Alrighty, boys and girls, here we go. After weeks of trying to write to no avail, I realized I had written myself into a box. I began to look over previous chapters and realized just how much work needed to be done so that I could continue. So, I decided to edit the first eighteen chapters so I can actually continue with this story! I have already done the first five chapters, so I will be posting those now. Please do let me know what you think of the changes, good or bad. If you can't leave a review because you have already done so, which very well might be the case, simply send me a PM. I love all feedback. Thanks again for your patience, and I hope you all enjoy this.
Harry Potter and the Walking Shadow
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 24–28
A very different Boy-Who-Lived
It was a small, but otherwise pleasant room that the stiff matron of the orphanage ushered Albus Dumbledore into.
"Would you like a cuppa?" offered the nun.
Dumbledore beamed at the woman, smiling jovially. "That would be excellent, thank you."
"His parent's alma mater, you say?" asked the woman, a bit suspiciously if not more than a little cautious, once the two of them were sipping on two cups of tea.
"Just so," said the elderly man with a smile. "They were former students of mine. I confess myself surprised at discovering that their son was not where I thought him to be all these long years. Tell me, Sister, how long has Mr. Potter resided within your facility?"
"Around ten years," replied the woman shortly. "We found him on the doorstep the morning of November 2nd, I believe," the nun paused for a moment. "No, I'm sorry, it was on the the 3rd that we found him. Always thought it was a bit strange, that any parent would abandon their child, especially such a quiet and good natured child as Harry was, but it didn't take long for us to see why..." She trailed off.
"Oh?" asked the Professor.
Sister Agatha hesitated. "And he's already been accepted at this school? So you'll take him, no matter what I say?"
"No matter what," he confirmed kindly. "He'll have to return here during his summer holidays, of course, but otherwise..."
The nun nodded and let out a sigh of relief. "He was always such a quiet child. Never cried, never whined like the other children, so quiet. It was unnatural," she shivered. "And he knew things, always. It was like he could see through you, into the darkest corner of your mind, and know what was there. Unnatural," she repeated. She stopped as if to gauge his reaction, but although his mind was reeling, he did not allow his surprise to show.
Outwardly, at least. Indeed, he was not, perhaps, as surprised as he should have been. He'd had very nearly the same conversation once before, regarding another young wizard, half a century before. He continued to watch the Sister who had fallen silent. "What else can you tell me about the boy? Does he have many friends? Does he perform well in school?" Professor Dumbledore prompted gently after another several minutes of silence.
"Friends?" she asked slowly. Professor Dumbledore nodded. She shook her head. "No, he hasn't many friends at all. It's just, well, the children are frightened of him, you see," she confessed. A horrified look appeared on her face. "You'll still take him, won't you?"
Dumbledore nodded patiently, a pleasant smile on his lips. "There's nothing you could tell me that would make me change my mind, I assure you. He's been signed up for attendance to my school since his birth."
"He's rather odd boy," Sister Agatha murmured softly, as if speaking to herself.
"So I've gathered," said Dumbledore, not unkindly. "You say he frightens the other children. Is he a bully, then?"
"A bully?" the Sister repeated. "No, not a bully. The other children, well you know how children can be, especially to those that are different." She seemed to be gaining confidence. "They used to bully him, but then strange things began happening around him."
Dumbledore rubbed his beard. "Strange things, you say?"
"Y-yes," she said, hesitating again. "I could never prove any of it, of course, and if you'd ever seen him, you'd understand why I am reluctant to do so. He couldn't have done it physically, but just the same, Sam's arm didn't break itself, now did it?"
"They rarely do," said the Headmaster quietly.
"And all the snakes, well, Harry said he hadn't let him in, and I don't see how he could have done, really. Where would he have gotten that many snakes at any rate?"
"Where indeed?" murmured Dumbledore.
Harry Potter woke up on July 31st, 1991 much as he did any other day. Only that it wasn't just any day; it was his birthday – his eleventh to be exact. Not that he expected anything special, because he didn't. In fact, Harry Potter had not celebrated any of his other birthdays either. Except perhaps the one he'd had with his parents, but since he couldn't remember it, he couldn't rightly count it, now could he? The orphanage he lived in – St. Nicolas' Home for Boys – did have cake once monthly to celebrate any birthdays that fell in that particular month, but that was it.
But Harry was no ordinary little boy. All of his short life, he had known he was different – special. Strange things had a tendency to happen around Harry whenever he was angry or frightened. Sometimes they happened just because he wanted them to.
The strange happenings started out, as most things do, small. It was the weekend before he was due to start school, and Sister Beatrice had decided to cut Harry's hair. Harry hated his new haircut and wished that it had never been cut. The next morning when Harry woke up, his hair was back to its original length. It took nearly a dozen hair cuts before the Sisters realized there was nothing that could be done; his hair just kept growing back!
Once Harry discovered he could control whatever it was that he could do, he took advantage of it. And why shouldn't he? The other children had certainly caused him enough trouble. Broken glasses, torn library books, ripped jeans, and plenty of undeserved beatings. He really hadn't planned on hurting any of them badly. In fact, the first time it happened, he had just stared at the boy's arm – it stuck out at an obscene angle – in shock for several seconds before running for the teacher.
It rained all morning that day. Growing up in London, Harry was no stranger to the rain, and he certainly never allowed it to hinder his weekly trip to the local library. He spent several hours in the library before returning to the orphanage for lunch. He made his way silently to his bedroom. He was the only boy in the orphanage who had his own private room. They'd given him the room because they were frightened of him, of course, but Harry liked his room all the same. He opened his bedroom door and was surprised to discover that it was not empty as it should have been. There was an elderly man standing next to Sister Agatha who was glaring balefully at his drenched appearance.
"Harry, this is Professor Dumbledore. He's come to speak to you about attending his school," stated Sister Agatha.
Harry eyed the man from the doorway. He was certainly odd-looking. He had long white hair and an equally long white beard. He wore glasses, but unlike Harry's, his were only half-circle. He certainly didn't look like a Professor despite his button-down suit, no matter what Sister Agatha said.
"Well, go on," urged Sister Agatha. "Say hello to 'im. He's come all the way from Scotland to talk to you."
"Hello, Professor Dumbledore," murmured Harry, still watching the man carefully.
"Perhaps I should speak to the boy alone," suggested the Professor.
Sister Agatha seemed torn. "If you're sure," she replied hesitantly.
The nun threw another glance towards Harry before hurrying out of the room, the door shutting loudly behind her.
The boy, Professor Dumbledore discovered, looked remarkably similar to his father at that age. He was a bit smaller than other eleven year olds, perhaps, but he seemed in good heath regardless. His dark and wavy hair was damp from the rain, and seemed to be naturally untidy. His complexion was pale, but it was not sallow by any means, just the sort of paleness achieved by those who preferred inside activities than outside ones. It was his eyes that Dumbledore was drawn to, however. Those eyes were Lily Potter's eyes. They were a brilliant green, and intelligence shone through them. All in all, Dumbledore was pleasantly surprised the boy did not look the worse for wear. His clothes, while obviously secondhand, were meticulously neat, as was the boy's room. No, he did not seem to suffer any ill effects of being raised in an orphanage. Not that Tom Riddle had either, no, Tom had preferred to hide things, especially things he considered weaknesses. Whether it was his emotions or his actions, he was adept at the art of subterfuge. Harry's face seemed to be schooled in the same emotionless mask that Riddle had worn when Dumbledore had come for him, all those years ago.
"Now then, do you know why I'm here, Mr. Potter?" asked the elderly man.
"You want me to attend your school," Harry said matter-of-factly, curious green eyes studying the Professor.
The elder man smiled kindly. "Rightly so, Mr. Potter."
Harry relaxed somewhat, but did not become complacent. "What sort of school is it?" asked Harry carefully.
"What sort of school indeed," said the Professor with a chuckle. "It's called Hogwarts, and it's a school for gifted students, students with very special skills."
"I'm afraid you are mistaken, then. I don't have any special skills," Harry said quickly, much too quickly.
"Oh, am I?" asked the man with a knowing smile on his face. "Tell me, has anything strange ever happened when you were frightened or angry?"
"No," said Harry. "I didn't do anything to Sam, and if Sister Agatha has said otherwise, she's lying."
"Perhaps, I should start over. I can see we are going around in circles, my dear boy. I am Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and you, Harry Potter, are a wizard."
"Magic?" breathed Harry. "It's magic, what I can do, then?"
"What is it that you can do?" asked the Headmaster.
"All sorts of things," he replied breathlessly, obviously quite excited. "Whatever I want."
"Whatever you want?" repeated the elder wizard, hiding the shock he felt at the words.
Harry nodded but offered up no other information. "So, this school of yours... it's a magic school?"
"Yes, quite so, Mr. Potter, and I would very much like for you to attend."
"I've never heard of a magical school before," said the boy, his tone suspicious and his expression wary and guarded.
"And for good reason," responded the Professor. "Necessity dictates that we keep ourselves hidden, but there is an entire world out there, similar to this world, especially for those who are magical."
"And I've a place at this school of yours? Hogwarts?" queried the boy.
Dumbledore nodded once. "Yes, you have been down for attendance since your birth as were your parents before you. Are you interested in attending?"
"I'm afraid it's not possible," Harry said, mournfully. "I haven't got any money."
"I don't think that will be a problem, Mr. Potter. Your parents have left you a great deal of money," replied the wizard.
A peculiar look flitted across the boy's face at that. "My parents," he started quietly, "are they dead, then? I've never known. The nuns say that I was found on the doorstep with naught but a note."
Professor Dumbledore paused for a long moment before speaking. "I am very sorry to say that your parents are, in fact, deceased. They were murdered by a dark wizard when you were merely an infant. After their deaths, I entrusted your care to your only remaining family, your mother's sister, Petunia Dursley, and her husband. I cannot be sure how exactly you came to be placed here, as I was only made aware of your true location this morning."
If the boy was unsatisfied with Professor Dumbledore's explanation, he gave no indication. "My parents, sir, could you – perhaps – if it isn't too much of a bother, that is, could you tell me about them?"
Professor Dumbledore smiled indulgently at the boy. "Your parents, James and Lily Potter, were both quite remarkable. You look very much like your father, save your eyes, which are your mother's. I'm afraid I didn't know them all that well, so I cannot tell you their hobbies or anything of that sort, but I can tell you that they were vivacious, intelligent, and exceedingly brave. Your father was the wizarding equivalent of a police officer, we call them Aurors, and your mother hadn't yet decided on a career though she was quite talented in a number of areas."
Harry was silent for several seconds digesting all of the information. "And they were murdered, you say?"
The professor nodded. "Indeed. Despite their perceived differences, the magical world and the non-magical world have much in common, including war. Much like Adolf Hitler who terrorized the non-magical world decades ago, the magical world was being terrorized by a man who referred to himself as the Dark Lord Voldemort. Your parents were targeted by Lord Voldemort and despite all of our attempts at protecting them, they were eventually killed."
"What happened to him, this Lord Voldemort?"
"That, Mr. Potter, I'm afraid is a mystery. It was said that he was defeated by the only witness to the atrocious act – you. Though there are none alive to tell the tale, it is said that when he turned his wand on you, he was unable to kill you. The curse meant for you rebounded back on him, killing him in the process and leaving you with nothing but a lightening bolt shaped scar on your forehead."
Instinctively, the boy's hand went up to touch the odd scar that had been his for as long as he could remember, as he studied the professor's face. At last, he spoke. "You don't believe that, though, do you, sir?"
"Do I believe that Lord Voldemort, the most dangerous dark wizard the world has seen, is gone forever? No, I do not believe that, but do I believe you temporarily defeated him and have given the wizarding world a ten year reprieve from his reign of terror? Yes, I certainly do believe that. Now, as I was saying before, there is an entire world dedicated to witches and wizards, the wizarding world, if you will. And, as in this world, there are certain rules - laws - that one must follow," continued Professor Dumbledore before Harry could question him further.
"Rules? What sort of rules?" asked the boy slowly, his expression becoming blank at once.
"There are all sorts of rules. Magic can be a very powerful thing, Harry – may I call you Harry?" Harry nodded his approval and the man continued. "So I must request that, whether you choose to attend my school or not, never use magic in order to cause others pain. Especially against those who are unable to wield it, those who are not magical - we call them Muggles. To do so is beyond cruel, Harry, because they can have no hope of defending themselves against it, you see. You must promise me this."
Harry's green eyes flashed in anger and, for one brief second, a frown flittered across his face, but just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone, and he nodded, albeit reluctantly.
A little over an hour later, after giving Harry a more in-depth explanation of Hogwarts, and everything he would need to attend: his Hogwarts letter that contained his supply list, his ticket for the Hogwarts Express, the key to his vault, and directions to the Leaky Cauldron, Albus Dumbledore left St. Nicholas' Home for Boys.
It had been his plan to accompany Harry to purchase his school supplies himself, but the boy had insisted on going alone. It was with great reluctance, and thoughts of another fiercely independent dark-haired boy that had haunted him for over half a century, that he had agreed. He did not plan to leave the boy completely alone, however. In fact, he had just the person who would be perfect for the job of watching over young Harry as he shopped.
Lost in his thoughts, Professor Dumbledore missed the pair of calculating green eyes that watched his departure from the window above.
-- edited by Koinaka on March 3, 2010 --
-- Thank you to my lovely beta, Mordac, for all of your wonderful help!--