IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ.
I am in the process of rewriting this story, smoothing out some plot points and the writing. You can find the new and improved version on my profile and I highly recommend you read that one instead. Updates will be fairly quick and the story will be, I hope, a more enjoyable read than this one. I know hardly anyone knows about this story anyway, but it's a fun little project I've given myself and I hope you'll check it out.
While I hope you'll read the new one, I will be leaving this one up exactly as it is.
-February 8, 2012
Disclaimer- I own nothing.
Chapter One – Waking Up
Lily woke slowly, pulling the heavily layered linen covers closer to her body in an attempt to hold in the warmth. The pillow beneath her head was a bit lumpy but otherwise comfortable and she buried her face deeper into it. She kept her eyes closed hoping that she would drift back into sleep. She couldn't remember what she had been dreaming about, which was strange, but it didn't worry her. Lily's sleepy mind was more concerned with the light tick tick tick sounding near her right ear.
For a moment, Lily couldn't place the sound, but she soon identified it as the soft tick of the second hand on her watch. Her mother, Ginny Potter, had given her that watch and Lily kept obsessively good care of it. Al and James always made fun of her but she would still strap it carefully onto her wrist in the morning and she was careful not to bang it or scratch it on anything during the day. And every night she would take it off and place it carefully on the nightstand beside her bed. She never went to sleep with it on.
And yet, here she was, drifting between being awake and asleep and it was clearly strapped to her wrist, ticking away.
Lily opened her eyes as this thought occurred to her but immediately shut them again due to a bright white glare that had flashed at her eyes. Taking more care to shield her eyes from the light, she rolled onto her back and lifted her arm over her face causing the muscles in her shoulder to twinge painfully. She winced slightly. Lily slowly peeked through her eyelids and found her surroundings to be made up of a starchy white- the ceiling, the walls- all lit with the bright afternoon sun. Lily's mind was still foggy with sleep and she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. Where was the scarlet canopy of the four-poster in her dorm?
The tight braid she had put in her hair the day before was now tousled and fell into her eyes so that she saw scraggly curtains of red as she gradually lifted herself into a sitting position. She felt sore all over for some reason but found that there were no obvious bruises or abrasions after a quick inspection. It was as if she had severely over-exerted herself. But what had she been doing yesterday that had caused her to feel this way? Classes, quidditch practice… nothing out of the ordinary, was there?
Trying to recall the day before, a sharp pain suddenly pounded in her head and Lily couldn't stop herself from letting out a slight moan. She gripped her head with both hands until the pain subsided. Breathing a little harder than usual and unable to move freely without pain, Lily took the opportunity to more closely survey her surroundings in an attempt to find some clue as to where she was. However, it didn't take long to pin down her location. With a quick glance around the long room, there was no doubt that she was lying in Hogwart's hospital wing. The numerous beds that lined the walls were all empty except for the one she occupied. And although it was clearly nearing midday outside, Lily couldn't hear any signs of movement in the ward or from the grounds below the open windows. It was nearly silent.
She wondered if the students would be in the Great Hall for lunch. Surely there would be some students enjoying what appeared to be wonderful weather, taking a stroll about the grounds or dipping their feet in the lake. The sky she could glimpse through the tall windows was a brilliant blue and a breeze was coming in from the one open window. Lily glanced down at her watch to see what time it was- half past eleven.
A cough and a rustle of clothing sounded from Madame Pomfrey's office at the other end of the wing and Lily's head spun in the direction of the noise. The matron shuffled out of her office, her arms full of potions and parchment. She headed straight to the store cupboard in the corner and set the things down on a nearby table. She must have caught sight of Lily sitting up out of the corner of her eye because she suddenly straightened and said, "Oh, good. You're awake."
Lily nodded, but didn't say anything. Madame Pomfrey looked different. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but there was definitely something off about her. Bustling over and placing a hand on Lily's shoulder, the nurse removed her wand from her pocket. Lily eyed it with a bit of suspicion. With a few of the usual waves and jabs, the matron nodded and looked up.
"I told the headmaster I would let him know when you woke." Her tone was very formal and Lily wondered if she had done something to upset the nurse. They had always been on fairly good terms and Lily had landed herself in the hospital wing often enough to say that she warranted more than the cool, distant tone and lack of eye contact that she was receiving. Lily was feeling very disoriented.
She watched as Madame Pomfrey walked briskly from the ward and into the corridor beyond. Her musings on the interaction she had just had were interrupted by a sudden realization. Madame Pomfrey had said headmaster. But Hogwarts didn't have a headmaster. Minerva McGonagall was headmistress of Hogwarts and had been for what Lily could remember and since before even Teddy had gone off to Hogwarts.
Frustrated that she couldn't pull up any memory of how she had gotten here and frustrated that nothing was seeming to fit into place, Lily fell back onto her pillow with a sigh, waiting for… whoever was coming. She didn't feeling up to getting out of bed just at the moment. It was a few minutes later that she heard footsteps coming down the corridor. From what she could tell, there were two people and they were walking quickly. She sat back up, hoping to see a familiar (friendly) face, but she was to be disappointed.
What she did see made her let out a slight gasp before her hand clapped over her mouth. She was looking into the eyes of a dead man.
Albus Severus Potter woke to a rough hand shaking his shoulder. He swatted it away and rolled over.
"Al! Wake up!" The whispered voice was hoarse and urgent. Al twisted onto his side and squinted at the form next to him. Blinking the sleep from his eyes, he recognized Neville Longbottom standing next to him. What was Neville doing in the dorm rooms?
"What?" His voice was scratchy from sleep and he cleared his throat. Neville looked troubled. "What's wrong?"
"Come on, not here" the professor said, and didn't speak again. He face was taught and his hands were wringing nervously. Something was definitely off. Al didn't argue but instead got out of bed and straightened himself out before following Professor Longbottom from the dorm and down through the common room. The fire had completely died and it was dark but for the moonlight coming in from the windows. Al shivered slightly.
A few minutes later, Neville had led Albus through the chilly corridors and they reached Professor McGonagall's office. As they waited for the stone gargoyle to move aside, Al looked up at his surrogate uncle and frowned at the grim expression he saw there. "Whatever it is, I didn't do it."
Neville didn't laugh- he didn't even smile. But Al wasn't entirely discouraged. He was only half-joking anyway.
"No," Neville replied, "I'm sure you didn't." His voice was sincere and grave and Al felt something lodge up in his throat. Something really was wrong. Neville wouldn't look at him as they ascended the stairs to the round office that waited above. Albus stepped nervously inside, Neville on his heels. Professor McGonagall was sitting behind the great wooden desk, her lips pursed and her hands folded. Silence surrounded the three of them for a moment and Al awkwardly slipped into one of the high-backed chairs facing the headmistress. He felt Neville walk up behind him.
"Mr. Potter," McGonagall began. "Albus."
Al noticed the portrait behind Professor McGonagall give a slight cough and he knew it to be his namesake. Albus Dumbledore appeared to be asleep against the frame of the picture quite like all the other former headmasters and headmistresses that lined the walls, but Al knew that they didn't sleep half as much as they pretended to.
Al replied hesitantly to Professor McGonagall, who appeared to be waiting for him to speak. He felt that he was on very unfamiliar ground here, despite having been called to this office on numerous previous occasions. "Yes?"
"It's your sister."
Al's hands went slightly numb as they gripped the arms of the chair. "My sister, Professor?"
Professor McGonagall looked him straight in the eyes and said, "I'm afraid she's missing."
"Albus Dumbledore is dead."
Lily's arms were crossed tightly in irritation. She had been speaking with… with some imposter for the last quarter of an hour, and his calm refusal to recognize the fact that he was impersonating a dead man- one of the greatest men who ever lived- was grating on her thin patience. This simply couldn't be the man Lily had heard so much about, the man one of her brothers was named after. She simply wouldn't believe it.
Madame Pomfrey had left for her office when she had arrived back at the hospital wing with whoever this man was. The fact that the matron had seemed so calm about the situation, the way that she was acting as if nothing were out of the ordinary, further convinced Lily that something was very much amiss. The Poppy Pomfrey Lily knew would never stand for someone impersonating the late Albus Dumbledore.
He was asking her the strangest questions too. How did you happen upon the Hogwarts grounds? Why is it that you are wearing a uniform and yet are not enrolled? What was this? She had been attending Hogwarts for coming on six years now. So instead of addressing the inquiries set to her by the stranger with the beard, Lily set to her own interrogation. She wanted to know whom she was talking to, why he was asking her these questions, and how she had gotten here.
At her blunt statement, the blue eyes looking back at her clouded over for a brief moment. They had been quite piercing just a moment ago and Lily was doing her best not to look away.
"I'm afraid I don't agree," the man stated, no sign of irritation or anger crossing his features.
Lily snorted slightly. "I don't know who you think you're kidding. The man's been dead for… what? Over twenty years now?"
The man seemed to take in the statement for a moment and then said, "Tell me your name, and I will gladly tell you mine." There was no taunt in his voice, no challenge, no laugh. It was an honest proposition and Lily felt herself responding in spite of herself.
"Lily." At least she only gave her first name. She had that much restraint.
The man's lips turned up a bit as if in a smile and his gaze, once again, seemed to be looking into her. "Just 'Lily'," he said. "Nothing more."
"Well, it's quite a long name, you see."
A real smile this time from the man. "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore."
For a second, Lily was caught off guard by the tone in which he rattled off the long name. It was almost sing-songy and it reminded her of the Dumbledore that she had heard of in her father's stories. But her common sense pushed that thought aside as she said, "No, you're not."
"Then may I ask, why would I pretend to be someone you are quite certain died before you were even born? Surely there would be very little to gain out of such a cheap trick."
This was precisely what Lily had been trying to work out from the moment she had seen him walk through the doors of the hospital wing. Why would someone impersonate a man so well known and so obviously dead? It wouldn't fool anyone with half a brain and then where would they be? Lily refrained from answering his question, remaining stubbornly silent as she stared at him.
He looked at her and said, "Just a name, child."
She looked him straight in the eyes. She knew that Albus Dumbledore was one of the most skilled Legimens in history and she knew he would attempt to see if she was lying as soon as she said her name. But she wasn't going to lie. She wasn't going to pretend to be someone else when she was accusing this man of doing the very same thing. Lily took a slow, deep breath and then let it out again.
"Lily Patrice… Potter."
The blue eyes flashed for a moment and he looked her in the eyes. He studied her face for a moment as if looking for something, but he didn't say anything in response. "Look into my mind," Lily prompted. "I'm not lying."
"No," he said gravely, "and neither am I. Which puts us in quite the situation, does it not?"
"Missing?" Albus didn't care that his voice shook as the word came out. His baby sister was missing?
Professor McGonagall's eyes softened briefly as she gazed at the student before her. Neville's hand had dropped onto his shoulder and the grip tightened as Al spoke. But Al didn't understand why they were being so… serious about all this. Surely Lily wasn't really missing like they insisted. Sure, it was the middle of the night and she wasn't in her bed. It wouldn't be the first time she had sneaked out at night in her five years of being here. So he told them as much, knowing that they already knew.
"We've searched the whole castle. She's not here." Neville was lying. He had to be lying.
"Then she's off in Hogsmeade."
Professor McGonagall was shaking her head. "No."
Al didn't realize that he was becoming quite frantic. He looked wildly between the two Professors, both of whom he had known for a long time, not understanding why they were telling him these things. "How can you be sure?" he demanded. "How can you be sure she's not here if you don't know where she is?" His voice was almost a shout but he didn't care. How could they have just pronounced his little sister missing when they didn't even really look? If they had looked they would have found her, they would have given her detention and that would be the end of it. This was just some elaborate hoax. Why were they saying that his sister was missing?
"I'm afraid it's not a question of where, Al."
Al's head swiveled around to face Neville, a look of confusion on his face. Did they know where she was? Why hadn't they said so? What was going on? "What do you mean?" But it was McGonagall who answered. She pulled a box in front of her from the side of the desk. Al hadn't noticed it there when he walked in. He hadn't really noticed much at all. In any case, the box looked entirely unimportant. But the headmistress's fingers wrapped tightly around the sides as though it held something of vital importance. Perhaps it did.
"It's not a question of where. It's a question of when."
Having no answer to this, and not entirely understanding what she was getting at, Al leaned forward in his chair to see what was in the box. Professor McGonagall handed it to him and Albus slowly lifted the lid. The first thing he noticed inside was the Marauder's Map. This surprised him because he had lost it a few months before. He had felt awful losing it, knowing how much it had meant to his dad and knowing how much it had meant to Teddy (who had passed it onto the Potter children after leaving Hogwarts). He had been sneaking to the kitchens after curfew and Filch had confiscated it. It had, thankfully, been blank at the time, but the grumpy old caretaker had taken it nonetheless and neither he nor Lily had had the opportunity to steal it back yet. Lily would have told him if she had it back.
But there it was in the box. Al made a mental note to scour the map for "Lily Potter" at the earliest opportunity but he didn't push the matter at the moment in front of two professors that, as far as he knew, didn't know how it worked. Neville might, being such good friends with his dad, but he didn't say anything. Al returned his focus to the matter at hand. The map was not the only thing in the box. There was also a copious amount of fine, white sand piled in the bottom and spread throughout the box. Mixed with the sand were some shards of thin, broken glass. He didn't understand.
Albus looked up at the Professors, confused. But then he suddenly understood. "It's a question of when." These were the shattered remains of a time turner.
Well, here it is. DH compliant and all. Ever so much thanks to Ellaminnowpea for being a wonderful beta! Stay tuned for more and please review!