The White Tree of Hogwarts
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings
Author's Note: This story takes place after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, replacing the fifth book (and Harry isn't a jerk in my story; it's one of the many things that I change). And I know a crossover of HP and LotR has been done before, but I swear I'm not trying to copy anyone.
Albus Dumbledore swung open the door to his office, glad to find it exactly as he had left it. He strolled over to a far cabinet and tapped his wand on the lock, opening it. After leafing through a pile of papers, he finally found what he had been looking for.
Dumbledore held the paper up and squinted at the faded lettering through his half-moon spectacles. It was a rubbing of a wall engraving. Dumbledore stared at the words; they were written in Latin, but he knew what they meant. "The key to another world lies within you…"
That was the line that had puzzled Dumbledore for a very long time.
He pulled something else from the stack of papers in the cabinet. This was a scrap of paper, hastily written many years ago. On it were the words, "Portal: Forbidden Forest?"
This also troubled Dumbledore. He had searched as much of the Forbidden Forest as he could, looking for anything strangely magical that could be called a "portal," but had never found one. He wondered how the person who had written the small note had come to that conclusion.
"Look inside yourself, and the answers will come…" Another line from the engraving. If only it were that easy. Apparently it was for the person the passage had been intended.
And yet, Dumbledore thought, he may have forgotten. He may have abandoned the search many years ago. But he seriously doubted this. More likely, his greatest fear was rapidly coming true.
If he enters Hogwarts' grounds, I will stop him. And if the engraving is to be taken literally, then the key lies within him, and he probably cannot send a servant out for him…no…he will have to come himself…
The door to his office suddenly opened. Severus Snape stood in the doorway. The look of boredom on his face was replaced by one of surprise. "I wasn't actually expecting to find you here."
"I have returned," Dumbledore said. "Sit down, Severus."
Snape took another step into the room but did not sit down. "Where were you?"
"Far from civilization."
Snape raised an eyebrow, but knew better to expect him to say more. "Well…the Order has been trying to reach you all night. They retrieved Potter in the evening and brought him to the headquarters."
"There were no problems, I trust?"
"Very good. Did you meet with the Death Eaters today, as planned?"
"I did. They were…suspicious. They thought I knew of the Dark Lord's plans."
"But you still do not?"
"No. He spoke to me alone, though…warned me that he would be leaving soon, which confirmed all of the rumors I had heard. He did not tell me where he was going, but gave the strong impression that he might have told a few other Death Eaters. I am not certain who they might be."
"None of those just escaped from Azkaban?" Dumbledore asked, looking at Snape over his spectacles. This had proven to be a very eventful July, with the mass breakout of various Death Eaters from Azkaban and Harry's introduction to the Order of the Phoenix, not to mention Voldemort's strange holiday plans and Dumbledore's renewed interest in the notes from the bottom of the far cabinet.
"I am not certain, as I said," Snape said, with only slight annoyance. "I do not believe Bellatrix knows, however…she was pestering me about it the moment the Dark Lord dismissed me, but I am not sure if she was acting or not."
"If you learn any more be sure to tell me as soon as possible. I hardly need to remind you that it is of the utmost importance that we know Lord Voldemort's location at all times."
When Dumbledore did not say anymore, Snape left the office. Dumbledore sighed and returned the scrap of paper and rubbing of the wall engraving to the cabinet, closing it and locking it again. Then he sat down in his headmaster's chair, pondering.
About a half-hour later, he came to the conclusion, Tomorrow I will go to headquarters, and find Ginny Weasley…
"What is it now?"
"I simply ask, my Lord, what it is that you are planning…"
Voldemort rose quickly from his chair and drew his wand. Suddenly he smiled and laughed a cruel laugh. "You know, Wormtail, I may actually need your help with this…"
Wormtail's eyes opened fearfully (he had closed them when cowering before his master). "R-really, m-my Lord? I…I d-didn't think y-you'd need me n-now that you have o-other servants…"
"Stop your stuttering. You remind me of that fool, Quirrel."
"Yes my Lord…"
Voldemort put his wand away and folded his hands behind his back, beginning to pace as he spoke. "I am planning on going away…"
"Yes, I heard…"
Voldemort immediately stopped and eyed him suspiciously. "Heard what?"
Wormtail cringed. "Only rumors, my Lord…the other Death Eaters said you might be leaving…but nobody knew where…"
"I have told no one…but you will find out very soon, if everything goes according to plan. Originally I had not thought to bring any servants with me, but now I am considering bringing a few. I need somebody very faithful to remain in charge while I am gone, however…Severus says the Order has reassembled, and I want somebody I can trust to keep the Death Eaters from falling into their hands. I may be gone for quite some time…"
"You're thinking of me, my Lord?" Wormtail asked in awe.
Voldemort glared at him, then laughed. "You, Wormtail? Of course not! You have shown you are quite capable of being a servant, but only a fool would put you in charge of the Death Eaters. No, you shall accompany me on my journey…with one other."
"I am thinking of Lucius Malfoy."
"But what faithful servant would you leave behind to rule? One of the ones from Azkaban?"
"Perhaps. I am not sure…I was just looking at the old list," Voldemort said, gesturing to a piece of parchment lying on a desk in the room.
"Maybe I can help you," Wormtail said eagerly.
"No, Wormtail. No Death Eater has ever seen the complete list…" he paused, adding lazily, "and did I mention that if anyone but me reads it, their eyes will explode?"
Wormtail whimpered and quickly looked at something else. Voldemort smiled and continued. "Anyway, I believe I will leave the announcement of my stand-in until the very last moment, if at all possible…as long as you do not contribute to these 'rumors' that seem to be going around. If I hear word of my consideration of a temporary replacement, I will kill you."
"I won't say a word," Wormtail promised.
"Now to my more pressing concern…and yes, Wormtail, it is even more important than choosing a leader for the Death Eaters. I am hoping to lure my two greatest enemies into a trap."
"Dumbledore and Harry Potter…but how?"
"I believe there is a link between me and the Potter boy…a link that may allow visual contact."
"What do you mean?"
"I suppose it would be too difficult for you to understand…but using very complicated magic that only one such as I could be capable of, I believe I can show Harry Potter a sort of vision through my eyes…a vision which he will tell Dumbledore of, and which will reveal everything about my whereabouts."
"You want Dumbledore to know?"
"Of course. Because then he will follow me."
"What if he doesn't? What if he sends someone else out instead? You said you'd be gone for a long time, and it's almost August, and school starts in…"
"School?" Voldemort said with a cold laugh. "I offer Dumbledore the chance to destroy me, and you think he would give that up for school?"
"Of course not."
"But still…how are you so certain that the trap will work? How do you know Dumbledore will fall into it?"
"Following me would automatically make him fall into it. Anyway, I would rather not speak any more of it at the moment. I have much to plan…much to accomplish."
Wormtail bowed and scurried out of the room.