Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, and trust me, I'm making absolutely no money at all from this story.
This is just a little pet project of mine- it won't be updated regularly, so don't keep reading if that pisses you off.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters now how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
--William Ernest Henley
Prologue: Lost and Found
"We've found him."
Albus, his bushy eyebrows rising in interest, transferred his gaze from his desk to the young auror that had just burst into his office. His quill was poised over a long roll of parchment, a drop of ink slowly forming on the tip.
He could barely remember a time without paperwork. He had a war to fight, a school to run, a Ministry to advise…so much to do, and so little time with which to do it…
What was the muggle saying? No rest for the weary, that was it.
And it was barely after dawn. Fawkes was still slumbering peacefully on his perch, and the portraits of Headmasters past were all likewise occupied.
Old Fortescue was snoring particularly loudly, mumbling about goblins and ice-cream and, oddly enough, purple gophers. A touch of madness, alas, was a common trait in Headmasters (and Headmistresses as well, of course). Albus blamed the paperwork- not that any of his predecessors had to worry any longer about writing endless letters or all that Merlin-blasted filing...
Albus could hardly believe he was jealous of a bird and a few paintings. But he was so tired these days, so very tired. It was all he could do to hide his exhaustion from his visitor.
"Ah, Nymphadora," he greeted the frazzled auror with a smile, hiding a flicker of amusement when she winced at the sound of her name. Only he was able to get away with calling her Nymphadora any more. Not even her mother was allowed to call her by her given name, not since before the metamorphmagus had graduated Hogwarts. "You're looking well, my dear. And how are your parents? And Sirius?"
Sirius. The former Gryffindor had only been free for a few years now, and was still haunted by his time in prison. Albus would never forgive himself for that mistake. He had testified against Sirius, hadn't spoken out when the boy was deprived a trial…and so an innocent man had gone to Azkaban. The very thought of it was enough to keep him awake at night, despite his almost constant state of exhaustion.
No, that he would never forgive himself. But it was no good dwelling on the past, not when there was so much to do in the present...
The woman before him drew him out of his reverie with an impatient sight, her hair going crimson. Not for the first time, Albus wondered if her transformations were really entirely under her control, or if some of them happened in response to her changes of mood. But that was neither here nor there, and he had little time for trivialities.
"Mum and Dad are great," Nymphadora said with exaggerated patience. "Sirius is getting better every day. But sir, that's not important at the moment. We've found him."
The drop of ink quivered on the end of his quill, opaque and fat.
Nymphadora smiled, her hair changing to a bright, spiky pink. "Harry Potter, Headmaster. We've found Harry Potter."
The drop fell, splashing against the parchment. Albus' heart raced, and he felt as if he'd just been running a race or dueling. All thoughts of tiredness evaporated like dew in the sun.
Harry Potter. Harry Potter, who had disappeared when he was just a young child. Harry Potter, so long thought dead.
Harry Potter. Alive. Found.
"He's in Auror Headquarters," Nymphadora continued, grinning almost maniacally at the rare sight of a stunned Albus Dumbledore. "Amelia Bones is questioning him right now; I think Kingsley's with her. She wants you there as soon as possible."
Albus carefully set down his quill and replaced the stopper in his ink well. His movements were precise, but his eyes distant. When he spoke, his voice came out thin and creaky.
"I'll go immediately."