Augustus Rookwood succeeded in apparating into his private safe house in London before letting out a low groan of pain. Attempting to hold in the agony that wracked his body, his shoulders and back trembled violently – the after effects of the Cruciatus still burning every nerve in his body.
He coughed uncontrollably, grimacing as the taste of blood began to fill his mouth. Spitting onto the floor, pureblood manners be damned, he slowly made his way across the room, throwing himself into a battered chair and groaning out a string of curses at his carelessness.
'Veelas snare more fools than werewolves,' he thought bitterly, reminiscing on the night's "failure". Weeks ago, Severus had overheard part of a prophecy made to the greatest blood traitor of them all, Albus Dumbledore. Voldemort had been eager to find out the final part, and had immediately ordered Rookwood to investigate the prophecy in the Department of Mysteries.
Despite his position as Head of the Unspeakables, current security measures and his own justified paranoia had prevented a speedy recovery of this potential weapon.
Nevertheless, Augustus had followed through on his assignment, locating and confirming the existence of the prophecy and acquiring another piece of this intriguing puzzle: The Dark Lord and (?) read the label on the prophecy
'It didn't make a damn bit of difference,' Rookwood thought, glowering to himself. Despite the inherent and unbreakable magic protecting the prophecy, he had "failed" to open it, and was forced to endure a bout of humiliation and agony at the hands of a man who, despite everything, was just a psychotic megalomaniac and even worse, a half-blood bastard.
'Not that I'd ever let him know I know that,' he thought with a grim chuckle. No matter, The Dark Lord had decided enough time had been wastedand had apparently discovered where the Potters were hiding. Their child, whose description fit what was known of the prophecy, was the target for the Dark Lord's private revel this evening.
With a groan and a string of curses, Augustus hobbled out of the chair, reaching for one of the more enjoyable pain relievers he kept by his bed side, a large bottle of Vladimir's Mandrake Vodka. Merlin thank whoever had managed to capture the essence of the deadly mandrake, without making the liquor itself poisonous... mostly. Say what you will about the Russians, bastards make it a damn sight better that we do nowadays.
Sitting down on the shabby cot he kept in this hideaway, his pain and bitterness gave away to full blown anger. He was a pureblood dammit! Yet here he was, hidden away in a dingy corner not fit for a house elf, nursing a body battered by someone who shouldn't dare look him in the eye, much less curse him.
It seemed a lifetime ago that he had been swayed by the Dark Lord's power and charisma, his own enthusiasm compromising his normally practical mind. With a final chuckle that erupted into another painful coughing fit, Augustus went to bed, his mind wary of the times to come.
Hours later, Augustus woke in a panic, screaming as a sharp pain traveled the length of his arm. Rather stupidly, his memory drifted to the fire curses Dolohov was so fond of, and the recruit whose arm he had slowly boiled just two days before. Now his own arm burned, a searing heat radiating out of his dark mark.
And then, mercifully, it stopped, and as Augustus regained his thoughts, he took a look at the damned tattoo, the habitual reminder of his descent into servitude. It was fading, rapidly sinking into his skin until only a faint trace of the mark could be seen. This had never happened before, and Augustus jumped from the bed, grabbing his wand and prepared to apparate far away from his current sanctuary. After all, what one doesn't know tends to leave one dead.
Harry Potter – the Boy who Lived!
By Anthony Bulstrode
In what will surely be remembered as one of the greatest moments in wizarding history, You-Know-Who was finally vanquished a week ago by a most unlikely hero, the year old infant Harry Potter. Details are vague and for the past week were unavailable to the general public, but a source deep within the Ministry has informed us on condition of anonymity that You-Know-Who was found dead at the Potter's residence in Godric's Hollow. Tragically, James Potter, Head of the House of Potter, and his wife were found murdered at the scene, presumably whilst engaged in a heroic final stand against You-Know-Who. Remarkably, the young Harry Potter survived, and again, sources point to the infant hero as the savior of our world in its darkest hour.
For the full history of the Potter Family, see page 3
Speculation on Harry Potter's current where-abouts, see page 4
Augustus Rockwood was in a horrid mood. For a week now, he had been on the run, attempting to piece together the current situation without compromising his own safety. Fortunately, his position within the ministry allowed him to be absent for long periods of time without notice, but suspicions were bound to rise if his absence continued. Clearing his head, he threw the paper away and began to formulate a plan.
He simply would not believe that the boy had defeated the Dark Lord. It was inconceivable; that a child who required assistance to wipe its own ass could vanquish the greatest Dark Lord to threaten Britain since before the founding of Hogwarts. Nonetheless, a mystery was here, and Augustus was nothing if not intrigued. Knowledge was power, and for whatever reason, this situation held both in spades.
That however, would have to wait. If the papers were publicly celebrating the Dark Lord's fall, and they'd have to be, for Bulstrode to be trumpeting about it, then it would not be long until the Death Eaters were hunted down and brought to trial. Few of Voldemort's inner circle knew of Rookwood's role – the sensitive nature of his position demanding secrecy even from the most passionate of the Dark Lord's supporters.
The one glaring contrast unfortunately, was Igor Karkaroff. Years ago, at the ascension of the Dark Lord, he and Igor had worked to bring about a coup in Austria. Torn apart by both the muggle wars as well as Grindelwald, the once powerful magical empire had hung precariously in the balance, and the resulting overthrow of the Pro-Muggle Minister had done wonders for the Dark Lord's recruiting network. Unfortunately, it was now also an open sore, and for that there was only one solution.
Igor Karkaroff would have to die – and if it was painful, that would be an unexpected bonus. Sniveling bloody foreigner.
Nodding absently to himself, Augustus Rookwood slunk back into a darkened alley in Manchester's magical district, and with a soft pop began the search for his first target.
December 1st, 1981. Hogwarts School, Scotland
Dumbledore sighed heavily, absently stroking his beard as he settled into his office. Who would have thought that victory would be as tiring as the fight itself? In addition to bringing his school back into a situation bordering normality, he was actively putting out fires on a dozen different fronts, from the Minister demanding to make young Harry a ward of the state, to the International Confederation of wizards wanting to know why Voldemort's domestic terrorism was so downplayed on the global forum. One battle after another…
Alastor would be round in a moment, before he had to prepare for the beginning of the trials that were sure to turn into a circus. He had not yet had time to even mourn for James and Lily – a tragedy lost in a world of celebration…
Idly picking up a lemon drop, Albus turned as a faint whoosh filled the office, followed by a harsh string of curses as Alastor Moody landed sprawled across the floor.
"Ah Alastor, still getting used to the leg, I see?" Dumbledore enquired with a soft laugh, eager to shake the gloomy thoughts from his mind.
"Aye you would laugh, you miserable devil," the grizzled auror scowled. "It took them long enough to separate me from the original, don't intend to let them take the replacement either."
Dumbledore chuckled, though ceased when he recognized the dour expression radiating through his always solemn friend. "What is the news Alastor?"
"Odd…very odd. Caught the Lestranges today, all three of them. Weren't quick enough though – the Longbottoms spent the better part of an hour under the Cruciatus, and the little tyke didn't fare too well either. He'll recover though – but that'll be two more aurors I've lost to the scum." Ignoring the grief stricken look that seized Dumbledore, he continued. "Up to me, we'd hold them under the bloody thing for a month and then send them to be kissed…" Albus wasn't inclined to disagree.
"Anything else, then…" he continued, hoping that there may still be some news that would convey that the war in fact, had been won.
"Aye yes, very odd, very odd. We found Igor this morning…his head anyway. No idea what came of the body – something nasty if my say counts. Rookies think it was a power struggle, but it smells like thestral shit to me – bastard was wily but a coward at heart – he wouldn't have fought against the likes of Malfoy or Lestrange."
Albus nodded, knowing that arguing with his old friend would accomplish nothing once the man's mind was set. "Thank you Alastor, keep your…eye," another scowl, "open to whatever is to come, but I do hope this leads nowhere – how nice it shall be when my greatest anxiety is the Quidditch final."
With a nod, Moody stood up and vanished through the fireplace. Reaching for a second drop, Albus stood up, and with a sad smile to Fawkes left his chambers to do his part to bringing closure to this tragic time.
Mid-April, 1982. Surrey, England
'Privet Drive. Right bloody place then.' Augustus Rookwood marched through the clearly muggle neighborhood, stopping briefly to sneer at the sign at the entrance of the lane. Really, regardless of who he was, the fact that a wizard had been sent to live with such filth – mere muggles – was galling. Is this how the wizarding world treated their so-called savior, by sticking him with animals, a stranger to his own world? Disgusting.
On a bright note, this would be the last day the Potter would be forced to cohabitate with such vermin. For months now, Augustus had studied everything remotely related to the prophecy or that Potter brat, and was no closer to discovering the hidden enigma inside that shiny ball.
What he had discovered though, through liberal use of confundment and coercion charms, was Harry Potter's current address.
After another private rant (as well as heavy indulging of both Cruciatus and Vodka) at the fact that Dumbledore was secretly raising Potter to be, for all intents and purposes a muggle-born, he began to formulate another plan, one that would one way or another end this hopeless chase he was currently partaking in. The prophecy was a like locked door, and some evil bastard from above was dangling the key just out of reach. Asshole.
Arriving at Potter's door, Augustus took a deep breath. He had dealt with muggles before – both in his official and…less official capacities. There was nothing these muggles could do that he couldn't repay one thousand fold. It was important to remember that, as he could not use magic – Dumbledore was bound to have alarms in place that would detect any magical use – and Cruciatus had a rather unfortunate stigma that led to a fast response time from the authorities. 'Later. For now, get the boy. The Muggles will get their due.'
Knocking sharply, he was soon face to face with a great jowled face attached to an equally unpleasant body. 'Proof that Muggles aren't too many steps away from pigs,' he ranted privately. Publicly, he attempted a thin smile, and said in a tone far too formal to be polite, "I am here for the boy – Potter."
The change was instantaneous, immediately the fat one's face turned a deep puce. "Now see here," the brute roared. "I don't know what you've heard, but we're raising the boy just as we've been told to. Never mind his lay about parents getting themselves killed. So if you're from some nanny government group you can shove whatever complaint you've heard up your –" The fat man was stopped suddenly when his face intercepted a rapidly moving fist.
"Mr. Dursley." Augustus growled dangerously, "I am not from any muggle government of yours." The face turned from puce to green, and Augustus took no small amount of joy as the look of fear replaced the heretofore unchallenged outrage. "I am here for Potter, the son of a wizard and witch whose boots filth like you are not worthy of licking. Bring me the boy now, Mr. Dursley, or you'll find my next response less than pleasant."
Dursley straightened, torn between issuing a retort, defecating on the spot, or running to obey the order. Survival instinct won out, and he disappeared, coming back with a speed shocking for one of his stature holding an infant boy far out in front of him.
"Here he is, good as new. I suppose your Dumblyfellow has decided he belongs with you fre… with your kind." As Augustus took the child, Dursley's arrogance seemed to return, as if the boy's presence gave him a newfound invulnerability.
"And see here now, we did our part, but don't you come back to us when you change your minds. He's not wanted here." Any further rant was cut off by the pop of apparition, leaving Vernon with the rather irrational fear that despite everything that had just played out, his greatest worry was that someone may have seen the stranger simply disappear.
'Wizarding savior my bollocks'. For all his well thought out stratagems, it had not thus far occurred to Augustus that he might be forced to actually care for the child. Killing them, he could do – not his favorite sport but if it needed to be done, so be it. But this…no, he would not clean the rotten child's backside – he really would need to buy a house elf, insignificant shits they may be, but they could be useful. 'Fuck, they'd probably be grateful for the chance to wipe the little savior's bum.' Shuddering at the thought, he moved on to the task at hand.
It was time to complete the final and most dangerous phase of this lengthy endeavor. The wizarding world was quieting down, the trials of those death eaters captured were coming to an end – the sheep eager and willing to put the whole miserable episode behind them. The Lestranges, Dolohov, and quite surprisingly Sirius Black were now rotting in Azkaban. All was returning to normal.
The window of opportunity however, was narrow. Whatever he decided to do, he needed to be ready to execute within days – it was impossible to believe that Harry's disappearance would not soon be noticed by Dumbledore. A day, a week even, might be acceptable for a child to stay indoors – but anything longer would simply draw suspicions, something he could not afford.
Indulging in a generous swig of Fire Whiskey, Augustus set to work on fixing the boy up for tonight's occasion. Repulsed by the soiled diaper, he nonetheless managed a sneer at the filthy muggle contraption. Disgusting things, muggles, traipsing about in their own feces when even a near squib would be able to simply Evanesco the lot quick as you please.
Augustus continued to work, throughout his muttered diatribe, casting numerous detection spells. "Idiot" he chuckled, "Puts the boy with muggles, and only uses a ministry approved trace." Gracing the thought of Dumbledore with another sneer, he quickly dampened the trace, taking care not to remove it completely, lest something... unfortunate happen. There was a good chance that Dumbledore had keyed it to alert him upon its removal and the last thing Augustus needed was to trip any alarms at this critical juncture. Whatever he may say in private, he held a deep respect for the man's magical abilities, and it would not do to underestimate such a powerful opponent.
Quickly, he began to place a number of charms on the boy, a sleeping spell designed for infants, as well as a weak notice-me-not and just a touch of glamour. It had been one of his more brilliant ideas to make the Department of Ministries defenses warded towards large bursts of magic. Any outside intruder would undoubtedly charm himself to the gills – only to be immediately caught in an unending maze of useless corridors. Subtlety, he mused, was something lost on so many these days.
Taking Potter rigidly in his arms, he squashed the growing annoyance as the child let out a high pitched squeal, before sticking a handful of Rookwood's robes in his mouth. 'Indulge the boy…you can kill him after he gets you the prophecy.'
Decision duly noted, a mild silencing spell was added to those currently charmed on the boy, and the two left the small flat they currently shared, taking a short walk to Bristol Temple Meads. Finding a private corner in the station took time, but it all but guaranteed that even if a ministry official was currently tracking apparitions in the area, it would be impossible to gain any useful information. In a moment, the pair were in an alley in London, across from a rather plain telephone box.
The box, that fucking red box that looked so inconspicuously muggle. How pathetic, that wizards should be force to hide in a cramped little box simply to visit their place of government. Ignoring the rage threatening to reach boiling point inside him, he stalked inside, earning him a silent cry from the baby who he was now holding with a furious grip.
Taking in the wounded face, he again resisted the urge to strangle the brat, settling for knocking the bloody telephone off with a satisfying thwack.
Entering his six digit identification number, Augustus was spared the humiliation of speaking to the mechanical voice, his position allowing him access into the ministry without the necessary interrogation and (another barely repressed bout of violence) the wand exchange. Muggleborns naturally thought this was a fantastic idea, reasons of security, they argued. While we're at it, let's castrate every wizard from four to forty.
Without delay, he moved to the internal floo, before removing a small silver dagger from the inner sleeve of his cloak. Without a sound, he punctured his finger, smearing a thin band of red across the brat's forehead. As Augustus himself was keyed into the wards protecting the Department, the voluntary blood letting would give the child temporary access as a visitor. Naturally, there were other methods, but Augustus had no desire to spend hours traipsing through the maze of bureaucracy that would inevitably follow if proper procedure was not obeyed.
Beyond that, nothing was required – Augustus knew to the minute where his subordinates were supposed to be, and making sure his orders were followed was a primary reason he had made it to the top of the department.
A rare smile ghosted across his face – the Dark Lord, powerful bastard that he was, had never truly appreciated the beauty of simplicity. At one time, perhaps he had, but as his power went unchallenged, far too often he relied on the glory evoked from revealing his superiority – the brutish attacks on his opposition, or an over elegant plan that was always one step away from ass over teakettle. And the arrogance, those fucking Cruciatus tantrums…By Merlin's Balls, the next person to so much as aim a stinging hex at me won't be found for weeks.
Here they were, the thousands of glittering orbs, all holding a secret that only those whose fate they determined could touch. Tricky things, prophecies – very little was truly known about them, something that had infuriated Rookwood when he had been aiding Voldemort. It was generally agreed upon that once a prophecy comes into play, the future no longer holds infinite possibilities, but that there is no definitive way for a prophecy to unravel. Tricky bastards.
He stopped, looking down at the brat who had somehow managed to fall asleep. Rationally, he knew this was an infant, and one under a light sleeping charm, true, but the absurdity of sleeping peacefully while illegally being in the center of the Ministry caused a hacking chuckle to escape Augustus' lips. 'Boy's got balls.'
"Wake up Potter," Augustus hissed, jolting the child in his arms. Achieving nothing more than adding a new stain of spittle to his robes, he shook the boy roughly, and once again was grateful for the silencing charm that prevented the shriek from piercing his ears. Children – enough to drive anyone to dark magic!
"Wake up child…lots of shiny toys. Play with that one." The sensation of talking to Potter in this environment was doing wonders for his own feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. "Little brat, take the bloody thing."
Mercifully, Harry seemed to take the order to heart, grabbing the tiny orb and clutching it to his mouth, 'little shit better not eat the bloody thing after all this,' and after a moment's hesitation, suddenly hurled the orb straight down, the soft tinkle as it shattered causing Rookwood to hold his breath in tense anticipation. No one came, and his attention was soon drawn entirely to the ghostly figure that rose from the remnants of the mess at his feet.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ...
Augustus stared at the infant, his eyes calculating with a newfound sense of purpose. Harry for his part, simply seemed immensely pleased with the noise he had created, ignoring the earth shattering revelation in favor of a silent hiccup and a fidget.
'Fuck me with a Formosan Fireball, but the little shit did it.' Any stray thought still bent on strangling the boy disappeared in an instant, as the enormity of the situation bore down on him. Here in his hands, unknown to the world, was Harry Potter, who the Dark Lord had unwittingly claimed as his equal. Whatever power he held would be a puzzle that would make his years as an unspeakable pale in comparison. And Dumbledore…
Dumbledore! He could Kedavra the bastard on the spot if he had half a chance. That bastard intended to raise the boy as a muggle-born, ignorant of his own world and his own inevitable importance to it. Typical of the muggle loving twit– send a child who's been up to his gills in muggle culture back into the fore of a torn wizarding culture. Circumstances would all but guarantee that no pureblood could challenge the boy, and Dumbledore would, in one fell swoop, have destroyed the sad remnants of the true magical heritage of Britain. This could not come to pass, it could not!
Magical Britain was torn, she lay wounded, searching for one to help her once again stand proudly as a beacon of power for magical brethren worldwide. He had seen how quickly weakened societies could change – he'd been responsible for several of them after all – and Dumbledore's vision could become reality. Dammit, but he had not lost his own wife, any chance of an heir of his own, only to deem his cause unworthy!
Harry though, yes he could raise the boy right – far better than any muggle ever could. He would learn the customs and history, take pride in a culture that had built great temples and mapped the night skies when muggles were content to dwell like animals. He would reunite the old pureblood families, torn apart by civil war, and bring about an era of prosperity and national pride unseen for a century.
His private rant was brought to an end as a soft squeal erupted from the wriggling mass in his arms. Silencing charm was wearing off then – time to go. Apparation out was possible – the one way network was designed to monitor those that came in, but allow ministry personnel to evacuate quickly if necessary.
Quickly taking out his wand, Augustus summoned the remnants of the prophecy, shoving the broken pieces into his robes. As an afterthought, he took off one of Harry's shoes, and with a silent casting, transfigured it into a replica of the prophecy, placing it neatly in line with the others on the shelf. It wouldn't hold up to any level of testing, but as only two people in the world could touch it, one of whom was dead and the other was in his possession…
One final step, full of irony and derring-do, would solidify his position as Harry's guardian, leaving the old bastard as impotent as Rabastan. How fortunate, that treason and pride make such lovely bedfellows. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of humor.
A haggard looking man knocked on a faded door, his face set in a grim scowl that did nothing to hide how old and tired he truly looked. Impatiently he waited, growling when the door finally inched open. "Augustus you old bastard, it's me. Why you have insisted I come out to this…place…of yours is beyond me" he snapped, eager to return to more pressing matters back at the ministry.
"I assure you Barty, you'll appreciate the discretion being taken here. I'd be well within my rights to go public with what's been discovered. Consider it a favor to an old friend."
Bartemius Crouch nodded curtly, stepping inside and cringing at the interior. The Rookwoods were old money, but Tiberius Rookwood had been rather good at getting involved in wild engagements and rather bad at gambling. The result was a fortune lost, and only now was the family beginning to regain its old status in society. He understood Augustus' ambition, he had been a captain when Rookwood first joined the auror corps, and now they were both Heads of their departments, though of course Augustus' true position was held in secret. Nonetheless, the man could try to take more effort with…appearances, even if he could not afford the luxury of say, the Crouch family estate.
"What's the matter then, old friend. Another piece of scum?" Crouch asked, the edge of his previous statements absent.
"Right as always, though this one is a tad bit more sensitive. He's bound and ready in the back room, brought him here personally, caught on that he was going after Potter himself!"
Leading his colleague into the adjoining room, Bartemius' face took on a look of righteous indignation. "No…there…there's been a mistake! It simply can't be!"
The bound form of Baretmius Crouch Jr. started back hatefully. Ready to jump in to attack his former fellow Death Eater, Barty the younger, 'bless the simple sod,' lashed out with a mad fury, "The Dark Lord shall return! You father, will be the first to taste his vengeance!"
"I'm sorry Barty, but it seems he was intent on murdering the young Harry Potter."
This was in the most technical sense true, and though the younger Crouch had no knowledge of how to go about such a thing, the intent would show up if he was examined with truth serums.
"I have naturally removed Mr. Potter from his former place of residence – Muggles, old friend – did you know? I would like to place Potter under my personal protection – I'm sure you can see the importance of such actions."
Bartemius Senior showed no signs of giving his opinion one way or another, frozen in horror at the angry mass of his bound son. Blinking stupidly, he turned towards Augustus.
"Yes…yes I think all these matters would be best taken care of privately – we have a society to restore after all, no need to reopen old wounds. I'll speak to the minister, make it official – can't have our young savior out in danger, and no one better than you, is there Augustus…yes, very well."
Augustus nodded, as if resigned at the prospect of raising a child, but doing his duty as the most capable candidate. "If you'd be so good to allow me to offer my thoughts, I think discretion in all ways is best. Let the public know of course that Mr. Potter is in the most protective of environments, but really – no need to bring up the attack, nor who exactly is raising the boy – it'll be common knowledge soon enough, but it wouldn't do for a young child to be accosted by the media so early, give him a few years."
Again, Bartemius nodded, still truly unaware of the gravity of the situation. "Yes, yes I suppose you have a good point – discretion is of the utmost importance. About the attacker…you'll be busy with the boy; perhaps I should take care of that other detail?"
Augustus stifled a snort – really, manipulating pride was one of his greatest talents. "Of course, after all – the old ways exist for a reason." A third time he received an empty nod.
"Very well, if that's all for today then, I'll leave you and your soon-to-be son alone for the evening. I'll just take that – thing – off your carpet and be on my way. Good night, Augustus."
Ten minutes later, Augustus stared down at the makeshift crib he had transfigured earlier. With the first true smile since Voldemort's downfall, he looked down on his giggling prodigy and with a voice full of pride whispered to his son. "First lesson Harry, keep things simple – the devil's in the details."