Dumbledore is visited, which sends him searching.
Albus Dumbledore straightened up in his large chair and stretched, tired from all the paper work.
He stopped in mid-stretch, when he realized he was not alone. To his shock, there were three men sitting quietly, motionlessly, in front of him.
Then he blinked again.
One man was very broadly built. One was very short, slight, and dark. One was nearly as dark, but much taller, and broadly built, although not as much as the first man.
The shortest man spoke. "We have come to speak to you about Harry Potter."
Dumbledore was fully that the three wizards before him were very powerful as individuals. That was in addition to the fact they had somehow appeared in his office. He could feel their power surging against his, surrounding it, cutting him off from any escaping.
"You are a very stupid man," the muscular wizard growled.
The tallest man held up a hand, and the other two again went still. He looked at Dumbledore, and for the first time in decades, the Headmaster was afraid. "We rescued Harry. We broke his connection to the Horcrux contained in his scar."
Dumbledore nearly fainted. "But . . . but. . . ."
"But you felt you, or Voldemort, would have to kill Harry to break it? That is because you know so little about death magic," the man said. "We broke it. Do you know where any other of Riddle's Horcruxes are?"
Dumbledore managed to shake his head. His worldview was reeling. He did not notice the subliminal nudges infiltrating his powerful Occlumency fields.
"Using time magic, we are giving Harry up to a year's training, as he would like to return here. Obviously, we cannot allow him back unprotected. Therefore, we tell you we have given him Occlumency training. If you or your pet traitor try to read his mind again, he will hurt you, and be totally within his rights to do so, as we have taken over his guardianship. We have also made up for the abysmal potions training he had. If your pet hurts him, we will kill him. Do you understand?"
Dumbledore frowned, and started to object.
"Don't try and bluster," the man said. "Reign in your pet. Have him teach his Snakes proper behavior instead of the spoiled nature he has been nurturing since you gave him free reign. Harry will be fully prepared to protect himself. Should he need help, we will give it." More subliminal suggestions poured in, making connections throughout Dumbledore's subconscious mind. They could not force him to do anything, but they could make him rethink his positions.
"We are fully capable," the shortest man chimed in. "We are here, after all."
Dumbledore could not deny that.
"And remember, some of us will be in the forest, along with our minions, the vampires," the shortest man reminded Albus, who swallowed nervously.
"If you are lucky, Harry will forgive you for placing him in aloveless home," the leader stated.
"Remember, we will be keeping watch on you and your people, as well as Harry," the muscular man growled. "Help him, but do not hinder him."
"One of the three of us will be there at all times, along with others, who will indeed be keeping watch, as will our subjects, the vampires, day and night," the shortest man stated. Considering the shock the old man was in, he had decided that the repetition was needed. "Beware, Albus Dumbledore. The Eye of Osiris is upon you."
"And the Eye guards Harry Potter," the leader stated firmly. "And, before we leave, I should tell you that we believe Sirius Black may have been innocent. You might wish to look into that before we do." To Dumbledore's shock -- amplifying his bewilderment from the rapid fire delivery of the men and the (unfelt) assault on his mind-- the three men simply faded away, without the slightest ripple in Hogwarts' wards.
His mind was in turmoil, from what they had said and from the suggestions they had slipped into his subconscious. Dumbledore would spend the rest of the day, and much of the night, in deep thought.
As soon as the portkey effect left Harry as he traveled to a new destination, he screamed in agony for three seconds, which seemed a lot longer time than that.
When the pain left, Harry collapsed.
"That is the Cruciatus Curse, the torture curse," a light voice said. "Shall I do it again?"
"No!" Harry managed to exclaim.
"Not a bad recovery time," the voice commented. The voice hardened. "Sit up!"
Harry managed to sit up.
"Obedient. . . ." Harry glared with anger. "Well, perhaps not. Now, boy, pick up that wand over to your left."
Harry saw the wand, some three feet away, but hesitated. "I will hurt you often these next two weeks, Potter," the voice stated dispassionately. Harry could now just make out a robed and hooded figure some ten feet away. "However, I will never lie to you. Snap the wand at me and say 'hurt,' and you can Crucio me for three seconds. Now, pick up the wand, if you have the guts."
Harry looked confused. "You won't get many chances to hurt me, Potter." The figure stepped a little closer. "Afraid you'll miss?"
"What's the trick?" Harry demanded.
"We still don't know the prophecy, but it likely says you're the one who must stop Voldemort. It's unlikely you'll be able to do that with some minor hex. You'll need to kill him. Can you do that? Can you deliberately kill? Well, we can't let you practice that, so this is the next best thing."
The figure loomed over Harry. "And you must want to hurt me after I hurt you," the man sneered, reminding Harry of Snape. "Get it out of your system, boy!"
"It's wrong," Harry said. "And I can kill, if I have to."
"Really?" the voice demanded, dripping with skepticism.
"I killed Quirrell, didn't I?" Harry asked, a little frightened of the answer.
"You were trying to kill him?" The man sounded a bit surprised.
"No," Harry admitted, "but I thought I might, and I did."
"You're likely correct. But can you really hurt someone?" the man demanded. Suddenly, his eyes crossed as Harry's shin connected with the man's testicles, not once, but three times.
The man collapsed, moaning. Harry rolled out of the way, grabbing the man's wand and the one that he had been directed to. When the man stopped moaning some minutes later, Harry said, "I may have to kill. I may even have to hurt people. I will not torture."
"Please give me my wand back," the man gasped. "We're done for today."
Harry considered, and then handed the man back his wand. He used it on himself, and sighed with relief. Then the man pulled back his hood, revealing rather nondescript Middle Eastern features. Then the man smiled at Harry. "I think we'll get along fairly well, Potter." The smile hardened. "But I will still have to hurt you to train you. I will not deliberately inflict pain on you again, but what you will be doing will be painful. I am Scorpion, master of painful magics."
"More painful than cramming over twenty languages into my head, forced Occlumency training, and the physical exercises I've been doing for weeks?" Harry demanded.
"Yes, although perhaps not what you will learn these two weeks."The man sat up. "The Brotherhood members tend to fall into three groups, Potter. One group slowly fall into depression and let themselves die after a few hundred to a thousand years. One group congregates either at the Temple or in some of the monasteries we control in Asia. They run the Brotherhood. The third group tend to be loners. I have not had direct physical contact with another person in over two hundred years. I have not trained another person in over two thousand."
"I'm sorry I was sent here," Harry apologized. "I didn't know I was bothering you."
The man smiled, almost warmly. "You aren't, and I volunteered. We all volunteered. You are stirring up powers which had grown complacent, even lazy. We suspected Riddle was making Horcruxes, and did nothing about it. We should have. Opening ourselves up to you will refresh us, and we needed it."
The man stood. "I will show you to your room. Before you eat, Iwill show you how to fall properly, keeping control of your body and your wand at all times. Do it right, and you will be tired in less than an hour, since you are in decent shape. Do it wrong, and you'll also have more bruises than you can count. Once you learn how to fall, then I will introduce you to blade fighting. Hopefully, I have enough salve for healing your cuts."
Harry sighed and followed his next teacher.
The morning after Dumbledore's confrontation, Severus Snape sat staring at his employer, who had been speaking nearly twenty minutes. Finally, he said, "You have kept too much to your self, Headmaster."
"It is likely true that I kept too much from you at least, not to mention Harry. In addition, I have indeed allowed you too much leeway." Dumbledore sighed. "Perhaps I have not cared enough for the students under your care." He looked directly at Snape. "These people are not to be trifled with. I think it is time you started considering Harry Lily's son, rather than James' heir."
Snape made a face.
"I believe the odds of Voldemort's being destroyed when he returns may have grown greatly in our favor. I would like you see his true end, Severus."
It was clear that Snape was conflicted.
"You will still have a role to play. It is time that you bring more than your endurance into play. You have had the chance to influence your students towards the Light. You have failed, just as I have failed to encourage you. Perhaps I have too easily fallen into the stereotype of believing ambition being Dark." He sighed. "It was certainly a Darkness within me, and still is. Ifear these Old Ones will not be forgiving to any of us."
"Who are these people, Albus?" Snape nearly whispered. He had seen fear in the Headmaster's demeanor. He had never seen that before.
"I will indeed need to find out more about them," Dumbledore agreed. "I need to leave in a few moments to discover what I may."
Nurmengard was a place of horror. The last of the horrors may have been perpetuated in 1945, but to the magical, especially to those with a touch of the 'inner eye' the very stones shrieked with pain.
None could enter or leave, or do magic within, save the holder of the Elder Wand. Only the Master of the Elder wand could make serious changes. The sole prisoner, confined to one small segment of the prison, had once been the Wand's master, but now he was confined by the magic he had called into being.
Gellert Grindelwald looked up from his desk where he was reading when the wards announced the current Master of the Wand was coming. With effort, he managed to stand, and hobbled towards the room Albus had set up for their meetings.
Dumbledore winced. He reminded himself why he usually visited only in the twilight, so that he wouldn't see how frail, how decrepit, Gellert was becoming. When Grindelwald smiled, Dumbledore noticed that another tooth was missing.
"Twice in less than two months? That is a record not matched since'Forty-six," Gellert said. "And in full daylight, too. Not since what? The early Seventies, I believe."
"I could repair some of the damage. . . ."
Gellert waved that away. "You won't kill me. Let me fade away. You must want something, old friend. What is it?"
Dumbledore sat on his side of the warded room. The two could not physically touch. Dumbledore knew that despite Gellert's frail condition, his only lover would happily physically attack him given the chance. He told Gellert everything which had happened since Harry Potter had been reported missing. "So what, if anything, do you know of these Old Ones?" he finished.
"They are an old Solidity," Gellert said, willing to share his knowledge to break the monotony. "They come from Egypt, but how far back they go, I cannot say. Some say they date back to the early Bronze age. Some say before Upper and Lower Egypt were united, some fifty-one or two centuries ago. In any case, they call themselves the Brotherhood, or even the Priesthood, of Osiris." He shrugged.
"They are also found in the Himalaya. I don't know if the Egyptian group spread there, or if two or more groups merged. Their secondary temple was destroyed by Roman mages soon after Augustus'conquest, but the original temple, the Great Western Temple of Osiris, has never been found."
"And the vampires?"
"Vampires emerged from Anatolia and the Himalaya some three thousand years ago. They served the Brotherhood, and are still beholden to them." Gellert looked at Albus with a bit of malicious glee. "There are powers in the world I took care not to disturb, my friend. The Brotherhood was the most dangerous I know of. It appears as though you have disturbed them."
"Possibly, although I prefer to think their attention is on Voldemort," Dumbledore stated firmly, and to Gellert's ear, a bit hopefully.
"Nonsense," Gellert retorted. "Their eye is on Potter. Some say the Brothers are immortal. Maybe, maybe not."
"You can't be serious!"
"I saw several of their members, but only one of them more than once. The first time I saw him was in the spring of 1899, in Istanbul. A rather nice sodomite orgy." Dumbledore shuddered. He had been denying that side of his nature for nearly a century.
"One man had the Eye of Horus, or as they prefer to call it, the Eye of Osiris, tattooed over his heart. A vampire friend had told me of the Brotherhood soon after I left England, and told me that was an identifying mark. The same man surprised me in my sauna in 1937, warning me to stay away from certain parts of the world, should I succeed in having the Muggles destroy themselves. He had not aged a day."
Dumbledore thought about that, and did not like where those thoughts led.
"In any case, the point is, does this Brotherhood still recruit members? If they are immortal, maybe, maybe not. Either way, if they do recruit, then your Harry might be the perfect candidate. You have betrayed the boy, Albus. You allowed him to be in a place where he was abused. You trapped me here, because I did not care to see what my minions were doing to my prisoners. That those prisoners were tortured past insanity. I imprisoned my enemies, adults who opposed me, for what I thought was the Greater Good. You imprisoned an innocent child, something I never did, for what you thought was the Greater Good. You think me evil because Italked the Muggles into killing so many of their own, and allowed many of our own to be abused. Yet you did so to a small child. Do not think you will be forgiven that much easier than I, if we can be forgiven."
"You may be right," Dumbledore admitted. He sighed. "Is there anything I can do for you, which you think I might actually do?"
"If you could tell the elves who send my food in to make things abit softer, and perhaps just a little more spicy, I would appreciate it," Gellert answered.
"I will do so." Dumbledore stood.
"I wouldn't mind more frequent visits," Gellert then said softly, admitting his loneliness for the first time.
"I will do what I can . . . old friend." Albus left, with even more on his mind than when he arrived.
That night, Tutmoses met with Jason and Osiris. "I have turned up a new wrinkle," he said.
"What is that?" Osiris asked.
"Did you know that Harry has an invisibility cloak?" The two men nodded. "Did you know it was one of the so-called Deathly Hallows'?"
That made the two men blink.
"The poor boy is already under one Prophecy," Osiris said. "Do you think he is the one Prophesied to reunite the Three?"
"He has one. Dumbledore has another," Tutmoses said. "If Voldemort has any connection with the Resurrection Stone, then yes."
Jason sighed tiredly, pinching his nose.
"Why tell me?" Osiris asked. "You head the Brotherhood."
"I am the current elected head," Tutmoses agreed. "You are still the High Master, the true leader. I hesitate to take the next step without your advice."
"What next step, if I may know?" Jason asked.
"The Deathly Hallows, and the Prophecy, are Druid magic," Tutmoses pointed out.
Jason winced. "I suppose we might have to involve them," he said unhappily.
"I will speak to the Tuatha," Osiris said. "Jason, you will tell Harry the story of the Deathly Hallows tomorrow."
"I suppose I must," Jason agreed reluctantly. "We don't want to treat him as Dumbledore did."
"Exactly. Does he keep up his daily correspondence with the girl?"
"He does," Jason agreed. "It may be good for him."
"As she is not part of the magical culture, it may be," Tutmoses agreed. "We don't want him distracted by the so-called Pure Blood's attitudes towards arranged marriages."
"Don't tell me he's under a contract, too!" Jason pleaded.
"No, and we don't want anyone suggesting he should have one made, either," Tutmoses said. "We don't want him used by any force other than fate."
"That has usually been enough," Jason sighed unhappily.
Dumbledore shivered as he stepped onto the shore of Azkaban. He loathed the place. He smiled when Fawkes appeared on his shoulder, softly singing. That would keep up his spirits, and drive the dementors from their immediate vicinity.
In his cell, Padfoot's head snapped up. The ever-present chill was receding somewhat, and he could hear noises in the distance. He transformed himself back into Sirius Black before the visitor arrived.
"Dumbledore?" Sirius was surprised to see the Headmaster, with aBubblehead Charm in place, at the door to his cell.
Sirius no longer really noticed the stench.
"Sirius," Dumbledore intoned. "Tell me everything that I need to know about that Halloween night and after."
"A bit late, don't you think?" Sirius demanded.
"Perhaps," Dumbledore agreed. "Should I just leave?" He held out apotion bottle, nearly a full pint. "Part of this is a stimulant, part a nutrition potion. There is also a mild truth serum. You cannot be forced to tell the truth, but you cannot lie."
Sirius gave the Head of the Order of Phoenix a dirty look, but took and drank the potion. He just managed not to demand why this hadn't happened years before.
An hour later, Dumbledore handed Sirius another pint bottle. "This doesn't have the truth serum in it, and is lighter on the stimulant. I believe you, of course."
"If your wand has not been snapped, we shall have you out soon, as that would prove you did not send the curse into that gas line. You may have suppressed the knowledge that you did so, or done so accidentally, after all. If it has, well, in any event, you shall be moved to the low-security end of the island. Better food and no dementors."
"That will help," Sirius admitted. "But why all this interest in me now?" He frowned. "When exactly is now, any way?"
"Today is the Fourteenth of August, 1992." Dumbledore sighed. "Let me tell you about Harry."