Chapter 1; A Trump in the Night
October 31st, 1981
An eerie, almost supernatural calm had settled on Godric's Hollow. It was not the quiet streets that were the cause. The "Hollow" was a a small, rural village, after all. Nor was it the low hanging fog that wreathed the ground in a clinging shroud. No. Fogs and quiet country lanes were not uncommon in October in this part of Southwestern England. The source of this quiet eeriness was wholly other. It could be seen in the eyes of children, walking fearfully with eyes downcast, dressed in their festive costumes, shoulders slumped and withdrawn. It could be seen in their parents who hurried them from the street. The formless unease and hidden fears of the citizens was made manifest in two sudden pops of apparation and the hooded cowls of two arriving wizards. Lord Voldemort had come to Godric's Hollow.
Tippy was a good house elf. She dutifully went about the tasks of keeping the house at Potter Manor. She was diligent and hardworking, humming tunelessly as she dusted the guest bedrooms, even though the Master was not in residence. Tippy was normally thrilled with her work. For eighty-three years she had served the Potter family. They were everything she believed a wizard family should be. Strong, kind and proud. Normally, just the thought of her Masters left Tippy with a spring in her step. But not this night. This night Tippy was scared; Scared for Master James and his family. Fear is NOT an emotion that house elves are particularly good at dealing with.
"Master isn't safe!" She muttered to herself while dusting a chess set. Her agitation made obvious by the broad, almost violent sweeps of the feather duster and the fearful, sidestepping chess pieces as they tried to avoid the worst of the onslaught. One knight took particular offense at the her attack and lowered his lance to charge the offending duster. His cry of "Have at you!" went unheard by the unhappy elf.
"Tippy told Master that he should take her with them!" The little elf grew more agitated by the second. "What is Master going to do without Tippy?" She gazed out the window to the north in the general direction where she could sense her Master was, but she couldn't locate him. Tippy knew that bad wizards were after her Master's family. She knew that they had gone into hiding and were protected by powerful wards. She knew these things but they brought her little comfort.
The Potters were protected by far more than mere wards. They were, in fact, protected by one of the most powerful charms in existence; the Fidelius Charm. One of the features that made the Fidelius unique was that it could remove all knowledge of a place from people's minds. So, even though Tippy had spent her entire life at Potter manor and could feel it as though it were her very bones, the presence of the little cottage on the north side of the estate had been seamlessly removed from her awareness. Despite that, no charm could erase the intimate bond of a house elf for its Master. So Tippy could sense her masters, but she couldn't find them. She could also sense with a growing unease, that her masters were in danger.
Another quirk of the Fidelius charm is that it affects people's perceptions, not reality. A property hidden under a Fidelius charm does not move, it is not materially affected in any way. Though no one other than those entrusted with the secret can perceive it, it exists in the same time and space that it did before.
So, Tippy looking out the window at Potter Manor could not see the cottage. She could not see the eerie red and green flashes of spellfire as it spilled out of the windows of the cottage. But, fortunately for the wizarding world, she could see their reflection off the trees that surrounded the cottage that were not covered by the charm. Also, while she could not hear the angry screams as James Potter made his final stand on the stairs, she could feel his suffering. So with a great heaving sob and a twist of her ears, Tippy disappeared from Potter Manor. Rematerializing at the edge of the wards, Tippy was still at a loss how to proceed. She knew her Master was nearby, she could feel it. But everywhere she looked, there were only trees. While she paced back and forth across the leaf covered grass, wondering what to do, she suddenly felt her Master James' life wink out of existence. "Master!" she screamed in anguish. "M-M-M-Master James! Tippy is here! Tippy is right here!" But it was no use.
Tippy started running through the trees calling for her masters, until a misstep brought her face first into a large oak tree. The small elf fell back with a thud! As she looked up into the sky, she saw again the telltale flashes of reflected spell light in the canopy above. She leapt to her feet and just as she was going to run back the way she came, she felt a gut twisting wrench as her connection to Lilly Potter, her lovely, precious mistress, was suddenly severed.
"No!" Tippy sobbed. "Not Mistress Lilly!" Sinking to her knees, the house elf dug her nimble fingers into the soil and pulled out large clods of mud and grass, hitting herself in the head with them. "Tippy is so useless! Bad, bad, bad Tippy!"
Before she could utter another word, she felt a sudden breeze on her face and watched as the trees were bent backward by a fierce blast. Through her connection, she could feel the pain and anguish of young Harry and she could think of no way to help him. She spun around madly looking for anyone, anything to help her. No help was to be found.
Fat tears fell from her large, brown eyes and great, heaving sobs shook her small frame. In a fit of maddened grief she flung herself at an Oak tree and started beating her head against its coarse bark until her blood dripped down the trunk and mingled with the sparse grey grass at its base. Eventually she collapsed in a heap. But such was her resolve that she started crawling through the grass, her face a bloody ruin and her eyes swollen and blinded by blood.
Her only sense of direction was her feeling for her last remaining Master. Blindly and unerringly she found one of the few weaknesses in the Fidelius charm. Her perceptions narrowed to one, she wasn't fooled by their misdirection. Her blind faith and devotion allowed her to persist in defiance of her senses. In great, wracking sobs she made her way at last, beyond the threshold of the charm, up the front steps and into the foyer. From the upstairs, she could hear Master Harry crying. Drawing a sudden breath, she concentrated and rematerialized at his side.
Scrambling over chunks of debris from the caved-in roof, Tippy bumped her head on the side of Harry's crib and pulled herself up by the oaken frame. She reached in and pulled the crying infant to her breast and rocked him gently, making shh-ing noises under her breath.
"It's okay little master. Tippy's gots you. Tippy's gots you now," she said. But, everything was far from okay. Master James and Mistress Lilly were dead. Of that, Tippy was sure. House elves were not brilliant thinkers, but Tippy could feel their loss like a torn fingernail, swollen and sore. Blinking the blood from her eyes, she surveyed the carnage in the room. Broken timbers and busted bricks glimmered at the edges of her vision, as well as the corpse of Lilly Potter a few feet from the crib. The sight made Tippy want to pick up a brick and beat herself unconscious, but the wailing youngster in her arms held her in check. Care for the Master came first; punishment could wait.
"What is Tippy to do now?" she said. "Bad wizards did this. Bad Wizards cames and they's killed my Masters."
Her eyes darting quickly back and forth, she was torn. She had no one to give her orders. Tippy was used to being told what to do. But the Potter line had dwindled over the years until one little babe was all that was left. Tippy would have to make a decision. On the one hand, she knew she should take the child to a wizard. Maybe one of Master James' friends, but she hesitated. She didn't know who had killed her masters and she didn't know when the bad wizards would come back. In the end, she had to rely on her instinct. There were two instincts that were virtually screaming in her mind. The first was to care for the young master and the second was to hide. Yes, she decided. She would hide the young master until someone came who could better care for the baby. Having made her decision, Tippy held the baby close to her body and popped away.