Okay, when I have an idea, I usually have to go with it, just to see where it takes me. So I wrote this and since I liked it a little, I thought that I'd post it and see if there was any interest. It is most definitely AU as you will clearly see in the prologue. More will be explained in future chapters (if I decide to keep this story going) as it would give away too much to explain everything now. Let me know if you like it!
Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…
Minerva McGonagall entered the Headmaster's Office cautiously. She could feel the disquiet and latent enmity running rampant through the room. It wasn't often that something could goad the Headmaster into such a state. Even less often that anyone would want to be anywhere near him when he was in such a state.
She didn't have much choice in the matter, however, as she'd been practically ordered to be there.
She found Professor Albus Dumbledore at his desk, his head clasped in his hands. After standing silently before him for a moment, she lowered herself slowly into the chair across from him.
"What is it, Albus?" She asked quietly.
Dumbledore was silent for a moment before finally raising his head. There was no hint of a sparkle in his eyes, only sadness… and a profound look of failure.
"I've lost him, Minerva," he said softly, his voice catching slightly.
Minerva looked at him in concern, her eyebrows drawing together in concentration as she tried to determine who he was speaking of. Unable to fathom what he might mean, she asked him.
"Harry Potter is no longer under the guardianship of his Aunt and Uncle in Little Whining."
Minerva's eyes opened wide in horror. "Surely he's not…"
Albus shook his head. "No, Minerva. Not dead… But lost to me. It seems that a relative of his, a distant cousin of James' I believe, looked unkindly on the idea of him being raised by Muggles. He petitioned the court to grant him custodial rights. The Wizengamot reviewed the facts of the case and decided that I overstepped my boundaries by placing him there."
"Surely not!" Minerva said. She might not have agreed with those particular Muggles, but she couldn't believe that the Wizengamot wouldn't take Dumbledore's word that it was the best place for Harry. She certainly had.
"It was revealed by said distant relative that James and Lily were quite adamant that Vernon and Petunia were never to get their hands on Harry. That almost anyone was preferable."
"Oh Albus," Minerva said, a sense of profound disappointment in her voice. "You didn't."
Albus shrugged slightly. "I did what I felt was best for the boy. I still believe that Little Whining is the best place for him."
"But the Wizengamot didn't agree."
Albus shook his head sadly. "He was removed from his Aunt and Uncle's this morning and placed in the custody of a 'reputable Wizarding family.'"
"Who?" Minerva asked, almost afraid of the answer.
Albus laughed shortly. "That is the punchline, as you soon will see… They wouldn't tell me."
"What?" Minerva exclaimed, outraged. Of all the stupid, pigheaded…
"They seem to be under the impression that were I to know where he was, I would interfere." And rightly so, he added silently to himself. "They wished to avoid this at all costs and have placed him under the Abditum Charm, which makes it impossible for me to find him. He's gone… He's gone Minerva and we can't protect him anymore."
Minerva racked her brain, trying desperately to determine who it might be. Who would want him so? Who would have the power to pull this off? But she couldn't think of a single person. Not one who was also related to James.
"It won't help," Albus said softly, knowing what she was thinking. "It's part of the charm. Until the answer is revealed to us, we won't be able to determine who it is. No matter how much research we do. No matter how much logic we apply."
"But surely you… There is no one in the Wizengamot more powerful than you!"
Here Albus laughed. It was hard not to. Lovely Minerva and her loyalty to him. He did very much appreciate it.
"No individual Wizard, Minerva. But forty of them, working together? Yes, I am afraid that even I cannot break this charm. There is no one in this world that can. We can only hope that he is safe and that he will be raised in a way that would make Lily and James proud. Anything beyond that… Well, we'll just have to wait and see."
"But Albus…" Minerva said slowly. "Nine more years!"
"Yes," Albus said sadly. "Nine more years before Harry will enter Hogwarts. Nine years in which he may be taught that the very thing that he should fight against is the thing that he should fight for. Nine very long years…"
"What will we do?" Minerva asked quietly, her voice breaking.
"We will wait and we will pray. There's nothing else that we can do."
Thirteen Years Later…
Nine years had long since come and past, but Harry Potter had not arrived at Hogwarts. Albus Dumbledore was still at a loss for where he could be, horrible scenarios of what may have happened to the boy in the intervening years flittering darkly through his mind.
He had asked the Wizengamot many times where the boy was, what had become of him. They would tell him only that he was safe and protected. That he was learning to be a fine Wizard.
But they wouldn't tell him where, or with whom.
They would go so far as to assure him that the boy had not been injured. He was visited at least four times a year by a member of the Wizengamot to insure that he was safe, healthy and well cared for.
Beyond that, it was the opinion of the Wizengamot that Harry Potter was none of his concern.
He hated that feeling. Hated it more than he would ever reveal to anyone save Minerva McGonagall… and to a lesser extent Severus Snape.
Dumbledore sighed softly and picked up a piece of parchment that had been delivered to him moments before by Owl Post.
As he read over the letter a feeling of great unease swept over him, as if something important was about to happen. Something that he was and would be unable to comprehend until its completion.
Two students were requesting a transfer into Hogwarts from Durmstrangs Academy. Two very bright students, if their records were any indication.
And it was no small feat that the strangest aspect of the request was that their names were nowhere to be found, either within the letter or on the transcripts themselves.
"Fifth years," Albus whispered softly to himself, the feeling that had been assaulting him earlier becoming stronger.
He considered for a moment accepting their request with the stipulation that they come for a personal interview before beginning. That idea was quickly set aside as he realized that such a request might be the deciding factor.
A deciding factor to what and in which direction it would lead was not readily apparent to him, but he had the distinct feeling that it would be to everyone's detriment if he were to reply in such a fashion.
He shook himself slightly, wondering just when he'd become a doddering old fool who succumbed to random misgivings rather than facts.
He withdrew a fresh piece of parchment from his desk and quickly penned a letter, informing the transfer students that Hogwarts would indeed be glad to accept them into the next academic year. To the letter he attached booklists, based on the theory that they'd want to continue with similar courses to the ones they'd been taking at Durmstrangs.
It was only then that he realized that the bird that'd delivered the letter was sitting quite comfortably next to Fawkes on his perch… and was not an owl by any stretch of the imagination.
"Doddering old fool, indeed!" Dumbledore harrumphed to himself with no small amount of annoyance. How had the fact that a bloody huge raptor had delivered the post escaped his attention? A hawk, if his eyesight wasn't failing him, though the exact species was lost on him.
"I suppose you're waiting for this?" He asked grumpily.
The bird stared at him silently for a moment before elegantly lowering its head in a nod of agreement.
"Well, get over here then."
The bird stretched its wings, showing an impressive wingspan and glided nonchalantly over to Dumbledore's desk, offering its leg in an almost bored manner.
"You're an arrogant thing, aren't you?" Dumbledore asked, still feeling quite grumpy about this whole situation. The bird looked at him reproachfully and let out a loud, piercing cry as if to say 'get on with it. I'm tired of waiting for you.'
"All right, all right," Albus said. He quickly added the Hogwarts seal to the letter and placed it on the bird's leg. "I guess I'll be seeing you again in September?"
The bird again lowered its head elegantly in acknowledgement and flew from the desk, swooping majestically out the open window.
"Strange days," Albus muttered softly to himself, getting slowly to his feet. "Strange, strange days." He made his way over to the fireplace and threw in some floo powder. When the flames had turned their expected green, he stated clearly. "Minerva McGonagall's office," and stuck his head through.
He found his Deputy Headmistress at her desk, likely working on her class plans for the upcoming year. "Albus?" She questioned, a surprised look on her face.
"Minerva," Albus said solemnly. "If I might have a word?"
Miles away, undisclosed location…
Orion glided silently across the night sky, circling his destination twice before entering the Manor, following his master's aura to the proper room. As he entered, two young men looked up from their studies, exchanging similar grins at the sight of the bird.
He swept around the room a number of times before alighting on his master's offered arm.
"Good job, Orion," the young man said softly, gently stroking the bird's head. "I take it you were successful? And Father didn't see you?"
The reproachful cry of the bird was enough to make the young man wince. As if he'd allow such a thing, with direct orders to the contrary.
"Sorry," the young man said contritely. "But you know I had to ask."
Orion rubbed his head affectionately against the young man's cheek and then offered his leg, where the letter was attached. The young man took it eagerly. Free from his burden, Orion again took to wing before settling on his perch, watching the two young men with interest.
"Well, don't just sit there," the other young man said. "Open it!"
It didn't take long for the boy to comply. He opened the letter and read it through quickly. When he was done, he threw a smirk in the direction of the other boy. "Told you so."
"You're joking," the second young man said, grabbing the letter out of the other boy's hand. "He just accepted us? No questions asked?"
"Indeed," the first said. "So he's either the doddering old fool that father seems to think he is, or he's the wily old badger that the majority of the Wizarding World believes him to be. Either way, we have our wish. No more Durmstrangs Academy. We are off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…"
"Where we've always belonged…"
The two boys grinned at each other, more than pleased that their plan had come off without a hitch. Slowly, the second young man's grin faded into a scowl. "So how do we break the news to father?"
The first boy laughed. "I think that a letter delivered to him after we're settled into our new home will be sufficient. What do you think?"
The second boy's scowl was again replaced with a grin. "That's bloody brilliant, that's what I think!" He reached into his desk and pulled out a bottle of firewhiskey and two glasses. He poured them each a generous portion and handed one of the glasses to his brother.
And as one, they downed their glasses, laughing as steam billowed out of their ears.
It was the dawning of a strange new era of Wizarding History…