Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine and it all belongs to J.K. Rowling. I don't have the energy to make up a funny disclaimer so you'll all just have to suck it up.
Prologue – Farewell to Privet Drive
A casual observer would look upon Privet Drive and shrug. There was nothing apparently different or interesting about the street. The houses all looked similar even to the almost identical cars in their driveways. Gardens were located in the backyards and all sported similar flowers. There was an air of normalcy which hung over the street. There was only one slight anomaly, overlooked by many, in this perfectly normal street. Of course if all went as planned, soon that anomaly would be gone.
Harry Potter was not like the others who resided on Privet Drive. In fact he was anything but normal, for Harry Potter was a wizard. A wizard who for the past month had been stuck in Number 4 Privet Drive, kept as a virtual prisoner by the Order of the Phoenix and as a slave by his "family". The Dursley's, the other residents of number 4, who were as disgustingly normal as the rest of Privet Drive, had not taken the warnings of the Order to heart. While they had made a point of ensuring Harry had plenty to eat, they did not refrain from pilling him with chores and an assortment of insults and other rude behaviours. He was treated worse than a lowly house elf by these Muggles who above all things hated the magic that was so much a part of him. Things were made even worse for the poor boy by the fact that he was not just any wizard. Harry was special. The wonderful boy-who-lived or as Harry liked to call himself The-boy-who-has-the-entire-fate-of-the-world-resting-on-his-shoulders-and-refuses-to-die-instead-causing-all-who-know-him-to-suffer. At the moment Harry was not a very big fan of himself.
Confronted at the end of the previous school year with the knowledge that he was the only capable of defeating the Dark Lord Voldemort, Harry often felt like doing nothing more then curling up in a ball and hiding from the world. Add to this the fact that the prophecy about his place in the upcoming war was revealed to him right after losing his godfather and it is somewhat understandable that he might not have much will to go on at this point. Which is why if someone were, at that moment observing the young Mr. Potter they might be a little confused at his attitude. Rather then lying on his bead crying, or staring blankly into the night, Harry was just finishing packing all of his possessions into his trunk with a determined glint to his eyes before shrinking the aforementioned trunk and placing it in his pocket. What was even more strange was that although he was breaking the law of under-aged magic there were no owls coming to reprimand him.
Instead owls arriving there was an owl that at that very moment taking flight from the Dursley residence with what would be the last anyone would hear from Harry Potter in some time.
Harry looked on and gave one last smile to his faithful owl as it flew into the distance.
"Stay safe Hedwig. Bring the message to Dumbledore." And then in words spoken to softly for any to hear he whispered, "It's better this way." And with these last words Harry Potter hopped onto his Firebolt broomstick, kicked off, and flew away into the night.
Many miles away in a room filled with countless magical oddities Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, slept comfortably. Every few moments he would mumble something to the effect of "Why yes. I'd love a Lemon Drop. How kind of you to ask." or "You know, I don't believe I have ever before seen a pair of socks quite so beautiful." or some such nonsense. His sleep was abruptly interrupted by the sudden piercing screech coming from one of the instruments in his office.
In less than the time it would take to say "Hippogriff" Dumbledore was awake and moving quickly, despite his age, towards his office. As he entered he quickly focused on the source of the noise before palling as he realized what the sound must mean.
"The wards." He gasped. If someone had been present to hear these words they would have been both horrified and confused as to the meaning his words. Confused and wondering to which wards he was referring, and horror at the fear underlying his words.
Professor Dumbledore recovered from his shock as he heard a voice calling him from the fireplace.
"Albus! Albus are you there?" came the urgent cry from the school's resident Potions Master, Severus Snape whose head had appeared amidst magical green flames.
Albus rushed over to the fireplace. "What is it Severus?"
Snape glanced around nervously. "I don't have much time. I was summoned to Voldemort 10 minutes ago and informed of an attack on Potter. I'm supposed to be preparing for it right now. What happened to the wards?" The normal stern face of the Potions Master was now slightly panicked.
"The wards have collapsed. Something must have happened between Harry and his relatives. Try and stall as much as possible. I'll be summoning the Order and heading over there as quickly as possible." While he was talking Albus had quickly clothed himself and was in the middle of putting together a note for the Order.
"You need to get there as quickly as possible. I don't know if I'll be able to stall..." Severus quickly looked to the side before answering a call by a Death Eater. He turned back to the Headmaster. "That's it Albus. We're leaving now. Hurry." And with that Snape's head disappeared from the fireplace.
Quickly picking up his wand he called Fawkes, his phoenix, to his side.
"Bring this to the Weasley's at the Burrow." He instructed. Fawkes gave a trill as if to say he understood before grasping the note and vanishing in a puff of fire.
Professor Dumbledore was already picking up a spare quill before pointing his wand and quickly turning it into a Portkey. "PORTUS!" He called out and with that his office was empty.
Seconds later he appeared in the hallway of #12 Grimmauld Place. Quickly silencing the portrait of Mrs. Black before she could get started, he gathered all the available Order members together. The few present at the time were Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody.
Dumbledore quickly got their attention. "A few minutes ago the wards protecting Privet Drive fell." Looks of shock were apparent on all faces.
"What about Harry?" Lupin began to panic at the thought that he might be about to lose yet another person who was important to him.
Dumbledore continued, "Shortly after I was alerted I received a firecall from Severus saying that he had been summoned by Voldemort and that they were staging an attack on Harry. The Weasley's will be meeting us there but we need to move now." With the note of command in his voice none of the Order members hesitated and moments later the only sound in the Orders Headquarters was the popping sound signifying the apparation of five people.
The sight that greeted them was one of destruction. They had come too late. Number 4 Privet Drive was in flames. Muggle fire trucks were already on sight trying to contain the blaze but it was obvious to all that no one was still alive on the inside. Bright orange flames appeared to be covering every surface of the home and the heat seared the throats of those nearby.
A series of quick pops signaled the arrival of Arthur and Molly Weasley along with their son Bill.
"Harry!" Molly shrieked. "Is he still inside?" She looked to Dumbledore in horror, her eyes pleading him to calm her fears.
Albus Dumbledore had never looked as old as he did now. His shoulders slumped and the twinkle customarily found in his eyes missing he turned to Molly. She chocked back a sob as she saw the despair reflected in his eyes.
"We don't know Molly. We were too late arriving." He glanced over towards the inferno. "We'll just have to wait till the fire is out and we can check for bodies."
A thick cloud of despair covered the Order members as they watched the Muggle firemen battling the blaze. After what seemed like hours the last flames were finally extinguished. Albus and the Order waited with baited breath as the firemen entered the ruins of Number 4 and began their search for bodies. Before long a call was heard.
"We've got bodies here."
A fireman who had remained outside of the house responded.
"How many? Any signs of life." It was a foolish hope and the man knew it.
"No, they're all dead. Give me a second and I'll get you a count." Came the response from inside.
Arthur Weasley was holding is wife who was sobbing in his arms and Remus Lupin had crumpled to the ground with his head in his hands.
"No, not Harry too. Please not Harry." His words were chocked out and tears were falling from his eyes unashamedly.
"We've got what looks to be a husband and wife based on the wedding rings. Looks like they tried to protect a boy with their bodies. Boy's dead too though." came the call from inside.
"So just the three then?"
"Looks that way. Let me check the rest of the house."
Lupin lifted is his head and hope seemed to have come back to his eyes. "It's not Harry. They'd never protect Harry." He muttered.
Finally, after and hour of sifting through the rubble the firemen exited the wreckage.
"That's it. Three dead. Let's get them out of here."
The words seemed to flow through the Order members giving them a renewed sense of hope. Only Professor Dumbledore still seemed concerned. Remus rose to his feet and turned to the Headmaster.
"If Harry wasn't in there then where is he?" he asked
Dumbledore was frowning. "I fear that if Harry is no longer here then he may have been taken prisoner by the Death Eaters."
And just like that their hope had been crushed.
Dumbledore gave a sigh and looked up into the sky. "Where are you Harry?" he asked hoping for an answer to drop out of the sky. And it did.
In the form of Hedwig, Harry's owl finally arriving at her destination after having to turn around part way. Hedwig quickly descended and landed on Dumbledore's shoulder, sticking his leg out and offering the message he carried.
"Is it from Harry?" The question was echoed from many mouths.
Dumbledore took the parchment and enrolled it. All those assembled waited with bated breath as they watched Dumbledore's eyes slowly travel down the page. As he finished he gave a great sigh before answering.
"It's from Harry. Voldemort doesn't have him."
A cheer came from the assembled Order members causing some strange looks from some of the muggles who hadn't yet returned to their homes.
Dumbledore raised his hand to silence them and all noticed that he was not looking relieved.
"It's from Harry." he continued, "He's run away."
"WHAT!" again the exclamation came from many mouths and gained the attention of the muggles.
"He's left the wizarding world. He didn't say for where, or for how long. He's just leaving."
Shock silenced was the only response until Tonks spoke up. "What do we do now then."
Dumbledore's voice was firm. "We find him and bring him back."
Of course, despite his admirable intentions they would in fact not find, see or even hear from Harry for over a year.
A/N: I've had this story idea floating around in my head for awhile now and I just had to start writing it. It's going to be a long one a with more of a plot than my other fic. I'll probably be taking turns writing for this one and "An End To It All" which will be getting an update soon. Hope you guys like it.