Patrick Anderson had missed his early morning run that day. He hated to skip his daily run but he had no choice as he had to catch an early morning flight for a business meeting in Chicago. However, just because he couldn't run in the morning didn't mean that he couldn't make it up in the night, which was why he was even now pounding the streets around his hotel in Chicago.
Unfortunately, he was quite tired and his reflexes were not as sharp as they would usually be. The street wasn't very well lit either, one of the street lamps had gone out and unluckily for Patrick someone had dropped a can right under it. He never saw the can until his foot landed right on it. The can slid out from under his foot causing it to twist oddly and he could not stop himself from stumbling sideways and tripping on the curb, which sent him careening wildly. Right into the street.
He never even saw the car that killed him.
Albus Dumbledore awoke with a start. He had no idea why he had woken but at his age, such occurrences were not uncommon. He knew from past experience that he would not be able to fall asleep again for some time so he decided to get up and get in some work. He put on his dressing gown and shuffled slowly towards his study where he turned tired rheumy eyes towards his the papers on his desk. He flicked idly through them. There was a report from the head elf in the kitchens. They were running short of flour again. He would have to have Fawkes take him on another shopping trip.
Truly, things would have been far more difficult without his faithful familiar. Tom had people watching the castle constantly and leaving the castle through the usual methods of apparation and portkeys was much too dangerous. They had disconnected the castle from the floo network years ago and the wards on the castle itself meant that anyone wishing to apparate out would first have to leave the castle grounds. A phoenix on the other hand could take him anywhere in the world almost instantly which made things like replenishing their supplies mush easier.
He leaned back and stared at his Boy-Who-Lived wall. The Boy-Who-Lived wall was simply that, a wall on which he had pinned every single scrap of information he had managed to gather about the Boy-Who-Lived. Even after all these years, it was rather sparse. His eyes roamed over the various pieces of parchment stuck to the wall, hoping for a spark of inspiration that would lead him to the Boy-Who-Lived.
He pulled down a report from Poppy Pomfrey. The discovery of an unaccounted for dose of Skelegrow Potion had been a promising lead. There was a record that it had been dispensed but there was no record of which student it had been given to. That coupled with other unattributed records of treatments in the Hogwarts Medical Wing had lead him to the conclusion that the Boy-Who-Lived suffered from unusually brittle bones and was extremely accident prone as well. He had put the word out for a patient matching that criteria in every Magical Hospital he could contact but no patient had ever matched those criteria.
He sighed heavily. If only Harry had not hidden himself so well. If only...He blinked slowly, he was suddenly startling awake and alert. Harry...Harry Potter. Oh dear god! Finally, after all these years...
He raced towards his desk and started pulling out his drawers frantically. Where was it? Where was that that tracker? If he could suddenly remember who Harry Potter was then surely that tracker he had created all those years ago would be working again. He pulled out the drawer completely and dumped its contents upon his desk. Various knick-knacks and papers made an unseemly pile. He pawed frantically through the mess before he finally pulled out a small device that looked like a small compass. He flipped open the lid and sighed in relief. It was working. His tracker was working. He had to get to the boy immediately.
He called to Fawkes and flamed out of his office. Thirty seconds later, he flamed right back in to put on some proper robes, his cheeks red with embarrassment. Thank Merlin no one had seen him.
Harry Potter awoke with a terrible hangover. Yesterday had been Luna's 24th Birthday and he had drunk far more than he should have at the party. He blinked and shut his eyes tight. The morning light coming through his bedroom window was far too bright. Now, where was that hangover potion? Dobby always made sure there was one on his bedside table when he knew that Harry had been drinking. He put his hand out; his eyes still screwed tightly against the light, and found the tiny vial of potion by groping blindly. He quickly drank it and sank back into bed as he waited for the potion to work.
Damn, he thought, last night had really been one for the books. He turned over on his side and contemplated the tousled blonde head of his girlfriend and wondered whether he should risk waking her up yet with a good snuggle. Probably not the best idea, he thought, she did have a tendency to be terribly cranky if he woke her up too early and they hadn't gotten to bed until the early hours of the morning. What was the time, he wondered. Did he need to get up yet? He was usually an early riser as he normally needed to check on how the stock market was doing but lately he had been cutting back on that. Just as well, he thought, the time difference between LA and New York meant that he usually had to get up way too early for his liking.
Making money on the stock market was far too easy for a wizard. A quick scrying ritual and you could predict how any stock would do with a fair amount of accuracy.
Funny thing scrying, he mused. For some reason it never worked if he tried to use it to predict what would happen to him or anyone he knew. There were people who could do that but Harry had never been able to see as much as a glimmer of his own future. Oddly enough, it worked spectacularly well if he used it to predict things like the stock market, which was really ridiculously lucky for him.
Harry had never bothered to take Divination in summer camp or at college as Trelawney had ruined the subject for him permanently, but he had still learned dozens of scrying techniques along the way from books, friends and by auditing the occasional lecture. Using these methods he had spent the first few years post college day trading with a vengeance. He had amassed quite a fortune during that time.
He did get bored with that eventually though and for the last few months had been looking for something else to do. He had performed a scrying ritual, looking specifically for a stock in which he could park his money safely for the next few years. He had received a vision of a fruit orchard in which instead of fruit, there were shining gadgets growing on the trees. A vast crop of shining rectangles with tiny pictures on them.
Well, he thought, only one real way to interpret that. It looked like Apple would be getting into the smartphone market at some point. He had heard rumours about it but now he had absolutely no reservations about investing most of his money there. He had gotten the sense that the crop would take at least a few more years to ripen and that after that...well; he would probably end up making a ton of money.
In the meantime, he needed to find something to keep him busy. Getting a regular nine to five office job did not interest him at all. Dobby was running his furniture store just fine all on his own and while Harry would help out there from time to time, Dobby really did not need him there.
In the past he had also gone with Luna and her father on their trips and helped them research various articles for their paper but that also was not really his forte.
Warding on the other hand was something he was exceptionally skilled at and also something in which he had managed to build up something of a reputation in. A set of Dobbins' wards while not quite there yet would eventually be known as the ultimate in security. Unfortunately, while he did undertake warding projects from time to time, it again was something that was not in very high demand. Very few people required the type of ultra-high security wards that Harry specialised in. He could probably have all the business he could handle and more if he was willing to handle jobs which required the standard security wards but Harry found that type of work much to boring to contemplate doing on a full time basis.
He sighed, and prepared to get up and face the day. For some reason he felt a bit off this morning. As if something had happened...but for the life of him, he could not think what it could be. Was it just the hangover? Maybe the potion had been a bit off? He had no idea. All he knew was that he felt...different.
He had a quick shower and walked back into the bedroom to get dressed. Luna was stirring and would probably awake any moment, so he should probably get some coffee on.
That was the moment that Luna awoke and sat up in bed. She rubbed her eyes before turning to him with her usual beaming smile.
Then she screamed.
Harry grabbed his wand off the dresser and spun around wildly trying to see whatever it was that had made Luna scream like that. "What happened?" he cried.
She was looking at him as if she had never seen him before in her life.
"You...You...You're not Jim...How?...Why?...Harry Potter," she said.
Harry's legs collapsed from under him and he had to grab the back of a chair to steady himself. His fidelius...how...what...bloody hell! Somehow, his Fidelius Charm had broken. As far as he knew, the only way that would happen would be if the Secret Keeper gave up the secret...but he had made sure that the secret keeper would never be able to do that. So what had happened?
Even if the Secret Keeper died then whoever they had made privy to the secret would become the new secret keepers. Which meant that he and Dobby should be the new secret keepers. But...
Okay, he was the secret as well. So perhaps he could not be the secret keeper as well, but Dobby...Dobby was an elf and... Yes, the book he had found the Fidelius Charm in had said it had to be hidden inside a human soul...so what happens to a Fidelius Charm when the Secret Keeper dies and there is nobody who is capable of becoming the Secret Keeper in his stead.
It was possible that something had happened to the Muggle he had used to hold his secret. Forget possible, it was a certainty that the man had died. Harry wondered what had happened to Patrick Anderson. He hadn't been that old and had seemed perfectly healthy so perhaps some sort of accident. In any case, that did not matter. He had to recast the Fidelius Charm immediately.
He raced to his closet and pulled out his trusty old backpack that Dobby had charmed all those years ago. He had never really gotten around to unpacking the thing completely and he thought that the book and his notes on the spell should still be in there.
He was just about to start digging through it when a loud "JIM" rent the air. Oh yes, Luna. He looked up to see her glaring at him. Oh dear...Luna! In his panic he had forgotten all about...
"So, are you going to explain?" she demanded without a trace of her usual calm and unflappable demeanour.
"Uhh...Uhh...I don't really know where to start," he stuttered.
"Why don't you start by explaining exactly how it is that my boyfriend, the person who I thought I knew," she paused and seemed to be taking deep calming breaths, "is not who I thought he was. Explain how and why you are not Jim Dobbins and...and..."
"Yes...Yes, you're absolutely right...It's just that, I kind of need to...I mean I really should recast the Fidelius before..." he babbled.
"The Fidelius...Oh, well that explains how no one knew who you were but now...would you care to explain - why you did it and more importantly - WHY THE HELL YOU NEVER TOLD ME," she shouted.
"I tried to tell you, I did," said Harry.
"Really, I think I would have remembered that," she snapped.
"All right, all right, just calm down for a second okay," said Harry. "Damn, it's way too early in the morning for this sort of conversation. Let's just go to the kitchen and grab a cup of tea first okay."'
Harry was feeling getting increasingly nervous as he prepared the tea. He fretted about the time he was wasting. It was perfectly possible that Voldemort was on his way there, getting closer and closer even as he waited for the water to boil. Death Eaters and assassins could be preparing to storm his house. Unfortunately, he couldn't just knock Luna out while he went and found another person to be his secret keeper. Or could he? Perhaps a quick stupefy...He shook his head. No, that was a terrible idea. He couldn't do that to Luna. He just had to explain things to her quickly, then he could recast his Fidelius - there was a college student who lived a few houses down the street. He could probably use him and it would be easier if his secret keeper lived nearby. This time he would be keeping a much closer eye on his secret keeper.
He finished making the tea, poured it into two cups, handed her one and then sat down across the table from her.
"Well, to start with. You remember how things were like about ten years ago, right? Voldemort was back. No one was doing anything about it and I knew, I knew he would be coming to kill me sooner or later. Hell, out of the four years I lived in the British Magical world, he tried to kill me himself three of those years. So, I had to hide and the Fidelius charm seemed like the best way."
"Now, as to why I never told you - Do you remember the night you told me you loved me for the first time?" he asked. She glared at him as if she could not believe he was asking such a stupid question.
"Right, so...do you remember what I did right after you told me. I told you I needed to tell you something then I pulled a piece of paper out of my pocket and asked you to read it..."
"Yes, but it was blank and you seemed really surprised then you started babbling something about mixing the papers up and...you never did say what was supposed to be on that paper," said Luna.
"That piece of paper had my secret written on it and when you couldn't read it that was the first time I realised that I had made a mistake when I cast the charm. You see, the Secret Keeper can pass the secret on orally, but they can also usually write the secret down and anyone who reads that is let into the secret. The problem is that, it turns out that - when a secret is written down it has a limited shelf life. It doesn't last forever."
"I've never heard that about the Fidelius," said Luna.
"Yeah, most books don't mention that. I'm not even sure if it's widely known. After all, most people will destroy the written secret as soon as they've shown it to whomever they want to let in on the secret. Nobody keeps it written down for long - that would be horribly insecure."
"So why didn't you just get your Secret Keeper to tell me directly, or write it down again?" asked Luna.
Harry chuckled ruefully and said - "The problem was that I didn't really trust anyone enough so after I performed the Fidelius and I had the Secret written down - I obliviated the Keeper. Unfortunately, I also used the non-reversible version of the memory charm so..."
"That's...that's..." stammered Luna. For once, she was at a total loss for words. The wrackspurts had taken residence in her head the minute she woke up and were totally unwilling to vacate the premises.
"Right, so now you know. Does it...Has it made any difference in how you...you know?" asked Harry.
Luna gave Harry one of her patented looks. Even after all these years Harry still found it impossible to tell what she was thinking at times.
"Of course not Jim...I mean Harry. Hmmm, it's going to be difficult getting used to calling you that, even if it fits you better than Jim ever did" said Luna.
Harry laughed in relief. "Don't get too used to calling me that. I'm going to recast the Fidelius as soon as I can. All I need to do is find my old notes and the original book in which I found the charm in the first place," he said.
"You're going to need another secret keeper as well," said Luna.
"Yes, last time I just grabbed a convenient muggle. I could do that again. You know John, that college student who lives a couple of houses down. He might do..."
"Don't be stupid," snapped Luna, interrupting Harry. "You'll just have the same problem again. You can use me as your Secret Keeper this time. That will be much safer and better than you going around obliviating muggles."
Harry grinned. Luna was absolutely right of course and if there was anyone he could trust to hold his secret it was her.
He would have to hurry though. He had no idea how much time he had before Voldemort managed to track him down. Still, once he had the book it should not take too long. Say, half an hour to review the books and his notes from the last time he cast the charm then another half-hour to prepare the ritual circle and cast the charm. Then...
That was when his ward alarms went off. A wizard had been detected apparating onto their street. Harry flipped out his wand and waved it at a mirror that hung on one of the kitchen walls. It immediately displayed a map of the surrounding area. A dark red pulsating dot denoted the position of the wizard who was even then moving closer to his house. Harry waved his wand again and the mirror changed to show an image of the street. There, on the screen, it showed a man dressed in ridiculously flamboyant robes walking swiftly towards his house.
Albus Dumbledore had arrived.
A/N: Sorry for the long delay for this chapter. Hopefully, I'll be able to release the remaining chapters a lot faster. In the meantime, I've also written another little oneshot which you can find on my profile page, if you feel like reading it.