Albus Dumbledore sat behind the large desk in his office starring blankly across the room. Thoughts of the Order, Voldemort, his grandson and especially Harry Potter weighed heavily on his mind. For years he had managed to keep his pawns lined up in a neat little row and now for some unknown reason, his plans were beginning to unravel.
His thoughts were centered mainly on a boy who until recently had fallen into line with his machinations perfectly. What he couldn't seem to figure out was what had caused the sudden change and where he had disappeared too.
As he continued to ponder the mystery that was Harry Potter, a bedraggled and exhausted looking owl flew in the window and practically collapsed on his desk. Removing a scroll of parchment from the owl's leg he noticed the wax seal bore the crest of a school he hadn't visited in many years.
Hoping the letter contained some of the answers he was looking for, Dumbledore quickly broke the Salem seal and unrolled the letter.
Dear Headmaster Dumbledore,
Getting straight to the point, I have found Harry Potter. He is currently enrolled as a student here at Salem. All students attending American Wizarding Schools are required to meet certain minimum standards in muggle subjects and Mr. Potter is enrolled in my Intermediate Algebra class. After spotting an individual I believed to be him, I verified his identity on the student roster.
Another bit of good news, I continue to detect no Death Eater activity in or about the school or surrounding town.
Professor Artimus Blackthorn
Applied Mathematics, Salem Academy of Magic
A large grin crept up on Dumbledore's face as he read the news Blackthorn had sent him. No one in the Order knew of Dumbledore's spies abroad and having received little valuable information from them over the years, he often wondered if they would be better used locally, but no more. He no longer had any doubts as to their worth.
Standing up from his desk, Dumbledore began to pace back and forth across his office as he tried to decide the best course of action. His initial thought was to go to America and confront the teen but he quickly dismissed the idea. It seemed clear that Harry and probably Remus had a problem of some sort with him and he felt it would be best to try to find out more information before confronting either of them.
Stepping towards the fireplace, Dumbledore grabbed a bit of floo powder from a small dish on the mantel and threw it into the flames. "The Burrow." he said clearly as he kneeled before the fire.
A minute later Molly's head appeared in the fireplace. "Hello Albus. What can I do for you?" she asked.
"Good evening Molly. I was wondering if Arthur was available."
"I believe he's tinkering about in his shed, would you like to wait while I fetch him for you?"
"No, no, that's quite alright. I do have some important matters to discuss with him however, could you please have him come to Hogwarts as soon as he is able." Dumbledore said with a smile on his face that was designed to put her at ease.
"Of course Albus, I'll tell him right away."
After wishing each other a good evening, Molly's face disappeared from the fireplace and Albus returned to his desk to work out what he was going to say to Arthur and create a portkey.
"Come in Arthur." Dumbledore greeted the red haired man as he was about to knock on his office door.
"Hello Albus." Arthur said with a smile.
"Lemon drop?" asked the Headmaster.
"No thank you." he replied instead taking a seat across from Albus in front of the large desk.
"Molly said you wanted me to come by to see you?" he finally inquired. It was beginning to get late and he really wanted to get home.
"Ah yes, I apologize for tearing you away from your family at this late hour but something of the utmost importance has come up that I need your help with."
Mr. Weasley looked back curiously. "Of course Albus, what's happened."
Dumbledore took a deep breath and let it out slowly before continuing. "First I must ask you to keep what we are about to discuss between the two of us. As I'm sure you will agree when you hear what I have to tell you, we can not afford for this information to become public knowledge."
"Alright." Arthur agreed becoming slightly nervous at the seriousness with which Dumbledore was speaking to him.
After looking at Arthur for another long minute over his half moon spectacles, Dumbledore told him the news. "I have found Harry Potter."
"What!" Arthur exclaimed in a hope filled voice as he edged forward until he was sitting on the edge of his seat.
Dumbledore couldn't help but smile at the man sitting before him. "Yes Arthur it is true, I have located Mr. Potter."
"Well what are we sitting here for? We need to go see him!" he said jumping up from his seat.
"Please Arthur, have a seat." Dumbledore said gesturing towards the chair Arthur had just vacated as he continued to smile. "I've actually asked you to come here so that I could send you to Mr. Potter to speak with him."
"You aren't coming?" he asked curiously.
"Alas I suspect I may be the cause for many of the reasons Mr. Potter decided to leave as he did and do not believe my presence would be conducive to convincing him to return."
"What did you do? Why did he leave?"
Dumbledore let out a long sigh. "Unfortunately I do not know. Neither I nor anyone else has been given any reasons for Harry's sudden and unexpected departure. I can only guess and do not particularly wish to toss about idle speculation. I would most appreciate it if you could find out what his motivations were when you speak with him."
"Ok Albus, I'll do what I can."
"Very good. Now," Dumbledore said handing Arthur a quill, "Harry is currently attending a wizarding school in America. This portkey will take you to Salem just outside the schools wards. Once you convince Harry to return with you, tap the portkey twice and it will return you both here to my office."
"What if Harry doesn't want to return?" Arthur asked a little nervous about what the response would be.
"Please just do your best to convince him. It is not safe for him there, regardless of what he may believe. If I am able to find him, Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters will be able to find him as well."
A shiver passed through Arthur at the mention of the Dark Lord's name but he nodded and accepted the quill. Placing it in his pocket, he was about to ask if there was anything else before he left when Dumbledore spoke up.
"Actually I would appreciate it if you would go now."
"But I need to let my wife know I'll be gone and take off work."
"Don't worry, I'll take care of the Ministry and let Molly know you are on a mission for the Order."
Arthur nodded again as he removed the quill from his pocket.
"Good luck Arthur and remember, speak to no one but me about this." Dumbledore reiterated in a serious tone.
"Alright Albus, I'll be back as soon as I can."
A moment later, Arthur Weasley disappeared from the Headmasters office. Dumbledore stared at the spot where Arthur had disappeared from for a long while grinning at the empty room. Finally things were turning around. With any luck he would have Harry back under his control soon and if not, at least he would know what was going on.
The world spun in a whir of multi colored lights as Arthur port keyed across the ocean to his destination. He had never taken a portkey this far before and as the trip dragged on he began to feel nauseous. Closing his eyes tightly, he gritted his teeth and hoped it would be over soon. Just as he thought he couldn't take anymore, everything came into sharp focus and he fell to his knees.
Arthur breathed heavily fighting the sickness that threatened to overwhelm him as he tried to clear his mind and focus on the matter at hand. A shudder went through his body as he realized he would have to take another trip just like that one to get home. When he was finally able to think enough to cast a spell, he drew his wand and cast a cure for motion sickness on himself. Feeling a lot better, he stood up and looked around.
Where as it had been well past dinner time when he had left Hogwarts, here it looked to be early afternoon. He found himself standing just inside a wooded area looking up at a building covered hill that he assumed was the school Harry was attending.
Arthur began walking towards the school wondering how he was going to find Harry. He hadn't gone more than a few hundred feet when a pair of individuals wearing official looking uniforms appeared before him with their wands drawn though they weren't pointed at him.
"Can we help you sir?"
"Um, yes, perhaps you can. I've come to see a friend of my family, Harry Potter. I understand he's a student here." Arthur stated hoping the guards would help him.
"Is Mr. Potter expecting you sir?"
"No actually he isn't but I was just here on business and thought I'd stop by and visit."
The man Arthur had been speaking with nodded. "I see, what is your name sir?"
"One moment please."
The guard waved his wand and a small translucent ball appeared on its tip. He brought the ball up to his temple and concentrated for a minute before pulling it away and waving the wand again. The ball separated from his wand as he waved it and flew away towards the school. A minute later, the ball returned reattaching itself to the man's wand. Once again he brought it up to his temple, only this time it dissipated as it touched his head.
"Would you mind accompanying us to the administration building Mr. Weasley?" the guard asked after receiving a response to his message.
"I suppose, is there a problem?" Arthur asked beginning to get a little worried.
"Not necessarily sir. As a matter of precaution we have to investigate any unannounced visits to the campus. In the future it would help if you coordinated your visits with administrative services. If you're going to be visiting often, we can issue you a long term pass which in your case would require the permission of a student, the student's guardian and a staff member."
"Ah, I see. Well I doubt that that will be necessary as I don't get over seas very often but thank you for the information."
Harry had just left potions class when a small intra-school owl landed on his shoulder. "Hey there, you have something for me?" he said petting the owl.
The small bird held out its leg and Harry removed the note before it flew off. Unrolling the small piece of paper Harry began to read. His eyes opened wide and he felt an uneasiness wash over him as he did.
To: Harry Potter
From: Salem Security
A Mr. Arthur Weasley has arrived on campus and wishes to meet with you. It is our understanding that you were not aware of his pending arrival. Mr. Weasley is currently awaiting your arrival in Campus Security office 117 in the Administration Building. If this visit is unwelcome please respond accordingly to this letter and we will escort the individual off campus.
For your reference as a matter of policy, Administrative Services should be made aware of visitors prior to their arrival whenever possible.
Harry ran his fingers though his hair nervously as he reread the letter. Not sure what to do he took a seat on one of the many benches in the square. Drawing his wand, he tapped the invisible ring on his right hand twice.
Bella was watching a movie with Remus and Sirius when her ring began to tingle on her finger. Not having expected a call from Harry, Bella sat up and grabbed her hand gaining Remus and Sirius attention.
"Bella? What is it?" Remus asked.
"It's Harry. He needs us." she said pulling the ring off her finger.
Remus quickly pulled his ring off and traded with her. They realized after enrolling Harry in Salem that Bella wouldn't have access to campus so they had decided if Harry needed anything while he was at school Remus would go. Once he had the master ring on his finger he tapped it twice and a vision of where Harry was appeared in Remus mind. After trading back the rings, Remus quickly made his way to the garage and removed his visitors ID from one pocket. Tapping it twice with his wand, he activated the portkey.
After a short trip, Remus appeared in the Salem Academy arrival area. Moving quickly, he walked to a desk near the exit where a member of the security staff was sitting and handed his pass to him.
Remus handed over his wand and watched as the guard touched it to his ID verifying his identity with a flash of purple light.
"Thank you Mr. Lupin." the guard said handing back Remus ID card and wand.
After putting away his card and wand, Remus left the arrival point and hurried across the campus looking for Harry. A few minutes later he found him sitting on a bench in the main square just as he had seen with Bella's ring.
"Hey Harry." Remus said as he approached the teen.
"Remus!" Harry replied happily standing up to give his godfather a hug.
"Everything ok? I think Bella about had a heart attack when you used the ring." he said smiling.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to worry anyone but it was important." Harry said as he handed the note he had received from Campus Security to Remus.
After reading the note, Remus sighed and sat on the bench gesturing for Harry to join him. "Well, we knew he'd find us eventually."
"I suppose, what do you think we should do?" Harry asked nervously.
"It's really up to you Harry, but the simple fact is Dumbledore knows where we are now so you might as well talk to Arthur. Regardless of what Dumbledore ends up doing the Weasley's do care for you and it would probably be a good idea to let them know you're ok."
"Yeah, you're right. Will you go with me?" Harry asked looking at Remus hopefully.
Remus smiled. "Of course Harry. We should be careful about how much we tell Arthur though. I'm sure anything we say will get back to Dumbledore."
Harry nodded in understanding. Getting up from the bench, Harry and Remus went to the Administration Building where they knew Arthur Weasley was waiting for them. They found their way to room 117 and entered to find a long counter with several uniformed individuals working behind it. Stepping up to the counter, they waited to be helped.
"Can I help you?" a friendly witch asked after a minute.
Harry handed the note he had received across the counter to her. "I just received this and would like to see Mr. Weasley if that's ok."
After scanning the note the witch handed it back and pointed to a group of doors at one end of the counter. "Right through there, he's in room three."
"Thank you." Harry and Remus both said as they moved towards the door.
Taking a deep breath, Harry gave Remus one last look before opening the door. The room was fairly large with a fireplace crackling merrily on one end. All around the room sat an assortment of tables, couches and chairs. As they entered Mr. Weasley jumped up from one of the chairs and ran towards the pair.
"Harry!" he said excitedly as he approached wearing a large smile.
Harry was surprised when Remus stepped in between them with a serious look on his face.
Arthur stopped short looking shocked at Remus behavior. "Remus."
"What are your intentions?" Remus asked simply using a no nonsense tone and cutting straight to the point.
Mr. Weasley was taken aback at the question. "I don't understand what you mean. I'm just happy to see Harry, actually its good too see you as well."
"I mean that you're being here means Dumbledore knows where we are. I have no doubts he's the one who sent you here. The question I have is why? Is it your intention to try and take Harry back with you?"
"What? No. I would never force Harry to go anywhere if that's what you mean, no. Really I just want to make sure he's ok and maybe find out what happened. Yes I would love for him to come home, everyone misses him, but I would never force him." Arthur replied shocked at the very suggestion.
Remus looked at him for a long minute before nodding and offering his hand. Arthur shook it tentatively.
"Hello Mr. Weasley." Harry finally said in greeting as Remus stepped to one side.
Arthur's grin returned at the sight of the boy he considered one of his own. "It's good to see you Harry." He shook Harry's offered hand but couldn't help himself and pulled him in for a quick hug.
"You look like your doing well Harry." Arthur said as he stepped back from the greeting and took a good look at the young man he had come so far to see.
"Thanks, I am. It's been one of the best summers and start to a school year that I can ever remember having."
The group took seats before Arthur asked a question that had been on his and everyone else's minds since he had left. "Why Harry? Why did you leave us?"
Harry let out a long, pained sigh. "I'm sorry Mr. Weasley. I didn't want to leave your family or my friends behind but I just had to leave. I feel like I've been manipulated and used my entire life and I can't take it anymore."
"Is this about the prophecy Harry?" Arthur asked.
Harry and Remus both shared a look of surprise before turning back to Mr. Weasley.
"I didn't think anyone knew it but me and Dumbledore." Harry said.
Arthur took a deep breath and wondered if he had just opened up a can of flobber worms. "There was an Order meeting after you both disappeared. Everyone was very worried and wondered why you had left. Eventually Dumbledore told everyone the prophecy."
Harry groaned and rubbed his eyes. A moment later he felt Arthur's hand on his shoulder and looked up to find concerned eyes looking back. "You didn't have to run away Harry, we all love you and want to help. I'm sure all of your friends will want to stand by you through this, I know Molly and I will."
"Thanks Mr. Weasley." Harry said giving the man a warm smile. "That really means a lot to me. Do you really believe the prophecy?"
Arthur looked at Harry curiously. It had never occurred to him to doubt what he'd been told. "Well, I suppose I do, I mean he couldn't kill you when you were a baby and Dumbledore seems to believe it."
"Well I'm sorry but I don't. How can anyone possibly think I could defeat Voldemort." Harry saw Mr. Weasley flinch at the mention of the Dark Lord's name but let it go. "I mean I'm only in my sixth year and to be honest, it was my mum that defeated him the first time, not me. It was her spell that protected me. I didn't do anything but sit there and let the curse bounce off my forehead."
A short silence settled between the men before Harry spoke again. "How did everyone else take the news of the prophecy?"
"Not so good Harry. Everyone's worried about you and the wizarding world."
"They all think I ran away because I'm afraid to face him don't they?"
Arthur wrung his hands in his lap and looked away for a minute before answering. "Well, not all but some. Snape of course does."
Harry couldn't help but let out a snort. "Of course the greasy git would think that." Making sure he had Arthur's attention, Harry continued. "Yes, the prophecy has a lot to do with why I left, but I'm not scared of facing him. I simply can't believe that I'm the one meant to face him, that I'm the key to his defeat. Even if I was, why hasn't Dumbledore or the Order been training me to fight him?"
Mr. Weasley had no answer to Harry's question.
"Mostly," Harry continued after a short silence, "I'm just sick of being kept in the dark and manipulated. I spent the first ten years of my life living in a cupboard. Do you honestly believe Dumbledore didn't know? I used to think so until it occurred to me my first Hogwarts letter was addressed to Harry Potter in the Cupboard Under the Stairs. He knew that whole time and let it go. What else did he let go? I'm sorry Mr. Weasley, I love and miss you and your family but I'm done. I've made a new life that I love and I'm not about to give it up."
"What about your safety Harry? If we can find you surely the Death Eaters can."
"So I should let myself be locked up at Privet Drive or Grimmauld Place? Be constantly watched and monitored like I'm some sort of criminal? I'm sorry Mr. Weasley but no thanks. I won't go back. I'll take my chances here."
"Harry, please, I just don't want anything to happen too you." Arthur begged.
"Something's happened to me every year I've been at Hogwarts. You'd think that with the Headmaster there looking out for everyone the kind of things that have happened to me wouldn't be possible but here we are. Frankly I feel safer here. I'm sorry Mr. Weasley, but the answer is no. Maybe I can come visit for the holidays or next summer but I'm not going back."
With the matter of Harry's return settled, the conversation turned to more benign topics such as Harry's schooling. The three shared a nice dinner at the campus cafeteria which Mr. Weasley greatly enjoyed. Eventually it became late and Harry returned to the dorms to do his homework while Remus escorted Arthur to the schools arrival building where he could activate his portkey.
"Is everything ok? What happened?" a very worried and excitable ghost and former Death Eater began questioning as soon as Remus appeared in the garage at their home.
"Remus looked at them both curiously. "Have you both been waiting in here this entire time?"
Bella rolled her eyes. "Enough! What happened!"
Remus let out a chuckle and couldn't help himself. Normally it would have amazed him how attached and loyal everyone was to Harry, especially Bella who had been on the other side for so long, but being there himself he completely understood.
"Seriously, you could have waited inside where it's more comfortable. You know I would have used the rings if I needed… Ok, calm down…" Remus held up his hands and took a step back as Bella pointed her wand at him. She was clearly not amused.
"Remus?" Sirius asked in a very serious voice.
Letting out a sigh, Remus dropped his hands and looked at the pair. "Arthur Weasley turned up on campus. He knew Harry was there."
A few choice expletives escaped the pair at Remus proclamation.
"So Dumbledore knows where Harry is." Bella stated as she lowered her wand.
"Yes. Looks like he sent Arthur here to find out why we left. Interestingly enough, Dumbledore's told everyone in the Order and Harry's friends the fake prophecy."
"That bastard." Bella said. "So now they all think Harry's a coward who's run away."
"Some do but not all. Mostly everyone's just worried about him. We tried to convince him we don't believe the prophecy and mainly wanted to get away from Dumbledore's manipulations. We didn't mention anything else we know figuring Dumbledore will know everything we discuss."
"So what do we do now?" Sirius asked.
"I'm not sure there's much we can do. We'll just have to see what happens."
After another nauseatingly long portkey trip, Arthur Weasley appeared in Dumbledore's office and fell to his knees breathing heavily as he had done the first time. Before he even had a chance to take in his surroundings, he felt a spell hit him and the sickness he was feeling vanished. Standing up he found the headmaster offering him a hand up.
"Thank you Albus. I can't say I like using international portkeys."
After helping Arthur into a chair in front of his desk, Dumbledore took his seat and looked expectantly at Arthur.
"Harry seems to be doing very well at his new school. He's happy and mentioned he's had one of the best summers he can ever remember but I wasn't able to convince him to come back with me."
"I'm glad to hear he's happy Arthur. Did he perhaps mention why he left?"
Arthur seemed to get nervous as he spoke. "Well, it seems like he isn't happy with the way he's been treated by you and the Order, particularly you."
Dumbledore continued to question Arthur for a long while before finally becoming frustrated with the answers he was receiving and drawing his wand. "Petrificus Totalus!"
Mr. Weasley's eyes grew large as he was frozen in place, frantically looking around the office and at Dumbledore.
"Legilimens!" Dumbledore said casting a second spell.
Pain flowed through Arthur's entire being as Dumbledore tore through his memories of his trip to America with all the subtlety of a raging bull. Eventually Dumbledore saw all he needed to and dropped the probe. After thinking about everything he had seen for several minutes he turned to the still frozen form of Arthur.
"I'm truly sorry my old friend but I'm afraid I needed all the information you possessed on this matter."
With another wave of his wand, Dumbledore released Arthur from his binds. Before he had a chance to move, Dumbledore raised his wand again. "Obliviate!"
Arthur blinked several times to clear his head and found a concerned Albus looking down at him.
"Are you ok Arthur?" Albus asked with apparent concern. "You seemed to wander off for a second there."
"Umm, yes… yes I believe so. I must just be tired from the portkey trip." Arthur managed to get out as he looked around in confusion.
"I'm sure you are. Why don't you go home and get some rest. I've already alerted the Ministry you will be absent today."
"Thank you. I think that would be a good idea." Arthur said standing to leave.
"You may tell Molly about Harry but please don't let the information go any further."
"Thanks again Albus. I'm sure Molly will be very happy to hear he's ok."
With the departure of Arthur Weasley, Dumbledore's twinkle and smile disappeared and he started pacing about his office. He had removed Arthur's memory of him using Legilimency on him. He had wanted to remove the entire trip from Arthur's mind but knew that Harry would be aware his location was now known and might contact his friends. Rather than create a sticky situation for himself he decided it would be best to simply ask Arthur to be discrete with the knowledge he held.
"There has to be a way to use this situation to my advantage." he mumbled out loud to himself as he continued to pace.
It was a long while before his eyes opened wide at the thought of a seemingly inconsequential piece of information Harry had mentioned to Arthur during their conversations, that he was the varsity seeker for his schools Quidditch team. 'Yes, that will do nicely.' he thought as a smile began to grow on his face. It would take some planning and he would have to work quickly but he was pretty sure he would be able to pull it off.