Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Warning – This chapter has character death and also a gruesome butchering of the English language.
The Thing About Contracts Is …
Chapter 8 – Epilogue Part 1 – The Story of Albus
April 1, 1995 – Hogwarts – Headmaster's Office
Albus Dumbledore sighed and looked around his last refuge and final symbol of authority. His power and influence over the Wizarding world and Magical Britain had begun to wane in January with the publication of his role in imprisoning Sirius Black without trial. That required him to call a number of favours and he was able to keep his positions.
He had been working on restoring his public image when the bottom seemed to drop out of his life. The death of Severus Snape had far reaching effects that even Albus could still not fully comprehend.
The first and most important result was that he no longer had any claim to Harry Potter. The contracts that both he and Severus were tricked – and Albus considered that he was tricked – into signing meant that Harry had once again become an adult in the eyes of the Ministry. He promptly withdrew himself from Hogwarts and Dumbledore's life and sphere of influence.
Albus had neither seen nor heard from Harry since that day in February. He didn't even know whether Harry survived the loss of his magic to the contract.
Albus shook his head again – such a stupid, stupid boy. After all that Albus had revealed to him Harry still couldn't see that he had to die by the hand of Voldemort in order to finally enable someone to stop the monster. He was secretly glad that Harry didn't find out that Albus had once considered leaving Harry at the Dursleys until such time as he could get him in front of Voldemort. Harry just couldn't understand that his death was foretold by the prophecy and the Horcrux made the sacrifice a necessity.
But those plans were gone now. Albus couldn't even hire someone to fetch the boy – the blasted contract stopped him from not finding or contacting the boy directly but also counseling others to do it for him either directly or indirectly. At least that is what he found out by trial and error. He still had not received the contract details from the Goblins.
The death of Severus Snape hurt Albus badly in more ways than one. Albus had lost a good friend under the lake and – even after exhaustive research – he could still not understand what caused the stasis to fail prematurely. It was only supposed to wear off once the subject was exposed to air. From what little he could make out from the Mermish Chieftain, Severus woke up right at the hour mark, struggled for a bit and then relaxed again. At least that's how he interpreted the conversation. Albus really didn't understand Mermish as fluently as he wanted others to believe and had to piece together the story from the few words and concepts he did understand.
Poppy confirmed drowning as the cause of death. The continued fallout from the second task and the pending legal action from the Changs (who also enlisted the support of the Grangers) and the diplomatic protests from the Delacours caused him to lose his positions and seats in both the British Wizengamot and the International Confederation of Wizards.
The only reason he was still Headmaster at Hogwarts was because the school Board of Directors was in flux with the Potter and Black seats now in transition. Albus was smart enough to know that the proverbial writing was on the wall and that his days in the office were numbered. He still had to stay until the tournament was completed but he did not know in what capacity he would be serving the school – if any.
He was interrupted by a regal looking owl alighting itself on his desk. He took the missive it held forth and didn't notice the owl leaving after seeing the Gringotts seal.
"At last," he thought, "I'll be able to review the damned contract."
His face fell as the envelope contained a single piece of parchment. His emotions turned simultaneously to dread, anger and resignation as he read the letter.
Dear Mr. Dumbledore,
Gringotts has reviewed your request for access to the contracts stipulated below:
We have reviewed your application for access to both contracts and have decided to reject your application as per section 5, paragraph 13, line 27 of the Request for Active Contract Access application you completed on December 31, 1994. In that section you indicated that all contracts in the request were to be forwarded to you and that you would not accept having only part of your request filled.
Contract 19941231-10011 is no longer in force due to the death of one of the signatories. Thus it was deemed no longer eligible for review and access requests using the Request for Active Contract Access. Since we cannot provide both contracts that you requested, your request was denied.
You are free to set up an appointment with Gringotts to complete a new Request for Active Contracts specifically for contract 19941231-10010. Please note that this will be subject to our 90-day review period. If you still wish access to contract 19941231-10011, then you are required to complete the Request for Inactive Contract form. This request would be subject to a standard 120-day review period.
Thank you for choosing Gringotts. If you have any questions about this notice, you can make an appointment with myself to go over this decision in more detail.
Contract Request Administrator
His shoulders slumped as he read the letter. With things the way they were, it would probably be best to wait until summer to make the new request. There would be more time to recuperate then.
Albus looked at his watch and had to hurry out. He hadn't the available time to replace Severus and he was filling in as the Potions professor for the remainder of the school year. In retrospect, he had forgotten how much he enjoyed teaching and the enthusiasm of all of the students for Potions made him wonder sometimes why Severus complained about the lack of skill and bad attitudes in his classes.
April 1, 1995 - Little Hangleton Cemetary
It had started out as a normal shift watching the cemetery as all the members of his team had at times over the past five weeks. The commander was sure the time was drawing closer and their training and mission briefings had become almost non-stop. After years of preparation and hunting down the Horcruxes, it looked like things were going to pay off soon. Several members of the team had spotted the snake and one even got close enough to confirm it as the last Horcrux without begin detected.
He sat up as he sensed the notice-me-not and muggle-repelling wards activate. Following the battle plan, he alerted the team. He look out from his cover and saw a black-robed figure clearing a space near the Riddle gravestone and building a fire pit. He sent a second alert to the team that confirmed that this was not a drill.
Within minutes the team started to arrive at their pre-defined and hidden positions. The commander arrived with his 'presents' and the squads were now given the go-ahead to subdue and capture the snake on sight.
The commander looked out over the cemetery from his vantage point. As expected, there was no sign of his team - if there were, he would have killed them himself. Surprise and timing were the key here. The prey was intelligent and dangerous and everything had to go according to plan.
The commander and his team waited patiently just as they had trained. Thye spent the entire afternoon watching the figure prepare.
Close to five o'clock, he heard from squad three that the snake had entered the graveyard. Three minutes later, squad two neutralized the snake and disappeared back to their default position.
The commander afforded himself a small smile. All the pieces were in place. They just needed a dark lord and a victim. He idly wondered who that victim would be.
April 1, 1995 - Hogsmeade - The Three Broomsticks
Albus allowed himself to relax as he walked into the bar and was greeted by Rosemerta. He smiled to himself as he realized that this was exactly what he needed to get away from the stress in his life - if only for a few hours. Alastor and he had tried to do this for the entire school year but their confliciting schedules always caused one or the other to be unavailable.
Alastor had booked a private room and the two were going to have a nice dinner and reminisce about their past exploits over innumerable bottles of fire whiskey. Alastor closed the door behind him and handed Albus the first of what he hoped would be many shot glasses tonight. A couple of swigs was all it took. The last thing he remembered was Alastor saying, "You are too easy Albus. Remember CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Sweet drea..."
April 1, 1995 - Little Hangleton Cemetary
Albus awoke to a sharp pain in his arm. As his eyes began to focus he realized that he was bound upright. He could feel blood flowing down his arm under his robes. He only half heard a voice that sounded like Peter Pettigrew say something about the blood of an enemy forcibly taken.
That forced him alert enough to see a cauldron explode and the skinniest figure of a man merge from the wreckage. The reconstituted figure of Voldemort retrieved a robe and - ignoring Albus for the moment (on purpose of course) pressed his wand against another person's forearm and wait.
Through the lingering haze of whatever potion he wad drugged with, Albus saw a number of black-robed figures wearing white masks appear around their master.
Suddenly, just as he was about to speak, there was a blur and in Albus' perpective it seemed that Voldemort's legs seemed to be ejected from his body. The death eaters had only just started to react when they seemed to explode in a fountain of blood. Albus was frozen staring at the gore before him when he was startled back to reality by Voldemorts' screams. The old Headmaster had never seen anything like it - there was Voldemort, an upright torso and head with his arms and legs removed and the wounds cauterized.
The screams stopped as several items appeared in front of the dark lord. There was a look of fear in his eyes.
Then a voice came from just outside of Dumbledore's vision. It was a voice that was so strange, so unexpected that he would remember it for the rest of his life.
"Yous been a very bad wizard Mr. Riddle sirs."
Albus looked in shock as he saw an old and somewhat familiar house elf walk into his vision and stop in front of Tom.
Tom looked at the elf for a moment and then said, "Pokey?"
"Yes Mr. Riddle sirs. I sees yous remember Pokey. Remember what's you says to me when I is helping you in Chamber of bad snake man?"
There was silence from Tom.
"You says you would help me improve us elves' lives. You says this mark on my arms proves us equal to wizards in your eyes. Yous then tried to kills me." Albus had never seen a house elf so angry. He remembered Pokey as one of the Hogwarts elves responsible for the Slytherin dorms. It was becoming obvious that a young Tom Riddle had befriended the elf.
Pokey continued, "Yous broke your word to me! Yous made Pokey do your bidding and punished me with the tattoo. But I escapes. I found elves to help me. Many years I hid until I was ables to use elves magic to destroys tattoo power. Then Pokey decides to stop old master - old friend."
He had never heard an elf talk with such hatred and venom in his voice. Pokey continued, "But you had made Anchors, very dark magics that was against nature. And you uses it several times and almost destroys yous soul. Pokey had to stop and find things," he said as he gestured to the items at his feet.
"The goblins they helps Pokey. They have the last library of known high-elf magicks. Pokey reads books and books and finds out how to kill the soul pieces of bad former master."
"I was comings for you three years ago until I had to stop. Yous had made a Horcrux out of a child. High elves books taught me the consequences of making a child a sacrifice. So I needs to study more. I lefts the crown at the school and let bad Mr. Malfoy keep book. I needs to find out how to get your soul fragment out of Harry Potter."
"Two years ago, I founds out from Dobby that Harry Potter destroyed the book that the bad Malfoy had. Harry Potter had also freed Dobby from the bad wizard's service and truly called him a friend. I coulds not be part of killing an honourable wizard like Harry Potter. Pokey is ashamed to say he never found a way to remove the soul piece from Harry Potter. The magics from the three wizard contest did that." The old elf paused and shook his head slowly.
Albus started to feel sad, but then he realized something - the contract between himself and Harry was still in force. Surely that would mean the boy was still alive.
Pokey roused himself and faced Riddle again; "I knows when you came back in summer and move into your family's house. Then I knows how you planned to come backs. Pokey set up team of other elves who be free or have enough freedom to join. We knows we had to get rid of bad wizard but Pokey thinks why not get rid of all really bad wizards so we set the trap. I knows you would call your people - the ones who still is free. So we waited untils you called them to strike."
Riddle had been speechless through the whole tirade. He could not believe he had been defeated by a house elf. To make matters worse, he was scared of what lay ahead now that his quest for immortality was over. He could no longer escape death.
Albus, his voice hoarse and his brain still addled from the potions managed to form four intelligible words, "But the prophecy ... Harry"
Pokey looked at the wizard tied to the gravestone for the first time that evening. "Yous also is a bad wizard Headmaster Whiskers. Yous set up Harry Potter's life to get him to dies. Pokey knows of prophecy. Pokey heards prophesy. Pokey born on last day of Narquelië, bad wizard marked Pokey with promise to be equals and friends, and bad wizard not know power of elves. Now Pokey must finish prophecy."
The old elf raised his tiny arms and started chanting in an unfamiliar language to Albus. Partway through, Riddle started screaming in pain joined by several other voices. The elf clapped his hands together and there was a loud boom and a bright white flash and Albus knew no more.
April 4 – Hogwarts – Infirmary
Albus once again came back to the world of the living. The first thing he noticed was the antiseptic smell. He knew that smell – he was back at Hogwarts.
He opened his eyes and tried to turn his head. His groaning brought Poppy out of her office.
"Albus! Finally you've decided to wake up. You've been unconscious for three days."
"How did I get here Poppy?"
"Rosemerta came and checked on you and Alastor when she was closing up for the night. Alastor was nowhere around, but she found you passed out smelling like you had bathed in fire whiskey. You've been unconscious since and missed all the excitement."
"Yes, apparently the Alastor who taught here was an imposter. The night you were out with him, the castle elves found the real Moody imprisoned in his own trunk. He's over there," she indicated the other side of the wing, "recovering from dehydration and malnutrition."
Albus paled at this news. How could he have not known there was someone impersonating Alastor? He hoped this hadn't reached the ears of the DMLE or Daily Prophet.
"When he finally came to, Alastor told us it was Barty Crouch Jr. who kidnapped him. That tied into the other big thing."
"What was that Poppy?" Albus was not sure he could take more bad news.
"Barty Crouch Jr.'s body was found with about another two dozen purebloods in a cemetery near Little Hangleton. They were all dressed as Death Eaters Albus. The only person found alive was Peter Pettigrew and he was missing a hand."
"What happened?" Albus was anxious to find out what the public knew of Voldemort's return and also – more importantly – if he was tied to it in any way.
"Well, according to Pettigrew's confession under Veritaserum, this started off as a regular night time party that the free former death eaters had about once every three months. They'd get together, drink, and usually reminisce about the good times with the Dark Lord until … well, lets just say they all got to know each other really well over the years. But this time something went wrong. Someone – Peter didn't know exactly who since they kept their masks on – cut Peter's hand off in a fit of passion. Peter didn't remember much after that. He remembers being in a rage and going on a killing spree, but not much else."
"No, that's not what happened," Albus started to protest.
"I know how you feel Albus, but everything the aurors have found so far supports Peter's far-fetched story. They found empty fire whiskey bottles, and even the remains of an old house elf that looked as though it was torn to pieces." Poppy was a bit flustered at this point as she continued, "But what was really disturbing is why Barty Crouch Jr. was here."
Poppy paused, obviously disturbed by the information she was about to impart, "He was here to help kidnap and murder Harry Potter. He was going to make sure Harry made it to the cup first during the third task. The cup would be a portkey to take Harry to the next Death Eater reunion. They were going to torture the boy and murder him."
Poppy broke down as her emotions overcame her. Harry had been her favourite patient and she had a soft spot for the young lad.
Albus was in a quandary. He knew what really happened. Pokey had obviously sacrificed himself getting rid of Tom, but the elves had obviously made sure that no one would ever know exactly what happened – except Albus.
Albus had lived long enough to understand that the elves had set him up as well. Being found in a drunken stupor didn't help. And who would believe Lord Voldemort returned only to be killed by a house elf who was fulfilling a prophecy. Even Albus found it hard to believe when he described it to himself in his own head.
He lay back and sighed. Only he knew the truth of what happened and there was no way he was telling anyone. He also had to worry about having to explain how he didn't know his long time friend was being impersonated.
June 24, 1995 – Hogwarts – Grounds Near Quidditch Pitch
Albus watched as the three TriWizard champions all took the cup at the same time. For the first time in History, the tournament had ended in a tie – let alone a three-way tie.
While the champions were being congratulated and Minister Fudge was wondering why the tournament was ever held to begin with, Albus was approached by representatives of the school board. His tenure as Headmaster was all but over pending a review by the full board the next day. This past year had tarnished his reputation to the point that he had very little influence left.
June 30, 1995 – Hogwarts – Potions Master's Quarters
Albus reflected on his mixed fortunes as he unpacked his belongings. A few days earlier he was sacked as the Headmaster and asked to vacate the castle by the end of July. Now, less than a week later he was the new Potions Master.
The new Headmaster had gone to the board with a request from Harry Potter. Harry had requested Albus be hired as the Potions Master to give back to the British public half-decent Potions instructions to make up for the decade long decline caused by his hiring Severus Snape.
What the board was not told was that Harry had provided Albus with an ultimatum – he was to teach Potions in the way it was supposed to be taught for a term of not less than 15 years to replenish the number of Potions professionals in Britain. His alternative would be several lawsuits and criminal charges launched on Harry's behalf by Sirius Black. Harry felt that Albus rotting in Azkaban would not benefit anyone. Harry would consider the debt to society paid if Albus was able to fairly teach potions to new generations of wizards.
Albus didn't have to think twice. As soon as the board made their offer to him he accepted.
June 30, 2010 – Hogwarts – Potions Master's Quarters
Albus lowered his old frame into his sofa and requested a hot cocoa from the school's elves. Sipping the hot drink tenderly he looked back fondly on the last 15 years. Teaching Potions had given him a new – albeit muted – respect in Britain and helped rebuild his tattered reputation.
His biggest regret in the latter part of his life was his split with Harry Potter. He had not heard from Harry since the note giving him the option of teaching Potions. Albus truly enjoyed teaching and was constantly one of the favourite teachers in the school.
Albus knew that his time in this plane was coming to a close. He put his cup down and sat back. Albus sighed and closed his eyes for the last time.
Unknown – Unknown
Albus became aware of his surroundings. He was in a waiting room of some sort. The last thing he remembered was sitting in his quarters. Before he could look around in any detail a voice boomed out from all around him.
"Welcome Albus Dumbledore to the Next Adventure. Your personalized afterlife is starting now."
Albus' vision faded out again.
After an indeterminate amount of time, he heard voices that sounded familiar but he wasn't able to place them. One was male one was female.
"Are you sure this is necessary?" the female voice asked.
"It's the safest place for him," the male voice answered.
"But James, I've been watching them all day. They're the worst sort of muggles there are."
Albus opened his eyes in panic. Something was wrong he felt wrong. It was like he was smaller and he was lying in something.
"It's for the best Lils. They are the only family he has left."
Albus looked up and saw the huge faces of Lily and James Potter smirking at him. He felt James lay the basket he was in down on a hard surface. Albus looked around and what little he was caused him to panic.
"Welcome to the afterlife Albus," James said as he winked and Lily and him disapparated out of sight.
Albus began to cry for the first time in over a hundred years.
A/N - Narquelië is the seventh month of the Elven Calendar.
OK I have a few comments. I know I had only promised an epilogue, but Albus story ended up rating a chapter on its own. I hope no one minds and I will finish the story with the Part 2 of the Epilogue where I will tie up the rest of the story lines for the other characters.
I had originally envisioned a goblin being the subject of the prophecy. However the thought of a house elf having 'the power he knows not' left me chuckling and I just took it from there. I honestly can't remember a story with that nor having Albus as the donator of the blood of the enemy. I hope others find it as amusing as I did while writing it.