Welcome to my newest venture into the Potterverse. This will be a Harry/Tonks story as promised and as usual will have lots of original concepts on an already popular idea. Before we start I feel that I should definitely explain a bit of the premise and some of the characterizations you will see within.
This is a WBL story with Harry having a brother a couple of years younger than himself. There will be some standard inclusions, such as Harry being sent to the Dursley's and so on, but all will be explained so I implore you to be a little patient while the story unfolds. The main plot will begin with Harry being sixteen years old and will take place during the goblet of fire, so you can guess what is going to happen with that, but it won't be why you think which will become clear during this chapter.
This Harry will very much be grey, bordering on dark in some ways, but he will not be evil. I don't want to give away too much here but as mentioned, it will be explained. He will be two years older than he is in canon also.
The James and Lily in the story will be influenced by Dumbledore, at least in the beginning, but I won't bash them in the traditional sense. The attitude towards them by certain characters will be seemingly justified and will be deserved in some respects.
This Dumbledore won't be inherently evil, but he will have a lot of the 'Greater Good' aspects about him. He will want things done his own way and will do what he deems fit to ensure it.
I will be keeping a fair few of my favourite characters from previous stories but there will be changes in them and a few new ones also.
This Voldemort will be much more hands on than he traditionally is and more intelligent than he his projected typically. He won't just be an angry man with daddy issues but I won't overly change his character, he wouldn't be the same Dark Lord we love to hate if I did that.
I won't purposely bash characters for no reason, but some will of course be negative, or seen as negative by the main characters.
The basic summary should give you an idea of what the story entails so without further ado let's begin.
Chapter 1: Darkness Falls (Prologue)
The Muggles who dwelled in the village would call it sleepy, quiet and the perfect haven to isolate oneself from the fast paced style of modern city living. But those of magical blood would disagree. Although the magical community happily shared the village with those not of their kind, this was their land; sacred and rich in a history that their counterparts would never know. To those of magic this was the home of wizarding legend; the birthplace of Godric Gryffindor himself, the home of the famous Peverell family and more recently the Bagshots, the Dumbledore's and now the Potters.
The latter of the families had only made the presence known in the village recently after securing one of the cottages and warding it to the highest degree; this was a time of war after all but it was the secrecy of the move that had people talking. The non-magicals noticed nothing out of the ordinary, it was simply as though that cottage in particular had never existed, it was however a different story altogether for those of magic, they knew something had changed within their community and in a time such as this, it was nerve-wracking to say the least.
They all had vague memories of that particular cottage but when they attempted to investigate, they merely forgot about it for a brief time and returned to their daily lives before they would once again become curious to it's disappearance.
It was a continuous process that would repeat itself over a period of several months, but that would all change overnight, a night that would be known as the greatest victory over darkness in modern history.
Halloween 1981, Godric's Hollow
Lord Voldemort arrived in the village with an inaudible apparation and without missing step, made his way up the gently cobbled street towards his destination.
The final dregs of the muggle children were finishing up their trick or treating for the evening and none paid any heed to the tall man dressed in such a strange black robe; it was Halloween after all. Lord Voldemort equally paid them no attention, tonight was about securing his legacy, not the frivolous customs that he himself had been denied so many years ago. Tonight was about eliminating the only threat to him, though he still could not grasp any understanding how little more than a newborn babe could be his downfall.
However, Lord Voldemort was nothing if not meticulous and although the thought of prophecies was laughable, he was not one to dismiss a branch of magic he had almost no experience of, it would certainly be foolish to ignore entirely.
Yes, it was best to take no chances and nip the proverbial thorny rose in the bud before it could become any form of threat.
He of course knew of the Potters well. They were a family of old, steeped in tradition of battle success and were held in high regard when it came to the art of war. The damned parents of his next victim had already given him enough problems in recent years, but that would end this very evening. The three of them would all meet their maker at the end of his wand.
He smiled cruelly as the cottage he was looking for came into view; the traitor Pettigrew had been invaluable in finding it. However, the Dark Lord had no room for traitors in his ranks. When the night was over, the rat would also be killed for his cowardice. Lord Voldemort did not reward cowards, even if they were as helpful as young Peter had been. The thought of the man disgusted him.
If the thought of the man sickened him, it was nothing compared to the sight of the rat leaning nervously in the doorway of the house as he reached the gate.
The Dark Lord sneered in distaste before crossing the powerful ward line, shuddering as the powerful magic washed over him.
He paused briefly at the shudder.
It had not been a typical shudder one would feel when crossing a magical barrier, but a shudder of something that he had long forgotten, something that he had not felt in decades; a sense of foreboding and the smallest jolt of fear.
He frowned and shook his head, but smirked nonetheless. He may be immortal, but a reminder of what fear was always amused him, though this was more unsettling than he would ever admit.
"My Lord, I trust you had no issues finding it," Peter stated, offering the other a bow.
"Why are you here Wormtail?"
The rotund man trembled at the near hiss in the Dark Lord's voice.
"The P-Potters asked me to babysit while they attended a meeting with the Order."
The Dark Lord growled.
He wanted the entire family dead, but now he would have to settle for his primary objective.
He smirked again at the thought of them returning home to find their son dead. That would have to do for now. There was no doubt in his mind that he would get the chance to finish the parents at a different time.
"Leave Wormtail," he commanded.
Peter looked as though he wanted to say something, but the tone of his master's voice had him holding his tongue. He instead swallowed nervously before nodding and scarpering away in his rat form.
When the traitor was out of sight he crossed the threshold into the home and snorted at the simplicity and sparse nature of the property. The Potters were exceedingly wealthy, but this house reflected none of that wealth. It was decorated in the most basic of manner with a lot of muggle made furniture and implements.
He sighed in disappointment. It was certainly a shame to see a family such as the Potters to steep so low as to live like the disgusting muggles, though he knew he should not be surprised since the newest head of the family had married a mudblood.
Instead of investigating further, he made his way up the stairs to be faced by 6 doors all of them open besides one, the room in which the child he sought would be sleeping restfully.
The door creaked gently as he opened it and his eyes became wide at the unexpected development; the rat would suffer before he died for not mentioning this.
"He must have been under some kind of vow," he muttered irritably.
Where he expected to find one small boy no older than a year and a half old, he found two children, one at least past his third birthday.
The youngest of the boys was asleep as he had been promised, but the elder looked up at him with large, innocent green eyes that shined gently in the moonlight pouring through the window.
The Dark Lord frowned at the boy but he did not waver under the glare, he instead returned it stubbornly.
The man chuckled involuntarily and scolded himself immediately.
"If things were different you could have made a promising recruit in the future young Potter," he offered sincerely as he ruffled the boys hair.
The Potter boy huffed and continued his glare as he pulled away from the strangers touch.
"Do you not fear me boy?" the Dark Lord questioned disbelievingly.
The boy shook his head.
"Don't know who you are," he replied with a shrug.
Lord Voldemort smirked again.
"Ahh, the ignorance of youth," he mused. "I am Lord Voldemort."
The boys' eyes widened and his lips began to tremble at the realisation.
The Dark Lord smirked once more, this time in triumph.
"Now you understand the gravity of the situation."
The boy looked around helplessly, praying that his parents would come and save him and his baby brother.
"We are quite alone, but don't worry, if you don't interfere then I will make your death painless."
The boy was frozen in fear but felt something stirring inside of him at the thought of the impending doom he was sure to face. He began to feel a little brave; audaciousness fuelled by anger, but not quite bold enough to be defiant.
The Dark Lord turned away from the elder child, he was no threat after all and he had something much more important to deal with. It was the one born as the seventh month dies after all and he knew that it was the younger Potter that the prophecy referred too; Severus had assured him of that more than a year ago.
He began burning the necessary runes into the wooden floor, something he had practiced dozens of times and had completed on five other occasions thus far. This would bring him one step closer to the most magical number of Horcruxes, then his immortality would be secure, even Dumbledore nor Merlin himself could not prevent his domination of the Wizarding world.
With the runes drawn he began to chant in a long forgotten tongue, the incantation practiced to perfection since before he was sixteen years old from a scroll he had found in the chamber of his ancestor, helpfully translated by the greatest of the founding four.
The more and more he chanted the more he could feel the pull on his magic and his very soul. He reached the point of near exhaustion and quickly drew the shield of Gryffindor from his pocket and resized it, the final founders artifact he had searched for to complete the set. When he was on the brink of losing consciousness he leveled his wand at the sleeping boy, steadying his trembling hand so his aim was true.
"Avada Kedavra," he roared.
Unknown to the Dark Lord, the elder Potter son had managed to rile up his courage into action, the fear of his brother being hurt combined with his desire to protect him by any means spurred him on and he dived in front of the green spell.
The Dark Lord could only watch in shock as the spell rebounded off the boy and headed back towards him, much too quickly for him to dodge.
The next thing he became aware of was pain. Pain beyond pain wracked every fibre of his being and the agony left him screaming as his soul tore. He could not be sure of how long it lasted. It may only have been seconds but it felt an eternity. All that he knew was that he was no longer in his body, and he could remember nothing of what had happened. His last memory was crossing the ward line of the Potter property and then nothing, a simple haze in the place of what had transpired to leave him in such a state and predicament.
Whatever had happened had left him more vulnerable than he had ever been and he knew he had to flee however, all he could see was darkness. He braced himself but nonetheless mustered every ounce of strength and willpower pushed himself with great effort through the black catching a glimpse of four shadowy figures in a doorway as he came upon the light, before he left as quickly as possible, passing through the walls and wards and disappearing into the night with a final blood curdling scream.
Four figures stood mesmerized by what they had witnessed, each stuck in a morbid curiosity, mouths agape and a sense of fear gripping their hearts leaving them shuddering where they stood as the darkness of the magic permeated the air around them.
It was the female of the group that escaped her stupor first as she became aware of the destruction surrounding them. With a worried step she took in what was left, her eyes quickly finding the two unconscious children in the room, her sons, both lying unmoving amongst the debris. She whimpered slightly as she stepped even more so into the room and came upon the body of her eldest.
"Harry," she sobbed as she scooped the boy into her arms and pulled him closer to her chest, completely unaware of the movements of her three companions.
The boy was still warm to touch and she breathed a sigh of relief as she felt his chest heave as he inhaled a lungful of air. Her relief was short-lived however as a wave of nausea overwhelmed her, a nausea she associated with the darkness herself and her husband had been fighting against these past years. She shuddered as another wave of foulness reached her, a foulness that was unmistakably pouring off her infant son.
She sobbed harder as she brushed aside his fringe only for her hand to come away wet and sticky with blood. Panicking, she swiped away the sticky mess of black hair the boy had inherited from his father and she gasped at what she saw. A cut in the shape of a lightning bolt was visibly etched into the toddlers' head just above his right eye, the point finishing next to his temple. The reek of darkness became more prominent and she physically retched but somehow managed to prevent the bile from rising into her throat.
"James," she moaned as her eyes met the sight of her husband cradling their other child.
James swallowed deeply, his eyes full of tears but he nodded as he pulled the other boy closer to him choking back a relieved sob.
"He's alive Lily," he managed to croak.
Even in his relief he could not miss the concerned expression of his wife as she cradled the elder boy.
"What's wrong Lils?" he questioned urgently.
The woman shook her head, her complexion paling further as she attempted to find the words.
"He feels wrong," she replied simply as the first distraught tear escaped her.
James frowned and approached her, the frown becoming deeper as he felt the darkness radiating from his son.
"ALBUS, SIRIUS," he called desperately, now panicking as he crouched down to join his wife.
The elder of the two men had been inspecting the runic carvings left in the wake of the wraith and the younger stood transfixed in the doorway, paler than the mother of the two boys. At the sound of his name however, his legs mechanically obeyed the summons and he found himself crouched on the floor looking upon his Godson who remained unconscious in his mothers' arms.
He too felt the darkness wash over him, but he himself did not flinch. He had become accustomed to such darkness having been raised in the house of Black. However, this darkness was something he was not at all familiar with. He thought he had experienced true darkness before but this was on a whole new spectrum, something that felt against nature itself.
Dumbledore physically shuddered at the radiating darkness permeating around the toddler and new that he needed assistance. Although he could not understand the entirety of the runic circle that Tom had left behind, he knew that it had detrimentally affected the two young boys, but to what extent, he did not know. However, it was something he planned on investigating immediately as priority.
"Sirius, please go and fetch Poppy."
The voice of the headmaster was calm but none could miss the severity in it.
Sirius shot one final desperate look at Harry before hurrying from the room as quickly as his legs would carry him to fetch the school matron.
The moment he had left Dumbledore drew his wand and made his way towards James and the youngest of the boys. Without preamble he began casting every diagnosis charm he knew and a few others to ascertain the state of the boy.
He frowned at the results and cast a number of them again to be sure.
He sighed as he pulled on his beard thoughtfully, not completely able to formulate a way to break the news to the clearly apprehensive parents. He was certain of his findings, there was not a shred of doubt, but he would allow Poppy to examine the baby to be absolutely certain. The affliction was not unheard of but not common either due to the nature of it. One would have to be exposed to some rather powerful magic for it to happen but it could be treatable in the long term, if the afflicted was responsive to the treatment. Only time would tell.
It was after he had completed the same diagnosis charms on the older boy that left the old man reeling. This was something he had never encountered before nor heard of but he at least had an inkling to what had transpired, though the details he would guard until necessary. This in itself would be even more heartbreaking to explain because of what would have to be, if of course he hunch was right and they usually were.
He remained silent as he pieced together his plan. He just hoped that the parents would not be difficult and would agree. He was certain they would once the implications and details had been revealed and that coming in the form of the now arriving Poppy Pomfrey would add credence to the idea he was currently formulating. The true issue however was the man who was accompanying said witch. Sirius Black would fight him on this with everything he had.
He sighed deeply as the matron and the still pale man entered the room.
Poppy visibly shuddered as the darkness attacked her senses and she fought the urge to vomit at the heady aroma within.
"What on earth happened here?" She asked as her own complexion had quickly become ashen.
"You will know soon enough Poppy," Dumbledore assured her. "But for now we require your expertise".
He gestured to the two unconscious boys and the woman immediately became the consummate professional, her healer instincts taking precedence above her curiosity.
She first turned her attention to the youngest Potter and began casting every diagnostic spell she could think of, the results leaving her feeling as though she had swallowed a quaffle.
"Merlin," she whispered as she turned her questioning yet sympathetic eyes to the other occupants. "Physically speaking he is okay".
She held up a hand to stall the inevitable exhales of relief.
"But something has caused significant damage to his magic," she added worriedly.
"What do you mean?" Lily questioned with a whisper.
"It's something that can happen when a child is exposed to very powerful dark magic," the healer explained. "His own magic has been fractured because of it".
"Fractured?" the redheaded mother asked.
Poppy nodded morosely.
"His magic has been weakened by whatever happened here".
"Will he get better?" James broke in as he placed an arm around his distraught wife.
Poppy took a deep breath and let it out forcefully.
"It's hard to say," she admitted. "It is possible but you will have to be very careful with him and his exposure to magic until we can determine how bad the damage is and we won't know that until his own stabilises. I'm sorry but that's all I know," She finished.
"What can we do?" Lily asked, determined to ensure everything possible was done for her baby.
"Limit his contact with magic as much as possible until we can be certain he is recovering," Poppy advised. "And of course keep him away from anything dark".
The parents nodded their understanding.
"It seems as though he was the target for some form of ritualistic magic that partly failed, though the remnants of that is already clearing," Poppy added thoughtfully shooting a questioning glance towards Dumbledore.
"I believe that is the case," the old wizard concurred. "These runes…"
He broke off as he turned to face where the runic circle had been only to find they had vanished and he could remember none of what had been there previously.
He frowned in confusion. He was by no means an expert in runes but he was no slouch either and he was certain he recognised at least a few of the arrays. He would have to review the memory in the pensieve later he decided.
"Well whatever it was it seems to be fading on its own accord," Poppy broke in.
A sense of relief broke out amongst those gathered.
"What about Harry?" Sirius asked with a croak, the worry within the man not shifting at all.
The healer turned her attention to the boy and cast the same diagnostic spells on the boy as she had his brother. She frowned at the results as she cast them again, her eyes widening and a look of horror overcoming her as she looked towards the headmaster, swallowing deeply.
"What is this?" She questioned, her voice quivering at the implications.
"I was hoping you would confirm my fears Poppy".
"B-but this can't be possible," She stuttered.
"What is it?" Sirius interjected heatedly.
"I don't know what it is, but I know what it's doing".
Dumbledore nodded, urging her to explain.
She took a moment to formulate the words, to find a way to explain what was happening.
"It's as though his magic has been infected, like its being corrupted".
"Can't you stop it?" Lily cut in, a new note of worry in her voice.
"I wouldn't even know where to begin," Poppy responded. "It's not that simple," she finished in a whisper as she pondered the results of her checks.
"Please explain what you mean Poppy," Dumbledore requested, his own interest being piqued.
The woman looked between the three other adults as she shook her head in frustration and confusion.
"I know Harry's magic," she began. "I did the checks after his first bout of accidental," she reminded the parents.
Lily and James both nodded.
"His magic was strong and bright," she continued with a frown. "Now it's as though it is consuming something," she finished lamely.
"Consuming something?" Dumbledore asked worriedly.
"Something is trying to corrupt him but Harry is absorbing it into his own magic," she responded.
"What the hell could it be?" Sirius broke in.
"Whatever it is is now becoming Harry's," She answered, not at all understanding how this was happening. "It's his own magic now, but his magic wasn't like this before, it has changed because of whatever happened here".
"Is there anything else you can tell us?" Dumbledore inquired.
"I can only assume that Harry has been cursed in some way," Poppy answered as she brushed his fringe aside and revealed the extent of the still bleeding cut on his head and face. "It is permeating magic but I have no idea what it is," she admitted ashamedly.
Dumbledore drew his wand and placed it on the wound attempting to get a feel for the magic and determine what it was and what was happening. His wand grew immediately hot and he dropped it to the floor with a clatter as he hissed in pain. He had a passing familiarity with this magic and it left him feeling rather more sick than he had been already.
"Soul magic," he mumbled disgustedly.
He himself had investigated the obscure branch in his efforts in finding the Deathly Hallows many years ago as he attempted to figure out how the resurrection stone would have been created. It was not something he had studied in depth however. It had left him feeling extremely unclean and he vowed to avoid the topic from then on.
The question came from Poppy. It was not something she had not even heard of.
Dumbledore nodded, as he thought on it further. He had come across certain terms within his studies yet their meaning eluded him. He had tried to forget the knowledge he had gained yet something was itching at the back of his mind and whatever it was would not be a good thing in the circumstances.
"Indeed," he intoned. "Though I can't be sure what has happened here, it has had unfortunate repercussions on young Harry in particular".
"Something must be done Albus, the boy is leaking this magic," Poppy replied.
The old man stroked his beard.
"Until we can figure this out it is imperative that we put a partial bind on Harry's magic".
"Why a partial bind?" Poppy asked.
"I don't know what it is we are facing," Dumbledore explained. "Soul magic is rather obscure and I will have to look into it. If we bind him completely then the corruption may begin to consume him".
Poppy gasped as she understood the implications.
"I guess that is a possibility," she mused. "But what about little Charlie? We can't have him exposed to this kind of magic".
Dumbledore sighed but felt relief wash over him. This was exactly the subject he himself did not want to broach.
"We have to consider what is best for both boys," he began thoughtfully. "Charlie cannot be around this type of magic, even if it is partially bound, it could be detrimental to his own recovery. Yet we don't know what affect this will have on Harry," he pointed out.
"Well what can we do Albus?" James piped up.
Dumbledore sighed knowing that his suggestion would not go down well.
"We need to understand what has happened to Harry so I think it best that I take him with me whilst I investigate".
"You are not a healer Dumbledore," Sirius retorted heatedly.
"And yet Poppy is and she freely admits that is clueless on the matter," the headmaster responded, his voice laced with impatience. "It is not a healer Harry needs Sirius, if it was then Poppy would have him fixed in a jiffy".
Sirius nodded his understanding though he did not like it.
"I am certain that I will have answers for you very soon, I simply need to ascertain what exactly is happening and has happened with Harry," Dumbledore assured them.
It was clear that the Potters and Sirius were not keen on the idea but they did not protest any further. Not one of the trio had any experience or understanding of soul magic and they of course only wanted what was best for Harry and Charlie.
"Please keep us updated," Lily pleaded, giving her blessing for the man to take her son and do what he could to make sure he was okay.
The old man nodded and offered the redhead a solemn yet grateful smile as he took the boy and placed him in the arms of the healer.
"What do we do now?" James broke in.
"Leave it to me," Dumbledore advised. "I will explain it in a way without revealing too many of the details of what has happened here tonight".
James nodded and dragged a hand through his hair.
"I know things are worrisome but you should all be proud, somehow your boys defeated the Dark Lord, soon enough the name Potter will be known even more so throughout our world," he explained with a warm smile, his eyes twinkling in his usual manner.
The two parents managed a wry smile their own though it was not entirely convincing. The only thing they wanted was for their sons to be healthy and happy; they didn't care about the glory that would come with the victory for the light especially if it cost them their children in any way.
Albus offered them a final nod in goodbye as he exited the room, the smile and twinkling of his eyes all but gone. Something was not right and a lot of things did not add up in his mind. He needed to truly ponder what had happened and understand how what was left had came to be. He had no doubt that the killing curse had been fired in that room but he knew not how any of the boys could have survived it.
His mind wandered back to the prophecy, yet nothing seemed to fit with what had occurred.
He shook his head as he looked upon the still sleeping boy in Poppy's arms.
Something significant had happened tonight and he would get to the bottom of it by any means necessary. He just needed the time and space to consider all possibilities and what his next course of action would be, though he already had an idea. Without any doubt in his mind, young Harry had been changed somehow. He couldn't be sure if it was the soul magic, the killing curse or a combination of both but the changing of his magic worried him so.
He couldn't be certain what it was he would uncover but his instincts told him it would not be good.
All he could do now was identify the issue and do all he could to resolve it. He only wished it could be much more simple. He had too many things to ponder whilst he did this. The damned prophecy would have to be taken into account also as would the recovery of the younger Potter boy.
All in all, many things were worrying the headmaster. He knew in his heart of hearts that Tom was not dead yet. He had seen the wraith itself and knew this was not the end, only a temporary reprieve. Whatever he uncovered in his investigations would be detrimental to the future of the wizarding world and an indicator of what was yet to come.
Tom Riddle would be back, that was the one thing he was completely certain on.
Albus gritted his teeth in frustration as he apparated back to Hogwarts to begin the arduous process of cleaning up this mess and begin preparations for what was to follow.
It was a few days later that found the headmaster sat at his desk, pinching his nose in frustration as he slammed shut the final book he had sought out for his answers and he was no closer to finding out what had happened. He had attempted to view the memory of the ritual runes in his pensieve as planned but was met with only a blurry image that left the entirety of the circle unreadable.
"It must have concealing magic to protect its secret," he mused.
Harry had woken up sporadically over the previous days and his magic had become rather erratic and violent resulting in the old man having to place a suitable bind upon him for his own and Poppy's safety. James, Lily and Sirius had all been visiting regularly and leaving equally disappointed at the end of each day as Albus had yet to reach any solid conclusions.
Dumbledore sighed as he looked towards the fireplace knowing he only had one other option available. He rose and threw a handful of floo powder in the flames before taking a deep, laboured breath.
"Flamel Manor," he called.
It took a few minutes but he was finally greeted by the wife of is long time friend and colleague.
"Albus?" the lady questioned, clearly surprised by the call of the man.
"Perenelle," Dumbledore replied fondly. "I was wondering if I could perhaps bother Nicholas for a few moments of his time".
The lady simply raised an eyebrow at the request before her head disappeared from the flames, replaced only a moment later by her husband.
"Albus, what can I do for you?"
Dumbledore sighed and shook his head.
"I find myself in a rather delicate situation and I require a favour old friend," he admitted.
Nicholas allowed a brief look of surprise to cross his features before he schooled them once more.
"Now I do hope this does not concern my stone".
Dumbledore shook his head.
"Only the lending of a book in your possession," the other man assured him.
Nicholas frowned but nodded.
"Of course, what book do you need?"
"Magicke most evil".
Nicholas scowled at the title and frowned at his former protégé.
"What have you gotten yourself into?" he hissed angrily.
Albus held up a placating hand.
"Not myself but some people close to me".
"You had better explain yourself quickly Albus," Nicholas demanded, his anger yet to fade.
Albus nodded, feeling a small amount of relief overcoming him knowing that his mentor would be able to help.
"I'm sure you are aware that the Dark Lord has fallen".
"I've heard whispers," the other man conceded. "Something to do with the youngest Potter boy I heard".
"Indeed," Dumbledore confirmed. "It is more complicated than that however. The elder son is having some issues that I can't figure out".
"And you believe the answer will be found in this book?" Nicholas questioned.
"I don't know," Albus admitted. "But somehow soul magic is involved".
Nicholas looked alarmed at that statement but quickly schooled his features.
"I will be with you in twenty minutes Albus, I shall bring the book".
With that the fire lost its emerald colour and turned once more into the gently crackling flames leaving Dumbledore to return to his desk to wait for his friend.
As promised it was around twenty minutes later that his wards alerted him to the arrival of his friend. Dumbledore flicked his wand towards the door to allow the man entrance.
Nicholas entered looking every bit the middle aged man Dumbledore had always known despite him being midway through his sixth century of life. He was still as lithe and nimble as Albus remembered, still sporting the same pointed goatee and greying brown hair. His light blue eyes held the same youthful visage and the old man found himself shaking his head in amusement.
"Still consuming your wonderful elixir I see," Dumbledore stated.
Nicholas snorted in response.
"You look as though you could use some yourself Albus," the other man quipped. "Now explain what mess you have landed yourself in this time," he demanded.
Dumbledore sighed but explained everything nonetheless. Nicholas Flamel was just about the only person he could trust and if anyone had an answer to his woes, it would be the man now sat opposite him.
Flamel exhaled a deep breath after he had finished hearing what had happened.
"I have never heard of such a thing," he mumbled, lost in his own thoughts. "Where is the boy now?"
"He is in the hospital wing under the care of myself and Poppy".
"Then I would very much like to see him for myself".
Dumbledore gestured for the man to follow and the duo made there way to where the boy rested in a companionable silence.
Upon entering the ward they came across Poppy tending to the boy as she frowned to herself.
"How is he Poppy?" Dumbledore asked.
The matron shook her head and shrugged.
"I just don't understand this Albus," She sighed. "Since you have placed the bind on his magic it is slowly changing back to what it was".
It was the headmaster's turn to frown at this revelation.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, his magic was clearly attempting to consume something and now that you have bound it, whatever it was absorbing is pulling itself away and seems to be settling into the head wound," she explained as brushed the fringe aside to show the still gaping flesh. She had of course tried to heal it but nothing she tried would knit the skin back together. It had however stopped bleeding for which she was grateful.
Dumbledore's eyebrows rose at that and he huffed in frustration.
"It's as though it is trying to take a hold of the boy in some way but can't do it while his magic can fight back," Poppy theorised.
"Has he woken up at all?" Nicholas inquired.
Poppy shook her head and shot the man a questioning glance.
"Ah my apologies," Dumbledore broke in. "This is Nicholas Flamel. He has kindly consented to lend me a book to help with young Harry here".
The healer acknowledged the other man's presence with little more than a nod.
"I'm completely at a loss on what to do," she admitted. "If we unbind him his magic is too erratic and if we leave him as he is then whatever is plaguing him is stronger and I don't know what it will do to him".
"May I?" Flamel cut in, gesturing towards the unconscious toddler.
Dumbledore waved his friend forward and Nicholas drew his wand as he approached.
He cast several diagnostic charms on the boy and then turned his attention the lighting bolt cut before carrying out the same spells.
He scratched his chin thoughtfully before raising his eyebrows and placing his wand at the edge of the wound, muttering furiously under his breath in words that neither the healer nor headmaster could hear.
He began to shake and sweat profusely as he struggled to complete his spell, his wand having grown exceedingly hot in his hand.
He managed to finish the spell and removed his wand as he breathed heavily, leaning heavily on the barred head of the bed for support.
"I've never known anything like it," he whispered. "In all my centuries I never expected something like this".
"What is it Nicholas?" Dumbledore all but demanded.
The man swallowed deeply and shook his head.
"There's only one way I can be sure," he muttered more to himself.
He pointed his wand at the boy and braced himself.
The sleeping boy awoke with a gasp and shot upright in the bed, his eyes wide and taking in his surroundings. Eventually they settled on the adults who recoiled in horror at what they were seeing.
Dumbledore found himself slack-jawed at what he was facing. The usual emerald eyes the boy had inherited from his mother were no longer there. He instead found himself staring into two blood red slits that were not the boys own.
The boy simply tilted his head and gazed at the trio curiously before smirking in what seemed to be triumph.
Nicholas was the first to gather the use of his facilities and he sprung into action. He pointed his wand at the boy, his hand shaking slightly at what he was about to do.
"Avada Kedavra," he roared.
Albus was shaken from his stupor at the first word of the incantation and moved swiftly to knock his mentors wand enough that the curse missed the boy, barely. The headmaster drew his own wand and fired off a stunner leaving him slumped back into his pillows at the contact of the spell.
"You fool," Nicholas hissed in fury.
"You cannot just murder a child," Dumbledore retorted heatedly.
Nicholas shook his head and pointed his still shaking hand towards the bed.
"That is no longer a child," he returned angrily. "He is a damned Horcrux".
Dumbledore balked as the word registered on his conscious and he was assaulted by a knowledge he had tried to forget, a knowledge from many decades ago that he had acquired during his youth in his pursuit of the Hallows.
He momentarily slumped in defeat at the revelation but quickly regained his composure.
"Then we now know what it is we are dealing with," he replied defiantly.
Flamel shook his head in exasperation.
"I have studied this magic in as much depth as possible, the vessel must be destroyed," he bit back irritably.
Dumbledore shook his head in denial.
"There has to be a way," he mumbled.
"You are too righteous for your own good Dumbledore," Nicholas growled. "The kindest thing you could do for that boy would be to end him".
The head master again shook his head furiously.
"It is our place as educators, as role models to do what we can," he tried desperately. "I will not kill him".
"Then on your head be it Albus, you are only delaying the inevitable".
He then removed and restored a large tome from his pocket to its natural size before handing it to the other man.
"See for yourself, there is nothing you can do for the lad, he is gone," Nicholas growled before he turned heel and exited the room.
Dumbledore sighed at the departure of his friend and turned to face the school healer.
"Keep him subdued Poppy," he whispered. "I will see what can be done and not a word to anyone".
The near catatonic nurse simply nodded, not believing what had just taken place on her ward.
She would never forget the red serpent eyes of the boy nor the revered man attempting to murder him right in front of her.
After a moment she mechanically ran a few diagnostics on the boy to ensure that he would not wake soon before retreating to her own quarters. Once inside she pulled a bottle of Ogden's finest from the shelf and took a deep pull straight from the bottle; no glass could hold enough liquor for her in the sate she was in.
It was a week later that Albus was once again sat at his desk, this time nursing a glass of mead, gently swirling the contents as he contemplated the previous days that had passed. He was not usually one to indulge in alcohol but his lemon drops were no longer taking the edge off of his frustration or the worry that had settled deep within him.
He sighed as he placed the tumbler on his desk with a deep clunk and pulled at his beard with a laboured breath.
He had looked into every possibility available to himself as things were and his conclusions were bleak at best. With the help of Poppy they had unbound the boys core whilst keeping him unconscious, only for his magic to once again attempt to absorb what he now knew was the Horcrux.
He had then found a way using Legilimency to confine the soul fragment within Harry's head with a rudimentary shield. Upon doing so however, once they had unbound his magic it attacked the shield and began the process of attempting to consume it again.
He sighed as he again focused on the options he had.
He couldn't be certain what would happen if he allowed the magic to consume the soul fragment entirely and that was something he did not wish to risk, as he knew that it would be irreversible if the results were not positive.
As things were the boy remained in the hospital wing with both the fragment and his magic bound to keep them separate but the hold on both was tenuous at best. The duo had discovered that with both being bound the boy reacted badly to ambient and direct magic causing him considerable discomfort and the fragment and his magic in tandem would struggle heavily against the bonds.
Adding to this was the realisation that Flamel had in fact been correct. There was not a documented way in which the piece of soul could be removed without killing the boy nor could it be destroyed within his body. The book had explicitly warned against using a live vessel as the soul piece could not be used or retrieved again after it had been placed there.
The truth of the matter was that Albus Dumbledore was stumped on what his next course of action would be, but he knew he had to make a decision soon.
His first option was to simply carry out the suggestion of Nicholas and simply kill the boy, ending the issue at hand.
Albus felt his heart sink at the very thought.
He knew in his heart that he could not do such a thing.
The next thing he had to consider was the prophecy itself. In the circumstances it no longer made sense. Clearly the Dark Lord was alive somewhere in some form so it had yet to be fulfilled. He couldn't be sure which of the two boys had been marked as Tom's equal but that was the least of his concerns when taking it into account.
It was a few days prior that he stumbled upon a realisation that left him feeling sickened but it was not something that he could not readily dismiss, although he wished he could and prayed to every deity that it would not be so.
What if Harry was now the Dark Lord in which the prophecy referred to?
If that were the case then it would be Charlie as the marked equal and Harry would be whom he had to vanquish to live his own life.
The old man had shuddered at the thought and it was this very moment that he had turned to the bottle to seek some solace.
"Coward," he muttered to himself as he emptied the glass in front of him.
He knew that he had the power and the opportunity to put the prophecy to rest and yet he could not bring himself to intervene in the work of fate itself. He simply could not be sure of the repercussions of such actions.
The fact was that Albus Dumbledore needed more time and it was the one precious thing that he had now run out of. The parents of the boys had been patient enough and he was out of fresh ideas on immediate resolutions. He knew he had to make a decision and act now. He decided his course of action even though it went against everything he stood for. He was aware that it would be, as Nicholas pointed out, much kinder to just end the boys suffering but he just could not bring himself to allow that to pass at his own hand. He decided that he could in good conscience only leave it to fate to decide the outcome of the two boys respective destinies.
He would of course continue researching a way to remove the soul fragment from the older boy but it was something he wasn't even sure was possible, despite the wonderful yet harrowing nature of magic. If his efforts did not come to fruition however and what he feared could come to pass in regards to the prophecy, then his now decided course of action would leave Harry to the mercy of his younger brother.
Albus felt disgusted with himself for such thoughts and sincerely hoped that this would not be the case, but he just could not be sure as things were.
"For the greater good," he muttered as he made his way to his fireplace. He threw a handful of floo powder into the flames.
"Potter Cottage," he called, not relishing the impending difficult conversation.
"Albus, is everything okay?" a flustered James asked as he appeared in the living room of the small dwelling.
"I think it is best that you come through," he replied before pulling his head from the fire and making his way back to sit behind his desk.
It was less than a minute later that he was joined by the Potter parents and Sirius Black.
"Remus is watching Charlie," James explained.
Dumbledore nodded and gestured for the three to take the seats opposite his own on the other side of the desk.
"How is Charlie?" he asked.
Poppy had been making daily trips to check on the boy herself and the healers at St. Mungo's had also been drafted in to consult on the boys treatment.
"He's doing well but his magic is not improving. The healers won't know much more until he gets older," Lily explained. "We are still keeping magic to a minimum around him as best we can".
Dumbledore nodded his understanding.
"I of course have my fingers crossed for the boy and hope that when his magic stabilises we will see a vast improvement in him," he offered genuinely.
Lily offered him a weak smile.
"Do you have any news on Harry?" James broke in.
Dumbledore sighed and nodded sadly.
"I'm afraid it is not good news but I do not want you to lose hope," he began hoping to head off any emotional breakdown this soon into the discussion.
"Well, what is it?" Sirius asked impatiently.
The headmaster glanced between the three and nodded.
"What I am about to reveal cannot leave this room, the safety of yourselves and wizarding Britain could very well depend on it," he began gravely.
The trio silently agreed with the man and James gestured for him to continue.
"We all witnessed the wraith that exited the boys room on Samhain," he stated knowingly. "It is my belief that the Dark Lord is not dead but has only temporarily lost his body".
"Temporarily?" Lily questioned worriedly.
"That is why this must stay between us it would be very harmful if this information was to reach the wrong ears, particularly those of his followers and sympathisers," he warned. "In his current state he is no longer a threat but the situation has become rather complicated".
"How so?" Sirius interjected.
"It appears that he has created things that will ensure his immortality".
When it was clear that none of the trio would speak he continued.
"Horcruxes," he revealed in little more than a whisper.
"What are Horcruxes?"
The headmaster turned his attention to James who had asked the question and he released a deep breath.
"They are vessels in which an individual can store a part of their soul thus creating a back up if they somehow succumbed to death," he explained. "If an individual were to lose their body then a horcrux can be used to create a new life for themselves".
The three visible paled at the implications.
"I see you understand the delicacy of the situation".
"How many did he make?" Lily asked.
"I do not know," the old man admitted. "But it is something I plan on investigating and eliminating as soon as possible".
"What has this got to do with Harry?" Sirius piped up.
Dumbledore again sighed.
"It appears that Voldemort was attempting to make another one the night he attacked your home".
"The ritual magic traces," Lily deduced.
"Indeed," Dumbledore agreed. "He was partially successful but in an unexpected way".
"You think Harry is a Horcrux don't you?" Sirius growled.
Dumbledore held up a placating hand.
"I'm deeply sorry to say, but yes Harry is housing a fragment of Voldemort's soul in his head wound".
James and Lily sat in complete shock not knowing how to react to the news.
Sirius shot to his feet angrily and slammed his hands on the desk.
"Then get your wrinkled arse in there and get it out of him," he roared.
The headmaster shook his head tiredly.
"There is not a known way of removing it without killing Harry. Every way of destroying a Horcrux will also eradicate the vessel," he explained patiently.
Sirius began pacing frantically back and forth not wanting to believe what it was he was hearing.
"What can we do?" a clearly distraught Lily asked.
"I do have an idea but I fear the are other things to explain first," Dumbledore responded.
The three listened with rapt attention as he explained the complications that had arisen with Harry's magic, the soul fragment and how they were reacting to each other at that moment. He also explained the reaction each thing had to other magic whilst they were both bound, as they were now.
"But shouldn't we wait until his own magic settles before we make any other decision. Is it not possible that it could fix itself like Charlie's might?" Lily asked with a hint of desperation.
Dumbledore stroked his beard in thought.
"It is a possibility that when he is older his magic may sufficiently suppress the influence of the fragment but I am afraid I cannot be certain," he conceded.
"So what do you suggest?" Sirius questioned with a hint of venom lacing his tone.
"I need time to look into this and explore every possibility but whilst I do so it is in Harry's best interests that he remains bound".
"But that could severely hamper his own magical development," Sirius pointed out.
"And if we don't leave him the way he is then the soul fragment could assert full control of him and he would no longer be Harry, just a body that Voldemort has taken for his own," Dumbledore returned hotly.
He took a deep breath to calm himself.
"I'm sorry Sirius but our options are very limited right now".
"So what do you think we should do?" James broke in.
"In his current state it is not a good idea for him to be around a lot of magic it could cause untold complications if the bonds were to break and either his magic consumes the fragment or the fragment seizes control".
James and Lily both nodded their understanding.
"I don't know how young Charlie will react to having such dark magic in such a close vicinity of himself either. If the bond is compromised in any way then it could affect him adversely or the fragment may sense an easier target to seize and attempt to move over to him. Not enough is known about them to be certain what could happen".
"But you said it was impossible to remove without killing Harry," Sirius reminded him.
"And I believe that to still be true if we attempt to force a move. If however the fragment decided to move on its own accord then, again I just can't be sure".
He sighed again as he was met by questioning looks.
"Alas, very little is known about the soul in regards to magic. If it is a reflection of the person and their traits then it is safe to assume that this piece of soul will be both stubborn and an opportunist just like Voldemort. If this is the case then that soul fragment will not leave willingly but will continue in its attempts to take control. However, I believe we should assume the worst in this scenario. If the soul fragment chances upon a weakened yet viable vessel then it just may attempt the change and as Charlie was present during the ritual he would be the perfect candidate in his current state".
"This is just so much to take in," James mumbled.
"I understand," Dumbledore replied sympathetically. "We will have to make a decision soon though, we cannot leave Harry here in such close proximity to this level of magic".
"But where will he go?" Lily asked.
This was the part that the headmaster was not looking forward to.
"I would suggest your muggle sister," he began.
He held up a hand to prevent any interruptions.
"We will need somewhere in which we can monitor him continuously and have complete access to him when necessary".
"But Petunia hates magic, she will never allow it," James pointed out.
"And yet young Harry will not exhibit any magic," Dumbledore reminded them.
"You won't be able to convince her," James assured him.
"I will make it believable by any means necessary," Dumbledore replied. "This is for the safety of your sons after all".
James and Lily shared a meaningful look, neither liking the idea nor convinced that it could work. Both wanted nothing more than to just take their son home but both understood the gravity of the situation they were facing.
"I can't believe you are even considering this insanity," Sirius spat. "I will take Harry," he declared.
"Harry cannot be around magic Sirius, Dumbledore reminded him. "And your magic is quite potent".
"Then I will wear suppressers, I'll do whatever it takes. He is my sworn Godson and I will not have him raised by that cow when I am here and breathing," he shouted.
"He is our son," James fired back angrily. "Do you think we want to be in this position Padfoot? All I want is my family back together, I just want both of my boys to be okay," he finished emotionally.
"Even if that means sending one away on the words of one man?" he questioned furiously.
"We need time to think about this," Lily whispered before her husband could respond.
Sirius shook his head.
"I will not allow this to happen. I took a magical vow the day he was born that I would be there for him no matter what and I plan on sticking to my word,"
With the final words of the man ringing in their ears Sirius left the office and slammed the door in his apparent rage leaving behind an upset husband and wife and a thoughtful headmaster.
"I'm sure he will understand once he calms down," the latter spoke reassuringly although he was already devising a way to deal with the man. He knew that Sirius would be the most difficult one to convince and he was hoping that he would not have to resort to certain measures for his compliance, but for the greater good, he would do what was necessary in this case.
James dragged a hand through his hair and nodded his agreement.
"Could we please see him?"
Dumbledore nodded and gestured for them to follow him to the hospital wing where their eldest son awaited them.
"What does this mean for the prophecy?" Lily asked quietly as they exited the office and made their way down the spiral staircase.
"I truly don't know," Dumbledore admitted. "However, I believe our focus should be on your two boys for now, the prophecy is a problem for another day".
Lily nodded her agreement. The last thing she even wanted to consider was the thing that had caused all of this in the first place. Not only had her own sons fallen victim to the prophecy but less than a week later both Frank and Alice had been attacked in their home. Thankfully, even though they had lifted the Fidelius, they had kept the more protective wards active giving them plenty of time to call for assistance. Because of this, the LeStranges and Barty Crouch Jr had all been taken into custody.
The three of them reached the hospital wing and Lily immediately headed straight for the head of the bed where she began stroking her son's hair, whispering to him whilst she did so.
"I shall give you some time alone with him," Dumbledore offered as he left the room once more and headed back to his office.
Something needed to be done about Sirius Black. The man, although his intentions were noble, would only cause further issues that Albus needed to avoid. He knew that he could convince the Potters to go along with his plan so long as Black did not interfere.
He shook his head as he pulled out the phoenix pendant from within his robes and gave it a tap with his wand. All members of the order wore a matching one and he could find where any of them were so long as they wore the necklace.
"At home," he muttered.
He gestured for his familiar to assist him and the pair disappeared in a burst of fire.
Sirius arrived home, his temper already past its breaking point. He could not comprehend what it was the headmaster was suggesting be done in regards to his Godson and he couldn't allow himself to stand aside and allow it to happen. He sunk into his favourite armchair and summoned himself a butterbeer to sip whilst he formulated a plan of his own.
He had been lost in his thoughts for only a few minutes when he was interrupted by a sudden flash of fire. He flicked his wand from its holster and leveled it towards the already known intruder; only one man he knew could travel this way after all.
"Do you not know how to knock?" he gritted out.
"I merely want to clear the air," the man replied, ignoring the hostility of the other.
"Clear the air?" Sirius roared. "You want to send my Godson to live with a magic hating bitch and you expect me to be okay with that".
Dumbledore shook his head in disappointment.
"When have I ever steered you wrong Sirius?"
"You haven't," Sirius begrudgingly conceded. "But you are wrong about this Albus and I won't let you take him from me".
The headmaster sighed before drawing his own wand.
"Then I can only apologise that it has come to this my boy," he intoned sincerely.
Sirius was shocked that the man he admired would actually draw his wand on him. He froze momentarily but managed to block the stunner Dumbledore sent towards him with a hastily erected shield.
"What the hell are you doing you old coot?"
Dumbledore did not reply. He instead fired a shield breaker followed by a body bind curse. The confined space did not allow Sirius to avoid these and he found himself rendered unable to move. He could only look on as the man approached him, his wand still aimed in his direction.
"I truly wished that you would be able to see it my way Sirius, but I know now that will not be the case," he sighed. "Forgive me my friend".
He then aimed the wand between the younger mans eyes before casting his chosen spell.
"Obliviate," he whispered.
The tell tale sign of the blanking of the eyes told of the success of the spell. All that was left to do was fill in the blanks he had created with a few false memories and send the man on his way with a Compulsion charm or two. He would not change the man himself in any way but with a few memories here and there, a compulsion to pursue his childhood dreams and the desire to leave immediately was all that needed to be done.
The headmaster completed his task and obliviated the young man once more for good measure.
He would not remember anything in relation to the fall of the Dark Lord but would believe the war ended and his friends were happy and beginning life as a proper family without having to be in hiding. With his friends happy he would now be free to live his own life, to build a legacy of his own.
Before releasing the man from his spell he compelled him to write a letter to the Potters, one that would convince them that he had left at the behest of his own ambitions. He then disillusioned himself before ending the charm. He watched the man send off an owl with his letter and begin packing before he apparated away without a sound.
A couple of hundred miles north Arcturus Orion Black was sat at his desk as he reviewed the family holdings for what he believed would be the last time. He had heard through the grapevine that the Dark Lord had fallen whilst attacking the Potters, a bit of news that had left a bitter taste in his mouth.
By no means did he follow the man nor did he particularly care for him and his ideology. He did however have a vested interest tied up in his cause for some time; his family. The entirety of them minus the blood-traitor Andromeda and his Grandson Sirius had decided to throw in their lot with him and nothing Arcturus could say or do would have prevented it.
Warlburga had been the first to declare her allegiance to the man, swiftly followed by her husband and Regulus. Bellatrix soon followed and Narcissa had little choice, as her husband was in it further than any other he knew. His sister Cassiopeia had opted to remain abroad and abstain from taking part; one of the small saving graces of the conflict for the Black patriarch.
He couldn't help but shake his head at the frustration he felt. He wished beyond anything that at least one of the younger generation would have chosen to remain neutral. It had not come to pass however and now he had lost the majority of them to the recently ended war.
Regulus, Orion and Warlburga had all been killed somewhere along the line. Bellatrix now faced a lifetime in prison and Narcissa was about to embark on a life of destitution and shame once her husband's crimes came to light. The girl did have a son however, but the thought of handing the Lordship of his house to a Malfoy sickened him.
The only one left as far as he knew and was eligible was Sirius, a boy he had not spoken to in many years and one who had been cast out of the family by his mother. How the boy could be stupid enough to allow himself to be sorted into Gryffindor eluded the old man, especially when he knew what the consequences would be.
"A foolish Gryffindor move," he muttered to himself.
He was pulled from his thoughts by a gentle rattle in the uppermost draw of his desk. He frowned as he pulled it open to be faced with the Head of house ring, a ring he had removed quite some time a go. He had only worn this ring as a sign of his failure, a shame that he carried because of the fate that had befallen his once great family. He removed the trinket and glared in its direction as he took in the details. It was a large platinum band with a more than adequate black diamond resting atop of course complete with the Black family coat of arms. The stone in question was flashing an ominous blue and he growled at the meaning.
Had his name not been besmirched enough already? Was his namesake destined to be mocked further by the actions of lesser men?
He snarled as he placed the ringer on his finger and closed his eyes to ascertain what was occurring.
He frowned and snorted at what he learnt; someone was trying to subvert his only remaining grandson to their will. His first instinct was to simply place the ring back in the drawer and forget what he had learnt but a voice in the back of his mind called out for him to act, to bring his swift justice on those that would dare usurp the name Black. Instead of removing the ring, he once more closed his eyes and focused on the remaining connections he could feel.
The one to Sirius was faint but still easily identifiable. It was not this one he sought out however. The one he wanted was for his younger sister and he found it quickly, as strong as ever. With a push of his magic he requested her company so he could instruct her to look in to the matter.
He himself was too old to be traipsing around after his idiot grandson, but it was his duty as his head of house to act, regardless of whether or not he had been cast out. It would be the final favour the old man would grant the wayward boy.
He sat back in his chair and waited for the arrival of his sister contemplating and cursing his decision to have the blood magic imbued into the ring. The charms themselves would alert the head of house of attempts of line theft or attempts to control them against their will for any other nefarious reason.
What did confuse him however is why anyone would have a reason to do this to Sirius. The boy was essentially unimportant in their world and had nothing significant to offer. He had no political or monetary influence. Unless the boy had learned something he shouldn't have of course, there was no reason he could fathom that would give any reason for such action against the boy.
Arcturus shook his head.
Either way he would get to the bottom of this. Well, he would have his sister act in his stead just to satisfy his curiosity more than anything else.
But then again, it had been a while since he had had the opportunity to ruffle a few feathers.
James and Lily Potter were sat at their kitchen table eating a rather subdued breakfast. They had been awake most of the night discussing their eldest son, both desperately trying to find a way to make the best decision for him. Neither wanted to face the reality of their situation but they had no reason to doubt Dumbledore and his findings, he had even been kind enough to allow them to browse through the literature he had on the subject to ensure he himself had not missed anything.
From what they gathered from the tomes, the man was indeed correct. There was no known way to remove a Horcrux from a live vessel or destroy it without said vessel meeting the same fate. They had both attempted to come up with any other alternative to Dumbledore's own suggestion but with what they faced, there was nothing doing.
"What do we do James?" Lily asked for what seemed to be the hundredth time. She was currently feeding Charlie who sat in his highchair, oblivious to the plight of his parents.
James dragged a hand through his hair and sighed.
"I don't know," he whispered sadly, his composure sagging in defeat. "The only thing we can do is see what it is Dumbledore thinks best exactly".
"But I don't want Harry away," Lily whispered.
James put a comforting arm around his wife's should and squeezed gently.
"Neither do I Lils," he assured her. "But I'd much rather he lived and Albus has promised that he will keep looking for a way so that we can have him back".
"I'm going to look too," she vowed. "Between us we can find a way".
James offered her a warm smile and kissed the top of her head.
"That's my girl," he praised. "We will make sure he is not away from us any longer than he needs to be".
Lily nodded resolutely. She wanted more than anything to have her family all together, the way it should be. She would do everything she could to make sure that happened.
"Are you ready to see Albus?" James asked.
Lily swallowed her emotions but nodded.
"Remember, we are doing this for both of our boys," James reaffirmed.
"I know, I just don't like it".
In response James gave her hand a gentle squeeze as he led her from the room. They were heading towards the floo when there was a tapping on the window.
"Isn't that Pad's owl?" Lily questioned.
James nodded as he opened the window and retrieved the letter with a frown. It was unlike Sirius to write to them. Even when he was home he would just use the floo.
He read the letter and couldn't help the tears that escaped his eyes.
"What's wrong?" Lily asked worriedly.
James shook his head sadly.
"He's really upset with us. He says he needs to get away and that he would appreciate it if we would give him some space. He's taking his bike and is going to visit the places he always spoke about when we were at school".
Lily smiled weakly.
"He always said he would see the world".
"He did," James agreed. "I just hope he forgives us".
"I'm sure he will when he calms down," Lily replied as she rubbed his back soothingly. "You know he's hotheaded and stubborn. He takes a little longer to take things in".
"I hope you're right Lils".
Albus Dumbledore stood at the foot of the bed that Harry Potter had been occupying for the best part of two weeks now feeling shame at the actions he had taken the previous night. He hated that such a thing was necessary and even the necessity of the situation could not remove the dirty feeling it had left him with.
His musings were brought to an end as James and Lily entered the ward.
"How is he Albus?" Lily questioned.
He offered her a genuine smile.
"Very much the same my dear," he answered benignly.
"And you are certain there is no other way?" James tried.
The old man shook his head apologetically. He was in too deep to even consider other options and this would be for the best no matter what would happen in the future. If he could find a way to relieve the boy of the burden of the fragment then there would hopefully be no long-term harm done. But if he did fail in his quest then it would be fate that would decide the outcome. The prophecy had to be fulfilled after all.
"I don't like it, but I can't see any other way to keep them both safe," Lily allowed, tears beginning to cascade down her cheeks as the reality of what they were about to do set in.
"I can promise that I will do whatever is necessary to ensure he is safe," the headmaster assured the pair. "I do believe however that we must take additional precautions for his own and our security".
"What precautions?" James asked with a frown.
Dumbledore met the uncertain gaze of the younger before speaking.
"It would be for the best that we repress his memories somewhat, we cannot be sure how much he will remember and it could become a liability".
James flared his nostrils in anger and shook his head.
"I will not have my sons brains addled".
"I have no intention of addling them, I only wish to protect the memories. It would be for the best that he did not remember certain things for a while".
"He's not a stupid boy Albus, he will be aware of the blanks".
"Then I can fill them, temporarily of course," he assured them. "With whatever images you want him to see," he added.
The parents shared a look of uncertainty before Lily spoke once more.
"I'd rather that than him not knowing anything," she whispered.
James swallowed deeply but nodded his agreement.
"We trust you Albus, please just let him remember us and how much we love him," the redhead choked.
The headmaster bowed his head in compliance.
"It seems that I have much work to do," he declared.
Both James and Lily took the hint of dismissal and approached their still sleeping son. James took his tiny hand in his own and stroked the back of it with his thumb whilst his wife placed a kiss on the boy's forehead next to his slowly closing wound.
"I love you very much Harry, more than I could ever put into words. Please don't ever forget that," she whispered in his ear.
At the sound of her voice and feeling of her breath the toddler's eyes opened and Lily could see her own emerald pools reflected back at her.
"Mum?" the boy asked tiredly.
Despite the freely flowing tears and ache in her heart she managed to give him a genuine smile that the boy returned.
"Go back to sleep Harry James, she cooed gently. "We will see you again very soon".
The boy nodded happily and snuggled himself deeper into his blanket briefly aware of his father placing a kiss on the top of his head before Morpheus claimed him once more.
"Take care of our boy Albus," James almost pleaded as he led his broken wife from the room, both pausing to catch one final glimpse of their son.
Albus felt his already heavy heart sink even further into the depths of his stomach as he fought against the emotions he felt.
After composing himself he drew his wand and began the process of repressing young Harry's memories and filling in the gaps as he'd promised he would.
Upon finishing he placed a light sleeping charm on the boy so not to disturb his slumber and carried him from the room to put the final part of his plan into practice.
Petunia Dursley was woken, as usual, in the early hours by her crying infant son. Dudley was a hungry little one year old but she didn't mind. She loved the bonding moments they shared as she soothed him and satiated his appetite.
She removed pulled her sheets off her and climbed out of bed, putting on a pair of fluffy pink slippers as she did so. As quietly as she could so not to disturb her husband, she donned a matching gown as she left the room to tend to her baby.
She paused and smiled to herself as she reached the smallest bedroom of the house and opened the door just enough to spot the familiar messy black hair of her nephew as he slept soundly. The boy had been no problem since herself and Vernon had taken him in not long after Dudley had been born.
It was unfortunate that her sister had passed away but they had never really been close as children. Harry had been a blessing on her and the rest of the Dursleys however and she loved the boy as though he was her own.
She couldn't fight the urge to enter the room and look upon the boy a little closer. She did so and he stirred, opening his eyes in confusion as he took in the woman before him. He seemed to struggle for a moment but became still eventually and gave her his usual cheeky grin.
Petunia however felt as though she had hit a wall.
The eyes that looked back at her were those of her sister and she knew the boy in front of her but she felt empty. The fondness and love she felt for the toddler had evaporated being quickly replaced with an irrepressible desire to throttle him.
She reached out to do just that but was halted by a whisper in the back of her mind that reminded her he was family.
She shook her and quickly left the room.
He may be family but she couldn't shake the unadulterated rage she felt at seeing him in her house. She wanted him gone; she did not want her nephew there.
As she fed her now silent son she decided she would tolerate his presence but she would make use of him; he would earn his keep. And if he didn't toe the line sufficiently then he would be punished.
That would teach her sister for burdening her with her offspring.
Albus Dumbledore watched in anticipation as Petunia entered the room to check on Harry. The man had had a very busy evening indeed and the fruits of his labour were being exhibited in front of him. It had taken a lot of gentle manipulation and memory charms on the Dursleys but he was certain he had covered all bases. They now believed that Harry had been with them for some time and they loved him as a second son.
He nodded in satisfaction before apparating away. He was pleased with what he had achieved and now had the time he needed to look into the issue of the Horcruxes.
He had obliviated the boy to the point that he would remember very little in regards to his own parents but had provided him with a myriad of happy memories with his new relatives. The boy was safe, knew nothing of magic and would either fall as part of the prophecy or triumphantly return to the wizarding world when he had been alleviated of the soul fragment.
What Albus Dumbledore had overlooked however was that love cannot be replicated even with the aide of the wondrous thing that was magic.
All he had truly done was sentence an innocent boy to many dark days.
As the witches and wizards of Britain rejoiced in the fall of the Dark Lord, Harry Potter slept soundly, not knowing that his lot in life had shifted and with such a shift, the consequences would be felt by those around him in the years to come.
Chapter one is in the books as promised. Not to worry though to those that are reading Stepping Back, it will remain my priority whilst writing and publishing on here.
Let me know what you think of this so far.
Just to point out a few things in explanation.
Dumbledore did not approach the Dursleys. He decided to use magic to adjust their memories and have them believe they had taken Harry in willingly and that Lily and James had died.
The only thing Lily and James are truly guilty of is being young and naïve. The look towards Dumbledore as their leader and believes he is doing what is best for their two children in the circumstances. Dumbledore equally believes this but is still very much focused on the prophecy so has left Harry rather ignorant in the hopes that if he does have to be killed then it will be easy for Charlie to do so. He hasn't even considered that Harry is the child of prophecy because he was born before it was made.
Just Dumbledore being his independent and frustrating self more than anything. As I pointed out he won't be evil, just a stubborn man not willing to listen to others. He knows best after all.
Anyway, follow, favourite and review as always guys. It is much appreciated.