Murphy In Charge
(Harry Potter w/ possible crossovers)
Warnings: Minimal violence, discussion of violence.
Disclaimer: I own nothing pertaining to Harry Potter.
Things began to go wrong when the Unspeakable followed Albus Dumbledore to Privet Drive.
Well… perhaps not. Perhaps they'd begun to go wrong earlier than that, when the esteemed Headmaster determined that, as the child's last remaining blood family, the Boy-Who-Lived would be taken to his mother's sister, an out-and-out Muggle. In secret, so that no one would know the new young celebrity wasn't tucked away somewhere safe, maybe with the Ministry or in St. Mungo's.
Or perhaps the turning point was a full day earlier, when the Dark Lord Voldemort had decided to kill the boy and ended up bouncing a Killing Curse off of the toddler's skull only to catch it himself on the rebound.
But then, many would have argued that the ricocheted curse was when things started to go right, after years of being wrong. So, perhaps it was later on. And Dumbledore certainly would have argued that his plan was sound, and indeed, left alone the boy would have survived to reach adulthood, though not necessarily in a happy manner. Later still.
…Yes, we're left with yon Unspeakable. Young Agent Murphy, though that wasn't his birth name, the name he was known by outside of the Department. Outside names were never used within the Department, just as your "true" name was never used outside of it. For Unspeakables, what happened at work stayed at work, or God and his Prophet Merlin help you as your tongue shriveled and your vocal cords boiled.
Hey, there was a reason they were called Unspeakables.
For several years, the Department of Mysteries had been researching just how the Dark Lord Voldemort had managed to rise to power so quickly and effectively. In particular, they were very, very interested in just why no one seemed able to kill the bastard. Most Dark Lords in history had led from the back, just in case one of those stray curses got lucky, but Voldemort was often seen in the thick of battle. Yes, he was good at fighting. Incredibly, frighteningly so, even. But the odds inevitably win out, and they had over a dozen documented occurrences of curses striking the Dark Lord that should have, at minimum, maimed him.
Voldemort was not the first Dark Lord to search for immortality, not by a long stretch. Up until the morning of November the first, 1981, the Unspeakables had been truly concerned that he was, however, the first Dark Lord to actually find it. Then a fifteen-month-old baby had wiped the powerful wizard from the map.
As deeply interested as the Department had been in Voldemort's apparent immortality, it was now just as interested in the little boy named Harry Potter.
Harry Potter, however, had not been relocated to St. Mungo's, the Wizarding hospital, after the attack on his family. Nor had he been brought to the Ministry of Magic. When the Department became aware of Albus Dumbledore's involvement in the matter, Hogwarts was put under surveillance, but that too had turned up no sign of the child. By this time, the Department was most put out. Obviously, the boy should have been sent to them for testing. Finding out how he had survived the Killing Curse would be the magical breakthrough of the century! And they were sure they could have finished with the first battery of tests within a decade or so, so the child would even have been able to go to Hogwarts like any normal wizard. Well, somewhat sure. There would have been so very many tests to run…
As somewhat of a last ditch effort, several more Agents were assigned to monitor Hogwarts, with orders to keep an eye out for Dumbledore. The elderly wizard was quite the chess master, manipulating many of the events around him, but he had the common failing of needing to arrange things at the beginning with his own hands, even if he never touched the matter thereafter. At some point, the Department was sure, he would lead them to the Potter boy.
Agent Murphy was, of course, one of these Agents so assigned to the esteemed Headmaster and Supreme Mugwump. In point of fact, he was the Agent lucky enough to espy the figure of the Headmaster leaving Hogwarts through a side entrance, just as the sun was setting. Purple robes flashed in the golden light as Dumbledore strode towards the gates, leaving the junior agent cursing as he scrambled to keep up, yet keep out of sight. Under most circumstances a Chameleon Charm combined with a Notice-Me-Not would be enough to keep anyone concealed from damn near anything, but the Department of Mysteries tried not to underestimate Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. A couple of previous occasions upon which they had, had turned out supremely embarrassing and resulted in the retirement of half a dozen Unspeakables at absurdly young ages. Murphy tossed a couple of layers of the charms anyway, of course; it simply wouldn't do to keep out of Dumbledore's sight, and still have bystanders pointing him out.
Dumbledore reached the edge of Hogwarts' wards and, after glancing around, proceeded to Apparate. The Unspeakable reached out with his magic, groping for the trail Apparation left ever-so-briefly behind. Being able to track it was always a hit-or-miss proposition, unlike the wide trails left by Portkeys, but Lady Luck was with him for once. He snagged the last faint wisps of the trail and tied a knot of his magic around them, pausing only long enough to cast a bubble of soundlessness around him before Apparating out after the other wizard.
They arrived in a Muggle neighborhood. Bewildered as Murphy found himself to be, he retained enough presence of mind to conceal himself behind one of the Muggle vehicles. It was well he did, for Dumbledore peered about suspiciously, searching for anyone hiding in the shadows, then pulled a small silver instrument from his pockets and put out the street lamps. Murphy was very interested to note that, more than just dousing the light, the instrument applied a general Notice-Me-Not charm to the entire street. Now where had Dumbledore gotten his hands on something like that? Agent Creidhne would love to get his hands on it and take it apart. It'd probably end up as standard kit for the Department.
Once the lights were doused, Dumbledore turned and addressed the shadows. "Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall."
Murphy blinked as a slender tabby cat slunk out of the shadows and turned into a witch. Even in the dark, as distant as he was, he easily recognized his old Transfiguration professor. No one else quite had that stiff, stern carriage she did.
After that the conversation fell to quieter levels than Murphy could hear unaided. It was tempting in the extreme to cast a spell to enhance his hearing- one of the first spells even Aurors learned, let alone Unspeakables- but he didn't dare cast any new magic in this entirely Muggle neighborhood. There was such a dearth of magic of magic around that Dumbledore would surely feel it, which perhaps explained why the Headmaster had chosen it of all places to hold his clandestine meeting.
It was just as well he did not, for completely unintended reasons. Only a few minutes into the conversation, something gave an ear-splitting roar almost directly over his head and crashed onto the street with a great glaring light ahead of it. Once Murphy had recovered from nearly jumping out of his camouflaged skin (but, he would have been proud to say, if he would ever be willing to share that part of the tale at all, his robes remained completely unsoiled), he found that the noisy beast had in fact been an enormous, wildly hairy man on a Muggle contraption Murphy suspect was related to the one he was hiding behind. They both had those strange black wheels, if different numbers of them. The Unspeakable recognized the man as well as another employee of Hogwarts, the groundskeeper Rubeus Hagrid.
Surprised as he was, though less by the man than by the means of his arrival, it was a moment before Murphy spotted the tiny (by comparison) bundle cradled in Hagrid's arms. Dumbledore and McGonagall had both immediately bent to peer at it, blocking any clear view of the bundle's contents, but Murphy had no doubt it contained the missing Harry Potter.
Clever of Dumbledore, really. Evade all of those who would have been watching for the boy at logical places like St. Mungo's and the major Floo points by sending him with a courier on a day-long flight over Great Britain. Yet that meant that the child had yet to receive the attention of a Healer, and Murphy wondered if Dumbledore's intent was to smuggle the Boy-Who-Lived to a private Healer, safely out of the public notice. For all that the Department didn't much care for Dumbledore, they still recognized that he was a good man and the premier wizard of their age, and Murphy had to admit that keeping the boy away from the chaos of his newly-created fans and enemies alike was a worthy cause. The Department would have done the same thing, after all, even if a few more tests would have been involved. Maybe Dumbledore could still be persuaded…
But no. Under his disbelieving eyes, Dumbledore took the sleeping toddler in his arms and walked up to the front door of one of the Muggle houses, and left the boy on the stoop. Murphy stared at the scene in utter shock, shaking his head in denial as the wizards and witch nodded solemnly to Potter, and one by one turned to leave, Hagrid on the foul contraption and Dumbledore rekindling the street lamps as he went.
The Boy-Who-Lived… on this night the sole focus of the Wizarding World… left out on cold stone in the middle of a Muggle neighborhood. It boggled the mind. What in Morgana's hells was Dumbledore thinking? Was he thinking? Even the feeling of slowly-condensing magic in the air, proof that the old wizard had cast some sort of protection over the property, wasn't enough to offset the sheer… sheer…
With a blink Murphy came back to himself. He had to focus. Dumbledore's irresponsibility aside, this… was an opportunity. One closing fast, if the feel of the forming wards was any indication. Rising from his crouch at long last, the Unspeakable hurried towards the boy on the stoop.
Unbeknownst to either Dumbledore or even to Agent Murphy, he had had not just one, but two stalkers that night. Bellatrix Lestrange, one of the Dark Lord's most devoted Death Eaters, had set up camp outside Hogwarts much as Murphy and the other Unspeakables had. Really, the grounds were so thick with clandestine watchers the day of the 1st, it was a wonder that none had tripped over each other in their various methods of invisibility. Unlike the other watchers, however, Bellatrix wasn't at all interested in having Albus Dumbledore lead her to the Boy-Who-Lived. Sure, she would have welcomed the chance to kill the brat if it appeared, but that wasn't what she was actually counting on.
No, at some point Dumbledore would have to leave the safety of Hogwarts' wards. And when that time came, Bellatrix would kill him for the murder of her Lord.
She would likely die in the process, but the witch didn't much care about that faced with the prospect of fulfilling one of the Dark Lord's lifetime goals. If she struck swiftly and strongly enough, with the element of surprise on her side, Bellatrix was certain she would be able to take Dumbledore down with her. She would be able to greet her Lord in the afterlife with pride.
The urgency with which Dumbledore finally left the school, however, left her scrambling to keep up, and only just managing to tag-along on his Apparition trail from quite a distance away. She arrived well down the street from both Dumbledore and the Unspeakable, and by the time the witch was in cursing distance, Hagrid had arrived with Harry Potter.
Never let it be said that Bellatrix wasn't one to seize opportunities. With a fierce smile on her lips, she approached the Boy-Who-Lived, still wrapped in his blanket and oblivious to the world around him. Just in case, she cast a Silencing charm around the babe, and prepared to cast the Cruciatus. Pain unbearable until death seemed a suitable punishment for the Dark Lord's destruction. Or perhaps she wouldn't sustain the curse all the way until the boy died. Children were fragile, after all. It would be amusing to see what the Wizarding World would make of their brain-dead Savior.
"Cruc-" she began, only to drop, unconscious, as Murphy's Stunner nailed her between the shoulder blades.
"…Well, damn," Murphy muttered, breathing hard. The Lestrange woman's form melting out of the shadows had been enough send him into a panicked run, desperate to intervene before she reached the Boy-Who-Lived. Bellatrix Lestrange was infamous both as one of Voldemort's cruelest Death Eaters, and his most loyal. Murphy hated to think of what she would have done to the tot if he hadn't been there. It was enough to make him wonder, yet again, what the hell Dumbledore was thinking, leaving Potter so unprotected.
Under any other circumstances, the Unspeakable would have been pleased as punch to bring down such a murderous villain as Lestrange. Here and now, however, she presented a great complication. He couldn't simply let her go, while at the same time Potter was his primary mission now that he'd been found. Murphy supposed he could kill her and Banish the body, but that would leave all kinds of magical residue, and even incomplete the protective wards on the property might… protest. Anything unduly violent was out of the picture. Murphy couldn't just Apparate out with her, either, not with Potter in tow as well. There was no way he could avoid Splinching with two Side-Alongs to maintain.
The wizard darted a look upwards at the wards, now visible as a barely-there red dome around the house. Blood wards. Nasty things, those could be, and he was running out of time if he was going to get even himself and Potter out from under them. He wouldn't be able to come back for Lestrange in time, and if Murphy just left her, she'd know both where the Boy-Who-Lived was supposed to be, and that he decidedly wasn't in that place. If only there was some way of convincing everyone Potter was still here…
Agent Murphy had received his Departmental name in large part due to his proclivity for creating brilliant plans that, inevitably, somehow went wrong. He remained convinced, however, that the plans themselves were not at fault, but rather that unforeseen circumstances would intervene and twist the plan off course. His coworkers had learned to take his plans in hand by using a pair of very long fireplace tongs, and if any had been around to witness the dawning of Murphy's newest and perhaps greatest plan, they might have saved everyone a great deal of trouble by killing him themselves.
Giddy with his own brilliance, Murphy drew a magic-limiting cuff from his inner pockets and clamped it around the witch's wrist. The murmur of a quiet password activated it, blocking Lestrange's access to her magical core for as long as the cuff remained on her person; potentially quite a long time, given that it would only release using the password. Then he turned his wand on Lestrange once again, Transfiguring her into a replica of the Potter boy, down to the shallow, lightning-bolt scar that decorated his forehead. The Transfiguration was anchored to the cuff, and then an overpowered Notice-Me-Not was applied to the accessory. The charm would wear off in time, but Murphy could reasonably expect at least a lifetime of several months.
The Potter boy didn't even stir as Murphy used his limited knowledge of healing spells to draw a few drops of blood from the crook of his elbow, placing them in an empty vial from another pocket. The vial was then buried in the house's yard, accompanied by a stasis spell. Murphy had to clamp his mouth shut on a yell of triumph when the nearly-complete blood wards fastened onto the vial.
There was only one step left, and the Unspeakable picked up the babe and cradled him in his arm as he aimed his wand at Lestrange once again. "Ennervate," he said coldly, and the de-aged dark witch- er, wizard, jerked awake with a soft cry. "Bellatrix Lestrange, for the crimes of murder, assault, torture, and the practice of Dark magicks, you are hereby sentenced… to life with Muggles." Murphy couldn't hide his glee at the irony as he cast his final spell.
A/N: This will end up its own story someday, after I get a few others out of the way. Imagine the sheer chaos of Harry Potter growing up in the Department of Mysteries, subject to both constant analysis and, eventually, experimentation. The possibilities are limitless.
As for Bellatrix, the first time a wizard actually checked on "Harry", the cuffs would be discovered; until then, she's stuck at the Dursleys. They rather deserve each other, don't you think? Sadly, Neville's parents are still attacked, but are killed outright rather than tortured into insanity since she wasn't present to take out that little urge on them.
8 January 2011