I do not own Harry Potter, sadly. I've only written this for fun. :)

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Chapter Two

Albus Dumbledore carefully placed the little boy on the ground and firmly tucked a letter into his blankets. He sighed heavily. He had never wanted this to happen. He had put every protection in place. He had done everything he could have done to save the poor Potters. Yet it had not been enough. He felt much older than he had ever felt before in his life.

The baby reached out towards Dumbledore's beard – as he had always done – and Dumbledore slowly reached down and took the small, pudgy hands in his own and wrapped them back up. A single tear rolled down his long nose.

"Good bye Harry Potter, and good luck."

He turned around and walked away, unable to turn around when he heard the small child cry. Each step he took felt like a curse. Yet this was the only way. Lily would forgive him, one day, he was sure, for what he had done to her son. Minerva was furious; the poor boy would never be happy with the Durselys. Yet the boy had to be kept safe, he had to be kept alive and Merlin's beard there was nothing else he could do. Minerva was still waiting for him at the end of the darkened street. "How could you do that, Albus? How could you?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "I only do it, because I have to."

"You don't have to. Any wizarding family would take him – anyone in the Order would take him. We could keep him safe! We could raise him so he would be happy! You know what those people are!" Her eyes blazed. "How could you do this?"

"No one else will be able to keep him as safe as his mother's love. The Death Eaters won't be able to touch him here. That is why we must do this."

She clutched her throat and turned away. "They were barely out of Hogwarts." Her shoulders shook slightly.

Dumbledore nodded slowly. All of them had barely been out of Hogwarts and yet it had come to this already. The class he had watched graduate barely a few years before were now cold and buried beneath the ground, or would be soon.

Mary McDonald had been the first to go.

Fabian and Gideon Prewett had followed, not long after.

Hester Sinclair, a few years older than the rest, a muggleborn. One witch alone was not enough to protect her entire family.

Dorcas Meadows, the most talented witch in her year. Flitwick's smile had never reached his eyes for months after the Lestrange's had got to her.

Matthew Brown.

Edna Diggory, and her children. Her husband was still in St Mungo's.

Edgar Bones.

Marlene McKinnon.

And then Lily and James Potter.

And he'd thought they would be the last. He thought, at least, that it was finally over. If they had to die, at least they would be the last ones.

Until he'd heard about poor, foolish Peter Pettigrew just a few hours ago. All that they found of him was his finger.

Minerva reached out and touched his arm. "We should go, there's nothing else we can do here."

He flicked the switch on the deluminator and little balls of light floated back to their resting places. "Yes, we need to get back to Hogwarts. Remus will be waiting for us."

He held out his hand, which she clasped tightly, and together they vanished. Harry Potter was left, all alone, on a doorstep at the dead of night. Another orphan of Voldemort's war.

...

Remus Lupin paced the floor of Dumbledore's study. He knew exactly how many steps would take him from one side to the other, but he couldn't find it in him to stop. He couldn't stop. Physically, he couldn't stop. He couldn't sit still. It must be the wolf in him, he thought, because all he wanted to do was scream and roar and tear this stupid room, the stupid school, this stupid world apart because it felt like it was falling down around him and her couldn't even cry.

The baby on the desk – the demon on the desk – could cry. She brawled her lungs out as if she'd never stop, but no, he, he Remus Lupin, who in just one day had lost everything, absolutely everything, couldn't find a single tear.

But if he tore the world apart, at least the world would have to stop and listen. Oh yes, they all simpered, they all murmured, about the great tragedy, the great loss to the wizarding world, but they didn't mean it. They didn't really care. Who were Lily and James Potter to them, when You-Know-Who was finally gone?

With a quiet pop Dumbledore and McGonagall stood before him. McGonagall rushed across and bundled the crying child into her arms, rocking her gently until she finally became quiet and peered out of her blankets, as if she knew the grown-ups were about to decide her fate.

"I won't have her." Remus spat. "I know what you're going to say and I won't. I don't care what you have to say, I won't take her. She looks just like him. I won't take her."

Dumbledore walked over to his desk and sank into his armchair. "You might change your mind, in a few days."

"Do you think I'll forgive him in a few days?" Remus yelled. His hands shook and he gripped the other side of Dumbledore's desk for support. The world was falling down around him. If only he could forget, if only he could laugh, as he had laughed.

"Remus," whispered McGonagall, "she's just a child. She's a baby. You're her godfather."

"I'm a half-breed, a filthy half-breed, do you really think he'd want me to raise his precious, pureblood daughter?"

"She was Marlene's as well. Marlene made you her godfather. Where else can the child go?"

"She doesn't look anything like Marlene."

Dumbledore rubbed his temples. "It doesn't matter how she looks. It doesn't matter who her father or her mother was. It is love that will nurture her and watch her grow. She will not be her-"

"She will be like him!" He roared, the tears finally spilling over. The baby squirmed and started to cry as well, not liking the noise. She had never heard her Uncle Remus make noises like that before. She was old enough to understand that something was horribly, horribly wrong with all the people in the room who usually loved to play with her so much.

"They all turn out the same!"

"You loved her this morning!"

"I don't love her anymore!" Remus gripped the table tighter, his knuckles turning white. Sobs racked his body.

"You don't mean that." McGonagall whispered.

He shook his head, refusing to answer. What had happed to the world? He had fed her, just this morning. He had changed her, just this morning. But then the world had changed and fallen apart. "Isn't there anyone else?"

...

"Is Remus going to come?"

Dumbledore looked over at Minerva. It was good of her to come, very few would have done. Perhaps, then, this proved that he was doing the right thing for this child. Who else would take her, if they knew her father was? He shuddered at the thought of exactly the type of people who would take her. No decent wizarding family, though it pained him to admit it, would want the girl. It would have to be her family who would take her, and all the McKinnon's were dead. Every single one of them except her. And the Blacks... well, most of them were gone as well, or on the run. The Malfoys seemed to be settling themselves well again already, no surprises there, but he couldn't give her to them. These were the only people who would take her, who could pass her off as their own, and who would understand.

"No, at least, I don't believe he will. I haven't heard from him for a few weeks."

"None of us have."

"Have you been to see Frank and Alice?"

She nodded, "Their poor son."

"He still has his grandmother."

"Maybe that will bring Remus back? He was close to them as well. He might go and see them?"

"He won't. There's nothing that can be done for them and it would be too painful. It might even keep him away for longer."

"We'll try and find him later, he's lost everything and we can't let him stagger around the world, alone and grieving. It's not right."

Together they walked up to the large, sandstone house, deep in the Somerset countryside. It was both secluded and stately, with more miles of walled parklands than even Dumbledore could remember. This would be the best thing for the child, she would grow up in safety with her family, who wouldn't judge her, who knew enough of the wizarding world to understand, and were yet enough removed from it that by the time she was ready to join them again, the storm would have died down, somewhat.

...

Marius Black stood firmly next to the window, his hands clasped behind his back, glaring at the witch and wizard making their way up his long, gravelled drive. They hadn't even tried to dress normally. His hair was solidly grey, like iron, as were his eyes. His suit was crisp, cut and sewn for him on Jermyn Street, just off Piccadilly. It had been a long time since he had had anything to do with the wizarding world, and he was not at all pleased that now, in his advancing years, it was coming back to meddle in his private affairs once again.

He had been thrown out of the wizarding world, unceremoniously, at the age of 11. His parents, after years of hoping, finally gave up and admitted to themselves that they had produced a Squib. At 11 years old, he knew that he was his family's greatest shame. For all the cheats, backstabbers and murderers the Blacks had produced over the years, he was and always would be the darkest of the family's secrets. His parents, at least, and been pitying enough to pay for him to have a good life in the muggle world. They had transferred a significant sum of galleons into a muggle bank and shipped him off to the finest educational establishments – Westminster, Cambridge, followed by some postgraduate studies at Yale. He had risen very well in the muggle world, where the name Black now carried almost – almost – as much weight as it did in the wizarding one. He had long since become tired of his financial enterprises and had retired to the country with his wife, a muggle.

He had had little to do with his family from 11, seeing only his siblings in the holidays, and even then there had been a distance between them. After he left for university, contact has fallen away entirely. He had married a muggle woman and done his best to forget the life he should have had. He had always refused to start a family, the fear that the child would be magical was too much for him to bear. And yet a magical child, an infamous magical child, was about to become his ward. And his wife still didn't know the truth.

Caroline Black, sat on the other side of the room. Her hair was a lighter shade than her husband, although it was clear that she, too, was getting older. Her youth was behind her, to say the least. It unnerved her, to see her husband so... tense. He was never tense, never stressed. They had met at university – she had been the captain of the Girton Ladies' Cricket Team whilst he had captained the men from Trinity Hall. He had always walked as though he knew he had the world at his feet. They'd married the same year they graduated and she'd followed him diligently around the world since them. She was from a different era when that was simply what one did. Yet she wasn't sure what to make of this new announcement – that they were to adopt a child. Apparently the child was an orphaned, distant relative of his, but he had always told her that he didn't have any family, none at all. It wasn't as though she was opposed to having a child, but she didn't like the feeling that she was being left in the dark.

She placed her copy of Tatler down on the mahogany coffee table, "Are they here yet?"

"They're walking up the drive."

"And how is she related to us again?"

"She's my niece, great niece, of sorts." They had the same surname, and that was all that mattered.

"Did you know about her before this?"

"No dear, I didn't know she existed."

He turned sharply and began to pace the floor. He had a terrible, terrible feeling that this meeting was not going to go well. It was not going to go well at all.

And then the doorbell rang.

...

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