The knight stepped forward, scanning the row of near-identical houses with a keen eye, seeking one house in particular: he was here seeking a child, merely a baby, but one who had a destiny of great importance, or so he had been told. Certainly, coming here to get him – a journey that not only traversed the depths of space but also the barriers between dimensions – was a step further than the knight would normally have considered going to. However, he had his orders, and those included finding this boy.
There – the knight spotted the child. He was lying on the doorstep in front of one of the houses, a dull, suburban affair that looked near-identical to the houses around it, almost as though the owners were deliberately trying to be exactly like everyone else. It was a cold enough night but those who had left the boy here had left him in a lovely warm blanket. The knight walked up to the doorstep, and knelt by the child, inspecting him. He was sleeping as soundly as – well, as a baby, the knight smiled, thinking of the aptness of the phrase, and were it not for the fact that he had been left out on a front doorstep and the fact that he had a gaping, lightning-bolt shaped gash on his forehead, one might have mistaken the boy for a normal child.
This knight did not look, sound or feel like you would imagine a knight should – well, not a knight from the small, primitive, but nonetheless uniquely charming (in the knight's opinion) planet known as Earth, anyway. He was tall and appeared strong, as you might expect, and there was a certain piercing intellect in his eyes and nobility in his brow, but instead of wearing primitive plate armour that restricted his movements, he wore simple robes more akin to those a monk or nomad might wear, that let him move gracefully and with ease. His hair was a far from a monk's hairstyle as one could imagine – long, dirty-blonde hair that cascaded down his back, with some grey hairs dotted about, matched by a short, neat beard on his face.
His sword – such as it was – was a weapon infinitely more elegant than any simple metal blade, and more importantly, at least from his point of view, it was unique to him, every inch of it designed and built by him to fit his hand like no other weapon could. It was an extension of him, a weapon as much a part of him as his hand or leg.
This knight was also special in another way, a way barely known on this world (not unknown, for there were those trained in the way this Knight was who made their residence on Earth). He was gifted with the Force, a mystical energy field known to many where he came from but scarcely regarded at all here. The Force bound all living things in its luminescence, as the knight knew and had known since he was a small boy. It flowed here as strongly as it did where he came from, albeit in different ways that it took him a little while to get used to, and with it this knight was transformed from but a man, into a Jedi. His name was Qui-Gon Jinn, and he was a Jedi Knight, one of that remarkable Order of beings who served the Galactic Republic.
"I am here," he said into his small communication device, speaking to his Master. The line was crackly – after all, the signal had to traverse a Force-created portal and various other spatial distances – but nonetheless he knew that his Masters could hear him. "The child is exactly where your contact said he would be."
"Good, good," the reply came, in an ancient voice made tinny by the machine translating it. Hearing that voice made Qui-Gon smile at the memories it summoned, memories of youth in the Temple and of stern admonishment, but also of laughter that was far too childish to have come from an eight hundred plus year old. "Take the boy, you must, and to our universe bring him back, and quick you must be – agents of darkness there are on that world."
Qui-Gon did as he was ordered, and picked the boy up, as gently as possible – he did not wish to wake the child up and have a commotion after all. The boy stirred but did not cry. He was brave indeed to endure the cut on his forehead, Qui-Gon realised with mild upset. The cut had scabbed over but when it was first made no doubt it would have bled profusely.
"Master," he asked through the comlink, "why do we not simply leave the boy here? He'll be fine with his family." He had questioned this before, but he had not received a satisfactory answer – merely been told to come here and collect the child.
"A task, he must perform, when older he is, and his training was requested by a friend," came the reply, sharp toned. Clearly, Qui-Gon's question was not welcome. Well tough - Qui-Gon was known as a maverick for a reason, and he would not just blindly follow orders here, not with a child's future at stake. "Now hurry you must!" the voice continued. "To harm the boy, the agents of darkness there seek. With us, safe will he be."
He was trying to appeal to Qui-Gon's sense of protectiveness. Normally Qui-Gon wouldn't let it work but he wasn't feeling that argumentative and after all, his master was right. The boy would indeed be safer with the Jedi Order than he would being left on a doorstep.
"As you say, Master Yoda," he said acquiescently, clicking the communicator off. He quickly stowed the device away and, careful not to be rough or to shake the child, he took the young boy with him. He briefly contemplated doing something about the scar, but decided it was best to leave it to those more competent at healing. Briefly, he wondered why the child had to leave, because he knew as well as Yoda that the child would need to return; something to do with a… "prophecy?" That was what he had heard in the briefing. But Qui-Gon Jinn wasn't really worried about that.
The Will of the Living Force had to be trusted, as Qui-Gon had always known even as a boy, and he wouldn't stop trusting it now, especially as it had started having far reaching consequences.
Qui-Gon stepped through the shimmering Force-portal that had taken him to Harry Potter's universe, back into a small room in the Jedi Temple. The portal itself was the creation of the ancient Jedi, who had experimented with inter-dimensional travel. Using the Force to create portals was now a rare but existent technique few could master.
To his relief, Obi-Wan Kenobi, his fifteen year old apprentice, stood waiting for him, a concerned frown upon his face. Travelling a portal wasn't meant to be dangerous but caution was recommended, and Obi-Wan always demonstrated due caution, even when his Master did not.
"Did it work?" the Padawan asked softly. He looked at the child that lay sleeping in Qui-Gon's arms, and almost smiled – he would have actually smiled but this was a risky plan: had the portal closed, Qui-Gon would have been trapped forever.
"It worked perfectly," Qui-Gon smiled at his young apprentice. "The boy's retrieval was comparatively easy, if I do say so myself." The shadow of a frown crossed the Jedi Master's face. "Whatever dark forces there are on that world, they did not act."
"Overconfident, you must not become," a wizened voice came, admonishment in its tone, and the small figure of Master Yoda came up towards the Jedi, the ancient Jedi leaning heavily upon his gimer stick, eyes focused on the baby. "Chose not to act, they did. Because of their master's defeat, this is. Rely on their inaction again, we cannot."
"I understand Master," Qui-Gon said, bowing humbly. Yoda nodded grimly, apparently satisfied with this answer.
Jedi Master Mace Windu came up behind Yoda. He was a tall, dark-skinned and powerfully built man, whom some might even call imposing, and yet his expression was surprisingly gentle as he looked at the baby sleeping in Qui-Gon's arms. The Korun Master slowly walked up to Qui-Gon and placed his hand on the baby's temple, softly, as though afraid of harming the boy.
"He does have potential," Mace admitted grudgingly, getting a feel for the boy's Force-signature, sensing his presence. "Strong potential," he added. "But it's dangerous having him here. The portal is –"
"Reliable as ever, the portal is," said Yoda sharply.
"Which doesn't say much," Mace argued. "Why should we take the boy? If he's as important to their efforts in fighting their Dark Side as you say, surely it would be better to leave him there."
"Owe Dumbledore much, I do," Yoda replied testily, "and it is he who requested that we train the boy, if possible it is to do so. Is it?"
Mace nodded slowly. He didn't like this. It was a risk and an unnecessary one at that. But Yoda's wisdom was great, and Mace was willing to trust it, even here and now, despite the fact that this boy was as important as he was.
"So what is the plan, Masters?" Qui-Gon asked.
"A Jedi mentor the boy will need," Yoda replied shortly, looking at Qui-Gon. "Not a Master, old enough he is not, but perhaps... a guide? To help him through the challenges. There are things the boy must know that initiate training will not teach him." Closing his eyes, Yoda frowned. "Even the year he returns, challenges will he face that test him. Worry not, Padawan Kenobi," Yoda added, pointing his stick at Kenobi, who had a look that could be described as "concerned" upon his face. "Affect you, this will not. Master Qui-Gon – guide the boy, you must. Help him where possible. Padawan Kenobi, aid your Master in this, you may. Assist the boy in dealing with the troubles of Youngling life that survived, you have. Too old to remember such challenges, Qui-Gon is," the ancient Master added, smiling mischievously.
Obi-Wan smiled in relief, and so too did Qui-Gon, who accepted the ribbing good naturedly.
"I accept this task, Masters," the older Master said, bowing to them both. Mace looked at Harry and sighed. There were shatterpoints around the boy but he was too young for them to be sensed yet.
"It is settled then. Good luck," He said, giving the boy to Qui-Gon, "And may the Force be with you, Harry Potter."
Obi-Wan took the boy from Qui-Gon and gently carried him out of the small room, but Yoda and Mace remained, turning to look at Qui-Gon. The Jedi Master looked at the two of them expectantly, knowing they would soon ask their questions.
"The Force, strong in that world it is," Yoda began, bluntly. It was not a question, but a statement of fact.
"Yes Master," Qui-Gon replied in confirmation. He frowned, trying to recall the odd sensations in the Force of that world. "It saturates parts of the world in a way I can scarcely believe - it felt as though I was swimming in the Force."
"The Wizards and their use of the Force," Yoda nodded, sagely.
"Are you suggesting that they are all potential Jedi?" Qui-Gon said, halfway between alarmed and intrigued by the possibilities this threw up.
"Of course not," Mace put in, sharply - Windu was known for being fairly vocal in his opinions when it came to even a possible breach of the code. Qui-Gon looked to Yoda.
"Correct, Master Windu is," the diminutive Master confirmed. "Though the Force saturates the wizards, comparatively few are strong enough to be Jedi."
"They use wands as focuses," Windu added, with a glance at Yoda for confirmation. "But without them most would barely rate high enough for the agri-corp."
Qui-Gon stood thoughtfully, thinking over what the two Council Members had said.
"If that place has the Force is such strength, it can only be to the betterment of any Jedi assigned there," he said at last. Yoda and Mace Windu exchanged small smiles.
"Counting on that, we are, Master Jinn," the ancient Jedi Master said.
None of those involved in the plan to transfer Harry to the care of the Jedi had expected it to go unnoticed. Least of all Albus Dumbledore, man of many plans and thinker of many deep thoughts. This plan was a late replacement for his plan to simply leave Harry at his aunt and uncle's home - a risky plan, if he was being generous to himself, for the Dursleys were unsuitable at best for the purpose of raising the boy. Dumbledore thus concocted - admirably quickly - a new plan, although in the process he had – purposely – neglected to inform those who he had developed the earlier plan with of this change.
Now, the anticipated backlash began. Minerva McGonagall had burst into Dumbledore's office, glasses askew (the most untidy Dumbledore had ever seen her) and spoken loudly and quickly about the fact that the boy was not at his relatives' home. In fact, he was nowhere anyone could find him. She was, naturally, somewhat worried about this, having been very involved in the plan to put him there.
"The boy's disappeared, Dumbledore!" she said, flustered beyond belief. "He's not at the Dursley's home, not anywhere! He's just… gone!"
Dumbledore had to suppress a smile. It wouldn't do to be grinning at a time like this, especially with Minerva so flustered. He calmed his emotions exactly as he had been trained to, and relaxed himself. There were many things he was grateful for, the ability to suppress his emotions when needed most of all.
So it had all gone as he had intended it to go, which was a rarity in these days of darkness. He knew he could rely on his old friend to come through for him. He always could. Luck – if one chose to believe in luck – was on his side. Now if only the rest of the plan would come to fruition so quickly.
"Minerva, please relax," he said, holding up his hands to placate her. "I had Harry transferred somewhere discreetly – purely until he begins Hogwarts."
"But… but what about the plan? The Dursley's?" McGonagall asked, shocked at this.
"The dropping off of Harry at the Dursley's was a complicated ruse," Dumbledore replied softly. "I regret the deception, Minerva, but it was necessary; only myself and one other know of Harry's… exact location."
McGonagall still looked unconvinced, but Dumbledore smiled serenely. "Don't worry, Minerva, everything is under control."
Minerva McGonagall trusted Dumbledore with her life, so accepted his word. But she wasn't happy with this, and felt the need to voice these frustrations.
"And what happens when the wizarding world learns of his disappearance?" she asked sharply. Dumbledore bowed his head slightly, regarding her from over the top of those half moon spectacles.
"They won't," he said shortly, and that was enough. McGonagall nodded curtly, mollified somewhat but not enough, and walked out, barely paying any attention to the man who entered the room as she exited. Dumbledore though, paid a great deal of attention to Severus Snape, who looked thoroughly miserable.
"You said you would keep her safe," the tortured looking man began hoarsely.
"I could not have saved them," Dumbledore said, softly. His eyes betrayed his great sadness at the loss of James Potter and Lily Evans, both good friends. "They placed their trust in the wrong man. Rather like you. But the boy lives."
"Why should I care about the boy?" Snape snarled angrily. "He's Potter's brat son..."
"You should care because Lily cared," Dumbledore said, still soft-toned. "She cared enough to sacrifice her life to save Harry. Surely that makes him worth something."
Dumbledore knew his calm demeanour would be essential to calming Snape down. Eventually, the other man sat down, broken, the truth of Dumbledore's words having gotten through to him quite easily.
"He'll be safe," Snape began. "The Dark Lord is gone..."
"Voldemort will return," Dumbledore said – of this, if little else, he was certain. "And when he does, Harry Potter will be at the top of his list of targets."
Snape seemed to consider this, thinking over what Dumbledore had said, and then he sighed. "What must I do?" he asked, resignedly.
"I wish to make you an offer, Severus," Dumbledore replied. As he detailed the offer, Snape frowned, at first confused, then suspicious, but when Dumbledore had finished, he realised that what was being offered was something that would help him overcome his grief, something that would allow him to pass his hatred. He tilted his head slightly.
"You are serious," he stated more than asked. Dumbledore nodded his head once, and then Severus, blinking his eyes to try and get his head around this, nodded as well, accepting the offer in the spirit it was given. Then he stood, Dumbledore smiled at him, and they began to talk of the future.