet! Little did Sirius know, Harry had been taken as stated before and was very safe with his new person Ryoga. But Sirius didn't know that, not yet anyway.
"Blimy... Sirius, wha' happ'n?" A big booming voice asked from behind Sirius as the enraged man reached his bike.
"Hagrid?" Sirius asked in surprise, it was Rubeus Hagrid, a half giant that worked at Hogwarts as its ground keeper and keeper of keys. "What are you doing here?"
"Dumbledo'e sent me," Hagrid said as he looked up at the house with a pale look on his face. "James and Lily... are they..."
"Yes... they're dead," Sirius said in a pained voice.
"What 'bout little 'Arry?" Hagrid asked, Dumbledore told him to come get Harry from the house after all.
"... I don't know, James and Lily's bodies are inside but Harry is missing," Sirius said with a shake of his head.
"Dumbldo'e sent me to get him," Hagrid said. Sirius frowned, his grip tightening around the handlebars of his bike.
"I don't know where Harry is but I'm about to go ask a rat," Sirius said in a cold voice. "Take my bike and go back to Dumbledore, tell him Harry's missing but I'm going to look for him now," He decided thinking his beloved bike would just slow him down when searching for Wormtail.
"Sirius, are you sur'?" Hagrid asked.
"Yes," Sirius said with a nod. He pushed his bike toward Hagrid then apparated out of the area with a crack. Hagrid looked back toward the house worried, Dumbledore wanted him to save little Harry and bring him to safety but he couldn't do that if the boy was missing. The large man headed into the house to check for himself, crying as he saw James and Lily's bodies but he didn't find little Harry anywhere. He needed to get back to the headmaster as quickly as possible he decided and took up Sirius's offer to use his bike as he really didn't want to ride the Knight Bus again.
Severus Snape groaned as he came too, slowly sitting up from the cold stone floor of his private potions lab that were a part of his quarters at Hogwarts. A hand came up to rub his forehead only to hiss in pain as his arm where his Dark Mark was branded burned and ached. Grabbing his arm, Severus tried to remember what happened to end up passed out on the floor.
He had been making potions for Dumbledore to counteract the potions he had brewed for Voldemort. The Dark Lord had been very quiet the last couple of days with an air of gleefulness around him. He had asked Lucius Malfoy, Voldemort's right hand man and number one financial backer in the war, what had their lord so happy. Malfoy said with a satisfied smirk that Voldemort was close to finding one of the two children he was set to kill.
Severus's heart froze in fear both then and now for the woman that he loved Lily Potter nee Evans. He had grown up near Lily in the same town and had been the one to tell the Muggleborn that she was a witch. When they arrived at Hogwarts for their first year, both had been sorted into different houses. He into Slytherin while she went to Gryffindor, two houses of Hogwarts that traditionally were rival houses. They tried to keep their friendship strong but slowly Severus had been draw into the darker parts of his house and in their fifth year had made the very stupid and horrible mistake of calling Lily a 'mudblood', an insulting word for Muggleborns, out of anger after being humiliated by James Potter and his cohorts. Even though he had apologized again and again for it, Lily never forgave him. (3)
His arm chose that moment to throb in pain again, knocking Severus out of the past and back into the present. His arm hadn't hurt like this since he had been branded, in some ways it hurt even more. With a shaking hand, the dark haired man let go of his other arm and slowly peeled his long sleeve back. His mouth opened in surprise as he saw the state his mark was in. It was still there but with a faded look to it. The skin around his mark was red and hurt to the touch. He tried to think of a reason why his dark mark, another thing that had been a horrible mistake in his life, had changed. He could only come up with one; some how, some way the Dark Lord Voldemort had been weakened, his magic was tied to the mark. If the man had died, the mark would be gone altogether but as it was just faded that meant Voldemort was alive but weak.
Wrapping his hand around his sore mark again, Severus pulled himself up off the cold hard floor as he tried to figure everything out. His dark, almost black eyes widened as he remembered what Malfoy had said, Voldemort had said he was close to finding one of the two children that might be able to defeat him.
"Lily..." He whispered as he tried to think of where she lived and his heart seized in panic when he found that yes he could remember the address. Ignoring the pain his arm was in, Severus dashed out of his rooms, robes billowing around him as ran down the hallways of Hogwarts and out one of the side doors. He then ran across the grounds of the school to the edge of the wards by the school gates and apparated to Godric's Hollow.
Dumbledore had promised he would keep Lily safe from Voldemort. In exchange, Severus would spy on Voldemort and report back to the leader of the light. Lily and her family had reportedly been hidden by the Fidelius Charm and that should have kept them safe from the Dark Lord but whoever the Secret Keeper was, he suspected Black, had told Voldemort where the Potter's were hidden.
When Severus reappeared, he saw in front of him the Potter home part of which he could see destroyed.
"Lily!" He called hoping beyond hopes that Voldemort had for once kept his word and let Lily live. He didn't care if James or Harry Potter had lived or died, just Lily. He ran through the open door way, sneering down at the cold dead body of James Potter. He couldn't help but allow himself to kick the man in the ribs at least once, then ran upstairs where he had seen the most damage.
"Lily... no!" Severus yelled in anguish as he fell to his knees beside Lily's body and gathered her to his chest. He rocked back and forth as he cried for the woman he had always loved but could never have.
"Severus," Dumbledore's quite sorrowful voice said from behind him. Severus's shoulders stiffened as he was caught crying over Lily. He gently placed her body back on the floor, crossing her hands over chest, then slowly stood to face the older.
"You promised that you would keep her safe," he said in a soft cold tone.
"I'm so sorry Severus... James and Lily placed their trust in the wrong person, as did I," Albus said, twinkle gone from his eyes as he looked down at the brave young woman on the floor.
"What now? What happened to the dark lord?" Severus asked. He pushed back his sleeve and showed Albus his mark. "The mark isn't gone; the dark lord is still alive."
"I have thought as much, somehow young Harry Potter has defeated Voldemort," Albus said, ignoring the flinch Severus gave at hearing the dark wizard's pseudo name. "He is now weak and I believe without a body, but still alive as you said." He added, looking down at the pile of ash and burnt robes on the floor of the nursery.
"Lily's son is still alive?" Severus asked. "So he is..."
"Yes, Harry is the child from the prophecy you gave to Voldemort," Severus flinched as he remembered that he was just as guilty of Lily's death by stupidly giving his 'master' the first part of the prophecy he had heard that day. "You remember your oath."
"Yes... I will keep Lily's son safe when he comes to the school," Severus said softly. Albus nodded while he reached over to lay a hand on the younger man's shoulder.
"Return to Hogwarts my boy, with Voldemort's defeat they are rounding up the rest of the Death Eaters," He told Severus. "I will make sure you are kept out of Azkaban."
Severus nodded and apparated on the spot back to the edge of the wards around Hogwarts. He walked slowly back to the castle and down to his rooms. Collapsing in a wingback chair by the fireplace that the House Elves had made sure was going, he summoned a bottle of Fire Whiskey. Not even bothering with pouring any into a glass, Severus drank straight from the bottle as he stared into the fire.
One thing was for sure, because he killed Lily, Severus would never willingly serve Voldemort faithfully every again.
Albus sighed sadly as he watched Severus apparate away. Turning his attention to the pile of ash again, he waved the Elder Wand over it, nodding to himself as he confirmed that it was in fact the remains of Tom's body. He worried about just what Tom had done to still be alive without a body.
"Tom, what have you done?" He asked himself softly with a sigh. He frowned as he noticed that Voldemort's wand wasn't anywhere in sight and wondered where it was. The headmaster turned to the crib that was lying on its side like it had been thrown across the room. Figuring that Hagrid had just tossed it to the side while retrieving Harry, Albus righted the crib with a spell so he could scan it for residue spells. He was only half right of course, the crib had been tossed out of the way to get to Harry but it had not been done by Hagrid but by Ryoga Hibiki much earlier in the night.
A scan showed that the Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra, had been cast in the direction of the crib and also showed that it had rebound as well. Mixed in was some sort of spell that Albus didn't recognize but had Lily's magical signature all over it.
"What spell did you use Lily?" Albus said, glancing down at the woman's body. He looked around for her wand but like Tom's didn't see it. Whatever she cast didn't need a wand then unless whoever took Tom’s wand took hers as well. He turned back to the crib and he stroked his long white beard, thinking back on what spells Lily had been researching lately.
She had asked about spells like Blood Wards. Lily had claimed that she wanted to cast a ward around her sister's Petunia home and property. While the two sister's hadn't spoken to each other in a few years, Petunia had been upset that she couldn't join her younger sister at Hogwarts, Lily had still loved and wanted to protect her older sibling. Albus had lent her a book with different spells that related to blood and even life spells.
He looked at the crib again, tapping the Elder Wand gently against his hand. Maybe... maybe Lily had used a Blood Ward to save Harry? It would explain her magical signature was mixed with the rebound Killing Curse. It had to be something more powerful than a simple Blood Ward, something that needed more than just an exchange of blood. Lily loved her son very much and knowing where the crib had been originally and where Lily's body was now, she would have been in front of it.
'If Lily cast a Blood Ward to keep young Harry safe it had to be very powerful,' Albus thought to himself, 'to be able to bounce Tom's curse right back at him and destroy his body. I have to make sure the Blood Ward continues to be that strong until Harry is old enough to fulfill the prophecy.'
Albus gently lifted Lily's body with a spell and directed her downstairs. Once there he cast the same spell on James's body and took them both outside. Outside, both Potter's were laid gently on the ground and Albus turned to the house. He cast a spell that would keep everyone out of the house until he took the spell down. It would help preserve the crime scene in case the Auror's needed come and go over it. And it would keep people out he knew would come to steal any items that they could once it got out Harry had saved them all.
Once he was finished, he transported the Potters to St. Mungo's then returned to Hogwarts so he could get that book. He needed to make sure the Blood Wards around the Dursleys were ready to connect to the spell Lily used to save Harry. He also needed to send a note to Hagrid to tell him to bring little Harry to the Dursleys home instead of Hogwarts.
Minerva McGonagall covered her mouth, yawning as she entered the Great Hall early in the morning. There were no students in the Hall yet, in fact Filius Flitwick was the only person in the Great Hall besides her.
"Filius," Minerva said as she sat down, her morning cup of tea appearing in front of her.
"Good Morning Minerva," Filius said in a slightly squeaky voice. "Late night?"
"My lions were hopped up on sugar and chocolate," Minerva said in a slightly deadpanned voice. "Why does Albus insist on loading them up on sweets during Halloween?"
"I believe it's a muggle thing," Filius said with a small chuckle. Minerva shared his chuckle and shook her head, Albus and his obsession with muggle sweets, she would never understand it. She reached for a mug that by this time was usually filled with her favorite tea to help wake her up and frowned when she noticed it was empty. "The House Elves haven't sent up any breakfast either," Filius said, waving a hand at the bare plates on the tables.
"Odd..." Minerva said slowly with a frown. "The House Elves have never been late before."
"I thought so as well," Filius said. "I was about to pop down into the kitchens to see if something is wrong."
"I'll join you," Minerva said as she stood up, this was very unusual activity for the excitable race.
The two professors left the Great Hall and walked down to the kitchens the next floor down, the Scottish witch tickling the pear on the painting that guarded the kitchens. The pear wiggled and let out a giggle before turning into a door knob.
"What in the name if Merlin is going on here!?" Minerva asked loudly as they entered the kitchen and saw that all the House Elves standing around, chatting excitedly and grouped around what looked like copies of the Daily Prophet. "What has happen that breakfast is not on the tables?"
This jousted the House Elves into action as several screamed in surprise, they had lost track of time and were late in feeding the students!
"We’s sorry Professor McGonagall," The head House Elf said as he stepped forward. "We’s just be very excited about the news."
Minerva and Filius looked at each other in confusion.
"News?" Filius asked. The House Elf looked up at them in surprise.
"Yous not knowing?!" He said. He snapped his fingers in a hurry and summoned two copies of the Prophet, handing one to each teacher. Minerva looked down at the paper in her hands, mouth dropping open in shock.
THE WAR IS OVER, HE-WHO-SHALL-NOT-BE-NAME DEFEATED BY HARRY POTTER
Reporter Morticia Lockhart
That's right gentle witches and wizards, the war is over!
Last night You-Know-Who attacked the home of the Potters. While the details of what happened is not clear just yet, somehow Harry Potter, heir to the House of Potter, survived the attack and somehow defeated the most evil Dark Lord in years! Because of this, already Heir Potter is being called the 'Boy-Who-Lived' by citizens of the wizarding world. Sadly word is that we also lost Lord James and Lady Lily Potter.
Already with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named gone, the Aurors are already rounding up his followers the Death Eaters.
Minerva scanned the rest of the article, taking in all the details but not really understanding it. She turned on her heel and walked briskly toward the doors of the kitchen, the copy of the Prophet crumbled in her hand. She now knew what had the House Elves so giddy this morning.
"Minerva! Where are you going?" Filius asked as he looked up from his copy.
"To speak to Albus!" Minerva called over her shoulder as she left the room. She all but ran through the halls of Hogwarts to the gargoyle that guarded the Headmaster's office. "Lemon Drops!"
The gargoyle jumped to the side and allowed Minerva to sprint up the spiral stairwell.
"Albus! Albus!" Minerva said as she threw open the door. "Albus have you.... Albus?" She looked around the office, there was no one there but Fawkes and a House Elf. "Where is the Headmaster?"
"Headmaster Dumbles says hes be going to a Durslies," The House Elf said.
"Durslies?" Minerva repeated confused. She frowned to herself as she tried to figure out who the House Elf meant. That name sounded a lot like Lily's sister last name. "Dursleys?"
"Yes, thats who Headmasters Dumbles went to," the House Elf said with a nod. Minerva frowned, wondering why the man needed to see Lily's sister Petunia. Turning, the Scottish witch left the Headmaster’s office and ran back to hers after telling the House Elf to have the other elves pass along the message that classes were canceled today. She knew where the Dursleys lived, dear sweet Lily told her so once. In her office, Minerva dropped the Prophet on her desk and grabbed a map of England from a drawer. Next she went over to the fire place and Flooed to Diagon Alley then apparated to Little Whinging.
Once there, she put her map down and transformed into her tabby cat form then picked up the map in her mouth, needing to find Privet Drive.
At one street corner Minerva dropped her map to the ground and spread it open to check it. She squinted as she looked from the map, not noticing as a large man exited a house a few feet away and saw her looking at the map. Leaving the map where it was, Minerva walked over to the corner and looked up at the sign, mentally nodding to herself when she saw it said 'Privet Drive'.
The large man Vernon Dursley watched the odd cat for a moment before snorting to himself.
'You are being silly Vernon old-man,' He thought to himself as he climbed into his car. 'Cats don't read maps or street signs. The map must have already been there and the cat was just looking up at the sign, must have been a bird sitting on it.' Vernon nodded to himself, feeling that there was nothing strange about what he saw. Just a ruddy stray cat, nothing abnormal about that.
Minerva jumped up onto the wall between Number 4 and 6 Privet Drive, watching the man back out of the driveway and head toward London.
'That must have been Lily's brother-in-law,' Minerva mused, the man had been unpleasant looking. Her ears twitched as she heard movement inside the house. Looking around Minerva found a cracked open window and walked over so she could see inside the house, watching the woman inside. The woman was skinny with blond hair, looking like a cross between a giraffe and a horse. 'That's Lily's sister?' The cat-witch thought in surprise. Petunia looked nothing like Lily at all and she wondered if they were really related.
Minerva spent all day watching Petunia as the woman moved around the house and tended to a young child close to little Harry's age. The child was so large that he almost looked like a large beach ball with hair and Minerva was downright disgusted over how Petunia cooed over the toddler and spoiled him rotten. She could also hear and see the telly in the living room of the house, the cat scowling as she heard reports of owls flying during daylight hours and reports of shooting stars.
'Those fools!' Minerva thought to herself, she could understand that everyone was happy that the horrible blood filled war was over but they were going to expose their world to the muggles at this rate! The rest of the day passed the same way with Petunia doting on her son Dudley and trying to spy on the neighbors.
Around six in the evening Vernon returned from his work at the drill company Grunnings where he was a director. As he exited his very expensive company car, the large man noticed the cat from that morning sitting on the wall between his and the house next door. Vernon could almost swear the tabby cat was looking straight at him with an expression that reminded him of a very strict teacher back in school.
'Get it to together,' Vernon thought with a shake of his head. He’d had a very weird day, so many strange people out that reminded him of his sister-in-law and her kind. Those people were so... abnormal. But still, the cat was just a cat. Nothing for him to be wary off.
"Go on, get you ruddy cat," Vernon said, waving his meaty hands at Minerva. The cat's eyes narrowed as she looked back at Vernon but otherwise didn't move. Vernon became slightly unnerved by the look and quickly waddled up to his front door and entered his house where his loving normal wife was waiting for him with a glass of whiskey while asking him how his day was.
The tip of Minerva's tail flicked slightly, she did not like these muggles at all.
Hours after the Dursleys went to bed found Minerva still sitting on the wall watching the house. She had not see Albus once today and she was starting to wonder if she should head back to Hogwarts. It had to be close to midnight and she was starting to get stiff after sitting still for so long on top of a cold stone wall.
As she made up her mind to leave, Minerva heard a soft pop from down the street. She recognized the tell-tale sign of someone apparating and turned her head to look down the street. There down the street stood the very man she had been waiting on all day, using that odd little device of his to put out the muggle street lights one by one. After Privet Drive had plunged into darkness Albus started walking toward number 4.
As he reached the end of the driveway Albus stopped and a small smile crossed his lips.
"I thought you would be here," He said softly. "Professor McGonagall."
Minerva jumped off the wall and landed on all four feet. As she walked toward her fellow professor she shifted back into her human form and came to stand beside her boss.
"How did you know?" She asked.
"My dear Minerva, I've never seen a cat sit so stiffly," Albus said with a small chuckle. Minerva huffed as she straightened her robes.
"You try sitting on a cold wall all day," She quipped.
"All day?" Albus asked with a raised eyebrow. "When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here."
"Oh yes, everyone is celebrating alright," Minerva said in an impatient tone. "You’d think they’d be a bit more careful, but no! Even the Muggles have noticed something's going on." Minerva turned and pointed at a dark window in the Dursley's house. "I heard it. Flocks of owls... shooting stars... well, they're not completely stupid. They are bound to notice something. Shooting starts done in Kent, I'll bet that was Dedalus Diggle, he never had much sense." Minerva's Scottish accent was starting to become more pronounced as she ranted.
"You can't blame them," Albus said in a gentle tone. "We've had precious little to celebrate for eleven years."
"I know that," The witch said irritably. "But that's no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out in the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothing, swapping rumors," here Minerva gave her boss a sideways glance, hoping that he would tell her what had happen at the Potters. Were James and Lily really dead? Was You-Know-Who really gone? And what about little Harry? But Albus said nothing so she continued. "A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles have found out about us all."
By now Minerva had turned so she was looking straight at Albus. "I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?" she asked softly, wanting to know so badly.
"It certainly seems so," Albus said, neither confirming nor denying the rumor. "We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a sherbet lemon?" He withdrew a small paper bag from a pocket in his robes and offered it to the other teacher.
"A what?" Minerva asked, taken aback by the question.
"A sherbet lemon," Albus said as he reached into the bag and took out one of the hard candies, popping it into his mouth with a small happy hum. "They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of."
"No, thank you," said Minerva in a cold tone, she really didn't think this was the moment for one of Albus's odd sweets. "As I said, even if You-Know-Who has gone-"
"My dear Professor," Albus said in a sighing tone, "surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name? All this 'You-Know-Who' nonsense; for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort." Minerva flinched at the name. Albus pretended not to notice as he unstuck two of his sherbet lemons before placing another in his mouth. "It all gets so confusing if we keep saying 'You-Know-Who'. I have never seen a reason whatsoever to be frightened by saying Voldemort's name." Here Minerva flinched again at the name.
"I know you haven't," she said in a mix of exasperated yet admiring tone. “But you're different. Everyone knows you're the only one You-Know-" Albus gave Minerva a look that made her give a huff before continuing, "Oh all right, Voldemort, was frightened of."
"You flatter me,' Albus said calmly but amused. "Voldemort had powers I will never have." He was quite proud to see that while Minerva still flinched at the name it wasn't as bad as the other flinches had been.
"Only because you are too... well..." Minerva tried to think of a word that could describe what Albus was before settling on "noble to use them."
"It's lucky it's dark," Albus said with a small chuckle. "I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs."
Minerva have Albus a sharp look, she wasn't amused at all. "The owls are nothing to the rumors that are flying around. You know what they are saying? About why he disappeared? About what finally stopped him?" Minerva fixed him with a piercing stare, she had been sitting on that cold brick wall all day just so she could find out the truth from her friend, she wasn't going to believe the rumors or the paper until Albus told her himself that it was true. Albus, however, was busy picking out another sherbet lemon to suck on and didn't answer.
"What they are saying," she stressed and pressed on, "is that last night Voldemort turned up at Godric's Hollow. That he went to find the Potters. That Lily and James are... are... that they're dead."
Minerva hoped with all her heart that it wasn't true. That James, with his playful boyish smile, and Lily, rolling her eyes at her husband when he pulled one of his pranks but smiling fondly, afterward were fine and were someplace safe. A small gasp escaped when instead of answer and assuring her, Albus simply hung his head in sorrow. "Lily and James... I can't believe it. I didn't want to believe it."
Minerva's voice became thick with sorrow as she sat down on the brick wall she had been on as a cat all day. "Oh, Albus..." The wizard reached out and patted her on the shoulder.
"I know... I know..." He said in a heavy tone, just as filled with sorrow as she was.
"Th-that's not all." Minerva continued, her voice trembling, she remembered what she read in the Prophet that morning. "They are saying he tried to kill their son Harry. But he couldn't. He couldn't kill that sweet little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they are saying when he couldn't kill Harry, Voldemort's power somehow broke, and that's why he is gone."
Dumbledore, instead of telling her not to be silly, that Harry is only a year old there wasn't any way he could do something like that, only nodded glumly drawing another gasp from McGonagall.
"It's-it's true?" She faltered in disbelief. "After all he's done... all the people he's killed... he couldn't kill a little boy?" Minerva thought of all the people killed over the years by Voldemort. She had lost a lot of friends and students, all of them she had mourned for. "It's just astounding... of all the things to stop him... but how in the name of Merlin did the wee bairn survive?"
"We can only guess," Albus said. He had some idea of course, there was the prophecy of course and then there was the unknown spell that Lily had used. "We may never know."
Minerva pulled out a lace handkerchief from a pocket and dabbed at her eyes under her glasses. At the same time Albus took out an odd watch that had too many hands and little planets moving along the edge that only he could make sense of.
"Hagrid's late," He observed as he put the watch away. "I suppose it was he who told you I’d be here, by the way?"
"No, the House Elves were the ones who told me where you would be," Minerva admitted as she put the handkerchief away. "And I don't suppose you're going to tell me why you're here, of all places?" That had been another question burning in her mind all day. Why would Albus want to come here? What possible reason would he have and why did it take him this long to arrive?
"I've come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle," Albus informed her, ignoring the alarmed look crossing his deputy’s face. "They're the only family he has left now."
"You don't mean," Minerva gapped at him then scowled as she jumped up and pointed a finger at Number four crying," You can't mean the people who live here? Dumbledore, you can't. I've been watching them all day! You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son, I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets! Harry Potter come and live here!"
"It's the best place for him," Albus said in a firm tone. "His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he's older. I've written them a letter."
"A letter?" Minerva sat back on the wall again feeling a bit faint. "Really Dumbledore, you think you can explain all of this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He'll be famous, a legend, I wouldn't be surprised if today was knows as Harry Potter Day in the future.
"There will be books written about Harry, every child in our world will know his name!"
"Exactly," The headmaster said as if Minerva had hit the nail right on the head. He gave her a serious look over his half moon glasses as he added, "It would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and talk!" Minerva didn't feel the need to point out Harry could already walk and he was well on his way to talking. She had visited her two favorite students enough times that Harry called her 'Mimi'. "Famous for something he won't remember. Can't you see how much better off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he is ready to take it?"
In a way yes, Minerva did see what Albus meant. Harry could become a very spoiled child just like his father James had been before the boy had grown up. But there were plenty of other ways to protect the toddler and keep him from getting big headed other than leaving him here with these Muggles. She opened her mouth to say so then changed her mind, she knew Albus well enough that when the man had his mind set very little would change it. And she was tired, cold, and hungry, she just didn't have the energy to argue the point with Albus right now.
"Yes... yes, you're right, of course," She said instead with a sigh. "But how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?" Minerva eyed Albus's cloak thinking for just one moment that he had the boy hidden there.
"Hagrid's bringing him," Albus said, glad that he’d gotten Minerva to see it his way. He really did know best after all.
"You think it's... wise... to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?" The Scottish witch asked in slight disbelief. She liked Hagrid, he was a good man, but there was just somethings that you didn't ask of the half giant.
"I would trust Hagrid with my life," Albus assured her.
"I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place," McGonagall said. "But you can't pretend he's not careless. He does tend to- what was that?" There was a low rumble in the air now that steadily grew louder and louder. Both Professors searched the street for a sign of a headlight. It occurred to them that the noise was above them and they looked up in time for a large motorbike that seemed to fall out of the sky. On its back sat Hagrid who lifted goggles off of his eyes.
"Hagrid, at last," Dumbledore said in a relieved tone. The faster they got Harry into the protection of his family the better. "Where did you get the motorbike?"
"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore sir," Hagrid said as he hurriedly climbed off the bike. He seemed worried, his large hands wringing together, Minerva noticed that there didn't seem to be a child anywhere with him and became worried and alarmed. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me."
"No trouble then?" Albus said with another smile, also wondering where Harry was. Surely Hagrid didn't stick Harry into one of the pockets of his moleskin coat.
"Big trouble Headmaster," Hagrid said. "Litt'e 'arry wasn't there." The smile quickly melted from Albus's face and a look of alarm replaced it.
"What?" Albus asked.
"What do you mean he wasn't there!?" Minerva asked, clutching her hands to her chest.
"When I arrived young Siri's Black was there, he's the on' who loan me hi' bike," Hagrid explained. "He said that litt'e 'arry wasn't there and ran off screami'g about a rat. I checked the hous' and he wasn't there. I tried to return to Hog'arts but Fawkes brought yer message Headmaster so I hurr'ed here."
"Minerva, Hagrid. Return to the castle quickly," Albus said while taking out the Putter-Outer. Minerva apparated on the spot while Hagrid quickly rode the bike out toward Hogwarts, it wouldn't do to leave a flying bike where Muggles could find it after all. Once both where gone, Albus let out the lights trapped inside his little silver device, lighting up the street once again and apparated away with a crack.
Minerva reappeared on the edge of Hogwart's ward line, changing into her feline from as she could move quicker as a cat than as a human. Halfway across the grounds she heard a crack of somebody apparating then running toward the school as well. Albus, while quite old, was anything but frail. He hiked up his robes a bit and sprinted across the ground, cursing in his head that he hadn't thought to lower the ward enough so he could apparate into the school itself. He could have called Fawkes to fire-port him into his office but he was in such a panic right now at finding out Harry had been missing this whole time he didn't even think to call her.
As both teachers approached the school, the doors opened on their own to let Minerva and Albus inside. The portraits whispered among themselves as the elderly wizard and witch-turned-cat raced through the halls to Albus's office. The Gargoyle that guarded Albus's office jumped out of the way to let them hurry by.
Once inside his office, Albus ran over to the table where he kept the silver instruments that monitored the Potter and Longbottom families. Minerva changed back and leaned against the wall to catch her breath, watching as Albus picked up one of the items that was emitting white smoke with just a hint of pink. She glanced at the other items on the table. Three of them were still spinning around, bright silver and all three letting out puffs of white smoke. Two of the instruments on the other hand were still and had a dull look to them. There was another item on the table that unknown to Minerva was spelled to monitor the wards around the Dursleys, it would have activated once Harry was safely within the wards.
Albus hummed to himself as he cast spell after spell on the instrument in his hand, trying to locate Harry Potter. Every single spell came up negative, wherever the boy was, he had to be behind some pretty powerful wards to block the spells Albus was using.
"Fawkes!" Albus said as he turned to his phoenix friend. The Phoenix trilled at her name and gracefully flew over to perch on Albus's arm. "Can you locate the Potter boy?" he asked, Phoenix's could find just about anyone. Fawkes seemed to be thinking, stretching out her magic to look for the toddler. After several minutes the Phoenix trilled sadly and shook her head, she could feel the tiny boy but his location was lost to her.
"Well?" Minerva asked as she watched Albus's shoulders slump.
"Fawkes is unable to find the boy," He said, letting his companion fly back to her perch. "Whoever has the boy, they are behind very power wards to keep a phoenix from finding them." Minerva gave a soft cry, her hands pressed up against her mouth.
"What are we going to do?" She asked.
"We will gather the Order and search for him," Albus assured her. "We must not allow the Ministry to know that young Mr. Potter is missing but I will do what I can to question the Death Eaters brought to make sure they don't have Harry hidden away." He was going to start with one Sirius Black once he was caught. Minerva slowly nodded her head, trusting the older wizard to locate the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Headm'ster, I got h're as soon as I cou-" Hagrid arrived at the school a few minutes before hand, storing Sirius's motorbike behind his hut then headed up to the Headmaster's office. Albus quickly turned, Elder Wand in hand.
"Obliviate!" The spell struck Hagrid in the head, making the half giant stumble a bit and leaned back against the wall.
"Dumbledore!" Minerva yelped in surprise. Albus held up a hand to calm her then turned back to Hagrid, gently erasing the events of the day from the man's mind, letting Hagrid think he had been celebrating all day. He wasn't sure just how complete the spell worked thanks to Hagrid's giant blood. A second spell was cast to send Hagrid into a gentle slumber and a House Elf to take the man to his house on the edge of the forest.
"Why did you do that?" Minerva asked as soon as they were alone again.
"I trust Hagrid with my life but right now it's too important to keep the fact Harry is missing hidden from everyone," Albus explained. Minerva slowly nodded, as kind hearted and hard working as the half-giant was, Hagrid tended to have loose lips at times and let things slip that he shouldn't, almost always without thinking.
"Are you sure that is a good idea not to inform anyone that Harry is missing?" She asked. "We could use the resources of the Ministry to find him."
"The Aurors and Hit Wizards have their hands full gathering up Voldemort's forces," Albus said with a shake of his head. "We shouldn't bother the Ministry with this. No, the Order of the Phoenix is enough to find young Mr. Potter."
"I hope you're right," Minerva said, she wasn't so sure herself about that.
It had been nowhere near as easy as Albus had thought it would be. Two weeks later and the Order was no closer to finding the young hero of the Wizarding World than before. All Albus had been able to find out was that Sirius Black, that traitor, had no idea where the boy was. Dumbledore had a very quick look through Sirius's thoughts and once he determined that Black didn't have the answers he was looking for, left the young man's mind. He ignored everything in Sirius's mind other than finding if Sirius knew where Harry was. He also ignored the verbal pleading coming from Sirius for the Headmaster to please listen to him, that he was innocent.
A great deal of the Death Eaters already caught had said the same thing and while Albus believed that many, like Severus, deserved second chances Black did not. He left Sirius's fate to Barty Crouch Sr, assuming Black would get his trial like everyone else; he had more important things to worry about. This of course would bite Albus in the arse many years later, if he had taken a moment to really look through Sirius's mind or at least listen to the Black heir, he would have discovered that Sirius hadn't been the secret keeper, letting Peter the real traitor take his place. But Albus let his anger at Sirius and worry about Harry cloud his thoughts; he was only human after all and nowhere near as perfect as many people held him. And Crouch had no plans of giving Sirius his trial, throwing the man into Azkaban without nary a thought and making sure all the papers on Sirius were hidden so no one would ever discover than Black had never been tried.
'Where could that boy be?' Albus thought to himself as he removed his half-moon spectacles and rubbed the bridge of his crooked nose. Fawkes cooed softly to her wizard friend, she was worried as well. Albus gave his feathered friend a fond, thankful smile.
He had met Fawkes years ago, right after his dear Gellert, it still hurt to think about the man he had once loved, had run off. He had still been reeling from the death of his sister Ariana, the fight with his brother Aberforth and Grindelwald, and the betrayal of the man that would become one of the darkest wizards one day. It had been an odd little meeting, one day Albus had been wandering the grounds of Hogwarts as he had returned there to take over the post of Transfiguration professor, his mind filled with sorrow and dark thoughts. Suddenly a lovely song drifted on the wind and reached Albus's ears, the tune lifting his spirits in a way they hadn't been in a long time.
When he looked around for the source, Albus found the beautiful red and gold phoenix sitting on the branch of a tree above him. He locked eyes with the phoenix and felt a very light touch to his mind. While there were no real words, the fire bird expressed her wish to bond to him as his familiar. What could Albus say but yes, a wild phoenix had come to him and offered to bond... with him... maybe his soul wasn't as dark as he thought it had been.
When he chose a name for his new friend, Albus had thought Fawkes was a male phoenix, it was only days after when he called Fawkes a boy he had learned that the phoenix was a girl. By then it was too late to give her a new name but she didn't seem to mind that she had a male name. Albus chuckled to himself again, he didn't know what he would do without the phoenix.
Fawkes, as if she sensed he was thinking about her, cooed and trilled again. A sigh left Albus's lips as he closed blue eyes and leaned his head back. He felt so tired right now, in-between looking for Harry, running the school and attending all those trials, Albus hadn't had any time to really sleep. There had been use of a lot of Pepper-Up potions the last few days to keep him going. It was quiet now though and Albus thought he might be able to at least doze a little to refresh his mind.
It seemed almost as soon as he settled down Albus was startled awake by a blaring whistling alarm. He jumped up, his wand pointed in front of him as his heart raced and eyes widening as he realized it was the alarm set to the silver instrument that monitored Harry's health. He rushed over to the table and just at that time he found that it wasn't the spinning, silver top tied to Harry that was blaring but another odd silver item on the table. A second instrument started to wail out an alarm as well, both of these items were tied to the Longbottoms! In the weeks since Harry went missing, Albus had forgotten to deactivate the monitors on Frank, Alice and their little son Neville. Now the monitors were telling him that both of the elder Longbottoms were in a lot of pain, someone had attacked them.
Albus spun on his heel and raced over to the fireplace to warn the Ministry that two of their Aurors were under attack!
"I am sorry Lord and Lady Longbottom," a male healer wearing a mint green healer's robe said as he stood with Adair and Augusta Longbottom outside of their son Frank and daughter-in-law Alice's room at St. Mungo's. "The damage from the Cruciatus curse was just too great, I do not think either of them will ever recover." (4)
"What would you have us do Healer Spleen?" Augusta asked, holding her head up high. Adair admired the control his sometimes too serious wife had, she would never cry at least not in public. Augusta would never cry in public where everyone could see her. No, once they returned home, his wife would let the tears come and grieve for their beloved son and even their daughter-in-law. Adair on the other hand had let a few tears escaped and turned away from his wife and the healer to look into the room where Frank and Alice were now, a few other healers casting spells over them to see if anything could be done. (5)
His poor son! Frank had been in the prime of his life, a top Auror and a very loving father. And his sweet daughter-in-law Alice... Adair shook his head sadly, what a tragedy he thought.
As the elderly man stared into the room, his thoughts drifted back to a scant couple of hours before. One of their House Elves had come to tell them an Auror was waiting in the front parlor and with the feeling of lead in his stomach Adair had gone to great the Auror. He felt the rug pulled out from under him when the Auror had told him that Frank and Alice had been attacked by followers of the Dark Lord Voldemort. Rodolphus Lestrange and his younger brother Rebastan and of course his crazy wife Bellatrix Lestrange nee Black! And they weren't alone, Barty Crouch's son Barty Jr. was there as well! All of them had tortured Frank and Alice to the state that they were in now. Thinking of Frank and Alice made him think of poor little Neville, his beloved grandson.
"Healer Spleen, have you heard anything about our grandson?" Adair asked, turning to the healer.
"Little Neville will be just fine, we couldn't find any magic, harmful or otherwise on him other than a quick shielding spell," Healer Spleen assured him. "You will be able to take him home with you when you leave. Sadly, your son and daughter-in-law will not, I'm afraid they will have to be transferred to Janus Thickey Ward."
Adair closed his eyes and nodded, turning away from them. He could hear Augusta speaking to the healer again, no doubt arranging everything for Frank and Alice. Thank Merlin that Neville was alright, Adair didn't know what he would do if his grandson were in the same state as his parents.
"Adair..." Adair turned his head to the soft sound of his name being spoken. In front of him stood Albus Dumbledore, not quite a friend but Adair thought he was a good man. "Adair I am so sor-"
"YOU!" Augusta cut Albus off, marching up to the man and pointing a bony finger into his face. "This is your fault you daft old goat!"
"Augusta!" Adair said as he reached over to grasp his wife's shoulder. Augusta Longbottom angrily shrugged his hand off, she was going to have her say. Albus just stood in front of her quietly with his hands clasped under his long white beard and no presence of a twinkle in his blues eyes.
"I will have my say Adair," Augusta hissed at her normally happy, joking husband then turned back to the object of her wraith. "If you hadn't convinced Frank and Alice to join your order of the flaming chicken or whatever you called it, the Lestranges and Crouch wouldn't have come after them!"
"Madame Longbottom, I know that you are upset but I had nothing to do with Rodolphus Lestrange, his wife and his brother or young Barty attacking them," Albus tried to say.
"Don't tell me that," Augusta said. "It was well known they were a part of your silly little 'Order' and they attacked my son with the idea that he knew where their twisted master was being held. Stay away from my son Dumbledore, and stay away from my grandson while you're at it!" Augusta turned on her heel and marched into the room as the other healer's left to sit by Frank's bedside. Adair let out a shaky breath, he was glad that his wife hadn't started throwing curses and hexes around. She was mad enough to right now.
"Albus I'm sorry about that," Adair said softly.
"No, I can see her point," Albus said with a sigh. It had been a nightmare all morning, even with his report to the Aurors that the Longbottoms had been attacked, it still took time to break down the wards that no doubt one of the Lestrange brothers tossed up. By the time the Ward Breakers had taken down the wards, both Frank and Alice had been kept under the Cruciatus curse for much too long, leaving them with their minds completely gone. Albus almost wondered if it would be kinder to ease their pain by... well by killing them. But he knew neither Adair nor Augusta would agree to that and neither would Alice's family. And Albus felt bad for even thinking it, he hoped that one day they might be able to invent a spell or potion that could help the poor couple. "Part of me wonders if perhaps she is correct. Maybe young Frank and Alice were attacked because of their place in the order."
Albus also wondered if this had to do with the prophecy, after all Neville could have been the boy that Tom picked. Yes young Harry in the end was the one the prophecy spoke about but maybe fate still had plans for Neville as well.
"I don't know Albus, I think Augusta just wants someone to blame," Adair said with a shrug. "I am laying mine on the Lestranges and Crouch, I don't know what their reason was or if it has anything to do with your order. Maybe it was because they were some of the best Aurors the department had and were capturing Death Eaters left and right. We'll never know, I doubt any of them will say the real reason why." Albus nodded along with this, Bellatrix was too far gone, the Black blood in her mixed with the dark dangerous magic’s she used warping her mind and the Lestrange brothers just going along with whatever she wanted. He had no idea what happened with Barty Jr, Barty Sr was at the DOM the last time he saw him spitting nails.
"The trials will be tomorrow," Albus informed the other man who nodded his head.
"I will be there at the least," Adair said. "Now if you excuse me, I'm sure my grandson could use a friendly face." Albus forced a grandfatherly smile and nodded his head, sighing softly to himself as he watched the other man leave. What a mess....
Albus slowly walked up the stairs to Gringotts, it was roughly a week after the attack on the Longbottoms and the last trials of the Death Eaters had just ended. He missed one or two of them but he had made time to search briefly the minds of all of Voldemort's followers to see if any of them had little Harry Potter or knew where he was. That had been a dead end, no one knew anything about the boy. In fact, all of the Death Eaters all thought Harry was hidden away somewhere. The trails had been rough and a great deal of people had gotten off, like Lucius Malfoy, by claiming that they had been under the Imperius curse. Albus hadn't believed it but the courts had and he was unable to do anything about it. He had at least gotten Severus off just like he promised by vouching for the potion master. Severus was at Hogwarts right now recovering from his very brief stay in the Ministry holding cells.
So, without any other leads to where the boy could be, Albus had returned to Godric’s Hollow. He had searched the house again but had turned up no clues other than some of Harry's clothing, a few toys and his baby book that Lily had bought being gone. He hadn't noticed it the first time, hadn't even thought to look, as he thought Hagrid had picked Harry up from his home. As Albus had thought Petunia would have everything to take care of a very young toddler, after all she had a son that was only a month or two older, he hadn't asked Hagrid to take anything.
So whoever had the boy had left prepared. Searching the yard around the house had yielded nothing and after almost a month after that Halloween night he really wasn't surprised. Next he had searched the woods and had stumbled across the remains of a fire pit. He couldn't tell how long the fire pit had been there but without any other ideas... Albus cast a few detection spells, looking for anything that would be connected to Harry. He hadn't thought he would find anything but he did, buried under the ground was an old soiled diaper. Nothing of use but he knew Harry had been here at some point.
Sadly that was all he could find but Albus thought maybe now he was on the right track. Maybe some muggle had taken the boy? It didn't explain why he couldn’t find Harry with tracking spells or why Fawkes couldn't find the boy but it was the only idea he had left.
That lead him to where he was now, Albus still planned on having Harry live with Petunia until he was ready to come to Hogwarts so Harry would both be under the protection of the blood wards and away from the wizarding world so his celebrity status wouldn't go the boys head. He was the son of James Potter after all and while James had a good heart he had been quite spoiled as a child. It was only fair that Petunia was to be paid for Harry's upkeep, after all having two children to take of might be a bit of a burden on their money.
"Yes?" A Goblin teller said as Albus walked up.
"I would like to see the Potter account manager," Albus said with a pleasant smile. The Goblin gave him a bored look then snapped his fingers to call over a lesser Goblin to lead him.
Potter account Manager Rustyspoon looked up and frowned as someone knocked on his office door. It wasn't a very well known fact that Goblins, once they were adults and had done a great feat in battle or in the fight arena back in the Goblin caves, could chose a different name than the one their parents gave them. Most chose names like Sharpblade or Wartooth but he had gone with Rustyspoon.
It was completely a muggleborn's fault, he had heard a young muggleborn woman threaten to gut someone with a dull rusty spoon. At first the idea was laughed off but the more he thought about it Rustyspoon had realized that it would take a lot of skill and would be very painful to hurt or even kill someone with a rusty spoon. That had appealed to the bloodthirsty side of the Goblin and when he explained his choice of name to his fellow Goblins, they had agreed with him.
"What?" Rustyspoon bit out at the door.
"Albus Dumbledore is here to see you," The younger Goblin said as he opened the door. Rustyspoon scowled mightily, wondering what that irritating human wanted now. Albus wasn't very well liked by the Goblins, of course they didn't like most people so that wasn't much of a stretch, but the Headmaster of Hogwarts tended to really get under his skin.
"Show him in," Rustyspoon said, waving his hand. The other Goblin just bowed and stepped back, opening the door further to allow Albus to enter the office.
"Manager Rustyspoon," Albus said with a smile as he took a seat in one of the chairs across from Goblin. "I hope you are doing well today."
"What do you want?" Rustyspoon asked in a clipped, business like tone. The smile on Albus's face didn't even falter.
"I would like to set up a monthly payment from the Potter vaults to Petunia Dursley for the care of Harry Potter," the wizard said.
"Do you have proof that Heir Potter is living with this Dursley woman?" Rustyspoon asked.
"I'm sorry?" Albus asked.
"Lord Potter has given permission before his untimely death that if need be his son's caretaker could access a certain amount within the vaults for the boy's care," Rustyspoon said. "But to set up a payment account from the Potter vaults, we would need proof that Heir Potter is within their care."
"Well he's not there just yet, but I'm sure his aunt will greatly appreciate having the account already set up ahead of time," Albus tried.
"Then she will just have to be disappointed," Rustyspoon said. "Until you give us proof that Heir Potter is in Petunia Dursley's care, no account will be set up." Albus frowned and tried to give the Goblin his best disappointed look but Rustyspoon was unmoved. "If that is all?"
Albus gave Rustyspoon another disappointed grandfatherly look as he stood but when the Goblin's expression didn't change gave a soft sigh and left the office, lead back to the lobby by the same lower Goblin. Once Dumbledore was gone Rustyspoon allowed himself to frown worriedly and quickly left his office to inform the branch director and leader Ragnok of the incident.
Albus sighed to himself as he headed up the path to the school after his fruitless visit to the Goblins. Why couldn't they understand that it would just be better to go ahead and set up the account? After all Harry was going to live with his aunt anyway and this hassle could be avoided.
'Well I'll cross that bridge when I come to it,' he decided, he had to step up his search for Harry now. Up ahead he spotted Hagrid leaving the Forbidden Forest and smiled. "Good afternoon Hagrid," he greeted.
"Urm?" Hagrid looked up at the greeting and returned the smile. "Oh, good aft'enoon Headmaster." The half giant had a bit of a distracted look on his face.
"Is something the matter?" Albus asked when he noticed.
"What?" Hagrid said then quickly shook his head. "No no, not really. I was jus' talkin' to Connor, you know from the Centaur herd?" Albus nodded, he had met the Centaur a couple of times but Hagrid was usually the one who dealt with the Centaur herd. "'e was jus' telling me that a coup'e of nights ago a you'g man and hi' kid was in the forest."
"Oh my, are they alright?" Albus asked.
"Connor sai' they we'e fine and escor'ed the dad back to edge of the for'st near Hogm'ad," Hagrid said. "But then h' said that the man and th' kid disappear like they we'en't there to begi' with."
"I'm sure the father just apparated once they were safe," Albus assured him. It was worrying that a young man had wandered into the forest, it was dangerous with all the dark creatures inside and of course the Centaur herd didn't like people coming onto their lands, and the fact the man had a child with him... Still it sounded like somebody just took a wrong turn or had apparated to the wrong location. "Just put it out of your mind my friend, everything seemed to have worked out."
"Yer right Headmaster," Hagrid said with a forced smile fo his own. Albus smiled and patted the larger man on the arm, which was the highest he could reach on Hagrid, then continued up to the school.
The following weeks leading up to the end of November went quickly. The search for Harry yielded no results, not even searching the Muggle world, and many members of the Order had started to search less and less as their lives were taken over by other things. Even Albus and Minerva found themselves too busy to really search even if their world was now calm. But they still had students in Hogwarts to take care of and exams to give before the Christmas holidays.
Some of the Order of the Phoenix were still searching like Remus Lupin, a good friend of the Potters. Albus had him leave to the continent in case Harry was brought there.
Minerva found herself at the head table within the Great Hall one cold December morning when an owl swept in and landed in front of her, holding a leg out.
"Oh," Minerva blinked at the sudden appearance of the owl, most owls waited until she was in her office to deliver her mail. As she took the offered letter she noticed that the crest on the front was from Gringotts. Once the letter was taken the owl flew off without waiting for a response.
"Problem?" Albus asked as he watched Minerva open the letter and read it.
"No, just Gringotts requesting help on a transfiguration issue," Minerva said as she put the letter to the side. "I'll head there after breakfast." Thankfully it was Saturday which meant there weren't any classes that day.
"Of course, I'm sure it's nothing serious," Albus agreed, putting the whole thing out of his mind.
Author Note: I have thought long and hard about what sort of Dumbledore I would use for this series and I know not everyone will like my idea of him. I know from reading the comments on the other story that there is a lot of hate for Dumbledore and wishes for me to do stuff to him like turn him into a rabbit.
That said, I don't think Albus Dumbledore is evil but instead misguided. He is very manipulative and has a habit of treating people like chess pieces but I think he does it with the best intentions at heart and will even try to see the best in people. He's so used to people looking up to him and letting him tell them what they should do that it's stuck in his head that he knows better than everyone else and only wants what is for the 'Greater Good' without stopping to think if it really is for the greater good or not. And once he gets an idea in his head he's bull headed about getting it done his way, like make Harry live with the Dursleys even though they are some of the worse people to stick the kid with.
So he's manipulative but good hearted and will in time bash heads with people who don't look up to him as a kind grandfatherly man and won't let him push them around (AKA the Nerima Wrecking Crew).
(1) Spoiler for those also reading the main series, this universe Fawkes is a female. The reason why will be made clear much later in the books.
(2) I've seen a lot of stories that have it where Dumbledore always knew Sirius wasn't the secret keeper and had him put in jail to keep him from Harry. But it could have been that he really did think Sirius was the secret keeper and the Potters never told Dumbledore for whatever reason. In that case he really did think Sirius was the traitor, Dumbledore doesn't know everything after all despite what he and everyone else thinks.
(3) I'm not sure which year that this happens in, I couldn't find that out so I just assumed it happens in the fifth year.
(4) In the fifth book, Neville Longbottom said he could see the Thestrals because he saw his grandfather die when he was around 5 years old. The grandfather could have been Alice's father or Frank's. I went with the grandfather being Frank's father because the man seemed to know Neville's grandmother really well. I chose Adair as the name because it means 'Oak Grove' and it just seemed to fit.
(5) Helbert Spleen is a healer for St. Mungos in the books.