Disclaimer: I'm not J.K. Rowling.

Chapter 1: To Be Young Again

by DemonicDragoness

A/N: Underlined parts of this chapter are from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix pg. 784-788, 790, and 806 (US version)

. . .


A jet of red light had shot from the end of Bellatrix Lestrange's wand, but Malfoy had deflected it. His spell caused hers to hit the self a foot to the left of Harry and several of the glass orbs there shattered.

Two figures, pearly white as ghosts, fluid as smoke, unfurled themselves from the fragments of broken glass upon the floor and each began to speak. Their voices vied with each other, so that only fragments of what they were saying could be heard over Malfoy and Bellatrix's shouts.

"… at the Solstice will come a new…" said the figure of an old, bearded man.

"DO NOT ATTACK! WE NEED THE PROPHECY!"

"He dared — he dares —" shrieked Bellatrix incoherently. "— He stands there — filthy half-blood —"

"WAIT UNTIL WE'VE GOT THE PROPHECY!" bawled Malfoy.,

"… and none will come after…" said the figure of a young woman.

The two figures that had burst from the shattered spheres had melted into thin air. Nothing remained of them or their erstwhile homes but fragments of glass upon the floor. They had, however, given Harry an idea. The problem was going to be conveying it to the others.

"You haven't told me what's so special about this prophecy I'm supposed to be handing over," he said, playing for time. He moved his foot slowly sideways, feeling around for someone else's.

"Do not play games with us, Potter," said Malfoy.

"I'm not playing games," said Harry, half his mind on the conversation, half on his wandering foot. And then he found someone's toes and pressed down upon them. A sharp intake of breath behind him told him they were Hermione's.

"What?" she whispered.

"Dumbledore never told you that the reason you bear that scar was hidden in the bowels of the Department of Mysteries?" said Malfoy sneeringly.

"I — what?" said Harry, and for a moment he quite forgot his plan. "What about my scar?"

"What?" whispered Hermione more urgently behind him.

"Can this be?" said Malfoy, sounding maliciously delighted; some of the Death Eaters were laughing again, and under cover of their laughter, Harry hissed to Hermione, moving his lips as little as possible, "Smash shelves —"

"Dumbledore never told you?" Malfoy repeated. "Well, this explains why you didn't come earlier, Potter, the Dark Lord wondered why —"

"— when I say go —"

"— you didn't come running when he showed you the place where it was hidden in you dreams. He thought natural curiosity would make you want to hear the exact wording…."

"Did he?" said Harry. Behind him he felt rather than heard Hermione passing his message to the others and he sought to keep talking, to distract the Death Eaters. "So he wanted me to come and get it, did he? Why"

"Why?" Malfoy sounded incredulously delighted "Because the only people who are permitted to retrieve a prophecy from the Department of Mysteries, Potter, are those about whom it was made, as the Dark Lord discovered when he attempted to use others to steal it for him."

"And why did he want to steal a prophecy about me?"

"About both of you, Potter, about both of you… Haven't you ever wondered why the Dark Lord tried to kill you as a baby?"

Harry stared into the slitted eyeholes though which Malfoy's gray eyes were gleaming. Was this prophecy the reason Harry's parents had died, the reason he carried his lightning-bolt scar? Was the answer to all of this clutched in his hand?

"Someone made a prophecy about Voldemort and me?" he said quietly, gazing at Lucius Malfoy, his fingers tightening over the warm glass sphere in his hand. It was hardly larger than a Snitch and still gritty with dust. "And he's made me come and get it for him? Why couldn't he come and get it himself?"

"Get it himself?" shrieked Bellatrix on a cackle of mad laughter. "The Dark Lord, walk into the Ministry of Magic, when they are so sweetly ignoring his return? The Dark Lord, reveal himself to the Aurors, when at the moment they are wasting their time on my dear cousin?"

"So he's got you doing his dirty work for him, has he?" said Harry. "Like he tried to get Sturgis to steal it — and Bode?"

"Very good, Potter, very good…" said Malgoy slowly "But the Dark Lord knows you are not unintell —"

"NOW!" yelled Harry.

Five different voices behind him bellowed "REDUCTO!" Five curses flew in five different directions and the shelves opposite them exploded as they hit. The towering structure swayed as a hundred glass spheres burst apart, pearly-white figures unfurled into the air and floated there, their voices echoing from who knew what long-dead past amid the torrent of crashing glass and splintered wood now rained sown upon the floor —

"RUN!" Harry yelled, and as the shelves swayed precariously and more glass spheres began to pour from above, he seized a handful of Hermione's robes and dragged her forward, one arm over his head as chunks of shelf and shards of glass thundered down upon them. A Death Eater lunged forward through the cloud of dust and Harry elbowed him hard in the masked face. They were all yelling, there were cries of pain, thunderous crashes as the shelves collapsed upon them-selves, weirdly echoing fragment of the Seers unleashed from their spheres —

Harry found the way ahead clear and saw Ron, Ginny, and Luna sprint past him, their arms over their heads. Something heavy struck him on the side of the face but he merely ducked his head and sprinted onward; a hand caught him by the shoulder; he heard Hermione shout "Stupefy!" and the hand released him at once.

They were at the end of row ninety-seven; Harry turned right and began to sprint in earnest. He could heat footsteps right behind him and Hermione's voice urging Neville on. The door through which they had come was ajar straight ahead, Harry could see the glittering light of the bell jar, he pelted through it, the prophecy still clutched tight and safe in his hand, waited for the others to hurtle over the threshold before slamming the door behind them —

"Colloportus!" gasped Hermione and the door sealed itself with an odd squelching noise.

"Where — where are the others?" gasped Harry.

He had thought that Ron, Luna, and Ginny had been ahead of them, that they would be waiting in this room, but there was nobody there.

"They must have gone the wrong way!" whispered Hermione, terror in her face.

"Listen!' whispered Neville.

Footsteps and shouts echoed from behind the door they had just sealed. Harry put his ear close to the door to listen and heard Lucius Malfoy roar: "Leave Nott, leave him, I say, the Dark Lord will not care for Nott's injuries as much as losing that prophecy — Jugson, come back here, we need to organize! We'll split into pairs and search, and don't forget, be gentle with Potter until we've got the prophecy, you can kill the others if necessary — Bellatrix, Rodolphus, you take the left, Crabbe, Rabastan, go right — Jugson, Dolohov, the door straight ahead — Macnair and Avery, thought here — Rookwood, over there — Mulciber, come with me!"

"What do we do?" Hermione asked Harry, trembling from head to foot.

"Well, we don't stand here waiting for them to find us, for a start," said Harry. "Let's get away from this door…"Sounds came from beyond the door, and Harry could just make out a whispered "Alohomora"

"GO!" They ran toward the bell jar they had seen earlier, where the hummingbird had hatched and unhatched,but than a voice shouted out "ACCIDO!" The tripping jinx hit, and then Harry was falling…

It was as though he were in slow motion, hands flailed out in front of him in an effort to catch himself on the bell jar. The others awaited athump, a crash against glass, and for him to simply push off to keep running, but his body sunk through, as though he were a ghost sliding through a wall. The prophecy shimmered briefly when it came in contact with the surface of the bell jar, then exploded in brilliant, magical light.

When the light cleared, they stared in awe. Harry was de-aging, hard angles softening, hair becoming thin and soft. The Death Eaters then jerked themselves out of their stupor and the one called Jugson cried out "Stupefy! Stupefy!" as Dolohov cried "Accio Harry Potter!" Two thumps were heard. Dolohov stared at the 14 month old baby in his arms. Quivering, he yelled out "I've got him, over here!" and wondered whether he wanted to laugh at the boy's no,baby's capture, or cry at losing the prophecy.

Saying that the Death Eaters were shocked would be like saying the Cruciatus was painful: understatement of the year. So when the cause of this astonishment, a baby Harry Potter, began to wail, nobody really knew what to do, even those who had already raised children. Should they comfort their master's arch-nemesis? Surely not. In the end, Lucius mentally shook himself and cast a silencio on him.

"We should leave," he stated.

"What about them?" asked Rookwood, pointing at the unconscious teens on the floor. All five had been captured.

"Tie them up, then obliviate them. Confound them too. Also, someone collect Potter's wand." The Death Eaters rushed to comply. As an afterthought, Lucius pointed his own wand at the dazed children.

"Mortus Magus!" he hissed, twisting his wand into a complex rune, and repeated the curse on each of the five. Then he pointed the wand at Hermione, drew another, less complex symbol, and said, "Infelix!" He nodded to his fellows. "Let's go."

The twelve pops from their apparition still lingered in the air when the Order of the Phoenix arrived, just barely too late.

. . .

Malfoy Manor

. . .

Tom Marvalo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, wondered what was taking his Death Eaters so long. As though summoned by his thoughts, a rapping sound came from the door.

"Enter," he commanded, and Lucius Malfoy walked in, a cloth-covered bundle in his arms. The prophecy! he thought, before realizing that it was much to large to be one of the tiny spheres prophecies were contained in. Did they steal something else, as well?

"My lord," Lucius murmured as he crawled up on his knees and kissed the hem of the snake-like man's robe.

"Lucius, report."

"The mission was a… partial success, my lord."

"Oh? How so?"

"We lost the prophecy, but —"

"You lost the prophecy? You imbecile! How did you lose it? Did the Order capture it?" Thankful his lord wasn't torturing him, Lucius quickly answered.

"It, it exploded, my lord, when it fell into the Basin of Youth, but —"

"And whose fault was this?!"

"Jugson's, I believe was said. He cast a tripping jinx on Potter, and —"

"Did you not tell them to be gentle with the prophecy?"

" I did my lord! Some good did come of it, though!" Lucius rushed out before the Dark Lord could cut him off again.

"Really? Explain."

"Potter tripped, sir, and he fell into the Basin of Time. He… well… perhaps you should see for yourself." He unwrapped a bit of the bundle and lifted it up for Lord Voldemort to see. It was a baby, with tear-stained cheeks, a tiny nose, huge, bright green eyes, and obviously under a strong Silencio, if his wide open mouth was anything to go by. A wand was tucked into the blanket with him. Most notable was the baby's unmarked forehead. The Dark Lord took him into his arms.

"Cognomentum" Ghostly letters that floated over the baby spelled out 'Harry Potter" as well as the Potter family crest. Seeing this, Voldemort began to chuckle, then full out laugh. Baby Harry seemed to feel less threatened by the cackling Dark Lord and quit crying. Lucius ended the silencio. Soon Voldemort calmed himself.

"What else happened?" Lucius smirked.

"Potter brought along five of his little friends. We captured them all, and I cast the Dead Magic curse on them, as well as the Infertility curse on the mudblood. Only Nott was seriously injured."

"Excellent, Lucius." The Dark Lord fell silent, then asked, "Do you have a house-elf accustomed to raising children?" Lucius blinked.

"Y…yes my lord."

"Summon it."

"Yes, my lord. Tinky!" A female house-elf dressed in a clean blue pillowcase popped in.

"Yes, master, sir?"

"Do anything the Dark Lord instructs you to."

"Master's master, sir?"

"Prepare a nursery beside my rooms. Use the finest quality materials available and fill it with anything a child around a year old could want. Then come back when that is done."

"Yes, master's master, sir."

"My lord?" Lucius questioned.

"As far as magic is concerned, with both the boy and the sphere having fallen into the Basin of Time, the prophecy and Potter's marking never happened. This child is now a magically powerful orphan at my disposal. I can use this child. I will make him...a Dark Prince." Voldemort smirked to himself for a moment, then turned back to Lucius. "You will find an blood-binding adoption ritual, one that will remove his tainted blood from his mother and replace it with mine. You will prepare it and then alert me."

Lucius hurried to obey

. . .

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

. . .

"How are they, Poppy?" asked Professor Dumbledore, looking at the five occupied beds in the Infirmary. He was frowning, forehead was creased with worry.

"Not good," she sighed, a sad look on her face. She brushed a stray lock of hair from her face. "I can do very little for the curses cast of them. They are squibs now, and the Dead Magic curse, when cast correctly, as this one was, is irreversible. Then there's poor Ms. Granger."

"What happened?" asked the Headmaster, concerned.

"The Infertility curse, if my scans are correct." The medi-witch frowned.

"Isn't that counterable, if treated fast enough?"

"It's the rune version," she replied unhappily. "It's impossible to remove."

They looked down at the sleeping teens in silence.

"They took him, didn't they?"

"Who do you mean, Poppy?" She scowled

"Don't be coy with me, Albus. The Dead Eaters, they took Mr. Potter, didn't they?" The old man sighed.

"Alas, it is true. I have my people on the look-out." The medi-witch looked at him sharply.

"Find him, Albus. If anything happens to that poor boy, I will hold you responsible." With that, she walked away and retired to her office.

"You and I both, Poppy, you and I both."

. . .

Malfoy Manor

. . .

"Master's master, sir, I have done as you asked," said Tinky, who had just popped in.

"Lead me to the room," commanded Lord Voldemort.

"Yes, master's master." She meekly walked through tastefully decorated halls of Malfoy Manor, Voldemort at her heels. After several turns and two sets of stairs, they arrived at beautifully stained cherry-wood door. The elf snapped her fingers, and it opened.

The room was rather large, with walls colored a pale leaf green and carpeting that was soft and cream-colored. The ceiling was enchanted to look like the sky on a summer day, complete with false sunlight (won't burn your skin or hurt your eyes!) and clouds that lazily floated by. A crib stood in one corner, with plush, animated magical creatures cantering around inside, and a wardrobe sure to contain clothes of a princely quality stood in another corner. A puffskein sat purring on the floor, surrounded by pet accessories.

A giant landscape covered an entire wall, the scene being half meadow, half forest, with majestic mountains in the background. A phoenix could be seen flying around the mountains' peaks. A unicorn of almost unearthly beauty peeked out of the trees. Crup puppies tussled in the meadow, tails wagging, under their mother's watchful eye. Erklings laughed in the distance. Diricawls popped up occasionally, looked around, and then popped away.

Lord Voldemort (who looked extremely out of place in such an un-dark-lordish room) saw this all with approval. Though the blood-adoption ritual would give the boy enough dark blood to survive among his minions, the Potter family was still almost exclusively a light blood family, and the room would supply the light necessary for the child to not feel oppressed. He swiftly set a few child-safety wards, and cast a self-cleaning charm on the carpet, furniture, and walls. Then he placed Harry in the crib, and the baby immediately set upon the plush toys. Then he seemed confused, and looked up at his new care-taker.

"Mama? Papa?" he asked.

"They won't be back," said the Dark Lord. "I'm your father now."

"Pafoot? Mooey? Wumy?"

"They are gone too."

"Bye bye?"

"Yes." Harry looked troubled.

"Want Mama!" he demanded.

"She is gone," repeated Voldemort.

"Mama!" the baby repeated, and began to wail loudly. The older wizard was at a loss of what to do. Perhaps Wormtail would know. He used to be Potter Sr.'s friend. Or Narcissa. She raised a child. He beckoned Tinky over and told her to fetch the two. Peter arrived first. He gaped.

"My lord, is that…?"

"Harry Potter, yes. You knew him as a child. What can be done to silence him?"

"Er… well Lily used to rock him back and forth…" His lord shot him a menacing look. "Um… He used to have these animal toys, a stag, a black dog, a wolf, and… and, a rat, my lord." A less imposing man would have rolled his eyes at Wormtail. Nonetheless, the Dark Lord picked out a few of the soft toys in Harry's crib to transfigure into the aforementioned animals and floated them in front of the boy. He stopped crying and reached out to grab the stag. Then he saw Peter.

"Wumy! Want Mama!"

"Er… Mama's gone, Harry."

"No! Want Mama!" he screamed, and resumed his crying. At that moment the door opened, and Narcissa entered. "My lord, what can I do for you?" she asked, voice raised to be heard over Harry's shrieks.

"Calm the boy!" commanded Voldemort. Narcissa nodded, and scooped the baby up, turning away from the Dark Lord and letting her cool façade drop.

"Shhhh, shhh, don't cry, darling," she crooned, swaying back and forth. She summoned what wandless skills she had to add compulsion to her voice, a somewhat dark practice perfected by the women of the Black family. "Calm down You're safe. All's good." Harry's cries lessened, then stopped all together. "Sleep now," she urged, and he obeyed, closing his bright green eyes. She placed him back in the crib and looked thoughtfully at the stag he was clutching. Then the witch pulled out her wand and placed a calming spell on it, as well as a reassurance spell. Finally she slipped her uncaring mask back on, and faced her lord.

"Do you require anything else, my lord?" she inquired.

"No, that will be all, Narcissa, though I would like you to remain close by to help care for this child. On that matter—Tinky!"

"Yes, master's master, sir?"

"Create a portal from this room to Narcissa's, elf"

"Yes, master's master." Tinky concentrated, and then snapped her fingers. A door appeared.

"That should enable you to reach the child easily, Narcissa. Do whatever you deem necessary. Elf, you are assigned to the care of this child. If there is a problem, tell Narcissa or me." With that, he walked out of the room to his own down the hall. The Dark Lord sank into a chair to wait for Lucius to come tell him when the ritual preparations were done.

. . .

Malfoy Manor
5:47a.m.

. . .

Tap tap tap

"Enter, Lucius." The blonde man obeyed, and nodded his head towards his lord, who was sitting in a plush, thestral-leather armchair by a large fireplace. The walls were a deep Slytherin green, and the carpet was black. Occasional silver accents were placed about the room.

"Come sit, and tell me about the ritual you have set up." Lucius, tired as he was, having worked the entire night, gratefully sank into an armchair beside his master and accepted the glass of wine he was passed. Many a person would be shocked at how hospitable Lord Voldemort was acting, but a little-known fact (outside of pureblood circles) was that in his private chambers (in which only the Inner Circle members were allowed) he was quite cordial. It was pureblood custom that personal rooms were sanctuaries in which no trickery be done and no hostility shown.

"The ritual will bleed out the impure blood, and replace it with your own from a cut in your left palm. Then it will blend into Harry's make-up and form new physical features, as well as combine the natures of the two bloods. At that time you will take a ritual knife and cut both of your right palms and press them together. That will create a family bond, and will likely give you back a more… natural appearance. The ritual will then place both of you into a magical sleep in which the bond will cement and the changes in appearance will stabilize."

"Is it painful?"

"There are reports of soreness and some light-headedness from the adopter, but otherwise it tends to be a rather safe procedure, as long as the child is still very young. With an older child, there are complications due to the amount of blood the adopter would lose. This ritual was actually rather common not long ago, before the old coot outlawed it due to the use of blood-magic."

"Can another's blood be mixed into the ritual?"

"Yes, my lord. Often a person will add their spouse's blood to the ritual bowl. May I ask whose blood you will be using?"

"When I was at Hogwarts, I found the most marvelous thing in one of the side-chambers connected to the Chamber of Secrets. A dozen pint bottles of Salazar Slytherin's blood were preserved under a stasis charm. I never had a chance to use them; I had already done a blood-purification ritual that, while being very painful due to it forcefully making your body create more blood at a rapid pace, allowed me to choose my own features. I was forced to make myself look like I always had. Dumbledore was watching me too closely for me to create a new appearance. Anyway, I took a few vials with me when I left Hogwarts." Lucius' eyes were wide with awe. Slytherin's blood!"

"I must say I am very envious of the future Dark Prince. Here is a list of full instructions. Please be ready to enter the Bathing chamber by six-fifty. The ritual will begin at seven o'clock."

. . .

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

. . .

Ginny was the first to stir. She forced her gummed-up eyes open and looked around.

"Ah, you have at last woken up, Ms. Weasley," stated Madam Pomfrey.

"What am I doing here, Ma'am?" The medi-witch pursed her lips.

"Obliviated, I knew it… What is the last thing you remember, dear?"

"Er… finding Harry and Hermione in the forest. Do you know what happened?"

By this time the other four were coming round.

"Wazza goin' on?" mumbled Ron.

"In an act of grave stupidity, children, you all managed to somehow get to the Ministry of Magic. Then you had a run-in with the Death Eaters… my goodness, I've never had to give such bad news…"

"Madam Pomfrey, what bad news?" prompted Hermione, a knot in her gut.

"I'm afraid they hit you all with a Dead Magic curse." Hermione gasped.

"We're squibs?!" she asked, distraught. The matronly lady passed them all cups of tea.

"Now drink up, dears. I can't give you calming draught, but that has quite a few of its ingredients. Can't have you going into shock, now." Shakily, the teens sipped. "I'm afraid it gets worse for Ms. Granger here. Are you familiar with the curse Infelix? Specifically the rune version?"

"Permanent infertility, acts sort of like muggle spermicide…" started Hermione, automatically answering until she realized what was she was saying. "They cast that on me?" she squeaked. Ron looked horrified.

"Yes, they did. I'm sorry, Ms. Granger." The girl sat in silence for a moment.

"Well, at least I never really wanted a child. But still, they took the choice away." Ron and Ginny looked shocked at her proclamation. They, as Weasleys, were very much parents-to-be, and couldn't imagine not wanting a child.

"You are wanted in the Headmaster's office, dears, but take it slow. Losing your magic tends to make one feel heavy and tired." They nodded, still shell-shocked, and left. Frankly, Poppy was glad. She didn't want to be there when the tea wore off.

. . .

Malfoy Manor

. . .

Lord Voldemort watched Harry crawl around in his crib, spending his last moments as a Potter. It was six thirty-four. The ritual to make Harry both pureblood and his son would begin at seven. He wondered what would change. He would lose any of his mother's looks he had. Then Voldemort's own genetics would be introduced to the child's system, likely changing his looks even more. He was almost sorry the boy would lose those bright green eyes.

The megalomaniac's own looks would change, due to the strong currents of blood magic. A tiny amount of Harry's blood would be absorbed by him. It would probably cause his old looks to resurface, with a few minor changes, and was he glad, really. His current look might cause people to be frightened into his ranks, but his former looks charmed many an influential person to his side.

It was six forty-one, and time to get down to the Bathing Chamber. He reached out and took hold of the boy. Many years of caring for the young children at his orphanage paid off, and the Dark Lord was able to comfortably arrange the baby in his arms. Harry giggled and tugged on his guardian's ear.

If Albus could see Potter now, in my arms and about to be turned into a Riddle, he'd probably choke on his lemon drops. Voldemort carried Harry down the hall and behind a tapestry into a hidden corridor that sloped down a few stories before opening up behind a portrait. From there he walked a short distance to an ebony door with ivory inlays.

"Tempus." It was six forty-seven. Footsteps could be heard coming around the corner, and soon Lucius was there with them.

"My lord," he said, bowing. "The bath is prepared, and both ceremonial clothes are inside. Were the instructions sufficiently clear?"

"Indeed, Lucius."

"The door to the ritual chamber will open automatically at seven precisely. Good luck, my lord."

Voldemort opened the door to the Bathing Chamber. It was a large room, with a sunk-in bathtub capable of comfortably fitting twelve people inside, and already filled with special purifying potions and soaps. The whole room was built with marble and platinum, and had to have cost the Malfoys several thousand galleons. Voldemort perched Harry on a nearby counter and undressed them both, then carefully slid into the water. Again, his old babysitting skills showed themselves as Voldemort expertly washed the child before hurriedly cleaning himself. Then the Dark Lord managed to slip the silver-white ceremonial robes (likely unicorn hair. The Malfoy family certainly spared no expense on ritual supplies. Then again, the Malfoys were famous for specializing in rituals.) over Harry's head, despite the boy's wriggling.

He had just finished putting on his own robe when the door to the Ritual Chamber opened. He quickly scooped up Harry and walked into the middle of the blindingly white heptagonal room, taking care not to smear the charcoal pentacles and runes that covered much of the floor. At the center there was a pillar-like marble table with a bowl-like indent, which was surrounded by a very intricate pentacle. There was a space between the table and the perimeter of the pentacle that would easily hold both man and child. Voldemort poured a vial of blood into the bowl, then put Harry down and placed him under a slight compulsion spell. It was a standard magical precaution; if he were to step out of the pentacle during the ritual, not only would the ritual be ruined, but usually there was some amount of magical backlash.

"Don't be scared, child. This will make me your father," Voldemort told Harry. "Stand still."

"Ego ascio Harry James Potter, ut purus cruor, meus semen, quod meus filius." Here he brought out the ritual knife and sliced open his left hand, then did the same to Harry. The blood that Voldemort was allowing to pour from his hand into the bowl was almost luminescent. The blood that was leaving Harry was darker, caused by lack of magical nature, although any muggle doctor would find it completely normal. There was a reason behind 'mudblood'. The blood in the bowl was draining at the same rate as Harry was bleeding, replacing it. Soon all the 'impure' blood was gone, and both wounds healed themselves, leaving behind a thin scar. Then Voldemort sliced open their right palms, held the boy's hand, and said "Ego nomen vos Cain Renatus Riddle." They both felt a strange tingling, a sense of belonging, before they were magically rendered unconscious.

. . .

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

. . .

"Damn, we don't have the password," grumbled Ron when he and the other teens reached the gargoyle that guarded the Headmaster's office.

"Ronald, language," Hermione automatically reprimanded. "We'll... just have to guess."

"That won't be necessary," said Dumbledore, who appeared to have just turned a corner and was approaching their group.

"Hey, where's Harry?" asked Neville, finally realizing who was missing. The others adopted worried expressions. Dumbledore ignored his question.

"Let's go up to my office, shall we? Fudge Flies." The Headmaster ushered them onto the revolving staircase and into the aforementioned office. He conjured extra chairs, and then sat down himself.

"Headmaster, do you know where Harry is?" asked Hermione.

"The Vermicious Knids got him, didn't they?" said Luna. Hermione gave her an odd look.

"I'm afraid I have very bad news to report. Harry Potter is currently missing. That is why I brought you up here. Would you be willing to allow me to look though your memories and see if I can find anything?"

"But Madam Pomfrey said they obliviated us, sir," said Ginny.

"Ah, nevertheless, I would like to try."

"I'll do it, sir. Anything to help find Harry," proclaimed Hermione.

"Excellent, my dear. Now, just think about what you can remember and look into my eyes. Legilimens!" He quickly sifted through her mind and found obvious traces of obliviation, but the spell-work was the Death Eater's modified version of obliviate. The adapted version acted like a porcupine quill, with mental barbs that made taking it out painful and often harmful to the victim. Dumbledore didn't dare try it.

"I'm afraid our enemy is rather clever. Attempting to take the block out would likely damage your mind. I'll have to ask Severus if he's seen anything." The teens' faces fell. "For now, let us pray for the best."

Just as he finished speaking, a small, twirling device on his desk let out a very loud beep, accompanied by a flash of light. When all of their visions cleared of spots, the device had stopped spinning. Greif filled Dumbledore's eyes.

"Oh my, oh dear, I hoped it wouldn't come to this."

"W—what is it, Professor?" asked Hermione, frightened.

"Harry Potter is no more."