I've watched his life's story forwards and backwards so many times that I've long since lost track of just how many times it's been. After all these years, to me it's like reading a well-loved book. The longer I watched the more I realized it had all gone so wrong because of the smallest mistakes. I just wanted to make it better, for him, but mostly for her. She never deserved what happened to her.
If I get really honest with myself, I had never previously tampered with his life because I was jealous that he had her and I didn't. Problem is, what could I have ever been to her when compared to him? I spent a thousand years sitting on a rock by the sea contemplating the truth of that before I finally made my decision. I would change it. I would make it better for him and all the others. Pulling myself up and dusting the dirt and grime of ages off my clothes, I wandered back through time towards the beginning of it all. Soon enough, I was standing in the room where it had all begun.
I didn't have to wait very long for the screaming to begin. Lily came running in, James screaming from down the stairs for her to run and take the boy with her. Of course, she would never leave her husband behind, and soon they were both lying cold and dead on the ground. The boy, nothing more than a toddler in his crib, crying for his mother as her killer stalked past her body, laughing as he pointed his wand at the defenseless child. Then, with a brilliant flash of green energy, the monster was dead and his body vaporized. The screaming boy bore the mark of his mother's love cut into his flesh. I watched the monster's soul, a shriveled and fractured thing, as it flew around the room until it finally split in two. The larger portion of the soul fled the room as I watched the smaller portion bind itself to the boy.
Once the main portion of the beast's soul had departed, I lovingly reached out my hand to caress the child's pure soul. This would be my first change, to strip away all the power of the madman's soul and grant it to the boy in its purest form so that it could never harm him. Then I forged the link between their two souls that would allow the boy to see into the mind of his parents' killer without fear of ever being controlled by him. The child would now have all the benefits of the monster's mistake, and none of the drawbacks, something he had not had before.
As the child calmed, sleep coming over him naturally, I tucked him in gently before making my way out of the room. The tiny fragment of soul I still held in my hand was vibrating. It needed a host; it would, in fact, perish without one. I debated letting the mangled thing vanish into the ether, but eventually decided it would be better if I kept it safe for the moment. Making my way down to the private study of the boy's father, I sat down at his desk and looked around for a suitable vessel for a madman's soul. It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for, a plain quartz crystal about the size of my fist.
After a bit of a struggle, for the soul fragment did not want to enter the crystal prison, I finally managed to imprison it. I watched, entranced by the sight of it, as the crystal shone with a pale green light which came from the green puff of smoke that seemed to float around inside the now perfectly clear crystal. It was beautiful in its own horrific fashion. At least, I thought so as I picked up parchment and quill and began to write to the man I knew would cause me the most problems if I was to change anything.
It would seem that Tom has finally made the mistake that you have for so long hoped he would. The prophecy holds true, Tom has marked this child as his adversary. Sadly, Lily and James gave their lives so that their son might live. That protection saved his life when nothing else could. He will not fully understand their sacrifice until he has his own children, and maybe not even then.
I have saved the boy from some future difficulties. If you are worth you reputation, it will not take you long to figure out what is inside the crystal I have left for you. However, I do not recommend you trying to destroy it since only the boy will ever be able to do that. When the time is right, I will show him the way and the means to do so. Believe me when I say that he will have the power to fulfill the prophecy, I have seen to that. The rest is up to the boy and whether or not he can find the power and the courage to do what must be done.
That brings me to my final advice to you. Make no mistakes that the boy is under my protection, Albus. Any decision you might choose to make regarding him will be seen by me, and I will decide if it is best for the boy or not. To that end, here are a few things you need to know up front.
Peter Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper for the Potters, not Sirius Black. You can confirm this by examining Black after you read this.
Tom Riddle is not dead; he will return.
The boy is NOT to go to his aunt and uncle to live. Sirius Black is his godfather and as such, and as per his parents' wishes, the boy is to live with him. No blood ward will serve him as well as being with his godfather.
The boy should be kept out of the spotlight. Tell Sirius to raise the boy away from the wizarding world until it is time for him to attend Hogwarts. Teach him well, but protect him from too much attention.
This is the most important. Don't keep secrets from the boy unless it is absolutely the only way. Remember, if he is old enough to ask the question then he is old enough to get the honest answer from you.
As proof that I know what I am talking about I will leave you with the following: The Elder Wand is in your possession. The Potter cloak is the second, and it will never recognize you as its master. Tom has the third and you will not find it until the time is right. If that is not enough proof for you then let me only say this, for what those boys did to your sister, I would have done the same as your father did.
Remember, I will be watching over the boy.
With a flourish I signed my name, not that Albus would actually believe what he was reading. I was sure I was going to have to prove to him that I was to be taken seriously. That would come later, for now I still had to wait for Hagrid and Sirius Black to arrive. Making my way back upstairs, I watched the boy sleeping peacefully. It was amazing to me that he could sleep with the corpse of his mother laying only a few feet away, but that is the wonder of childhood, they can sleep through almost anything.
It was almost two hours later that Hagrid arrived. The great brute of a man squeezed into the house, making his way up the stairs at a dead run. I was actually amazed when he was able to squeeze through the door to the boy's room. Tears ran fast and thick down his cheeks and into his bushy beard when he saw Lily lying on the floor, cold and dead. He scooped the boy up into his arms and carried him out of the room, down the stairs, and out into the dark night beyond. I of course followed silently behind them. We no sooner exited the house when the sound of a motorcycle announced that Sirius had arrived to see what had happened. Now was my time to act.
"Take the bike, Hagrid," Sirius was saying. "I won't need it now."
"I couldn't do that, Sirius," Hagrid said gently.
I concentrated for a moment and suddenly felt the chill night air on my body. "He's right, Sirius."
Both men spun around to see me standing behind them. Sirius, his wand already drawn, looked ready to kill me before he saw that I was not carrying a wand. I'm not sure what he must have thought as he looked at me. I had chosen not to dress the part, instead choosing to dress in simple Muggle slacks and a jumper.
"Put the wand down, Sirius," I commanded, and watched as he did it. "Who I am is not important. However, what I have to say is very important. Sirius, you are to go with Hagrid to see Albus right now."
"No," barked Sirius, his face contorted in rage. "I've got to kill that stinking rat for what he's done!"
"What good is that going to do for Harry?" I asked gently. "He needs his godfather now more than anything else. Revenge will not bring his parents back. It will only deprive Harry of his chance to be with someone that can raise him as his father and mother would have wished."
"Professor Dumbledore said I was to be taking Harry to his aunt and uncles," Hagrid objected.
"You both will, Hagrid," I said with a smile. "You will both go, Sirius! When you get there I want you to give Albus this."
I handed Sirius the letter and crystal. Sirius looked confused but he did not object. "Good. Now both of you, get that boy out of the cold right this moment."
Both men nodded, and a moment later I watched them leave. Letting my form relax, I drifted from the Potters' home to that of the Dursleys'. Minerva McGonagall was already there in the form of an old grey tabby cat. She was waiting for Albus, the same as I, although I did not plan on playing nice with him if he went against my wishes. Too many times I had watched him playing with the lives of those around him. I was not going to allow him to do it with this boy, not this time.
It really was a short wait before the old wizard showed up. He looked pompous as he arrived and immediately extinguished all the lights on the street. Then like a man that has never once doubted his own superiority, he made his way towards the Dursleys' house. I listened to him talking with the now human McGonagall. He reminded me of a wolf set loose on the sheep. Minutes later, they were joined by Hagrid and Sirius. I could see right away that Albus was unhappy about Sirius' presence. Given another moment or two, I think the old man might have actually attacked Sirius. Fortunately, true to my instructions, Sirius handed the old man my letter and the crystal. Yet even after reading my letter, Albus seemed to think he knew best. A heated argument broke out between Sirius and Albus, the latter refusing to allow Sirius to take the boy home with him.
"ENOUGH!" I bellowed, my form becoming solid again.
The instant I said it, Albus spun around reaching for his wand. As fast as the old man was, and believe me when I say that he was amazingly fast, I was faster. I snatched the wand from Albus' hand before he had even fully drawn it from his cloak. The old man looked shocked as he finished the motion and realized that his hand was empty. He was even more amazed when I tossed his wand back to him a second later.
"You read my letter, Albus," I said coldly. "The boy will not be living here."
"The protections I can give him here cannot be broken," Albus objected, his face looking both angry and shocked all at once.
"I don't really care, Albus," was my cold reply. "You put too much faith in people. Didn't you learn anything from Grindelwald?"
"How dare you!" screeched the old man.
It was actually entertaining to poke fun at him, but I wanted the old fraud to get angry enough to try something stupid. Experience is the best teacher and I planned on him getting a lot of that in the next few minutes. The rest of them were in shock that I was talking to the "Great Albus Dumbledore" the way I was, but that was a good thing as well. Too many people thought he was some great icon of the age, but I knew better. I still had to whisper a few silent words of reassurance to the others so they wouldn't attack me.
"I dare because I can," I said as calmly as possible. "Unlike you, Albus, I've never allowed the innocent to die because it was for the 'greater good'. Speaking of that, how's your sister?"
That's all it took. An enraged and maddened Albus Dumbledore had his wand pointed right at my heart in the blink of an eye. I think he cast a Stunning spell, I don't really know since the barrier I had erected stopped it before it could ever get close to me. The look on his overconfident face was priceless as his spell just died in mid air a foot from my chest. McGonagall and Sirius just stared slack jawed at what was obviously the last thing they ever expected to see.
Albus still did not seem to realize that he was outmatched. Six more spells flew towards me as he worked himself up into a towering rage. Not a single spell got closer to me than the first one had. I walked forward until I could clearly look into his brilliantly blue eyes. As he began casting another spell, I snatched his wand from him again so that he stood there waving an empty hand at me. I swear, his eyes nearly bulged out of his face.
"That was very impressive, Albus," I sneered. "I hope you understand now that I will not allow you to go against my wishes for the boy. He will live with Sirius, no matter what you might think. Leave him here, and I'll return him to Sirius within minutes. Try and hide him from me, and I'll find him faster than you can imagine."
Looking up at me, his face defeated and old, Albus finally seemed ready to listen. "You can't be Him. He's dead."
"Not dead, merely watching and waiting," I replied softly.
Finally finding his voice, Sirius stepped forward and tried to make sense of the situation. "I don't understand, Albus. Who is he?"
"He is a figment, a fantasy," stammered Albus. "He cannot exist."
"Watch it, Albus," I said calmly. "I might just take offence to your words and call you out to satisfy my honor."
The venerable old professor's face actually went ashen at the suggestion of a duel with me. McGonagall looked like she might be ready to have a go at it, and she might have if she weren't busy holding Hagrid back. Holding out my hands so that they could all see that I was unarmed, I finally walked forward and laid a friendly hand on the old man's shoulder.
"I am not here to cause any harm, Albus," I said as gently as I could. "I just cannot allow you to do harm to this boy, even if it is with the best intentions. Too much rides on his small shoulders to have you adding to his burden so soon."
"I do not intend him any harm," he said in a whisper. "I only want to do what is best for him, to protect him."
"You do not know what is best for him," was my immediate response. "You think he will thank you for leaving him here? Leaving him with people that will hate everything about him? You think he will ever be whole after they are done abusing him?"
Albus seemed to almost be in pain now. He knew Vernon and Petunia Dursley for what they were. How could he not, when he had heard Lily speak of her sister often enough to know that the boy would never be loved in her home? Then again, Dumbledore had never really understood what it meant to be a child, so why would he think about it where the boy was concerned? The pain on his face was a clear sign of his indecision.
"How can you protect him better than I can?" Albus asked finally. "At least here the blood wards would keep them from finding him, from harming him in any way."
"That doesn't matter, Albus," I said looking at the small baby in Hagrid's massive hands. "Sirius will raise the boy the way that Lily and James would have wanted. As for his protection, I will see to that. He will be safe and happy. All you need to do is tell everyone that the boy lives, and that he destroyed Tom. The rest will take care of itself."
"I don't understand," Sirius finally said. "Who are you? I mean I'm thrilled you think I can do a better job raising Harry than these Muggles, but how can you know they would abuse him?"
"Listen to him, Sirius," McGonagall said softly.
I think she had finally figured it out. In all my time of watching the boy's life, she had always watched out for his well being before anyone else with only one exception. If Minerva had been younger, I might have insisted that she raise the boy, but that was not to be. With a gentle smile aimed at her, I turned back to Albus and waited for his acceptance of what had to be.
"We'll do it your way," Albus finally said. "I don't like it, but if you are who you claim to be, then you are probably the only one that can protect him without the blood wards."
Sirius finally seemed to have had enough of not being answered. "I'm not going to ask this again. Who the fuck are you?"
"Oh," I said with a little grin, "you would know me as King Arthur Pendragon, but my friends all call me Arthur."
It was like watching the poor man be hit upside the head with a mallet. He just froze in place with his jaw hanging down against his chin. A dozen times he tried to say something, to ask something, but his mind could not grasp it. I can't say I blame him in the least. If he had only known then what I was saving him from, I think he might have fainted right on the spot.
"Try not to think about it right now, Sirius," I said finally. "Just take the boy and raise him well. Raise him away from the notoriety and fame, if you can."
"How can I do that," he stammered finally, "when the entire world will know what happened tonight?"
"A fair question," I agreed.
Walking over to Hagrid, I took the child from him after a nod to the large man from Dumbledore. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the ring I had worn for most of my mortal life. It was just a plain gold ring, poorly made and badly worn after a lifetime of battle. Still, it held a magic all its own, placed there by Merlin himself to keep me hidden from those that would have taken advantage of me. Holding the ring to the boy's forehead I whispered the words that would bind its magic to him.
"See that this ring never leaves his possession," I said, handing the small boy to his godfather.
I pulled a strand of my own hair from my head and transformed it into a golden chain. Quickly slipping the ring onto the chain, I leaned forward and looped the necklace around his small neck. The magic of the necklace would not allow it to fall off or break, nor would it allow the chain to choke the child. Only the boy or I could ever remove it.
"Where should I take him?" Sirius asked finally.
"Take him anywhere you want," I said with a smile. "The magic of my gift to him will keep him safe. No one will recognize him for who he really is unless he wants them to."
Finally, they all seemed to accept what I was telling them. Albus still seemed reluctant, but I gave him little time to argue. In fact, I gave them little opportunity to do much of anything except write a note to Petunia Dursley explain about the death of her sister. As soon as that was done, I escorted Sirius and the boy from his aunt's home and to Sirius' home where he could gather the things he would need before going into hiding. As I watched them leaving, I smiled knowing that there would be many difficulties for them in the future. However, I would be watching over them from now on, and that would make all the difference.