A strange boy is found unconscious on Hogwarts grounds and taken into the school. Having no memory, he is enrolled by the headmaster, begins first year classes and befriends a young Tom Riddle. Cro...
Finding Balance Ch2 Mystery Child
The next morning, Professor Dippet, along with one of his most trusted staff members, walked toward the hospital wing as they discussed their newest guest. The younger wizard, an auburn haired man with twinkling blue eyes, listened sympathetically as the headmaster recounted the previous evening's conversation.
"Physically he's much recovered from when you found him," he said. "Madam Hardy informs me that he's more fit than any student here, and most adults as well. Wherever he's from, Andrew is no stranger to physical labour."
"Have you discovered anything about where he might be from?"
Shaking his head sadly, Professor Dippet answered, "I've examined all his clothing and cast every scrying spell I can think of. Nothing brings me any closer to a real answer. Of the boy himself, when asked, he knew nothing of his life before he woke."
"Yet he remembered his name?" the younger wizard asked.
"Alas, no," the headmaster lamented. "His memory is a total blank, or at least it was when last we spoke. Laurel says that it's likely a reaction to whatever method transported him here. As the shock fades, his memory should return. She couldn't be more specific about when, apparently it will happen in its own time. As for his name, I gave it to him - it fits, don't you think?"
"I'm sure it does," the auburn haired man replied. What will become of him now?"
"That, my dear Albus," said the headmaster in a conspiritual tone, "is what I wanted to discuss with you. I've already informed the ministry of his arrival, if not the circumstances surrounding it. They promised to send someone out to look into it, with the unrest going on in Europe at the moment, however, it's more likely that they'll simply leave him in our care.
"He's of age to attend school, Madam Hardy puts him at just shy of twelve and quite obviously magical. I propose we let him be sorted into a house, with some tutoring we'll have him ready to start second year classes come September first."
Stopping in the middle of the corridor, Albus regarded the headmaster with a suspicious look. "You don't mean - "
"Don't panic," Professor Dippet admonished. "I've already talked to Horace and a few other members of the staff. So far, they're all willing to share in the responsibility of catching him up. Later this morning I'm going to have you take him to retrieve his wand, past that it should only pull you away from Nicholas for a couple hours a day, perhaps twice a week at most."
"While I agree that it wouldn't affect our research over-much, It does beg the question, why so much interest in this one boy?" Albus asked. "Couldn't he just start as a first year next term?"
"That's the fascinating thing," answered the headmaster as a gleam came to his eyes. "I was thinking exactly that last night as I was preparing my missive to the ministry. My original plan was to do just as you suggested. The odd thing was that when I finished writing, it was my proposal to start him as a second year that was on the parchment. Realizing my mistake, I made three separate attempts to correct it. Each time was just like the first. Mind you, I was in my office at the time and you well-know the wards protecting it. There were no spells cast on it or me.
"Call it fate, destiny or the living will of magic itself, Andrew arrived on our doorstep for a purpose. For the time being and as I see no immediate danger to the school or students, I suggest we let things progress as they are and keep a sharp eye on our young friend."
Albus gazed at the headmaster, his gaze advertising the doubts that troubled him. He knew, however, that Professor Dippet was as wise as he was stubborn and eccentric. If this was the choice of action he chose, nothing could be said to change it for now. Resuming their journey, they soon arrived at the hospital wing to greet their charge.
As they entered the ward, Albus noticed how quiet it was even for this early in the morning. Laurel was usually bustling about, changing bedsheets or restocking the potions cabinet to be ready for the daily upsets that children faced at school. Today there was none of that, the room was still and silent. Venturing further into the room, they noticed Madam Hardy leaning against the doorway to her office staring bemusedly at the curtained off bed where Andrew had been left the night before.
Silently joining her, they looked, first in askance to her, then to the bed she was watching so carefully. On top of the mattress sat Andrew. The sheets and cover was made up tidy as you please and the boy himself sat on it cross-legged with hands resting on his knees. His head was bowed as if in concentration and from what they could see of his expression, the only description that fit was serene.
"I found him like that when I first came in two hours ago," the medi-witch explained in a whisper. "He hasn't moved a muscle in that whole time except to apologise and ask that I wait to examine him until he was done meditating."
"Meditating you say," the headmaster murmured speculatively. "He's begun to remember some of his past then?"
"He woke up from a dream last night and told me his real name," Madam Hardy replied, quite pleased. "I think he probably remembers quite a bit more than that but hasn't said anything else yet."
There was an extended moment of silence as the two wizards waited expectantly while Madam Hardy continued to watch the unmoving child.
"His name," Professor Dippet prompted, perhaps a bit too loudly. "I was right, it was Andrew, wasn't it?"
"Oh, of course," she replied blushing furiously. "Watching him is quite distracting. "I'm sorry Headmaster, he called himself Anakin."
A little of the enthusiasm seemed to leave the headmaster's face. "You're sure he didn't say Andrew?"
"No sir," she replied with an amused expression. "He spoke quite clearly."
"Pity," he replied absently. "He looks like an Andrew."
Stepping over to the bedside, the headmaster opened his mouth to announce his presence but Anakin's eyes snapped opened and his head tilted to one side as he regarded the ancient wizard. A quiet, sincere smile crossed his face and he said, "good morning sir."
"Ah, and a good morning to you Andrew," Professor Dippet said, returning the boy's smile. "It's good to see you so recovered."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Anakin, it's my name. I remembered it last night."
"Ah yes," replied the headmaster lightly. "has anything else come back to you?"
"Just bits and pieces," Anakin answered vaguely as he hopped off the bed and pulled on his grey under garment and brown tunic. The wizards watched silently as he busied himself adjusting the coarse material to lay neatly against his body. The garb looked almost Midevil in design. The cotton like material, dark brown in colour bore no visible buttons or fasteners of any kind. His only adornment was a leather belt that buckled over a sash at his midriff. Professor Dippet had hoped that Anakin's unique clothing would shed some light to his origins but it matched nothing the headmaster recognised. Having finished slipping on his boots and a voluminous brown robe, it was Anakin himself who broke the silence.
"What now sir?"
"Well," replied the headmaster as he conjured a chintz chair to sit in. "Before we did anything else, I was wondering about the bits and pieces you were speaking of earlier. Do you remember who your parents are or where they're at?"
A somber look crossed Anakin's face as he answered. "I never knew my father; my mother's name was Shmi, she died a long time ago. I can see flashes of where we lived, it was a desert but I couldn't begin to tell you where it is or how to get there. I was a lot of places after that, mostly I remember a huge city but other places as well and being on a ship a lot."
"Were I to make a guess," broke in Albus, who'd come over to stand behind Professor Dippet's chair. "It seems that you became the ward of a seaman, perhaps worked as the cabin boy on a ship."
"I guess," Anakin replied non-committally. "Who are you?" he asked with a boldness that only a child could get away with.
"Oh dear," chirped the headmaster as he clapped his hands together gleefully. "My fault entirely. Andrew, This is Albus Dumbledore, professor of Transfiguration and Deputy Headmaster at Hogwarts."
"Anakin, Sir," the boy corrected patiently, not noticing the knowing and amused look that passed between Albus and Madam Hardy.
"Of course my boy," answered Professor Dippet placatingly. "Albus has already met you of course, he's the one who found you beside our lake." The headmaster beamed as Anakin gravely shook Professor Dumbledore's hand and thanked him for the rescue. "Do you remember if anyone around you knew of magic there?" he asked after they were finished.
"Well, no... and yes," Anakin answered, sounding a bit uncertain. The people I was with did; I was studying under one of them but it was different. The magic here feels more or less the same as at home but stronger some how, like it's more concentrated here."
"You can feel magic?" Albus asked incredulously.
Nodding guardedly, Anakin responded. "Nobody had sticks like yours, we had to be able to sense magic to learn control."
"You can control it then?"
"Kind of," Anakin answered as he thought furiously. He still didn't know how or why he was here and every instinct told him that to tell them everything about himself would cause more problems than it would solve. "Its just that at my age we just start our apprenticeships. Most of us only know a few simple tricks. It takes at least ten years from that to finish our training and I started later than most."
"Could you show us one of your tricks?" the headmaster asked encouragingly. "Don't be embarrassed, we're all truly interested in what you can do."
"Alright," said Anakin as he took a quick look around. Pulling the bed table over, he warned them, "Watch the cup."
Closing his eyes, Anakin put on a show of concentration that far exceeded his need. As he opened himself to the force, he sensed the presence of another wizard in the room, a child, but he thought nothing of it. He lifted his hand and willed the cup to start trembling slightly, then rise in a slow, jerky motion off of the table. He was again astounded by the sheer power of the force here. It was actually a chore not to send the cup crashing into the ceiling. He opened his eyes, expecting expressions of disappointment at worst, indulgence at best. What he got were three faces blank with shock.
"Wandless magic!" Professor Dippet breathed excitedly. "And from one so young!"
"It's unheard of," gasped Laurel. "to accomplish even a simple charm without a proper focus!"
"You don't happen to remember any other tricks, do you?" the headmaster asked with barely veiled enthusiasm.
"Sorry," Anakin lied smoothly. "I know that the masters could do other things but I don't know exactly what."
"Pity," the headmaster sighed as the glass settled back on the table. "Still - " They were interrupted by the sound of a quiet cough from the infirmary doorway.
Looking up, Anakin spied dark haired boy about his physical age coming around the curtain. He was slight of build with robes that looked to have seen better days but were meticulously kept. His blue eyes gazed at the group with an apparent innocence but Anakin could sense a cunning intellect behind them. There was no doubt in his mind that the newcomer had bore witness to his demonstration.
"Good morning Tom," Professor Dumbledore said as he took note of the boy. "Shouldn't you be on your way to breakfast now?"
"Yes sir," he replied, surreptitiously scrutinizing Anakin. "There's something I need to ask you about."
Anakin studied Tom in return as he spoke. There was something so familiar about the other boy, something he couldn't quite place. There was fear and anger in him, it pulsed like a star. There was hope as well and a spirit that wouldn't be crushed. Everything was hidden behind a mask of innocence that he wore with an actors skill. That skill was being put to the test as that anger threatened to boil over at the professor's response.
"I'm sorry Tom but we're a bit busy here. Have you spoken with your head of house? I'm sure Professor Slughorn will be able to assist you."
"Yes sir," Tom replied with a steady voice. "He said I should talk to you."
Sighing with just a hint of impatience in his voice Professor Dumbledore attempted to dismiss him again. "It's just not the best time. I've got to take this young man to see about a wand later and I've other affairs to attend. Perhaps you could check back with me tomorrow or when classes start back again on Monday."
A sudden impulse taking him, Anakin looked into Professor Dippet's eyes and said quietly, "It would be wonderful if Tom showed me around school until Professor Dumbledore was ready. He could even come with us to Diagon Alley."
"I have a wonderful Idea," proclaimed the headmaster loudly and interrupting Dumbledore. "Why not have Tom show Andrew around the school until you're ready to go Albus? In fact, perhaps you should
take him with you to Diagon Alley. I'm sure our young charge would appreciate a companion his own age."
Professor Dumbledore stared, seemingly shocked by the headmaster's suggestion while Tom couldn't seem to settle on being outraged or encouraged. Anakin, for his part, wore a mask of innocence not too different than Tom had worn not moments before. He schooled his face to remain blank as both teacher and student sputtered out; "But - "
"But nothing," Professor Dippet finished for them. "Young Mr Riddle, you'll take Andrew-"
"Quite right. You'll take Andrew in hand and keep him entertained until Professor Dumbledore is ready to take him for his wand. In exchange, you'll have time to talk about anything you wish while you're in Diagon Alley.
"Armando - "
"And you, Albus," continued the headmaster. "I believe you wanted some time this morning to confer with Nicholas. Having Mr Riddle along on your trip to is hardly a heavy price to pay for that."
Nodding reluctantly, Albus relented. "As always, your counsel is appreciated Armando. I'll do as you suggest. Tom, please take Anakin down for breakfast then show him around the castle. I'll see you both in the Entrance Hall at half-eleven."
"But-" Tom tried to protest again, only to be cut off by the headmaster.
"Now, now," he said. "Andrew is new here-"
"Anakin," the boy in question reminded him tiredly - yet again - as he walked over to join Tom at the door.
"That's what I said. You two run along to breakfast, Andrew has quite a day ahead of him."
"An - oh, forget it." Anakin said as they left the infirmary.
They walked in silence for a bit, Anakin did his best not to stare at all the force enhanced items that lined the corridors while Tom kept shooting suspicious glances at him. 'It's amazing really,' he thought to himself. 'They have all these incredible artefacts, charged with the force yet as individuals they have almost no force ability at all unless they're using those sticks.' He continued to watch and ponder, not offering conversation nor asking any questions of his companion. Finally the silence became too much and the Slytherin boy asked, "You're muggleborn, aren't you?"
"Muggleborn," Tom explained with a superior look. "You're magical but your parent's weren't. You have to be if you don't even know what it means."
"You're wrong, actually," Anakin explained. "I'm not from here. We had no words for 'muggleborns' where we came from. The ability to use magic is much more rare than here, though it does run stronger in some families. Though I never knew him, I have it on good authority that my 'father' was very magical. My mother was never tested or trained, but I don't think I could have been born if she wasn't."
"so you could be a pureblood then."
Exasperated, Anakin asked sharply, "should it matter? Ability and intent should be more important than whether your parents were... muggle... you called them?"
"You haven't had to deal with that filth," Tom shot back angrily. "They're cruel, sadistic and treacherous. Muggles are a lower order of creature; they're nothing but animals."
Tom ranted on about muggles in general, completely missing Anakin's flinch when he recognised an all too familiar phrase. He was spared reliving a painful moment or having to respond in any way as they arrived at the Great Hall. Stepping through the doorway, Anakin was again amazed by the complex force manipulation these wizards were capable of.
The room itself seemed common and primitive enough; the walls and floor were made of stone and windows of simple glass. Four long tables, lined with benches, ran the length of the room, while a head table, perpendicular to the others, sat at the end. A fireplace burned merrily along the right wall and tall windows displayed a beautiful view of the nearby lake. What made the room so remarkable, however, was the ceiling.
The hall looked, at first, to be open to the sky. The morning sun had just broken over the east wall, flooding the room with light. At first, Anakin was almost fooled except for the concentration of magic. The more he looked, however, the more apparent crossbeams and windows near the peak became. A gentle nudge snapped him out of his reverie and made him realize he was gawking like a child.
"Don't worry about it," Tom said with a superior smirk. "All the muggleborns do it at first. Come on," he prompted. "Let's get some breakfast."
Allowing the other boy to lead him, Anakin took better note of the other people in the room for the first time. Most were children or teens, looking to be anywhere from ten to eighteen years of age. They were evenly disbursed among the four tables, some eating, some studying, all carrying on animated conversations at the same time. The head table was populated by an older group, men and women in the later part of their lives, most likely masters.
Arriving at the table closest to the windows, Tom sat at the end populated by other children about their age and gave a short introduction to the rest of the group as he retrieved his breakfast. "Everyone, this is Anakin..."
"Eh... Lars-" Anakin replied after a short pause.
"-Right, Anakin Lars. He's being sorted this afternoon but the headmaster is having me show him around until Dumbledore is ready to take him for his wand."
"And you agreed?" asked a pale, light haired boy, his expression conveyed both shock and scorn. "That's a job for a Hufflepuff!"
A murderous look crossed Tom's face before he schooled it to become impassive. "It's not like he gave me much choice," he replied tightly. "I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"George Nott," said the boy, offering his hand to Anakin. "Of the Manchester Notts."
"Anakin," the Jedi replied as he maintained his story. "I'm really not sure where I'm from."
"He's got amnesia," Tom explained to his mystified house-mates as he poured himself some tea. "He doesn't remember much more than his name."
"He could be a mudblood then," a dark haired witch gasped, looking scandalized. "We shouldn't be talking to him!"
"Mudblood?" Anakin asked.
"Calm down Walburga," said another girl airily. "We don't know what he is yet, he could even end up in Slytherin. At least he isn't a dirty muggle." Holding her hand out to be kissed, the blond regally introduced herself. "Lucretia Black," she said with a grimace as Anakin shook her proffered hand awkwardly. "You've already met my charming cousin, Walburga."
"Pleased to meet you," he replied sincerely - for the most part. "What's a mudblood?"
"Dirty blood," George explained. "It's a bit plebeian, but an apt description for the offspring of a wizard and a muggle."
"There should be a law against it," Walburga put in rather loudly. "Mother and Father say it's only a matter of time before there is. They say the German minister put through several to keep the Mudbloods and Squibs away from their betters."
All the conversations within earshot of the Slytherin girls rant immediately stopped and everyone stared nervously in their direction. At the same time Anakin, who'd been listening to everything with rapt attention, nearly choked on the piece of fruit he'd been eating when he sensed another presence in the force. While nowhere near strong as his and untrained to boot, it was stronger than any of the wizards he'd come across so far.
Letting his eyes and senses scan the hall, Anakin searched futilely until his eyes fell on a sullen teen leaning against the wall by the doors. He was slim, almost gaunt, probably fourteen or fifteen years old with brown eyes and hair. Unlike the students, he didn't wear school robes, instead he had on rough cotton pants and shirt, with a dirty brown overcoat to go with it. He stood next to a severe older woman in similar garb. Intrigued, Anakin asked his guide about him.
"Tom," he said as he pointed surreptitiously at the glowering teen. "Who's that?"
Glancing in the indicated direction, the Slytherin sniffed disdainfully before answering. "Really Anakin, It's just the help. The school caretaker and her apprentice... rumour has it they're squibs, that's why the boy isn't a student."
"Born to magical parents without any powers of their own," said and upper classman a bit down the table. "In the old days, they'd have been smothered in the crib, a mercy to them and their family. Now everyone's gone soft, trying to give them productive lives."
"You don't know his name, do you?" Anakin asked, trying to ignore the older boy's comments.
"They're squibs and they're the help," Lucretia explained slowly, as if she were talking to someone dull-witted. "They don't have names."
The last part was loud enough for everyone to hear and a round of cruel laughter that spread beyond the Slytherin table echoed through the hall. The Young man in question, a murderous look on his face, audibly growled as he abruptly stormed out of the hall. His mistress, while equally enraged, stayed and glared daggers at the Slytherin table, all the while memorizing faces.
His breakfast forgotten, Anakin jumped up and moved to follow the retreating apprentice. Caught unawares, Tom sat gaping after his charge for a moment before rising with a few choice words of his own and running after. He needed Anakin with him until he could talk to Dumbledore. Sprinting out into the corridor, he nearly ran into Anakin as the new boy scanned the hallway in each direction.
"Where are you going?" asked Tom crossly.
"I was looking for that boy," Anakin answered distantly.
"In Merlin's name, why?"
"Because-" Anakin's shoulders slumped a bit and he let out a tired sigh. "It's not important right now. You were going to give me a tour?"
Giving Anakin another hard, suspicious look, Tom agreed. "Right then, come on."
Give a tour is exactly what Tom did... with a Slytherin slant. He described the four houses, portraying his own house as the best while the others came out sounding as either weak or stupid. They saw the library, which gave Anakin an almost irresistible urge to take a nap, some classrooms and even went a short way into the dungeons when Tom asked Anakin about his demonstration in the Hospital Wing.
"That thing you did for the headmaster," he finally said uncomfortably. "Moving the cup without a wand. How did you do it?"
Shrugging vaguely, Anakin replied, "I just did. It's how I was trained to use magic... I felt the magic flowing around and through the cup and had the magic lift it."
"Can you teach me?"
"I," Anakin paused, trying to find some gentle way to let the other boy down. "I'm not sure. From what Master Dippet said, wizards cant feel magic and even if you could, training for us starts for us about the time be learn to talk. It would be very difficult, if not impossible."
The same murderous rage flitted across Tom's face for a moment before the mask fell in place again. "It's not all that useful though, is it? He said snidely, his anger translated into words, "Just a silly trick."
he turned away, visibly disgusted but Anakin could see the longing and hurt hidden behind his eyes. They continued their tour a bit longer until Tom noticed they had nearly run out of time.
"We've got to get back upstairs," he growled as he pulled Anakin by the shirt-sleeve and began running for the Entrance Hall. They made it with seconds to spare, Tom winded and bent over as he tried to catch his breath while Anakin stood watching him with a curious expression.
"I see you made it," Professor Dumbledore said as he approached them. "Though it seems only just. Do you need time to recover yourself, Tom?" Not having the breath to spare, The Slytherin just shook his head and waved them on.
Stepping out the entry doors, Anakin felt almost like he'd entered another world. Sunlight shined down on them as they gazed at the panorama before them. Hogwarts grounds were covered in lush, green grass that rippled like an ocean in the summer breeze. A forest rose up one hundred or so metres from the castle and encircled it, save where a large placid lake glimmered in the morning sun. Students played or just sat on the lawn, basking in the warmth. Just like inside the castle, Anakin could feel the force flowing strongly everywhere. There was something else too. A pull that he felt was meant for only him coming from the forest, there was something he was meant to see in there soon.
"It's out of bounds," said Tom, his gaze following Anakin's. "The Centaurs don't like humans going in the forest and according to the headmaster, there's lots of other dangerous creatures in there."
Nodding absently, really only barely hearing the warning, Anakin asked, "Where are we going anyway?"
"Hogsmeade," Professor Dumbledore explained as they walked. "The headmaster doesn't want direct floo access to the school with things like they are and the the nearest available is at the Three Broomsticks."
"Magical travel," Tom supplied with a snort. "Don't you know anything? It takes you from one place to another almost instantly. Not so windy or dangerous as riding a broom," he added, pointing to the sky. His gaze following Tom's finger, Anakin let out a soft gasp as he spied some third and forth years playing tag above the lawn.
'They're riding sweepers," Anakin thought to himself as he watched them swoop and dive. Shmi, his mother, had used almost the same tool to clean Watto's shop an eternity ago. Now they were being used to fly... to FLY!
"So," he asked in a casual tone as they left the grounds, though his eyes gave away the excitement he felt. "How fast do you think they go?"
My apologies to anybody expecting the next chapter of Slytherin's heir, life and this chapter have kind of hijacked me the last couple months.