May 30, 2018: Hello everyone. I am truly sorry for the delay in the update. I didn't intend to neglect this story for so long however to be honest, I hated my writing here. I wanted to edit every existing chapter I have before I plan on writing new material. My writing has improved since last year so it was hard for me to incorporate my new form of writing into my old one since this is the first story I've ever written. I still hope you won't give up on this because this fic has a special place in my heart.
P.S. I am silently editing every chapter as best as I can. I have no beta so please be gentle. I am really trying my best here. Nothing in the ongoing plot will change. I am just fixing the grammar and tweaking things that might cause confusion and possible loopholes in the future.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of Harry Potter just the plot and the original characters in my story.
Madam Rosmerta's steady gaze fixed upon the two strangers as soon as they entered the Three Broomsticks. An unsettling feeling washed over her senses for something was definitely odd about having a pair of wizards with dark, brooding cloaks over their heads walk into your establishment this late in the night.
Trying to be inconspicuous with her continuous observations, she watched as the men strode and stooped below the wooden beams that crossed the worn out ceiling before falling onto separate bar stools at the far corner of the pub.
Their suspicious actions made her wary so she swallowed hard, fingers reaching for her wand and praying they weren't any of the Dark Lord's followers. She just could not take another commotion unfolding inside her tavern. Merlin knew how frequent it had become now that Lord Voldemort had made his presence known. Indiscreetly, she kept stealing glances at the pair. Though instead of her wand, she grabbed a washcloth and pretended to scrub clean the glass cabinet that stored some of their finest liquor and beverages.
Madam Rosmerta noticed the older man of the two wizards. He had a long grey beard and he was wearing half moon spectacles that glinted in the dimly lit room. She saw him raised a finger and called for a server to get their orders. The boy nodded as he finished listing the drinks and approached the bar, grabbing a bottle of firewhisky and two shot glasses and placed it on their table.
She breathe a sigh of relief with the normalcy of the situation. Surely, she was just being paranoid over a simple matter. She gave a soft chuckle and scolded herself for judging a person so quickly based on their physical appearance. The men hadn't done a thing to disrupt the peace inside the establishment, had they?
Although, she might have spoken to soon because the two wizards she had been observing all evening appeared to be caught up in the middle of a heated argument.
The man in the peculiar glasses exhaled in exasperation and caught her eye before she was able avert them. Using his hand, he motioned to his companion to wait one moment while he strode toward the counter and approached her. He took off the cloak that had partially obscured his face and she saw a pleasant look filling in his features.
"Madam Rosmerta," the man spoke calmly. "I do apologize for my companion's..." he paused in thought as though he was formulating the appropriate words to use. "Unusual behavior," he finished speaking with a small smile as his blue eyes twinkled.
The woman's eyes widened in recognition. "Oh, Professor Dumbledore. Goodness gracious! I didn't know it was you!" She exclaimed and placed a hand over chest as if she was on the verge of almost having a heart attack. "You scared me a good lot. Now, I don't want to pry to any of your 'business', but would you mind not scaring some of my customers?"
The Headmaster raised a brow at her. He didn't comprehend what she meant. Nonetheless, he obliged to her request. His gaze followed suit, irises sweeping over to the numerous occupied tables and chairs inside the Three Broomsticks.
"Of course," he politely replied. Their entrance might have appeared too intimidating for the usual crowd. Then he smiled to the woman once more before heading back to his companion and casually raised his wand, casting a silent Muffliato after conjuring their robes to look less conspicuous. A black cloak definitely did not appeal to his eccentric taste though, it was clearly necessary at the moment.
As soon as the older wizard reached the table, the man in front of him asked in meek irritation. "What was that about?" He grimaced as he took a swig of his firewhisky and slammed the glass hard on the table.
Dumbledore chose not to respond to his question and decided to go straight to the point. "Now, Raphael it's best if we discuss this matter calmly and collectively. As you know, I still have other matters to attend to and I do like to keep intelligent conversations with my guests even the ones I had presumed to be long dead," he replied, eyeing Raphael as he took his sixth shot of firewhisky.
"Fine." the man, Raphael relented in mild annoyance after draining his drink and running a hand through his tangled, greying hair. "Honestly, Albus. I don't know what to do," he admitted and the Headmaster was briefly shocked with the sheer despondency in his voice.
The younger wizard's forehead creased heavily. Lines and wrinkles that were probably a result of the looming war was etched on his face, giving him the appearance of someone a decade older than what he was supposed to be.
"Then, tell me. What are you hiding?" Dumbledore's blue eyes bore right through him over his glass-rimmed spectacles. He released a little bit of his magic onto his fingertips, wordlessly casting a stronger silencing spell in place of the Muffliato so that no one would hear or know of this conversation.
There were a lot of things that needed to be answered. What was Raphael doing here? Why was he still alive? What did he want with him? Why now?
And why did he agree to meet with him instead of turning him over to the Ministry of Magic?
He was no fool. He knew this man was dangerous. He was a Death Eater and he belonged in Lord Voldemort's inner circle. His terrible crimes would have guaranteed him a jail cell in Azkaban and even worse – a Dementor's Kiss had he not cleverly faked his own death, Dumbledore suspected.
Raphael tensed under the wizard's scrutiny. After all this time, he was not sure if he could put his faith on Albus. There was something about the man that unnerved him even though he could not explain what it was but he did not have a choice. His older brother trusted him so therefore, he should try. He owed his family that much.
"Leonardo..." his voice broke, the name dying on his lips.
With just that single word – that name alone… In an instant, all of the questions that troubled Dumbledore's mind had been forgotten. He felt as though he had been Obliviated. He could not form any coherent response. Leonardo was a good friend of his. He became lost in thought, trying to maintain as much of his composure after hearing his friend's name in such a long time.
The man watched his expression but did not speak. He remained quiet, giving the older one time for his private mourning. When he already had enough, he broke the silence. "Leonardo and his wife, Dione were killed a few years ago in Italy. They left their only child – a daughter, my niece. I fled and took her with me before Voldemort would have found out about her."
"Niece? Impossible!" Albus' voice rose slightly in disbelief. "You were the last remaining descendant in the House of Shafiq. A time when your bloodline was wiped out completely following the many deaths in your family and before your supposed death."
He knew he did everything in his power to protect Leonardo from the pureblooded families who were recruiting him as a Death Eater. Voldemort wanted to utilize his friend's talent and ancestry in a way that had enticed Raphael to join the Dark Lord's cause. For the Shafiqs were a part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. One of the only, truly pureblooded families in all of Britain. However, one day Leonardo simply vanished without a trace.
"I had to hide her, Albus! You wouldn't understand!" Raphael responded agitatedly in defense of himself. His emotions were already getting the best of him so he tried to control to his temper. "My brother cut you out of his life because he didn't want you to be involved with our personal demons any longer. He hid in Italy and met a woman there. They fell in love and had a child."
"This child. Where is she?" Dumbledore's reaction was unfathomable. This was completely absurd. There was too much information to process in a span of minutes and it was overwhelming him.
Raphael exhaled loudly and closed his tired eyes. "Safe in the place only you and my brother would know about."
He nodded at this. Even in death, Leonardo was still a clever man. Although, Voldemort's power was nearly limitless at this point. Sooner or later they would come and find her. The older wizard knew what could happen to those who crossed Tom Riddle. His former student never forgot a grievance. "She won't be safe there much long," he gravely admitted.
"I know that!" The younger man was almost enraged with his answer. "Look, there isn't much time. I-I need you to keep her safe. Protect her," he was begging at this point. He held the Headmaster's gaze, letting him see how severe the situation truly was. "If not for me or for my niece, do it for Leonardo." The bitter expression and desperation was evident in his tone and it mingled in the black of his irises.
Dumbledore's eyes did not waver from his friend's brother. Time and age could not conceal the substantial similarities between the both of them. He noted how Raphael's face resembled his dead comrade and yet, all the while still different from Leonardo. "Leonardo will always be a good friend of mine. You don't have to use his name to bargain with me. I will not hesitate to lend my assistance to his daughter even to you, as well."
"It's hard to remember kindness when you're on the brink of the war. No one will extend a hand without expecting something in return," Raphael replied bluntly but Dumbledore could see how deeply grateful he was at that moment.
Dumbledore quietly agreed at the truthfulness of Raphael's words. "Expect my visitation in the coming days. I'll collect you both to Hogwarts. It will be much safer there–"
But before he could continue, Raphael had snapped again. "You of all people should realize that there are Death Eaters in-training in your bloody school! Bringing her there would only cause more harm!" He knew it. This was a mistake. He should not have contacted Dumbledore.
He stood up, eager to leave the table and storm off when Dumbledore chortled. "It seems that even a few years cannot reduce your temper. Thankfully, it gave you a fiery passion to care so much for those you love. Seeing as you have so many options for the safety of your niece, by all means don't let me keep you, Raphael." He gestured toward the exit.
Dumbledore's curt remark made Raphael pause. He was turning into a shade of purple and he was struggling to keep his face neutral as he stood rigidly against the wall. He made no sign of leaving and the older wizard took it as a sign to continue speaking.
"I am not usually this harsh, Raphael. You must know that I have no plan on compromising the wellbeing of…" Dumbledore quirked a grey brow at him. "What is her name?"
"Callista." Raphael bit back a retort.
"I see… Callista. I will watch over her but this doesn't mean I am willing to compromise the wellbeing of my students and fellow staff members. I cannot leave Hogwarts," Dumbledore said matter-of-factly.
Raphael's face fell and he slumped himself back on the seat. He understood the Headmaster's sentiments perfectly well for this was something his brother would also have done if he we were still alive. He remembered a time when Leonardo stood by Dumbledore's side, defending the castle grounds during the Global Wizarding War.
"Forgive me." He placed his palms on his face and begrudgingly conceded defeat. "I will leave Callista in your care."