A/N: If anyone can honestly find a way FFN will accept italics, please let me know. I spent about an hour or two uploading it different ways... this is the best I could do.

Disclaimer: The plot is mine, the characters are mostly not. If it's J. K. Rowling's, you'll know. If not, you'll know (and if not... it's mine!! Muahahahaha) Okay, read.

A Second Glance

Albus Dumbledore had always looked out for the helpless. As he carried the child next door, he wondered how life could be so cruel to such people, people who couldn't defend themselves in any way. He thought about how it would be for the infant to grow up, never having known any relation of hers. An only child, now parentless, how could the baby grow up feeling any connection to the rest of the world? But there was little he could do now that it was over. What was lost that night could never be replaced, but he would do the best he could.

Cradling the child in his left arm, Dumbledore lifted the bright brass knocker, a badger, for this house was inhabited by former Hufflepuffs. The knock seemed to echo the pain he felt for this helpless little creature, and he fought tears back as he fumbled for the right words to say.

"Professor Dumbledore? Is that you?"

"Yes, Katherine, I have a bit of a large favor to ask of you."

"Won't you come in, sit down, I'll get you a bit of tea," the woman continued.

"That would be lovely." Dumbledore was in no hurry, for what had occurred an hour or so ago was still weighing severely upon his mind. His thoughts wandered back a few years ago, when he'd taught... but he didn't let them wander too far. He motioned the woman to take a seat. "Katherine...what I am about to tell you may be a bit shocking. I think it is better that we're sitting. This is a lovely house. Very homey..."

"Dumbledore, it is one in the morning, you have my neighbor's child in your arms, you look distraught, and you are talking about my house? Come, what is the matter? And why do you have Rita with you? And why are you visiting me? At this hour?"

Dumbledore swallowed hard, and finally began to recite his message. "Katherineā€¦I believe you were a good friend of Gemma's in school, that is why you two moved into these houses..." he paused and looked out the window at the house next door, and around the kitchen again before continuing, "...after marrying. Yes, well. Gemma always was disturbed, I suppose. You know that, of course. Yes, yes. And she doesn't know where this child's father is. And now, you see...well, now, Katherine, Rita is a virtual orphan.

"I received an owl not long ago from your friend. It wasn't a pleasant letter. She wrote that she had nothing to live for, and was ending her life..." he paused for a great deal of time, and they both seemed to prefer silence after this statement, for neither spoke for a good minute or two. "...and asked if I would find the best place for her child. Which, I imagine, is here. You know her already, and you've wanted another child, I know, for quite a while, and Rita and your own son, I believe, are nearly the same age. You know, I would have brought her to her father's, but as it is... I am sorry that she cannot grow up with a relative. I wish I could do... more."

"No, Professor Dumbledore, I am sure you could do no more, and of course I will take the child. We will do our best." Katherine turned her head a bit and let out a few of the tears she'd been fighting off through the entire conversation. She wondered what good it had done to move next door to her troubled friend if she couldn't even run over in a time when she was so seriously troubled as to think of ending everything. She wondered how it would be for Rita to grow up without any family, but believed that she'd have been no better off with her father. At least at this house she would understand why she could do extraordinary things. At least she wouldn't be alone in that she could grow up in a wizarding community, and know who she really is. At least, partly.

Dumbldore nodded as if to excuse himself, but Katherine put a hand on his arm. "Professor Dumbledore, ...may I ask... how?"

"You know, you did graduate from Hogwarts a few years ago. You may call me Albus if you wish. But she didn't use any spells or anything that complicated. She just used a conventional knife. She stabbed herself in her kitchen." Dumbledore stood up and handed the child to Katherine, then apparated away.

* * *

When Katherine's husband walked in early the next morning, he found her still sitting at the kitchen table, cradling the baby girl in her arms, and crying. He sat next to her, trying to comfort her, and listened to the near-silence until she was ready to talk.

* * *

"I want some, too!"

"Mine!" Rita scampered off with her handful of Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans. Gilderoy chased her around the house, crying out "Please!" at regular intervals, increasing his volume with every request.

"Gil, Rita! What is going on?" Katherine intervened.

"Gil stole my candy!"

"I did not! See! She has it in her hands! And I said please!"

"Did so!"



"STOPPIT!!!" Katherine gave a piercing look to both the toddlers and tried to discern which was telling the truth. "Why don't you just give him one? He did say please, I heard him. Even if he was a bit loud."

Rita held out her hand, instructing her playmate to take just one, so he picked out one that looked like chocolate, his favorite. He popped it in his mouth, chewed it for a brief moment of heavenly silence, and then wailed again.

"MUMMY! That's not fair! I got a dirt flavored one!"

"But honey, you eat the dirt from my garden anyway." Katherine rolled her eyes and both children stormed away to their room, both of them furious at everything. Just as she was about the return to preparing lunch, she was interrupted once again.

"Mummy! Help! I want my bed!"

Katherine wandered into the children's room chuckling a bit to herself. She lifted Rita into her top bunk before asking the pouting lump of blankets if he wanted cheese in his sandwich.

* * *



"I'm frightened."


"I had a dream. It was about my mother again. It was the same dream as always. Can I come down?"

"Of course."

Rita climbed off her top bunk and into the covers with Gilderoy. He held her as she sobbed and wondered what it must be like to only remember your mother the way you see her in nightmares. This sort of thing happened about every other week, and it never ceased to throw Rita into fits of hysteria. It seemed that just this year she had realized that her life wasn't like other children's, that she didn't even know any of her relatives. While they had family reunions and fought with their siblings, she had nightmares of the only relation she could remember at all, her mother at her death. Katherine was trying to help her feel less lonely. She often told Rita to draw her loneliness away, but it never worked. Rita and Gil's room was filled with drawings of the family Rita imagined she should have; so was her classroom at school.

As Gil tried to imagine how he could possibly comfort Rita anymore, she told him something she hadn't before.

"I'm always afraid she killed herself because of me. I think she didn't want me. And neither did my father because if he had he would have kept me. But he doesn't even care where I am. I'll bet he hasn't got a clue how old I am. Why didn't my parents love me? Your mum and dad love you, and they even love me, but mine, they couldn't even stand me for a year."

"But Rita, Mum said your father was a muggle and that's why he left you, not because of anything else, he just got scared of your mum, you know, 'cause she probably could be pretty destructive when she got angry. And I bet your parents both loved you."

"You don't know, you're just saying that because you don't want me to cry."

"I knew your mum, she was always with you."

"That doesn't mean she loved me."

"Well I didn't know her that well, I wasn't yet three when she..."

"When she killed herself!" Rita exclaimed before bursting into another bout of sobs.

"Well if it makes you feel any better, I'm a bit left out myself, because in ten entire years I haven't shown a single sign of magic and I'm probably a squib."

"That should make me feel better? Right, Gil, that will cheer me up. I'm crying because I haven't got any family and you try to cheer me up with a reminder that when I'm old enough for Hogwarts I will be losing /you/ for almost... forever!"

"At least you'll have a bedroom without any boys."

"You know I don't mind you being in here. Who would I go to if you weren't here with me? Oh, Gil. I love you so much. I couldn't have a better big brother if I really did have a big brother."

The two children hugged and finally a smile broke across Rita's face. Yes, Albus Dumbledore had sent Rita to the best place possible.