Disclaimer: So... tired... of... discla—not owning Harry Potter.
A/N: Hey, this one took me longer than usual. Been trying to decide really where to take this story, and also have started a new story... Link in my profile, under joe6991.
Chapter 8 – Now And Then
I accept chaos.
I am not sure whether it accepts me.
Walking with a limp to his step, Harry pushed open the heavy ornate doors to the briefing room and quickly scanned the two dozen or so faces that turned to look at him. He nodded to Ron, and Minister Shacklebolt, and proceeded without any fuss to the head of the room.
Seated before him at a long polished-oak table were twelve of his Senior Aurors, plus Ron, as well as Kingsley Shacklebolt, Percy Weasley and another two of the Minster's personal assistants. Also present was Auror Williamson, fresh from conducting his investigation into the breach at Azkaban, and a handful of people in varying fields of expertise ranging from the understanding behind advanced necromancy, to the runes and wards that supposedly make it impossible for any single person to bypass Hogwarts' defences. Three or four of the other Department Head's were also present.
"Good morning," Harry said. "I'm not going to mince words – I've called this meeting today because over the last week there have been a series of attacks aimed directly at this Ministry, specifically at the competence of my Department."
Harry himself had been attacked not once but twice – by Dolores Umbridge's animated corpse down in the Department of Mysteries, and a Death Eater at Scotland Yard who had known far more about Harry's movements and what was going on than any one person outside of this room should have. And it all led back to the mysterious attacker he had dubbed the Shadowman.
"I've read your latest reports, Harry," Kingsley said, tapping a stack of manila folders. "I'd like you to share what you told me yesterday evening with the group."
Harry nodded, stroking his chin absently and taking a deep breath which he let out very slowly. He had forgotten to shave that morning. "Thank you, Minister," he said after a long moment. "What I'm about to say is classified Priority Red, folks, it does not leave this room. Two people are already dead and this investigation is barely underway. Understood?"
A few of the faces in the room sobered a little and sat up straighter in their chairs. Attentive and alert, as Harry had planned – a lot of them were noticing the sheer coldness in his voice, the barely concealed anger in his eyes. Here was the man who had defeated a Dark Lord, not the man they shared a drink and a joke with after work. Not a one of them, save perhaps Ron, could honestly say they knew Harry Potter.
"Last week," Harry began, pacing back and forth before the crowded table. "Last week Azkaban was breached for the first time in over twenty years. An unknown person or persons attacked and released one of our high-security inmates, who then proceeded to overpower Auror Michelle Connolly and force a hostage situation. The inmate, Dolores Umbridge, wanted to talk to me. She killed herself at the scene of the incident – Avada Kedavra with her stolen wand."
Harry paused, allowing all that to sink in.
"The following evening there was a breach at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unknown Dark creatures bypassed the castle's wards and abducted two students, one of them my son Albus and a Muggle-born boy Frank Jackson, from Gryffindor Tower. They were stolen into the Forbidden Forest, where thanks to a bit of luck they managed to escape back to the school just before dawn. At this point we are still unable to identify the creatures. In the file before you is the description we have from the lads involved. This was an attempted murder."
Muttered whispers from those assembled. Ron sat pensively with his chin on his hands, keeping whatever thoughts he had to himself. Harry had already briefed Ron on what had happened at New Scotland Yard yesterday, and although he had his doubts, Ron had agreed with Harry's assessment that it had something to do with the Shadowman.
"And earlier this week, Monday afternoon, some of you might have been aware that we had a security breach here at the Ministry itself, in the Department of Mysteries no less. Dolores Umbridge rose from the dead and attacked me with yet another stolen wand – her corpse was animated much past the level of your average Inferi. She could talk, she could think – we believe at this stage she was possessed. How many of you know just how corrupted by Dark magic an individual has to be to manage possession?"
It was a rhetorical question – the answer more than obvious. Harry clenched his fists and slammed them down perhaps a little too hard on the edge of the table before him. He was angry – more and more as each day past and there were no leads, no information. Just relating what had occurred in the last week was enough to get his blood hot. He hated reacting after the event instead of acting before hand.
"The last wizard capable of possession, and the desire to use it, was Tom Marvolo Riddle – more commonly known as the Dark Lord Voldemort."
Even now, nineteen years on, more than a few faces in the room paled at the mention of that once-upon-a-time forbidden name.
"Possession of a deceased mind is impossible," the necromancy specialist Art Nuan, an Indian man with a sharp goatee and an unconscious frown, said. "Commander Potter, there is no way the body of this Umbridge could have been possessed. Even reanimation to the level you are describing would be..." He waved his hand about in the air before him, grasping at the right words. "Trying, to say the least, on any individual magical core."
"Not to mention any form of necromancy performed at the Ministry would set off so many Dark magic detectors and wards that the caster would be overwhelmed in moments." And that was the ward and rune specialist, the curse breaker, Diane McCarthy.
Harry listened carefully, quietly, and in his mind he saw Umbridge's head twist a full circle and fall from her neck. He heard her speak, heard something speak, using her decayed throat. What had been done to the woman was abhorrent, magic at its worst. Harry would see the person responsible brought to justice – and whether that was in a courtroom or at the tip of his wand did not matter, he would see it done.
It will never be over... Harry... not for you.
These 'experts' could sit there and tell him what can and can't be done with magic all day long. Harry had seen more than his fair share of the impossible. Hadn't he and Voldemort explored avenues of magic previously unknown? Hadn't they both defeated death more than once?
"Live... to fight another... day..." Umbridge giggled. "A lot more... fun... to come your way..."
Harry chose his next words carefully. "Umbridge's possessed corpse tore the throat out of one of the Unspeakables within the Department of Mysteries itself, perhaps the most heavily warded section of the Ministry since Voldemort's downfall, and her possessed corpse then proceeded to take his wand and attack me as I exited the elevators on that level. Whatever happened, it was timed and executed perfectly – and a man died for that perfection."
So far the Shadowman's body count sat at two – Umbridge herself and the Unspeakable. And it could've been a lot higher. If things had happened differently, Harry could add Michelle Connolly, alongside Albus and Frank Jackson to the count, and even Maggie King at Scotland Yard. Thorfinn Rowle would no doubt have slaughtered her, being a Muggle, if only as a reminder of the good old days...
And the attempts on his own life now sat at two, as well, with more fun promised from the lips of a dead woman.
"Commander," Nuan said, stressing his point. The man was creepy, his dark skin also pale, and his eyes looked... devoid. He had gazed into the abyss once or twice, no doubt, and found it wanting. "Necromancy at this level is impossible. You can revive the dead to a pale semblance of life – but to suggest that an individual could possess that atrocity, to perform even the simplest magic through an animated corpse, is ridiculous. Pure and utter nonsense."
"I saw it done, Mr. Nuan," Harry said. "Do you doubt that?"
Nuan shook his head. "No, I don't doubt you saw what you saw – just your interpretation of the events, and how it was done."
"I can't tell you what it was, but the events as you describe them were not necromancy."
Harry gave that some thought. If not necromancy, then what magic could do this...? Something new? This whole thing had given him the feeling of something new, or even something very old. Old enough to have been forgotten, perhaps on purpose. New or old, it came down to being one and the same really.
"Okay," Harry said, realising the main topic of the meeting had gotten a little sidetracked. He glanced at Kingsley, who waved him on. There was a lot more grey in the Minister's dark hair than Harry ever remembered seeing. His birthday party was just over a week away now, being hosted at Hogwarts. Perhaps there was some truth to the rumours that he would be retiring soon. Harry had nothing but respect for one of the men who had helped rebuild magical Britain after Voldemort's downfall.
"Okay," Harry said again. "We've got a problem on our hands, that much is certain. To put it bluntly, someone is screwing with us. In the space of a week Azkaban, Hogwarts, and the Ministry have all been breached by what I believe to be the same individual. There is no physical evidence to support this, just a lot of unexplained magic. As of this morning, with the Minister's approval, discovering the identity and location of this individual has become the sole priority of the Auror Department."
Harry cleared his throat, watching Ron's reaction. His best friend only smiled, looking a little sad. Ron understood better than most that in some ways the Dark War had never really ended with Voldemort's downfall. And the children who had saved the world all those years ago were now the adults that had to make sure it never happened again.
"For now the Hit Wizards will take most of the Auror's caseload and general policing duties. The Aurors are there to hunt and capture Dark wizards, and we definitely have one on our hands here – I think that can be agreed upon by all." To say the least, Harry thought. "Ms. McCarthy, I would like to know what it would take to bypass the wards at Hogwarts without setting off any alerts or alarms. There is a serious gap in the security of the school that was exploited against us, and we still don't know how. Mr. Nuan, I understand you don't expect to find anything, but I would like to ask you to examine the remains of Dolores Umbridge all the same. This may not have been necromancy, but it runs in the same vein."
"Very well," the elder man acquiesced, inclining his head half an inch.
The rest of the meeting took the next two hours to get through, with Harry highlighting the attack by Thorfinn Rowle at Scotland Yard only yesterday, and how he considered it related to the Shadowman case. The name was adopted quickly by all present, and in the weeks to come would even make the papers... as the infamous deeds of the Shadowman came to light in the public's eye.
Maggie King had been obliviated on scene at the clean-up of yesterday's attack. Her lab had been trashed beyond all hope of recovery – and magic could in no way replace lost computer files or mass storage devices. The official report at Scotland Yard would read 'electrical wiring malfunction leading to fire and destruction of property' in that regard. The official report would also say Maggie King had stepped out for coffee at the time of the incident, and the access logs would not show one Harry Potter swiping his card into her office at any time that day.
Indeed, no one by the name of Harry Potter had ever even had access to Scotland Yard at all. All told it was a swift and sure clean-up of magic gone wrong in the presence of Muggles.
And a sore blow to the Magical-Muggle relations program. Even now ambassadors from both societies were arguing over the incident. Harry was glad he did not have to attend that particular meeting.
With the three main attacks more than suspicious enough to launch a full and complete Departmental investigation, Harry sat back as his Senior Aurors hammered out the finer points with the other Department Head's, requested access to certain facilities and discussed the possibilities of necromancy and ward manipulation with the Ministry's top experts.
No one was saying what they were really thinking, however, about how this was the first full mobilisation of the Auror Department in nineteen years, that Harry Potter believed there was a madman out there, a genius, who had outsmarted them all at the three most secure locations in the United Kingdom.
Nor were they saying how these attacks were aimed personally at Harry himself, and his family. It said a lot about the perpetrator of these crimes that he felt no qualms or displayed no restraint in attacking the man who was arguably the strongest, most accomplished wizard of the age. That the Shadowman had, in fact, singled Harry out for his first attacks.
That was a smart move, or could be argued as such. Harry Potter was the greatest threat to any fledging 'Dark Lord'. To take him down, to destroy him and what he stands for, would clear the field for any rising Dark power.
Voldemort had known that, all those years ago, yet he had been struck down by lightning twice all the same.
Harry thought that perhaps history was always doomed to repeat itself, and also that something big was on the horizon. He didn't know what, not yet, only that he was caught in the heart of it once again.
A lot of things had happened in the last week, and he got the feeling that maybe the world would quiet down for a bit now. It had been an eventful few days, and the end result, on that far away horizon, was shaping up to be explosive if the sheer audacity and Dark magic use of the Shadowman was to be believed.
But that was okay – Harry had more than enough experience dealing with explosive. He also had enough experience with waiting to know that sometimes the final big bang could have a very long fuse. The Shadowman had been years in the making, of that he was sure, and was only now rearing his ugly head.
Harry was ready and waiting to grind that fuse into the dirt.
"Here we are, Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey said, passing young Albus a vial of light blue liquid. "Half now, half later if the pain persists. Do come and see me if it does, okay."
Albus nodded and popped the cork, swallowing half of the pain-relief potion in one grateful gulp under the matron's sharp eye. He stoppered the vial again and slipped it into his robes.
"Thanks," he said, letting out a long breath as the potion set to work almost immediately, silencing the large clock that was tolling midnight in his head.
"Headaches are not uncommon with the workload forced on you first-years these days," Madam Pomfrey said. She fussed with her potions bag and did up the clasp. "Why, you're expected to learn twice as much twice as fast. Such is the world we live in now, I suppose. Too fast-paced and always rushing here and there."
"Although," the elderly matron continued, her face warming a touch. "I'd much rather see you in here for a simple pain relief potion than for the nonsense your father was always getting himself caught up in. Still getting himself caught up in, from what I hear."
Albus hadn't heard from home in two days, but he was expecting an owl tomorrow. And no doubt with his dad being who he was he'd hear of anything gone wrong in the Prophet or on the wizarding wireless. What's dad got caught up in? "Well, he is an Auror."
"Indeed, and no one better suited to the job." Madam Pomfrey patted him on the shoulder. "Check back in tomorrow, Mr Potter, if the headaches don't go away."
Albus jumped up off the edge of the bed in the infirmary and shot off out of there faster than a Seeker after a Snitch, heading for the Great Hall. It was already twenty minutes into the lunch break, and he had developed quite a love for the banquet of food on offer daily at Hogwarts, courtesy of the house-elves down in the kitchens.
And now with his head clearing up he could enjoy it all the more.
He had finally gone and gotten a pain-relief potion after having a constant headache for all of yesterday and the day before. And it was working its magic now – he definitely felt the edge had been taken away. There was still a mild thumping behind his eyes, but even that was fading as well. Having no idea what had caused the headaches, only that it hadn't been going away, a stop by the Hospital Wing seemed like the best thing to do.
Although Albus was sceptical that it had anything to do with his study load, as Madam Pomfrey believed. He found most of his lessons relatively light. He had so far had no trouble with the homework, or with performing the practical spells, brewing the potions and refining his wand-movement. If anything, he was a little ahead of everyone else there. Albus had noticed, and his growing house point tally supported this, that he picked up the spells a lot faster than his classmates.
And that was a trait that bugged Rose to no end, who was still having trouble keeping a feather levitated in a breeze.
No, Albus was doing okay with his schoolwork – he was feeling a little bored with some of it, actually. He spent his evenings going over the Defence Against the Dark Arts book mostly, wanting to impress Professor Drogin and knowing that his dad would be proud of that more than anything. He'd already received a letter two days ago full of admiration and praise for both him and James on making the Quidditch team. He wanted to make sure he'd blitz DADA, and have a really good first year.
Especially since he'd barely been here a fortnight and already he'd been attacked by Dark creatures. Although Albus had a sneaking suspicion that perhaps it had been more of an attack on his dad, than him. Albus Potter was just a kid among hundreds here at Hogwarts – Harry Potter, on the other hand, was a world-renowned Auror who had destroyed the darkest wizard who had ever lived. Still, Albus had shown them not to mess with him or his friends just the same. He just wished he knew how he'd fought them off.
"Hey, Al," Frank said, as Albus arrived at the Gryffindor table, his head clear and stomach growling. "I saved you some of the apple pie – always the first to go. I think we can call it even on the whole rescuing me from the forest creatures incident now."
"One bit of pie, huh? That works for me—Hey, you took a bite out of this!"
"That was me," Gary said next to Frank. "Frank defended the rest of your pie well."
"You took a bite out of my pie?" Albus said, feigning hurt.
"Good pie." Gary Thomas nodded.
"You better be here on time for the Yorkshire puddings tonight then," Albus replied, his eyes narrowing. "Because I feel as if I could eat a tray of them right now."
"You wouldn't dare, Potter."
"Football's for wimps, Thomas."
Frank snorted into his goblet of pumpkin juice as Gary's hand flashed out almost faster than the eye could follow and snatched the remainder of Albus's pie from the plate. He shoved it into his mouth, grinning widely, as Albus looked on in dismay.
"Your move, Potter," Gary said, spraying crumbs everywhere.
"Oh you just gone and started something you don't know how to finish, Gary." Albus calmly buttered a slice of bread, never taking his eyes from the dark-skinned boy across the table. He added roast beef to his bread, and made it a sandwich, glaring anger the whole time. "Be afraid, be very afraid..."
After lunch the first-year Gryffindors had Transfiguration followed by Charms. Shouldering his bag, Albus, Frank, and Gary exited the Great Hall having eaten their fill, and more than most. Albus was always ravenous when it came to meal times. He supposed that might have something to do with the workload Madam Pomfrey had been going on about, because it definitely made him hungry.
At least I'm set now until dinner, Albus thought.
"You both finished the essay for homework, right?" Gary asked as the three of them headed up to the Transfiguration floor. "McGonagall said there'd be a quiz on the ten laws of base metal transfiguration."
Frank frowned. "Well iron to steel works a lot better than iron to copper – because iron conducts the magic better. I remember that much."
"No it's the other way round," Albus said, as they headed up the moving staircases, past dozens of animated pictures and suits of armour. "Copper conducts magic better than iron and steel together. If you're doing base metal transfiguration, you want to start with copper, otherwise the source material doesn't split fast enough and you get half a transfigured goblet, or the continuation wears thin and it reverts back to the original form almost immediately. The atomised magic needs good conduc—"
Both Frank and Gary had stopped walking, and were staring at Albus with wide eyes and open astonishment. "Well, someone's been reading ahead and memorising the textbook,' Gary said after a moment. "You sound like you should be teaching the class, Al, not McGonagall."
Albus opened his mouth but then paused, thinking back over what he had actually just said. It had all sounded so normal in his head, common sense really, but now he didn't know what half of it meant. He felt his stomach do a small turn – hadn't this happened just over a week ago, during his first lesson?
"You should try reading ahead..." Albus said after a long moment. He cleared his throat. "Might get us some house points – we're only just ahead of Slytherin."
"I'm sure you'll pull us out in front by the end of the day," Frank said wryly, shoving Albus ahead and around the bend, along a red carpeted corridor and up towards the fourth floor staircases.
About halfway up through the castle Albus's headache returned with a vengeance. So much so that he went dizzy, swaying on the spot and grabbing on to a nearby lance in the grip of a sturdy suit of armour. He could feel his lunch coming back up on him, but the urge to puke faded as the world stopped spinning.
"You okay, Al?" Frank asked.
"I'm-er-fine," Albus said, a little breathless. He felt light, almost like he was floating. Except for the headache, he felt... fine. "Come on, next corridor over."
Albus stepped ahead of his friends and practically danced along the corridor, a skip in his step. His head was killing him, but he felt fine, light – alive. He could almost hear his heart beating in his chest, da-dum da-dum, and the blood flowing through his veins was warm and sure.
"Al, slow down," Gary called. "I'm full of apple pie and cream."
"Al's apple pie and cream," Frank reminded him.
"Yeah, my apple pie—"
Albus turned down the next corridor to the Transfiguration rooms with his two friends just behind him and then came to a sharp stop, as if the wind had been knocked out of his sails. Before him was a lake – the lake, the school lake, and growing over on its eastern bank was the Forbidden Forest, and beyond that the mountains that shrouded the village of Hogsmeade. The sun was just sinking under the tips of those distant western peaks now... and that wasn't right, was it? It was just gone one in the afternoon, and last time he'd checked the forest hadn't been growing that far up the mountainside.
Also, what was the Forbidden forest, the lake, and thousands of feet of mountain doing in the corridor that led to the Transfiguration rooms?
"Guys, do you—?"
Albus turned back to his friends but they weren't there. In fact, nothing was there. Just a wide empty field of long grass swaying gently in the early evening breeze, and a few large oak trees groaning softly under the twilit sky.
Albus looked about himself quickly, turning a complete circle. No Frank, no Gary, no Hogwarts—
Albus took a long minute to think about that, gazing up at the empty mountainside claimed by the forest, before which the castle of Hogwarts had been built overlooking the cliff-face and the entrance that the first-years travelled through on their tiny boats with Hagrid, across the lake and into the underground harbour...
There was no castle, no Hogwarts, just wild forest and a slow, steady beat pounding away in Albus's head, behind his eyes. He stood there helpless for a few minutes, at a complete loss as to what he should do next, as the beating – the drums, the endless drums – thumped harder and harder across his mind. He had no idea what had happened, or where the castle had gone. Even Hagrid's cabin was missing, and Dumbledore's tomb near the south edge of the lake...
Albus thought his voice sounded very small in the large, empty world around him. His words were stolen on the wind and soon forgotten. He felt out of place saying anything at all.
After a few more quiet minutes, in which nothing happened save a flock of highland birds gliding gracefully over the surface of the calm lake, Albus began to walk. The ground felt real beneath his feet, real and hard. The long grass swayed around him as he cut a path through it towards where he knew the entrance to the castle should be.
It seemed like the only place to go, although there was nothing there.
He held his wand tightly in his hand, wondering what good all the magic in the world could do him right now. There was no Quidditch pitch, either, and that hit Albus harder than anything else so far.
About halfway up of what he knew were the castle grounds, Albus jumped as a large shriek pierced the quiet – a dozen shrieks, two dozen. He looked up to the crest of the cliff that the castle should have been built into just in time to see a whole flock of birds take flight, spooked and chirping their lungs out, flying as fast as they could off over the lake.
They know something's about to happen, Albus thought, unable to ignore the truth in that thought. Animals always know...
Albus could hear a buzzing in his ears, vibrating off his eardrums. A steady, low vibration getting higher and higher... running right through his body and—
This is not Now, he thought, and again truth rang clear in his mind. This is Then. There is no Hogwarts yet because this is Ago. This is all Long Ago.
All of a sudden the ground began to shake and Albus fell to his knees as something loud enough to shatter the heavens blasted through the sky overhead. He clasped his hands over his ears and screamed. And unable to prevent his neck from arching to the twilit sky, dreading what he would find there, Albus was just in time to see source of the tremendous noise.
A band of white-red fire tore across the sky like a burst artery, bleeding and raining flame down upon the world below. Something burning, something falling, that had broken the stillness of the world – a comet, a meteor, no, this was something else... A wave of hot, searing air washed over Albus in the wake of the thing hurtling through the sky just overhead. It was smoky and suffocating, making it impossible to breathe.
There was an explosion.
The noise trebled and Albus was sure his ears would burst from the strain, from the loudest sound he had ever heard. His cries were lost in the din of that all-consuming sound. It was followed by a concussion wave so strong that it drove Albus onto his back and kept him there, as dirt and debris washed over him in the wake of the impact.
Eventually, after a few minutes, maybe longer, Albus rose shakily to his knees, and from there to his feet, brushing off the dirt and loose stones that had caught in his robes.
The grounds of what would one day be Hogwarts were eerily silent again, almost as if there were no burning crater in the cliff face up where the main body of the castle should have been. There was smoke, a little, yet most of it was being drawn into whatever rested at the heart of the crater.
From this distance Albus could barely make out what it was through the thin smoke and hazy heat trail left by the thing that had crashed into the mountain. Something round, something big, and glowing as white as the moon with large patches of silver light flowing across its surface. All around it was destruction and scorched earth.
Albus couldn't tear his eyes away even if he had tried. The thing had him entranced, and the pounding behind his eyes, his headache, seemed to beat and swirl with whatever energy that thing held, burning up there in place of Hogwarts Castle.
At that moment the feeling that gripped Albus Potter, that made his head spin and hurt, was one of pure, raw power. Of power untamed, unleashed – of power gone mad.
He began to laugh – until he coughed on the dust and debris blowing through the hot air. The white light from whatever had crashed was spreading across the mountainside and along the cliff a quarter mile away and a few hundred feet up.
Power cascaded like a waterfall over the cliff's edge, a river of raw white light falling over the precipice, and where it struck the lake a tremendous fountain of argent sparks lit up the darkening sky. Stars as distant as rational thought twinkled down at Albus, indifferent and offering no comfort at all.
Albus swayed. He swayed, caught in the grip of the awesome strength that washed over him from whatever the glowing sphere was, up there on the ridge... and then he fell. He fell, and fell, and fell...
Until he was no longer falling – and no longer on the ground.
Albus was up in the sky, on the back of a flying motorbike, and was that Hagrid sitting in front of him, revving the engine until it roared as in the distance curse light lit up the sky?
"I think we've lost 'em, Harry, I think we've done it!" yelled Hagrid.
But Albus was not convinced. Fear lapped at him as he looked left and right for pursuers he was sure would come... Why had they fallen back? One of them had still had a wand... It's him... it's the real one... They had said it right after he had tried to Disarm Stan...
"We're nearly there, Harry, we've nearly made it!" shouted Hagrid.
Albus felt the bike drop a little, though the lights down on the ground still seemed as remote as stars.
Then the scar on his forehead burned like fire: as a Death Eater appeared on the other side of his bike, two Killing Curses missed Albus my millimetres, cast from behind—
And then Albus saw him. Voldemort was flying like smoke on the wind, without broomstick or thestral to hold him, his snake-like face gleaming out of the blackness, his white fingers raising his wand again—
"Al, slow down," Gary called. "I'm full of apple pie and cream."
"Al's apple pie and cream," Frank reminded him.
"Yeah, my apple pie—"
Albus paused, his eyes wide and the cold rush of adrenalin still soaring through his veins from the awesome battle in the sky on the back of a flying motorcycle, a battle against Lord Voldemort himself in which he—no, his father, had barely escaped with his life.
Albus shook and took a slow, steadying breath. From within the folds of his robes he removed the remainder of his headache potion and swallowed it all at once. His forehead was tingling, just above his right eye where, on his father's head, a crude lightning bolt scar had been dug into the flesh at the tender age of one.
For a moment there he had forgotten who he was, and that was a terrifying feeling. A memory that clearly belonged to his father had overtaken his mind... and for a few brief minutes at least, Albus had been on that motorbike, fear gnawing his insides apart and the night sky swarming with enemies.
Only... that was insane, wasn't it?
"Come on, Al," Gary said. "You coming or not? Give you a spear and you could pass as one of the suits of armour."
And the vision before that, of Long Ago, of something crashing into the grounds upon which this very castle was built, that did not belong to his dad. Albus would bet every galleon he had as well as his Windburn racing broom that very few, if anyone, had ever seen what he'd just seen.
And what did you see? he thought. Just what in Merlin's name was it? It felt so real... the heat from that thing, the power
"Now or never, Al, we'll be late!"
"Yeah... yeah, coming, Frank."
Albus had no idea what had just happened. He had no idea at all. He didn't even know if it had been real, or what it was even meant to prove if it had been...
His head still hurt – the drums were reaching a crescendo just behind his eyes, yet the potion was beginning to take the edge off again. He didn't waver as he began to move, catching up with Gary and Frank and joining the last of the first-years to enter the Transfiguration classroom.
The fear that had settled in the pit of Albus's stomach was definitely real, of that he could be sure, yet anything else felt uncertain...
"What just happened...?" Albus whispered, sitting down next to Frank and going through the motions of removing his textbook from his bag.
His mind was a million miles away, however, on monsters with crimson eyes and Dark Lords flying through the air on clouds of darkest night...
Albus was afraid.
The fear was real.
He wanted – needed - to see his dad. If anyone could make the monsters go away and leave him alone, it was his dad.
After all, that's what fathers were for, wasn't it? Especially when your father was Harry Potter.
A/N: Thanks for reading, please review. Next chapter should be in a week or so, but no promises. I've another kickass story to write as well – Harry Potter and the Wastelands of Time, link in my profile.