A Once-Great Man

A Harry Potter Fanfiction

by Drauchenfyre

Genre: Hurt/Comfort

Summary: Family must always come first... and some choices truly hurt...

Characters: Albus Dumbledore, Samuel Glyphs


The Order of the Phoenix stood in a loose cluster in the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place, waiting. In their most recent battle with the Death Eaters, things had gone horribly wrong with Albus Dumbledore's battle plan, leading to the deaths of Severus Snape and Aberforth Dumbledore and the serious injury of both Harry Potter and new recruit Daphne Greengrass. Both sixth year students were recovering, and would be back to top form within a week, but Albus was their concern at the moment. After the battle, he had had a total breakdown at his brother's corpse, ranting about failing his brother like he'd failed a woman named 'Ariana', a name no one present recognized. In the end, Filius Flitwick had to stun him and bring him back to Headquarters, calling Poppy Pomphrey to attend him. Right now, the Hogwarts Healer was in the next room with Albus and Samuel Glyphs, Aberforth's grandson and Albus's closest living relative.

The members of the Order looked up, hopefully, as the door opened, only to have that hope dashed by the look on Samuel's face. The grave look worn by the perpetually cheerful Runemaster was a warning flag to all.

This news was bad. Really bad.

Gathering her courage, Minerva stepped forward. "How bad is it, Samuel?"

The American-born Professor looked up at his colleague and said, "Bad, Min. I need you, Mad-Eye, Shack, Miss Granger and Bill to come with me. There are things we need to discuss."

The named Order members filed into the room with Glyphs, finding Albus, looking mournful, sitting in bed wrapped in a housecoat, Madam Pomphrey seated beside the bed arranging potions.

Once the door closed, Glyphs fired off several security charms. Moody and Shacklebolt added several of their own. Hermione, after a few moments' searching, fired a Cutting Curse at two pieces of flesh-colored string sneaking under the door. At Glyphs's raised eyebrow, Hermione explained, "Fred and George have invented Extendable Ears, to help them listen in on private conversations."

This got a wan smile and mirthless chuckle from Glyphs. "Always knew those two were holding back."

McGonagall cleared her throat and said, "Samuel, what has happened?"

Samuel turned to his colleague and said, "It's more what has been happening Min. It's been going on for a while, and we've all missed or ignored the signs. Albus has been deteriorating mentally for a number of years, his memory and decision making skills have gotten more and more questionable. On a hunch, I cast an advanced diagnostic charm I learned in the States that isn't used here in Europe. The diagnosis is confirmed: Advanced Alzheimer's."

A gasp from Hermione accompanied the puzzled looks from the adult Order members. "I thought Alzheimer's only affected Muggles!"

Samuel shook his head. "It affects wizards too, though in Europe it's mostly misdiagnosed as plain old senility. The problem is that Albus has been practically deified by the British magical community for so long that people were dismissing the signs. 'Oh, ALL powerful wizards are a bit barmy', 'He's Albus Dumbledore, I'm sure he has good reason'. We've all said these things time and again. Anyway, I brewed a simple potion to help clear his mind temporarily. That was a mistake. Clear thought combined with the odd decisions he's made in the past decade or so nearly caused another collapse. Once we calmed him down, we hashed out a plan on how to move forward."

"Indeed." All present turned toward Albus, looking sorrowful. He adjusted the deep burgundy dressing gown as he rose from the bed. In a tiny, irreverent corner of her mind (that always seemed to speak in Harry's voice), Hermione decided it was the most conservative outfit she'd ever seen the old wizard wear- no bright colors, dancing stars or palm trees, just dark and solid.

Albus rose and said, "First of all, I wish to apologize. I have been deteriorating for a while, and in my pride did not seek help."

Samuel shook his head. "Uncle Al, WE failed YOU. We saw the signs, and did nothing, for far too long."

"Be that as it may," Albus said, "I think there is more than enough blame for me to accept the lion's share. As to how we proceed, Samuel and I agree that I should not be making decisions any more. On the other side of the Galleon, Voldemort is largely inhibited by my presence."

"So, what are you saying, Albus?" Kingsley asked.

"Tomorrow, I shall appear before the Wizengamot and resign as Headmaster, Chief Warlock, and Supreme Mugwump. The public reason for this will be, with Voldemort operating openly, I shall be devoting my entire time and focus to the defeat of Voldemort and his Death Eaters."

Hermione Granger was the first to comprehend. "You're releasing the true power and willingly becoming a figurehead."

Albus nodded, "Indeed, Miss Granger. Were school in session, that would be twenty points to Gryffindor. I have contacted my supporters on the Board of Governors, and confirmed that Minerva McGonagall is the best person to succeed me as Head of Hogwarts."

Minerva choked up and managed, "Thank you, Albus. I shall try to prove worthy of your confidence."

Albus smirked, "Minerva, if you did not have my confidence, and the Board's, you would not have been my Deputy these past fifteen years."

Minerva nodded, tears welling in her eyes. "Samuel, you have the seniority and experience, plus you're the only member of the faculty besides myself who was actually trained to be a teacher. Will you stand as my Deputy?"

Samuel nodded gravely and said, "I would be honored, Min. But do you honestly expect the Board to appoint a non-Brit as the Deputy of Hogwarts? Old Armando had to fight tooth and nail just to get me a teaching post."

"They are different people, and these are different times, Samuel."

"Even so, Min, I suggest you have a backup choice. I personally would suggest Filius."

Minerva nodded, as Albus cleared his throat. "Now that that's settled, I've already resigned as Supreme Mugwump. The new British delegate to the ICW will be Dedalus Diggle, and the Deputy Mugwump, Jean-Sebastian Delacour, has been promoted to Acting Chief Mugwump until the elections next year."

"Fleur's father? He was your Deputy?"

"Yes, Miss Granger, he was. He is also family, however remotely- his younger brother Pierre is married to Samuel's daughter Elena, and Samuel is my brother's grandson. Now, as for the Chief of the Wizengamot- as I am retiring and not being removed, tradition dictates that I name my successor. I have chosen Augusta Longbottom. She is a woman firmly on the side of justice, and her past experiences with the LeStranges will ensure that she does her utmost to disprove the 'Imperius' defense that saw so many Death Eaters walk free for their crimes after the last war."

"Miss Granger," Albus continued, looking at his student. "I am afraid some of my most grievous mistakes in the past have been with regards to Mister Potter. Samuel and I discussed this, and felt it best if I renounced my guardianship over him, seeing as I've failed him many times. We decided it best for the war effort if I emancipated him, making him legally an adult, and free of the Underage Restrictions. It also allows him to decide where he lives. I hope, Miss Granger, I can count on you to support and defend him as you have done in the past. Few people in this world can honestly say they have never failed that young man. You and Hagrid are the only ones I can honestly say have never failed him when he needed you."

"As for the Order," Samuel stated, "Alastor will be taking over the day-to-day operations, while maintaining the fiction that Albus is the one giving him his orders. The story for them will be that Albus suffered injuries and is recuperating, whilst trying to come up with a plan to end the war once and for all. Bill, you and I have a mission that, as Curse Breakers, we are best qualified for. If you'll stay after the others leave, Albus and I will brief you."

Hermione, Kingsley, Minerva, Poppy and Mad-Eye filed out of the room, more somber than when they entered. As Mad-Eye began briefing the rest of the Order on the Headmaster's cover story, Minerva departed for Hogwarts to brief the trusted members of staff. Hermione made her way up the stairs to Harry's room, to inform him of what had happened. The adults had all agreed that Harry, of all people, deserved to know the truth about the once-great man who had controlled his life for so long. Hermione opened the door to see Harry reading in bed. He looked up and smiled, "Hey, 'Mione, what's up?"