Written for: The As Summer Ends challenge on the LiveJournal community, first_order.

Prompts: Caradoc Dearborn; A world so far away

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter characters and universe were created by J.K. Rowling and no claim is made by using elements thereof in this work of fan fiction.

Vanished

When he first saw the news reports about the towers in New York, nearly 20 years to the day since he'd turned his back on his former life, Caradoc had thought the breakthrough had come, the great spill-over from the wizarding into the Muggle world, although he had been surprised that it had taken place in the States first. Somehow, he had never really thought of Voldemort's people as being much interested in anything outside of the U.K. But then, as the story unfolded, Caradoc became convinced that there was nothing magical about the attacks after all. Muggles could be just as evil as wizards; why not?

He didn't go by Caradoc any more. Not that, in retrospect, he had really needed to change his name. The gulf between the wizarding and Muggle worlds was so great that abandoning one's wand was as effective as assuming a new identity, and keeping out of wizarding areas as good as leaving the country. Still, he hadn't known that then, and so in addition to dropping his wand into Llyn Tegid and moving to the Isle of Man, he'd re-christened himself Ned Rogers and gotten a job as a night watchman at a storage facility.

Despite all his efforts, he remained the same man he'd been before: dour, private, a man of certain habits. At first, he'd cropped his hair short and grown a beard, but he'd given up on that after six months, and aside from a few more lines on his face and a few more pounds on his frame, he looked much the same now as he had back then, and anyone who'd cared to track him down probably wouldn't have had too hard of a time of it.

He did wonder, at odd moments, whatever had happened to the people he'd known back then. Moody and Black. Dumbledore. Perkins. For all he knew, they could all be gone. The entire wizarding world might be dead. Blown themselves right through the floor of the Department of Mysteries, or eaten by Quintapeds, every last one of them.

When it was dead quiet in the yard, round about three in the morning, the lamps overhead swinging on their wires, he sometimes imagined someone turning up to bring him back, their robes heavy and smelling of sulphur. He'd run through the scenario a thousand times in his head, what he'd say to convince them to let him stay.

It never happened. Deep down, he knew it never would.